FOWC with Fandango: Housekeeper

Fandango’s One Word Challenge is a writing prompt which I don’t think I have done before but here goes.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

I used to work as a housekeeper. I decided to get into the hospitality industry after I left the railways. I felt I had some transferrable skills and that I would enjoy interacting with guests.

First of all I worked at The Old Lion Apartments in North Adelaide. I did enjoy it there very much and only left because we were moving to Tasmania. It was physically hard work at times. There were no lifts so we had to carry everything we needed up the stairs.

I did enjoy meeting the guests though. We had all sorts, we had military families who had been relocated. They would stay for a while until they found rental accommodation. We had business people and holidaymakers of course. Occasionally we became aware that we had a “working girl” who would stay for a few days. I suppose you could say that was a business trip too. Very occasionally we had those people who just wanted a room for a few hours. Some had just come off long flights from overseas and just needed to sleep, others had something else in mind.

The most interesting group we ever had staying with us while I was there was a group of US Airforce guys. They were involved in a project which had to do with pilotless aircraft. I had one officer in the block of apartments I cleaned. He was usually out when I was cleaning but occasionally I ran into him. He was a Major and he was a very nice man. We had a few chats about differences between Australia and America. I remember his talking about how much bigger supermarkets were in the US and how many more varieties of each product were available.

As housekeepers we had to be discreet. We always respected the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door but occasionally we had those experiences where there was no sign so we’d walk in to do our job of cleaning the room and find someone asleep in bed or in the bathroom. That was embarrassing. Sometimes I would find laptops sitting on the desk open and even passports just tossed on the nightstand. That always worried me a bit as it didn’t seem very secure. I already knew from the railways that anytime something valuable goes missing the first people who are asked about it are the cleaners.

We don’t have a tipping culture in Australia but sometimes guests would leave us tips or gifts. Every hotel has their own policy about that. At that place we were allowed to keep any tips we found in the rooms. In the hotel I worked in when we came to Tasmania all tips were pooled and shared out. Guests would also sometimes leave us boxes of chocolates or bottles of wine too and we would get nice thank you notes from them.

I was glad that we didn’t have to rely on tips to make up our wages. Not only because it meant that I didn’t have to worry about money or get in someone’s face to give me something but also because when I was given something I knew it was because the guest valued what I had done for them.

I don’t have experience of what it’s like to work as a housekeeper in any other country but my own. I only know what I see on television. I guess housekeepers would be minimum wage workers in the USA and perhaps they didn’t make as much as I did back then. I can’t remember what my wage was to be honest but it was more than $A20 an hour. I was part time in Adelaide but casual in Hobart so the rates were different. I do know that I never felt that I was not as good as the people I was cleaning for and the vast majority of them treated me as an equal too. I’m not sure if that is true in some other countries.



I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

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