Thursday, December 13, 2007

And She Put the Clean Dishes Away!

I have been contemplating hiring someone else to clean my house for about 6 months now. The problem is that while I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m lazy and that I hate cleaning behind the toilet I’m less comfortable admitting that I am willing to pay someone to do these things for me. It's not the money. Or the principal. It's the guilt.

I’ve struggled with Middle Class Guilt (MCG) for years. Back in 2002 it made me hesitant to let Asian girls paint my toenails bright red. In ’05 I finally triumphed over a particularly debilitating flare up and started using that most wonderful of New York City services – laundry drop off. These past victories gave me strength and after looking around at the thin coating of chinchilla dust that was currently serving as décor in my apartment I bucked up and with one email to a friend’s old Cleaning Lady (CL) bravely stepped onto a dangerous path that if I’m not very careful could lead to boats bought for noncommercial purposes (thanks Bob) and possibly even an urge to vote Republican 50 years from now (the horror.).

The real test of if I had finally kicked the MCG came 2 hours before the house keeper arrive – would I be able to fight the urge to preclean? No. I broke down. I did the dishes and made my bed and picked up the living room – I considered scrubbing the stove because what kind of impression would it set if the CL knew I cooked meals on a greasy stove? It suddenly seemed possible that the whole cleaning business is a racket – perhaps they don’t clean, perhaps you just hire them and your guilt eats away at you until you clean your own damn apartment. Impressive business model. Touché cleaning ladies.

The CL arrived at 2pm on the noise. She was young, I have no idea why I expected someone’s grandma to come clean my house – maybe because the cleanest women in my life was my paternal grandmother. She died a few years ago and I miss her chicken soup and marble cake and inability to resist tsking the cleanliness levels of every location outside of her house (she used to SWEEP HER FLOWER BEDS) but thank god she will never see (and judge) the (relative) sty that I live in and I will thus not be held personally responsible for killing her.

At the last minute it turned out that the cleaning lady needed cleaning supplies. (aka “At the last minute it turned out that Brianna is an idiot”). Oh. Right. Since I assume actual cleaning ladies (As opposed to a snobby middle class girls half assedly cleaning her own apartment on a Saturday morning) probably don’t like using a mini trashcan as a bucket for washing the floor (in my defense neither of the drug stores near my house sold buckets.). Especially when the mop only fits into the trashcan if you put it in at the right angle. So when she asked where my mop was I sheepishly admitted to being too much of a disgusting dirty freak to own a bucket. Somehow she managed to resist rolling her eyes when she offered to just use the trashcan from the kitchen. “Sure, great idea – Please don’t judge me.”

And then out of embarrassment and in an effort to avoid offering to help out I locked myself in my bedroom and spent 2 hours on conference calls rather than wallow in my guilt by actually watching the cleaning process. I emerged to a whole new world. The hardwood floor in my living room isn’t gray it’s brown! (Not so the floor in the rest of the house which was inexplicably painted gray and thus will NEVER look clean. Just thinking about this caused me to go on a 15 minute internet search for vinyl floor tiles to cover up the ugliness in the kitchen, sadly it turns out that all vinyl floor tile manufacturers are involved in an elaborate “who can make the ugliest floor ever” contest.).

One more hour, a clean bedroom and $50 (so cheap!) later I was happily living the lie of being a clean person. CL will be back next month. I will try to resist the urge to hug her.


Tina Vaziri said...

I would love to get someone to come in and clean for me, but I also feel guilty for spending money on something that I should be able to do myself. And I don't do it very often because I have the lazy and the forgetfulness.

It's great that it worked out for you! Maybe one day I will be brave and hire someone to do it for me!

Peter DeWolf said...

Guilt is silly.

You are helping the economy!

Dee said...

I still feel the guilt - even more so when they leave and I bitch about what a crap job they did dusting under my DVD player... :)

themikestand said...

Here's an idea. Give me the $50. I'll call you and let you know I'm coming over in 15 minutes, and after 30 minutes, you can call me back and indicate that the place is clean. I'll then refund $25 of the fee, just for your hard work. Oh, how much you will save!