I have been reading a lot of ultra rich Manhattan mommy internet forums to prep for a Chick Lit novel I’m writing. To be clear this is research, I am not reading it just because it’s funny. That would be a terrible waste of time and weird.
This question caught my eye and I immediately thought that I’d like to hear your response to it: “Is it ok to ask the housekeeper not to talk to me until 10AM?“. What do you think, Mole?
Growing up we never had a housekeeper, but then again we weren’t ultra rich: we were ultra middle class in that Chef Boyardee for lunch, Canadian Tire for all your outdoor needs kind of way. We did, however, have a cleaning lady who came every Thursday. I remember this because my mother was always cleaning on Wednesday. Our cleaning lady’s name was Mrs. Brewer and she came from an even smaller town than where we lived, so small that it had the name “Corner” in it. She was wide and carried her girth like a man, except she wore tight fitting dresses and flesh-coloured pantyhose. Her head was all sparse curls and thick glasses.
My parents always had the radio station set to the CBC, but not when Mrs. Brewer came over. My father tuned into the country radio station, just for Mrs. Brewer, as if we listened to it all the time. She would talk about how much she loved Stacey’s Country Jamboree and my father would nod obligingly as if he grew up loving them and the Mighty Sparrow.
When she cleaned, she used a basin full of hot water and vinegar and a brush. She always needed help carrying the basin and then she would set it beside her and start scrubbing in a slow, circular motion as if she were atoning for her sins. I don’t think it was particularly effective, but it was something to see.
I’d come home for lunch and find Mrs. Brewer sitting at the table across from me. My mother insisted that we eat together. I hated it. I couldn’t bring myself to talk to her about Jesus or the Pentecostal revival up in her “Corner” of the world so I’d just fixate on the small crucifix nestled in the folds of her neck. She said grace before eating and my mother would make sure I bowed my head. And then she would crumple about 20 soda crackers into her soup and I would watch and lose my appetite.
She always put in a full day, and then my father would come home from work and drop her off at the bus station to go back home. So, what I remember is that even though she was supposed to be our cleaning lady, Mrs. Brewer was a guest in our home. Someone we went pretty much all out for. Did she clean well? Nope, not particularly, but she had a presence.
I can’t even wrap my head around people who could even think of asking their housekeepers “please don’t talk to me before 10:00 a.m.” They just sound like people I would never want to know.
My mother always cleaned before and after Mrs. Brewer came, but looking back, I don’t think I’d want it any other way.