Thursday, May 31, 2012
Several years ago, a friend and I had both made fruitless attempts to get local churches to help with my housework and yard work -- I'm not old enough or disabled enough for government programs, and don't have the right disease to get help from any other charity. A referral to a local religious high school with a service requirement didn't even warrant a call back from the priest in charge.
Nursing homes won't take me: I don't need nursing, I need a cleaning lady. What I really need is assisted living, but I'm not old enough. There simply are no government or charitable programs offering the help I need to someone who's not yet 65 and doesn't have a mainstream disability. (Apparently, I could get lots of help if I were in a wheelchair, but I've worked very hard to stay out of one, thus disqualifying myself from charity assistance.)
Hired cleaners' approach (even when they were aware I was virtually bedridden) was always "I put everything in boxes for YOU to put away!" Which, it develops, included boxing up fresh produce and sticking it in the far corner of the kitchen to rot, rather than putting it in the fridge where it belongs.
About a year ago, I saw evidence of a mouse in the kitchen, clearly drawn by all that food that was in stacked-up boxes rather than safely in Tupperware. I set traps, which he avoided. And I still wasn't finding a cleaner who actually cleaned, rather than putting things in boxes.
An old friend offered to help with the project, but on arrival decided it was more than he could handle alone. He contacted a professional organizer, whose estimate included a hauling company. I'd originally anticipated that they would simply remove all those boxes of now-useless food, but as they started moving boxes, they discovered a whole family of mice, who have been nibbling on everything in the house and basement. After spending $50,000+ over the years on cleaners who don't clean, I'm now spending another $20,000 to have essentially everything but the furniture removed from my house and basement (several of the cleaners having been industrious enough to hide the boxes they filled in the basement so I wouldn't notice that they hadn't actually put anything in the cupboards as instructed).
I'm glad someone's finally getting the boxes out of the house, but I'm not happy with the way it's being done -- I would've spent more time going through them to be sure there's nothing of importance hiding in them, and I did see them carry out at least one item that I would've tried to save.
And after that, will still have to pay Merry Maids several hundred dollars per room to do an "allergy clean" to get rid of the mouse residue. And buy a lot of new stuff to replace what was damaged and disposed of.
Meanwhile, the neighbors seeing all this stuff carried out of my house have assumed the worst, calling me a "hoarder" and "disgusting", and abusing me for "not taking responsibility" for proper upkeep. I've taken responsibility, hiring dozens of people over the years who didn't take responsibility for doing the job right. The fault lies with the employees (all of whom were fired for not doing good work) and not the employer (who paid good money for work that was not done).
For the record, at first, I did check references. One gal received a glowing reference from "a client named Tracy", and while chit-chatting during her first (and only) visit, it slipped out that she had weekend plans with "my best friend, Tracy"; the quality of the work she did proved that the only way she could get a good reference was to have friends and relatives lie for her, in which case, checking references was simply a waste of time. Another, with a resume' that included two hotels and an assisted living facility, did good work while a male friend was at the house, but when it was just us girls, she acted like I was her buddy and refused to take orders from a mere woman. None of the male bosses she gave as references would have known about that attitude. References having been proved deceiving, now I just let them show me what they do.
All this expense now could have been avoided had I been able to find a good, reliable cleaner at some point in the past 12 years. But the ones who showed up reliably didn't clean, and the ones who actually cleaned expected me to call the night before to remind them to come to work the next day, instead of just saying "see you next Tuesday!" as they left.