I want to start this piece by saying that I left my part time job on Sunday 13th November, and the reasons throughout this article will become apparent. But after dealing with the bullsh*t at work for a year, which made me physically sick and had me in tears after every shift because of how I was treated, I began to think. I sat down nursing my blistered feet thinking ‘surely other students get treated better than this?’ So I decided to ask around, both current students and past students and what I found was quite interesting.
But first I shall start with my experience. I got a job as housekeeping at a large hotel chain (since I have no problem with the chain itself I won’t name it). This was my first real grown up job so when I started I was happy to have that independence from my parents who had been supporting me since my first year (thank you Mum and Dad!) It was a good experience to actually have a job and not rely on the unstable work of a Student Ambassador (which I have now taken up again because for £8.96 an hour, I am there). When I first started I was treated quite nicely; they asked me questions about where I was from, what course I was doing and what I wanted to do after I’d left university, they seemed genuinely nice.
For the first couple of months it was a good place to work, there was the obvious gossip, mainly because I worked with all women. However, most gossip was started by the supervisor who I shall refer to as The Minion in this article. I would like to state at this point she was the source of all b*tching.
There were some notably bad shifts, my first one having 12 departs my second week there and being shouted at by a co-worker. I have never let anybody apart from my boyfriend privy to this information, I needed a weekend off for a family gathering with my in-laws who I was still trying to impress (even though they already liked me). That was why I seemed distant Mother-in-Law! I was feeling guilty about upsetting a woman I’d known for two weeks.
For those who aren’t aware of what a depart entails, basically it’s changing bedding, emptying bins, dusting and hoovering, wiping over surfaces and changing mugs and teas and coffees. And then the bathroom is like doing a bathroom at home: clean the toilet, wipe the sides, wipe over the sink and bath, change the towels and mop the floor.
It was only when we got our third manager after I’d been there for 4 months when all the problems began. For the sake of confusion I will call him Bob. Shortly after Bob and his micro-managing started, The Minion accused me of lying when she said it looked like rooms hadn’t been hoovered. The excuse? The plug was in the same place it was last time she’d been up! Yes of course little Minion, I shall lift the plastic handle to put the plug on the other side! And it was always an on-going issue, and she didn’t hesitate to tell Bob over the phone when I clearly neglected this job, which resulted in a scolding and more micro-managing. Of course, she would tell others what was going on and the kiss asses, I’m sorry, fellow co-workers would tell her when I “hadn’t hoovered,” sometimes leaving a room half done to go and snitch, thus turning co-workers against each other. When this began, and it happened to more than just me, there was a notable tension.
This brings me onto my next point: we had a set contract time of 9am ‘til 1pm (hard to stick to when we were later forced to start at 10am) but we would be shouted at by Bob if we went over that time. Guest check out was at 12pm and if they had paid for a late check out it was 2pm so it made us late. We were then told that even if we worked over our 4 hours, so say a typical Sunday for us would be about 6-7 hours for us, we would only be paid for 4 to “help with budgeting.” When our wages came, most of us were only half paid because of Bob’s mess up.
The favouritism began soon after and it was obvious, the days seemed to be longer because Bob and The Minion’s favourites would get less rooms than the others, and I wouldn’t take breaks so I could get out sooner, causing me to almost pass out during the summer and become ill because I wouldn’t eat lunch.
In October there were 3 workers in, myself included. We had 11 departs each and 11 more to split between us after we’d finished because a fourth worker hadn’t turned up. Normally we would be allowed to leave them and they would have been put on the cleaning lists for the cleaners the next day but we were told if we didn’t do them we would all be sacked. I was visibly upset, because I’d had a crap week and this was just the icing on the cake. While I was outside, trying to breathe and calm down, one of the other workers came out and said to me ‘finish your last two rooms and we’ll do these extra 11. Don’t worry about it you’re in no fit state to work like this.’ I later found out that they finished work at 6pm that night. This cleaner got in trouble from Bob for telling me to go because I should have helped stay to do the work and she had no authority to send me home.
But isolation was my downfall as I was bullied by the “higher” authorities there, people who I had once considered nice. It was only two months before I left, that a co-worker “forced” me (nicely, she had my best interests at heart) to come for breaks so I wouldn’t be bullied anymore. This next story proves that the isolation was a bad idea. I hadn’t gone for a break so I was ahead of everybody else when this took place: I was about to head into my last room of the day and after having the room before it okay-ed. Ten minutes later Bob who had okay-ed it went back into the room and “found something” on the floor, which was followed by a barrage of abuse in front of guests. I was so embarrassed and it was safe to say I did that last room in tears and had to be picked up by my boyfriend afterwards because I was so upset and afraid of bumping into Bob again and face another abusive rant in the reception area in front of co-workers.
But Bob also started picking on others, and The Minion, and others, began to do the same when he wasn’t around. If you didn’t agree with either of them, your rooms would be failed automatically even if there was nothing wrong with them and you could guarantee they, but The Minion in particular, would gossip about you once you’d left or even if you were just leaving the break room. An example of The Minion’s b*tching skills: I was ill on Friday 11th November, and had to get my boyfriend to call work for me because I physically couldn’t, let’s just say I was confined to the bathroom. I found out on the Saturday when I was trying to get better that The Minion had started the rumour that I got my boyfriend to call for me because he was here in Crewe! I would like to say he is bloody good at playing hide and seek because he certainly wasn’t in Crewe! And if he was, why the hell wasn’t he taking care of me?
Another notable b*tch from The Minion that made me shake with anger was the day after I handed my notice in. My friend texted that Monday telling me that The Minion had said the only reason I quit was so I could see my boyfriend every weekend! Excuse me but he works full time in Burnley, sometimes over weekends. I would like to state for the record when he did come to visit I had either booked the time off work with earned holidays, or had worked my shifts while he stayed home.
While I was there we were introduced to this new way of cleaning a room (yes it really is that difficult). As I was only part time I wasn’t informed of the changes so when I was told things were the wrong way around, it was only then I realised this new way of cleaning was introduced. During a review (which I mention again in a moment because the two are linked) he asked if I’d been looking over the list of the new way to do the rooms. I told him no because I could never find a sheet and having to read a lot for my course, reading is kind of the last thing I want to do at work, so he found me one (in a locked draw, obviously I couldn’t get into) and told me to go and read it while I was doing a room and “I would learn that way”. But the irony of this little story is the week before this review, I did the rooms my way which I’d been doing since I’d started and he found NO faults. That’s right, Dana did a room perfectly! Throw me a party! When I told him I did it my way he said ‘well, keep doing it your way.’ Then the next week Dana didn’t get it right. Naughty me, slap me on the wrists and send me to bed without any tea, dinner or whatever you call it.
Eventually most staff got sick of Bob and The Minion’s behaviour and decided to begin a complaints list about him and the hotel so we could get enough evidence to give to our district manager (higher than him) and have him and the bullying dealt with. However, somebody (a kiss ass who got added to the group chat) gave screenshots to him and we were all put on reviews which happened every two weeks. In the review (this is the one linked to the story before), I was told to put my work before my university education. I was outraged! I came to Crewe to get a degree in Creative Writing, not a degree in housekeeping at the hotel! I was livid, and my co-workers knew I was. I don’t think they ever saw me so red or angry in my whole time of working there!
So, reflecting on all of this, nursing my blistered feet and struggling to stand up after sitting in the shower one day I wondered if any other students at university in part time jobs struggled with the same problems I did, or if my boss was just the giant moron (the nice way of putting it) I knew he was. Come back next week when I get some responses from fellow students to see if my guesses are correct!