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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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    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      JSAlison-- I agree, lousy jobs do wear you down. I feel that way right now. Maybe I do need to get a little more commercial in my writing. I have leaned a little more that way in my horror movie hubs. I do enjoy writing about whatever I want, but know that I want to make more money doing it. I also don't want to go too commercial, and loose the fun that I have when I write. Thank you for the compliment and the advice. I appreciate advice, even when I don't ask for it. It is always welcome.

    • JSAlison profile image


      10 years ago

      I have dome some lousy jobs in my time. I made some friends but in the end, lousy jobs wear you down. My unprovoked and unsolicited advise is to get commercial in your writing. You have the talent to be making a few thousand a month in a couple of years. Then you can go back to writing about what you want to write about. Or not. Who writes for fun when it happens to be their job?

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Robert-- Thank you so much! I don't think I have ever been called a spinning sparkling disco ball, but I love it! If I ever got the chance to do it, and record it, you know it would be on Youtube, and posted in this hub for all to see.

    • Robertbloggert profile image


      10 years ago from Oklahoma

      Anna, this was really a pleasant read. Having family that work in the same field I have the full imagery of you at work as well.

      Although I'm still working on the image of you on the cart with the mop bucket for a helmet and broom in hand hmmm. It really does sound fun though just remember to get it on your cell. It would be a sure hit on youtube!

      Thanks for sharing Anna, you are truly a wonderful little spark of light ( well maybe more like a spinning sparkling disco ball) but then you know that huh.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Ann Nonymous-- Thank you. Yeah, before this, and even now, I'm not a huge fan of hospitals, either. Strange that I would want to work in one. I guess in a way, it helps me deal with some of my own issues. You should watch 'Waiting'! It's a funny movie!

      Deltachord-- It is important, and I take it seriously, when I need to. The title just kind of made me smile...a kind of take off of the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons.

    • Deltachord profile image


      10 years ago from United States

      Your article points out that funny stories are all around us and every job has value. Keeping a hospital clean is very important.

      I like your title.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      10 years ago from Virginia

      You have a very important job, Anna, as there are some of us-namely myself- who can barely tolerate entering hospitals. So just think what it would be like without you on staff...However I understand your dilemma as I used to clean houses for a "living." Like you said, it was a job and one that left their houses sparkly clean and mine, not so! Thanks for sharing your story with us and although I have never watched the movie, Waiting, I can envision your description in my mind and it's too funny!

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      shamelabboush-- Thank you!! I had fun with this one!

      TM-- I try to stay positive. Sometimes, it's hard, though.

      Moonchild-- I can't even imagine a hospital without us housekeepers!!! Doctors are sooo messy!!! And, your grandmother is a very smart woman!!!

    • Moonchild60 profile image


      10 years ago

      I also think it is great how you find joy in your work. It is unfortunate that people see these positions as beneath them when we so desperately need these people. What would happen to a hospital with no cleaning personnel? My grandmother always told me to be proud of what I do and do it well weather I am a "big wig" in an office or I clean toilets. I have been a waitress, a receptionist, a secretary, a cleric, a fast food worker, a music store manager and owned my own store and ran my husbands company. I loved being a waitress. I guess there are just some of us like that. I am glad you wrote this hub. Thanks.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      10 years ago from West Coast

      Thanks for sharing this piece. I love how you can find the positives in a job that might not be positive. What a great perspective.

    • shamelabboush profile image


      10 years ago

      Very nice article that reveals much of your personality :) Thank you for sharing.

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Nemingha-- The paycheck is nice, and it pays most of the bills, so I am thankful for that, but the job is so much more than that. Thank you!!!!

    • Nemingha profile image


      10 years ago

      I like the sentiment attached to this hub and I agree, it isn't just the weekly paycheck that keeps many people at their sometimes boring and mundane jobs. For me, it was always about knowing I had done my best and had contributed a little to the betterment of others.


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