The Real Housekeepers of Atlanta

I remember how quickly I fell in love with the city of Atlanta. As a first time visitor in 1999, it was like no other place I’d ever seen or lived in before. There was so much glitz and glamor at every turn. When I stepped outside of the doors of my friend’s apartment, opulence confronted me at every corner. To my right a sleek BMW would whiz by and toned blonds were perpetually jogging on the sides of busy roads. No one jogs in Ohio. The apartments nestled in the environs of Sandy Springs and Buckhead were enormous and sat on well-manicured landscapes.  The very expanse of the homes on New Northside Dr. took my very breath away. I’m giddy even as I recollect the emotions accompanied with those memories  now.

It was quickly decided that the moment I graduated from university I would be moving to this bustling southern metropolis. Armed with a bachelor’s degree and a positive attitude, I was ready to take on Atlanta. After weeks of searching and failing to land a job in my chosen field (the one I’d paid $60,000+ for),  I finally got a gig as an office admin earning $25K per annum… but I was CERTAIN that within a year, I too would join Atlanta’s growing elite society and cement my place as one of the city’s nouveau riche.

That was 12 years ago.

And while I haven’t gotten the keys to one of those luxury vehicles that dot any given Peachtree Road, I have at least traded my MARTA pass for a car with some air-conditioning and decent tires. (That took some doing, trust me.)

A myriad of unforeseen circumstances have led me to the state in which I find myself today, including the loss of that $25K job, which evaporated after the dotcom bubble burst. I was informed that by all who loved me that this was a blessing in disguise, and that I was too “smart” for that job anyway. I took solace in the utterances of my sympathizers, bouncing from one failed company to the next…all the while comforting myself with the ‘truth’ that I was too smart for those enterprises anyway! The irony today is that now I find myself employed in an occupation that requires little intellect at all. It requires little more than a steady pulse and a sturdy back, really. How smart do you have to be to mop a floor? You see, I am now one of Atlanta’s Housekeepers: A silent, mobile force that keeps this metropolis from falling into utter ruin, one toilet brush stroke at a time.

No one thinks about a housekeeper until it’s too late. When there’s tomato sauce embedded into the very fibers of a carpet, or the shower floor is so encrusted with filth that one is never sure what the original color of said floor was in the first place; that’s when we get called in. For some odd and amusing reason, most customers think that a housekeeper can wave her scrubbing wand and make 3 years’ worth of dirt disappear in 30 minutes. It just doesn’t happen that way. To make it analogous to the times, it’s very much akin to asking Barack Obama to fix 10 years’ worth of economic damage in 3. You’re just being set up for failure!

However unlike the president, I don’t blame the homeowner/predecessor for letting their home fall into such disrepair… but I do talk about them. And badly if they give me cause to. No, no! I would never say anything disparaging about their revolting ways to their face…that’s what this new series is for. It’s my personal reward for all the hard work I do in this unrewarding job that I’ve willingly taken on.

The common thread that binds all Atlantans is that behind the glitz, glamour and bling, most of these people are NASTY. And the nastiness traverses all income brackets – from the millionaire next door to the impoverished hoarder two streets over. This series is not meant to discuss the filthy conditions in which I often find myself (although there will be plenty of that to regale you with), but rather to imagine the life of these people based on their actions in those brief moments I share with them in the most intimate of settings: their home. How and what a person keeps in their house is more telling of their personality and lifestyle than any word they will ever speak. The condition of a person’s house will always provide constancy or betray the words and deeds of that individual. Cleaning houses is like a daily endeavor in crime scene analysis and psychology. Maybe I AM smart enough to do this after all!

And so here it is MOM Squad. As David S so aptly put it a few weeks ago, I’ve gone from “writing about The Hue Violet to living it.” I never knew how true his words would ring. I’ve gone from pursuing living my life in an expansive house to cleaning them for a living. Oh dear God, what a sense of humor you have.

 These are the tales of a merry band of maids, just trying to scratch out a living in the Hollywood of the South. I bring you the tales of the Real Housekeepers of Atlanta.

#RHKOA

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14 thoughts on “The Real Housekeepers of Atlanta

  1. Winnie

    Malaka.. since I have no other way of contacting you, I resort to asking this totally unrelated question on this thread.. Remember the time you posted about your pipe dream, and I suggested we go in on it together? Well, you probably don’t, but you mentioned something about going across Africa and teaching girls how to write. What if I told you that that could happen? At least vicariously ….Please shoot me an email arthurw@u. Oh you can delete this comment after you see it

  2. chris haston

    Malaka I have to say I am just as excited to read this as all of your previous post. You are a wordsmith and a spinner of tales. I sit cross-legged on the floor awaiting your next tale.

    1. Malaka Post author

      Well Chris, you do me great honor with your words! This coming from the man who created Thunderclap the Terrible. I’m humbled.

  3. Andrew

    You give a name, face, personality too…to the people who clean our homes. Thanks. Perhaps pedantic, I find the word ‘maid’ a bit crass today…I prefer househelp…or merry band of housekeepers 🙂

    1. Malaka Post author

      The day I was called a maid I almost died inside. But I came to accept it. If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig, abi?

      Yes, I must give voice to my brothers and sisters in the struggle! We can’t all be lawyers, can we ? 😉 Good to hear from you again man!

      1. Andrew

        Haha…touche. But we all can’t live in Atlanta either. 😉 Slowly catching up on my MoM fixes as I settle back home

  4. Timmy

    I symphatize with you about the “nastiness” of some wealthy people. I have a wealthy cousin whose hired help has shaken their heads at the filthly condiiton of his bathroom. I don’t think he cares one whit what they think, he seems to disregard his household employees(it’s sad).

    1. Malaka Post author

      Here’s the thing: Most of our clients aren’t wealthy. They are middle income blue collar workers who keep filthy homes. Our rates are low enough that anyone can afford our service. I should be sure to make that clear in the future.

      I’m convinced that if you don’t keep a clean house you neither love God nor yourself. How can you be blessed with a home and just trash it?!

      1. Timmy

        I agree with you about how could you have a “home and trash it”. I think someone people just take homeownership for granted. You would think that people would clean up their houses before having anyone step into their homes, just out of pride.

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