‘I like everything to be spotless’, she told me as we went into the kitchen.
‘So do I ‘, ‘that’s why I’m so pleased you’re here.’
She looked round enquiringly. ’Best we start in the kitchen, I’ll need time to find my way around.’
Amen to that’ I thought.
‘I’ll leave you to it, then. There’s cleaning gear under the sink just ask if you want anything. I’ll be working in the dining room.’
I left, thinking fond thoughts of my soon to be spotless kitchen.
I’d seized on the opportunity when Julie mentioned to me she was looking for extra work.
She was a cleaner in my office. We didn’t generally move in the same circles but I had fallen into the habit of nodding at her as I went into work in the morning. Usually she could be found having a fag outside.
Time passed. Once in a while Julie would pass through the dining room holding a saucer on her way to the garden. When I glanced outside she could be seen talking tensely, mobile and fag in hand. After all I thought it would be unfair objecting to her fag breaks in my home when I’d never said anything at the office.
‘Would you like a cuppa?’.
I thanked her and in a short while she came back holding two mugs. We went outside and I got the story of her life.
Her mobile bleeped, she gasped ‘Gosh I must run, come and see what I’ve done.’
The kitchen did not appear much different from before. The same dirty dish cloths, the same dirty worktop surfaces cupboard doors with bits of dried food clinging to them. ‘It’ll take me a while to start getting this kitchen the way I want it but we’re on our way’ she said proudly.’
Too stunned to comment I paid her off. What had my money bought?
The washing up was done and stacked neatly. A shiny plastic bowl I’d never seen before stood in the sink. It dawned on me the bowl was mine. Julie had scrubbed it ruthlessly till all the dirt was gone. I’d paid the best part of forty quid to have a makeover done on a two pound bowl.
‘Oh let’s give it one more shot’ I thought. ‘Now she’s got the measure of my kitchen it will go better next time.’
Next week and Julie rang my doorbell again. Now I was boxing clever. The washing up had been done and the plastic bowl was out of harm’s reach on the top cupboard. As she walked in to the kitchen I said ‘I’ll leave you to it, could you do the bathroom as well please.’
‘No problem. I’ll have it all sorted before I leave.’ Again I left her alone while she bustled. Occasionally she went out saucer in hand to the garden. There she stood hissing tensely down a cigarette then tapping her mobile phone. ‘Do you want anything to drink?’ she called from the kitchen.
‘No I’m fine’ I assured her.’ Make yourself something if you’re thirsty.
She asked me for steps. Helpfully I passed her some from under the stairs. Again she bustled about. Hearing her upstairs I thought, ‘Perhaps now the bathroom would be clean as well.’
Lost in contemplation of my shiny new home I didn’t realise the time had passed.
‘I have to go now come and take a look?’ Julie called.
We went up to the bathroom first. There were stains around the sink and tide marks in the bath. ‘I didn’t have much time to do more than tidy the cabinet’ she explained. I said nothing, perhaps the kitchen would make up for everything. Down in the kitchen dried food still clung to the cupboard doors and the oven was as dirty as ever. The kitchen was the same with one addition, the steps in the middle of the floor.
Julie handed me the plastic bowl ‘It was a struggle to get this I can tell you but look – spotless!’