The Cleaning Lady Diaries

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Friday is cleaning day for me. Yes, that is the day I ditch my computer and bring out my mop and bucket. I hate cleaning. I hate everything about it. Some of my friends view cleaning as some kind of Zen experience. I view it as torture.

I used to have someone clean my house twice a month. I got Janine through a friend who also used her cleaning services. My friend said that Janine was willing to take me on even though her client list was filled. I felt special. I was so excited about this domestic find that I vowed to make her time in my house as painless as possible.

The night before she was scheduled to clean, I would wipe down the sinks, shower and bathtub. I would move all the junk off my dressers, and make sure no shoes or clothes were left on any of the bedroom floors. I didn’t want her to think she was working for a pig. My twisted brain surmised that if my house was too dirty, the cleaning lady would not want to clean it.

When Janine agreed to take me on as a client, she assigned me the Tuesdays, 8:30 AM cleaning slot. When she arrived at my home, she spent the first half hour drinking coffee at my kitchen table and telling me about her life. Looking back, I think she did this to scare me. Then, she would go to work. I admit that my house sparkled from top to bottom. She was Mary Poppins with tattoos and a smoker’s cough.

Then as quickly as the dream began, it faded. About two months into her employment with me, she started not to show up at the scheduled time. Instead of showing up at 8:30, she would show up at 10:30, and some Tuesdays she wouldn’t show up until Wednesday, which left me frustrated because I could not plan my work schedule. So, I took a proactive approach and decided to talk to her.

“Janine, you know … how much I love your work here,” I stammered badly. “But I work from home, and … and I have to do phone interviews and … and write in my office upstairs and … and I try to have a professional atmosphere. I need to be able to plan my schedule, and when you don’t show up on time or show up on another day, you … well, you sort of screw that schedule up.”

“What are you saying?” she asked in an insulted tone that began to creep up in volume. “Are you saying I get in the way of your writing or whatever the hell you do upstairs… like it’s a real job? You think your work is more important than mine?”

Oops, this was not going well and in my mind, panic started to set in and I heard my mind screaming,

“Mayday! Mayday! Someone help, I am going down!”

But there was no rescue in sight. Janine shrugged her shoulders and made it clear she was not happy with my insistence that my time slot remain my time slot. However, Janine was a professional, and I knew that she would honor my request.

Janine did not honor my request. In fact, she made it a point to never show up at my assigned time slot again. Finally, fed up, I made the drastic step to have my husband fire her. I know, I know. I am a coward, and I should have done the dirty work myself, but I had more interaction with Janine than he did. I was the one who was home when Janine came to clean. I became her sounding board for everything that was wrong with her life, and there was oh, so much wrong. I heard all about her bad childhood, her yeast infections, her husband’s erectile dysfunction, her brother’s kleptomania (which I prayed was not a genetic condition) and her teenage daughter’s pregnancies. Well, you get the not-so-pretty picture.

If I fired someone with all that negativity going on, that negativity might vibrate back to me. Since my husband is not as big a believer as me in the power of positive and negative vibrations and what they can do to one’s aura, he was the better choice to wield the axe.

The firing did not go well, and my friends who used Janine’s cleaning services were annoyed with me too. I guess Janine viewed my friends as traitors since they referred her to me. She started to slack off when cleaning their homes and not showing up at their appointed time slots.

In order to make amends to both Janine and my pissed off friends, I found my ex-cleaning lady another gig. Yes, I looked high and low until I filled my former assigned cleaning time slot.

With Janine fully employed, I relaxed into my own self-cleaning schedule. How has this worked out? Well, I am not the best domestic diva. I can clean, but it’s not something I long to do. The one positive I have gained from being a cleaning machine is a new wardrobe. In fact, I get new clothes almost every week. Do you know that if any cleaner with chlorine bleach gets on your clothes, those clothes turn weird colors and get ruined? I found that out—a lot.

Will I get another cleaning woman in the future? Probably not. I can’t take the pressure that having a cleaning woman entails. I was always trying to please her. Now, that I have made peace with my sloppiness and the dust bunnies under the beds, life is good again.


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