Cleaning Cabins (Days 3-5)

On Tuesday Kim showed me the ropes for cleaning the cabins.  First we loaded the car with the essential tools: a mop bucket, a broom, a vacuum cleaner, a torn up cardboard box full of cleaning supplies and a red milk crate full of toilet paper, soap and coffee samples.  

Next Kim took me inside the hostel where we filled two laundry baskets full of bedding for the cabins.  Each cabin needed pillowcases, a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and a doona cover.  I learned that a doona cover is what Aussies called a duvet cover.  The actual duvet was called a doona.

Aside from bedding we also had to pack a fresh bath mat, hand towel, bath towel, washrag and cleaning towel for each cabin.  By the time we gathered all these things for three different cabins we had a car full of supplies.

Kim drove us in the Festa down to the cabins.  I couldn't drive a manual so this was a given.  In all honesty Kim probably drove about the same way I did.  However, being in the passengers seat is always more eye-opening than the driver's seat.  I just grinned as Kim punched the gas pedal and took a hard turn around the road that led to the cabins.  When we arrived at Cabin 1 she slammed on the breaks and my head bounced as we came to a complete stop.

When we arrived inside the cabin Kim gave me the explanation Yollana had asked her to.

"It's really all common sense, I mean, you find what's dirty and you clean it.  There's not much explaining."

I laughed and then got busy helping Kim change the linens on the bed.  While we worked she did most the talking.  I learned about her work history and why she had decided to come to Kangaroo Island.  Kim was from the Melbourne area and she had needed a break from her family and life back home so she decided to volunteer at Seal Bay for a month to get her mind straight.  So far she had been here a week and was really feeling much more relaxed.  

I decided cabin cleaning was really a pretty good way to get to know people because their attention was captive and you were working in a small space for about an hour at a time. Other than the social aspect I didn't enjoy scrubbing toilets and cleaning up other people's messes. Regardless, Kim and I cleaned three cabins and then made our way back to the hostel.  We ate leftover chicken noodle soup for lunch and then following Kim's lead, took a break on the couch and watched a thirty minute episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  

Around the end of the show Yollana came in and told us to get back to work.  She handed me a list of check-ins for the weekend and asked me to organize the bedding for them.  After seeing the basics to cabin linen preparation I figured this would be a pretty simple job.  Little did I know I would be working on this task off and on for 24 hours.

The trick to packing ahead for linens is that you have to know how many people will be staying in which cabin and what kind of bed they will be using.  Sometimes a double bed was enough, other times they needed a double and four single bunks.  The problem I ran into was trying to find enough linens of the right size that matched colors.  We had linens of all colors: red, black, brown, blue with leaves, purple with swirls, black with checks.  The odds of a fitted sheet and a flat sheet matching were probable.  The odds they would be the same size were a little lower.  The odds that you could find a doona cover to match were extremely low, much less in the same size and with four matching pillowcases.  

What my job amounted to was searching the hostel for extra linens and doing load after load of laundry until I had all the pieces to my puzzle.  When I did finally have all the pieces I used masking tape and a sharpie to clearly mark which pile was for which cabin.  At the end of it all I had filled an entire bench in the dining room full of cabin linens.  I had two laundry baskets piled very high and beside the baskets there were two more piles; each three or four feet tall and taped with a label.  Yollana was thrilled with my work.  I was pleased but exhausted.  The next few days it would be my job to make sure the correct linens went to their assigned cabins.  Easter weekend was a busy one for the island and the cabins would be full for a solid week.


Thursday was quiet around the resort. I woke up around 7 and had a good quiet time in the living room. I took a minute to listen to the words of “How Can It Be” by Lauren Daigle. I felt like it was a very good reminder of what Easter is all about. “You gave your life to give me mine, you say that I am free, how can it be?” The lyrics pierced my heart and immediately put me in a humble demeanor. I prayed that God would use me for his kingdom and that I could be a light to Kim, Alex and Yollana.


After my quiet time I got dressed for the day and then went for a short walk to the highway where I made a phonecall to one of my friends back home. When I got off the phone it was 9 o'clock so I gathered the basket I had prepared the night before and a broom and headed off walking towards the cabins.


I really enjoyed my walk to the cabins. It was only about 5 minutes but in those five minutes I noticed some beautiful birds with red bellies and white wings. I saw a pile of huge ants and I walked through some thick grass that could have potentially been full of snakes. I thought about what I would do if a snake popped up and bit me. I decided I wouldn't be as calm as I would hope to be.


When I got to the cabins I started with Cabin 2. Cabin 2 needed two wash rags and two soaps added to their room. I dug to the bottom of my basket and found two wash rags and two soaps and entered the cabin. Inside I checked over everything once more, making sure no more bugs or mishaps had disturbed the residence. When I saw all was clear I went into the small bedroom and neatly folded the washrags and pushed them inside the towels they belonged in. I then topped both washrags with a bar of soap each.


After locking the cabin I got the key for cabin number three and walked a few feet to the back door of number three. I looked at my list. All cabin three needed was a good sweeping of the back porch. I sat my laundry basket down and used my broom to scrub off old bird poop and dead worms.


Cabin 5 needed a single doona cover taken out of the cabin and Cabin 6 needed a pillow case placed on one of the pillows. On my walk back to Cabin 1 reread the note at the bottom of my list.  I thought through what I had written and realized I had forgotten to bring the extra bedding for Cabin 1. I took the bedding off of the double bed, folded it and neatly put it in my basket before walking back to the hostel.  


Carefully I walked past the ant pile, by the birds and over the two wire fences. After getting what I needed at the hostel I made my way back towards the cabins with a much lighter load. I had put up the broom and extra doona cover from Cabin 5. I put away all the keys except for Cabin 1 so I now only had one key and one set of bedding in my basket.


When I started putting the bedding on Cabin 1 I noticed that the doona cover I had grabbed was actually a single and not a double. I folded it back up and walked back towards the hostel yet again. This time I noticed a bird with a long beak sitting by the road. I climbed carefully over the two wire fences and back up through the tall grass where snakes might live.


I remembered to check the hostel linen closet for a double doona. Sure enough, there I found a double doona that matched the sheets and pillowcases I had put on the bed in Cabin 1. I left the basket and took off for the third time down to the cabins.


Despite my multiple mistakes, I actually was beginning to think I kind of liked the cabin work. It was quiet and peaceful and surrounded by nature. There were no people down there, only critters and I had no one to talk to unless I wanted to. I finished the bedding for Cabin 1 and then made my way back up to the hostel. I sat down and had another short chat with Matthew before taking a big gulp of water and walking towards the cafe. It was now 11 o'clock and I knew the cafe would be picking up speed soon.