Barbara's jobs in Maine are her first venture out of her home state of Florida. Besides her work as a "dietitian" at a nursing home, Barbara's main source of income in Maine is her work for a cleaning company (similar to Merry Maids). On her first day, Barbara is issued a uniform and spends the rest of the day in a small room at the office watching videos on dusting and vacuuming. What she sees in the video and what is reinforced by her boss Ted is that the superficial is all important when it comes to cleaning. In other words, the cleaning company trains its employees to clean houses enough so that no dirt can be detected by hand or eye. More significantly, the videos do not mention anything about bacteria or the use of cleaners that will kill germs. What Barbara finds particularly strange is that water usuage seems to be rare for the cleaning company. She must use the same cleaning water for every room (kitchens and bathrooms), and the same rags that clean a toilet might also clean a kitchen counter without even being rinsed in hot soapy water.
Her employer's attitude toward how the "maids" are to do their work also applies to the employees themselves. They are supposed to look and be efficient, and their illnesses are not to get in the way. For example, when one of Barbara's coworkers has an infected tooth, she calls from several of the houses that she cleans to try to find a dentist who works pro bono because the company does not provide any type of insurance for situations such as hers and because she does not have any time during the rest of the day to make the phone calls.