Archive for Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cleaning: A frightening encounter

January 30, 2008

I used to have a housekeeper who cleaned in the buff. We had an arrangement. She would clean twice monthly, usually on a Saturday, and I was to be out from underfoot so she could clean as she wanted. It just never occurred to me to think that meant cleaning sans clothes.

The night before she arrived, I did what most people do; neat up, empty the wastebaskets and make the place look presentable. I'm not sure what it is about having someone else clean that makes a person do that but I know most people do. It's like vacuuming out your car before you have it detailed out; doesn't make sense but people do it.

After I neated the place up, I fixed a nice lunch which I left out on the table where she could see it the next day when she arrived, at whatever time that was. She always brought her own materials; left me notes of things she needed or directions of what I should and should not do before her next visit. On occasion, we talked on the phone.

Other than that, we stayed out of each other's way.

She was a crusty woman; used to having her own way about things and had no reservations about telling me what I should or should not do with my house, or my life.

She was probably in her 70s or 80s - I don't know. I inherited her from others for whom she worked until she got too old, had too many medical issues. I didn't mind that she didn't see well, sometimes missed some dusting, or waxed over the top of something on the kitchen floor.

One Saturday I forgot it was her day to clean. I got up early, ran errands, and came home. I simply walked past her little truck without noticing it was there. I put my key in the lock, opened the door, dropped some packages, and walked to the back of the house where the office is situated. I rounded the corner and opened the office door. Hallelujah!

A boom box was blasting, the vacuum was sucking up dirt, my housekeeper was belting out some jazz number, cleaning in the buff! I backed out of the room as fast as I could but not before she turned and saw me. I fell over stuff as she came at me with the vacuum hose, chastising me for scaring her, for being in my own house and for letting kids in my office make marks on the walls.

I threw clothes, apparently hanging on chairs that I had walked right past, at her. She let me know on certain terms that I was never, never to disturb her when she was working.

Believe me when I say, I never did. Until she retired, no more marks on the wall either.


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