Thursday, January 7, 2010
That Time Peter Forgot to Tell Me He Hired a Housecleaner. No I'm Not Kidding.
With my sixth child under one month old, my ensemble of sweats with limp elastic waistband and shirt decorated with spit-up perfectly matched with the tornado worthy wreckage that was my house. My husband was in the car heading to a convention lasting several days and my sister had driven up to visit her newest nephew. We were chatting away when the phone rang.
The caller spoke in a heavy Spanish accent (which made it harder for my sleep deficient mind to understand) and asked if this were Dr. Later's wife. We have had drug seekers call our house before so I warily asked the reason for the call.
"I am coming over to talk about the housecleaning."
Huh? I have no idea what she is talking about. Which I tell her.
"The doctor said I should come over and we could decide on a price for housecleaning. I work with him at the hospital where I clean. He hired me to be a housecleaner for you."
There are three obvious problems thus far. First, my house is a disaster. DISASTER! No way I'm letting a stranger come in and decide what the cost of cleaning it would be NOW. Second, I have company over. Company that has driven 2 hours to get here. Third I am the WORST negotiator in history. Once, at the age of 12, I left a garage sale with a porcelain cat statue for which I payed double the first price quoted. That's right I ended up paying MORE THAN THEY ORIGINALLY TOLD ME. (Please don't ask what I needed with a porcelain cat, I was a weird child and it was the 80's.)
I had no idea what a housecleaner was expected to do or get paid. None. Never even considered it. Do they wash toilets, windows, baby's rumps? Paid fee for service, by the hour, set fee per time? Combining my cluelessness with my negotiating skills and the lady might end up getting paid 25% our net income for changing the garbage liners every month, disinfecting extra.
"I need to talk to my husband. We'll have to set up a time when he's home."
"No, I just pulled up outside your house. I got lost, it took me a long time to drive here. I am here now."
Please note that it was a little over a week since that woman had answered her door to a stranger and had her throat slashed and her newborn baby stolen. Even if I was an excellent negotiator who knew everything about housecleaner expectations, had my house was in decent shape, and didn't already have plans for the day, I wouldn't have opened my door. I was freaking out at this point.
"You CAN'T come in right now! I'm sorry."
"But I'm already here, I'm sitting in front of your house. The doctor said he was going to hire me! He said to come over and look at the house and agree on a payment!" She was obviously a little freaked out by my freaking out. Nevertheless, I wouldn't let her come in. So she hung up and left. I called my husband.
If oh-carp-my-wife-is-about-to-kill-me could be captured in tone, that is what my husband used when he replied to my less than coherent query with, "Oh, yeeeaaahh, I forgot to tell you about that. One of the ladies that cleans the hospital is coming over to talk about cleaning being a housecleaner for you."
I will not lie. He got a tirade. That included gems like "How could you leave me to negotiate? You should know better by now!" and "Are you trying to tell me your embarrassed by our house?" and "You would rather pay someone money than help do the dishes once in a while?!?" and the all encompassing "How could you do something like that without asking me and then forget to even tell me about it?" In his defense both our mothers had been pestering him to hire help since the birth of our baby. Something about making my life less stressful. He had followed through on their advice, just not in the best possible way.
That poor woman wouldn't even speak to Peter after that. And us? We have never again discussed hiring a professional housecleaner.
You are probably thinking along the lines of my friend who laughed herself silly when I told her the story and then laughed when she told her husband, but made it clear she would be perfectly happy if he hired a housecleaner, even if he neglected to tell her about it. If so, I understand.