Currently, I’m living at home with my parents. This means, in most respects, spring cleaning does not apply to me. It happens all around me though – as my stepdad guts the house of anything extra, anything taking up unnecessary square feet. He does this on a broad spectrum: from decorations, to kitchen ware, to spices. My mother watches anxiously as things that previously had a home are displaced, and piled on the floor in the dining room. An antler from a five point buck (brought back home by one of our dogs), some pottery, Uno, antique jars, a buttersaver container. It’s stressful. Above all, though, spring brings melting, and mud on the paws and shoes, and so extra mopping must occur. What a price we pay for a little warm weather!
Though I’m not obligated to take part in the mad rush of cleaning at home, my extra hours at work this week are entirely devoted to spring cleaning. During the summer it’s too busy to really clean the restaurant. During the winter the fireplace, though cozy, spreads ash all about. Now is the time to prep the restaurant for the summer season. It’s my job this week to take it apart, clean it, and put it back together again. It ain’t pretty, but it pays the bills.
This is not the only cleaning I do. In winter and spring, hours are sparse. Work is hard to come by. So I also do housekeeping. Housekeeping is a different kind of cleaning. It is not personal hygiene cleaning, or the scrubbing of one’s own bathroom, it is not, communal space cleaning, or kitchen cleaning, it is unknown dirty person, cleaning.
It surprises me how much you can tell about a person by the way they leave their hotel room. You might talk to folks at dinner and get a feel for their personality. By what they choose to eat.
For example: choosing the chicken dish at a fine dining restaurant. Chicken is the safe dish. It’s generally geared towards the older, unadventurous crowd, or children. It’s a simple dish, with a simple marinade – something you could probably make at home. It is priced accordingly.
Dishes like the chicken contrast with the New York strip steak, or the short ribs. They are more expensive dishes, there are more exciting flavor combinations. You probably wouldn’t make it at home, and if you did, most likely it would not be as tasty, or as innovative as what the chef would come up with. You can do the same thing with the wine and beer list. There are always safe choices – the Chardonnay for whites, the Merlot for reds – and there’s a range of prices. All these clues can tell you a lot about a person.
But nothing so much as their personal space. Some folks remake the bed in the morning. This isn’t helpful to housekeeping, since we have to strip the sheets off. But it’s thoughtful. It shows effort. Some folks leave their garbage all over the room instead of in the trash can. Sometimes there’s a mysterious odor. The bathroom – how’s the toilet look? Is there pee in the toilet, or all over it? You’d be surprised by how messy that can get, even for a couple staying in a room a single night.
Because it’s a small B&B that I work at, most of the time I know the couples. I hostessed while they ate dinner, chatted them up at the bar, perhaps checked them in. So I can compare how they behaved in the restaurant and what their conversation was like to the room I walk into in the morning. Most of the time impressions match up. They are what you expect. Other times, a wonderfully funny, entertaining couple will leave the room a sty, and check out after 11:00.
All in all, it can be pretty entertaining. There are some stories that are legendary at the B&B, passed down from one generation of staff members to the next, like ghost stories or family history.
Here’s one: Man checks in with woman who looks like a hooker, a southern cheerleader, or both. She’s a cougar – clearly older than him, but a total fox. Everyone’s staring at them and the man knows it, and likes it. He’s a self-made man. Has money, earned his way up the ladder, has become, maybe always was, a bit of a douche bag. He’s very, “Hey, Hey,” greased hair, thumbs up, sideways smile. Later, he comes downstairs and asks the innkeeper to deliver a bottle of wine to the room.
“Hey, hey,” he says, “Don’t mind what you see up there. She’s crazy.”
Innkeeper goes upstairs. Knocks on the door, gets the go ahead, walks into the room. A giant dildo sits front and center, on the table. He puts down the bottle of wine and walks out, laughing.
Later the next day, one of the servers, knowing the couple, asks the housekeeper what their room was like.
“It was…moist in there ,” the housekeeper says, “It smelled like…a lot of KY jelly.”