The Cleaning Woman Experience

I along with my three roomates just had the pleasure of welcoming a cleaning woman into our home this past Tuesday. While millions of New Yorkers (and probably 90% of Murray Hill JAPs) wouldn’t think twice about such an event, for my roomies and I, March 23, 2010 will go down in infamy. It wasn’t so much the actual cleaning woman, her lack of supplies, or even the quizzical look she had on her face when I placed the six bottles of bleach on the counter, which will make us remember that night. It was the fact that a cleaning woman came to our apartment in the first place, that will be remembered. For months, my roommates and I been debating the pros and cons of a having cleaning woman.

Sean; “She could be hot”

Uptin; “Our bathrooms look like shit”

Aaron; “It can’t be that much”

Andy; “Are we that lazy that we need to pay someone.”

Aaron; “I am”

Sean; “She could have hot friends”

This discussion seemed to be heading somewhere…I just couldn’t figure out if that somewhere was a clean apartment or an argument with my roommates.

The next week I brought up the discussion again, after making a faithful trip into our poop splattered bathroom (the bathroom wasn’t actually splattered with poop, it’s just a euphemism for a disgusting bathroom). I came out of the bathroom feeling dejected and empty. How could we produce such filth? I thought to myself….I am a clean guy. My roommates are clean…yet here was our bathroom…murky, stained, razor shavings in the sink…. looking worse than the McDonalds bathroom on 2 avenue, the one where they don’t even lock the door for the upper crust that is McDonalds patrons. I knew it was time.

So I brought up the idea of a cleaning woman again. We proceeded to sit around on that Sunday afternoon discussing the merits of a cleaning woman, but somehow our conversation meandered to a sort of Christmas/Hanukah wish list.

Sean: We could get a cleaning woman, but wouldn’t’ it be cool to get a dog?

I could see my roomies’ eyes light up.

Aaron; No no, that’s great, but let’s concentrate on the cleaning woman…have you seen our bathroom?

Uptin; Yeah a dog would be perfect…we could split the time taking care of it….Sean, when do you get home from work?

Sean; 7-8…

Uptin; Ok you got it on the weekends, I’ll handle it on weekdays..

Aaron: no, no, cleaning woman!!!!

Andy: What should we get a pitball, or a bulldog?

Uptin; Which one will girls like more?

Sean: Actually what do you guys think about a Treadmill. We wouldn’t have to buy gym memberships…hmmm

Aaron: I didn’t know this was a debate about the one Christmas gift we are allowed to buy ourselves.

Eventually I brought the discussion back to a cleaning woman. I told my roomies that I shouldn’t dread waking up in the morning to take a shower in my own home. They agreed.

So a couple of months went by and of course no one called the cleaning woman. If you want something done, do not give it to four 20 something guys in the prime of their lazy lives. When I finally worked up the drive to actually call a cleaning woman months later, I didn’t know where to look….Craigslist, MySpace, Facebook, the Upper East Side. So I did what any inquisitive, frugal Jewish boy would do. I did some comparison shopping. I talked to my wealthy friends who had cleaning women come every week. They told me what their cleaning woman charged- $100 bucks for a studio for a couple hours…$200 for a one bedroom….I started to have a panic attack. I wondered how much my four bedroom would cost. Then I started to eliminate rooms in my head; “We don’t really need to clean my bedroom…maybe I’ll clean Uptin’s when he’s not home and pretend the cleaning woman did it….wait a second, maybe we don’t have to clean any of the bedrooms, or the living room either…I could do that.” Slowly but surely I eliminated 90% of our apartment in my head….”How much would the cleaning woman cost to just clean my bathtub?” And maybe we don’t’ need an official cleaning woman. What makes them a cleaning woman anyway… do they have a diploma from Windex University? “Maybe I can get a homeless person from the street to clean my apt. I’ll buy him supplies…how hard could it be.”

After an internal debate, I brought this idea up to my roomies who assured me I was an idiot: “If we are going to get one we might as well do it up right.” I approached my friends about recommending one of their cleaning ladies. I didn’t know a recommendation request would be more like a grad school application.

John; “Well, what do you have in mind for Lucinda….she’s fairly booked.”  

Aaron; “I just want her to clean my apt for a couple hours…”

John: “Well, Aaron, your apartment isn’t exactly in good shape.”

Aaron, “ I know that’s the f’ing reason I want Lucinda”

John: “You think I’m going to submit her to that dung tub.”

Aaron: “You don’t own her, give me her number.”

John: “She’s fairly booked, and I have a good relationship with her, I don’t want to jeopardize anything.”

Aaron; “What the fuck”

So I moved onto Craigslist…At first I entered “Polish Cleaning Woman” in the search field, but then realized that this might be too restrictive and that cleaning women can be other than Polish. A couple interesting ads popped up. “Will clean apt, laundry , etc. “ I wondered what the etc. was and if this ad should have been in the personals section of Craigslist instead of the jobs section. The next one seemed more appropriate; “$50 for 3 hours, Must supply all cleaning supplies.” This seemed reasonable except for the cleaning supplies part. I didn’t know what cleaning supplies we had, if any. But I thought they couldn’t’ be that expensive, so I called her up. A Russian sounding woman spoke on the phone. It seemed official except for the Mafioso type man yelling at her in the background. After I got past the initial “I hope this doesn’t result in a Russian Mafia hit,” I confirmed the reservation for Sunday morning. I thought I would be clever, and just see how legitimate this service was so I proceeded to call back a day later and change it to Tuesday to see if they really were busy or if they could accomplish their Mafioso type hit on me any day of the week. Sure enough, they switched my reservation immediately…no problem. This was looking suspicions.

As Tuesday approached, I called and texted my roomies in anticipation. I told them we should all be home for the event and make her feel welcome…perhaps we would want her to come back again. I called my mom to tell her the exciting news…She congratulated me and then warned me that if I found her on Craigslist I had to be weary of prostitution rings and that I should not get caught up in one. I reassured her that I could hold my own against a Russian prostitute, but my mom implored me to make sure my other burly roommates were home, in case something went wrong. I told her they would be.

On Tuesday Morning, I felt great. As I took my “last shower” I looked around at my filthy surroundings. I thought to myself, “By tomorrow morning I’m going to be extremely clean.” But as the minutes in the shower passed I started to grow meloncholy and reflective. I started to think about all the good number 2’s I had on that toilet…all the great toothbrushing experiences I had over that disgusting sink. “I’m going to miss this dirty bathroom after all. I couldn’t dwell for long, as I had to get to work.

At work, I thought about what the cleaning woman would say when she saw our apartment…if this would be the dirtiest apartment she had ever come across…if we would have to pay her a sign on bonus just to get in her the door. …eventually the fears subsided and 5 o’clock rolled around. I jetted out of the office with a smooth cool.  I whisked home past the annoying pigeons near the path train, past the homeless people on 34 street, past the pretentious I bankers in midtown, past the real JAP's in Murray Hill, pas the fake JAP's in Midtown east, and finally approached my apartment.  I was 30 minutes early. I had enough time to tidy up to prepare for our cleaning woman. You would have thought Sandra Bullock was coming over for her first public appearance since her breakup….the anticipation in the air was palpable.

 I sat on the couch patiently waiting…6:30 rolled around…no call, then 7, nothing…Hmmm…finally 710…Hello? She called…She was here…but where were my roommates? I couldn’t think about this….I had to let her up…I didn’t care if I got raped….or killed…my apartment was about to be cleaned. I opened the door..there she was  5 foot 1. Average looking. Weathered from the 4 floor walkup. I probably should have given her a piggy back ride…now she has no energy to clean our place.

Now I wasn’t expecting the cleaning service from Trump Towers to show up at my dungy apartment, but I thought she would have some sort of experience and maybe some basic supplies. Sure enough, the Russian Mafia wasn’t lying to me when they said I needed to supply the cleaning woman. When I brought out all of our supplies, she asked me where the cleaning gloves were. I said I assumed you would have those….She said it was my responsibility. Hmmmm this was getting off to a good start. “Well just start with the vacuum and the living room.” She began vacuuming. I put on Keeping up with the Kardashians to lighten the mood. All of a sudden the motor turned off.

Cleaning Woman; “I love this show.”

Aaron; “Yeah, it’s a good show”

CW: “Yeah but I’m Armenian so it has a special place in my heart.”

Oh great, was she going to clean or was she going to be my new reality TV partner?

Aaron; “So how's the vacuum working”

CW;“Oh man, Chloe is the best. She’s so dynamic”

Aaron “Do you need any other supplies.”

CW; “And Kim with that ass”

I thought about changing the channel to a porno to make her uncomfortable but I put on ESPN instead.

CW; “you know this vacuum cleaner doesn’t work well?”

Aaron; “What’s wrong with it”

CW; “I don’t know but it’s not working.”

Well maybe if you brought your own damn supplies over, we wouldn’t have this problem. I wisely just thought this instead of exclaiming it.

I went out to buy gloves for the really prepared cleaning woman. When I came back, she asked me if I wanted her to clean the surfaces in the kitchen. I said, yes. Then she asked me if I wanted her to clean stove top. I thought, isn’t that a surface. She proceeded to clean intermittingly in between asking me if I wanted this cleaned or that cleaned and what kind of cleaning solution she use for each respective service.  What was I paying this woman for? She’s the expert, why is she asking me if she should use Murphy Oil on the floor. This drove me crazy the way a cab driver drives me crazy when he asks me what road  he should take. 

Finally my roomies came home and they inspected the apartment. We all agreed that it looked basically the same as it did before,  but were too scared to say anything for fear of the Russian Mafia that was probably standing outside.

She stayed an extra 30 minutes (talking about the Kardashians) so she was due an extra 15$ then was originally agreed upon. $75 later and one Russian Mafia kill averted, we had our first cleaning woman experience.