Hellish Household Help–Part 2
I’ll call her Dorothy. She was the new cleaning lady I was trying out who came highly recommended from my friend. This, after I let my other cleaners go (read why). I greeted her at the door. She immediately seemed a bit cold to me. I took it as shy. I welcomed her in, offered her coffee and showed her our place. As we moved from room to room, I could feel her getting tense. We have several levels of steps, including a spiral staircase, so I thought maybe she was nervous with heights. We walked down to the kitchen, and she exploded. Phil (and Wayne) were at the table feeding Fia breakfast and all of our mouths—even the cat’s—dropped open.
“I DO NOT do stainless steel,” she began, wildly gesturing to our appliances. “M (my friend) didn’t tell me you had this or I would have never agreed to do this job.”
“Um, oo—kaaay,” I said, looking at Phil whose mouth remained on the floor.
She continued. “It is impossible to clean. I hate that stuff. It always smears,” she said stomping her foot.
For some reason, the codependent side of my personality made a surprise visit that day.
“Okay, then don’t do it. I’m alright with that,” I said, trying to calm her down.
Truth be told, my mom has just passed away, our house was a disaster, I had a packed day with Fia and I just wanted my house cleaned. I didn’t want her to leave.
She looked right at me, her eyes getting narrow. “I am not sure I even want to do this job. This is a big place. And it’s hot outside.”
A few things: our house is not an outdoor hut. It is inside and we have a HUGE air-conditioning unit. I offered to crank it up even more.
Also, our apartment, large by NYC standards, is about 1200 square feet. I don’t think that is insurmountable. And I’m a clean freak—so when I say it was a disaster—it was–by my standards. Any stranger walking in would not have thought so. Was I missing something here?
She stood there with her hand on her hip and continued.
“For me to do this job, it will take 6 hours and cost x.” I think Phil actually spit out his coffee. It was three times what we’ve ever paid. Before I could respond, she said, “But I’m here, I may as well stay. I’m going to change into my cleaning clothes,” and huffed off.
Phil looked at me and with a clenched jaw whispered, “Remind me what was wrong with our other ladies?” I started to cry.
I knew he was frustrated, but this wasn’t my fault.
“Okay, calm down. Just have her stay today. Then we’ll find someone else. Alright?” I nodded, wiping my face.
“I have to get to work,” he said. He sometimes works from his office at home, but he wasn’t about to hang out in crazy land.
“Do you want her to clean your office?” I asked.
“F-ck yeah. For that money, she sure as sh-t better clean it.”
I pulled myself together and approached Dorothy. She was at our closet going through my cleaning supplies. “This won’t work,” she said, tossing disinfectant wipes out of the bucket.
“Um, okay, use whatever you think is best. I’m taking the baby and going to the park. My husband won’t be home so go ahead and clean his office.”
She glared again. “I’m not sure I’ll get to it,” was all she said. Tersely.
By now, I was a wreck. What happened to my pit-bull personality? I knew I needed to go scour the neighborhood for it. This woman was a b-tch and a bully and had no right to be so self-righteous.
Fia and I left. Came home 2 hours later. Dorothy was still there and the parts she had cleaned (including surviving the stainless steel, gasp) were sparkling.
I put Fia down for her nap, and sat at my dining room table to eat.
“Um, I’m about to dust that,” she said with bitterly.
I clearly hadn’t found my independent side yet. So I stood up, willing to accommodate, and said, “I’ll just go upstairs. I will put your payment by the front door.”
You ready for this? Here’s what she said:
“Typically when I clean someone’s house for the first time they pay me even more.”
HUH? If I had never before had my place cleaned and it was a pit, I could see that point of view….maybe. But what she was charging was already highway robbery. Finally my assertive side started to assert itself and I pushed back.
“Look,” I said sternly. “Maybe if you were cleaning a house that had never been cleaned, but I had people here last week.”
She haughtily shrugged and turned away.
B—TCH! I thought as I marched upstairs. I put the money on the ledge and that’s the last I saw of her. Our apartment looked great—as it should for that money and angst.
My friend M saw her the next day. Dorothy told her, “The place was too big and she didn’t say goodbye.”
Seriously? After that behavior? You’re lucky I didn’t call you on your sh-tty attitude and extortion.
I decided it was time to go with a cleaning service rather than an individual. I want accountability. And I have it through Cleaning Brooklyn. These women are great. Four of them come in on time and are done in 90 minutes. They charge a fair price. And they’re good.
I know my mom is up in the sky shaking her head right now at what she would call “Champagne Problems.” Mom, you’re right. But if you’re going to have Champagne, it may as well taste good.
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