The last time I hired someone to clean my house, I went with a girlfriend’s recommendation. “Babs isn’t much to look at,” she said. “But she does a decent job on the housework.”
Little did I know that nestled in that statement like Jack Spratt and his thyroid-challenged wife were the biggest understatement and biggest overstatement ever uttered by womankind.
When Babs got out of her car and approached our house grinning, my dog burst through the back door and ran at her screaming, “Get ye to a dentist, woman!” Babs’s teeth—all both of them—were sticking straight out of her gums at 90 degree angles, and, God bless her, she was not going to stop smiling any time soon.
The more Sean barked and growled (and lunged at Babs’s face,) the more she smiled and told him it would be okay. And the more she smiled and told him it would be okay, the more I knew that it would not. Sean would never embrace Babs and her wacky chompers, even if she proved to be the second coming of clean.
Which she did not.
It only took an hour to discover that Babs would not be winning any housekeeping pageants either.
Rather than eliminating the dust, Babs gently urged it to relocate. And, of course, the dust was all, “Hey, no thanks, we’ve got this house, the kids are still in school, the wife has her mah-jongg league. Maybe next year.” Not to mention the fact that Babs’s mop was carrying an AARP card, and a cane.
A year later I regained my nerve and contacted a woman named Alyssa. “I will make your house sparkle,” her ad said. Sparkle? Hell, I’ll settle for “I will make your house not smell.” So, when I called to inquire about her rates, she said (with vaguely hookerish undertones) “Don’t worry, doll. I’m very fair.”
Attempting to give her directions to my house, I asked if she was familiar with my neighborhood. She said she was. Thirty minutes after she was scheduled to arrive, however, she called to tell me she’d “looked everywhere” for my house but couldn’t find it. I asked her if she’d looked on my street at all. No, she said, she couldn’t find that either. When I offered to provide an alternate route, she half sighed/half hocked a loogey into the phone and barked, “Well I’m home now … you want me to come all the way back!?”
Well when you put it that way, no.
Not so much.
Which brings us to Sherry. Sherry who shows up on time every week. With all of her teeth, and a fresh disposable mop that dispenses a cool liquid sheen onto my hardwood floors. Sherry who calls if she’s going to be late. Sherry who leaves me little voicemail messages to “keep me abreast of the cleaning products she’s introducing in my home.” Long live Sherry.
When she showed up at my house for the first time, naturally the dog was a little suspicious. But I was so excited I had to physically restrain myself from jumping up and humping her leg.
And then she cleaned. And sang little songs along with her iPod and cleaned some more. “I’m going to mop my way out now,” she called up the stairs after an afternoon of scrubbing. “Same time next week okay?”
Knock me over with a feather duster. Same time next week will be fine.