The joys of being a commercial cleaner

Although I’m not sure if ‘joy’ is always the right word.
Over the almost thirty years I’ve been a commercial cleaner I’ve worked in many different offices and premises for a very diverse range of businesses; these have included bookmakers, solicitors, surveyors, builders, private nurseries/kindergartens, insurance brokers, dental practices, a textile manufacturer’s, an advice centre, a health and fitness club and a cosmetic clinic. Currently I’m working at a steel works, a sign makers and an accountants, with a couple of house cleans thrown in. All of these places have, at some point, thrown up various problems and situations, some surprising, some amusing, some mildly irritating, some very annoying and some downright disgusting, and I’ve dealt with them all as part of my job.

So here are some of the things I’ve encountered in my working life –
The bookmakers premises which was raided during the night. The thieves disabled the outside alarm, broke into the disused upstairs offices and hacked their way through the floor into the shop below. Unfortunately for them they couldn’t hack their way through the safe so they left empty-handed the same way they got in; when I arrived to do the cleaning the following morning I found a chair in the middle of the floor surrounded by lumps of broken ceiling tiles, a big hole in the ceiling above it, and the back of the counter a total mess where they’d tried to break into the safe. The police were called and were busy for quite some time but the culprits were never found.
The dental practice where the hard vinyl floor in one surgery was bordered on three sides by carpet. It sometimes happened that while I was vacuuming I would hear the faint rattle of something being sucked up the vacuum cleaner pipe; I’d been cleaning there for a while when I realised that the various rattles were fragments of patients’ teeth which had landed on the floor during treatment.
The cosmetic clinic where the staff would practise giving Botox injections to each other after hours. If the various squeals of “Oww!” and “Aargh!” were anything to go by it certainly wasn’t a painless process, and I decided there and then that I would never subject my own face to such procedures.
And the dental practice which had suffered a break-in over a weekend. The alarm code was changed as a result but no-one thought to inform me, so when I let myself in on the Monday evening the alarm was activated and I couldn’t stop it. As it was linked directly to the local police station I soon found a couple of policemen hammering on the door ready to arrest me for being a burglar – I had to phone the practice boss and get him to confirm who I was before they were satisfied that I wasn’t raiding the place for drugs.
Annoyances and irritations in my working life come in many forms so here are a few which have bugged me on a regular basis –
Waste paper bins in inaccessible corners which I can’t reach.
Staff members walking over a just-mopped floor before it’s dried, leaving it looking like it’s never been mopped at all.
Crisps and other bits of food dropped on and trodden into the carpet by members of the public when there are notices saying food and drink isn’t allowed in the waiting area.
Staff members who use the vacuum cleaner in my absence and don’t put it back where I keep it, usually meaning I have to search an entire building before I find it.
Cardboard box lids shoved into waste paper baskets, with bits of food and waste paper dropped in afterwards, meaning that when I pull out the lid to put it in the recycling bag the bits of food and paper go all over the floor.

And I long since came to the conclusion that many office workers are complacent and lazy, probably because they know there’s always someone who will clear up their mess. Their antics include – spilling coffee/sugar on the kitchen worktop and not wiping it up, which leaves a sticky mess; heating uncovered food in the microwave (very often soup) which boils over or explodes, leaving a complete baked-on mess inside; stirring a brew and just throwing the used teaspoon into the sink instead of washing it, and dropping the cardboard tubes from toilet rolls on the floor underneath/behind the loo – why?? These people are adults, not children.
As for the disgusting, I once came across a pool of vomit in a client interview room at one of the places where I used to work, and I regularly encounter various staff toilets where the contents haven’t flushed away properly, though a bucket of water poured from a dizzy height in conjunction with another flush will usually be enough to make things disappear. The most disgusting of all my encounters though was what could only be described as a ‘curry explosion’ in the toilet at one place where I worked. The huge mess wasn’t only in the loo, it was round the bowl, on the seat, the cistern, the walls, door and floor – I think the only place it didn’t reach was the ceiling. I never knew who was responsible for that lot but it was certainly a mammoth task to clean it all up.
So there you have it – a brief insight into my life as a commercial cleaner. Definitely not a glamourous job and certainly not without its problems; it also has its responsibilities in that I’m a key holder for wherever I work, and as I’m usually the last person on the premises it’s up to me to make sure everything is locked up securely when I leave. The job does have a lighter side though and also a few advantages, reasonably flexible hours being one of them, and because I work at both ends of the day it gives me plenty of time to get out and about with the dogs and the camera when the weather’s nice. And if I ever want to go camping for a weekend I only need to tweak my work round a bit and I can have Saturday, Sunday and most of Monday to myself – and I’m certainly not complaining about that!
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12 thoughts on “The joys of being a commercial cleaner

  1. I’m wondering what kind of mess I’ve left behind in the various offices I’ve worked. I’m not a very good housekeeper for that matter. But, I can, when I must. I enjoyed imagining the teeth rattling up the vacuum cleaner. hahaha

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    1. I must admit I’m not a very good housekeeper either. I take a pride in my work when I’m AT work, but when I get home I don’t always feel like doing my own. I sometimes think I should employ a cleaner to do it for me πŸ™‚

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  2. I think you hit the nail on the head in that these lazy workers know there is someone to clean up after them. You have to wonder if they would leave their homes in the same mess. The disgusting toilet description is just gross! I don’t envy your job at all… even with it’s flexibility πŸ™‚

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  3. Well here’s an example of a complete opposite – the boss who I clean the house for is one of the worst culprits for throwing tea spoons in the sink when he’s made a brew, or leaving half-drunk mugs of coffee in various places, but his home is so pristine I often wonder why he pays me to clean for him.

    After cleaning up that ‘curry explosion’ – it was many years ago now – toilets seemed to become something of a speciality for me. And I swear blind the reason I’m never ill is because I’ve had to clean up so many various messes over the years that I’ve become immune to any bugs and germs which may be lurking about. And I actually do enjoy my job, even with the occasional frustrations which go with it πŸ™‚

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  4. It wasn’t funny at the time Anabel, it was just one huge mess 😦 Fortunately I’ve never come across anything as bad as that since. As for deserving a medal, I’m just happy to do a good job and know that most people appreciate what I do – although a massive pay rise would be nice πŸ™‚

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