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To hate the way some people talk to cleaners?

(102 Posts)
clairemcnam Fri 01-Mar-19 12:55:47

Or anyone else they see as below them.
I have seen this in a variety of workplaces, both small private firms, the public sector and universities. Staff with well paid jobs being patronising, talking down to people and making it clear that they think they are better off than cleaners and any other staff with a low status. I hate it, and yet it is fairly common.

IHeartKingThistle Fri 01-Mar-19 13:02:52

I'm a teacher and all our cleaners are Nepalese. I always say hello and thank you and have a little chat but I think largely they're used to being invisible and not being talked to. It makes me a bit uncomfortable tbh.

Bobbiepin Fri 01-Mar-19 13:05:19

Also a teacher. I always chat to the cleaners, make the effort to know security by name and a little about them and I try my best to be lovely to my TAs (after all they are there to help). I judge people by how they treat those in "lower" jobs, having worked in those jobs myself. People are people and deserve to be treated with respect.

clairemcnam Fri 01-Mar-19 13:13:15

Yes I too judge people by how they treat those in low status jobs. Always a sign of someone who is really pretty nasty underneath, irrespective of how lovely they seem at other times.

tobee Fri 01-Mar-19 13:13:47

My usual observation is that people don't talk at all.

clairemcnam Fri 01-Mar-19 13:15:22

You don't say hello to cleaners or other low status staff such as low paid admin workers or security?

MsTSwift Fri 01-Mar-19 13:16:08

Our cleaners talk to me - a lot - which is nice but tricky when working from home and have to get a document out. I like to think I treat everyone the same.

GregoryPeckingDuck Fri 01-Mar-19 13:17:53

Ive literally never seen this. Usually the cleaning crews come in after hours. When I have seen them around it’s usually a combination of hellos and British sorries. Sorry for being in your way, sorry for sitting on my chair, sorry for working so late, sorry for existing in the first place. I’ve never seen anyone belittle or talk down to anyone though.

PumpkinPie2016 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:20:18

Another teacher and I always make time to speak to our cleaners and site staff. Sadly, I think I'm one of a few.

It drives me mad when people think they are better than others.
After all, where would we be without cleaners!

anniehm Fri 01-Mar-19 13:20:30

Dh remarked on this - his colleagues were bemused that he bought a Christmas gift for his office cleaner. Alas university now contracts out so it's a random person these days, he liked chatting to her

Fernie6491 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:23:13

I used to work in a busy NHS office. We had a permanent cleaner, who was treated the same as all of us clerical staff, she was always included in our conversations, evenings out, Christmas 'do's', etc. She did an important valuable job, just as the rest of us did.
None of us would have dreamed of treating her any other way!
Having said that most people when they left said they wouldn't miss the work, but would miss the people. We were incredibly happy and, I think, incredibly lucky that we all got on so well.

clairemcnam Fri 01-Mar-19 13:28:34

annie He sounds lovely. I have found RG universities the worst for this. The way some of the top academics speak to anyone doing a low status job is awful.

FissionChip5 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:30:26

A good ten years ago I was a cleaner for an office, it came to xmas time and the office manager left gifts on a table for all staff memebrs including me. When I went to get my gift it was just and empty bag, someone had stolen the gift. I told the manager, they put out a been gift for me to collect on my next shift and someone had stolen it again! angry
I was so pissed off that I just walked out and left them in the hands of the cover cleaner who liked to use shit rags on desks .

Piffle11 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:32:16

I was talking to a couple of tradesmen about this just the other day. A lot of their work is on a smart estate nearby, and they said a lot of the people they are working for treat them as 'less than'. My DM's friend was a cleaner, and a couple of her clients were very snotty towards her. One of them had a son about 16, and he would leave notes pinned to his door saying 'Cleaner!! Do NOT enter my room, understand?' When she was cutting back on work they were the first to go! My DH used to be a partner in a little firm and they would take their cleaner on all the office nights out, she was one of the staff just like everyone else.

Witchesandwizards Fri 01-Mar-19 13:35:18

I work in a big office and we always have cleaners buzzing around. I treat them like I treat any other member of staff I don't know by name - hold doors open for them (do this a lot because we have security doors and they are pushing trolleys) and smile when I walk past them in the corridor
Same with security - always a cheerful good morning/good night.

But I don't 'talk' to them par se, just like other staff members I don't know.

IHaveBrilloHair Fri 01-Mar-19 13:35:22

My cleaner has become a great friend, we chat all the time, in messenger etc aswell as when she's here, plus we do stuff for each other, I've lent her my car, she's got shopping for me, has printed me stuff, is helping get my teenager a job.

I used to be a cleaner in a Care Home and all the staff were fine, some of the residents families ignored us but we were never bothered really.

LoisWilkerson1 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:41:58

A teacher friend of mine was outraged that the school cleaner goes to America every year. I pointed out just because someone is in a low paid job, doesn't mean they don't have moneyhmm My cousin is a property developer and works in Asda part time.
I work in a low paid job now as it fits in with the kids, hasnt and wont always be the case. I can't abide job snobbery.
I agree it says more about them than the cleaner.

IHaveBrilloHair Fri 01-Mar-19 13:45:18

My cleaner went to America last year!
She brought me back a huge list of stuff I asked for.

MotorcycleMayhem Fri 01-Mar-19 13:48:46

I agree - I always judge people by how they treat people around them, especially in the service industry such as cleaning.

Unfortunately our office cleaner is a massive time drainer as he won't stop talking to you, tries to read what you're doing and is also full of shit

He claims to have been an Army sniper and to be ex-SAS hmm hmm hmm and has several younger colleagues convinced with his crap. So I smile, nod, say hello, move all my stuff out the way for him and crack on with my headphones on as usual. That and his incessant sniffing drives me mad, but I'm weird about noises anyway.

tobee Fri 01-Mar-19 13:49:04

@clairemcnam Not me. Other people. Been on the receiving end. Holding doors open for people and they just walk through like I don't exist. And the door's just magically opened for them. hmm

Spudlet Fri 01-Mar-19 13:52:23

IME, this is as much an office culture thing as anything else. My last office was very much 'we are all in it together and we will all pull together' and the cleaners were as much a part of the team as anyone. It no doubt helped that the CEO led by example but I think it was pretty ingrained anyway. You needed to have that sort of mindset to get along and anyone who didn't just wouldn't have stayed. It was a bit of a virtuous circle in that respect.

However in other places I have worked it was unfortunately different, with senior staff generally talking down to juniors and so on. And I know from the experiences of friends who have done cleaning work as students (including DH in his time) that this can be pretty common.

I judge people who are unkind or rude to those that they perceive as less important as well. It tells you an awful lot about a person, imo.

stevie69 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:57:28

*Or anyone else they see as below them.
I have seen this in a variety of workplaces, both small private firms, the public sector and universities. Staff with well paid jobs being patronising, talking down to people and making it clear that they think they are better off than cleaners and any other staff with a low status. I hate it, and yet it is fairly common.*

Haven't seen it happening at my place of work, which is a large organisation.

pud1 Fri 01-Mar-19 13:58:52

My mum was a cleaner in a hospital. She died at aged 59 in the same hospital whilst she in effect still worked there although she had been off for 5 months due to her cancer. I know this is extreme circumstance but she died on the ward she regularly cleaned on. The humanity and respect she was shown by the staff on the ward as well as the wider staff within the hospital was humbling. So many of them from doctors to porters and other domestic staff popped in on breaks to see her and at the later stages to see me to check I was ok. It was evident that she was part of the team and they were losing one of there own. She had worked there 15 years and to be fair mum was never one to just blend in.
It’s a shame that this is not the case everywhere. I hate that we are in a society that not everyone recognises the importance of an honest days work regardless of job title.

hadwebutworldenoughandtime Fri 01-Mar-19 14:12:14

I have been on the receiving end of this (not as a cleaner). Was working as a shop assistant while I studied for my Masters when we had a duty manager covering holiday. She was really quite patronising and rude till during conversation she asked me about past education/ jobs, managed to drop in, 'My first degree was in...'. Her attitude took a total turn around. Sadly my opinion of her didn't.

Also volunteering for large national art gallery I was 'loaned' to a different department and can honestly say that I have never been treated so rudely or with more contempt anywhere else. Shocking when I was giving up my time for free to help out. Nothing in our education levels or backgrounds hugely different just the prejudice people have based on someone's level of pay/ wealth. Have to say though that I have volunteered a lot and this was definitely not the norm in my experience.

These experiences mean I am always really careful to be considerate and polite to anyone in similar situations.

isseywithcats Fri 01-Mar-19 14:16:10

Im a cleaner in a restaurant and none of the management treat me and the other cleaners any different to any of the other staff, there is one chef who thinks hes god and talks to women in general like they are beneath him, but hes the same with all the females in the building except managers, so its nothing personal and not to do with my job, what he dosent know is i have a degree and do my job because the hours suit me so inside i just go sod off * and laugh, my other half is a lecturer at university so yes cleaners can go abroad for holidays if they have a high earning partner or husband

vampirethriller Fri 01-Mar-19 14:18:37

I worked as a cleaner in a university years ago whilst waiting for another job to start. I was cleaning a room while two lecturers were discussing their holidays. One had just come back from Rome. She caught my eye and smiled and said "You won't know where that is. It's in Italy."
I've got a degree in ancient Roman history actually...

How2Help Fri 01-Mar-19 14:28:24

You won't know where that is. It's in Italy. I've got a degree in ancient Roman history actually...

Please say you said that out loud!?

OKBobble Fri 01-Mar-19 14:37:33

When I first employed a cleaner and a childminder and they both lived in swankier houses than me. The cleaner did her job to earn money to fund her sons' golf lessons and extra curricular. Luckily she never spoke down to me.

thecatsthecats Fri 01-Mar-19 14:46:05

My cleaner is my best employee, does her work to a brilliant standard and you can prize her from my cold head hands but I do vastly enjoy the fact that I never have to speak to her blush

It's semi mutual, because she thinks everything I like is super weird from my music to my decor, and I've run out of polite and jovial responses to the very rude things she says about my stuff.

However - she does a cracking job, I trust her absolutely (she'd hardly want to nick anything!) and I always tip. We're both happy!

showmethegin Fri 01-Mar-19 14:56:46


I was an office temp a few years ago and they offered me a permanent contract, one of the main reasons I turned it down was how despicably rude they were to the cleaners. I thought it said a lot about the ethos of the place and the attitudes of the people that worked there. Not people I would like to spend 40 hours a week with!

GorkyMcPorky Fri 01-Mar-19 21:17:33

As a teacher I find this doesn't happen in schools. I recently fancied a change and spent a couple of years in the NHS. Couldn't believe the number of band 7+ (so many of them!) who behaves as if the freedom to choose their own clothes have them carte blanche to patronise and talk down to low grade staff.

CoolJule43 Fri 01-Mar-19 21:35:19

I don't see cleaners as lower status. I'm a middle manager and make a particular point of always chatting to cleaners, security, receptionist. What would we do without them?
Everyone has a job to do and plays to their strengths.

MarieIVanArkleStinks Fri 01-Mar-19 21:39:25

The cleaners at home and work are without exception friendly, lovely human beings. I'm also a university lecturer, and have thankfully never witnessed in my workplace the kind of behaviour mentioned above. Lecturing in itself isn't the highly-valued occupation it once was, which is perhaps the reason some of them like to kick those they see as 'beneath' them. Says much about their own insecurity.

The one instance of this I've witnessed personally was on a Cunard cruise, when a fellow passenger treated a member of the waiting staff (from the Philippines; they wore badges stating their country of origin) absolutely appallingly. She was bellowing in his face, calling him 'boy' and uttering such disgusting, casual racist and 'classist' unpleasantries that I felt forced to call her out on it. She ranted that my language was intemperate (it was) but mine was a darned sight more polite than the language she'd used with him. I gave the guy my cabin number and told him if there were any repercussions he should ask his direct manager to contact me and I'd set things straight.

I loved the cabin staff from the Philippines. We always talked and they told me about their customs, including wishing me a happy birthday when it wasn't my birthday because I was wearing red. Apparently that's a tradition of theirs!

People are such snobs.

MarieIVanArkleStinks Fri 01-Mar-19 21:40:55

OKBobble I love your post! smile

Prisonbreak Fri 01-Mar-19 21:47:44

I can’t speak to my cleaner. She is 100% deaf and German. She can sign but again in German. I can sign but in English. We communicate through a text translation app.

Mammyloveswine Fri 01-Mar-19 21:49:09

I'm.a teacher and I always have a chat with the cleaners.. they ask about my kids and I ask about theirs. Tbh i don't know anyone who doesn't just chat to people they work with!

1Redacted1 Fri 01-Mar-19 21:55:11

We have cleaners around at work constantly and I’m always a bit shocked at how a lot of my colleagues ignore or speak rudely to them. I’ve always said hello, smiled and exchanged pleasantries with them and know a lot of them by name. It’s the same with the security guards - I cannot count the number of times they say good morning to people entering the building and are ignored. It just so rude.

One of the worst things is that because they all work for subcontracted companies, they get excluded from the big company annual party which is shameful. A number of us complained to HR about it but the company won’t budge which is shit.

lljkk Fri 01-Mar-19 21:58:17

I didn't know there was a German Sign language. confused
Thought BSL was standard across Europe.

Hayden555 Fri 01-Mar-19 21:59:10

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Stumpted88 Fri 01-Mar-19 22:00:17

We have a busy office and have people cleaning constantly on rotation around the floors.

I always say hello, etc etc. As I would with any other colleague.

However I feel so awkward to be at home when my home cleaners are here, almost like I am intruding in them!! I end up just mumbling a “oh hello”, blushing and apologising confused

Burlea Fri 01-Mar-19 22:00:55

Just after having our children I worked for Argos, our cleaners Sue and Brenda came out on our nights out. They were very good at bringing home made cakes in.
I've always treated people the way they treat me.
Remember everyone comes in to the world through birth and they all die to leave the earth.

Hayden555 Fri 01-Mar-19 22:01:25

Why would British Sign Language be standard across Europe?!!
Other countries are allowed their own sign language as well as their own language.

Livedandlearned Fri 01-Mar-19 22:04:12

I'm a cleaner in peoples homes and i find this type of thing happens quite a lot.

In fact its one of the reasons that I'm looking for another job.

lljkk Fri 01-Mar-19 22:08:22

I thought I heard or read yrs ago (feck knows where) that there were only 3 distinctly well-developed & widely used sign languages in world: ASL, BSL & Nicaraguan. I'm happy to be corrected from this ignorance, though.

LyndzB Fri 01-Mar-19 22:09:13

I used to work in a university and witnessed this a lot from some academics. Some were very snotty towards the cleaners. One lecturer used to 'plant' things in her office to catch the cleaner out if she hadn't managed to clear it. Even though they were given very little time to clean each room.

Funny enough these lecturers were the first to get annoyed if you didn't go on strike with them so they could get better pay/benefits - not having a clue that many people just cannot afford to lose a day of work.

This was just a small few academics, the majority were truly lovely but those few really do stick in my mind!

embarrassedcleaner Fri 01-Mar-19 22:10:38

I have name changed for this because i'm so utterly humiliated and ashamed.

I work part time as a domestic cleaner. I'm on my own with my dd, and also do a lot for my mum who is in her 70 and very frail.

This work fits around my girl and my mum - I worked as an office admin ( so no high flyer!)before her father walked out. Mostly it's been great and the people I clean for are lovely and I'm so honoured that I'm trusted in homes.

I have one client both she and her husband are consultants -:the husband does private work in the US and is away a lot. They have a lovely home - the wife is both beautiful, generous and charming.

At least once a month he has a wank in his shower and cuts his pubes and sneerily asks me to ' make sure you give the shower unit a good clean'

My dd is 11 and has won a place at a really good selective school today - I'm so happy. My plan is to study in September so I can stop.

Most people are lovely and just want a competent trustworthy cleaner - but there are some real arsehole.

It's lovely to hear how you all value your cleaners. Thank you flowers

Livedandlearned Fri 01-Mar-19 22:16:01

@embarrassed cleaner find another client!

formerbabe Fri 01-Mar-19 22:20:19

Being a cleaner shouldn't be looked down upon. It can actually pay more per hour than office jobs. Yet because in the UK we have a weird class system, desk based jobs are seen as higher up the pecking order than manual jobs.

Froggyface Fri 01-Mar-19 22:22:58

I work in the NHS, our cleaners are treated equally as part of the team. I have never seen anyone talk down to them.

timeisnotaline Fri 01-Mar-19 22:24:47

I do find it hard to feel like I’m treating my cleaner as an equal as she doesn’t speak English. So smiles and hello of course but none of the usual small talk which does feel like I’m being rude. We use google translate and I do make sure I also use it to say let me know if my 3yo is in your way etc. I dislike feeling rude , she seems very nice.

Zerrin13 Fri 01-Mar-19 22:26:13

I run a domestic cleaning company and luckily most people are charming. The secret is to get rid of the assholes because people like that never change. Luckily there is no shortage of decent kind people wanting their houses cleaned.

doxxed Fri 01-Mar-19 22:34:59

I was quite annoyed when they got contractors in for cleaning because they don't get company benefits sad

I'm in (public facing) customer service and the way some people talk to me is ridiculous. I can really help them, but if you treat me like I'm stupid...why should I go above and beyond to help you?

perci08 Fri 01-Mar-19 22:58:21

I agree with you entirely. A cleaning job is good honest work. Because it's at the bottom of the occupation ladder then most people think themselves 'better than that'. However, I say any job that pays a wage is better than no wage at all. However, the attitude of people in other job titles don't understand it's exactly that ''a job title''. We're all cleaners at some point in time whether we work or not. Most of us if not all of us clean dishes/wash clothes/tidy rooms/wash floors/empty bins/etc; so, therefore, the title ''cleaner'' is universal and should be better understood.
Any person that 'talks down' to any cleaner reflects on their own manners and respect.

malificent7 Fri 01-Mar-19 23:05:39

I used to teach i now clean to fund my degree. Love it and my clients are very grateful.

averystrangeweek Fri 01-Mar-19 23:07:03

I've worked in a lot of offices, starting as a junior and eventually working my way up to be fairly senior and head of a large department.

After a career break bringing up a family, I decided to take a Saturday job in a shop to help make ends meet.

That was much the poorest-paid job I've ever had, and also far and away the worst I have ever been treated, and looked down on, by an employer. She, and her daughter, treated me like absolute dirt. I took the greatest pleasure in eventually being able to tell her where to stick her job. I was also thrilled to find out that the business went down the tubes shortly afterwards. Served her right, the cow.

notacooldad Fri 01-Mar-19 23:25:20

My cleaner went to America last year!
I an really curious. Why the exclamation mark that a cleaner went to America?
It looks like you cant actually believe ( as my kids would say) that a cleaner could go the USA.

BrusselPout Fri 01-Mar-19 23:28:25

We always ask our receptionist about interviewees - it's amazing how many people talk to the reception team like dirt but then are all smiles when the interview team walks in.....

IHaveBrilloHair Fri 01-Mar-19 23:45:30

Yes, yes notacooldad
That's exactly the context I was using it in, clearly.

Allways123 Sat 02-Mar-19 00:38:18

Years ago I had an office cleaning job and was made to feel like dirt by some of the staff who took pleasure in talking down to me. After a while I had enough and posted their keys back through the door on a Friday night. I can imagine their shock when they came in on the monday morning and the whole place was still a filthy mess with bins overflowing and dirty cups everywhere. How we treat others is definitely a reflection of ourselves.

mrcharlie Sat 02-Mar-19 03:40:48

Oh the irony of it,
Where I work (engineering) the contracted cleaner is on a higher hourly rate than the vast majority of shop floor workers!

She's lovely, every xmas all the lads chip in and a buy her a gift as way of thank you. We all take time to talk to her, she's well travelled and always has interesting things to talk off, last year she went off on a motorbike cruise through Europe.

I know of another cleaner who's husband works for British Gas as a service engineer. She earns more than him!!, They purchased a massive farm house a few years ago, complete with stables and indoor pool, part of the house is let in the holidays. She still works as a cleaner full time. Plus they already own several other properties that they let out.

People should never judge others by what they do for a living, all jobs are important and all help to keep society moving.

SamStephens Sat 02-Mar-19 03:47:08

Depends where you work. My dad is a cleaner for a police station and the officers there treat him as one of their own. Previously he’s cleaned for schools and had no issues as teachers usually weren’t there but when he cleaned for pubs it was horrendous and people were vile (think shitting in a schooner glass and leaving it next to the toilet...)

notacooldad Sat 02-Mar-19 08:23:34


*Yes, yes notacooldad
That's exactly the context I was using it in, clearly
No, I'm genuinely interested, I wasn't being sarcastic. I can't figure out why a cleaner going to America deserves an exclamation mark.

siestakey Sat 02-Mar-19 08:34:11

@notacooldad pretty sure it was just because the post above her original one stated her cleaner went to America, so she said 'ah yes my cleaner went to America last year too!' (Just worded it differently)

Jesus, calm down.

Raaaaaah Sat 02-Mar-19 08:42:03

The posts about hospital cleaners made me smile. When I was working on wards the ward cleaner ruled the roost. Even Matron was subservient to her. I was also a hospital cleaner for a while and was treated with respect and kindness. Maybe because the job is so vital in a clinical setting?
Sometimes I hear friends bitching about their cleaners though and it makes me itch.

Dolphinnoises Sat 02-Mar-19 08:48:13

People can be awful. We had a regular handyman whom I saw a lot of as our house was a total diva and always needing minor repairs, and DH and I are no good at DIY. He was a big tea drinker (like me) and very hand working and all-round lovely. He always used to comment on my generosity with tea, to which I said that when I got in to the office, the first thing I would do was turn in the computer, then while it was booting up make tea, and why should it be different for him? He said he’d been laying a hardwood floor the other week, it had been high summer and lots of sawdust, he heard the husband say to the wife “don’t offer him anything to drink until that floor’s down”. 😡

notacooldad Sat 02-Mar-19 08:51:00

Jesus, calm down
I'm not frothing at the mouth or anything! I was just,' oh, I dont get why it's a surprise someone should go to America' that's all!

amusedbush Sat 02-Mar-19 08:54:34

I work in a university and the cleaners, maintenance guys and security staff are 100% part of the team. I’ve gotten to know them well and we have a good laugh. We always chip in at Christmas to buy them gifts.

The cleaning supervisor is a total battleaxe, I love her grin she says exactly what she means - no beating around the bush there!

CherryPavlova Sat 02-Mar-19 09:03:48

I’m sure it’s a much it’s a mix, just like most things in life. I think you can judge an organisational culture by how the people on the lower rungs are treated and involved.
People work better when treated with respect and are involved in the team. It’s to everyone’s advantage to be courteous and caring to all.
I can’t imagine using a public lavatory or being brought tea by a junior member of staff without thanking them and passing the time of day.
At home I always make our cleaners drinks and have a brief chat. I wouldn’t want someone I didn’t trust or treat respectfully providing such a personal service as cleaning my house.

sashh Sat 02-Mar-19 09:05:56

I called out a student for putting gum under the table and said it wasn't fair to have X clean it.

I was met with, "You know the name of the cleaner?"

I pointed out that there is nothing wrong with doing a cleaning job, they had no right to look down on her and that if you leave gum stuck to a table for someone else to clean you were dirty.

A student threatened to tell her gran (Jamaican - if you don't know it is one of those words with a worse connotation in some communities than others) that I had called her dirty, I said I was quite happy to explain to her gran that I think any school child who expects someone else to clean up their gum, is, in my opinion dirty.

If you look down on cleaners, bar staff, waiting staff, you are just not a very nice person.

I thought I heard or read yrs ago (feck knows where) that there were only 3 distinctly well-developed & widely used sign languages in world: ASL, BSL & Nicaraguan. I'm happy to be corrected from this ignorance, though

Everywhere with a deaf population has a sign language, Canada has 3. American Sign Language is based on French sign language.

Auslan and NZ SL are based on BSL.

Martha's vineyard had its own distinct sign language but as the population became more hearing (it used to be quite isolated with some hereditary deafness so all families had a deaf member and everyone could sign).

Even within BSL there are huge differences in signs, lots used on See Hear are actually Scottish because the original presenters were Scottish.

This can cause confusion, the Scottish BSL sign for 'arrange or organise' is a rather crude sign for having sex in English BSL.

And scouse? You know how a Liverpool accent cannot be confused with any other, Liverpool signs are, er, different.

In places like Glasgow you may also get a variation between RC and protestant deaf people, because they attended different schools.

For the same reason in the USA there is a Black sign variant from when there were deaf schools for Black people which were separate from the ones for white people.

EnglishRose13 Sat 02-Mar-19 09:09:32

Years ago I worked as a temp. One of the directors despised temps, openly calling us "the scum of the earth".

There were countless times he'd blatantly ignore me, but one time that stands out is when he was coming down the stairs and waiting at the bottom was a manager, the cleaner and me. He thanked the manager for waiting. He thanked the cleaner for waiting. He then looked at me and walked away. I wasn't worthy of his thanks.

justforareply Sat 02-Mar-19 09:20:23

I think it's a deal breaker in a friendship. Speaking to anyone rudely or not speaking to them due to subordinate role is a true marker of someone who is a complete arse tbh
I used to see someone regularly. She then asked me 'why do you speak to these people' (I'd chatted to hosp porter) I've not been out with her since.

Punta Sat 02-Mar-19 09:23:09

I love talking to the cleaners where I work - they know all the gossip!

SandyY2K Sat 02-Mar-19 09:29:03

I only see the cleaner in my office because I get in early. I say hello as a matter of courtesy, but I don't consider her to be my colleague or part of the team like some pp have said. She isn't part of my team, she's part of the cleaning staff team.

In the same way I would also say hi to the security staff, the receptionist or the post room staff if I happen to walk past them. We have one particularly friendly post guy.. he comes to collect and deliver mail to our floor. Always cheerful and says hello to everyone.

Most of the time the cleaner has her earphones on and is talking on the phone.

This saying hello is also a two way street. The cleaners can say hello too. We've had some in the past who don't say hello and just get on with the job. That's fine by me.

KinseyMilhone Sat 02-Mar-19 09:33:06

When my DH died (in an accident) I received so many letters and cards, but one of the ones that was really special to me was from his office cleaner. She wrote to tell me how lovely and kind DH had been to her, helping her once in a particular situation when several other office staff had just kept on walking and blanked her completely despite it being obvious that she was in distress.
This meant so much to me, because it was exactly why I loved him so much. You ANBU.

museumum Sat 02-Mar-19 09:38:47

Everyone I know who has a cleaner at home is so nice to them they basically are frightened to ask them to do anything else / differently.
My friend has one who cancels more than she attends but my friend just feels her life is so much harder (first generation immigrant, lives in a slightly dangerous area, child at a struggling school) that she would never give her notice.
I don’t know where the ride arrigant people are but thankfully not here.

ZigZagZombie Sat 02-Mar-19 09:41:52

Treatment of cleaning/domestic staff is a great litmus test. Anyone who treats service staff like dirt can be immediately removed from your life.

I was taught very early on to be careful on the way up because you never know who you might meet on the way down.

I've had a hairdresser with a masters who spoke 5 languages and my current (home) cleaner has a degree in Psychology.

People are twats.

SandyY2K Sat 02-Mar-19 09:43:28

I work in a university and the cleaners, maintenance guys and security staff are 100% part of the team

I don't really get this. Are you saying all staff are part of the team?

Perhaps it's how the word team is used here.

I work in a fairly large organisation. Everyone cannot be part of the team. We all have different roles to carry out in our individual specialisms.

Staff in finance, IT, Facilities or Events are not part of my team, so why would the cleaners or maintenance staff be?

This isn't a matter of looking down on anyone at all. For me saying hello is just good manners, but I don't have a need to say more than that, same as I wouldn't need to say more to anyone in IT, unless I need IT support.

Equally, they wouldn't really say anything to me unless they needed advice from me.

notacooldad Sat 02-Mar-19 09:45:51

We are a relatively small self contained team. There is 1 manager, 1 deputy,2 seniors 6 frontline and 1 cleaner.
We work in a house rather than an office and we work shifts and also work outreach so not everyone is always around. The cleaner is part of our team. When some brews up, makes toast, brings cakes in it's for the team including the cleaner. Same with secret Santa,staff nights out etc.
When the kids are doing arts and crafts and make something for us they make for her as well. Same when they make cakes, one is always made for her. On fact thinking about it.the cleaner is probably the most consistent figure for the young people I work with see as she is there every day Monday to Friday, the rest of the staff will have time off during week, not start until 16.00hrs some days, if they are part time may only come in a couple of times in the month and so in. Our young people have a good relationship with her. As she isn't seen as a social worker or other sort of children's professional we have noticed that kids who come to us in terrible circumstances talk to her first. She is also very noisy and funny which they like!

Limensoda Sat 02-Mar-19 09:48:24

Our cleaner at work became one of my best friends and still is. I have no idea why anyone would think cleaners are beneath them.

Caxx Sat 02-Mar-19 09:51:11

I used to be a cleaner in a well known supermarket chain years ago when they had their Christmas dinner I had to sit in the changing room/toilets to eat my sandwiches as I was employed by a agency even though I had been there years

SandyY2K Sat 02-Mar-19 10:16:04

I think it's a case of organisation culture. I get in before 8 o'clock, that's why I even see her in passing. The rest of my team bar 1 person don't see her at all.

They can't really clean properly when people are in the office, but I imagine with a smaller company it would be different.

Nobody is better than anyone else. When I was a student I used to wait on tables and also worked in an upmarket fitness club. I'll never forget one of the members saying to his daughter, "If you don't work hard at school, you'll end up like her" pointing at me.

I was shocked and tbh felt it was something to do with me being black, or he might have just been an all round idiot and would have said the same if I was white.

I did say something the next time he was in with his DD, to correct his assumption, but that was because I wanted to show him (in front of his DD) not to judge things on face value or make assumptions.

WhiteDust Sat 02-Mar-19 10:18:48

Never judge a person by their job!
Many of the TAs, support staff, cleaners at work have a higher standard of living than I do. Many have the same.
My TA's husband is a Lawyer and used to be a teacher herself.
As far as I'm concerned , we are all in it together.

WhiteDust Sat 02-Mar-19 10:24:41

Staff in finance, IT, Facilities or Events are not part of my team, so why would the cleaners or maintenance staff be?

So your 'team' works in isolation? The people in finance, IT, Facilities or Events are never used by you? How do you get paid? Do you use computers? Do you book events?
Do you clean your own office?

ACoverIsNotTheBook Sat 02-Mar-19 10:24:55

I have held numerous jobs but my highest paying was running my own cleaning business, I made literally double the hourly rate of my last (managerial!) job and was able to set my own hours, holidays and pick and choose my clients.

However this was all offset by the nature of the job, it was hard, hard work, I gave it up to study full time but it always makes me snort when I hear people patronising their cleaners or talking about how they could never do it, I know for a fact I made a lot more per hour than some of my clients did. Yes it’s not a job that’s never going to stimulate the brain but I commend anyone who can look past the job title and make themselves a decent wage for an honest days work.

ScreamingValenta Sat 02-Mar-19 10:25:00

The cleaners in a large office are very useful people to be on good terms with. It pays dividends to keep them sweet.

Mammiemaw Sat 02-Mar-19 10:38:14

I find that some people will mostly dismiss but sometimes be out and out obnoxious to those they view as below them. I have worked behind a "counter" for most of my working life- as a barmaid, shop worker and receptionist and found that some men especially thought this gave them carte blanche to say what they want, including commenting on weight looks etc.

I now work as an office manager in a small business where everyone from bosses/owners down to cleaners are very much included and kept informed.

Froggyface Sat 02-Mar-19 10:46:45

@SandyY2K what did he say in response?

MaHeidsGouping Sat 02-Mar-19 10:48:31

I'm a domestic cleaner, I started up nearly 2 years ago when I was made redundant from my job which had nothing to do with cleaning. I have a nicer car than most of my clients and go to America every year as my DH has a well paid job.

Yes I'm embarrassed to say I'm a domestic cleaner but I like cleaning and like my clients. I've never been spoken down too but funnily enough in my previous job doing childcare the parents could be bloody awful at times.

Tbh I think I'm only embarrassed because of the things I read on MN about cleaners.

Fraxion Sat 02-Mar-19 10:50:53

Some people can be arseholes. I was working late one night, no-one else in the office apart from the cleaners (big corporate place). I went to get a coffee and asked the lady cleaning my area if she wanted one. She said it was so nice I spoke to her as she felt very looked down upon by the majority of the staff. Bloody awful.

Eliza9917 Sat 02-Mar-19 11:23:17

I agree - I always judge people by how they treat people around them, especially in the service industry such as cleaning. Unfortunately our office cleaner is a massive time drainer as he won't stop talking to you, tries to read what you're doing and is also full of shit He claims to have been an Army sniper and to be ex-SAS    and has several younger colleagues convinced with his crap. So I smile, nod, say hello, move all my stuff out the way for him and crack on with my headphones on as usual. That and his incessant sniffing drives me mad, but I'm weird about noises anyway.

Haven't you seen the equalizer???

WaterlooElephant Sat 02-Mar-19 11:51:05

I work for London Underground. Some cleaners are given separate rest areas which are frankly, disgusting. Why some cannot share station staffs rest areas is a mystery to me. Some cleaners are treated appallingly by my colleagues, especially in zone 1, and I really don't know why.

The cleaners on my line are usually eastern European with excellent English, degrees coming out of every orifice, and are bloody hard workers. I have the utmost respect for them, as do all the station team. They are very much underpaid. One of the cleaners regularly works double shifts to keep her family afloat. They are subcontracted and I've seen their managers treat them like absolute shit. I have taken them to task over it.

There is still snobbery between the corporate side of TfL, and Operational (trains and stations). Quite often we get someone from Commercial Property who is trying to rent out a station tenancy, who comes in to sign in and immediately throws their weight around, showing off to a client. They speak to us like we are the shit on their shoe. I ask for their superiors name and drop them an email. I'm not standing for disrespect from someone who thinks we are lesser than them, because we don't have our own office.

I have also had dealings with some corporate folks who try and complain about the beggars outside the station, or that our customer care wasn't to their liking, or we didn't deal with an incident to their specific desires (ie they can't take a train cos the line is closed) and our managers ask us about it...once it's been established we were just doing our job, they tell these people to quietly go away.

MariaNovella Sat 02-Mar-19 12:02:25

I had a cleaner who I treated very well. TBH, she took the piss big time, reducing her hours from 9 to 6 because she wanted only to do part of the job I had employed her to do and taking holidays at her own convenience at times that were a nightmare for me. When I moved house I took the opportunity to let her go. She was very surprised as she thought we had a very good relationship.

RedLipClassic Sat 02-Mar-19 12:27:34

I'm an NHS domestic just now while deciding what I want to do since finishing uni and am constantly being spoken down to. Weirdly, the auxiliary nurses are the worst for it which I don't get at all considering they're getting the same wage as me for (what I consider to be) a much harder job.

And the amount of people who are surprised and change their tone towards me when they find out I have a degree and own my home is crazy. But as another PP has said, it doesn't elevate my opinion of them at all.

Lovelydovey Sat 02-Mar-19 13:26:23

I work in an office -always say good morning to the security staff and cleaners and hold doors for their carts etc.

SandyY2K Sat 02-Mar-19 15:30:55

The cleaners in a large office are very useful people to be on good terms with. It pays dividends to keep them sweet.

I'm wondering why you need to keep someone sweet to do the job they're employed to do. I'd expect people to treat cleaners with the courtesy you would treat other members of staff.

The only people I've kept sweet even when they did something I didn't like were childminders or nursery staff.

I'm really not into grovelling to people of a higher grade or treating those in a lower job grade differently. I once had a manager in another team talking down to me (on email) and she was shocked that I dare respond (because she was senior) and tell her I found her email rude. I actually said more than that.

She then complained to my manager, who agreed the original email wasn't good, but bearing in mind her grade, I shouldn't have responded like that and I should apologise.

I said her email was out of order and if she pushed it, I would take out a greivance, so there's no chance I was going to apologise.

So your 'team' works in isolation?

Liaising with other departments does not make us part of the same team. Many companies have external providers for things like IT support, Payroll, HR etc who they liaise with, but it doesn't make them a team.

You may see every employee as part of your team in a small company, but that's not the case in a larger organisation with thousands of employees.

A large organisation needs a structure, which consists of individuals services areas and teams, otherwise it would be chaotic.


*@SandyY2K what did he say in response?*

It was quite funny actually because as I was serving their drinks, he asked what the chef's special was. I said I'd go and check, as was running a bit late coming straight from Uni and hadn't seen the chef yet.

His DD gave him a look and I could see him getting red from his neck upwards. I walked away at that point and heard whispers as I did.

Strangely enough he was always friendly and chatty with me after that. He didn't know I heard his original comment. It wasn't said for me to hear.

800msprint Sat 02-Mar-19 15:36:44

I'm happy to report my old workplace treated our cleaners with great respect. They were part of the family really. One guy had worked with us for over 10 years through an agency and when he moved agencies we made the effort to go through the paperwork to keep him on. We knew all of them by name and always had a chat about this and that - family life, weather etc! I work for a charity though so possibly types of people different though I've never heard of people treating cleaners in workplaces badly thankfully

GreyGardens88 Sat 02-Mar-19 15:40:25

Being a teacher isn't exactly a highly paid, high powered career itself, I don't think teachers should look down their noses at cleaners

YouTheCat Sat 02-Mar-19 15:50:34

I know someone who talks to anyone she deems as 'lower' than her like they are shit on her shoe. She tried it with me. It didn't go well for her.

Dontsweatthelittlestuff Sat 02-Mar-19 16:19:53

Years ago I when my children were young I did shifts cleaning in a hospital. Worst job I ever had and not because of the work. It was the general attitude of the nurses who treated the housekeeping staff like something they had trod in and I am sorry to say it was the midwifes in the Labour suites who were the worst. The nicest were the doctors who apart from leaving takeaway containers in the on call rooms were generally very good to housekeeping staff.

Bowchicawowow Sat 02-Mar-19 16:28:49

My dc tell me that the teachers in their school are all exceptionally friendly towards the cleaners and dinner room staff. There’s lots of mutual tea making. I think that sets a good example for the children.

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