Photo: Paul Flannery
For about five months of the year I like to take a break from my busy lifestyle of traveling the world /sponging off my mum to actually do some proper paid work in French ski resorts. This year, that mostly consisted of cleaning up after disgruntled Russians and unruly Brits in one of the most exclusive ski resorts in the world. It also involved a lot of soul searching and some pretty big life revelations…
1. C’est la MERDE.
You can tell a lot about someone by how they leave their room — especially knowing that a stranger is going to have to deal with it. It still baffles me how people can walk out of their room, look me in the eye and smile, knowing that I’m going to have to flush three times in between gags when I enter their putrid bathroom. Is the length of your log some kind of weird pride thing that I don’t know about? Like seriously, Snapchat it to your mate if you must, but I definitely do not need to see it. It also astounds me how many people seem to be suffering from IBS, and I wonder whether I should start telling people not to drink the tap water, when about 80% of toilets are pebble dashed every morning. On the other end of the spectrum it always makes me laugh when couples, clearly in the honeymoon period, spray copious amounts of perfume into the little unaired toilet cubicle. Admirable though their intentions may be, what happens when she realises that his shit doesn’t actually smell like Dior’s Homme Ideal?
2. C’est l’AMOUR.
This is what you really want to hear about right? The dirty stuff. All that grimy hotel sex. I have to admit that this was one of my greatest apprehensions on starting the job, but luckily for me, and somewhat depressingly for everyone else, there doesn’t seem to be much action happening between my carefully laid sheets. It makes me feel better about my practically celibate existence when I go into a young couple’s room and see that the duvet is barely crumpled and still tucked in at the sides. Either some seriously lacklustre missionary is all that’s going down or they’re all too tired from snowplowing all day.
While most of my guests are reasonably well behaved however, when it goes wrong, it goes very wrong. I can almost tolerate the usual soggy sheets, sticky flavoured lubes and used condoms but nothing could have prepared me for the Dutch girl who (on a family holiday, no less) had period sex almost every day. And I don’t mean that she put a towel down and left a bit of a smear, I mean it looked like a crime scene. I’m not one to judge, but for everyone’s sake — just do it in the shower.
3. C’est le BORDEL.
I always wondered why the French and the Greeks used the term ‘brothel’ to describe a mess/ a shitty situation. Until I had to clean up after Russian prostitutes. It turns out they really are messy puppies (and mean to boot.) Thankfully our modest establishment was a place for them to rest and recuperate during the day as opposed to an, ahem, place of work. Nevertheless, cleaning around all their vials and bottles, jewellery and accessories was no joke. Not to mention the facial syringes. Cleaning up after them made me question my life choices even more than I usually would over the course of a room, playing my usual guessing game of where would I rank on a list of the world’s most overqualified cleaners. I don’t mean that in a snobby way, dusting around their designer bags I was almost in awe that they could make such a lucrative living from such a glamourous lifestyle — this is Courchevel after all, more sitting in clubs sipping Cristal than standing on street corners. Although they spent about three hours getting ready to go out (which made the rare glimpses of their unmade-up faces pretty frightening) as they tottered back up the stairs in their heels and furs as I served breakfast, I couldn’t help but think to myself rather bitterly that they probably come into contact with less bodily fluids than I do in a day.
4. C’est WANK.
My eyes have also been opened to novel and creative ways of masturbating. The phrase tickling the kipper has always made me giggle, but I never would have guessed that smoked salmon offered a route to self-gratification… Apparently if you’re from Marseille it does. I’d like to say that the sight of sticky salmon crumpled up in toilet paper put us off eating the unopened pack that the gentleman had left behind, but mountain prices are way too high for seasonnaires to pass up on such a tasty treat.
One of the most important things to remember when cleaning a room is to check that nothing has been left in any of the cupboards. I’m sure a guest would have been even more shocked than my colleague was to have found a courgette and a cucumber in the bedside table of a room that didn’t even have catering facilities… Not as creative as Mr. Salmon-Dance but still made us giggle.
So while life as a housekeeper can be exhausting and demoralising there are also moments where it is just hilarious. Next time you’re living it up on holiday, remember that a. house-elves aren’t a thing and b. someone very real is silently judging you, probably cursing you, and then more than likely recounting the whole story to the bar later on!
This story first appeared at Kiki’s Café and is republished here with permission.