What the cleaning lady saw…

What life could have been.

I can remember years ago, a writer friend of mine needed a little extra income (o.k., any income) and I did also, so we brainstormed which between the two of us is rather like watching a summer storm  pass through, lots of noise with very little results. Anyway,  we came up with the idea to start a cleaning company. I don’t know what possessed us. After a little advertising in a local paper we came up with two leads.

The first was a lady and her husband who had a huge immaculate house to themselves on Clifton Blvd. in Lakewood, the house was perfect and she cleaned it herself with all natural products as she showed me around top to bottom it was more like a tour of her accomplishments. I was sure we would let her down, there was no way we could come in once a week and keep this thing up. Perhaps because she’s clearly a neatnik and was also a retired Teacher and I worried that we would ever be able to meet her standards and having had the experience of letting down any number of principles and teachers I recognized a losing prospect when I saw it and just felt lucky to escape the job interview and walk out of her life period, sans Report Card.

The second opportunity was more along our lines of something Tidy and I could accomplish without depressing the owner. In the upper reaches of a Lakewood’s Gold Coast there lived a lovely couple in a double sized penthouse suite, a double wide if you please…like a trailer but not. Kings of the veritable castle they where, and nice quiet couple to boot this attorney and his wife.

 They had bought the next door penthouse and knocked down the common wall so as to create a large gourmet kitchen for the wife with sizeable dining area that looked over their lofty balcony onto a shoreline dotted with boats and ending with the cityscape of Cleveland twinkling at your feet.  Well I interviewed with the wife for the job of cleaning the family abode for reasonable sum and Tidy and I started the next week. We only had one scare while working there and that was on the first day when I had outfitted both the Tidymeister and myself with pails, mops and scrub brushes and directed him to one end of the giant Penthouse and I would start at the other. That rascal came back right at the beginning and tapped me on the shoulder and in “first time Jitters” asked, “where do I start?” Then I remembered what his office looked like…dust bunnies the size of his dog Harry. Yipes…”Start at the top”, I told him. First swipe the top of all the walls for spidy webs and then dust down the walls then clean every little table make every little bed and finish vacuuming or scrubbing the floor whatever’s required. And damned if we didn’t meet back at the pass…(the center of the apartment the front door) in about 4 1/2 hours. Pretty good for a first run.

So years later, I’m living far far away and I get invited to join this rather exclusive “Book Club” at this County Club out here. Already I’m thinking, “Country Club”? me? what?…o.k. I’ll bite. So I go to the “Christmas Party”, meet some really nice women hear some of their good writing in their annual christmas greeting to each other, and I’m all nervous…then suddenly it occurs to me, I’ll NEVER be here again, then I can relax and just really enjoy meeting each and every one of them and listening to their stories. At one point (across the Creme Brulee), the woman directly opposite, tells a story about Scuba diving with her husband in the Caribbean..and I’m looking at her and I can really see her underwater, hair swishing gently around her head mask in place, and I think, boy can these women tell some great stories.

 About 2 am it all came back to me, it wasn’t her storytelling abilities…I had acutually seen this woman and her husband underwater. Everytime I dusted the silver framed pictures on her Credenza in that huge penthouse. 

What a life, you never know where or when the dots are going to connect. She hadn’t recognized me and until my subconscience had a “Upon further review ” period, I hadn’t realized I was staring across my Creme Brulee at a former employer. Small wonderful world.

You just never know where that cleaning lady will show up. So stay kind!

4 responses to “What the cleaning lady saw…

  1. I love it! You just never know where someone might turn up! Such a tiny world.

  2. Yup, there I was, with my mentor, Sheila. And many of the things she taught me have stayed with me. First, change the water. And change it again in five minutes — no sense slopping dirty water on a kitchen floor you’re trying to clean. Second, start at the top. Seems logical, but I would not have thought of it. Third, while you are providing a service, you still have some power. When we wanted to go out on the balcony for a smoke, out we went. Turns out they needed us more than we needed them. Finally, being a house cleaner is hard, hard work. It’s back to affixing political messages on door handles for me.

    • Hey J.T.,

      Thanks so much for the comment. We had a few chuckles with that job, huh?

      love you
      Sheil

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