Do You Respect Your Employee?

In recent years I have found the need to employ a cleaner because of several changes in my life. I’ve gone through a few. Changes and employees. Some stopped coming because the parking is difficult — a boat would be able to moor nearer. Some stopped coming because I would chat with them. I had to let a few go because they were not doing an effective clean.

My cleaner now is a man who did some work in my bathroom and garden. He had seen my advertisement for a cleaner at a certain price. He had come to do a job moving some heavy stuff in my garden, and because he had finished early we had a cup of tea.

He said that he would like to be my cleaner. I responded that I could not afford his hourly fee every week. In reply he said that cleaning for me at the pay I had advertised would guarantee two more hours of income each week, and that because I had recommended him to others for various tasks, it would be of mutual benefit.

This kind of thinking is very pleasing. I only found it odd to adjust to having a man in my home. Not because I think it is a woman’s job, but because it involves my laundry. I have never before had a man who was not a lover handle my laundered clothing or strip my bedlinen.

This guy works really hard. He cleans very well. He is far more efficient and thorough than any previous cleaner. Sometimes, he arrives and I can see that he is tired. I try to chat with him for a couple of minutes so that he can recuperate. Other times, he has finished all the cleaning early and if I don’t have another chore for him, I tell him to go home and have a cup of tea.

Of course, there are times I notice something could do with a wipe. I am not helpless, so these things I do without complaint. Other times, I might mention it if it’s something out of my reach.

I believe there are several types of cleaning; spring cleaning, maintenance cleaning, and focused cleaning.

Focused cleaning is the cleaning of things that don’t need weekly cleaning. So we have a Week A and Week B but fluidity reigns. Sometimes I ask him to clean for one hour and help in the garden for the second. The second hour is then paid at his normal fee.

Because I know that some people give him very labor intensive jobs without thinking about his need to stay hydrated, I generally ask if he needs a drink. He carries water with him. At this time of pandemic, he often asks to use my bathroom, as other people are terrified they will catch Covid-19 from him and won’t let him inside. This is fair enough. I know he is careful, washes his hands and wears a mask, and keeps a distance.

Today, I asked him to schedule two hours of gardening work for me. I have raised beds to clear for growing tomatoes, plants to be planted, and a shrub that needs to go back into a pot. I also need to clear the finished Evening Primroses that have seeded all around my footpath. They are lovely, and will come back in the summer.

I know he will have two hours of work that is good for his mental health, satisfying, and companionship. Soon he will construct my new swing seat which I got in a sale.

Published in Contemplate


Pain and planting…

This morning the pain I had seemed to prohibit any productivity. I found an old poem on Facebook a few days ago, so I reworked it a bit and submitted it to a publication. I was in tears, both from pain and the events of yesterday. I”ve been in touch with my friend Judy a bit more than usual.

On my mind were the plants I needed to get planted. I took a strong pain killer, and sent a text to my cleaner saying I would need help in the garden, after they had done the most important tasks.

I sat in the garden with a cup of coffee, a kneeling pad and filled a window box with pinks, and forget me nots. I took this down to my neighbours’ who are so kind to me. As I came around the corner, I heard my name and saw a red Audi sports car. I wondered who it was. The woman took off her sunglasses and it was Juliet, the neighbour whose house I was heading to. John, her husband was waving and they said they were off to fetch their little daughter. I told them I was on my way with the the window box. We all laughed and went our ways. On Friday, John and his son put together some chairs for my garden.

Getting back to my garden, I asked my cleaner to tip soil into a planter. I then planted five plants in it with their help. I’ve had to order more soil. The rest of the plants are in the shade waiting for the soil to arrive.

I surveyed the weeds left in the garden. It was a heart sink moment. Especially as the forget me knots were gone. I will have to get in a pull them up. There’s nothing else for it. I simply can’t afford a gardener.

My cleaner said that he knows nothing about plants. But he does as he is instructed. And does it well. I can’t name every plant there is, but I can tell a lot by the foliage to put it in the right place.

I need another painkiller now, as this afternoon is adding to the pain from this morning. I don”t know how I’ll be in the morning. I don’t want to think about it. I’m usually asleep by now, but pain prevents.

He’s not just a skilled handyman. He’s Pete Lambert.