Tip Every Day
“Here at work we help each other,” Cecilia says. “But of course there are some unjust things—” She looks around to see if anyone is listening, then says: “For example, this floor is not mine. Everyone has their own floor. My floor is the hallways of the fourth floor. I do all those floors one day but then sometimes also the floor assigned to no one. But let’s say the day I take off is the day the client leaves a tip. Even if I’ve been cleaning that room every day, my colleagues take the tip. They don’t save it for me, because money is for the moment. When you see it, you take it. So when people stay many days at the hotel, if you’re unlucky you don’t get those tips. It’s better when clients tip every day. That way, whoever cleans that day gets the tip. But many people don’t know that. Even if I love my work—because we’re like a family here—it’s not easy. We all get one day off a week, and one Saturday and Sunday a month. We work forty-five hours a week. When someone takes the day off we have to work double the rooms, but at the same salary. And what we make covers the basic needs like rent and food, if we’re lucky. Nothing else. Sometimes the hotel pays me in advance when I’m in need but then the next month I’m in trouble.” Then she looks at me straight in the eye and asks, “How many hours do you work? How much do you get paid?” I don’t answer. I am embarrassed to say. I’m a professor who goes to campus two days a week, maximum three days. So I say nothing.
Photograph paula soler-moya.