Chambermaid Confessions #7: Prioritize the Occupied

by Holly Rhodes

Photo: Olivier Bruchez / Flickr

Chapter 7
(Catch up on chapters 1-6.)

Here's what I learned rather quickly: The main reason my colleagues didn't want me to shadow them for training was because I interrupted their well mapped-out television schedules.

When I worked with Eve cleaning rooms, we had to take an early lunch so she could start her afternoon promptly at noon to catch Judge Joe Brown, thus kicking off a long afternoon of courtroom television. At first I thought she was diligently prioritizing occupied rooms in the morning to ensure that no guest returned from a morning meeting or shopping excursion to an unmade bed. I soon caught on to the fact that Eve wanted to get the rooms out of the way because she wasn’t allowed to turn on the TV or change the station in occupied rooms. Checking those rooms off her assignment sheet meant that she could spend her afternoon arguing with or praising TV judges — as she folded towels and made perfect creases and tucks in the sheets — for punishments and sentences they doled out.

Vacant rooms took more time to clean, and no one yelled at the ladies for keeping the TV or radio on in the background. This gave them privacy to proceed with their television lineups as they saw fit. As I got to know the ladies, I realized that every one had priorities and structure to her day. Some ladies did the vacant rooms first because they needed to see Regis & Kelly. Finding one of those ladies to tell them that one of their occupied rooms called for service in the morning always involved a knock-down, drag-out fight. 

Esme was a sucker for Lifetime movies, Olivia couldn’t pass up any season of Law & Order, and Farrah (the baby of the bunch) never missed a music video countdown. Even the managers had their schedules worked out: The first thing Esther did when she walked into a room to inspect it was turn on HGTV. She had to make sure the remotes were working properly, she told me.

This was the first of many unspoken understandings I came to realize. Along with memorizing names and faces, I would have to memorize everyone’s television preferences. I needed to know who I could call on at what time of day. I would have to find a way to work around these ladies if I was going to find a way to work with them. My optimism at revolutionizing this department and leaving my imprint on this hotel was rapidly dwindling.

Read more Confessions of a Four-Star Chambermaid.