Although I am no longer a Real Housekeeper, I still have an arsenal of stories left untold. According to @msmartei on Twitter, there is at least one person who wants to hear the scoop on ATLien poop. So this one’s for you, my friend. (And I mean friend as in ‘friend’ and not at all in Joe Biden’s villainous definition.)
Atlanta’s place in the Civil Right’s struggle is firmly cemented in history. If you asked the average person to conjure three cities that impacted Civil Rights, they’d mention Washington DC, Selma, AL and Atlanta – no mention of state required.
Many people suffered under the oppressive thumb of discrimination in years gone past. Jews, Asians and Negros (as we called ourselves in those days) were subject to various manner of social injustice, depending on their race and ethnicity. However, recognizing injustice anywhere was injustice everywhere, some of our forebearers banded together to demand equal rights, and they got them! All these races learned the incredible power of unity…until there was nothing left to fight for. We each then went our segregated ways and eventually began to look at the other with disdain and suspicion. As a new resident to this city, I have tried to live my life as an Atlanta transplant without a racial chip on my shoulder; but I can only imagine that this history was why Deepthi treated us as she did when we got to her home.
It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and Samira and I were already spent. We had expended at lot of energy cleaning the house of a woman who declared that her kids “would never remember if they lived in a clean house or not, but they WOULD remember that she was a fun mom who was at all her baseball games.” I found the carcass of a petrified moth stuck to a blanket in her foyer. You can imagine the state of the rest of the house. So needless to say, by the time we arrived at Deepthu Singh’s townhouse in Alpharetta, I was somewhat ‘sensitive.’
As was our custom, Samira and I crossed ourselves and prayed before we entered the Indian woman’s house. Ever since that incident with the woman rolling her eyes back and following another team around while chanting, I was taking no chances. A slender, hawkish woman opened the door. She had an interesting face and jet black hair that was damp with water. The noonday rays danced off the aqua blue kurta that fell just below her knees. I was almost blinded by gold bangles that covered her wrists. We arrived at her door at 11:49 am. The appointment was for 12 noon.
“Yes?” she whispered, blocking the door with her thin frame.
“Hi…we’re with Spic n’ Span Cleaning hands,” I answered. “We just called you from the gate?”
“Yes,” she said breathlessly.
“May we come in?”
Deepthi stood to the side without another word. This was becoming more awkward with every passing moment. Samira piped up and asked her for a copy of her voucher to determine what service she was getting.
“I don’t have it printed out, but I can show it to you,” Deepthi offered.
We said that would be fine. It said that she could get up to 3,000 square feet cleaned, which included 4 bathrooms and any 6 rooms of her choice. We were to clean for a maximum of 3 hours. Fortunately, Deepthi and her husband only had a 3 bedroom townhouse with 2 ½ baths. With her living room, dining room and kitchen, that made up the entire 6 rooms. She bullied us into mopping her laundry room since we could not clean her back porch, which we decided to do for the sake of customer service. Still, it wouldn’t take us long at all. We went over the terms before we began cleaning.
“Actually, I would like to add a room to the service,” she informed us. “We have my in-laws coming into town and I want my porch cleaned.”
That wasn’t a problem. It’d been done before. The only problem was Deepthi didn’t HAVE a porch. She had a slab of concrete with two chairs nestled on the surface. Her A/C unit hummed noisily in the corner…and it was dripping rusty water onto the concrete. She wanted us to scrub it.
“I’m afraid we don’t have the materials to do that,” I said apologetically.
Actually, I wasn’t sorry at all. This woman was off her rocker if she thought I was going to scrub her back porch! Samira was breathing heavily. I shot her a look, begging her to calm down.
“Oh, I have something you can use to clean it with,” Deepthi said brightly.
She led us to her laundry room and pointed to a soft bristled broom and mop.
“I really need you guys to get those stains up,” she implored like a damsel in distress.
She was nuts…and clearly had never cleaned a day in her life.
“This is concrete,” I said emphatically. “You really can’t get rust stains out of it unless you have an industrial broom and some heavy duty scouring powder.”
We spent another 5 minutes discussing it until she finally admitted to herself that it wasn’t going to work. Next we discussed her hardwood floors.
At this time, we were still using the horrendous bottle of blue Pledge, although we had no idea that it was leaving streaks. She said it would be fine: she was not too particular about her floors…although she WOULD like to see it tested in a corner before we mopped the whole thing.
Of course, we obliged.
Finally she led us to the steps leading up to the second landing. I noticed that she took off her slippers and asked if she needed us to remover our shoes as well.
“Yes, please,” she said vehemently. “My husband is very particular about the carpet. Me, not so much, but he is.”
Samira and I smiled knowingly. Those dastardly husbands and their affinity for clean carpets! As it turned out, the carpet should have been the very least of his concerns; that repulsive bathroom should.
As Deepthi led us into the brown tiled room I felt a shiver run up the length of my calf to the nape of my neck. The floor was sopping wet and there was hair, mold, toothpaste and soap scum everywhere.
“I’ll move my perfumes and other bottles before you start cleaning,” Deepthi offered.
I forced a smile. Samira looked like she wanted to throw something. I couldn’t blame her.
Deepthi went to her laptop and then stood at the door as is remembering something.
“Oh! I also want you guys to clean my fridge before you go,” she said in that whispering voice I had so quickly come to despise.
“Cleaning your fridge is not part of the service you purchased,” I warned her. “It will cost an extra $25 to add on a service.”
She seemed heartbroken. A whole $25!
“But it’s not that dirty,” she gasped desperately. “All you have to do is wipe it out. My husband and I cleaned it just last week!”
I understood that. But it was still going to be $25. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity spent haggling over the issue, I made her an offer. She could substitute one of the other rooms in the house in exchange for the fridge. She looked at the spare bedroom which was overflowing with her husband’s trousers and suitcases. It was not a high priority. She only wanted it vacuumed, but she wasn’t sure. She said she would get back to us when she’d made a decision. I looked at her suspiciously. Being from Africa, I’ve seen this trick many times. She was going to get “busy” doing something else while we cleaned all the rooms and say she “forgot” to get back to us about the fridge and ask us to do the fridge anyway. You wait and see!
In the meantime, Samira had gone downstairs to retrieve our shoes.
“Ain’t no way I’m standing in this here shower barefoot,” she growled.
I looked down and almost crapped my pants. The shower floor was a mashed mix of pitch black and dirt brown. An avalanche of shampoo bottles came tumbling down when Samira tried to clear the shelf surface. I turned my attention to the tub, which was besotted with hair and slimy soap. I won’t even go into what I encountered in the toilet.
Deepthi didn’t keep her promise to remove any of her precious bottles. I spent a great deal of time deciphering what was to be kept and what was to be thrown away. A pair of old contacts lined with dust. Long used samples of lotion squeezed till the packet was unrecognizable. Dull, rusty razor blades stuffed with facial and/or pubic hair. Junk, junk, junk! I was not going to be accused of throwing anything precious away. I scrubbed the counters and dutifully placed everything back.
Samira was still working on the malodorous shower when I left to tackle the other bathroom. All the drains were clogged with hair. I was miserable – absolutely miserable. Meanwhile, Deepthi sat in her room on an “important call”…that is until I entered the domain where her in-laws would be staying. She instantly materialized.
“I need special care in this room,” she cautioned. “Everything must be perfect.”
I understood completely. No one wants to be berated by their in-laws. I made sure the blinds were properly dusted and the furniture well-polished. I wasn’t ready for what Deepthi asked me to do next.
“Hey! Can you hang these lamps?”
“Oh it’s very easy!” she said quickly. “Just move the bed and plug it in from the back.”
I sighed and obliged. Then I noticed she was quizzically looking at the headboard.
“Hey! Did you polish this?”
(For the record, I don’t like being referred to as ‘hey’.)
“Yes, I did,” I shot back, my patience wearing thin. “But you have some sort of wax on there they I can’t dig out.”
“Keep trying,” she instructed. “Please.”
I was gobsmacked. When she left I grabbed some Windex and sprayed the surface angrily, not caring one iota if it stripped her varnish. It got the wax (or whatever it was) out though!
Finally it was time to move downstairs where Samira had already done the half bath and laundry room. I moved into the kitchen and looked around. My wits abandoned me. There was curry everywhere. In the sink, on the granite counters, fused into every crevice of the stove! I sprayed Easy Off cleaner on the stove and tackled the sink. 10 laborious minutes later and it was gleaming. The stove was not to be conquered so easily. I ended up removing a layer of coating just get it clean.
Deepthi had followed us downstairs, just to make sure we weren’t stealing, I was sure. There was nothing I wanted out of her house. Even the air had become despicable to me. I had long cleaned the spare room upstairs, and she knew that. I waited to see if my suspicions about her cheap a** were right.
“Hey, do you think you can do the fridge now?”
“I already vacuumed and dusted the other room upstairs,” I said tersely. “You never said which you wanted done.”
“Oh, oh! I forgot,” she said, feigning absent mindedness.
“But can you still clean it?”
I reminded her it was going to cost her $25. When she started prattling on about whatever nonsense she was talking, I stopped her and said I would give it a quick wipe down. But I was NOT cleaning it.
Samira quickly finished dusting and began mopping the floors. She was irritated and I was flat out angry. This woman was trying to take advantage of us in any way she could and it was making me feel cheap. Like slavery cheap. Then, she dealt us the final, tawdry blow.
“You guys say that you are finished cleaning, but it has not been 3 hours.”
“Excuse me?” I was confounded. “It’s 2:50. We’ve been here longer than 3 hours!”
“No, no,” she asserted. “You began at 12:00. I still have 10 more minutes.”
I didn’t curse her out. I didn’t say anything at all. I began grabbing cleaning items, and Samira mopped the same spot for another 10 minutes.
Think Deepthi left a tip? I’ll spit on your shoes if you say yes.