Togo Hotel Workers

Togo Hotel Workers
Atakpame, Togo West Africa
Friday, April 27, 2007

I am different from a normal person, I wake up in the morning anywhere from 4:00 am to 7:00, then on a day when I oversleep 8:00 am, and to sleep past 8:00 am is difficult.

It is 4:54 am in the l’Amities Hotel or Auberge, in Atakpame, Togo.

Some man has turned on the radio quite loud, this is normal in a way; a person wants something, why should or would they care about anyone else. This self-absorbed, self-center behavior is normal on the planet, this is common.

What I am not sure about, and what is different. There is a man that is sweeping the courtyard of the Hotel. I do not know this man, he has come every morning at about 4:30 am, or this is the time my conscious level realizes he is sweeping, this I in my courtyard and is my hotel. I went to get water for coffee, as I do not have a shower or toilet in my room, while doing this, I decided to take a look to be sure it is not a neighbor. It is not, it is a worker in this Hotel, I have checked on two separate days.

What is going on, why is this man here sweeping and cleaning the courtyard? I hear water running, maybe he is going to clean the showers and toilet. There may be a different person with the radio, he needs hit with a 2x4, swift and fast.

This hotel need a manager and a worker, there is an extreme overabundance of workers.

This hotel presently maybe has 2-3 rooms rented, it is possible there are more, but difficult to see if there are more. There are maybe five people in the hotel as residents.
I will count the number of people working here.

2 - Live on the premises reception girls, one is Janet, the other, and I am not sure.
1 - Man who sweeps
1 - Do the labor man, which is around all day and knows the most about the hotel, small and nice, I think his name is Hussein.
1 - Man who irons clothes outside at the entrance way and uses a charcoal iron.
1 - Manager Lady maybe is the owner, somewhat fat seems to be the manager, and gives orders and sit around eating and watching TV or sleeping on the couch in the reception area. I go not talk with her, seems like a good way to take a hit to my good Karma.

6 People are deriving income or wages at some level from a hotel that has about 5 people living in the hotel.

These ratios are interesting to me as a business owner or person who has owned a business. Why do they need so many people?

This hotel could be managed easily with 2 people; there are only about 10 rooms, or less.

I have observed a few small employee management aspects of about 80 percent of the planet or those countries, for the most part, excludes the USA or Europe.

I am going to limit this to Hotel businesses.

1. An employee is not required to keep busy working while are work.
2. Many employees sleep at the business during the night.
3. Food is normally included in the pay from a Hotel business.
4. Workers are related or semi distantly related to the owner.
5. Very few employees are fired or lose their jobs.
6. The principle manager or person who is essential management is a woman.
7. The man or husband manager - owner of a property does no work, and does close to zero management of staff.
8. The man or husband manager normally is sitting in some common area, eating, drinking, talking with his friends and watching TV.
9. In West Africa the management woman is very fat.
10. In West Africa the management top level does no work.
11. Employees and all staff of a hotel spend about 20-50 percent of their time watching TV, talking with their friends, preparing food to eat.
12. 25 percent of the time is spent sleeping somewhere in the hotel.
13. About 10 percent of the time is spent moving around in what could be considered work in a reach.
14. It takes the staff of a hotel approximately 5 minutes to clean a room after a resident leaves, and in a good hotel, it will be about 10-15 minutes.
15. About 75 percent of hotels the management, reception staff cleans the rooms, or maybe do not clean the rooms.
16. Mops can be very hard to find in a hotel to use to clean my room, here in Africa I think almost impossible. The would use a towel of some sort or mostly they just sweep, Asia is very good at mopping and you can walk and are expected to walk in your room with no shoes.

I am going to stop, as a side note, in the USA, often people that clean the rooms are foreigners or immigrants to the USA. The do not speak English well and have never lived in a clean room, the reason I say this it is difficult to clean to the hygiene levels of a western person when you have never lived that way in your life.

I think often about starting a small Hostel or more correctly, a cheap Hotel, what is difficult for me is the culture of workers and managers.

Various cultures have idiosyncrasies of business. Latinos drink a lot of beer, Asians will endlessly sweep, and Mexico will water the front dirt for hours. Nepal mops the floor by hand or on their hands and knees. India used the top cover and may never clean.

West Africa has one management aspect that it maybe self-defeating, and a block to growth of a business beyond maybe 10 employees. When a person becomes a top or head manager in a West African business or when they become the owner, they plan or believe at this level they can stop working and sit.

I just do not know, the only way to have a business in West Africa is maybe to hire Lebanese management or India management, which is the only solution I can think of and really is not a solution. Somehow, there needs to be no managers, the title of manager is the problem, makes the manager think he or she is the Baba, the Chief, the King or some upper level caste person who by right of some reason, is not the same as the other workers.

How to design a business with no manager. This many not be as complicated as you would think. Staff here in the hotel receive very few order from management, almost zero, and I am about 99 percent sure the woman never checks to see if the staff has cleaned the rooms.

I have spent the last few years in Asian cultures, and it has changed me, I now think in terms of walking around barefoot in the room. I feel compelled to take off my shoes when I enter a room. This is a big problem here in West Africa as the floors have this dust level ingrained on them because they do not mop, if my feet are wet, they instantly accumulate dirt on the bottoms of my feet. The solution here is to wear sandals all the time, and when you enter the bed, you sit and slide the sandals off and swing your feet into the bed.

The other day, I walked to the shower the first day in the Hotel; the staff saw me and slid some sandals under the door of the common shower. I do not use and will not use common sandals. I would rather use a common toilet and sit on the same toilet seat that is occasionally cleaned as opposed to sandals that are never cleaned. I can clean the toilet seat; I cannot clean common used sandals.

Well, back to the employment thing, what are outside the social and cultural brain wave of a person from the USA are two things.

1. Workers are not required to work, the cost of labor is so cheap, that a worker is suppose to be there, they are expected to work, but at about any speed and when they wish, with very small amounts of guidance.

2. Stealing is not stealing in many countries. It is extremely normal here in West Africa for the under-staff not the top staff to rent a room for a short time and pocket the money. What is considered stealing or corrupt is not even close to the USA way of thinking, and one reason I think the French and Lebanese, and India make good managers here, they will work and the stealing to them is normal.

Dow Chemical
I was living in Midland, Michigan for about one year or two; there is the Dow Chemical plant there. I made a naïve and stupid comment to a manager in some status of the Dow Chemical business.

I said to him, some statement that they pay their workers excessively much money.

He said,
- The cost of wages is not an essential factor; we do not make money by the labor of workers. -

This was sort of startling when I thought about it, I realized they had these huge chemical factories whereby computer, pipes, technicians monitor extreme amounts of chemicals, maybe millions of dollars worth of medicines or chemicals and one person paid 50,000 was not even a factor.

I remember working on the farm, my summer wages at 2 dollar per hour accumulated to about 2000 to 3000 per summer. If the price of corn went up 50 cents, the 12,000-bushel bin of corn was now worth 6000 dollars more and could pay for three or me.

I guess, a Hotel does not make money with staff; they make money by having more rooms, and renting the rooms. I have lived in hotels for 10 years and I am continually amazed how dirty, filthy and unsanitary hotels can be. One reason I almost refuse to stay in a high end or expensive hotel is this, when I pay 6 dollars and the room is dirty, or not quite good, I sort of think, I am getting a good value for my money. When I pay 50 dollars for a room, and there is no maintenance of the place is dirty, I am angry.

I was in the Frenchie hotel on the Island of Saint Martin on the French side of the island. I paid about 50 US per night and there were many cockroaches coming from a former kitchen area. The hotel I am in is cleaner and I am paying 6 dollars, this starts to really cause a problem in the brain. There are photos of the cockroaches in the site somewhere.

I have not found a good correlation between the cost of the room and the quality of the maintenance workers. I really want maintenance workers more than housekeepers, I can clean the room, the plumbing, doors, mirrors and lights become more complicated for me to fix, however I often do repairs.

What is mind boggling to me is why a hotel with labor that works for 1 dollar per day, cannot be clean. It is amazing on the planet, not just Africa that there is this idea, here is room, take it or leave it. When I find a manager that tries to guarantee my room and sheets are clean, I am elated, maybe about 1 in 50. Other than that, I just hope for clean sheets, and do the rest myself. It is strange, but the world does pretty well at cleaning sheets, excluding India and some Arab countries.

Somewhere in my typing, I am going to figure out, what is happening, why the quality of work performed by humans is so minimal. It really does seem impossibly easy to have a good hotel, you just check and keep the staff cleaning, yet better yet hire many maintenance people.

I managed homes in the USA, I had maintenance workers, and they did the same sloppy work. I was paying them 8-15 dollar per hour, the cost of labor was a huge factor, I always wanted to manage a place where I could just have 5 workers doing a project and the cost of wages was not even a consideration. I learned in Mexico though, it takes 8 workers to replace one American working construction; I could do the work of 8 workers in one day. However, Stan my friend had slowly found workers in Mexico that worked all day, a good worker likes to work, they do not like to sit.

Togo Hotel Workers


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