Get back, señora de la limpieza.

Last Thursday, I was settling back into the apartment, starting to compile a comprehensive list of “to dos” for the upcoming move. I had spent the majority of the week outside the comfort of our little home, due to flooding and the resulting fixes.

As I sat on our fabulous 60s couch, sipping the last of the Wawa coffee, a knock at the door surprised me.

It was a cleaning lady, one who works for this housing complex in a myriad of daily tasks, from scrubbing the walls of abandoned apartments to deep cleaning soiled carpets. She was here to run the “heavy-duty” cleaner over our carpet.

Ok, so a tad of some back story before I continue with this one, just so you understand a little better where I was coming from when I told her to get lost.

(photo by Marcin Wichary)

First: in the two years that we’ve been here, we have yet to be informed of visits from maintenance, cleaning, repairmen by our complex management. We’ve never ever been rung up beforehand to let us know that someone will be in our space, violating our privacy.

The problem with this is several-fold. Neither my husband nor I work regular hours. So there have been plenty of times where someone shows up unannounced and stays for hours while we are there. This is even more of a treat when Hubs is trying to sleep.

Then there are times where they are doing intensive stuff, including but not limited to re-installing carpet in the entire place. Or installing “new” pipes overhead (this took two days). Or repainting things. When I say intensive, I mean we have to instantly and significantly change our schedule to accommodate them, or find a place to house the cat, or put real clothes on. All things that would be great to know beforehand.

Ok, so there’s the notice thing. Which we did not get for the carpet-cleaning lady.

The other nagging issue is that at least two of the four apartments affected by the most recent flood got new carpets.

I need to just put it out there, this makes me angry.

The flood didn’t make me angry. The three days we were out of our place because of all the fixing, removing, and re-installing crap didn’t make me angry. My KitchenAid mixer almost dying didn’t make me angry.

The lack of new carpet makes me really angry, since this flood will mark the second time this exact situation has occurred, and the second time our request for new carpet has been refused.

Poor cleaning lady. She has no control over any of this.

Unfortunately for her, both issues speak to a lack of customer service skills and, more fundamentally, a basic lack of human decency on the part of the people who run this place. It’s an ongoing thing. I am tired of dealing with them. And given the history, I have no guarantee that that carpet clean is going to be any kind of quality. Who wants to clear out for that?

The main problem was that I could not communicate any of this to the cleaning lady, because she spoke zero English. So I stood there, trying to muster up enough pigeon Spanglish to explain to her that I was home all day, was that okay? I finally got it all out, but then she told me, “no. not really.” She wanted me to leave, I was pretty sure.

Then we stood there, looking at each other in language-barrier silence. I tried to tell her I wasn’t leaving, but if she HAD to, she could still spend all day cleaning the carpet. I would just sit and watch. But it didn’t come out like that, and whatever I did manage to say was lost in translation. I shifted my weight a bit, ready to fight her off if she was really committed to kicking me out for this cleaning thing.

She finally called the main office and got hold of someone who could understand me when I said, “I’m not leaving the apartment today.” That was a problem, as I suspected it would be. We spent a few minutes on that. We did some entertaining English to Spanish to English and back to Spanish relays. Then I thought of a brilliant solution, “we move in t-minus a few days. Can you just clean it then?”

The answer is yes.

Cleaning lady gone.

Nasty carpet intact.

Move still on.



5 thoughts on “Get back, señora de la limpieza.”

  1. I totally understand what you're saying, and I'd do the same in your situation.
    It's just that here, in my situation, if a woman showed up at my door to clean anything, even just the doorbell, I would allow her to uuse me as a footstool while she did it.

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