I said I needed help. No, not that kind of help.
I have always been very casual about my housecleaning priorities. Now, I wouldn't call myself a slob
, but cleaning is a bit low on my priority list. Since I watch kids all day, I want to do important things at night like relax, be with my own family, stare at a wall, catch up on TV shows, and eat chips. Vacuuming is not high on this list.
But being that I run a home daycare, it should at least make the list.
In order to preserve my free time in the evening, I've been instituting this clever idea called, "cleaning as you go." It's actually working out pretty well. I load the dishwasher while the kids play with Play-Doh at the table nearby. I load the dryer while the two-year-old pees nearby. I vacuum when a couple of the kids have been picked up and I only have a few left. It's working out pretty well, but honestly, I still think it's a stye.
A few weeks ago, I finally decided to hire a housekeeper. I am sick of the mess -- the boogers on the window,
the stuff stuck under the table, the coffee drips splattered on the white kitchen cabinets, the dust taking up residence atop the baseboards. I didn't really have the money, but I recently learned that it is mostly tax-deductible for me, being that my very business clients create most of the mess.
One of my friends recommended someone to me, and I called her immediately. She said she would need to look at my house and give me a quote. Perfect.
She came over and walked through. I apologized for the mess, and she said things like, "oh, this is fine. This will be fine." I asked her, incredulously, "You want to take this on, really?" She said, "Yes. But your friend's house... oh, it is messy. Dog hair everywhere. So messy." That should have been Clue Number One.
After completing her walk through, she told me it would be $150 for the whole house. I thought about it a bit, and then it was $140. And then, $130. Amazing. I agreed to it, and scheduled an appointment for the following Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, my friend bragged about how clean her house had become. Polished picture frames, clean windows, clean blinds -- all the things she forgets to clean or doesn't have time to clean now sparkled.
House Cleaner Lady came on Saturday morning as planned. She walked in. "Oh my. Oh my goodness. How does it get so messy?" I can't remember what I said, though it looked the same way it did two days earlier. I was on my way out, so I said goodbye. It was Will's Birthday, and I didn't want to spend it talking about how messy my house was.
After running a few errands, I came back home to drop off a bunch of party balloons. I noticed she was quickly going through a roll of fresh paper towels.
HCL: Do you have more of these? The floor under the kid table is so dirty, I didn't realize I would need so many.
Me: No, I don't have any more.
HCL: You have no more paper towels?
Me: No. I didn't know you would need to use mine.
HCL: And your mop. This will not do. Do you have another one?
Me: I do not.
HCL: I need the kind with the long strips, the cloth strips, and you move the plastic handle to squeeze out the water, you know, like this. You know how you squeeze down like this
(motioning rapidly)? Could you please go buy me one... I will pay you back, of course.
I came back, she talked some more about how dirty it was under the table.
HCL: How does it get so dirty down there?
Me: I watch kids for a living. And my baby is just turning one.
HCL: But how does he make such a mess?
Me: He is a baby.
HCL: You should get a cover. You put it over the floor. It protects the floor. A floor cover. Keeps the floor clean.
Me: But, um, then I just have to mop the cover thingy.
HCL: Oh, no. It is better. Much better. You buy it at the flea market.
Me: Here is the mop you asked for, and the receipt.
HCL: Oh, I was able to use your old mop. I don't need this new one anymore. But you -- you need it. You keep it. You just keep it.
Me: Um, thanks.
HCL: The floor, it was so dirty. I scrub and scrub and scrub. I had to really scrub.
Me: Yes, I know you scrubbed. Because you are a housecleaner. And scrubbing is one of the services you claim to do well, and which people pay you to do. That is what I am paying you to do, right?
(Ok, I actually just nodded, but that is what I meant).
HCL: And I had to scrub for so long, I did not get to the blinds.
Me (feeling ashamed): Ok, that is fine. Here is your money. Can I please get a receipt?
HCL: Receipt? No one ever asked me for that before.
Me: Ok. I need a receipt.
HCL: I don't have one.
Me: I can make one for you to sign. What is your last name?
HCL: How much you save from tax company by giving them a receipt?
Me: I don't know. Maybe twenty, thirty bucks.
HCL: Because, your floor very dirty. I scrub and I scrub.
Me: All right. Forget it.
Later in the week.
Me (talking to answering machine): House Cleaning Lady, I will not be needing you again on Saturday. I have decided to use another company that will give me receipts for the work I pay for.
Two hours later, the doorbell rings. I look through the peephole. Crap. I contemplate pretending to not be home, but the kids running back and forth sort of give me away. I open the door.
HCL: You did not like the work I did? You really need me. And I will give you a receipt next time.
Me: I thought you did not have receipts.
HCL: I do have receipts. Now I have receipts.
Me: Actually, I was kind of bothered that you complained about how messy it was.
(covering face with hands), I am so sorry. I am an honest person. Like an open book. I don't talk behind people's backs. I talk to people's faces.
Me: Right.... but I didn't want to feel bad about my house.
HCL: Next time I come, I be quiet. I won't talk. Just work quietly.
Me: Um, Ok...
HCL: So I still come on Saturday? I do a good job.
Later in the week.
Me (over phone): I won't be needing you on Saturday. I really have just decided not to have a housecleaner lady.
HCL: You still mad that I talk so much? That I complained? You are mad at me.
Me: No, I really am not mad at you. Really. I have just decided to clean my own house.
HCL: You need my help.
Me: I know I do. But I will do it myself. Thanks anyway.
I think I heard a sob on the other end, but she said thank you and hung up. Guess I can't complain about the mess anymore.