cleaningI hadn’t worked for five years. That’s not strictly true actually, I’d worked extremely hard it’s just that I hadn’t been paid for my trouble.

I decided to take a job in the evenings because there would be no childminder fees, and it could be easily slotted in with our lives. The job was an office cleaner. Not something I’d aspired to from an early age and, don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a snob here, but not something that I approached with great relish. But, it fitted in with my husband’s job and was available. The job was supposed to take two hours a night, but I was assured that once you got in to a routine it could be done in an hour and a half and possibly, at a pinch, even an hour.

So on the first night I kissed my children goodnight at 7pm and told them I wouldn’t be long. It already felt a bit weird not doing the usual bedtime story routine. I arrived at the office and donned my brand spanking new tabard (yes people really do wear them). I began working through the list of jobs: – collect mugs from desks and load dishwasher; empty bins and recycling; polish desks; vacuum carpets; clean toilets; mop hard floors, and take bags of rubbish down to the big bins. All sounds fine, yes?

No. No. No. It was the hardest three hours (yes you heard it – THREE) of my life.

Firstly, the constant bending under the desks immediately aggravated my bad back. Let me just say here and now, of course I knew I had a bad back when I took on the job but I assumed, as I am able to keep my own house reasonably clean without crippling myself that the same could be said for this job. I could not have been more wrong.

I think it was probably because when you clean for a living, you have to keep cleaning for the whole time. You don’t get to say, “I’ll just do the lounge and then I’ll watch a bit of ‘This Morning’.” Or make a deal with yourself, “After I’ve cleaned the toilets, I’m going to check the emails and do a bit of writing.” You have to keep going until all the jobs are done!

It’d grown dark and was approaching 10pm and I was still dragging the smiling Henry vacuum (damn him for smiling) around the office and asking out loud (why not out loud, every other bugger had long gone), “What have I done?”

By the time I was hauling the bin bags into the giant bins and attempting to set the alarm, I knew this wasn’t for me. I had made a huge mistake. I was not destined to be ‘Office Cleaner of the Year’.

As I dragged my sorry arse and stiff back through the front door, my husband asked in a jokey tone, “Did you have a good day at work dear?” I replied by bursting into tears and confessing all.

Needless to say, I was not employed as an office cleaner for long. I managed three nights before a replacement was found and I happily hung up my tabard and returned to being a stay at home mum for a while longer.

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