It was as a housekeeping runner.
It was one of those jobs you never imagine yourself doing.
At least, I never did. I was starting college, after all. I ranked number six in my high school class. Surely there was someone interested in my abilities.
And yet. No one was.
So my mom talked to her boss, and there was an opening as a housekeeping runner. I didn’t really knew what it meant, but I knew I needed experience. I needed to do this.
I was that person that housekeepers and guests would call if they needed anything.
Guest requests ranged from dropping off soaps to picking up dirty towels with blood on them. Yes, blood. You see, guests don’t really think about the safety of those cleaning up. They simply called for me to drop off and collect towels so that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t know there’d be blood on them…Until, the pile of 8+ towels fell as I was leaving the room. I need to move on. I didn’t have time to find out what to do. I simply picked them up and prayed for days that they weren’t infected with diseases. Thank God, they weren’t.
The housekeepers requests were more labor intensive though. They would require multiple duvets, pillows, and piles of towels at the same time. You know those hotel covers that are incredibly heavy to move as you’re trying to snuggle your way in. Yes, I’d have to carry three or four at time for the sake of time. Then I’d have to rush to the next room and bring up to eight sets of four towels, meanwhile figuring out how I was going to drop off the vacuum without dropping other miscellaneous items (and usually a duvet). And like that, my days kept repeating in between those cycles. Never stopping. Never able to take a break. Just rushing from place to place to make sure I wasn’t fired.
Part of management took advantage of that though. They could sense my fears. And so, when it was raining too hard to drive a golf cart with coverings or they simply didn’t want to risk ruining their hair… I would be sent to complete their deliveries. I’d come back at the end of the day, drenched in water. Not even a thank you was given. Only to find them chatting away.
It was humiliating to say the least. It really was.
It was just about survival at that point though. And so I did it. I worked like that for two full months during the weekends, and then I turned in my resignation.
I couldn’t do it any longer. My self-worth was below the surface. I felt completely worthless.
I never told my mom about any of that though. To this day sometimes it’ll come up, and we’ll talk about how intense it was when I had to hold on to things with one hand, drive with the other, and then have the golf cart completely full of stuff. I never complained though. She tells me that she’s proud that I was able to make it through and how sorry she is that she couldn’t help me any more. She admires me for surviving. I understand her. I never go deeper into my emotions though. I knew how much she suffered seeing me in those conditions. There’s no need for me to confirm her fears.
There were positive moments though. The housekeeping team showed me kindness and encouragement. The majority tried to help me. They saw how hard I was trying. And every chance they’d get, they would remind me to keep going to school. They constantly tell me how important it was for me to not give up on that. In the simplest of ways, they were humble souls.
To do that type of job, you need to be tough. You can’t pretend that your hair is going to stay straight. You can’t be proactive while keeping your nails in perfect condition. You can’t. You really can’t. If you do, you’re probably not being proactive enough.
All the women and men I worked with had their body marked by their jobs. The heavy mattresses they lift to perfectly fold your blankets led to their multiple back issues. The linens were hot to the touch as they’re perfectly manually folded led to scared and painful hands. The perfectly clean bathroom achieved by using harsh chemicals led to sickness.
Every single thing you encounter in a hotel room is done manually. A human being is making that happen. So next time you order room service, you walk into a clean room, you need to take that moment in and thank the individual who made it happen.
If there’s anything that my #FirstJob taught me is to continuously be thankful for those individuals. They are wonderful women and men, so please treat them with kindness. They deserve it. They really do.