Jobs that lend meaning to starting at the bottom

Amanda Ngudle

I spilt wine on the crispy white linen at an up-market hotel and wouldn't go back to my room.

What did housekeeping think of my pigginess? Spare a thought for the women whose job it is to clean up after the slobs who leave the room looking like a pigsty.

But someone who thinks housekeeping is a walk in the park is Cikizwa September.

"My first job was working on an assembly line cleaning the crap off eggs. "It stank, was hot and Lord help you if anything went wrong. Imagine shattered slippery, stinky eggs everywhere. I've hated the sight of eggs ever since."

But that was nothing compared to Tim Msengana's first step onto the corporate ladder.

"The advert said the incumbent was going to have to start at the bottom. I arrived there in a suit. A skinny, mean old white woman laughed her head off at my "spiffiness" and handed me an overall. I had to clean the basement that had been used as a rubbish dump."

During the tea break Msengana walked out and never looked back.

"The one thing I learnt from that humiliation was never to stoop that low again and I guess that's the reason I'm now an investment broker."

For Nomthetho Ndoni, now a theatre scriptwriter, her journey started in the kitchen.

"I worked at an upscale fast food restaurant when I was 15. I had to get inside the oven to clean it because I was the only one small enough. You have no idea how much slime I had to scrape off the oven, and what if some stupid person turned on the damn thing having forgotten I was in there?"

Stella Luphindo is a masseuse and says she makes decent money but.

"You still get these old men who book massages with the idea of getting a Viagra-free erection. Yuck, the thought of it!"

But Nono Mayisela says nothing compares with working as a caregiver at an old-age institution.

"They stink, are depressed, grumpy all the time and raise hell. But it wasn't until one old number did a number two on me that I left."

But, the most ungrateful job is working at a mortuary. Titus Motsepe says: "I used to clean the morgue and emergency areas at a hospital. I tried not to be in the morgue or lab late at night. There are always weird noises in mortuaries. You also never know who or what you will be dealing with on a daily basis in the emergency area."