Sunday, October 10, 2010

What I learn from being 'a cleaner'.

I admit, I was a cleaner for nearly 6 years, and I'm proud of myself.

I was privileged to live in the UK for 6 years and a bit, doing my A-Levels, Scottish Highers and Bachelor Degree. I have all these certificates to prove my achievements, but believe it or not, I learned more from the outside of the classrooms in Stevenson College and Moray House, School of Education.

I learn from what I earn. I earned from being an avid cleaner in various spots around Edinburgh throughout my six years there. I was employed by Mitie Olscott, working in the main branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland (5-7am); Br Yamin of Edinburgh Mosque (flexi hours: 3 hrs daily) and Edinburgh University Services (Pollock Halls during summer holidays; as well as Language Faculty (5-7am) after 'resigning' from Olscott since been offered better pay by Edin Uni Services).

I learn that money doesn't come easy, the halal money, I mean. You need to work for it! Waking up as early as 4.30am in the the bitterly cold and wet winter days to clean office spaces was not an easy job, truly challenging I must admit. Walking away from your warm bed to 'your office', knowing that you would be completing the usual cleaning routine: emptying bins, dusting the tables, hoovering with Mr Henry (the vacuum cleaner), buffering the floor, wiping the pantry, splashing some blue chemical in the toilet bowl: would not be a super motivation for some to wake up and leave the bed. But I did, not for the stated reasons though, I did it for the£4 - £6 per hour. I did it for the sole reason that it would fatten up my ROBOS bank account for at least £450 (x7 for RM at that point of time) monthly.

With the wage I earned, I learn to appreciate life, I learn to explore the beautiful world of Allah. Yes, travelling was my passion at the age of 18. I traveled to the places where RyanAir and Easy Jet (the low-cost airlines) offered free seats, which meant, I would have more to spend on accommodation (mainly YMCA and youth hostels), food and souvenirs (I love leather bookmarks!!). Hence, I learn to control my expenditure (which ain't easy, people!) and I did not dare to ask money from my parents for the reason of  overspending! So, I work hard, then I play hard.

Alhamdulillah, I managed to travel all around the UK (Scotland, England and Wales), from the Land's End to John O'Groats; hitched a trip with Bang Ammar and Kak Huda + little Anis to Istanbul, Turkey; Legoland Billund in German with Noi; Cool Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmoe, Sweden trip with Noi and Marina; Disneyland Paris trip with Nani and Kak Ain; the rustic 2-week Egypt trip with N, Nani, Kak Has, Kak Kathy and Nonoi, covering Cairo, Sinai (and saw the historic Suez Cannal), Hurgada at the Red Sea, Luxor and Alexandria ; the coupon collecting-drive yourself- all around Italy trip with Kak Lily, Nawfal and Hakimi, where we covered Brescia, Verona, Venice, Firenze (Florence), Rome, Pisa, Genova, Nice (France), Monte Carlo (Monaco), and Torino; and just a bit of Northern Ireland.
Kak Kathy, Nani, Kak Has, Azza, Nonoi and N, Egypt trip, Y2K.

Honestly, if not with the wage by being a cleaner, I would not be able to see His fantastic and phenomenal creations, different and unique, subhanallah.(And I must admit that I learn more about Geography too! More then what I've learned from the PMR exams, definitely more!)

Furthermore, I learn the art of giving. This was not easy, since I thought that I've worked so hard, why must spend it on others? But having the pleasure to see the happiness in Mak's eyes when I bought the stacks of  the Royal Albert Old Country Roses teas sets, plates and bowls seconds in Stoke-on Trent (a 'China' adventure with Pipah) and Bally & Clarks shoes for Abah in Norwich and Colne; that was priceless! And trust me, scholarship money would never ever be enough, ever! Thank God for creating cleaning jobs!
Mak's frequently used OCR collections.

Last but not least, I learn about save vs spend. I learn how to love to do both, up till now!

So, to those who have the opportunity to travel, please do. We'll learn alot about the country, culture and people; we learn about being true to Allah: obeying the rules of halal and haraam instated by Him; we'll learn to be grateful for the things we have; we'll learn to appreciate our lives; we learn how to survive.

Alhamdulillah for all those experiences Ya Rabb.

p/s:  Believe it or not, my dowry and wedding gifts from my husband were from his cleaning wage as well!
Thank God for cleaning jobs!! haha..


  1. OCR tu yg tak tahan.. ;)

  2. dear Azza, thank you so much or this entry! my husband is now working real hard, to make sure we have enough money or visa extension. and i truly appreciate his effort, mmg susah nak bangun pagi2, pergi kerja sejuk2 ni :)

  3. Dearest Azza

    I remember those days when I had to wake up at 430am to catch the earliest bus downhill to Edinburgh street to clean RBS and then walking back up at 7 when everybody else was just getting up and ready to start their day. THen in the evening will go to clean the insurance co. (can;t remember the name 5-7pm) with kak has. Also cleaned up the B&B nearby a few times. Penat jugak nak kemas dan pasang cadar dan selimut berlapik-lapik tu :P Eventhough it was for a short while after to get some money after finished studying, it was a humbling experience and somehow managed to survive on cleaner wages to extend my stay in Edinburgh.

    -sharing is caring-


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