Figuring out what I wanna be when I grow up.
Oop..I AM grown up...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What You Don't See Probably Didn't Hurt You

Yeah, let's talk about hotels, motels, motor inns, and all those cozy little places you'll be staying in sometime in the next few months when you go on a little vacation. 

Well guess what:  I used to be THE MAID.  So, I'm the one who has the behind-the-scenes appreciation of just how disgusting and seedy the hotel world can be.  Yes, this is one of those posts that's almost as obnoxious as stories your friends told you about their highschool years working in fast food restaurants.  You know the ones:  some "guy" got angry about a customer wanting a super pain in the ass custom burger, so he hawked a loogie onto the patty.  Blah, blah, blah, you know what I'm talking about. 

Some of my long-time sympathizers and pals here in blog land will recall I've talked about my crappy stint as a chambermaid, but since nobody else ever searches back in the post archives, I'm talking about it again, damn it!  Those were four, long summers!

So it was the summer of ... the math...I'm 39...when was I 20...1992!  Yes!  Still got it!  I was 19 or 20 when I walked down to that huge hotel smack dab in the middle of tourist central; Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls.  They were paying good money at the time, and I needed to pony up the dough for a tuition, which would eventually get me a degree that would yield me NOTHING!  But, I digress...

The hotel I worked in was absolutely huge.  I had my own floor in the outdoor courtyard section, and because hotel management was so cheap, those rooms were expensive and almost completely terrible.  They were moldy.  The carpets were completely trampled down, filthy and disgusting.  By the way, if your kid gets cream soda or orange pop on a hotel carpet, that is a bugger to get out.  When the carpet's would be steam-cleaned in the spring before it got really busy, oh the moldering reek!  The grout between the bathroom tiles had black mildew underneath that was nearly impossible to scrub off, even if that a$$hole Stan (wonder if you're dead, you cigarette sucking mofo), would come around with his spray bottle and spritz straight bleach all over the tiles.  That was fun to breathe in.

Being a maid is pure garbage for the most part.  You are super over-worked, usually underpaid, and looked upon as the garbage of the hotel hierarchy.  Most of us were young women who only worked there during the summer to get money for school.  We didn't really give a crap that some inconsiderate family only wanted a nice vacation.  They were the ones who left cheerios all over the floor, pizza ground into the carpet, poopy diapers stuffed into the garbage can, a foot long in the toilet, and a handful of Canadian pennies and nickels that they could no longer use on the desk as a tip.

Also, we had a lot of rooms to clean during the day:  14, minimum, but that was only if skanks like Darlene didn't call in sick at least once a week so she could go to the beach in her thong bikini.  If someone called in sick?  We got an extra room on our list.  Or two. Or five.  And nobody left until everyone was finished for the day.  So, even if you'd whipped through your 17 rooms, you had to go help Ding Dong at the end of the day, who took an hour just to vaccuum out one of her rooms, because it's HOT, and she's TIRED, and she just can't go that fast.  Thus, all summer, the overworked women who didn't throw in the towel and run away from the hotel had way too many rooms to clean. 

And people were angry because their rooms weren't ready when they checked in.  And they were angry because their room had no towels yet because the dryers broke down temporarily in laundry.  But none of the maids DARED call Dave in laundry, because he and the laundry ladies HATED the maids, and if anyone dared call him, while he was working his ass off to catch up in the 1000 degree laundry room, he would tear them a new a$$hole right there over the phone.  OH, and OH NO, there's a stain on the KING SIZED BED SPREAD in the honeymoon suite!  Oh dear lord, you're going to have to call Dave in laundry and tell him you need a new one.  Luckily he didn't hate me, but he was still not precisely pleasant. 

So, there you are, basically RUNNING all day long, like a headless chicken holding a vaccuum, desperately trying to catch up so you can get out of there by 5:00.  Sadly, you cut a lot of corners, because if it looks clean, that is damn well good enough.  It went a little something like this:

The family has checked out of their room.  Luckily they were pretty tidy.  There are the towels they've used draped over the tub.  Dave the laundry guy actually freaks out if the maids use a clean towel to clean every flipping room, so you just grab a towel that one of the nice guests just used, because it feels dry anyway, and you wipe down the whole bathroom.  Didn't take too long because that bathroom was pretty clean.  Then you take that towel and you wipe out the ice bucket.  It had a little water in it from the melted ice they must have had last night. 

What a stupid hotel you work in:  they're STILL out of all purpose cleaner.  No matter:  you have tons of those little complimentary bottles of shampoo on your cart.  So, you just crack one of those open to clean the bathrooms.  You and the other maids agree that it works even better than the cleaner for getting scum rings off the tub, and it smells pretty! 

Ah, at last, all done your rooms.  However, your boss has informed you that NUTBAR Barb is way behind, so could you please go help her out and make beds, hun?  Damn, your feet hurt, but you trudge on down to help out that whacko.  The whacko, however, is running through her rooms and remaking the beds by simply pulling up the sheets and tucking them in.  Even though new people will be checking in.  Why change them, she says, they still look perfectly crisp.  After all, some light-as-feathers elderly people on a bus tour were staying in all these rooms.  You're horrified, but you're so, so tired and thirsty that you clean some bathrooms for her and get the f*ck out of there, pretending you don't know what you just saw.

The next day is not so busy, so your boss sends you down to the "basement 900's," or the "basement 600's."  These are the rooms that everyone knows are rented out LAST--only when the hotel is cram packed, because they are DANK, DANK, DANK, and there's actual black mold on the walls.  The carpets feel slightly damp all the time, there are strange bugs, and it's basically like vacationing in a smelly basement.  Plus, if nobody has rented these rooms for a while, your job will be to go down there and vaccuum up potato bugs, and scrub mildew.  Most suspicious is how many, many of the guests who get stuck in these rooms don't seem to speak English very well....

Best not to think about it. 

At last, you've finished your exhausting week.  Maybe this was a really good week, with losts of baseball team tours, and large families (AKA douches, all).  Perhaps you had to empty out a plastic garbage can that had been used as a loogey bin all night.  Maybe someone had left an unflushable footlong in one of the rooms, that you actually broke in half with one of those complimentary tourist pamplets that are placed on the desk (I know someone who had to do that). 

Your two, your one day off is finally here (some girls just quit, and they're short-staffed AGAIN).  However, you have a new cleaning sponge on your cart.  Every time you go on your day off, the maid who uses your cart swipes your good sponge and leaves in its place a ratty, old, super hairy sponge.  And that bottle of fancy toilet bowl cleaner you had?  Yeah, it'll be gone too.  You actually take your good sponge home with you.  Plus, the maid who will have to use your cart for one day--2 if you're lucky, will feel the need to rearrange your whole f*cking cart to her liking!  Curse her!  Then you'll have to put it all back the way you like it upon your return. 

Ah!  The MEMORIES!  Remember when the crazy maintenance guy went ape sh*t with a broom on a poor bat that was hanging from the ceiling of one of those basement floors?  Remember when you and the maids were making torches with a lighter and a can of orange-scented air freshener?  Remember when the hotel lost a couple of points because the rooms were not up to the clean/nice/rentable standards that the chain it was part of demanded, and your boss told you all that "your brains fell out your asses!"  Yeah, all good times.

Oh well, I used to sweat off a ton of weight every summer working there, and don't worry:  that hotel got demolished a few years back.  So you're happy, right?  But please:  tip your maid, people.  Tip your maid.

*This post was written for this week's Studio30 Plus writing prompt  "hotel stories."  Go back to sleep now, dear.  It was all just a horrible dream.   

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  1. This is why, on the first day, I like to leave a BIG tip for my cleaning staff. I seem to get better service, and things tend to be cleaner. The more you show you appreciate them, the more they seem to appreciate you...

    I have stayed in some NASTY ASS hotels, and this post has me a lil paranoid. But I don't travel with a blacklight, so meh.

    Great post!

  2. lol to lostinidaho - strippers are like that too. tip them well up front & you'll get better service from them.
    karen, i'm glad i'm already home from my resort. i spent some time cleaning rooms before i went into residential cleaning & i used to take a nap in some of the rooms that were further away from most of the traffic when i got ahead of myself. and the pillow mints were my snacks.

  3. thanks! Actually, I would say this: if the hotel seems a little shitty, then yes, worry. But, if it's top notch clean, then chances are the maids are doing what they're supposed to. And, if not--I'm not dead YET!

  4. yeah Sherilin, and the open bag of chips left in the room while the people were out sight-seeing were my...oh wait, that didn't really happen...heh heh...but I did enjoy lots of free werther's candies during those summers :)

    Did you have a nice vacaton?

  5. oh my, I forgot my manners! Welcome,! Thanks for joining our fun :)

  6. ewwwww!! that job makes my waitressing job seem like the happiest day in happy land!yes i always tip well, i know how crappy those jobs can friends worked as maids too, one of the best stories was when a guest put spaghetti into the heart shaped hot tub,why would anyone with more than 2 i.q. points to rub togetherr do that!? maybe they felt like a snack after they used 12 condoms and scatterd them around the room, and again i say ewww! and yes, big tip!

  7. wow

    I always leave a $20 when I leave the room regardless of good or bad service. That has to be a difficult job.

    Thansk for the insight

  8. Oh Paula, you have some of the most hilarious stories and tell them with such good biting wit. 12 condoms. Mon dieu, that just makes me tired. I'll bet you have some fun stories from waitressing, no?

  9. Lance: TWENTY DOLLARS?!? SCORE! I think that happened to me once or twice. It's a lousy job--especially in a busy tourist area!

  10. `crap'
    now i feel like a shit. you know how many weeks i have stayed in a hotel these last two years? probably 4 months or more!

    and u used that ice bucket on my last trip to calgary....

    i don't even want to think..yuck

  11. I was a maid at a little hotel for about 3 weeks. It was AWFULL! I don't know how you made it through four summers.

  12. I don't think I'm every staying at a hotel again. I used to work in a hotel in Calgary (not as a maid but as a caterer) and it amazed me how cranky people are. One thing I always do at hotels, leave awesome tips!

  13. But Melissa! No worries--you survived it! Think of it this way: germs make you STRONGER! But wait--did the ice bucket have a plastic liner in it? They always have plastic liners now, therefore you're safe. The cheap ass hotel I worked in 20 years ago did NOT have plastic liners on the buckets. Plus, I always changed the sheets. See? Not all maids are dingbats. A lot of them are though...

  14. Well Jen, a couple of reasons: MONEY, and, money. And that's about it.

  15. Oh yes Clarissa--cranky indeed. I worked a few retail/service jobs in the tourist biz and people are just plain rude.

  16. I worked with Beam one summer cleaning rooms...ugh. (not the Aimee part though)
    I hope she joins in soon to tell her stories too! All I can say is Room 208...OMG!! It has been about 14 years and I can still remember it like yesterday...her screaming...and then the smell...and oh the mess!! Poor Aimee!
    I cleaned a room once with a bunch of tourists using a BBQ inside their room! good times!

  17. a barbecue in their room, Steph!!! A freaking BARBECUE?!? How come you didn't report their asses to the front desk? Good lord, what a crappo job.

    I seem to have a vague memory of room 208...

  18. OH I totally reported their tourist asses!! It was 208 *shudder*

  19. hooray for reporting them! Now that's tattling GROWNUP STYLE! Ha ha...I'll have to ask Aim about that room next time I talk to her. Her computer sucks lately so that's why she's been absent from the comments section :(

  20. Room 208?!? Sounds like a horror novel, turned major motion picture.

    Yes, I've learned to tip well and be encouraging to hotel staff when I travel. Sad that simply being kind lights up their day, like you've saved their dog or something. I write a little note with my tip, just so they know why I care.

  21. well, it probabaly sounds like THE SHINING, right, Matt? Anyhoo, that's nice that you care about the person who cleans your room. I'll never forget the young woman who was with an Amway tour on the floor I cleaned. She told me she'd be leaving a tip for me in this very condescending tone. Her room was a mess, and there was a handful of pennies nickels on and dimes on the table. Mostly pennies.

  22. That kind of 'generousity' is what gives the name of Christ a bad rap. It's like putting a fish on your car while cutting people off with road rage. While no one is immune from messing up (regularly), if there is an obvious opportunity to put your money with your mouth is about showing kindness and grace, you need to not be stingy.

    Book of James excerpt:
    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

  23. yeah, good points Matt. If you're going to talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk. I try. I do try.

  24. Room 208 the movie!! I love it! Deos kind of sound The Shining....but only with a drunken baseball team...not a gone crazy husband!

  25. room 208 the movie strikes me as more of a teen angst summer movie with boobies and wild parties


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