Samantha Sullivan and Mary Safford are both longtime members of the housekeeping staff at the historic Hotel Finial in downtown Anniston. Their friendship has lasted 20 years, and began when Safford trained Sullivan back when the hotel was called the Victoria Inn. Sullivan and Safford took a few minutes to sit down and tell us about their bond.
What is your connection to Anniston and Hotel Finial?
Mary Safford: I am from Anniston. I have two children, a boy and a girl, and one grandbaby. I have lived in Anniston all my life. I have been with Hotel Finial for two years, but I was with the Victoria for about 18 or 20 years.
Samantha Sullivan (interjecting): It was 20 years, because our kids were about 5 or 6 years old at the time. I am from Anniston, and I live in Alexandria. I have been at the Finial and was at the Victoria the same amount of time as Mary.
Did you both start working at the Victoria at the same time?
Samantha: Mary started here before I did.
Mary: I actually trained her.
Samantha: Before the Victoria shut down, Mary was my supervisor, so actually she knows more than I do [both laugh]. We were the only two who got rehired from our group of employees when it was the Victoria.
What led you to become friends?
Mary: She was crazy [both laugh]. But really, it started when I was training her. We just started talking. We just hit it off.
Samantha: Our kids were about the same age, and we would hang out. Now our grandbabies are the same age.
Tell us about your jobs.
Mary: We do laundry and housekeeping.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Mary: We work 7 a.m.-3 p.m. We will go into rooms, strip them, clean them, pull the laundry down and do the room.
Samantha: We work out of six buildings.
How many housekeeping staff members are there?
Samantha: There are seven of us.
How many rooms are there?
Mary and Samantha [in unison]: 61.
What do you think is the biggest improvement since the Victoria became the Finial?
Mary: I think it is the renovation.
Samantha: We had some really old stuff here, and we got all new, pretty stuff.
Mary: It just needed a lot of updating.
How did each of you join the staff at the Victoria?
Samantha: My sister-in-law worked here and got me the job. She did not stay for a long time.
Mary: My children’s father got me the job.
Do either of you have any cleaning tips?
Mary: Samantha is crazy about that stuff [laughter].
Samantha: I just have chemicals, and I will scrub out any stains I see.
Have you had any particularly difficult cleaning jobs?
Samantha: It is all difficult; it is a hard job.
Mary: It is difficult because you are going from floor to floor, and there is one elevator. And in [another] building, there is no elevator, so you have to tote your stuff up.
Samantha: One floor has tubs, then the rest of them are glass showers, and those glass showers will work you to death.
How long does it take you to clean a room?
Samantha: About 40 minutes or so.
Mary: I think it is closer to 30 minutes.
What does it mean to have a connection like this with a coworker?
Samantha: I love being with Mary and working with her.
Mary: Being with Samantha just makes the day go by more quickly because we are always laughing.
Faith Dorn is a freelance writer in Anniston. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.