“When you’ve worked with the best, you know what it takes to be the best”
AIRCRAFT INTERIOR CLEANER
I consider myself really lucky to have had the opportunities to work with a lot of awesome people who are not only the best at what they do, but also the best at being a human.
I’ve learnt a lot about how to work and I’ve also learnt how to be a good person.
I worked as a cleaner at 16, fresh out of the GCE O Levels. I worked in a system that requires one to not only work fast but also be effective. The makciks I worked with taught me that I needed to clean the interiors of the airplanes within 30 minutes for the smaller ones (777,737) to 45 minutes for the big one (747) because that’s exactly how much time most planes remain on the tarmac for.
And quality of cleaning had to be high because regardless of the aircrafts (SQ, Aeroflot, China Air, etc), passengers want to sit in a clean and comfortable airplane.
So, working in a team of between 4-6 people, each of us had our designated tasks and responsibilities, and we had to perform them with integrity because if we failed to do so, the other team members had to pick up on the slack we left off to redo what we had done wrong or to help us finish our job, and we would inevitably also cause a delay in boarding.
The shifts weren’t long, 3pm-11pm, but we always had to report at least 30mins to an hour before we start work to allow the big boss to arrange us according to our teams based on how many people decided to turn up for work.
Then we were assigned which terminal and stations we would be handling before we got in our van to be driven immediately to our first aircraft.
There were times when we had to wait because there was a delay in the aircraft landing, and with every delay, it also meant that we had to work doubly faster whilst maintaining the same quality of work because boarding times for the next flight, rarely changed due to tight schedule of aircrafts landings and take-offs.
And when the aircrafts did land a little later than on schedule, those were the times we took to bond with one another. The makciks shared stories and food while we listened, but the moment the aircraft lands, everyone gets into ‘work’ zone mode and from the time we get into the aircraft to the time we are done, rarely do we hear anyone talk about anything else other than the task on hand.
The values I learnt from being a cleaner, are still some of the values I believe is important to be successful.
Through being an aircraft interior cleaner, I learnt about the importance of:
– Producing High Quality of Work,
– Time Management,
– People Management,
– Focus and
Today, these values are the same ones I believe is important in the success of a business which is why at By Definition, our values are:
– Timeliness and
Most importantly, having worked as a cleaner, I’ve learned to appreciate the cleaners we have and the amount of work they have to put in and the job has taught me to be humble, to remind myself constantly of my humble beginnings.
Every time I go to the airport or when I board the plane, I will always remember the times when I was the cleaner and I’m proud of the people who do the cleaning.
Most of us never see them because they are hidden away from sight before we board the plane but they are truly the beginnings of a pleasant trip the moment you sit on the chair in the plane.