The stateroom attendants have the passengers figured out by day three. I have that on good authority from our own attendant. He said he knows who the early risers are. He knows who cleans their room before they leave. He didn’t tell me that part but he’s a bright man. The guilty-feeling cleaners are identified quickly. That’s me, stacking the books and papers on the desk, touring the room looking for abandoned underwear, and wiping the spray from bathroom mirrors. When placed into word form it rings of obsessive compulsiveness. However, the thought of someone else picking up after us day after lovely Caribbean day seemed wrong.
The Protestant guilt was nearly overwhelming by day five. It was threatening to put a damper on the sunny holiday. I was having visions of a cruise where we turned things upside down and the passengers took over for a day, serving the crew and anticipating their every need. All of us, fat skinny young old healthy and infirm, of every nationality, would be at the beck and call of our crew. We would endlessly produce drinks exactly as specified – only use clamato, no tomato juice. Lightly salt the rim, oh and no spices. Had to have been a Canadian. We would smile as we cleared away plates with food still on them as the large backsides disappeared into the swarm of the buffet for yet another plate. We would spend our shift in the ladies’ washroom nearly invisible to our guests as we wiped the dark shiny wood surfaces off and polished the glass sink yet again.
Alas that was just an imaginary scene with elements of reality. It was in elements of that reality I met the most beautiful young woman who turned my guilt on its head. My intention had been to thank her for her work, acknowledging her presence and her contribution to my comfort and enjoyment. What happened surprised me. Emerging from the bathroom stall, I thanked her and commented on how it must seem endless – that cleaning up after us. She stopped her work to look me in the eye with the loveliest smile and told me, “I love my job. This is what I do, you don’t need to worry about it, you just enjoy.” She was so utterly genuine and earnest that I was momentarily wordless. How on God’s green earth or deep blue sea could anyone say with such assurance that they loved their job cleaning the bathroom?