19 March 2010
House Cleaner Mafia?
(Photograph copyright 2010, all rights reserved.)
I guess hindsight is not 20/20. Ok. That's a bad pun, but it fits with the picture AND the situation that my best friend, Mother of the Cool Niece (henceforth to be known as MOCN) called me about on her lunch hour today. I need to give you background, first.
About four years ago, while MOCN was still living across the courtyard from me, she was raving about her cleaning lady. " A goddess", she said, "and she doesn't charge the earth, either!"
So I hired this Cleaning Goddess (henceforth to be known as CG) and, you got it, she was a tornado in the house. The place literally sparkled when she got through with it. Every corner, every crevice, every spot where dirt might accumulate glistened after four hours of her time. She cleaned the TOPS of the shower heads. She vacuumed the baseboards BEHIND the heavy furniture. She dusted the doors, the door frames, the blinds (all we have are wood blinds) and the window frames. In four hours, she could do what I couldn't manage in three days.
The house was so clean it made me slightly nervous. Really, who vacuums baseboards that you can't even see more than twice a YEAR, let alone twice a month? No one I know, because life is just too short to move furniture all the time, right? All this and she adored the cats, too! Plus, she was NICE. A sweet young woman from Poland with permanent resident status, a husband who drove truck (at the time, anyway) and a thoroughly engaging and pleasant person.
MOCN and I recommended her to several people. At one point, she was working for another three or four people in this townhouse complex and everyone agreed that she was a great cleaner with a sterling character who never, ever broke anything. Ever. She came, she cleaned, she got paid, she moved on. Two to three houses a day, five days a week. She made good money. This was a busy lady, as you can understand. Anyone who does work that good can write their own ticket in this town.
Alas, as always seems to happen with young married women.... the CG got pregnant. Sigh. She worked until her fifth month, but had to quit because she just couldn't manage the lifting any more. She recommended a friend, I told her that she was welcome to come back whenever she was ready and that was the end of it. I didn't go to the shower, but I did order a car seat off her registry. This was last spring. By my reckoning, she's had about ten or eleven months off by now.
I ended up firing the lady that was recommended because she just wasn't doing a good enough job. For the same money that the CG was charging, the new lady made the house look like, well, like I did it myself. It just wasn't worth it to have her come in twice a month to do what I do every week, right? Again, I thought nothing of it and resigned myself to doing my own dusting and toilet scrubbing and waiting for the CG to come back to work.
So. We come to today. MOCN called me on her lunch hour with her ethical dilemma. The CG's recommendation for MOCN's house worked out extremely well. Almost as good as the CG herself, so MOCN kept her and paid her exactly what she'd been paying before.
MOCN doesn't generally manage to get home during the day. Even though her office is walking distance from her house, her job has her driving all over the city most of the time, so when it's cleaning day, she leaves the cash for the cleaner on the kitchen counter and comes home to a clean house. It works well for her. Today, though, MOCN had to go home for a few minutes to pick something up and the current cleaning lady was just finishing. They chatted and MOCN found out that the CG not only has no intention of coming back to work, she was taking a THIRD of the wages away from MOCN's cleaner and all of the other ladies that she'd recommended when she went on "maternity leave". The poor girl was terrified and BEGGED MOCN not to tell the CG what had been going on.
It seems that the "sweet, lovely" CG was taking a third of the wages of ALL of the women that she said were "substituting" for her while she was on maternity leave! For almost a full year! How's that for a sweet deal? I suspect that she's making at least what she was making before, because her substitutes have to have found other clients on their own during that time and CG is taking a third of THAT money, too! MOCN was furious. Hopping mad. So mad that she fired the cleaner on the spot.
So, you must know what the dilemma is by now. What should MOCN do? The cleaner she fired didn't do anything wrong, and she needs the income from her cleaning jobs, including MOCNs. Then again, like MOCN told me this afternoon, she's damned if she's paying some racketeering, lazy-assed, slimeball for work that she's not doing! Now, I know some of you are thinking this already - it's not fair to the current cleaner, right? Why should she be victimized twice? First she's being extorted, then she gets fired. Hardly fair. If I could get the girl to go along with it, I would call the CG and tell her the girl was fired. Then I would let the cleaner know that she was off the hook with the CG and she could just keep cleaning my house and keeping the money.
It would be tempting to do it that way, but I don't think I'd go for it right away. The burning question in my mind is, "Why is that girl so scared that the CG will find out that her nasty little secret is out?"