Thursday, 22 January 2009

Cleaning Lady

She was sick on Monday (her usual day to clean the office), couldn't come, and wanted to come today (Thursday)instead. I told her 'No, just come next Monday as usual. We'll skip a week, no problem, I'll do the essentials myself'. So I hovered yesterday, watered the plants, washed the dishes, emptied the bins, etc.

This morning she turns up on the doorstep and says: ‘Up to you. If you don't want me to stay I'll just go, but I'm here now.’ Ok. So I feel sorry for her, again, stupid me, and let her stay, determined to watch her every move and criticise/train her (she has a history of not really living up to expectations). I figured she needed the money and came to work for it, no point sending her away now.

First thing she does: goes straight to the bathroom, takes the EMPTY bin bag out of the bin and puts a new one in. There was absolutely nothing in the bin! I changed it yesterday!! So I ask her why on earth she'd done that. Answer: 'You told me on my first day I should change all the bin bags every time I am here.’ I think to myself: ‘She is absolutely right! Stupid me! I forgot to add ONLY IF THEY ARE FULL!!!’

Then I see her reach for my Lush face soap (green with a palm tree design, wonderful lemongrass smell, which I bought in the Lush store in Cambridge in 2005, and regard as a very precious piece of England and my traveling back in time device when I need it, and which she had already used to wash the whole bathroom the previous week, therefore reducing it to half it's size in half an hour)!!!!!!! So I ask her in alarm: ‘WHAT DO YOU INTEND TO DO WITH THAT????’ She panics and says 'Oh! just going to wash the soap holder underneath it.’ So I stand in the doorway watching her. She does the following: puts the soap in the sink, runs the hot water on full blast ON THE SOAP and washes the holder. Because I was standing there, she felt the need to scrub the holder thoroughly, the hot water running the whole time. By the time she was done, the water had melted the soap almost completely. I ask her if she can see anything wrong with what she’d just done. She looks at me like I've killed her newborn babies and shrugs and says: 'I don't have my glasses with me. Did I not wash the soap dish properly?' And she runs the hot water again on the soap, which is still in the sink, melting. Now, honestly, what else can I say? She is just dumb, poor thing. Not her fault, I suppose, that she was born without a brain.

Then I ask her what exactly she used to clean the mirror, toilet, sink and whole bathroom last time. Very casually (almost proud of herself) she informs me that she used the face soap and the washing-up liquid. As if it was the most natural thing in the world. I ask her ‘WHY??? When I have bought a very expensive purposefully created product for each of the surfaces?’ She raises her eyebrows. I point at the row of bottles of Cif and Domestos and Duck Anitra WC and so on. She says: ‘Oh, I didn't know what they were for and didn't know what else to use.’

I lift each bottle and show her the very explicit picture on each (the tiles cleaning liquid has a picture of sparkling tiles on it, the bath/sink product has, funnily enough, pictures of sparkling baths and sinks on it, the window and mirrors one has sparkling windows on it, the toilet one has a picture of a sparkling toilet on it!!!). She says ‘Oh, great!’ So I say: 'Glad we got that solved' and wait for her to make a move. She goes pink and finally asks me (30 seconds later!): 'So which one is for the bathtub again?' 
So I hand her the bottle and exit quickly before I snap. I figure it's best for my sanity if I don't know what else she is doing!

Just before she’s due to leave though, I remember that last time she was here she took out the electric perfume releaser from the plug, to plug in the vacuum cleaner. Then she replaced the device in the plug, UPSIDE DOWN. Therefore, all the oily liquid from it dripped onto the carpet before I noticed it a few hours later, by which time it was already completely empty. So I had left it in the plug, the right way up, empty as it was, just to see what she does next.

So today, just as she was leaving, I checked. It was upside down again! So I drag her back from the door, point at the thing and explain it USED to contain liquid until she inserted it in the plug upside-down, hence wasting it and staining the carpet (thankfully, it is black, so you can’t really see the stain). So she innocently asks: ‘So you want me to throw it away if it's empty?’ ‘No, I want you to understand the laws of physics, namely gravity. If you turn a vessel containing liquid upside down, the liquid will tend to get out of that vessel. So, please, I will buy another one, but I don't want it wasted in one go again. It's meant to last 72 days!!’ She looked at me as if I was insane and headed back towards the door. As she was leaving, just like an afterthought, she said to me: ‘You know, I did notice there was a nasty oily patch on the carpet. Don't know what you spilled on it!’


  1. Oh no thats terrible! Why are you persisting with her??

  2. I sometimes wonder myself... I suppose on the one hand it's some kind of inertia... she's available, I trust her not to steal anything and after all, better the devil you know...

  3. Hurray! I found someone to replace the brainless cleaner. At long last! I just hope she doesn't start crying when I break the news!

  4. If she's doing something wrong, you explain how you would rather it be done- you don't insult the person! I can't believe how offensive and abusive your entry was towards her. I'm just happy she doesn't have to work for a person like you anymore.

  5. Yeah Iris - why don't YOU hire her, then run behind her and observe her every move. I am sure she will not find *that* offensive!

    Oh wait! There is a solution, hooray (!!!): Buy a new carpet, couch, soap, vacuum, table, and everything needed each time she leaves. There's a good reason for shopping, in case you needed one. :D