Tuesday, June 9, 2015
dennis: ON LOAN TO RHODA—WORKING AT THE HOTEL
i’d spoken earlier about how the guys in our little social group help out when one of the men in our group is traveling. i spoke about Linda and my work while i was on loan to Her when hubby, tom, was out of town for work. My experience extends beyond simply serving Women within our group, however. My Mother-in-law, Sue, has made arrangements with three Women-run businesses: 1) housekeeping at a local hotel, 2) a local Women’s boutique, and, 3) a Maid service. Everyone benefits with the arrangements we have: the Women get needed help, Sue gets money and perks, and i get valuable training and work experience.
At home i’m responsible for domestic service – housekeeping – and while i loved the work i was finding myself getting further and further behind, i was simply inefficient. Sue to the rescue! One day She was speaking with Rhoda, a Woman friend who ran housekeeping for two local hotels. When Sue expressed frustration with me and my inefficiency, Rhoda offered to help. Rhoda proposed training me to be a Maid at the hotel and, in the process, making me very efficient at housekeeping. Hotel Maids have a tough job – plenty of rooms and not much time to clean them. Not only would i learn a great deal about housekeeping but i’d be working in a Woman-run environment.
Sue and Rhoda struck a bargain. Rhoda would train me and, in return, Sue promised to make me available for a certain number of days each year – usually on weekends – to supplement Her staff when needed. i would be paid but i’d give that money, and any hotel perks i’d get, back to Sue. Any tips i received from cleaning rooms were to be turned over to Rhoda to be split among the other Maids.
The two Women agreed, and the next Saturday i reported to Rhoda at the hotel to begin my training. i was issued a uniform and a name tag and a block of rooms to clean – piece of cake, i thought.
Rhoda and Her Girls just threw me into it, assigning rooms and pointing out where the service carts were located. I received no training to begin with, but plenty of yelling and harsh comments. My rooms were continually failing inspection, and couldn’t be assigned to new guests making the front desk angry. i quickly found myself behind in my tasks; they hadn’t shown me any of the tricks of the trade but thrown me into it as a way of learning some respect and humility.
Halfway through the day the Women invited me into the break room for cigarettes and lunch. i was way behind and begged the Women to help me – i promised i’d make it up to them. They loved the begging! They’d rightly perceived that i underestimated the task; worse, a few of the Maids assumed i didn’t respect them. That, i assured them, was not the case. Rhoda assigned me to Tiffany, a tough, no-nonsense Maid for my training. Tiffany set the record straight. i was told that all the Maids were to be treated with respect and deference – “Yes, Ma’am, no, Ma’am.” The Maids were to be addressed as Ms, and their first name or however i was told to address them, “yes, Ms. Tiffany!” i was to obey all the Maids, all the time.
After lunch we went at it full force, with Ms. Tiffany ordering me around like a drill sergeant. FYI, yelling works! i learned a lot of humility, too. i’d always worked for or with educated Women, but here i was a guy with graduate degrees as the lowest-ranking member of an all-Woman team, none of whom had attended college! And i deserved to be at the bottom! It was humiliating for me because in their world of the housekeeper they were in charge. i entered their domain at their pleasure at the very bottom of the hierarchy – and i’d stay there, said Rhoda.
Two of the Maids on our team were sarcastic toward me, often saying things like, “Oh, you have a masters degree and can’t even clean a toilet!” These Women exercised their power over me in a number of ways that i won’t now mention, but their comments were right – my formal education didn’t count for a thing. Formal education didn’t help me to efficiently make beds, dust, vacuum or clean toilets, only the skills Rhoda and the Ladies would teach me would do that. The other Girls reminded me of this, too. And Rhoda started our shift meetings with “OK, Ladies....” – giving no special recognition for me, a recognition that i’m now very embarrassed to admit i initially thought i deserved. Of course i didn’t.
Only when Rhoda and Tiffany decided that i learned the job and learned my place, did they give me a cherished educational credential, a silver hotel logo “Housekeeper” nametag engraved “Denise.” Yes, Denise! The engraver assumed that Dennis was a misspelling and took it upon himself to make the change – sexist bastard! It was returned and corrected with proper spelling and capitalization; it now reads ‘dennis.’ This is the first step, the next is “Maid” if Rhoda sees fit to promote, but before that happens i have to gain experience in other departments.
My biggest reward, though, is that i’m now accepted by the other Maids. We converse, take smoke breaks, i pitch in to help them when i can, always bring cigarettes, and make and serve coffee. It all means a lot to them. i was flattered when, during one Saturday’s lunch break, the Women presented me with a feather duster and a rather fancy maid’s apron. i tried it on for them to their applause; i took it home but will bring it in for special occasions.