Monday, September 5, 2011

September Writers Group Topic - "Dirty Work"

Time for a little writing. :)

For this month's writers group, we were challenged to write something to go along with the theme "dirty work." We didn't have much direction, and I didn't think I would have much to write about. When I sat down to write, something welled up within me, and it just poured out. It brought back memories I had totally forgotten about!

Dirty Work - A short-lived summer job when I was 19 years old

I always try to clean up after myself when I stay overnight in a hotel room. I try not to leave the garbage can overflowing or the linens in piles across the floor. I have had people tell me, "Leave the clean up for housekeeping; that's what they get paid for." But I can't do it. So, if my kids make a mess of animal crackers, we clean it up.

You see, I spent two weeks cleaning hotel rooms one summer and it was the worst job I've ever had. My bosses demanded that I come to work 15 minutes earlier than I was scheduled, but I was never allowed to clock in for myself. I was paid minimum wage, which at that time was $5.25 an hour. At 8 AM sharp, we (all of us in housekeeping) were sent out to begin cleaning. We were told we would all be clocked in at 8, but no one ever saw it happen. Our mission was not cleaning, but to make things appear clean, and we were instructed to use as little cleaning fluid as possible. Water would have to suffice.

I will never forget the first hotel room I cleaned. I walked through the door and was horrified. Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets were strewn around the room, and mashed potatoes were ground into the carpet. I tried to make the bed, but instead saw images in magazines I wish I could forget. On the nightstand there was a picture of a woman and two children, and I assumed they were the guest's family. I had barely begun cleaning when I was whisked to the next room and told I would have to pick up the pace if I was going to keep my job. I spent hours trying to clean the filthiest rooms I had ever seen and only to be pushed along with with hardly scratching the surface.

Clocking out was the same as clocking in. We worked longer than scheduled without compensation. After two weeks, I quit. I gave no notice and went home. They altered my pay rate and found a loophole that allowed them to give me less than minimum wage.

And so, I go out of my way to help out housekeeping when I stay in hotels. The people holding down these jobs work hard at dirty and thankless jobs. I hope I make their days even just a little easier.

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