Location: Greenville, South Carolina
I met Priscilla while she was pushing her cleaning cart down the 6th floor hallway of the Aloft Hotel in Greenville, South Carolina. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked her how many rooms she had on her list for the day. “Twenty four,” she replied cheerily. I was on my way back from the hotel’s gym, and I commented that just pushing that cart to twenty four rooms, let alone cleaning them, would be quite a work out. “It is!” Priscilla replied, still full of good cheer. “That is what I love about my job!”
And that is what I love about Priscilla. Her good cheer and her positive attitude are as essential to her job as the mop and cleaning supplies on her cart, and she clearly brings them to work with her every day. To a job, I might add, that many of us would consider anything but pleasant. Many of us find it hard enough to clean up after ourselves (David would argue that I definitely fall in that category, as he does the bulk of the cleaning for our household) and cleaning up after other people is even less appealing. But not for Priscilla.
“I love my job,” she says. She has been a hotel housekeeper for the last ten years (she worked for Sara Lee before that) and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love interacting with the customers and my coworkers,” she says. But surely a messy room, cleaning up after slobs who leave the room in shambles, must get to her? Not so. In those cases, she says, there is a sense of satisfaction in “putting it all back in order.”
She loves coming to work each day. “I start my day with a positive attitude,” she says. “When I walk in the door, I am always looking for the positives.” Those include her coworkers, whom she describes as family. When they take a break from cleaning rooms at 11 am to have a team meeting, it often includes games and hula hooping (I used the hula hoops at another Aloft hotel and I love that they are now available to guests. It makes me even happier to think of staff hula hooping during staff meetings! Good on you, ALoft!) Priscilla says she also really enjoys meeting the hotel guests. “I find that most people are nice and good,” she says. I ask if most people tip her and she beams. “Yes, they do,” she says.
When I was sick, many people credited my positive attitude with how well I fared. I take issue with that because I believe that science, good medicine and luck had far more to do with my ability to say I am a 2-time ovarian cancer survivor. I also don’t like linking my positivity to my survivability because it implies that those who did not survive did not have a good enough attitude, and we know that isn’t true. The Big C does what it does, but attitude can certainly impact how we deal with the journey. I do credit my positive attitude with being able to see the silver linings along the way, and being able to embrace the fact that more good than bad has come out of everything I have endured and experienced.
I also think positivity is all the more impressive when it is tested. Just as I find negativity in someone who has a lot particularly unappealing (such as the man in first class who acted like it was the end of the world that he couldn’t get WiFi on our short plane ride), I find positivity in someone who has little or who faces things that are hard and that many of us would find worthy of complaint particularly deserving of kudos.
The fact that Priscilla comes to work each day ready to embrace her job of cleaning up after me and the rest of the guests at the hotel says all you need to know about her. She thinks she has a great job and so she does. She brings her positive attitude with her to work and work rewards her with good colleagues, kind guests and some fun thrown into her daily staff meetings. The things that seem hard, like pushing that cleaning cart and bending down to clean toilets and make beds, Priscilla sees as a free exercise regimen while she is getting paid to work. The things that seem unappealing and even demeaning, cleaning up after other people, Priscilla sees as a challenge that she gets to embrace and then feel the satisfaction of a job well done. The fact that Priscilla looks forward to coming to work, enjoys her time at work, and leaves feeling good about what she did and looking forward to the next day is due in large part to her positive outlook.
“Try looking at the positives,” she says. “It will make your day.”