When the Help Isn’t All That Helpful

For the past two years, I’ve been cleaning my house only to keep up appearances for my cleaning lady, Luz.

One if by land, two if by sea

Don’t just stand there! Grab a mop! The cleaning lady is coming, the cleaning lady is coming!

Luz comes once a week, usually on Thursdays, and the day before, there is an absolute cleaning frenzy that the house does not see any other day of the week, not even on Thursdays when Luz comes to do her thing (she’s a cleaning lady, but not a particularly good one).

“Why are you cleaning the toilet?” my husband will ask.  “Oh, it’s Wednesday.”

Pushing loose strands of hair off my face, I  shake a toilet brush at him and shout,  “Yes!  It’s Wednesday!  Why aren’t you helping?  Grab that deck brush and bucket and start scrubbing!”

We decided we needed professional mental housecleaning help when my husband absolutely refused to contribute in any meaningful way to maintaining the house, and hiring a cleaning woman was cheaper than a divorce.  I, of course, had been refusing for years to contribute in any meaningful way to maintaining the house.  My contributions are limited to preventing our two young daughters from wandering off with strangers, cooking a really nice chicken piccata, and providing an occasional BJ.

So once a week, Luz comes and performs “light cleaning.”  She dusts, wipes down the kitchen and bathroom counters, and vacuums.

And once a week, I perform “heavy cleaning.” I scrub the bathroom toilets and the shower, I Windex all the windows, I dismantle the sofa and love seat and vacuum underneath the cushions (“I said no eating in the living room, dammit!”), I wash the kitchen floor.

“You know,” my husband commented the other day, “I think you do more housework now that we have a cleaning lady than when we didn’t.”

Of course I do.  I can’t let the cleaning lady see how we really live.

That's Miss Hilly's special pie.

I’m guessing Mr. and Mrs. Edwards didn’t take their housekeeper to see The Help?

I got to thinking about Luz and other cleaning ladies when I read this story out of Maryland, Upper Marlboro Couple to be Sentenced in Slavery Case.  From the article:

According to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, the couple enticed the victim, a woman from the Philippines referred to in documents as “T.E.,” to come to the United States in 1999 to work as a domestic servant for the couple, promising to pay her so she could support her children back in her home country.

Federal prosecutors did not immediately return calls Thursday to determine how the couple enticed the victim or how they became aware of the case.

Prosecutors said upon arriving in the U.S. using a fraudulent visa provided by the couple, “T.E.’s” identifying papers were seized by the couple and they refused to pay her and forced her to sign a contract saying she would owe the couple $20,000 if she ever left, which she finally did in 2009.

The couple, Alfred and Gloria Edwards, pleaded guilty to harboring an alien and are now awaiting sentencing.  Their attorney is arguing for leniency based on the fact that the couple took the woman on vacation with them.  Of course they took her on vacation with them!  They probably made her rinse out their underwear every night in the hotel sink.  Or maybe they made her hold their places in those long lines at Disney World, so they could just jump in at the end there and hop right on the Magic Carpets of Aladin ride.

Anyway, I don’t think I’ll ever want a full time, live in housekeeper, even if I’m not holding her against her will.  If we had a housekeeper living with us 24/7, I’d have to spend every waking moment cleaning, instead of just Wednesdays.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.


12 thoughts on “When the Help Isn’t All That Helpful

  1. Karen says:

    The theme for this month’s NaBloPoMo is “comfort” and there is nothing more comfortable than admiring my clean house those few moments after the cleaning lady leaves and before the kids get home from school. 😉


  2. strugglingwriter says:

    “My contributions are limited to preventing our two young daughters from wandering off with strangers, cooking a really nice chicken piccata, and providing an occasional BJ.”

    If I were living in a cartoon this line is when the spit take would’ve happened. Well played.

    If I had a cleaning lady, I’d be extra messy so I could get my money’s worth. 🙂


  3. Elyse says:

    I think we have the same cleaning lady. Mine comes on Thursdays, too. My husband doesn’t understand why I clean on Wednesdays. Or why nobody ever cleans the baseboards.

    Our cleaning lady is really nice and never complains. Who else in my life can I say that about?


    • Karen says:

      I know. Sometimes I think the best relationship I have going on in my life is the one between me and my cleaning lady.

      Before I got married I should have thought about this more. Instead, I was thinking more about how tall he was, and how good he looked with his shirt off. Little did I know that ten years into our marriage, he would gain 20 pounds, and still throw his dirty socks on the floor. If I had married a cleaning lady, I wouldn’t care if she gained 20 pounds, because at least she’d still do the laundry.


  4. Joyce says:

    That is my one luxury. My housekeeper comes every other Wednesday. It’s bliss to come home from work on Wednesday evenings. Particularly because I’ve just devoted several days to pre-cleaning. And she irons. God, I love her.


  5. sharyn721 says:

    Oh my word Karen! There must be a legion of us out there who clean before our housekeepers come. I used to do that back in the days when I could afford a maid when I lived in Lansdale, Pa., and Tallahassee, Fla.
    Another wonderfully funny post.


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