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Clean Read

The reality about janitorial work is that it’s physically challenging, often done at night, considered to be unskilled (although given that craftsmanship is a large pain point in the industry one could argue this point), and not a high paying job trajectory. Everyone wants someone to clean for them, but no one really wants to pay the wages that the physicality of the work truly demands.

What’s interesting is how much or how little of this reality is portrayed on the page or onscreen. Breaking Bad really does the best job of showing how physically arduous and, at times, quite frankly, boring cleaning can be. If you’ve ever see the episode Fly, or the series as a whole which spends a lot of time watching both Walter White and Jesse Pinkman clean up after their crimes, you might wonder why series creator Vince Gilligan spends so much time focusing on something so undramatic and mundane.

Most books that feature cleaners don’t feature the actual act of cleaning, but rather, have servants who get caught up in love tangles with their employers (Jane Eyre), their co-workers (Remains of the Day), or their dead former mistresses (Rebecca), embroiled in situations that have socio-political ramifications (The Help, The Handmaid’s Tale and Such a Fun Age), or who are recounting a lost era and way of life (The House at Riverton). In terms of documenting the hardship of cleaning as a living, at least in the modern age, turn to Stephanie Land’s Maid, for a real understanding of the barriers cleaners face as far as social standing and upward mobility.

If you like to read, here’s a list of top fiction books about domestic workers, keeping in mind there’s a reason why most of these are categorized as fiction:

  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.
  • Maid by Stephanie Land.
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
  • Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
  • Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.
  • Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
  • Longbourn by Jo Baker
  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Half a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig
  • The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  • Below Stair by Margaret Powell
  • The Madonnas of Echo Park
  • The House Girl by Tara Conklin

At PopUP CleanUP, we strive to create structures to help our cleaners rise up and advance. All of our cleaners are licensed, bonded, and background-checked. We train our staff to be respectful, resourceful, and purposeful and to bring their best attitude, and we want our clients see them as members of their team to help make their events and venues sparkle.

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