I Learned To Clean Hotel Rooms When I Was A Kitchen Trainee

August 9, 1993. The first day of my apprenticeship. I didn’t know much about kitchens when I started my way back then. I’d done practical training the year before in a small hotel restaurant.

It was interesting and I got a taste of real kitchen life. The chefs treated me nicely and at the end of my training I received a big cup of ice cream. That was it! No money, no pay cheque, just ice cream. That was enough for us then. I liked the practical training and I decided to go the whole nine yards. I wanted to become a professional chef. I was excited. A new life was about to begin. No more school, I thought at the time. Finally, I could earn my own money. I wanted to be independent, financially. I still lived in my mother’s apartment and that was ok.

The first six days of my apprenticeship I spent in the housekeeping department. The hotel’s occupancy was so high, they asked us trainees to assist the room attendants. I must say that this was one of my greatest experiences right from the first day. Why? Because I really got to know what it means to clean a room in a certain period. It is a tough job; I can tell you. Especially when you are a female — and all our room attendants were female.

If I remember correctly, each attendant had an average of 20 rooms to clean per day in an eight-hour shift. That left them less than half an hour per room! Perhaps more rooms were assigned to them because we trainees were helping them out, but we were rushing all day long if we had that many rooms on the list. We had to hurry. To clean one room is a lot of work. We were happy if many things in a room were still in order, as that saved us time in turning it over. But sometimes the rooms were messy, which took much more time even with two people.

Imagine that normally only one room attendant is assigned per room! I have great respect for all room attendants: they do a phenomenal job!

Did I know what I was getting into? No, not really. How could I. If only I’d known where I would end up twentyeight years later! There is nothing to regret for me. How can you ever know what is going to happen anyway? The result of life’s unfolding is that you don’t know what is next. Sure, we try to plan as much as we can, but should we? Yes, we should! Yes, have a plan, set yourself a goal, and find your mission and purpose. You can achieve what you pursue, even if things don’t always go according to plan. That’s life!

There are obstacles. You might have to take detours. But the initial goal doesn’t change, though your path might. That’s important to know. Do not confuse goal and path.

When I started my apprenticeship, I just knew I wanted to become a chef. That was it. I did not have any other goals. I was never really into goal setting and I am being very honest. The only goal I had at the time was to figure out what me and my buddies would be up to the next weekend. Where was the next party? So far for goals. I was living from day to day. I was young, 16 years old and happy to earn my own money. I did not know what to do after my apprenticeship. I guessed I would work as a chef, but I had no plans to go abroad or anything like that.

I didn’t have any plans about becoming a TV chef either. I didn’t even have plans to become an Executive Chef. In my early twenties I could imagine becoming a Sous Chef at the age of 27 or 28. And that really happened! When I was 27, I received my first contract as a Sous Chef, at the Hyatt Regency Auckland in New Zealand.

I think that many people go through the same kind of process. They just drift around. Yes, they have a job. Yes, they pay their rent and yes, they put some money aside for a vacation. But that has nothing to do with having a life purpose, a vision, dreams, and goals. Would it have been better if I’d had more clarity about my path and goals at that time and age? Today I would say yes. Life is something that progresses, it’s a constant flow of things changing. We grow and adapt ourselves.

Some people know incredibly early what they want in life, most don’t. Many don’t even figure that out until the end of their days. They think they have lived their lives to their fullest potential. That’s a sad illusion. How would I have responded to someone who wanted to coach me about life’s purpose and goal setting? To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have given a damn about it. What are you talking about? A life purpose? Goal setting? What do you mean by that? Leave me alone and don’t bother me with your nonsense. I want to go party on Saturday. That’s much more important.

That was how I was thinking at the time. Ok, so be it I learned my lessons.

No regrets.

Thanks for reading my post!

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