So I walked into the washroom at work, that day. Radhamma, a middle-aged housekeeping staff, looked tensed and ready to breakdown. She kept mumbling something under her breath, I could not hear what she said. She was sweeping the floor and I had to comb my hair and I hesitated to do so since the floor had been cleaned spotless. It always was.
She saw me confused and quickly put up a smile on her face and said “Nee vaariko da. Onnum prachhanae ille (You can comb, no problem).” I relaxed because her ever-present smile was right back on her face. I grinned at her and asked her why she had been so tense a minute ago. She shook her head and said the following translated sentences in Tamil :
“You won’t feel bad if I tell you this no? In spite of being educated why are some people like this? Would they do the same in their houses?”
I looked at her blankly, but tried my best to empathise despite not knowing anything. Because the tone of her voice suggested she was hurt and annoyed. She took me by the hand and took me inside one of the cubicles. There, lying down, was a used sanitary napkin. I gasped. She looked at me and shook her head.
“They come so neatly dressed. With their lipstick on and hair in place. They never forget that. External appearance matters so much. Why does all this not matter to them? We are also human beings no? Just like you all? The day before yesterday, I found one stuffed inside the commode. It wouldn’t go if I flushed. What else do I do but to put my hands inside and take them out? We also feel as disgusted as you feel about all this no?”
I was shocked. I had nothing to say. I just kept staring at her as she continued, “If someone finds a broken dustbin lid, they immediately fill up the feedback paper saying low maintenance. That is the patience level for them. I do not mind that too. All I ask for is some understanding. It is our job to maintain the place and we do it willingly. We are at your service always, happily. We take care of the washrooms like we do at our houses. But it would be much nicer if everybody thought of it the same way we do.”
I had no clue what to say again. All these days I kept thinking that it was always neat because it was used neatly. But nope, there were people who gave zero fucks about the sanitation nor the housekeeping staff.
I have but one question for all the guilty ones, is it too much to ask for? Disposing wastes into the bin, where it belongs. Is it too much to ask for!? No, right? They are not slaves. They are only assisting us and can not run around cleaning up the mess we leave. That is not what they are for. Would you be okay if your boss screws up everything and makes blunders and asks you to clean up the mess for them? No, right? You would crib and crib and crib and end up doing it, forcefully. That is not the working environment you prefer, right?
It is the same for them. The exact same. It’s high time we respect their feelings and make sure we give them too a better working environment. Come on, being sensitive to people’s emotions and feelings does no harm. Or to put it in a way that would catch your eye, being empathetic and sensitive is still in fashion and always will be.