Maids and Janitors
By Josh Stone
Maids perform typical domestic chores such as cooking, ironing, washing, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, walking the family dog, and taking care of children. In some countries, maids take on the role of a nurse in taking care of the elderly and people with disabilities. Maids are often expected to work at least fifteen hours per day. Many maids are required by their employers to wear a uniform. Today the maid may be the only domestic worker that upper and even middle-income households can afford. In the Western world, comparatively few households can afford live-in domestic help, usually compromising on periodic cleaners. In less developed nations, fewer educated women and limited opportunities for working women ensures a labour source for domestic work. Young girls working as scullery maids fell to the bottom of the servant hierarchy which meant they were mocked and ridiculed by upper servants and completely ignored by members of the household despite the fact that they slaved away each day at their work. The scullery maid reported (through the kitchen maid) to the cook or chef.
A between maid (also called hall girl, particularly in the United States) is a female junior servant in a large household with many staff. The position is largely defunct in the 21st century, as few households can afford great retinues of servants with the elaborate hierarchy of the past.
The term hall girl came from her chief duty, which was waitressing in the Servants' Hall. She was required to set the table and remove the dishes, as well as waiting at table. She may also have carried meals up to the head housekeeper, if, for example, that head of staff had breakfast or afternoon tea in her room(s).
The term between maid came from the fact that her duties came under the area of responsibilites of the housekeeper, butler and cook; if these individuals did not like one another the job of the between maid was a very difficult one.
In developed countries most families can no longer afford live-in help. In nations where there is still a ready supply of inexpensive labour the middle classes may still be able to afford servants. For these households, the remnant of the once grand position of head housekeeper is often a cook-housekeeper. The modern cook-housekeeper performs cooking and cleaning duties.
A maid service, also known as a residential cleaning service or home cleaning service is a business which provides cleaning services as a convenience to homeowners who do not have (or do not wish to spend) the time to clean their own homes. Maid services have become more common over the last 20 years or so, partly because of the rise in two-income families.
Although a maid service may be more expensive than simply hiring a part-time maid, it offers a number of advantages. First, a service will provide not only someone to do the cleaning, but also all of the necessary supplies. Second, in the United States, if you hire a maid directly, you are responsible for withholding social security taxes. Third, a maid service is, or should be, insured, and can be held accountable if something is stolen, whereas a private individual may be difficult to track down.
There are several large maid service franchises in the United States, such as MaidPro, Molly Maid and Merry Maids. There are also thousands of independent perators around the country. They are also becoming more prevalent in England, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere. There are also numerous companies supplying useful services to maid service companies -- like training, marketing help and supplying management software.
There are now thousands of residential cleaning businesses throughout the United States and Canada. More spring up every year. Maid services are becoming more popular in other countries, too - perhaps a sign of a relatively well-off population, or perhaps these businesses have sprung up just as the two-earner household has become the norm. Way back, it was traditionally a woman's role to clean the home, but as more and more women have joined the work force, the time pressure on families with children has grown immeasurably, so paying someone to do the cleaning makes sense to time-pressured couples where both work, and are making a reasonable income.
A maid service is a relatively easy sort of business to start, because one needs little more than a phone and one or two workers to get started. However, to make the business really successful, one must plan appropriately and have sufficient capital for start-up costs and marketing, and be prepared to go through some relatively lean times at first, while you build up a clientele.
Men working in the cleaning profession are usually called janitors. A janitor is a person who takes care of a building, such as a school, office building, or apartment block. They are responsible primarily for cleaning, and often (though not always) some maintenance and security. A female janitor is called a janitrix, although this term is rarely used. The title custodian is sometimes given to janitors as a term of higher respect. In some settings janitors are called housekeepers or housekeeping staff. Janitors have also come up with a number of alternative job titles.
Domestic workers perform typical domestic chores such as cooking, ironing, washing, cleaning the house, buying foods and drinks, accompanying the female head of the household for grocery shopping, taking the family dog for a walk, and taking care of the children. In some countries, maids replace the role of a nurse in taking care of the elderly and people with disabilities.
Domestic service, or the employment of people for wages in their employer's residence, is also sometimes simply called "service." It evolved into a hierarchical system in various countries at various times.
Prior to the labour reforms of the 20th Century, servants had no protection in law. The only real advantage that service provided was the provision of meals and accommodation in addition to the modest wage. Also, service was an apprentice system; there was room for advancement through the ranks. However, it was also perilous, particularly for females, as there was no protection from unscrupulous employers or members of the family. Many employers require their domestic workers to be in a uniform.
About the Author
Freelance writer for over eleven years.
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