Somewhere in North Carolina. Morningtime. I heard loud salsa music in our hotel hallway. I could hear it through the walls, rattling all 12 of my molars. I exited our room to see a girl outside one of the open rooms. She was maybe 11 or 12. Bronze skin, eyes the color of Folgers. She wore ratty clothes and her shoes were old. She was vacuuming, singing with the music.
“Morning,” she said as I walked by.
“Hi,” I said, speaking over the din of the Tijuana Brass.
Inside the open room was another maid, older, wearing a gray hotel uniform. The woman barked something at the child in Español. I had no idea what the woman was saying, but I know the tone of an aggravated mom when I hear one.
“Turn it down!” the woman finally said in broken English.
The girl ignored her mother and turned to me. “Do you have everything you need, sir?”
I nodded. “I’m good, thank you.”
“Is the music too loud?” the mother asked me point-blankly.
The girl looked
at me. The mother looked at me.
I felt like was about to be be executed.
“No,” I lied. “It’s not loud.”
I bid them goodbye as they argued in rapid-fire Spanish behind me.
I walked through the hotel hallway, on my way to peruse the dregs on the continental breakfast buffet. I was hoping to find at least one strip of bacon that wasn’t the same grit and texture of a Goodyear all-season tire.
On my way, I passed the hotel’s laundry facility. I could feel the humid heat blasting from an open doorway. The industrial machinery was churning loudly. Latino music was blaring from this room also.
Inside the laundry room were four or five young maids, cramming a few metric tons’ worth of bedsheets into washing machines. Two of the women were dancing while working. Others were singing along.