The cleaner, part 2

I write this at the great risk of sounding ungrateful.

Those of you who have cast more than a cursory glance over this blog will know that I deliberated over hiring a cleaner when I went back to work full time. Well, I did finally hire someone and she has transformed my life. I truly don’t know how I ever lived without her. I had much the same feeling when I discovered make-up at the age of 13. I can never go back. I will be applying mascara and lip gloss until the day I finally take to my death bed, and I can’t imagine ever scrubbing the bathroom floor again (although I suspect I will).

The woman responsible for my domestic bliss is Maria (not her real name), who comes from Bulgaria and has a degree in molecular science and can’t find a job in her field, so she cleans houses to make ends meet. She was going to get married last year but ended up being jilted the day before the wedding. She is now trying to sell the apartment she bought with her ex-fiance.

Maria seems remarkably cheerful considering everything she’s been through. I suspect it comes from being Eastern European. They make them tough over there.

We have been having a bit of a love affair. I write her these little notes and leave them in the kitchen. I offer her chocolates. I think this is my way of easing my guilt. I’ve never felt great at the thought that she cleans my toilets.

Maria writes me back. She tells me to have a nice day, she thanks me for the chocolates and my notes. Her writing is immaculate and the English is perfect. Never have I spoken one word of criticism. We’re very much in the honeymoon phase of our relationship.

But the other day she told me that she wouldn’t be able to clean the flat this week. I have already started to rely on her visits like you rely on the world to spin on its axis. She throws me a little lifeline before my eyes glaze over with all the chores I will need to do over the weekend. ‘My friend said she might be able to come instead just this once.’

The friend shows up yesterday and I am reappraising my love affair after her brief visit. There’s only one way to say it: she’s a much better cleaner than Maria. I feel like I’ve had a visit from the staff at a five-star hotel. All the toiletries are neatly lined up in the bathroom in order of size. She’s folded the towels neatly on the towel rails. The bathroom is whiter than I’ve ever seen it before, the tiles gleaming. The mold that had been lingering in the grout is gone.

She’s taken out all the trash and even cleaned the outside of the bin. I’m afraid Maria doesn’t usually get that far. The friend has even tidied up any loose wires, neatly coiling them so that no one trips. Everywhere I go I see yet another example of her industriousness. Meanwhile, I have a growing suspicion that my regular cleaner is more like Amelia Bedelia, charming but rather useless.

I realize that this is how it must feel to always have the same, reliable lover. You think the sex is great until you have an affair with someone else and discover, perhaps too late, how much better it can be. (No, this is not a personal remark on my own life.)

Next week it’s back to Maria. I’m wondering if I can turn my love notes into a set of useful instructions… I fear not. I have only myself to blame, but I believe I have set a dangerous precedent. Like applying mascara, there is no going back.



Filed under motherhood, Uncategorized

8 responses to “The cleaner, part 2

  1. Wanna send Maria over to me? I don’t mind if grout is missed, as long as *most* of the broken bits of Cheerios are swept from the kitchen floor. Problem: I would only be able to afford to pay her with chocolates. And only until the Valentine’s stash runs out.
    Hope you can find a way to navigate through this.

    • I’d be happy to send Maria over, but I don’t think she’s doing transatlantic cleaning yet. I’m sure it will all resolve itself, but I can only afford to pay her two hours and I must admit she doesn’t get a huge amount done considering my apartment can’t be more than 1000 square feet on a good day. But, hey, she’s nice and reliable so far. Could be much worse.

  2. I wonder if it would help you to think that perhaps that much perfection is carrying a hint of “Sleeping With the Enemy”…lol…
    You better off with Amelia Bedelia I think. x

  3. That much perfection is suspicious, but it’s nice to come home to sometimes.

  4. Vivian

    Not to be mean, but I think you should ditch Maria. I’ve never heard of a cleaning person who doesn’t take out the trash and clean the outside of the bin. Then again, my cleaning person sometimes forgets to dust the top of our Keurig and leaves the occasional soap spots on the faucet which bugs. I would never say anything because it is all so petty. Still, it bugs.

    • I only pay her for two hours, but you do have to wonder what takes her so long. The flat is teeny-tiny but the list of things she doesn’t do is much longer than the list of things she does! I think I’m going to have to tell her to take out the trash. I can’t believe she just leaves it there either. Oh well. Like you said, it feels petty but I am paying her.

      > Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2013 14:51:09 +0000 > To: >

  5. Nic

    Ha! Incontrovertible proof that you are becoming BRITISH! You will never say anything to Maria, you will just seethe quietly the next time the bin looks a mess and you will continue to leave chocolates and sweet notes but all the while hope that she takes a week off and you get her friend back. The guilt over the loo cleaning will never falter and soon you will begin to do all the jobs she doesn’t do just before she arrives – yes, cleaning up for the cleaner – and then you will have become ME !!!

    • Maria actually quit about a week after I wrote this. I have now inherited her friend, who is a better cleaner but whom I’ve never met. It seems odd to have given this person the keys to our house. She’s a total stranger!

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