Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Just say hi

Why do people ignore cleaners?

It's not that they're necessarily outright rude to them, but they sort of look right through the cleaners as if they're not there. And they never say thanks or smile at them.

Read the Guardian article here

The cleaners where I work, without exception immigrants with quite poor English (I hear this when they ask me if I want them to clean my desk while I'm there, or come back later), I don't know what company they're with, but I bet they don't get paid much.

There's especially one girl, she's probably around 19 or 20, looks South American, possible Brazilian.

She's always really friendly, always smiles and says hi, does her job thoroughly and swiftly, and you can just tell that she's most likely way to clever to be a cleaner, but for whatever reason she's stuck doing it.

It really bothers me when I see her struggling to get a bin underneath someone's desk, and they can't even be arsed to move out of the way or say thanks. Is this a product of the class society in Britain? Or of sheer laziness; being polite to the cleaner doesn't bring any tangible benefits so people can't be bothered?

I've been a cleaner, a chamber maid, a dishwasher, and I know that these are unforgiving and tough jobs.

So why don't people seem to see them? I never hear anyone else saying thanks when they get their bin emptied or their desk dusted. Yes, these people are only doing their job, but so are bus drivers and taxi drivers, and you always say thanks to them.

Maybe people are ashamed that they have other people doing these things for them. At least that's how I feel. I hope I never end up having a nanny, I don't know how I'd live with myself.

Or do they just think cleaners are beneath them in some way? In a way I think every office worker should be assigned to cleaning for about two hours a week, just to remind them it is a job they should appreciate is being done for them.

This is of course partly why I love J. He also finds these things uncomfortable, like most people do when they're 17, but then they forget as soon as they're out of university.

A few days ago, he showed me this article from the Guardian about how the company who does admin for Westminster Council suddenly has announced that they are moving 400 support staff to somewhere very remote in Scotland.

Now I have nothing against Scotland, but think about it. Moving from London to a town that has about 5,000 inhabitants, uprooting your children from their schools against their will, just so that the company can make even more money off your back (because of course offices are a tad bit cheaper up there).

J saw this in the paper and actually saved it so he could show it to me. "I just find that so disgusting," he says. And I just think it's lovely that someone over 30 can still afford to be sincerely upset about things like that.

I know it's not much, I feel powerless that this is all I can come up with, but I'll do my very small bit by smiling at the young cleaner when she comes past with the hoover later on.

1 comment:

  1. Great insight into this matter. All your points and arguements are vaild. In our society, being spoiled is dominant. People who don't appreciate the hard work done by cleaners and other people who serve their needs A. either has not experience having to do a similar service for others B. is too inconsiderate and spoiled to care. Either way is no excuse and a simple thank you goes a long way. I was a CSR for 5 years and I had similar experiences of inconsideration from customers. Even though I was in constant vision of the customer and would interact with them friendly, I found some (not all) were only concerned with themselves to the point of not respecting the ones serving them. The worst part is I'm sure the majority of them didn't feel sorry for acting the way they acted. It's just a sad truth in our world and I pray that anyone in that type of job would at least get a word of thank you from someone each day to show that they are appreciated.

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Thanks for not just lurking..

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