I spent the morning mopping the corridors and then started work on the bedrooms. For my sins, Maxine, the nasty British cleaner, was the one allocated to train me.
“You better listen carefully to what I tell you,” she snapped right off the bat. “You do what I tell you and you might keep your job. Give me crap or don’t listen and I’ll get you kicked out of here in a second.”
She showed me the process in the first room: stripping and making the bed, cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming in the floor, dusting the surfaces. She was nasty about it at every opportunity and clearly resented the time she was having to waste on me. She threw in sighs every few minutes and sullen pointed words. She pointed out anything I didn’t get immediately right with relish and scorn.
“Well look at this table. You’ve missed bits here, here and here. Do it again!”
I found myself apologising over and over again but after we got to the fourth room I started to realise that she was slapdash with her own work. The parts of the room she did weren’t done to the exacting standard that she was demanding of me. It left me feeling sullen and confused; resentful of the way I was being treated.
This really wasn’t what I had imagined when I agreed to come here and make this trade. I hadn’t expected to be made to feel so awful all the time. I had wanted relaxed anonymity and routine, not to be treated unjustly as though I was scum.
As the morning wore on, Maxine spent less time working and more time on her phone. I was expected to keep going through. If I slowed or stopped for a rest then she was straight in there with a barbed comment.
I was sweating. I’d never worked as hard in my life. It was awful.
I started to fantasise about getting off work and going to see Melissa as she’d suggested. This really wasn’t what I signed up for. It wasn’t what I wanted. I hadn’t decided fully but I was seriously considering calling the whole thing off, or at least altering the set-up so I could do as I’d imagined: hang around her hotel, maybe fetching her drinks and such; just some low key tasks like that. This fully immersive horror story was too much.
But I also fantasised about my lunch. It was going to be another all-you-can-eat buffet and my stomach made audible gargles in anticipation. I couldn’t help smiling when I thought about tucking in… and of the effect that would have on my shape. I couldn’t wait to start seeing the results of my overeating on my figure. I would never have expected to feel this way but I really craved being fat now; really wanted to see my inflated torso, my chubby arms and legs, my round face.
“I don’t know what you’re smirking about,” said Maxine, seeing me. “Your work’s still shoddy.”
I put my head down and carried on.
But it wasn’t too long before we got to break for lunch.
Again I was ordered to help putting the food out and I did what I was told. Maxine wasn’t in sight. She obviously didn’t have to lower herself to that level. I took plate after plate out to the serving area and then went back for more.
The skinny cook was working, his face red and sweating. “How are you settling in?” he said.
I shrugged, nervous, and tried to smile. “Okay, I guess.”
He winked as I carried the next two plates out, leaving me feeling uncomfortable and confused.
As I finished serving I was told by the housekeeper that I would continue cleaning the rooms until two thirty and would then get some time off. It was like being told about my prison release date. I was incredibly relieved to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It was time for me to eat and I filled up my big plate with different sorts of meat, rice, roast potatoes and coleslaw that was dripping with mayonnaise. Maxine and her coven of bitchy cleaners were in the windowless staff room, smoking and playing cards. I sat away from them and watched them sullenly as I tucked into my food.
All I had to do was to get through to two thirty and then I could get out of there.
I was going to catch the bus to Melissa’s hotel and confront her; tell her I wasn’t happy here; that I wanted to change the set-up. Either I wanted to create an easier life for myself or I was going to call the whole thing off. I didn’t like having so little control.
I went on eating though. My urge to get out of this situation wasn’t quite strong enough to stop me doing that.
I even fantasised about doing away with the whole Melissa swap as such and just staying on holiday with her, both of us getting fatter and fatter until we were both roly-poly ladies, lumbering around the tourist sites like identical twins.
That was a lovely idea and I found myself sniggering to myself to imagine it.
Two fat ladies just enjoying ourselves.
Becoming a cleaner had been an interesting experience but it was becoming clear that it really wasn’t a lifestyle I would want to get stuck in.