Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Brillo(TM) Career

In this latest recreation of myself I am, as you know, a cleaner of holiday accommodation. Ironically, when I applied for a job as a cleaner in Sydney about 35 years ago, armed only with  my HSC, I was turned away with a “Sorry, but you’re overqualified.” Nowadays, with university quals and careers as a high school teacher and a public servant under my belt, I am somehow no longer overqualified, and have been let into a secret that I’m now going to let you into as well – cleaning is a great job!

Far from feeling menial or insignificant in my ‘humble’ new career, I proudly shoulder my broom and strike out to meet whatever stains and challenges the day holds – with a song, a laugh and a car full of cleaning products.

It’s a job of contrasts. One minute my gaze is firmly fixed down a loo at unspeakable things, and the next, I’m enjoying some of the most spectacular water views in Mallacoota. This “chicken soup for the eyeballs” is a powerful remedy for the vilest visuals in the bathrooms and on the balconies around town. The greasiest stalactites sprouting from the underside of BBQ grills cannot dampen my enthusiasm, when all I need to do is raise my eyes from the gruesomeness and feast upon a silver-sequinned expanse of clear blue water; on squadrons of pelicans wheeling overhead, and on many-pointed stars of sunlight bouncing off boats bobbling or chugging about on the inlet. Pure magic.

Perhaps cleaning’s not for everybody. There are certain universals in holiday accommodation that can be a bit confronting at first:
  • Toenails – I don’t know why, but every holiday flat has them, clipped or ripped. Yuk.
  • The pubic hairs of strangers. Yuk again.
  • Toothpaste spatter on the mirrors. Ditto.
Notice I haven’t mentioned poo or spew – that’s because they are fairly rare! Most people have enough pride to leave their accommodation in pretty good shape.

So – how does cleaning compare with teaching? Here are some things I’ve realised.

Instant results
(Very) delayed gratification – it’s usually weeks, often months or even YEARS till you realise you’ve done an amazing job!
No homework
More homework than schoolwork *sigh*
An institutionalised life dictated by bells
Brain is free to indulge in flights of fancy
Brain explodes - frequently

I saved the best thing about this job till last – it’s right here in Mallacoota! I may be cleaning up the toenails and left-behind pubes of holidaymakers, but at the end of the day, those poor suckers have had to go back to their stressful lives elsewhere, while I’m already Hone Sweet Home! Wheeeeeee!


Geoff James said...

That's a really powerful post, even if written with the lightest of touches.

It takes a lot of courage to examine one's lifestyle and do something about it if it's unfulfilling. Your change of location AND career should be inspirational for others who are dissatisfied with their lot!

More power and happiness to you. May your bleach never run out :-)

Sue said...

Many thanks Geoff! Having a fab time, and my new job gives me plenty of time to enjoy the coastal lifestyle. Watch this space for a hippie/nature-lovin' post, man...
PS Do you have flying foxes in NZ, and if so, what do ppl think of them???

Geoff James said...

You rock!!!

Hmmm.... flying foxes in Kiwi parlance are wires slung between 2 points that people zoom down holding onto a piece of rope suspended from a wheel arrangement which runs on the wire. However, I suspect you mean the fruit bat in which case the answer is no! We only have a couple of native bats, no bigger than a starling and both quite rare. We like 'em as we don't get crapped on in large numbers :-)

Trobairitz said...

I am glad that you are enjoying the cleaning. It is nice that you have all that free time now to do the things you want and let your mind wander a bit.

I cleaned rooms about 16 years ago. It was darn hard work but was nice to see a job well done. I used to hate it when people clipped their nails in the sink since we were taught to take the drains out each day and make sure they were clean. Barf.

Some of the worst were flight attendant's using hair dye with our nice white towels and then making oatmeal with the coffee pot in the morning and not rinsing it. That stuff sticks.

At least you don't have to deal with school sports teams. They can really make a mess.

Congrats on the happy career change.

Sue said...

Eek, sounds like you worked some tough gigs!!! Our tiny airport (you go along a dirt road to get to it) has probably never brought a flight attendant to Mallacoota. We're pretty much off the beaten track, so we don't get the sort of ghastly messes you described (thank goodness!)

I imagine things might be different if I worked, say, at the motel attached to the local pub. They get quite a lot of groups (often bikers, but we all know they're a well-behaved and squeaky clean lot.) :-)

lemmiwinks said...

What Geoff said! I wish I could dump this crap and do something fun (and I could, everyone can, but I'm chicken/not prepared to pay the price etc).

Was (very briefly) in NZ. They don't know what an icy pole is! Popsicle, on the other hand... Nice place (bloody expensive, unless they're just hanging out the tourist pricing when they see us coming). Wellington was nice, Auckland meh, cliff houses near Akaroa fab, Milford sound missed it, shrouded in mist.

Didn't see any flying foxes of any kind. Watch out for hendra, Betty. Keep your distance from those smelly things.