(Catch up if you missed Chapter 1)
When I arrived for my first day of actual work on Monday, I was greeted with not one, but two uniforms. The first was the ill-fitting, polyester pant suit that I had seen the other managers sporting. What I didn’t notice right away was the room attendant uniform hiding on the hanger behind my jazzy new suit. As I pulled the second hanger, another manager recognized the baffled look I forgot to hide. With a smug grin, she explained what the Director had forgotten to mention: I would be wearing the room attendant uniform during my training stage. And I would be trained by Eve, the housekeeper who was also the department’s union delegate. It would be up to Eve to determine when I was ready to move onto my next phase of training.
I extended my hand towards Eve with a smile. She did not return the gesture. She looked me up and down. “How old are you?” Before I could figure out if she actually wanted an answer, she added, “I’ve been working at this hotel since before you were born, girlie.” Oh. Lovely to meet you too.
Little did I know how often I would hear that exact comment in the upcoming months. I hurried to the locker room to get into my uniform so I wouldn’t be late. I emerged, looking stunning in my new polyester, and ran right into one of the girls I had spent the previous orientation week alongside. She kept walking without looking up. She didn’t recognize me. She just saw the uniform.
In hotel school, you learn that the best service you can offer to your guests is when you are invisible. The little unexpected touches that you provide when a guest isn’t even paying attention usually make the biggest impression. I didn’t realize that the invisibility would extend to the back of the house as well. So this is what it means to be a housekeeper.