When we came here for a look-see in December, to help facilitate our migrating decision-making process, we spent weeks in a glitzy, glam hotel having a tour of the lovely city.
Hotels spuriously dot Dubai’s landscape to meet the needs of a teeming tourism industry which keeps blooming by the day. From the 0 stars to 5 stars and the only 7 Star hotel in the World!
Naturally, I got a bit friendly with a few of the staff, especially a young lady that tended to our room. I have no idea if I was drawn to her because she is of African descent, but I remember observing her very earnest yet polite demeanour as she rushed through her duties like a fire-ball in a haste to get her job done in record time.
The little tips that I gave her were highly appreciated and by the end of a few days, we became a little more friendly. I even suggested to her that I would like to share a day working with her for the heck of the experience to her alarmed and vehement refusal.
Out of piqued curiosity an interview ensued on one of the days that she was making up the room, little did I know that I would use the excerpts one day!
I will keep her name different and no mention is made of the hotels for privacy sake:
Me: “Lydia, where are you from?”
Lydia : “Somalia.”
Me: “How long have you been living here?”
Lydia : “Three years now.”
Me: “Wow!” “That’s been a while!” “Do you live close by?”
Lydia: “Not at all.” “The outskirts, after Sharjah.” “It’s too expensive to live in the city.”
Me: “That’s far! (I exclaimed with the little idea that I had to the terrain). ”What time do you leave home?”
Lydia: ”Most times 5 or 5:30 in the morning!” ”I have to be at work by 7:30.”
Me: “And I see you here till late evening around 9.00pm or so when the bus is taking a bunch of you home.” “Doe’s the bus take you home?”
Lydia: “No it stops us at a metro station and we find our way from there.”
Me: “Oh good!” “So how do you like it living here?” “Was it easy to transition from your place?” “I thought it was a bit difficult to move here as a single woman, given the rules and regulations?” A battery of questions came from my end and all these while she busily went about her duties in the apartment, changing sheets, fluffing pillows etc.
Lydia: “It’s okay to live here even though it is more expensive than Somalia, but this place is better.” “An employment agency engages a lot of us.” “We cannot apply directly by ourselves and they are the ones that obtain the visa after medical tests and other requirements have been satisfied.” ”The agency gets a fraction of our income – they are actually our employers and they deploy us to work in places where they get contracts.”
Me: ”How did you get to know about the agency?” ”Are you happy with the work?”
Lydia: ”My cousin told me about them.” ”We were searching for a proper way to leave Somalia because of certain hardship due to conflicts.” I observed the flitting of emotions on her pretty face, but I didn’t interrupt as I was regaled with bits and pieces of what home meant to her.
Me: ”So what about the job?” ”Is it tedious?” ”Is it okay?” ”What has your experience been like?” I asked leading questions trying to probe a bit beyond the surface.
Lydia: ”Sometimes, I do about 35 check-outs in a day.” I got to understand that, that meant putting rooms in immaculate states when an occupant has checked out.
”Some days can be very stressful especially when some occupants are difficult and don’t want you to disturb them until when they are ready.” ”Then they call and tell housekeeping that nobody has done up their rooms; meanwhile, they are the ones that put a do not disturb sign on the door.” ”What can you do?” ”You just have to manage.” She stated philosophically
”Every job has it’s problems, but if I get money, I will open a hairdressing salon.” ”I know how to make hair very well.” Her face lit up at such an anticipated prospect.
“This is actually my second place of work.” ”At the first hotel that I worked in, I was nearly assaulted by a client.” ”It was during a festive season and the hotel was fully booked at that time.” ‘‘I was assigned to work that floor for the week and this man kept making overtures but I ignored him.” ”On one of the days that I was cleaning up the toilet (and he is a very messy guest), he followed me into the bathroom, got aggressive and tried to force himself on me.” ”I barely managed to extricate myself without getting seriously hurt, but the Indian housekeeping manager informed me two days later that I was fired for upsetting a customer.”
”I was lucky that the agency was understanding and they deployed me to this place.” ”This is a better hotel, she enunciated quietly in her sing-song drawling accent. ”The manager is a nice Egyptian Christian.”
I was very disquietened and left the interview at that with a bigger tip than usual.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha
In response to The Daily Post prompt FAQ
Interview someone — a friend, another blogger, your mother, the mailman — and write a post based on their responses.