Saturday, October 2, 2010

The post in which I rave about my housekeeper...

I really will get around to a long post about Cairo, but for now I need to talk about something else. 

I have never been much for household chores.  My parents tried for years to get me to help out around the house, clean my room, empty the dishwasher, pick blueberries, etc. - all to no avail.  (Mom, here's where you can insert something about this being the understatement of all time.)  I absolutely loathe cleaning and often genuinely don't notice if something needs to be cleaned.  Vacuuming is one of my greatest downfalls.  Houseplants wilt at the thought of me taking care of them.  With the one exception being the orchid I nurtured somehow kept alive despite forgetting to water it for weeks (months) at a time for a year and a half.  It didn't die in the end, either.  I couldn't bring it with me to Saudi and so passed it along to a friend/neighbor.  Cleaning (and gardening for that matter) are not my strong suits.  A friend and I once lived in a furnished house for about three months before realizing there was a 5' potted tree in our dining room.  And it was discovered then only because it started dying and its dried leaves fell on the floor.  And even then my roommate noticed it, not me.  When it comes to household chores, I'm blissfully unaware. 

All last year in DC I had weekly housekeeping by a rotation of overworked and busy women.  It was such a relief to come home on Mondays to a clean apartment, a gleaming kitchen, freshly laundered linens and towels, and a confused dog.  (For some reason many of the housekeeping staff thought Hattie's chewed, ratty stuffed toys were mine, and they consistently ended up placed neatly among the pillows on my bed.) 

When I lived in Thailand a number of years ago, I had someone do my laundry (wash, dry, iron, fold; door-to-door service) for the small sum of $5 a month.  I thought that was luxury (especially since my roommate was slightly OCD and cleaned the room 2-3 times daily, thus relieving me of any responsibility).  But both of these together pale in comparison to the gem of a housekeeper I've found here.

So it's on this backdrop that I will rave about my newly hired housekeeper.  Some people are wary of hiring domestic help.  I have no such qualms.  It was always in the back of my mind as a bidding strategy, but I have now elevated it to a top priority.  (Translation:  I will bid more competitively for posts where domestic help is widely available, acceptable, and affordable.)

This particular woman was referred to me by a departing colleague, billed as a combination housekeeper/cat sitter.  My colleague told me she trusted S completely with her home and her cats, and that was quite a good reference.  So I got in touch with S, she came by for a visit and immediately took to my cats, and it was a match!  For logistical/scheduling reasons, S started last week while I was in Cairo.  She normally is slated to come twice a week, but when I'm away she'll come by each day to look after the cats. 

I came home yesterday to a masterpiece.  I hadn't yet truly unpacked from moving in (more on that later, once things are settled on that front), and I still had boxes and piles and even a suitcase lying around.  I left S a note telling her to ignore these piles.  She ignored me.  Wow.  Everything is unpacked, put away (logically and with great care), and my apartment is spotless and gleaming.  Plus, my cats couldn't be happier.  Sure, they were excited to cuddle and trip me when I returned, but it was obvious they had barely noticed my absence.  My house is fully stocked with cleaning materials, with receipts and exact change from the money I'd left for this purpose.  My kitchen had been organized, my bathroom, the cat's room, my room.  I was stunned and excited. 

But it gets better.

I passed S coming in as I was headed to work today (her regular day to clean).  I told her how fabulous a job she'd done and that I'd just messed everything up by partly unpacking.  I felt guilty and told her to just ignore my piles of clothes and half-empty suitcases.  She told me she would. 

Needless to say, I got home tonight to find an apartment even more spotless and glowing than yesterday.  I don't know how she did it.  My foyer is cleared out (it was previously full of boxes of dog toys); she noticed that these boxes didn't really need to be unpacked just yet.  My laundry is all done - not just my dirty laundry, but ALL my laundry.  Whether it was clean or dirty before, it is now all clean, dry, ironed, and folded.  And the drawers are organized.  Plus S noticed my washer and dryer aren't functioning properly (I hadn't noticed).  So she called maintenance; they're already half done fixing them.  My suitcases are unpacked and put away, as is everything else.  My shoes have been put away in the closet; my purses are neatly displayed on shelves in the closet.  The few household decor items I had with me in suitcases are displayed. 

What is so amazing to me is that, with only a couple exceptions, everything is put away exactly where I'd envisioned putting it.  Not only is S a magnificent woman and housekeeper and cat wrangler, she's a mind reader.  I've hit the jackpot.  I'm also very glad I agreed to a slightly higher salary than some of my colleagues pay their housekeepers, because she's worth every penny.  And much more. 

So I'm just wandering around tonight in awe.  It's a great feeling.  And I'm spoiled for life.  S is more than I could have ever hoped for in a housekeeper.  And I just had to share (gloat?).  So thanks for listening.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cairo Teaser

I just got home from Cairo a couple of hours ago (amazing and wonderful trip) and am working on a blog about my adventures. That will take a little while, as I have other pressing matters (like unpacking and going to work tomorrow), but I wanted to post a few photos in advance...  (these are out of order and uncaptioned, because I still am not good with the pic-adding feature of this editor.)