A few months ago, despite my vehement opposition, my wife made arrangements to have a cleaning service come to our home every other week. The point that I could do all this work myself if I really wanted to save money was, in the end, more than my logic could compete with.
I want to point out that I say cleaning service because the word maid just doesn’t seem right to me. The term maid suggests a more constant presence in my mind to the point of potential live-in status. I think of Alice from The Brady Bunch. There’s a personal level to the word maid.
For someone to be called a maid, I would think you’d also have to know their name. I have no idea what the names of the three ladies who show up to clean my house are. I feel rude not knowing, but after seeing that they needed their more adeptly English speaking boss to come with them on their first visit, I haven’t wanted to push my luck. Every time I start to get up the courage to enquire, I end up in a five minute conversation about where more Windex is. This usually just results in me going to get it myself and handing it to them. Plus, after so many visits to our home, I think it eventually becomes too late. There’s the whole “You’re asking me now?!” aspect to it. It’s like a joke that’s been built up for too long. Best to just forget it and move on.
I also don’t think maid works well in the plural form. To say one has maids leads me to believe that they have an entire staff living out back in the coach house. Each maid has their own specialty or wing of the house to attend to. Of course the maids are not to be confused with the cooking staff or the stable personnel. Seeing as I neither own a plantation nor live in Victorian England, I see no need to leave anything for “the help” to take care of. I just want my house clean every now and then without the stress. Thus, we do not employ maids, we pay some cleaning ladies.
Anyway, every other week, three cleaning ladies of otherwise unknown Eastern European descent arrive at our home and spend about an hour or so cleaning. During this time, I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I dare not leave because…well, I guess I just feel weird leaving three nameless people who speak constantly to one another in a language I don’t understand in my home alone. Yet, I am confined to certain rooms at a time. I feel like a sheep. I begin sitting with my wife in one spot, then one of them comes in and we move hurriedly out of their way into a different room only to be shooed into yet another room when they eventually come to clean that one. I’m not even sure what they do exactly because I’m too shy to remain anywhere near where they are working.
After they leave, I see the benefit in having them come. The house smells nicer, I can walk around barefoot without feeling dog hair accumulating on my heels and the toilet paper rolls end in a little folded triangular point. Oh, how I love being the first to use the bathroom after they leave. There’s something ever so satisfying about gripping that folded two-ply triangle between my fingers and pulling it down. It’s like checking into a hotel and using the bathroom for the first time, everything is new and fresh and perfect in that moment before I completely defile it.
There are other benefits. The boys know that the cleaning ladies’ presence in our home is a big deal. This causes them to make sure they put their toys away for at least a few days afterward so that they don’t get the “This house was just cleaned, now look at it” speech from daddy. I also seem to be able to find all the things I’m looking for because everything is actually organized and put away in the place it belongs.
And then there is the fact that my wife and I haven’t strangled one another. As a married couple, we enjoy plenty of things together. We often make a point of taking some mundane chore or errand and using it as an excuse to spend some time together. Usually, we highlight the teamwork aspect of tackling a task together which makes us feel closer. I’m proud of our ability to do that in a lot of cases. Cleaning, however, isn’t supportive of this behavior in our household. Rather than bring us together, it seems to compel each of us toward murder. We have conversations like…
“I thought you just swept in here!”
“Then why did I find so much dog hair behind the couch?”
“Because you moved the couch.”
Or then there’s…
“Can you stop putting your dirty clothes on top of the clean ones?”
“If I knew which pile was which, maybe I could.”
Ugly. This is prevented by having the cleaning ladies come every other week. Even though I opposed spending money on this initially, I have to admit that keeping me and my wife away from each other’s throats is worth the cost. So, if I have to be a caged gerbil, running from room to room to avoid unwanted human contact for a while in my own home, so be it. Whatever allows me to sleep without one eye constantly open.
2 hours ago