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Cart Jousting or My Life as a Housekeeper

Updated on February 1, 2018
Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna wears many hats: writer, mother, crafter. Over the years, she has found what works and what doesn't for herself and her family.

rooms don't really look like this anymore, except in the outpatient surgery area
rooms don't really look like this anymore, except in the outpatient surgery area

Housekeeping!? I Clean Room Now?

That silly little line from a Family Guy episode still plays in the back of my mind just about every day that I am at work. Of course, they got the idea from the movie Tommy Boy, with Chris Farley and David Spade, but whatever. I had to point that out before someone beat me to it. I know I would hear about it if I didn't. It is really funny how some things just stick in the back of your mind, and never go away.

I started working housekeeping, or Environmental Services (as they like to call it), at a hospital almost three years ago. The pay isn't great, the hours aren't great, and the job isn't that great. But, it IS a JOB! I have a job. I count myself very lucky in that respect. There are so many people out there that can't say that. But then, there are a lot of people out there that wouldn't take a job making barely above minimum wage, cleaning toilets and mopping up blood and who-knows-what-else. It is definitely not a job for everyone.

The strangest part of the whole thing...I actually like my job. Well, parts of it. I am good at it, which surprises the heck out of even me. My house is rarely clean. Though, after working eight hours a day, five days a week, cleaning, and cleaning, and cleaning some more, who really wants to come home and clean?? Certainly not me!

So, what makes my job so great? What is it that actually makes me want to say that I like my job? I know, you are all confused, and are just dying to hear the answer. Aside from the sense of accomplishment of doing a good job, and knowing I am helping, in some small part, to make people's lives better, it's the people.

I love the people I work with. I won't lie and say I get along well with everyone, but for the most part, I do. I have met so many wonderful people, that despite the frustrations and stresses of my job, I stay there. From the nurses up on the third floor, to the staff in the recovery room, to the crazy guys in radiology, to the stressed, but wonderful people in the E.R., to my fellow housekeepers that make me smile, keep me in check, and remind me that it isn't that bad, and the end of the shift is just around the corner; they make my job worth getting up for every day. I guess most hospitals are like that. You spend so much time with a group of people, seeing them day in and day out, helping each other out, that you tend to grow closer. Especially in a hospital, which tends to attract a more caring group of people...for the most part, anyway.

I have so many stories, that range from the horrible, to the scary, to the down-right hysterical, that I, unfortunately, just can't share with you. There are rules and standards that must be upheld. So many little stories of tragedy and triumph that make my job much more interesting than I ever thought it would be. I guess getting to see that every day makes the job new and different. I don't know what else to say.

Such a long, empty hallway...
Such a long, empty hallway...
Most of our carts don't have the green bag on the back, anymore, and the handle moves over to the other side quite nicely.
Most of our carts don't have the green bag on the back, anymore, and the handle moves over to the other side quite nicely.

What About The Cart Jousting?

If you have ever seen the movie, Waiting, this may make a little more sense to you. Granted, the movie is about employees at a restaurant, but the concept is the same. In the movie, they play a certain game to entertain themselves, and to keep their minds off the monotony of their job. I won't go into details due to the nature of the game, but cart jousting is a lot like that game, in the respect that it's a distraction of sorts from the stresses of our job.

It has never actually been played by me, but the idea of it is all that's needed. The concept is simple. We have these carts that hold our supplies, a mop, buckets, paper towels, etc. We push these carts day in and day out, from room to room and area to area. They also lend themselves very well to the idea of cart jousting. A mop or broom handle makes a great weapon, and the long hallways of a quiet hospital at night are the perfect battlegrounds. The scenario plays out very well in my head. A sturdy platform to stand on, pushing off, skateboard style, charging at your opponent/co-worker. There is even one very special hallway, that just screams out for a round of cart jousting. It is the no-man's-land of the hospital. It's just a long, empty hallway that no one ever uses, there are no patient rooms, and it is always quiet.

Other running jokes and games have gone back and forth in the time that I have been there. Nothing as obvious as wheelchair races, but stranger things, like being sprayed on the arm with disinfectant to get rid of MRSA (don't do that, disinfectant is not a cure for MRSA), hiding behind doors and scaring the crap out of each other, or walking by a room that a co-worker is in and using a remote to turn the TV on while they are cleaning. The first time someone did that to me, I freaked out. It made me mad, but it really was funny. They are all just silly, little jokes intended to make us laugh and lessen the stresses of our job, but it all comes back to "Housekeeping! I clean room now? I fluff pillow?"

© 2009 Anna Marie Bowman


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