It was a busy week at Los Cuatro Tulipanes and four of the apartments were occupied when Elida the maid called in sick. I phoned frantically the several other maids I knew and trusted, but each of them seemed to have prior cleansing engagements. I even offered a free bottle of Windex, but no dice.
Slowly the reality of the situation began to set in and after some deep questioning as to why exactly I woke up that morning, I took one big sigh and grabbed the keys and cleaning supplies myself.
A good day for a cleaning man like myself is when you walk in to find that the guests have left things spic and span. Some guests even go the extra step and make their bed and throw away their trash. This day though, I opened the door and walked up the stairs to find what resembled a modern day hogsty. Clothes were strewn across the banister, beer cans were stacked in pyramid-like formations, and plastic cookie wrappers danced around the floor propelled by the fan above. The place was a mess and the guests would be returning in two hours expecting it to be spotless.
My face this entire time was one of disgust. Animals I thought to myself, these people are animals.
Having had the luxury of a maid in Panama for several years now, I’ve learned to take certain things, like making beds and folding laundry, for granted. I’ll carelessly throw used socks and old linens in the corner because hey, I don’t have to clean them. But standing there in Tribe 4, amidst a filth jungle, I started to regret ever having done such senseless acts. I wanted to repent and somehow make this all magically go away.
I wandered over to the smaller bedroom where a brazier, big enough to fit two cantaloupe melons, sat hanging on the doorknob. I lifted the bra with my fingernails and held it up to the light, admiring what has clearly become one of the most remarkable inventions of our time. I laid it to rest on the pink suitcase and meandered over to the bathroom where wet towels sat balled up in the corner like newborn puppy dogs.
I swept and mopped around like Elida would have done, using two layers of the rubber gloves I found in the closet. I washed all the dishes very well, and re-bagged all the garbage cans thinking to myself that maybe I had a future here.
Everything I touched turned hygienic and as I was scrubbing the inside of the toilet bowl, I’m pretty sure I saw the spiritual reflection of Mr. Clean. To really make headway in the industry, I’d have to wait until Elida returned to get some sort of evaluation, but from my humble perspective, the place looked pretty darn good.