I enjoy putting staff in their place. Though I was new to this job and still had a great many things to learn, I felt that my naturally authoritative manner made me ideal for handling a large gaggle of women, none of whom seemed to have the slightest ambition or capacity for creative thinking. I know, I am being mean. But dealing with that group made me feel that they simply could not cope without me. How often had I been called upon to settle their petty squabbles and rivalries? Even among the lowest of my employees, I watched how cleavages would form between various groups. The job of a good manager, or so I thought, was to exploit these for the good of the company, or at least myself.
I smiled as I remembered putting that new maid firmly in her place. A day of cleaning the toilets and stairs would soon send the signal that I thought very little of her, even though she had received a commendation. The guy I had replaced was in thrall to head office and had jumped at the chance to be noticed. I was no such fool. Initiatives like the one involving that maid usually failed, though one could not be seen to actually oppose them. No, I had plans and ambitions of course, however one did not have to actively help either.
I strode purposefully to my office, smiling at the staff as they watched me, still unsure as to who their new manageress was. The clacking of my heels announced my approach to all and heads turned to look and, then, that moment when they could not hold that gaze and their eyes dropped. That moment when I knew I was in charge. That was when I got my rush: the look of deferral in their eyes.
That new maid for example, the Latina. She seemed a mousy creature, only too aware of her low position. Lord knows how she got any kind of commendation, but she would never have made it onto any team of mine. Still, I was suspicious as to why she was here. Of all the hotels in the Webb chain, why a hotel in the middle of nowhere? I could not imagine anyone actually chose to come here? I hated it thoroughly, but it was a necessary step on the ladder. No, I should be in New York at the headquarters. After all, I had not worked so hard for nothing. I resented the moneyed types that ran so many businesses in America. The Webbs were no exception. A geriatric father with two daughters: one always in the gossip pages and the other one. What was her name?
I quickly forgot my train of thought as I reached the door of my office. So much to do and so little time. I had already wasted 20 minutes on that silly Latina. In one corner of my room was a pile of boxes. I sighed when I saw them and thought of all the money wasted on those stupid new uniforms. Katherine! That was her name, yes! She was the imbecile that had called for a new look for the maids to reflect new times. Well I begged to differ. I think a maid should look like a maid. Okay, these new uniforms were cheap and coarse, probably very scratchy. That was all fine and dandy. But they were also too short and sexualised. The way they rose well above the knee on the taller girls and were fitted tightly around the waist and bust. Who had ordered these? Some pervert?
I decided to check my emails before my first meeting of the day. Opening up my laptop, I checked the various cameras installed in the public areas of the hotel. Knowledge is power as they say and I was determined to keep a close eye on the staff. I flicked through the various screens: the maids’ room, the locker room and the corridors. I smiled as I finally found what I was looking for: the Latina. I saw her and Linda, the head maid, deep in conversation. I say conversation, but it just looked like Linda delivering a stern lecture, the Latina had her head bowed, listening. Oh yes, she had come here to teach us some things, but it would be her going back with added humility.
I closed the lid of my computer and prepared for a long day. I sighed as I saw those stupid boxes again and called for my assistant. You had to know when to push and when not. “Get these boxes out of here and to the maids’ room. Tell them to find their size and wear them tomorrow”. I smiled ruefully as I thought of the all the complaints to follow.
I was beginning to wonder whether the instructions accompanying Marta’s introduction had been lost or whether this was now a case of wilful disobedience on behalf of the manager. Katherine’s instructions for the seconded maid were clear: she was to accorded a degree of respect on account of her achievements. As I knelt down beside a urinal, trying to remove day old urine, I was seriously wondering.
Linda, the head maid, was watching me work. I could not entirely dispel the notion that her, or the manageress, had been saving this task especially for me. You think the public-access toilets would have been kept spotless. As Katherine, I would have probably thrown the book at the lot of them for letting such a public place get into such a mess.
“Quit daydreaming!” she barked at me menacingly. She clearly did not like me, or at least the thought of me. I mean she did not know me after all. However, on reflection, I could see that my presence represented a big threat to her position. Here I was, some kind of exemplar, brought in to show how things should be done. It was a move designed almost perfectly to rub people the wrong way.
I scrubbed at the sticky residue and watched the way it slowly broke down with each sweep of the brush. My hands bare and naked. No polish, no rings, no sign of any wealth and status. The smell was awful, hitting my senses full on, making me gag slightly. I do not remember ever having entered a men's’ bathroom before, but the stench was awful. My bobbed and now dark hair fell across my face, framing the whole situation in my mind. I was NOT Katherine anymore. I am Marta. I am from Guatemala. I like cleaning. My Inglish is too bad. I no get a better job speek like this.
My body was pulsing pleasurably as I scrubbed. I seemed to get a wave of energy sweep through me, prompting me to push harder with my brush. Linda seemed to notice. “That’s right put ya back into it”. I looked up and smiled, weakly, submissively. A lonely girl looking for a friend, any friend. For the briefest of moments, Linda seemed to soften, but as soon as she seemed to relent in her harshness, her body language shifted back to one of passive hostility. No matter I thought. I am not her equal here. I am Marta. I am from Guatemala. I like cleaning.
My knees ached as I crawled to the next urinal. Time itself seemed to slow as I placed one hand in front of the other. Who knows what mess was on this floor, had it been mopped? I was barely able to breathe and felt dizzy. I felt my breasts hang ungainly, the dress riding up my legs a little. The pose was degrading and submissive. I could start to detect the first traces of my own sweat mix with the stale odour from the previous cleaner.
In little more than a day I had fallen so far and fast. Here I was in borrowed clothing, nothing of any value within reach, all my wealth literally the possession of another person: Katherine - who was locked away in a locker. Even then, the power she possessed to help me was a phone call away. For at that moment, I realised just how trapped I was and how would be unable to rely on Katherine for the time being. The image of her faded gently. It was just panic of course, but I struggled to remember elements on her life: pin numbers, addresses. What had I done?
I was struck by another wave of near euphoria, making be buckle a little and gasp. Linda’s feet were just a matter of yards away. My perversions were taking hold and I wanted to kiss her feet. I needed to show her she was my superior. She did not know who I was, she had no idea of the woman now crawling before her. I gazed up and saw she was busy looking at her phone oblivious to the turmoil taking place just beneath her.
Though I was almost incapacitated by my dark needs surging forth and the ensuing panic, my brain was still just about functioning. If I was to get any space to myself I needed time alone and that required friends. I needed Linda to like me, to give me some slack.
“You is very pretty, Miss Linda” I lied. I normally associated with the elite, the crème de la crème of society. Linda was not that. She was fat. She had a round, pig like face with a nose to match. Her eyes, also piggy in nature, were hidden behind thick rimmed glasses. Her hair, cropped short, was some god awful platinum blonde. The uniform barely hid the vast rolls of fat around her middle.
Even so, she was my better. I had to get on her good side. She looked at me slightly askance, not sure of how to take that ‘compliment’. The fact she said nothing spoke volumes, obviously taking her by surprise and throwing her off balance. “I hope you, me, be friends?” I spoke in my forced, pidgin English. “Just finish the f*cking toilets so I can go!” she replied, a touch exasperated.
There it was! The first sign that this was being done on purpose. She was being made to watch my humiliation and it was not her idea! In that moment, I knew I had a much bigger problem. The manageress was obviously the one out to get me.