You might not think twice as you flush it down the loo, but there are entire professions dealing with your poo. We profiled three Berliners for our shit issue. Here’s one of them.
Who: Jolanta Marquardt from Poland, 55 Job: Toilet cleaner at Schwuz, Kulturbrauerei, Café Moskau, Kesslerhaus and Bärensaal mit Turbine among others Background: trained as a nutrition technician, then studied pedagogy and worked in a kindergarten Hours: 3-4 nights per week, Fridays and Saturdays at Schwuz from 23:30 till 5:30 Hourly rate: undisclosed
“I am in charge here. As a toilet cleaner it is important to be seen. When I’m there, people realise that there is someone taking care of the place and they behave differently. At the beginning of the shift, I set everything up and get paper towels, toilet paper and soap. Every 10 to 15 minutes I do my rounds with my mop and a rag. I clean the toilet seats, fill up toilet paper, pick things up from the floor and clean the mirror, so everything is really clean. In the morning my legs hurt. It’s exhausting, but it’s my job. I actually prefer not to work during the day, because I’ve become a bit of a night person and the youth keep me young. A lot of people thank me for cleaning and I enjoy working for them.
Every night is different. Regulars come and tell me about their break-ups or their new jobs and we have a laugh together.”
Every night is different. I have been working here at Schwuz for seven years now and regulars come and tell me about their problems. They tell me about their break-ups or their new jobs and we have a laugh together. I studied pedagogy which helps me talk to people. The toilet work also helped me lose my fear of speaking German. In 1990 I came from Poland to Berlin in the hopes of making money. I planned on returning, but then I met my husband. Our neighbour worked at the Kulturbrauerei and coincidentally they were looking for someone to clean the toilets. My husband and I said, ‘well, let’s do it’. We didn’t start off working full-time, but it turned out that way and now it’s been 25 years and we have our own toilet cleaning business. We used to work together, but he ended up taking over the office. I am employed by the company and we have a couple of mini jobbers.
When I started out, I was like ‘aah!’ – I could not even get rid of my own puke, let alone anybody else’s. I was also a bit embarrassed to be a toilet cleaner. I know that my mother told people we have our own business, but she wouldn’t say what it is. But after so many years, I like it: I call it toilet service and bathroom guest care. Somebody has to clean the shit of others. And it’s not actually a dirty job, 90 percent of the guests are clean. Still, if someone pukes, I am somewhat disgusted. Especially by the smell. I spray a lot of air-freshener. I do that with shit too. I cannot understand sex in toilets – personally, I wouldn’t go there. But it’s normal here and I accept it. If others have fun, then go ahead! I work in other discos as well, but I am at Schwuz so often, I’d say I almost live here! Some say I am the good soul of the club.”