Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Oops and then?

Virtually every cleaning person has broken at least one thing in our house. There was a little clay bird from Chile. A glass menorah from Israel. A vinegar jar from Italy. And now a spoon rest from Italy. Just to name a few. And then there was the red dye spilled on the off-white carpet.

I can’t really blame them. I would occasionally break something too if I handled those things all the time.

But I wouldn’t be talking on my cell phone while cleaning. I would at least have two hands on whatever it was.

I don’t know what happened with the spoon rest yesterday. I just know I came home and saw the two pieces and Roxanna said “Sorry” and kept on cleaning. I should have asked her how it happened. Instead I ran to the basement thinking I might be able to glue it back together. Then it would look like a matching piece for the vinegar jar with its patched up handle. But the glue didn’t hold and it remains in two pieces.

It wasn’t an expensive piece of pottery, but one I liked and used every day. I’ll probably ask my friend who is going to Italy this fall to buy me a replacement.

But the question remains as to how I should handle this with Roxanna. Should I ask her not to clean while she is in perpetual conversation with friends and family? I’m sure talking to them makes a boring job a little less boring. I would be quite content for her to take periodic breaks to talk to people, but that would inevitably prolong her cleaning time. Or maybe not if she was able to clean faster with her entire attention and two hands devoted to the job.

I have this fear that the next accident might be something I really like that is also irreplaceable. So do I put away all things of beauty that are one of a kind? That seems like a bad decision. Or have her NOT clean them? That also seems like a bad decision.

I remind myself they are only things and she is human. Maybe I just have to hope for the best.


Blogger Angela said...

Oh, I see your dílemma. You want to be nice and understanding, but really, she is not!
Does she speak your language? Then I would show her the two pieces which you tried to glue, say it was impossible and that you are very sad. And then I would tell her that I did not want her to clean without giving it attention. That this way nothing good came out, and the money she earned was not really earned.

What I have learned in my life is to NOT always step back but insist on getting something for what I offer. You offer her a job, but you expect she takes it serious and takes care. Otherwise I would ask her to leave.
What do other say?

7:48 AM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Angela made some excellent suggestions. I, too, would show her the spoon rest and ask how it happened. Even if it was an accident and not caused by inattention, she needs to know that you are concerned about your things. They may not expensive, but they're yours and she should be careful with them. If her full attention is not on her job, things will continue to get broken. Perhaps you could talk over the fact that phone conversations should wait until she is finished with work unless there's an emergency so that she can do the careful work you know she is capable of.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Angela, Pauline -- I've taken your suggestions to heart and will have a talk with her the next time she comes in a couple of weeks. If she responds positively, everything will be fine. If not, there are hundreds of other Latinas who would like to have her job.

8:54 AM  
Blogger lacochran's evil twin said...

If you need a cleaning service, I can recommend one. In the ~6 years they've been there, they've broken one thing, apologized profusely, and offered to pay for it.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Steve Reed said...

I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask her not to talk on the phone while she's cleaning your house and handling your possessions. I suppose occasional breakage is understandable -- but then, I clean my house every day, and I almost never break anything!

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto what others have suggested...in my view, you're paying her to clean your home, not talk on the phone. Building in time for a break (snack, bathroom, phone call, etc.) comes with the territory...Hope your chat goes well for both of you!


1:12 PM  

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