Thursday, January 14, 2010
My Cleaning Lady is Insane
Few of my readers are familiar with the exploits of Nelly, the cleaning lady whose team has been coming to our home since 2006. For those of you who don't remember my passing description of her last summer, Nelly is a good-natured woman who, perhaps in the hope of assisting our family in becoming more efficiently organized, rearranges our personal possessions with such zest that following her first visits we were unable to locate anything.
"Where are my shoes?"
"Where is my i-Pod?"
"Where are the five hundred DVDs that were here this morning?"
All of these were common cries heard in the Our Family household following Nelly's early stop-ins, but before long we accustomed ourselves to her ways.
The shoes, regardless of where they'd been distributed in the house, would always be placed in the hall closet by the front door. The DVDs, for some strange reason, were restacked on the shelves of my mother's office desk. Our various toiletries, toothpaste, hair gel, etc., were stocked away beneath sinks or inside mirrored cabinets.
I sometimes think that she wants to keep us on our toes, though, for just as we became acclimated to her idea of what our house should look like, she started throwing curve balls at us. Every once in a while a cell phone or a necklace will go missing, only to turn up after several days' frantic searching (and fevered doubts about Nelly's honor) in a dresser drawer or some other completely nonsensical place.
"Watch," I joked to Thomas. "We're going to come home one day and the couch will be on the roof or something."
He laughed, then looked away and fell quiet, as if my jest had scratched the surface of his deepest fears.
What actually happened, however, was far weirder.
My mother had arrived home around two o'clock in the afternoon (she's a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company and sometimes has weird hours), and as I shuffled out of bed to greet her I heard her exclaim from upstairs.
"What's up?" I questioned as she came down the stairs and into the kitchen, where I was eating my early afternoon breakfast.
"You are not going to believe what Nelly did to Thomas's room," my mother said. She was neither angry nor elated, just a bit dazed and rather confused.
"Alright..." I began, rising from the table.
I bounded up the stairs, walked through the doorway to my brother's quarters, and took a good long look about. I turned around, walked out of the room, and made my way slowly downstairs. My mother looked from the counter where she was already beginning to prepare dinner and appraised my reaction.
"Wow," I said. "Wow."
When Thomas arrived home from school, neither she nor I did anything to warn him. As he usually does, he ran straight for the staircase and his room, where his pounding stride suddenly grew quiet. A series of softer footsteps walked out of the room, to the end of the hallway, and down the steps.
He emerged into the kitchen.
"Did Nelly do that?" he asked.
We both nodded.
"I like it," he said. "I mean, I think it looks better."
"Yeah," I agreed reluctantly. "It's still kind of weird..."
He didn't seem nearly as conflicted as I.
"I'm not sure how I feel about it," I declared my moral struggle regarding the contents of my fourteen-year-old brother's room. "I'm just not sure."
When my father and Beautiful Cousin arrived home, the first thing they wanted to do was see Thomas's room. My mother had phoned both of them to inform them of the situation, almost as if she hoped someone else could help her make sense of it. I got the feeling that she was reserving judgement until she heard my father's opinion.
So the entire family paraded up to the second floor, like spectators at a sporting event or eager children about to see a magic trick.
My father and Beautiful Cousin walked in, where they took everything in in disbelief.
We looked at the room, then looked at the spectacle we were making, and all burst out laughing.
For not only had our quiet cleaning lady rearranged the materials on my brother's dresser. Rather, she'd taken the entire thing, which must weigh at least three hundred pounds, dragged it to the other end of the room, and placed it against the opposite wall, organizing the items placed atop it as an afterthought.
Thomas's bed, meanwhile, also migrated to brighter shores, occupying the place formerly held by his dresser. His bookshelf moved down a bit, and the volumes on it hopped around a little to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing arrangement.
Various miscellaneous things were redistributed as always, but they seemed minor in comparison to the makeover our maid, who apparently moonlights as an interior decorator, had decided to unleash.
My father's eyes were wide.
"This must have taken hours," he said. He seemed on the verge of being displeased, but not quite there yet.
"How do you think she did it?" my mother asked, entranced with the mystery of it.
"For the record, I didn't hear any loud banging coming from up here," I put in, for I'd been home (though sleeping) the entire time Nelly and her team were at work. While I normally am still in bed for their visits, I'm typically only half asleep, so it's not unusual for me to hear vacuums running or people yelling at each other in Spanish.
"I like it," Thomas interjected. "I think it looks better."
"Yeah..." my father said.
He was straddling the same fence I was.
Later that night, Nelly called to ask if Thomas liked his new room.
"Yes," my mother said. She'd evidently adopted the attitude that this was a sweet act. "You didn't have to do that, you know."
After some pleasantries, my mother wished her a good night and hung up the phone, then started laughing.
I'm still not sure what my opinion on it is.
One thing is certain, however: in the contest to see how much craziness we will abide before someone calls her on it, our cleaning woman has decisively upped the ante.