They come into freshman rooms once a week, clean and leave without much notice. Freshman maids can be the most taken for granted part of student life, but what it was like to be one?
Lila Johnson has been working as a maid at GW for 28 years and believes she has seen almost everything. But despite having cleaned Thurston rooms and catering to messy young adults, Johnson describes the students she’s come across as nothing less than wonderful.
“I’ve had no problem,” she said, “Not one of the 28 years I’ve worked here. I’ve always had nice students.”
Johnson has cleaned the majority of the freshman residence halls since beginning her career at the University. She started her career at GW cleaning houses for teachers. Last year she was assigned Thurston Hall where she says she encountered some of the strangest rooms she has seen.
“These boys in Thurston had curtains made out of beer cans and soda bottles and cereal boxes,” said a bemused Johnson. “It made me think, ‘If you have time to study you wouldn’t have time to do all that.’ But they were nice boys.”
Johnson also named Thurston as the home of the most disgusting situation she has had to clean up.
“Someone got sick and left it there. It was the worst, most disgusting thing,” she said. “I can’t stand it.”
Despite all of the illegal paraphernalia and alcohol-related residue Johnson has encountered while entering freshman dorms, she is steadfast in her belief that it is none of her business. Johnson said that the University “has chances to check the rooms. If I see it, it doesn’t bother me.”
Now working as a maid at Crawford Hall, Johnson performs more of the typical household duties: She empties the trash, vacuums the floors and mops the bathroom tiles. Some of the rooms are messy, others are clean – though she said its usually evenly split evenly along gender lines.
“I do have some neat boys in my section. But I’ll have to speak for myself,” she said.
Reflecting on her many years at GW, Johnson is very understanding of the students she cleans after. She does not judge the messy Thurston rooms, because to her, the clutter makes sense – there are simply more people living there, she said. And with the usually friendly and cheerful students who she comes across, Johnson said she is happy to continue working with freshmen for years to come.