Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Good Help is Impossible To Get

In the late 1990s, when our beloved Basset Hound Mavis was still alive, we had a dog walker. But even before that, we had to interview several people to find a reliable dog walker.

For reasons that I like to call "Husbandrinka's difficult personality" it wasn't going well. The qualities I looked for in a dog walker were along the lines of "has legs and can hold a leash" whereas Husbandrinka was clearly anticipating the terrorist assault on our country and wanted to make sure that the people we hired to drag our dog around the block would be able to pass all security clearance.

I remember interviewing two women, partners in a dog walking business. They sat in our living room and fielded questions from us.

Marinka: Mavis likes to pick up garbage on the street, can you like make sure that she doesn't eat any?

Dog Walking Mavens: Yes, sure.

Marinka: Thanks. Because she can get really sick and throw up and shit everywhere. Nightmare. That's good, though, if you can keep an extra eye. Honey, do you have any questions?

Husbandrinka: (reading through notes) Do you have insurance?

DWM: Insurance?

Husbandrinka: Liability insurance. (I'm assuming for those times when Mavis accidentally fell asleep on someone).

DMW: Well, we just incorporated our dog walking business.

Husbandrinka (eyes lighting up): You're incorporated? Fantastic! Are you an INC or an LLC?

DMW: Err..

Husbandrinka: Just have the certificate of incorporation faxed to me when you get a chance. And the certificate of insurance.

Five minutes after leaving our apartment, these lovely ladies called me to say that they could not possibly work for us, although Mavis seemed like a darling. And I was a princess among women. They said nothing about Husbandrinka, but I didn't have to be Newton to do the math on that one.

"You drove away potentially fantastic dog walkers!" J'accused Husbandrinka. "Now Mavis' bladder will explode!" (Note: Mavis died a mere five years after that and due to what Husbanrinka referred to as "financial priorities", an exhaustive autopsy was never performed).

"They were full of shit," he told me. "No way did they incorporate. They were making it up."

So, with this in mind, fast forward to The Present. (Not like The Gift, but like The Here and Now. Good grief, English is a confusing tongue.)

After many false starts, we have a new cleaning lady. She's great in the sense that she cleans everything and I'm even willing to overlook that she folds our dirty laundry, instead of, you know, washing it. No one's perfect.

Except she asked that I leave her notes and I've toyed with the following:

"Please clean the apartment!"


"A clean home is a happy home!"


"Thanks for cleaning our home. In exchange for money!"


"Better you than me!"

But the other day, I decided to add, "Please do not open the windows because Nicki may fall out and die! Thanks!"

Husbandrinka saw that and was all, "you're going to drive our cleaning lady away and it took us forever to find her!" and I'm all, "Why would asking her not to open a window drive her away? We have air conditioning!" and he's all "Cleaning ladies really like to open windows."


Is this a really new fetish or something?

Also, I'm looking for good ideas for note fodder for the cleaning lady. But not "please do the laundry". I don't want to come on too strong.


Blogger Christy said...

I swear to god two weeks ago I came home (in 90 plus degree heat) to find that my cleaning ladies had opened ALL of the upstairs windows in my house. WHILE it was being air conditioned?!?! I was furious, and wanted to fire them, but luckily, calmed down thinking about how much I hate cleaning. I feel your pain.

September 1, 2009 at 12:58 PM  
Blogger Madge said...

this may not be helpful. here are the notes i write to my cleaning lady (that would be me):

"take it easy"

"go lay down"

"really, that's good enough"

September 1, 2009 at 1:04 PM  
Blogger CoftheU said...

Hmmmm. Things I've had to tell my children:

Do not use newspaper to clean the mirror. This isn't Nineteen Aught Six.

Don't use that cloth to clean the counter top now that you've used it under the toilet seat.

Use a cloth and spray for the kitchen counter, not a baby wipe.

Just because you wiped it (pushed a vacuum over it, dragged a broom across it) doesn't mean it's clean yet.

Sweep first then mop.

Cups go upside down in the dishwasher.

Next time please use Pine-sol and water on the bathroom floor, not Comet cleanser.

September 1, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger GrandeMocha said...

Please don't quit. I don't want to have to clean.

Any toys that get vacuumed up, stay that way. He was supposed to pick them up before you got here.

September 1, 2009 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger Mwa said...

I want a cleaner, too. My husband has issues with strangers cleaning up after us. Not so much with me cleaning up after us. He ends up cleaning up after us a lot.

September 1, 2009 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Debbie said...

"No pressure on washing the dirty clothes, so please also leave them unfolded. I am easily confused."

September 1, 2009 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger OHmommy said...

This is true.

Although I am not a cleaning lady, but a lady that cleans the house, I always ALWAYS open the windows when cleaning. I just did so today. Smells delightful.

And might I add that I come from a country that produces many cleaning ladies in America. I think pronounces me a cleaning lady professional. Or something. No?

September 1, 2009 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

I miss having a housekeeper. Even if she would move things all over the house to the oddest places. Dishsoap hiding amongst the shampoo. Shoes in the folded laundry basket. It makes perfect sense. But the house was clean. And it wasn't me doing it. I envy you.

September 1, 2009 at 7:25 PM  
Blogger Jeanne said...

"Please keep the dog inside today. She just got spayed and the vet doesn't want her rubbing dirt into her stitches."

Is Nicky spayed yet?

September 1, 2009 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger A Mom on Spin said...

How about. . . "So sorry that I got a few things dirty. . . "

September 1, 2009 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger SweetPeaSurry said...

I write notes to myself such as "you should be re-organizing your closet but you should watch tv instead"

I do hope that's helpful, it certainly always makes ME feel good!


September 1, 2009 at 9:18 PM  
Blogger Maddness of Me said...

The one I left was... Please stay don't go in that top drawer of my nightstand.

oh yeah, I apologize in advance for the pornos in the TV console.

September 1, 2009 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger ShallowGal said...

Wait a sec. Your cleaning lady can read? English? You won the fucking cleaning lady lottery.

The cat can be replaced.

xo, SG

September 1, 2009 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger bernthis said...

I would hate to interview with husbandrinka for a job.

September 2, 2009 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger MommyTime said...

How about "Please help yourself to anything you like in the fridge...and then clean the shelf where that thing used to be"

or: "feel free to use the potty any time you need to...and then clean it"

or: well, you can see where these are going. Subtle? Perhaps not. Effective? Maybe.

September 2, 2009 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Heather, Queen of Shake Shake said...

I tried to comment yesterday but Blogger hated me. Or maybe you. Probably more antisemitism.

I forgot what I was going to comment but it was awesome.

September 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger Maureen@IslandRoar said...

How about: I love the thoughtful way you separate the whites from the colors for the laundry; how about actually running it thru the washer next time??? Here is a big Entenman's cake for your trouble.

September 2, 2009 at 11:12 AM  
Blogger Sophie said...

hey, I've got a few suggestions of my own, all popped miraculously into my head yesterday, after MY cleaning lady left. Here are a few:
1. don't use the stuff for the ceramic kitchen sink to clean the acrylic bathtub.
2. my precious egg timer is not a toy. do not hide it in the baby's room.
3. do not open my closets, NOT EVEN TO PUT MY SHOES IN.
4. when i say "ok, i have to work now" and put on my headphones, it does really mean i don't want to hear about your disgusting relationships or your kid's school problems.
5. if it weren't for the house actually getting clean, i'd probably have fired you long ago, using the ugliest words I know.

September 2, 2009 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Please leave supper in the oven and some Entenmann's on the counter before you go.

September 2, 2009 at 3:23 PM  
Blogger I'm Nate's Mom said...

I am all for "what goes into the vacuum stays in the vacuum," but a few weeks ago I went on a little spree in the playroom, and while vacuuming under the couch cushions heard a little "ka-chunk." Oh, well, right? Wrong. A week later, the cleaning lady was complaining that the vacuum had no suction, so I emptied the canister. But, alas, the problem was a tomagotchi lodged in the hose. Spent an hour, couldn't get it out either end, couldn't crush the hose, nothing. Finally had to squeeze the hose in a vise, insert screwdriver, slam screwdriver with rubber mallet, all to dismantle a toy no one had seen in 3 years.

So, how about, do not vacuum under the couch cushions, and p.s., that scrub brush that's been in my bathroom for the past month is so you can clean that mildew out of the corner of the shower. Thanks!

September 2, 2009 at 4:07 PM  
Blogger Babe in Babeland said...

My neighbor's dogwalker leaves notes for her from her DOG's perspective! She has notes sitting on her counter saying things like, "We went for a great walk today. We ran into some geese which I chased after, and I ran through the water sprays in the park! I got a yummy treat for being so good! Love, Crispy" It's kind of cute and kind of weird I think. But hey, if you need a dogwalker (not sure if you have another dog?), I could probably find out the info! Perhaps your husband would approve of this one? :-)

Also, about housekeepers. We don't have one, SADLY. But because I do such a shitty job at cleaning our apartment, my husband wants to hire a housekeeper for a few months and have me go around the apartment with her and actually watch her clean and ask her questions about how to clean properly. I'm TOTALLY serious about this! He really believes it will help me be a better cleaner. I've told him I don't think it's such a good idea. What he doesn't realize is that I am a helpless cause when it comes to domesticated stuff...

September 2, 2009 at 5:24 PM  
Blogger Sophie said...

Your husband is clueless. If you wanted to excell in housework, you wouldn't have needed any ouside demonstrations. I know. I'm like that too, despite the "domestic goddess" label I wear.

September 3, 2009 at 1:43 AM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...


I wish you every success with your new cleaning woman.

September 3, 2009 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...

oh dear, i knew i would, in time, have to come out and reveal that i am not from NYC, and not from what you all probably consider "upstate"...even worse, i'm so damn poor i can't even BE a cleaning lady. i'm only a lady on my very best days which only come on the 31st of February in leap years, and then only when that day falls on the second Tuesday of the week. no, i am (sadly) from the part of "upstate" that is probably rumored to really be part of Canada that even the Canadians don't want. although we do have some really spectacular scenery, if you like lakes and gorges.

i wish i had better street creds. ;)

September 5, 2009 at 12:00 AM  

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