This hotel was far from seedy, but also far from being The Ritz-Carlton. It was nicer than it should have been, given the price, something which no longer surprised him. He’d been at his job long enough to know that cheap didn’t always mean crappy.
He refused the assistance of the guy who materialized at his side, offering to help him with his bag and show him to his room. He politely declined both offers, saying that he could handle them himself, hoisted the duffel bag like it weighed next to nothing, and proceeded to locate his room.
He set his duffel bag on the desk by the window, and proceed to empty it of its contents. Once that was done he snapped on a pair of rubber gloves and stood with his hands on his hips, wondering where to start. Room or bathroom. He played a quick game of eenie meenie miney mo in his head, and ended up going with the bathroom first.
He grabbed his cleaning supplies, headed into the bathroom, and did a thorough survey. It was cleaner than he’d have liked, but he noticed several things which gave him hope; the mirror was a little dirty, as was the window. The sliding glass doors of the shower stall could use a little polishing. The corners of the tiles were not as pristine as they first appeared, upon closer inspection. The sink could use some work.
He had to admit that, in spite of all these things, the bathroom wasn’t too bad. He’d encountered worse looking ones, filthier than they had a right to be. He figured he’d just make the most of it, and, in spite of its near spotlessness, he would do a thorough cleaning anyway, just for the satisfaction of it.
He started to reach for the scouring brush, which he had set down on the bathroom floor, when he suddenly remembered something. He stepped back out into the room and fetched his camera – an instant one he’d received as a gift years ago – then returned to the bathroom and took a picture, for comparison. He liked to admire the before and after when he was done with a job. It filled him with a sense of pride, seeing his handiwork, seeing what a good job he’d done. And he always did a good job.
He slipped in his earbuds, selected a playlist, put his iPod into his pocket, and got to work. By the time he was done, he was seven songs in. On average a bathroom cleaning took about ten, maybe twelve songs, depending on how filthy it was. Rooms took less. About eight or ten.
He worked fast.
Once the bathroom surfaces had been scoured to his satisfaction, he took another photo, an after photo, headed back out into the bedroom, and took a photo of it as well. Then he went to work. He couldn’t risk a vacuum cleaner, so he’d made a long handled brush which folded, so it could fit in his duffel bag, which he used presently to sweep the carpeted floor. The dirt, what little of it there was, was swept into a dustpan and deposited in a mini trash bag.
He cleaned every available surface, even the television screen. The remote control wasn’t spared either. He wanted to make it so that anyone who came in would not be able to help but notice how clean the room was. The whole point of these jobs was for people to appreciate cleanliness, to be dazzled by it. It was a shame he could never do anything about the sheets, or the curtains, or the shower curtains, for places whose bathrooms had those.
Once he was done, he took his fourth photo, an after of the bedroom, and did one last survey. He had done an excellent job, as always. He allowed himself a small smile, which stayed on his lips for a brief moment before he set about packing up shop, making sure to tuck the photos he had taken into his wallet.
Before he left, he made sure to leave a little note, as he always did. Typed. He didn’t do written notes for the same reason he didn’t do cash. Well, that and paranoia. He stuck the note on the bathroom mirror, secured it with tape.
At the front desk, he explained to the woman that something had come up and he had to leave urgently. Her expression, which had been one of suspicion, and perhaps consternation, turned understanding. She asked if he wanted a refund, but he declined. She said it was a shame he had to leave so soon, and wished him luck. He thanked her and left.
Outside, he approached his car and took a moment to stretch luxuriously, breathing in the warm July air, noting the pain in his arms, neck, shoulders, and back. Given the amount of time he’d spent hunched over scrubbing over the past few days, and the fact that he’d had very little sleep in between, it was no wonder he was achy.
Five hotels in two days, he thought, smiling. Not bad. Not bad at all. It wasn’t a personal record or anything like that. It just wasn’t something that happened often.
He tapped a rhythm against the steering wheel with his fingers as pondered his next step. Cleaning was out of the question, that much was clear. He needed rest, and he needed a meal that hadn’t been reheated or slathered in grease, that wasn’t eaten out of a bag or a can. A place popped into his head, and he smiled.
As he headed toward his destination, he imagined the reaction of the next person that went into the room he’d just cleaned, as he often did after a job. The confusion, the shock, the surprise… the anger? He didn’t imagine anger to be the reaction of anyone upon discovering what he had done. Why would it be? And what could they do about it anyway? Call the cops and report him for cleaning? Like any cop could be bothered by something like that. There was no law against it anyway.
With the knowledge that the chances of being reported to law enforcement were next to zero, and in a good mood in spite of his tiredness, he let himself think of the many hours of sleep he’d get once he reached his destination, and the hot meal and well deserved, even hotter shower.
So he was a serial room cleaner. So what? He wasn’t hurting anybody, would never hurt anybody. He was just a guy who liked to clean. No one could hold that against him.
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