What I thought about while cleaning a toilet…

This is the opposite of what I look like when cleaning a toilet.

Working in home care is hard. It’s great work, you’re really doing something valuable and you make a difference in someone’s life but it’s hard to feel totally chuffed with yourself when scrubbing very stubborn poo off a toilet. I know, I’m a selfish bastard. True though. And although I’d like to think of myself as being a butterfly-gazing hippy who doesn’t care about money, the fact that the pay is set very low by the government is really really really annoying.

If I would be a professional cleaner I could make $25 an hour cleaning holiday homes and such like, against the $19 I make as a community care worker. If I was a professional cleaner I’d have to clean the homes of the overly wealthy or disrespectful holiday makers who for some reason love to make pasta explode in microwaves. I’m going to assume this will either make me a bitter little lady or I’d be forced to shut a part of my brain off and just do it. Both of those don’t sound good, and don’t sound like they would be worth the extra $6 an hour. Not really. But still…

Making more money doing something that is really crappy would mean that I could work less and have more spare time, which turns it into a sweet deal again. However, if I would have to spend that off-time trying to either love life and people again after cursing humanity for 4 hours, or trying to switch on the part in my brain that I had smothered to get on with it (a.k.a. self-respect), that off-time doesn’t really sound like a holiday on the beach either. Bugger.

Scrubbing poo off toilets for people that are half-blind or unable to bend over without falling is hard. It’s hard but it’s honest. Of course I don’t curse these people, I admire them for still living at home at 92. I also don’t have to switch off my mind, all I’m doing is helping out because people CAN’T do it, not because they can’t be ARSED to do it. We chat about the weather and the local craft market and even though some of them forget my name every time the week has passed, they DO know who I am and they smile because I’m back.

If I take half an hour to vacuum a house, and an old lady would take the entire day to do it, shit, I might get sweaty and sore but that’s a pretty awesome thing to be able to do. Steve sometimes says it’s like I’m their granddaughter for an hour or two. That’s how they treat me sometimes as well, you don’t get that from a group of schoolies.

In a way I don’t really create anything for anyone, don’t make a profit or ease anyone’s pain. All I do is prevent the loss of energy and someone being in pain from doing the things I come over and do for them. It’s a bit like damage control, and that’s okay. If I do it, they don’t have to, and when they don’t have to, they have enough energy to go out and have a coffee or bake a cake or whatever. That’s good. That’s great. But it’s hard sometimes, really hard.

But…  (because there’s always a positive ending) in the end, even though the work is hard, it would be a lot harder on a lot of people if I didn’t do it. That makes it easier to be sore in the evening and broke at the end of the fortnight. That and the person who is waiting to pick me up in the red car after work and feeds me coffee and buys me super glue because my shoes are worn.


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