Fiction

Radical Housekeeper

Photo Credit: joakım. cc-by-nc-sa

She’s up at 5:45 in the morning to make her kids and husband breakfast and lunch for the day; waiting to make her own meals last. She pulls out the tortillas fresh off the comal because she doesn’t believe in store bought shit. She’s authentic, raw and loyal to her traditions. She slips into her outfit and watches a little bit of the news as she waits for her ride, even though she can’t quite understand what the news lady is saying in English. Someone honks outside and she grabs her bags, jacket and rushes out the door. She fights her tired eyes on the car ride for the next forty-five minutes and instead pretends to be interested in what her co-worker/companion has to say. What are the latest chismes? “Cindi from work left her husband and child. She ran off with another man and they say that guy is three times her age and we are all sure Cindi is only in it for the papeles….”

She nods out of politeness. They arrive at work just before eight in the morning. They clock in and head into the supply closet where they unpack boxes of cleaning supplies and load up their carts with towels, fitted sheets in all sizes, toilet paper, soaps and shampoo bottles. She sits in the corner of the meeting room which doubles as the break room and eating area. Last year, a few of them got into a fight in the same spot she has been staring at for the last five minutes. The meeting is over and they all head into different hallways and corners of the resort. She takes the east side elevator to the third floor only to be interrupted by hotel guests going up the same way. She feels intimidated as the guests eye her up and down and whisper something to each other and smirk as they exit the elevator. She heads into the first room and knocks followed by a very shy, “HOUSEKEEPING….”

She waits for a few seconds and then unlocks the door with her employee key card. She finds an envelope titled HOUSEKEEPING and opens it to find a single five dollar bill left by the room guests before they left. She smiles a little and walks around the room, pulling sheets and towels as she goes; like a dance. Sometimes she accidentally walks into a room where the guests are still there and embarrassed; she apologizes in broken English. One time, she walked in on a naked man and another time she made it into the living room of a suite before the guests realized she was there. A lady in her mid thirties walked out of her room and into the living room in shock and started yelling at her in English. She remembers the woman threw in some words in Spanish like “Comprende” but she just nodded and apologized profusely.

For her lunch break, she takes out her food wrapped up in a King Soopers bag. Inside there are three corn tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil along with beans, sopa de arroz and chilito verde inside of a tuber ware.She goes to a microwave and places her items in for two minutes. As her food dances circles inside the microwave, she goes to a table and places her things on a chair. Her morning companion takes a seat next to her as well as two other women and they sit together. The four women laugh and gossip about nonsense while they eat and share their lunch with one another. They exchange stories of the rooms they have been cleaning, husbands and kids, relatives in and out of Mexico and at least one of them talks about their Sunday at church. After lunch, they all return to their hallway. She finishes her work at 4:45 in the afternoon and waits patiently for her companion to finish so that she can be her ride back home. Sometimes her companion works on different days and she has to take the bus.

She arrives at home just before 6 in the afternoon; sleepy, bones aching and starving. Her kids are at home and her husband hasn’t arrived from work yet. She gets out of her uniform and into some comfy clothes only to get the tortillas, beans, onions, tomatoes, seranos, eggs and other items and turn them into a Cinderella meal for her family.

Noraly Cazares is an actor, voice-over artist, writer, and filmmaker working to make the world a better place through diverse storytelling. This piece was originally written for Pocho.