I am a single mother of five, and was struggling to put food on the table. To make a living, I found a job in housekeeping for an upscale hotel. I worked hard and kept my head down. No one really noticed me, and I liked it that way. I got home every night to give my children dinner and do their homework with them. I was so thankful for my job, and I put in extra hours whenever needed. I worked there for three years, but one day everything changed.
I came into work as usual and started my rounds, cleaning one room after the other, when I noticed, hidden in the crevices of a mattress what looked like brown dots, about the size of an apple seed. I didn’t take much notice, but started checking all the mattresses and box springs in the other bedrooms and realized that these little brown dots were everywhere. Those dots were not merely brown dots, but bedbugs! I read the news from time to time and know that blood-sucking bedbugs are relentlessly taking over everywhere, and that hotels are not immune. But I never really thought they would crawl their way into this 5 star luxury hotel.
Suddenly, I felt like I was stuck. I considered my options. If I alerted the hotel management, they would surely hold the cleaning staff responsible, thinking that the infestation had spread due to a lack of cleanliness, and I was afraid the rest of the staff would blame me for bringing it to the management’s attention. However, I’ve seen photos of bedbug bites and heard stories about bedbugs and bedbug treatments, and I knew that if I sat back and did nothing, future hotel guests would suffer. I had worked so hard in this job as the only provider for my family, and I felt like this decision was forcing me to gamble with that security.
I tossed these two options back and forth in my head for a few hours, and ultimately concluded that I really only had one option, which was to tell the truth -so that’s exactly what I did. I alerted the necessary personnel, who assured me that the hotel was grateful to me for bringing it to their attention. I was so relieved as I thought; ‘all’s well that ends well.’
But that wasn’t the end. Three days later, I was fired for what they called ‘unfounded accusations’.
I felt like I had let my family down, and worse than that, I was being punished for my honesty. They took everything from me and for what? I recently heard that the hotel is still having a major ongoing bedbug infestation, and trying to figure out how to kill and prevent bedbugs.
Today, seven months later, I manage a successful home cleaning agency. I guess that terrible moment wasn’t that bad after all, as it ended up changing everything for the better.