The upper back muscles and shoulders weigh heavy, as if laced with lead.
Neck ligaments and tendons crack and pop in friction.
Leg muscles are sedated by a buildup of lactic acid from constant hours of motion — walking, kneeling, squatting, crawling — without ease or rest … from yesterday and the day before and day before that. At 7-1/2 hours, yesterday was the longest thus far.
Feet are tired, with muscles and bones that want to rest and regenerate, stretch and limber up. I wore yesterday the most comfortable pair of shoes I have: fabric clogs whose soles are of super-thick shock-absorbing rubber. Clogs I got when I was working the 10-11 hour shifts constantly on my feet and walking at the warehouse back in 2006-7.
That’s how old those clogs are and how well made they are that they’ve lasted countless miles (!!) and STILL are the best soles I’ve got!
“You have to wear regular shoes,” my supervisor thusly informed me yesterday. Buh-bye foot comfort, comparatively.
My body as a road is pockmarked with potholes, cracks, crevices and crusty uneven and irregular surfaces. It is not a smooth surface; it is not freshly paved!
My 57-year-old body, while gainfully of a sturdy and delicate constitution — one that seems a mix of German solidity and Irish poetic sensibilities — is, yes, getting a workout, a real workout, at the job.
High-end housekeeping — in which every detail is attended to meticulously — is a real workout!
It ain’t the workout that’s making me wobbly in the knees. It’s the pace.
I’m not a Ferrari. Not a racehorse at the Kentucky Derby.
I’m the aged workhorse named Dolly who keeps pulling a wagon across the prairie. I’m the, well, I’m the Subaru. A FANTASTIC workhorse of a car that stay in service for 300,000-plus miles with the proper maintenance.
There’s the rub. I’m being pushed to be someone I’m not.
It’s funny, memories resurfacing at this job.
I remember in high school running track in regular phy ed class. (I was in fact seriously tempted to join the track team, I enjoyed it that much.)
No matter how hard I ran … no matter how much I willed my muscles to Go! Go! Go! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! … no matter how loudly the teacher/coach — I can still see her face but can’t remember her name — shouted faster! faster! … at a certain level, my body maxed out.
It could go no faster than it was going. My short legs could not lengthen their stride. My arms could pump no more air flow.
And in my mind, I felt like a failure. I felt a failure for being unable to keep up with the fast kids. The kids with the long legs and the short kids whose bodies were sprinters.
In my mind, I went down in defeat at every timed short- or long course. I might not be the one bringing up the rear but I certainly wasn’t the girl first to cross the finish line. Or the 10th.
Endurance. That’s what I was built for. I may be small but I can run, swim and engage in activities/sports for the long haul.
But. But endurance wasn’t rewarded in gym class or in life in the Western world. Speed is. Fast results. NOW. Take no time. Get it done. NOW. YESTERDAY. Why don’t you have it done? Are you stupid? What’s wrong with you?
That’s the Western mindset. It’s different in Eastern cultures. Longevity and endurance and perseverence and “in it for the long haul” are desirable and respected traits.
Stream of consciousness …
… triggered by a “simple” hotel housekeeping job. Who’d thunk it possible?! 😉
Key point is, yesterday, my longest shift yet working the rooms solo, returns a glaring truth that I’m built for endurance, not speed.
I think I breathed three times during my 7-1/2 shift. I took no break, the pressure to crank out the full-cleaned rooms within a set time frame superceded my fatigue.
Just like that high school girl on the track, I pushed pushed pushed, I WILLED my body to move faster! faster! faster! as implored by the gym teacher, as implored by my own self and my hatred of failure.
And I failed. I did fail. My own best still isn’t good enough. On day 2 of working solo, the time it’s taking me to turn over rooms is twice that of the other girls.
There’s no issue with the quality of my work. None. In fact, it’s partly because I DO take those extra moments to ensure high quality that my cleaning time suffers. Which leaves the option: reduce quality, gain time. And that is outside my nature and impeccable work ethics.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how a simple (not so simple, really) hotel cleaning job can resurrect beasts and ghosts from the past.
Failure for not being a sprinter has long shadowed me through various situations and workplaces. An oxen of endurance and tirelessness hasn’t really had its reward from others. Being highly methodical, meticulous, thorough and extraordinarily attentive to detail sometimes come at a cost. And the cost of a job.
Can’t know when or how this cleaning job will end, only that it will end.
And here’s the thing. When this job ends — either because I get a new one or I’m let go under mutual agreement that it’s not a good fit — I want this to be the end of my “cleaning career.” I want no more the pressure and stress of timed cleaning jobs.
I want no more the feeling of failure for being the enduring workhorse and not the sprinter. That requires being at the right job, in the right environment where who I am and what I bring naturally are wholly an asset and not a detriment.
I was born a workhorse and I shall die one! I happily leave the field to the racehorses at the Run for the Roses and look to more fertile fields for me to plow.
Lastly, I hope for work one day that shall bestow accolades for tireless perseverence and commitment to quality to this ol’ mare. To be appreciated and valued for one’s true self is gift indeed.