Sticky Fingered Help

The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. ~John Powell

In the ongoing search to find appropriate light housecleaning services for my aging mom, I’ve just about come to the conclusion it would be easier to strap wings to a pig’s back and watch him fly.

Over the past few years, Mom’s had a few “girls” in to clean. Mop the floors, dust, vacuum, sanitize bathrooms, and so forth. Nothing like what we kids had to do when I was young — haul the mattresses outside to air, hang out the upper story windows to clean them, or remove little fingerprints from the walls with ammonia.

Some helpers have been acceptable. Kind-hearted souls who gladly let Mom push them around.

Others? Not so much.

The last one was by far the worst.

Iris (name changed to protect the guilty) was fast. And she didn’t spend time chatting on her phone. Nor did she charge much. But that’s where the positives end.

It started innocently enough. Mom told me she was missing a dollar bill from an envelope.

“Could Iris have taken it?” she wondered.

Truthfully, I wondered if Mom was confused over just how many bills had been in that envelope, although Mom has never been flippant with cash.

So Mom decided to set a trap. The next week, she left a dollar where Iris was sure to see it, and once again, the dollar was gone when Iris left.

Mom still wasn’t convinced … until she found an empty bottle that should have contained painkillers.

Heavy-duty, controlled substance pills Mom’s doctor had prescribed after her shoulder replacement surgery.

I hit the roof. “Don’t let her back in this house!” I demanded. “Why lock our doors if we’re going to invite people in to steal from us?”

Still, Mom was wavering, until one of her neighbors (who also employed Iris) confessed she, too, had a bottle of painkillers turn up missing. And she had three twenty-dollar bills lifted right from her purse.

When I told Domer, he laughed. “What did you expect, living in a small town better known for meth than its work ethic?” he said.

The little imp is right, I guess. So the search continues.

Any suggestions on hiring good help??

23 thoughts on “Sticky Fingered Help

  1. Oh dear, I hope you find someone! We went through the process of trying to find soemone to help my mum too in her later years, thankfully without the theft scenario, but some of them just didn’t want to actually do the work, or even take the time to be pleasant. But eventually we got someone through a friend of a friend who turned out to be wonderful – she actually became a real friend to my mother, regularly just phoning her to see if all was well or if she wanted anything from the store and so on. Haha! At times, I almost got to the point of being jealous at my mum’s new ‘daughter’, but she was fantastic, and getting to know her, and hearing all the stories about her kids too, gave my mum a whole new interest at a point when her life had become very restricted to just family… Stick with it – the right person will be out there somewhere… 🙂

    • The help you found for your mom sounds ideal, FF, and I know that’s the sort of person hard to find. The people in Mom’s age group who have good helpers are quite close-mouthed about them (for fear, I guess, of having them “stolen away”!) Yet as those seniors pass on, or move to warmer climates or nursing homes, one would think their left-behind helpers would gladly take on another client. We’ll just have to keep searching!

  2. OMG Debbie, like you, I would have hit the roof and been equally upset if this had happened to a family member, or even a close friend. That’s horrible! Don’t these agencies do a background check on the people they hire BEFORE they hire them?
    I hope you and others have reported that woman to the cleaning service so that she can’t do this to anyone else in the future.

    One of my longtime blogging friends from the UK just recently hired someone to help her with household cleaning and outside work as well. She previously went through several agencies and found some good….some not so good. However, she was very lucky recently and found the perfect person. It just so happened that someone left one of their self-employed cleaning service brochures outside her front door one day, and after interviewing the woman, she decided to hire her for the job because something just felt “right” about the woman. She’s been very happy with her services!

    Keep at it, my friend. There has got to be someone out there that’s both good at their work and honest.

    Have a great rest of your week!

    P.S. Love the quote you shared!

    • Well, Ron, “Iris” wasn’t working for an agency. Mom found her through an acquaintance, who used her without incident (or so she claimed). Iris was highly recommended and, like I said, she was fast. Looking back, she probably was just trying to escape without Mom realizing she’d been robbed!!

      Sad to say, we still can’t prove Iris took the cash or the medicine. I imagine the police would like to get folks like her behind bars (especially if she’s “reselling” prescription meds). Thefts like this are probably more common than one would expect.

      I suspect an agency — with licensed, bonded employees — might be a better solution, even if it costs more.

      Enjoy the rest of your week, my friend! xx

  3. I have the cleaning lady who does not clean. She has been with us 11 years. However, she loves us,appreciates her job and is completely dependable and trustworthy. And she loves dogs—so what if the floor is never as clean as I’d like or anything else. Cole says when I die he is firing her. He’ll have to because I never will.
    We had live in help while I was growing up. I was taught to always be courtesy and kind but never to get attached to “the help” or think of them as family. I broke this rule. Next time, I’ll go with a service that takes responsibility for giving directions and screening someone.
    I had my house “deep cleaned” the first week in January and OMG it was the best. Floors, baseboards, inside cabinets….or as Cole put it, “I hired someone else to clean for the cleaning lady.” Not true, she could never of accomplished what this crewing accomplished (3 women). Worth every cent. I googled the service and checked out their Yelp reviews. I also liked how they talked with me on the phone and followed up. So, this is a long way of saying…service may be the way to go.
    I use Craigslist for outside jobs, paying a little low but bonusing for a great job. I try never to use the same person more than 1x (see above) but I did find a super guy that can text when I need him. He does yard work, cleans the inside of our car, shovels snow…I’ve never been burned by posting a gig and hiring someone on Craigslist. But I’ve never hired a cleaning lady this way. I know a lot of people who have.
    VIckie, I found on a forum (Chitwit—remember business forums?) to gift wrap for me back when I was overwhelmed with campers at Christmas, and had a small kid to make Christmas magical for. Dearly Departed Joe’s very large family engaged in competitive gift wrapping. It was clear after the first year, I was coming in dead last. Or worse. Joe thought I was nuts for caring. I did. I was younger. So I hired Vickie and well….She is the best thing that ever happened to our family. Unfortunately after 12 years she found a “real job” that offers health care, and some other benefits we can’t offer right now. She is as heartbroken as we are. It’s a long story (including her husband dying 6 months after Joe and hospital bills and a mortgage….) I am still reeling from not having her with us….and need to find someone—but talk about a tough hire. If you have any ideas….I’m all ears. BTW I broke the attachment rule on this one big time. She promises to come back. I tear up thinking about it.
    Sigh. Aren’t you glad you asked. 😀

    • Cole sounds just like Domer! He’s told his grandma countless times to fire all the cleaning help, as well as advised her NOT to clean before the help arrives.

      You’re fortunate to have good help, no matter where or how you found it. I’m not brave enough to try Craigslist. I’ve heard too many horror stories. That’s why Mom would prefer hiring somebody who’s recommended by somebody she knows. I’m leaning toward a service myself. I think, even if you have to pay a bit more, it might be worth peace of mind to have somebody bonded, somebody that a higher-up is responsible for. I don’t know. It’s just a real problem. I’ve known folks in Mom’s age group who say they have “wonderful” help; I’ve known others who can’t seem to buy good help.

      I can’t believe you’re losing Vickie. I’m sure she’s as reluctant to leave as you are to see her go. Good luck with hiring somebody — and if you learn of a new service, let me know!

    • Thanks so much, Audrey. As they say, Old age isn’t for sissies … nor for sissy-ish relatives! As people are living longer these days, somebody will have to come up with a way to care for those of them who choose to remain at home, rather than going to an institution. I’ll be glad for your prayers, my friend!

  4. Oh, my. Your comment about “spare time’ just got clarified. I didn’t realize that your mom still is with you, or that you’re coping with some of the same problems i had back in the day.

    Finding good help is really hard. Heck, I’ve been looking for a really good pet sitter for years. But a good housekeeper/cleaner is even harder: which is to say, nearly impossible. We never had to deal with theft, but we certainly did have problems with finding someone who’d meet even minimum standards. I mean — I’m no housekeeper, but even I was better than the ones we found.

    I wouldn’t trust anyone from Craig’s List, etc. We have about a story a week on the news about bad things happening for people who go that route for anything. Have you thought about contacting any of the churches in your area, to see if they know of someone? A friend who was recovering from a smashed knee found a woman who worked part time at a local church, and who was happy to have a few more hours every week. She not only cleaned, she would make short runs to the grocery, or pick up prescriptions — that kind of thing.

    I hope you can sort it out. It can be a problem — and after the thefts, I’d keep that one out of my house. Be sure and give a won’t-make-her-mad reason, too: like, you’ve decided you want to do it yourself. You don’t want to irritate her. 🙂

    • You caught that, huh? Yes, it’s been a real challenge, living with a senior parent and a senior dog. Kind of like an old folks’ home at times!

      I keep things as tidy as I can, with my schedule, but being a nit-picky Virgo means things are never as tidy as I’d like! Mom’s had some good cleaning ladies, all of whom aren’t cleaning anymore. Some developed physical problems, others got a real paying job, with benefits. The ones who seem the most likely candidates already work for other people, who basically refuse to share them. Going through the church is a great suggestion, thanks! Mom has checked with our church, but perhaps she needs to extend her net to some of the other denominations in town.

      You’re right about Iris, too. Since she didn’t work for Mom that long, we don’t know much about her … or her family. Anybody who’d steal prescription drugs from TWO houses can’t be up to any good!!

  5. Debbie, I had to chuckle about your description of housekeeping in the “good old days.” I got a taste of that also, lol. On the serious front, it’s a huge predicament, and one that I have had to confront. I have ended up having to take it on myself so I have a really long work week. I hope you find a good person. Our town also has a huge meth problem. Keep your chin up.

    • Glad to hear I’m not the only one riding the Struggle Bus over this issue, Lana (though I refuse to tackle the work myself, for lack of time). You’d think some enterprising individual would start a business offering such services, at a reasonable cost, with licensed employees. As for the meth problem, that’s a real nasty mess, isn’t it?!

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