Arnon Grunberg



On Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m. I returned to my hotel room in Berlin. The chambermaid was just cleaning my bathroom. She spoke neither German nor English, but based on her sign language I understood that she needed five more minutes to clean my room.
I had to take a leak urgently, but I assumed that it would be better to do this after she left, especially because of the language problems. After fifteen minutes she was still in the bathroom and she was making noises as if she was playing tennis.
I didn’t dare to take a look, I was afraid that going into the bathroom while she was there – the bathroom was extremely small – could have been interpreted as sexually abusive. On the other hand, the urge to take a leak became almost unbearable.
Of course, I could have gone downstairs, there was a bathroom not far from the breakfast room, but I decided to wait another five minutes.
Why was she cleaning my bathroom so thoroughly? I remembered that I myself worked as a “chamber maid”, the policy was: if it looks clean it is clean.
Finally, the woman came out of the bathroom, she started cleaning my desk, but I said: “Everything is fine, all is clean over here.” I was in pain.
Then she left.
While I was peeing I thought that I should have been nicer to her, I had prevented her from cleaning my desk, I could have gone to the ground floor to take a leak over there. Later that afternoon I saw here in the hallway, she was vacuum cleaning, I said hello to her, I smiled, but she looked at me as if I were a zombie.

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