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Cleaning for the cleaner
June 22, 2015
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by Ivan Raconteur

Human behavior is a source of endless fascination for me.

A recent trend that piqued my interest is posts on social media by people who are running themselves ragged trying to get the house clean before the cleaning lady arrives.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that the concept of having a cleaning lady (or person) is foreign to me.

I have always been surprised when I see movies or TV shows in which people who are apparently able-bodied and in good health have a cleaning person come in a few times a week to clean the house.

It seems especially bizarre when single people hire cleaners on a regular basis.

I have spent a fair amount of time trying to imagine what these people might do that would require the aid of a professional cleaner multiple times within the course of a week.

They must be living large.

I am by no means opposed to the idea of hiring a cleaner, and if I had limitless discretionary income, I might very well be tempted to hire such a person.

I’m confident that even if I did temporarily miss dusting, polishing, vacuuming, and scrubbing floors, I would soon overcome this void in my life.

I suspect if I really thought about it, I’d be able to come up with other activities to take their place.

I have a great deal of respect for people who clean houses for a living. My dear departed mother did so for many years. The work was hard, the wages low, and she had her own house to clean when she got home.

I don’t know if I will ever have enough spare dough to be comfortable hiring a cleaning woman, but in the unlikely event that this should occur, there is one thing of which I am absolutely certain. There is no way under any circumstances that I will be tempted to clean the house before the cleaner – who I am specifically paying hard-earned money to do that job – arrives.

We should, perhaps, make the distinction between “cleaning” and “tidying.”

It makes perfect sense to put one’s things away before the cleaner arrives.

After all, if one is paying to have the joint cleaned, it seems reasonable to make sure the cleaner can actually get at the surfaces to clean them.

I would be inclined to suspect that anyone who is willing to pay someone to hang up his clothes or throw them in the hamper may be a fool.

It probably also makes it easier to find things after the cleaner has left if one puts them where they belong in the first place.

So, I make no judgements about people who straighten up their homes before the cleaning person arrives.

However, there are the other people.

These are the people who work themselves into a frenzy polishing and scrubbing things in preparation for the arrival of the cleaner, presumably so the cleaner does not think they are slobs.

I’m not sure why this should be.

If a guy is paying another person to clean his home, it suggests that he is using his time where he chooses to, or where it is most profitable, and using his wealth to hire someone to do tasks he is unable or unwilling to do.

It does not make him a bad person.

When that same homeowner takes his car to the local garage, he probably doesn’t change the oil and lubricate the fittings first, to avoid giving his mechanic the impression that he is lazy or a mechanical idiot.

It is understood he is paying for a service, and it would be silly for the customer to do the work first.

No logical person would hire a lawn service, and then get up early to mow the grass before the service person arrived.

Those of us in northern climates don’t hire a person to clear our sidewalks and driveways in the winter, and then go out and get busy with a shovel to avoid embarrassment when the plow company arrives and finds our messy driveway.

The concept of paying for a service is simple, but the application, at least when it comes to cleaners, is difficult for some people to understand.

Should I ever be lucky enough to afford a cleaning lady, she will have no difficulty telling what she has cleaned and what she hasn’t, because there’s no chance I’m going to do it all before she gets there.

If I’m paying to have the house cleaned, it won’t be me doing the cleaning.


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