Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Home help: A random story

Our cleaner isn't the best cleaner in the world. Corners remain untouched, windows end up streaky and as my dad complains every week, "she never empties the vacuum cleaner". (not even now that my dad has stuck a label on the vacuum cleaner explaining how to empty the dust bag - I kid you not) But the point is we can trust her to come to the house, be reliable, honest, look after the dogs on occasion and even offer sparkling conversation with our increasingly elderly and vocal cat. And that's what stops us getting someone else.

This is in contrast to a story I heard via a family friend, who owns a house on an exclusive housing estate in NW London. After suspecting their cleaner of getting up to no good, they installed secret cameras around the house and, on returning from holiday, viewed the footage. They found shots of the cleaner dressing up in the wife's clothes, stealing food, drink and even cleaning products for her other jobs. Needless to say they told her where exactly to stick her feather duster and made sure everyone else she cleaned for knew the score too.

Neil (pictured) was our gardener for years, and, like the cleaner, we trusted him and he got the job done in weekly daytime sessions which he'd bill us for accordingly.

One day I was off school ill and my dad had switched his normal half day for another. After watching Neighbours at 2pm he took me up to the stables (I was miraculously feeling better), to sort out the horses. We returned less than an hour later and found a note sticking through the letter box from Neil, as was the usual practice, letting us know how much we owed him after the 2 and a half hours of work he'd just done.

It appeared that whilst Neil could tend to a garden, telling the time clearly wasn't his forte. We sacked him that afternoon.

Thing is, no matter how much he protested or apologised, he knew we'd caught him out. All of a sudden this guy we'd trusted and paid good money for had been unearthed as a worm more wiggly than the garden sort. We don't know how many times he'd done it before or whether it was a one off, but we made sure he couldn't do it to us, or our friends who we'd recommended him to, again.

It's such a shame when people let you down. If you changed your normal routine - I wonder who you'd catch out?


James said...

Awwww. I kinda feel sorry for the cleaner woman. It is as if she is so poor that she can't afford nice clothes so liked to try on 'the wife's' nice clothes.

You do realise this post makes you sound rather well brought up. Cleaners, gardeners and a pony for the idyllic daughter. Not that there is anything wrong with the above.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

Indeed, I'm lucky to have all of the above (and two labradors, if that adds to the picture any) - my parents both have busy jobs, so I think if you work hard and can afford to get someone else to help out around the house as a result, it's all good. But it soon becomes clear that there are alot of people willing to take advantage of that.

Robbie said...

You have cleaners? Wow.

How did you ever earn pocketmoney as a kid if you had cleaners? Chores was the only way I got sweet money.

James said...

Now I know why your such a messy bugger

Your right about the cleaner thing though. I don't think people value their own time high enough. People will outright refuse to work above 35/40 hrs per week, yet spend many hours cleaning.

Clarissa said...

Our cleaner has gotten lazy about cleaning the out of the way places. But, as you say, we can trust her. We pay her for 6 hours, but she's generally done in 4. Nonetheless, we pay her the for the full 6. If we have something specific for her that will keep her busy the full time, she'll do it w/o complaint.

We also have a dog-walker. We are trying to train Butters to tell us if she is getting the full hour and 1/2 walk we pay for! :)

Boy said...

I would never have a cleaner, why pay someone for that fun? Yes I'm weird 'cos I like cleaning.

I think the trust issue is a big deal. Gutted about your gardener, but you do draw an epic picture.

Homer said...

The gardener one is a grey area for me. If you look at it one way, hourly rates penalise workers who get on with it rather than dithering around. If your gardener shuffled around taking the full 2.5 hours to do the same jobs, it's not like your garden would have looked any different. (Yes, I know he *should* have worked at top speed for the full 2.5 hours, but surely there are limits to how much you can expect on £8 an hour!)

My aunt thought her cleaner didn't do anything until she saw what a state the house was in two months after letting her go.

Blue soup said...

It says a lot about you that you're surprised about how people can take others for a ride. It is sad, but I think it is incredibly common. It seems to be the human condition to want to get one over on the generosity of others.

Or maybe I am just really jaded.

weenie said...

I just pay our gardener to do a job that I don't want to do. No idea how long it takes him but it would take me a damn sight longer. It's a shame that yours really took you for a ride on that occasion - rounding up your time to the nearest half hour is one thing but he was being greedy.

theperpetualspiral said...

I couldn't live without my cleaner. Not only does she keep the house from looking like it has a big dog living in it, but she also fills me in on all the local gossip and goings on. I'm not sure which of the two is more valuable, but it is a close call.

Skinny Girl said...

We live in an apartment block that has onsite managers. I was convinced that the old on site manager was getting into our apartment when we weren't there and was dying to catch her out one day.

A few months ago she "left".

I wonder if she was sacked?


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