Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Upon hearing the knock my anticipation heightened. What’s wrong with me, I’m sure no one else feels this way. Opening the door, memories struck me, like an unexpected wave while body surfing in the Atlantic.
“Hi Miss, I’m Lucy from Merry Maids – Hi Miss, I’m Danny,” the two women announced.
“Hi ladies, come on in,” I said, as I held open the door.
Lucy was very businesslike immediately, asking what exactly I wanted done. I loved it, my kind of person, direct and to the point. For some reason, I don’t meet many people with these qualities often.
After a thirty second reply, the women got to work in the bathroom. I sat down to read a new book on my Kindle when I began reflecting as the memories flooded my mind - Lucy standing there with her vacuum and mop, Danny carrying the supply tote full of spray bottles and brushes in one hand, and buckets and rags in her other. So familiar . . . that was my life thirty years ago. Clean as a Whistle was my business name, and I was the only employee.
Within minutes the exciting smells of cleaning wafted through the hall and into the living room where I sat with my thoughts - my book waiting to be read.  I can’t concentrate.  So this is how my customers used to feel? I was told many times how the scent of clean greeted them at the door when they arrived home from my day of cleaning. Now it was my turn.
Twenty minutes later the women were in the kitchen speaking in their native tongue. Not one minute was wasted as they spoke, these women meant business. Soon I heard grunting as they scrubbed and I remembered how hard this work was - back breaking is an understatement. Then it hit me, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t clean my own house. Tears welled up in my eyes.
I told myself I would not let this ruin the best Xmas gift ever. The gift certificate for Merry Maids was a stocking stuffer, but to me it should have been wrapped in gold.  Knowing my 844 sq. ft. home was not cleaned to my previous life’s standards was like walking around with a lead apron – a heavy burden.
My Kindle automatically turned off, and I automatically turned it on. But I couldn’t read, especially now that I had a sneak peek. My son, Bobby, would get a kick out of the fact that I watched the women clean my kitchen through the reflection in my TV and stereo glass. It took Bobby until he was a grown man to figure out how I knew what he was doing in the kitchen all those years.
Watching the scrubbing, smelling the clean, I became mesmerized. You know the hypnotic feeling you have when a hair dresser is washing your hair and you wish the massage would never end?  How much time is left?
The women were now on their hands and knees cleaning the floor. Lucy kept pulling her shirt from her body as the sweat stuck to it. They continued grunting as they kept their knee pads from escaping future knee replacements. Why didn’t anyone tell me to protect my body when I worked so many labor intensive jobs? Damn these knee scars.
Lucy wrung a mop using her hands and I instinctively started massaging my hands, imagining the cramps. Knee pads but no self-wringing mop? They did split the work, however, which made me regret my decision years ago to only hire myself. And the scarred loner lives on.
As the women packed up to leave, all sweaty and sore, I wondered if they had to go home and cook dinner, help the kids with homework, do the laundry, all before putting up their feet to rest for a minute, only to repeat the same routine tomorrow.
“I have an hour and a half left on my certificate, ladies; can I request you both for next time?” I asked.
“Yes, Miss, ask for Lucy and Danny,” Lucy replied, eager to get home I’m sure as it was after 5 p.m.
“Thank you, you worked very hard ladies, and everything looks great, thank you! I’ll see you soon.”
As I started to close the door, Lucy said, “Enjoy your home.”
The perfect sentiment.
Inhaling my clean home, I heard my neighbor’s teenage daughter ask her mother, “Why can’t we get Merry Maids?”
“Are you going to pay for it?” barked the jealousy ridden mother.
Within five minutes I heard the sound of a vacuum. Ha!
I dare my family to ask me what I would like for next Xmas. Wait . . .  my birthday is in May.