Mom and the Cleaning Lady

Mom had to fire her cleaning lady two days ago.

To understand how traumatic this was for her, you have to know Mom didn’t work outside of the house when we kids were young. Once we were off to school and adulthood, she still didn’t. She let Daddy handle the “unpleasant” situations — dealing with workers, balancing the checkbook, etc.

I guess it was typical for the times in which they lived.

But it wasn’t practical.

After she and Daddy got up in age, I often cautioned them not to rely on a stereotypical division of chores. If something happens to one of you, I said, the other is going to be left helpless and dependent.

They didn’t listen.

So Mom, with zero hiring and firing experience, employed a lady to clean house. “A” was supposed to arrive by 8:00 o’clock and leave by 11:00, every other Friday. During her interview, “A” told Mom how much she’d charge, and Mom agreed.

The first few times “A” came, she did a fabulous job. She was thorough and fast, didn’t spend a lot of time chit-chatting or drinking coffee, and arrived and left on time.

Mom was thrilled.

But over time, “A” started to slack off. She’d get to Mom’s at 8:30, run a rag over the counters, wipe out sinks and bathtubs, mop the floor and vacuum the rugs. There were entire rooms she never even touched!

And then she’d present her bill and leave by 10:00 a.m.

Did she reduce the amount charged because she was working fewer hours? Nope.

Did Mom feel incensed at paying the same amount and getting less stuff cleaned? You bet.

Now Mom earlier talked to a bunch of women who clued her in to how much cleaning ladies typically charge. She knew “A” was charging quite a bit more; however, she was willing to pay, considering all “A” was doing.

No more.

Mom called “A” and told her she was letting her go. She hemmed and hawed about the reasons, but what she should have told “A” was this:

Clean means different things to different people. What “A” considers clean is something Mom calls “a lick and a promise.” What Mom considers clean is way more than “A” ever bargained for. Mom wants the house to not only look clean and smell clean; she wants it to sparkle and be sanitized, too.

Merely wiping out a bathroom sink doesn’t cut it.

I hope Mom learned a lesson. Next time, maybe she’ll spell out exactly what she expects of a cleaning lady before finding herself having to fire another one.

Anybody have any tips I can pass along to help Mom in her next hiring and firing situation?

6 thoughts on “Mom and the Cleaning Lady

  1. I wish I could help you, but I have never hired someone to clean our house. First of all, they would be horrified at what they saw. Secondly, I can’t get comfortable with the idea of someone else messing with my stuff.

    I think your mom did learn a lesson and should be more specific in her expectations, as you suggested. Good luck to her 🙂

    • I never figured Mom would hire a cleaning lady either. She’s too much like her late sister, who used to clean the house before and after the cleaning lady’s appearance!

  2. Your mom is way ahead of me (I should ask her for advice)…I have had a cleaning lady twice a week for 3 years that does an awful job…I cut her back from 3x and that was traumatic enough. I have her so often because my home business is very hairy. Like A she cuts cornors and hours but she is very pleasant…Lots of people have given me advice but I haven’t followed it yet…I am thinking of letting my mom fire her when she visits this time…or maybe your mom could do it for me???

    • My poor mom agonized so much over firing “A” that I don’t think she’d be up to doing it again! Your mom, on the other hand, seems to have a lot of spit and vinegar, and she’d probably do an excellent job with it! It’s a really hard thing to do when they’re so pleasant. I’d clean it for Mom myself if I had about 40 hours in a day, ha!

    • Me, neither. I’m fortunate to work for (and by) myself, so there’s no need for dealing with “employees.” Looking back, I probably would have done as good a job firing “A” as my mom did, though my words might have been a bit harsher!

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