The Bosses Need To Clean Up Their Act

, , , , , , | Working | May 6, 2018

(I am doing work experience for a year between school and university, at a historic castle-turned-museum. Since I travel there by bus, I’m usually 15 minutes early with nobody there to unlock the offices. I spend my time sitting in the gardens or waiting hall. I always greet the cleaning crew working around me and sometimes chat with them. When winter hits, they invite me to their break room so I don’t freeze to death waiting for the museum workers.)

Cleaning Lady #1: “You know, we’ve never had one of you work experience kids up here.”

Me: “Oh? Is it not allowed?”

Cleaning Lady #1: “Nah, they were all so stuck-up. Wouldn’t even talk to us. Right out of school, no job experience at all, but they already didn’t care for us cleaners.”

Cleaning Lady #2: “There was a really bad one, too; she was so rude, even to the craftsmen working in the museum. Only sucked up to the director and curators.”

Me: “You’d think that work experience kids would realise they’re sort of the lowest rung of the ladder?”

Cleaning Lady #1: “You’d think, but no.”

(A few weeks later, one of the curators tasks me with sorting through and cleaning up an area of the archive that hasn’t been properly taken care of for years. I ask the cleaning ladies for supplies, but they actually end up helping me clean while I sort the papers.)

Curator: “You’re already done? I thought this would take you a week, at least.”

Me: “Oh, Mrs. [Cleaning Lady #1] and Mrs. [Cleaning Lady #2] helped me a bit.”

Curator: “Who?”

Me: “The cleaning crew?”

(During the course of the year, I learned that most of the “higher” workers didn’t even know the names of the cleaners. Even the craftsmen didn’t interact with them much, despite sharing a locker room with them.)

Craftsman #1: “How did you get all this stuff transported here so fast?”

Me: “You know the shortcut through the back hall, with almost no lamps? Turns out the smallest trolley fits through there.”

Craftsman #2: “How did you even know about the back hall? Nobody goes through there.”

Me: “The cleaning crew does.”

(At the end of my work experience, the cleaning crew had helped me out more times than anyone else, and taught me many tricks that made my job a lot easier. When I left, I got a friendly card and a small brooch from the museum. The cleaning crew got me a personalised gift, instead. My first work experience taught me that simply being friendly and polite towards “lower” workers can make a big difference.)

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