Housekeeper collects scraps of toilet paper from dirty hotel rooms to save money: 'Otherwise, I'd have to do without TP'

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

I worked as a hotel housekeeper. It was one of the worst jobs I've ever had. The only good thing about being a housekeeper was getting to keep the items hotel guests left behind.

Management was well aware of the practice and encouraged it in fact.

I'm not talking about forgotten iPhones or wallets. Those were promptly returned to the customer. I'm talking about things like half-empty bottles of shampoo or unopened cans of soup.

On a good day, I'd bring home a trash bag filled with hotel room treasures: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, makeup, cans of soda, frozen burritos, wire clothes hangers, and old magazines to name more than a few commonly abandoned items.

One of my coworkers enjoyed a good hotel room treasure hunt as much as the rest of us, but her main score was collecting the scraps of toilet paper we accumulated every time we changed a roll. Since we typically gave guests a fresh roll whenever we cleaned their rooms if their roll had been used more than halfway, we ended up with a lot of nearly empty rolls.

Most of us left the decimated rolls of toilet paper in the employee restroom to make the most of every last square. However, this one housekeeper tossed all her near-empty rolls in a clear trash bag and took them home at the end of the day.

She once told me it was the only way she could afford toilet paper. "Otherwise, I'd have to do without toilet paper at all," she said. "And that's not easy with three kids at home."

It made me sad to see her walking out of the hotel with her salvaged toilet paper. Sometimes, there would be only a square or two of tissue left on the roll. It didn't matter. A square saved was a square earned. It was one less square of toilet paper she'd have to find the money to buy.

We still had more than enough toilet paper left over at the end of the day to supply the sole employee bathroom on the first floor of the hotel.

One time, the hotel ran out of toilet paper altogether. Either the manager had placed the order too late or not at all. By the time anyone noticed there was a problem, nearly every room in the hotel was running on empty.

The manager sent the maintenance person to the local warehouse store to buy hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. Since the hotel typically bought toilet paper that cost far less than the least expensive bathroom tissue at the warehouse store, it was a snafu that cost the hotel hundreds of dollars.

The guests loved it though. They'd never had such luxurious toilet paper, not at our hotel. When we ran out of the good stuff and got back to handing out the rougher tissue, many of them complained. I can't say I blame them.

What do you think? Comments are welcome.

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