Monday, May 19, 2008

Hired Help

I heard that Debbie is decent and honest and "a cleanin' fool," so I phoned. My house, at any level I'd have to stretch to, has not been well or fully cleaned for over a year. She has no car so I picked her up in the city.

She was great. She scrubbed the kitchen ceiling and fan, the walls, cabinets inside and out and tops, back of the stove and beneath the sink. She took down the kitchen wall clock and re-set it -- it had been an hour off since late March. Also dusted walls, mopped floors, vacuumed, etc. Total of eight hours. All the while drinkin' coffee and Pepsi. Meanwhile I mowed the lawn, pulled weeds, cut back some creeping poison ivy, and cleaned out the garage.

I woke up this morning and thought, Glory be, my kitchen was clean, finally clean enough to suit me. We had even folded up the living-room daybed -- a job I couldn't do alone. In the bed position it only reminded me how much of 2007 I had spent laid up with three torn muscles that are now so scarred up there's places I can't stretch to.

Debbie has long Missouri roots and grew up near the Black River. For a long time she was a housekeeper for the elderly, she said, until government funding for that was cut. She was also caretaker for her grandmother, who died last year at 91. I worried that she might secretly hate cleaning and me for asking and paying her to do it. Oh no. "Cleaning is my livelihood," she said, and she offered to come back and clean for a day whenever I wanted, monthly or every other month. An irresistible thought.

I am over 50 and Debbie is the first hired housekeeper I have ever had, probably the first my squeaky-clean family has ever had in the three generations I know about. Thought long and hard before finally deciding there was no shame in hiring help.

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