John really did throw me when I quoted his house clean.
Even after I tried putting him off by charging him considerably more than my normal rates, he still went for it. He threw me so much that I realised after I’d left I’d totally missed out some of the questions I normally ask prospective customers. The day, Wednesday was arranged but I’d forgotten one of the most important things to arrange – start time. I didn’t even realise I’d missed it until the next day when I was checking my schedule. Anyway, a quick text exchange soon sorted that and I arranged to be at his for between 1pm and 2pm – it would vary, traffic depending, especially as he lived at least half an hour away from Pete’s, who I see first that Wednesday fortnight.
I really wasn’t looking forward to this.
Pulling up outside John’s and my gut starts to clench.
Come on, Carla…it’s going to be fine. He’s just a messy bloke who needs your help.
You can do this.
I take a deep breath.
I grab my caddy from the boot of the car and march up to his door with all the boldness and bluster I can muster.
Please be out, please be out, please be out.
The door opens before I even reach it.
‘Hi Carla,’ says John with a smile. ‘It’s good to see you.’
‘Hi John. You too,’ I lie.
‘Come in, come in,’ he says leaving the door for me to close as I enter. ‘I can’t tell you how glad I am you agreed to do this. My girlfriend is delighted. You come highly recommended you know…’
‘Did you find out who by?’ I ask.
When John and I first spoke on the phone, he told me I’d been recommended to his girlfriend, but he didn’t know who by. He’d said he’d ask her.
‘Oh…sorry,’ he says, his face apologetic. ‘I forgot to ask her.’
‘Never mind,’ I say.
But I do mind.
You see, given that my clientele are mostly male, then it stands to reason that it’s mostly men who do the recommending. And given that if I happen to like them I’m liable to have some extracurricular fun with them, I find I am mostly recommended to their single, male friends. It doesn’t make sense that one of them would recommend me to a woman, unless I’m totally misjudging the situation – but I don’t think I am. However, considering I also work for quite a few couples, couples for whom I am literally just their cleaner. It could have been one of them.
Equally, it might also be that I’m just feeling a bit paranoid for some reason I can’t fathom right now.
‘I wasn’t expecting you to be in…’ I say.
‘Well, I thought that given this was your first time, it would be rude not to at least meet you and make sure you had everything you needed. Don’t worry, I’ll be out of your way shortly – I’ve got a few things to do in town.’
‘Ah okay,’ I say, then add, just to be polite – ‘Well, you won’t be in my way. I can work around you.’
Why the hell am I saying that! I want him out of the way.
‘As I say, I’ve got some things to do in town. Cuppa?’
‘No thanks,’ I say, remembering the dirty mug he gave me last time. ‘I’ve brought my own.’ I point to travel mug in my caddy.
‘That’s very organised,’ he says, sounding impressed.
‘Hey,’ I say. ‘I forgot to ask you the other day, what is it you do?’ I aim at sounding casual and park my caddy in a space on the sideboard and make like I’m getting myself sorted.
Look like you’re not too bothered. Don’t look at him yet.
There’s one of those horrible pregnant pause thingys that seems so long you could play a song in it.
Okay, just a quick glance to show interest.
He’s looking at me intently, as though he’s trying to fathom why I want to know. ‘This and that,’ he says, eventually and light heartedly. ‘A bit of ducking and diving – I guess you could say I’m a modern day Del Boy.’
‘Ah right,’ I say, getting the feeling that I should just leave it at that. I also get the feeling that he won’t be a customer of mine for long. Normally my customers have solid, regular incomes either from working or pensions.
‘Right,’ I say. ‘I normally start in the kitchen, then do the dusting, then the bathroom and finish with vacuuming.’
‘That sounds good to me. I was going to have a cuppa but I’ll get one in town and leave you to it in the kitchen.’
‘How do you want those clothes sorting in your bedroom?’ I ask, thinking back to what an absolute tip it was.
‘I’ll leave that up to you,’ he says. ‘Sort ‘em however you think best. Once you’ve got them sorted into piles I can then decide what to do with them.’ He squeezes past me towards the front door.
‘Fair enough. Is it okay to use the bed in the spare room as somewhere to stack them?’
‘Not really,’ he says. ‘That bed gets used a lot.’
‘Okay, no worries. I was just thinking of creating more space to move.’
‘I’m sure you’ll work it out,’ he says grabbing a black leathe bomber jacket from a hook behind the door. ‘Is there anything else before I go?’
‘Yes. What would you rather I focussed on?’ I ask. ‘I’m only here for two hours and in all honesty I could probably spend all of that in the bedroom, but then nothing else would get done.’
‘Yeah, I see what you mean. Look, give the kitchen and bathroom a quick clean. They can be deep cleaned another day. Do what you can with my bedroom and try and leave enough time to give the place a hoover round.’
I hate it when people do that. Use the word ‘hoover’ instead of vacuum or vacuum cleaner.
‘Okay,’ I say. ‘That sounds like a plan.’
‘Cool. You’ve got your key with you haven’t you?’
‘Yes,’ I say patting my trouser pocket.
‘Good, well, thanks again. See you soon.’
And with that he shuts the door behind him and locks up.
I know it’s weird but once he leaves I suddenly feel like I can breathe easier.
Pay… he hasn’t paid me.
Then I remember, he said he’d leave the money on this set of drawers. There’s an envelope with my name scrawled on it propped up against a fruit bowl containing 3 rather dry looking clementines. A quick check reveals the money is in there so I pocket the envelope, grab my kitchen cleaning gear from the caddy, and head in that direction.
I won’t bore you with the details except to say that after I cleaned both the kitchen and bathroom there were aspects in both I’d really wanted to spend more time on, to get them looking right by my standards. I really don’t like leaving things unfinished – they might be the aspects the customer values more than the areas I choose to work on. I resign myself to the fact that I don’t have much choice and decide to make a start on his bedroom.
As I said in my last post about John, his bedroom looks like the aftermath of a clothes bomb explosion.
Oh, shit… here we go.
But I don’t ‘go’ anywhere. I just stand in the doorway for what seems like an age; I’m utterly overwhelmed without a clue where to start.
Piles. Start making piles. Yes, but where?
His bed is still clear, so that’s the only obvious choice. There is literally no where I can step without standing on something, so I start with the clothes on the floor between me and the bed. I scoop them all up and drop them in a heap on top of John’s Playboy duvet.
Yes, he’s that fucking cheesy.
I sift through the heap using the old fashioned sniff test to determine which are clean and which aren’t. Most of them fail. Underwear is automatically failed by default. When I’ve finished, there are two smaller piles, the largest, all unfiolded, is for the washing machine. The second, smaller pile, all folded, contains a couple of pairs of new jeans and a t-shirt, still with the labels attached, and a few other items that seem clean.
Having made myself a pathway through, I figure now my best option is to start with whatever is closest to me, and slowly work outwards from the bed. Just over an hour after I entered the room, I’ve created a large pile of clothes to be washed and a smaller heap of neatly folded clothes. I’ve got about 20 minutes left and I feel I really ought to get some vacuuming done because the floor is bitty, and a quick run round with the vac will make the whole house look so much better.
I stack the neatly folded pile in the bottom of the empty wardrobe. I run downstairs, grab a couple of bin liners from my caddy, then head back to bedroom and dump all the dirty clothes into them. I cart the two bags downstairs and dump them by the washing machine.
It should be obvious for him to work out that these need washing.
Then I pop out to my car, retrieve my vacuum cleaner from the boot and set about vacuuming his house. By the time I’ve finished the canister is full and I’m ready for a cuppa.
A pit stop at Luigi’s café on the way home is required I think.
And that’s it.
My first stint at John’s, done.
See, I am a really a professional cleaner and not just a cock hungry sex kitten.
Having finished I feel much better.
Maybe my first impression of John and this job was wrong.
Maybe it’s going to be okay after all.