Saturday, May 25, 2013

First Day

I'm a GRA for the summer, which is shorthand for Guestroom Attendant, which is code for Hotel Maid. At orientation they told us only the mules at the Grand Canyon work harder than we do. I've been going through paperwork and training for the last few days, and today was the first day I actually went to work.

I left an hour early because the Grand Canyon really is a village, and I didn't trust myself to navigate the buses on my first try. That was a wise decision, and after a few recalculations, I showed up to the housekeeping office with time to spare.

As people filed into the office, I realized that I didn't hear a word of English. The other workers were from Thailand, Jamaica, and the Philippines, and they talked quickly to each other in their own languages. I would later learn that the only other Americans at Yavapai were a few Navajo women and the manager, an older woman with a smoker's rasp and a Louisiana accent.

Noraliz, a lovely woman from Venezuela trained me on my first few rooms. I was eager to practice my Spanish, and she wanted to work on her English, so as we worked a sort of pidgin emerged. 

"You change the sheets pero no the blankets."

"Cuantos sheets necesitamos?"

After the initial few weeks, a GRA is supposed to clean 14 rooms a day, or about one every half-hour. In those 30 minutes, we must strip the beds and remake them with hospital corners, dust every surface, replace the towels and coffee, scrub the bathroom from floor to ceiling, and remember a hundred other details like where to put the remote and what channel to turn the TV to. 

Between bending to make the bed, scrubbing the floor on your knees, and reaching up to dust picture frames, the work is exhausting. Noraliz promised I would be "so slender" by the time the summer was over. 

I cleaned a room by myself after I was trained, and did it perfectly... in an hour and fifteen minutes. I knew I was going to learn a lot this summer, but I didn't think I would learn so much about housekeeping!

Twenty-eight beds a day... is this penance for a childhood of mornings that I left my bed a mess?

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