Writing Group 85: Bed sheets

“Hotel bed sheets not washed between guests”, said the headline.

Undercover reporters use ultraviolet paint to test if the bed sheets of hotels are changed after each guest…the answer may scare you.

Of course, they found examples of when they are not… Or it would not be an article. 

Yes, sleeping in someone else sheets is disgusting, but what may be even more disgusting is the treatment of the minimum wage, zero hours contract workers, who will now be sacked because of this investigation. They will have lost their jobs, because it is a lot easier to sack the housekeeping staff and replace them with new ones, than to actually give the people enough time to clean the rooms, enough money to make the work bearable, enough support to make them feel valued.

Because I have been there. With a timer set on each room, you had no time to pause, to think, to do anything. It was a race. A race against the bosses upstairs, who looked a numbers and times and money, not real people. A race against the supervisor, checking the rooms, banishing a white duster. A race against the guests checking in. And a race against your other colleges, fellow cleaners, for the best trolley, the vacuum cleaner that worked and the spare pillows. It was a cut throat environment there, you could not work as a team, it was every woman for herself, elbow out, speed walking down the corridor to get there first.

And so physically demanding. Pushing trolleys laden with sheets and rubbish, pulling off sheets from beds, throwing them on again. Heavy vacuums, never sitting down, reaching up and crouching down, up down up down all day until you could hardly walk.

And the battle scares, bleeding knuckles from the heavy starch of the sheets, bruised legs from the bumps and bangs. Having to resew the patches on the knees of my trousers each evening. The emotional scares of being treated like scum. And all for hardly enough to live.

So next time you shine the light on this kind of investigation, leave a huge tip, the girls are going to need it.



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