David Michael, “Why the Swedes Move to Norway and Why I Tagged Along”
A vacated room was supposed to take no more than 20 minutes for a single housekeeper. A whole suite, about an hour. The bathtub filled with seaweed took an hour to clean. Smock-pockets filled with cleaning spray and rags, we descended upon the rooms, dusting, wiping, changing sheets, and folding fresh towels like origami. If there were dirty dishes, we did those. The cleaning spray dried out our sinuses and gave us bloody noses. In the bathrooms, there was always a steady supply of hair in bathtubs and the sporadic used condom. When it came time to fold the loose end of the toilet paper into a triangle—apparently nothing says luxury like having someone attend to the aesthetics of your ass-wiping experience—I had to remind myself I was making $25 an hour.
If the whole suite had been vacated, we would brew some coffee and drink it on the suite’s balcony, a view of the mountains and sea so sublime that we forgot we were wearing sweaty smocks stuffed with cleaning spray. More than the money, these views—and the ability to go hiking, swimming, and fishing after work—are what made the work bearable for my housemates and me.
This is my commonplace book and sometime-journal.
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