Tuesday, June 9, 2015


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.

With this outside job in housekeeping i learned a great deal of technical skills that helped greatly in my daily homemaking tasks. i had no choice other than to get more efficient at my household tasks or get devoured by them. Rhoda, Tiffany, and the Maids taught me a lot!


Anonymous said...

An excellent training ground - i too wonder at the amount there is to do in a home (now that i've started to take notice!!!) and how on earth could you get it all done.

i do hope you expand on how they let you know who was boss in those early days. my Mother always told me that a formal education means nothing when it comes to how you treat people so you learnt a valuable life lesson there as well as a practical one.

I expect shoes were a practical affair, slip ons and the like, but foot care must be a priority for maids, did you notice any particular details about that? i can well imagine the sighs of contentment should you be able to massage away the days aches and pains but i suppose that was not part of the job description :)

i wonder if there are now progressive hotels, run by Women for Women with male maid service (overseen by a demanding Female manager of course) - wouldn't it be a wonder if the Lady could check in and hand over her baggage and her husband and he became part of the staff. I'm sure in some hotels people put their shoes outside to be cleaned overnight - my what a job!

Sorry will stop blathering now!

Thanks for the insights.


PS can you tell i'm a bit of a shoe man?!

Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to AW above:

Working at the hotel taught me quite a bit of housekeeping skills that i put to use every day. We only had so much time to do a room and had to do it to standards. The supervisor, Rhoda in this case, would randomly inspect the rooms that each Girl did but in my case She always inspected every one. Miss something and it had to be corrected or redone and Rhoda ALWAYS found something wrong - a lesson in humility, surely. . There was more work in a room being vacated so these were tougher assignments. Early on Rhoda and the Girls gave me more vacated rooms and, while i struggled with the extra work load, it forced me to get good at things like stripping and making beds. If i were moving between rooms one of the Girls might tell me to do something in a room She was working, usually vacuuming. i was only too glad to help. My doing extra chores and more vacated rooms allowed the Girls to get out on the balcony for an extra cigarette here and there. After many months i was finally invited outside on the balcony to have a cigarette with the Girls - i knew i made it, at least as far as a man could in the Girl's world. No matter what i did i would always be subordinate to Rhoda and the girls. Of course Rhoda gave orders, that was Her job but the Girls could - and did - give me orders although they would never change an order Rhoda had given me. i've not only cleaned rooms but worked in the housekeeping laundry and did kitchen duty, all under Rhoda's supervision. i learned so much that i apply to my daily work. What i've learned had made me more efficient allowing me to do more and do it better that before i worked at the hotel.

i also worked with a maid service, one that was Woman-owned and run. i'd go out with a crew to clean houses. Lots of work under close supervision and i had to pay my dues on this job too. i started out doing toilets wherever we went. only after i was accepted by the Women did this task get shared, to a degree, again. Again, i learned much that has helped me at home.


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful reminiscence dennis, one to be treasured over the years. I really like how you learned to be more humble in relation to women. I personally always find enjoyment serving women, but true humility with women is a developed quality and it eludes me. It really speaks volumes that you have attained this. Did you ever have to struggle with it? Do you have any further advice?


Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to LS above:

You just have to realize that the Women - all of them - are your superiors. Once you do everything falls into place...


Anonymous said...

They are Women who have not been appreciated by society yet the do good and important work. You learnt a valuable lesson which will help you in all areas. I am so heartened to see you keep a check on patriarchal ideas of entitlement and knuckled down to humbly submit to the Women's authority.

I expect the little ritual you were forced to perform might have been their pushing your head down a toilet and maybe even flushing it. Its is humiliating but it is a right of passage and initiation ceremony for you as a male.

How proud you will be when you are given the accolade of a Maid. Of course still inferior to all the Women.


Mark Remond said...

dennis responds to femsup above:

The 'little ritual' you describe won't happen.

Anonymous said...

You write "these Women exercised their power over me in a number of ways that i won’t now mention" - care to expand?

Edward said...

There is so much worth commenting on in this posting, it is difficult to know where to begin. It was so kind of Rhoda to offer to help Sue, by offering to train you properly. With out a doubt it was only proper that they decide your pay be turned over to Sue, and the tips be handed to Rhoda for your superiors you were working with. If you weren't there being trained, the maids (your superiors) would have been doing those rooms, and that money would have gone to them anyways. Also, since Sue is without a housekeeper at home while you are at the hotel, it's only fair that she be compensated for this. i think it's wonderful that you were able to improve your housekeeping skills, but more importantly it was reinforced once again that women are superior to men, and should be respected as such. i do hope the feather duster, and apron hold a special place in your heart, and that you are taking the utmost care of the apron, and washing, ironing, and folding it with love, and care.

Not only am I proud of you Dennis, but at the same time i am envious, and perhaps jealous of you. i will consider doing the same as you, and working in a housekeeping department. But i don't think it would be at all the same experience. With Sue knowing Rhoda, they were able to create the humiliation, and stressful environment a man needs to strongly benefit from to become proficient at vacuming, making beds, cleaning a bathroom fast and properly the first time. Also if I were to join a hotel housekeeping staff, i doubt the others would demean me in the way you were to reinforce that in 'their house'at that time i am on no uncertain terms inferior to them in work status. Were you able to achieve 'maid' status? I really hope you have. If not, then don't give up, and keep working towards your goal.

Thank you for posting this experience, and your beautiful memories of working with these wonderful women. As was stated by another person commenting. Many women do good, and important work in our society, with little notice or appreciation. Maybe it's time i walked in their shoes for a while. This has given me the idea to do the same, and i will certainly look into it. I too will hand over any pay to my wife, the true head of our household.