Crabs on the First Day
By Jennifer Whitaker
“The first thing you do is knock on the door,” Mary suggests as she taps on the motel door. No answer that I could hear. I grab the master key and slip it in the lock. Slowly turning the handle, I peer around the door to make sure I don’t see anyone. I’m nervous, because this is my first day in housekeeping and I want to make sure I do everything in the right order. As long as I can make the bed in 5 minutes, clean the bathroom in 15 minutes, dust and vacuum in 10 minutes, I should be fine.
“It looks clear to me,” I exclaim as I nervously step aside for her next direction. I make sure to keep eye contact so Mary doesn’t think I’m trying to ignore her, she looks kind of stressed. Mary marks on the paper the out box notating that our overnight guest has left the room. Mary is stripping the bed and asks me to put the blanket on the luggage rack. “How come we don’t put the blanket in with the sheets,” I question.
“We don’t wash those every day. Only if you see noticeable stains on them do you take them to laundry,” Mary states. I’m thinking to myself oh my god what have I gotten in to. That is freakin’ disgusting.
I was just about to come back in from taking the sheets out to our cart when I heard Mary screech “Don’t come back in here! We need to go get Nita so she can get Harry to take care of this. There are crabs on the toilet seat!”
Now I’m really freakin’ out! This is a nice first day on the job. I thought when I got this job it would be pretty basic. Make the bed and clean the bathroom. How hard can that possibly be? Apparently there is more to this job than I had bargained for. I go on to the next room while Mary heads down to the office. I open the door, mark on the paper they are gone, and open the curtain. Not too bad. I turn the TV on and listen to the Price is Right while I strip the bed. I proceed to gather all the towels and beat as much water off the shower liner as I can with the dirty towels. Oh how nasty! There is a used condom slung over the top of the shower rod! Wait till Mary comes back I am not touching that thing with or without gloves!
I move on to the next room and go through these steps with the next eight rooms. I have ten rooms today. Mary told me once I get them all stripped I only have 30 minutes to get the bed made, bathroom cleaned, dust and vacuum. That is a pretty tight time frame. I hurry down to the laundry room so Anita and Sherry don’t get behind on their work. I don’t know how these ladies can stand working in all this heat. I can see the sweat dripping off Anita’s brow as she’s folding the bleach white sheets. I watch in awe as they finish up, and not one time did the crisp sheet touch the filthy floor. I could tell these ladies had been doing this together for a long time. Their motions were in unison just like a synchronized swimming team. The only thing good about this room is you can smell the fabric softener, even if it was a cheap imitation of snuggle. I pass Mary on the way back out, still thinking about the crab room “Harry is going to spray that room,” Mary explained. “We will have double up on that room last.”
Nita the head house keeper stops us. Geez I hope I don’t get her mixed up with Anita in the laundry room. Nita explains to me that at the end of the day she is the one in charge to check my rooms. She will make sure the sheets are all tucked in and no wrinkles on the bedspread. Also no hair in the bathroom, or streaks on any of the mirrors. She seems kind of sad, I suppose I would too if I had this job as long as she has. Nita finishes her introduction. She states that sometimes the crab thing just happens and in this job we are going to see things we don’t like or don’t want to do, but it is our responsibility to get the job done.
“Even if there is a used condom in the room? I don’t even see any gloves on the cart!” I reply totally stunned. While she’s explaining I have to provide them on my own if I want gloves I just stand there in disbelief. Mary pats me on the shoulder to signal me it’s time to get back to work.
Mary shows me how to make the bed properly. First you put the first flat sheet on and tuck it with really tight corners. The second flat sheet goes on top of that one and you flip the top over, next is the filthy paisley comforter, then pillows and roll the top. Mary makes sure to show me the creases at the foot of the bed.
Next I am off to the bathroom. The toilet bowl cleaner is a runny blue liquid that doesn’t cling to anything. The only thing it’s stripping is the air from my lungs. The shower cleaner has a clear color and smells of a bunch of flowers that are sure to give me a headache. I’ll be leaving the fan on in here for sure. I use a clean dry towel to dry everything, especially the chrome fixtures. That is apparently one of the pet peeves of Nita.
I started the vacuum while I watched Mary and what was the required dusting of each room. The only furniture is the TV stand, plain night stands and the lamp shades. Mary points out to dust inside the lamp shades to free them of the cobwebs.
Trying hard to not touch my face with my hands, I wipe the sweat from my brow with my shirt. “It’s definitely a workout! You are doing a great job though. I will be sure to tell Nita,” Mary praises.
We get to the room where the condom is and Mary explains to me that you can just wad up toilet paper to pick it up. In my mind I’m thinking I’m definitely bringing gloves tomorrow. I can’t believe that people would expect a maid to actually touch something like that. They should pay more than $4.25 an hour if they do. Oh well at least I have a job so I can pay my rent. Finally, we are at the crab room. It’s been sprayed, and the blankets were removed by someone else. Thank God maybe they burned them.
As we finish up for the day we take a rest in the office/laundry room. Everyone has a good chuckle about the new girl finding crabs on her first day. The attitudes are light, so at Ieast I know they are not going to be mean to me. They just like to have a good laugh. I thought Nita was going to fall out of her chair and the tears were streaming down her face. I didn’t have the heart to embarrass Mary and tell them I still don’t even know what a crab looks like. It may not be the best job on the market, but we will at least have a good time!