Letter from a cleaner: “Hopefully this pandemic will serve to value the most precarious but necessary jobs”

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For years I have been working as a community cleaner, for me always very necessary as well as a very hard and undervalued job as the typical expression “before I start cleaning stairs” shows. Well gentlemen, I have been cleaning stairs for 14 years and thanks to this I have brought a salary to my house that has fed my children. Of course, killing myself to get up early and spend hours.

In this coronavirus pandemic we have seen ourselves a little more recognized, or perhaps I should say more visible, because recognition comes when your working conditions improve and I don’t think that will ever happen.

I stop to think about the extra hours we are doing (unpaid) because we disinfect daily. How many viruses have killed a mop and a cloth!

Psychologically it has been hard for us too. Go out on the street at five in the morning and see the UME (Military Emergency Unit) disinfect or see how coffins came out of the portal that you had to scrub after days of greeting that person … Stay with the woman or with the victim’s husband at the door, trying to cheer him up but not even being able to give him a comforting hug …

And come to your house with fear in your body, thinking: did I take it? Have I touched something? Afraid to touch my children and my husband … But to arm myself of courage and return the next day with more force, although with the same fear and respect, asking the older neighbors if they needed a purchase or medicine, because we will be more or less invisible, the last link in that sector called “others”, but we are people with hearts and, believe it or not, qualified. Hopefully this pandemic will serve to value the most precarious but necessary jobs.

* I am Vanesa Durán Lechuga lives in Móstoles, Madrid.

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