I continued sending out my job applications to different recruiters and got various responses; a few promising ones and others, the generic “unfortunately, your application has not been selected to continue…..” At this point in my life, no job was off limits. I applied to any job I thought I had the skill that was required. They included pick packing/ factory jobs, cleaning jobs, kitchen hand jobs etc. I applied to any and every job I was remotely skilled to do because I was fast running out of options and I needed to start saving up my fees for the next semester. Getting a job this time around was not to boost my ego, confidence or assuage my dignity, it was a primal necessity for survival in the coming months.
On one of my shifts for EY Sweeney, I got a phone call while standing opposite the Sydney Opera House. It was a cleaning agency that was calling to follow up on the application I had sent to them. I was asked to recount my work experience as a cleaner and I mentioned that I had never cleaned commercially but I had years of domestic cleaning experience. I was then asked to provide references and police check from my home country since I had been in Australia for less than a year before my application can proceed to the next stage. This was a bit of a challenge for me. I struggled with asking people back home to stand in as my references for a cleaning job but eventually, my need for a job was greater than my shame of working as a cleaner. I consoled myself with the fact that at least I would have a steady income and that this was a temporary job.
I was to provide two references. I asked my previous boss in Nigeria to stand in for me and my friend whom we worked together to be my second reference but I told neither of them what the job was primarily because I was not ready to deal with the pity but well meaning comments. After I confirmed that my references had received the emails for the reference check, my friend asked me if she had gotten the correct email as the one she received was for a domestic hand- omo odo- as we called it in Nigeria. I assured her it was the right email and she could go ahead and complete the questions. I called my dad to help me get my police check done. He travelled down to Lagos, Nigeria to submit the necessary information and documents and I was able to get my police check within a week.
I sent my police check along with my reference checks to Absolute Domestics, the cleaning agency I applied to. A few days after, I was invited for to attend a training before I could start going to people’s homes to clean. The training was about 8hours long. There was about ten other people in attendance and we were educated on what the company policies and standard were, we were also taught how to use cleaning chemicals appropriately and other basic cleaning tips .
Upon completing the training, a few days after, I got my first shift. It was a 3 hour cleaning for a pregnant lady who wanted to try out the cleaning agency for the first time. When I got to her house, she told me she wanted the bathroom scrubbed down and mopped, the plates in the sink washed and the living room vacuumed since it was rugged. Armed with my gloves and cleaning supplies, I started off towards the bathroom. The bathroom walls and corner angles had collected mould from soap overtime, so for a long while, I scrubbed off mould from the bathroom tiles and screen doors. I gave the screens a thorough wipe down, vacuumed the bathroom and mopped the floor. I then went to the kitchen to start washing the plates in the sink.
Back home, when washing plates, we had a separate bowl of soapy water for washing the plates and then we rinse under running water in the other sink which was exactly what I proceeded to do. Unfortunately, for the lady whose plates I was washing, this was not the norm and she minced no words in letting me know that. She then told me to load up both sinks with water, really hot boiling water. I remember feeling the heat through my gloves. One side of the sink was for washing while the other was to rinse the plates. By the time I was done with this task, I had used up almost all of my time. I had about thirty minutes left to clean the living room and vacuum. Eventually, the lady told me to just vacuum and leave after. I suspect that she wasn’t very satisfied with the service I provided that day.
I went on to have several other clients who had their own specifics for cleaning certain areas in their home and I worked with that. As long as I was getting shifts as frequently as possible, I was okay. Around this time, the two projects I did for EY Sweeney had ended and I was no longer getting any shifts from them which meant my major income was solely from cleaning which wasn’t enough.
I had to get another job.