Grandma and Kirby

Catharine - Nashville, Indiana
Entered on June 11, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50


If what they say is true…that cleanliness is next to godliness, then my grandmother was a saint. Cleanliness was her passion and her career and it is because of her that I believe in always tipping the maid.

My grandmother worked in a bustling college campus hotel. Her uniform was a dress and an apron. I remember running up and down those long halls as a kid while she cleaned up after others and looked after me at the same time. I was intrigued with the people who could afford to stay overnight in fancy rooms and mesmerized whenever Grandma spoke to them. She was more than a room attendant or housekeeper. She was an ambassador. She answered questions, gave directions, and made sure each guest had what they needed. Grandma loved her job and she always wore a smile despite her aches and pains from this strenuous profession.

I remember her letting me push her heavy supply cart down the hall. Then she would rap at a guest room door….

Knock, knock, knock… ( pause)… “HOUSEKEEPING”, she would announce loudly and deliberately. No response meant that she likely had a check out and she could move in. From the moment she unlocked the door, there was just one focus, one goal; to systematically and efficiently clean. This was the only way she could possibly complete all of her assigned rooms. She moved quickly and rotely as she turned on lamps, turned lampshade seams away from sight, straightened pictures on the wall, opened curtains and turned on her favorite soap opera. This quick walk through assessment was the beginning of a transformation that went something like this…

Strip the beds, collect soiled towels, empty trash cans, and remove used soaps, shampoo bottles and hair from the tub. Pick up trash that didn’t make it to the wastebasket, and then conduct a search for anything else that may have been left under the beds, in the closet, or behind furniture. She could gather and dispose of all of this filth in one fell swoop. Armed with fresh linens, towels and cleaning supplies she moved to the reconstruction phase.

She could make a hotel bed in a record time; complete with hospital corners. Next was the back breaking work …Scrubbing, swishing, plunging, wiping, washing, rinsing, polishing, dusting, replacing, adjusting, and rearranging.

Last but not least, she would lug the vacuum off of the cart and into the room. Once plugged in, she would begin the dance and her dance partner was this big guy she called Kirby. She moved chairs, tables, and wastebaskets with one hand and did a dip with Kirby in the other. As she backed out of the room, vacuuming over her footprints, she instinctively checked for the “Do Not Disturb” sign. And then she closed the door. One down and fifteen to go.

Grandma earned minimum wage and was occasionally tipped. People today who believe, as my Grandma did, that it is better to give than to receive, can be found rewarding the bellman for carrying a bag, thanking a bartender with a buck, or throwing change in a tip jar. If those people could have seen my Grandma at work, they might share in my belief…I believe in always tipping the maid.