I’ve worked in many different industries to get through college. Let’s face it, when you’re a college student, there isn’t much you won’t do for a little cash. I’ve waited tables full of messy children, made espresso drinks for people that don’t know the difference between a cappuccino and a latte, and answered angry customer service calls for a famous satellite television company. But of all of the part-time, minimum-wage jobs that I’ve subjected myself to over the years, there’s only one that I would never, ever, despite any level of desperation, do again: hotel housekeeper.
It isn’t just the obscene amount of body hair that some people can lose while showering, or the prophylactics left between the sheets for you to dispose of. And, don’t get me wrong, hotel housekeeping is disgusting (hotels should provide HAZMAT suits for their cleaning staff), but that’s not the worst of it.
The frightening part is the window into the interior lives of your fellow Americans. There is just something about cleaning up after people that have absolutely no regard for the job you must do when they leave that slowly sucks away your soul over time. Sure, there are the guests that neatly pile their towels in a corner and throw their garbage away before they check out. Unfortunately, those guests can’t make up for the rest of humanity.
For whatever reason, staying in a hotel turns an otherwise organized and clean adult into someone a week away from starring on their very own episode of Hoarders. Disposable cups from the free coffee in the lobby and creamer cups cover every surface and there is no rhyme or reason to where dirty and clean clothes end up. It’s disturbing to say the least. In any other circumstance, it would be incomprehensible to wipe food-covered hands on crisp, white bedspreads.
My last day as a hotel housekeeper started out like any other day. I walked down the hallway to the first room on my list and knocked on it to make sure that it was vacant. I slid the keycard through the lock and opened the door. I started in on my usual routine. I gathered sheets, towels, and trash bags. I wiped down all of the surface and vacuumed the carpet. I restocked the bathroom items and then placed clean towels on the shelf. I grabbed clean sheets and made the bed, then moved on to the next room. I opened the door to a much different scene than what I was used to.
I looked around and saw a very bare room. No bedspread or pillows. No coffee maker or ice bucket above the microwave. No phone or lamp or room service menus on the bedside table. No chairs sitting at the table by the window. My eyes gravitated upward. Everything that was not bolted down was now suspended from the ceiling by duct tape directly above its normal location in the room. Even the Gideon Bible sat upside down 10 feet in the air, next to the lamps and phone with the cord dangling. I’ll never know who ended up putting the room back together or if the credit card on file was charged because after taking it all in, I turned around, walked out the door, and never looked back.
By Hannah Darling