Says of ISS, 'This Place is Filty.'
Cape Canaveral - When she lifted off in the space shuttle Endeavor on Sunday, Silvia Flores made history as the first cleaning lady in space, ending years of domination of space flight by former test pilots, technicians, and scientists.
In an interview aboard the ISS, Ms. Flores (jus’ call me, ‘Silvia’) said she was ‘thrilled’ to escape earth for a while. “It was hard to leave Mrs. Demont after being with her for so many years, but I couldn’t let this chance pass by me,” she said. “But she said if I return, I can always have my old job back.”
Silvia went to work immediately upon passing through the air lock. “It smells funny in here,” she said, upon entry into the ISS. "This place is filty."
“They stay up here for many years with teams coming and going from all over the world,” she said, “and they’ve never had a good, thorough cleaning, up to the standards set by me and Mrs. Demont.”
She met with few problems, although communication with some of the ISS scientists proved challenging.
“That Japanese guy, I can’t understand a thing he say,” she said. “And the Polish man don’t speak, except to himself. Mostly, I just try to stay out of their way.”
Asked what was the most challenging aspect of her experience, Silvia said, “There are a lot of buttons and switches and things up here. Worse than a car. They told me to be extra careful not to accidentally press any of the buttons during my work.”
Fellow astronaut Andrei ‘Tizz’ Tyzrchnsky, said Silvia is like a ‘mad woman’ around the ISS. “She’s all over the place with her Lysol,” he said. “She’s got this place…how you say…clean as the whistle.”
Crew Considers 'Suiting Her Up'
Early Wednesday, Silvia learned she may have the opportunity to space walk, another first.
“We’re thinking about ‘suiting her up’, said American team member Kerry Samuels, who speaks seven languages fluently and a ‘smattering’ of street lingo, trash talk, and Bubble language. “There’s a lot of debris floating around up here, near, be near, bo near, banana bana bo near…space junk…and she wants at it. We’re thinking of letting her have a go at it.”
After eleven years in operation, including one raucous fraternity reunion, the ISS has had a reputation for ‘smelling like a locker room’, and being a ‘party place’ where rules on earth don’t apply.
“It’s an ‘anything goes’ situation up here when they turn the cameras off,” said Silvia. "Everything is gravity-free."
So far, her stay has been mostly routine cleaning work, adjusting to the several sunrise and sunsets each day, and avoiding the billionaire tourist, who she says ‘keeps following me around’, giving her ‘the creeps'. “He needs something to do,” she said. "I ask him how much his ticket was, and he tell me, 'Two hundred fifty million dollars.'
"I told him I fly for free. We both got the same T-shirt."
Reflecting on her experience so far, Silvia said, “It’s not anything like being in Mexico or Arizona,” she said. “You don’t have the regular sunrise, and of course, you don’t have the gangs, the drugs, the guns, or the street violence. Some things, you miss.”
After a two-week stay, Silvia will return to earth with the billionaire and two team members aboard a Russian shuttle craft. “I hope for two things now,” she said. “First, I want to take that walk before I leave, and then I hope I get a window seat on the way back, and I hope I don’t have to sit next to whatshisname.”
“Also,” added Silvia, “the world looks different from up here. And the moon, too. To me, it seems closer to me, like I can almost reach out and touch it if my hand was long enough.
"And some of these people up here need to go home," she said. They have been here too long. They need to get back home and maybe change their socks.”
Asked by ISS officials if she could suggest any changes, Silvia said, "Oh yes. They could always use more space, and a self-cleaning toilet. And I would put up some things. Some signs, and some stuff on the walls."
"You thought I was going to say 'velvet tiger', didn't you? Or Mother Mary figurine in a window?"