Cleaning House in Wildersville
WILDERSVILLE, Tenn.—If Robert Hackett had a choice, he’d spend his days at a factory, making generators. Instead, when we met him, he was cleaning my $29.99-a-night motel room at the Knight’s Inn.
Wearing camouflage shorts and a white tank top, he didn’t fit the stereotypical image of a hotel maid, and he knew it. “One woman told me she had never seen no male housekeeper,” he said. “I don’t consider myself no maid. I just work here.”
Up until about a year and a half ago, the hotel position was a second job for Hackett. He'd come here and work part time after finishing his shift at the factory. But when he lost the $12.55-an-hour job making generators, he started working the $6.55-an-hour cleaning job full time.
“It’s a big change,” he said. He'd just picked up his sons, ages 5 and 17, to stay with him for the summer. He worries he won’t have enough money to take them on the family vacation to the Smoky Mountains that he had promised.
Still, he added, he’s seen people who have lost more than a job and so he feels fortunate.
“There’s people who come [to stay] here ‘cause they lost their house,” he said. “It’s rough, but I’ll be all right. I'll make it.”
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