Being a housekeeper-not living the dream

I started working in a city far away from my hometown- in a different country. The job I chose was housekeeping. I still don’t know why I preferred it, but I’m sure that I wouldn’t make this mistake again.

The first week was a huge disaster for me. I am so used to the food back home, that the first two days I couldn’t even taste an American meal. I ate only pretzels, and to be honest I don’t know how I survived given the fact, that I have a low blood pressure. But, within a few days, this was no longer a problem for me. However, I had another one before me-housekeeping.

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The first day, I spend in the laundry of the hotel. Thoughts like “this is not so bad”, “I can actually like this job” were running through my head. I went home with something like a little excitement. Unfortunately, this was the last time I was going to be excited in a really long time. The next day was like torture. I was cleaning with my supervisor. She showed me everything I needed to know about cleaning. Of course, this was a lot of information, but wasn’t the worst thing that day. We went through may be 20 rooms or more. I remember my feet were hurting so much, that I just wanted to sit on the floor and cry. This night I said to myself, that every beginning is hard and I’ll get used to the work fast. Little that I knew…this didn’t happen. The rest of the week was so long and terrifying for me, that at one point I asked a friend from the staff to switch with me, so I can stay in the laundry for a couple of days. The truth was, that we were a few people and there were too many rooms for cleaning.

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Eventually they hired more people and just when I decided, that everything is going to be just fine, they started to push us to work for time. And sometimes it was not possible. I remember entering rooms so dirty and messed up, that I just stayed there speechless, or crying. There were: food on the beds, coffee all over the bathroom floor, garbage everywhere (except in the trash cans, why should they use them right?), wet towels on the TV, chocolate on the phone (or the handles of the doors), juice spilled on the carpet, undefined liquids on the pillows, one particular toilet that I and one of the maintenance guys unclogged and then I cleaned the mess, and it was so bad that another housekeeper actually said to me ”I respect you man” … I can go on and on but I think you got the idea.

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One day I have just finished a room and the guest got in. A few minutes later, they asked me back to change their bed sheets, because they were wrinkled. I said that they are perfectly clean and when they sit on them, the sheets will wrinkle anyway. But, the lady was so bad to me, saying that these sheets have to be changed. Of course, I was just a housekeeper and this was my job, so I had to follow her orders. I changed them and then there were wrinkles again. And she was like „there are still wrinkles there” and I said „well we don’t iron our sheets, so they can’t be perfectly flat”.  Didn’t she know that in the site of the hotel the pictures of the beds were Photoshop-ed? I suppose she didn’t.

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Of course, nice tips made me happy. But, there were rooms, where it was like after a war, but there was not a single penny left by. Sometimes, there were notes, saying- Thank you… Nice job.. with no tip. Well, I did not feel good. When you clean rooms for a living, you want the tip. But, sometimes, there were both notes and money. Some people left food or drinks behind. If they were not unpacked, we would take them, because it is a free food anyway. But, if they were unpacked…well, we have dignity and morals…we would never take something like this.

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Days were going by really fast. Some days weren’t so busy and we could just relax. Others were too busy (like Labor Day, when me and my friends thought that this is actually the day we are going to die).  I met people, who had absolutely no idea about geography, and asked me strange questions about my home country “Is this a state in the USA?” “Do you have tomatoes there” ”Do you use Internet there?”…  Fortunately, I met a senior man, who was so smart and witty. He knew not only where Bulgaria was, but he knew all of our borders, our capital and even a little of our history. I also had the opportunity, to meet a guy, who knew some Bulgarian (a Ukrainian professor taught him!), and he was so clever and kind, although I met him, when me and my friends were on his front porch, not giving a single f**k it is a private property. At least, he was a decent guy, and did not call the cops.

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I remember the day when everything changed for me. It was early in the morning, and I was cleaning a room in which people obviously had a party, the previous night. And I was amazed to find, that someone had thrown up in the sink. And the sink itself was filled. I was just staying there looking at it, wondering what the hell am I doing, and who am I doing it for. And then I remembered. I found this job, because I wanted to travel to several cities in the US, and it was cheaper to do that, if I work first and then travel. So I was doing this for me. I had a dream –to travel, and this was the way to fulfill it. I smiled, because I was already half way there. I decided that, if I was going to work a job I don’t like, at least I can be as good in it as I can, so I can be happy. After that, there was no more sadness, just laughter. Of course, misery does love company, so during lunch time, I and my friends would complain about how dirty the rooms or how rude people were, but at least we were laughing.


And a video, that a fellow housekeeper/houseperson made – 🙂 (if available, of course)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I did housekeeping at a hotel when I was a student – I know what you’re talking about. Sometimes I was wondering how people can leave a room so dirty like being too lazy to flush a toilet. You learn a lot about people when you can observe them from this angle. And – you learn to appreciate how hard housekeepers work. Every time I’m in a hotel, I now think of the people who have to clean up after me.

    1. Mons says:

      It is so nice to meet someone, who knows what is it to be a housekeeper. I also think about the people who have to clean after me, and try to not leave a messy room.

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