Last Christmas, my older brother decided that instead of getting me socks, as he has done for most of my life, he would hire a cleaning lady for me. So now a cleaning lady descends on my tiny, beloved apartment every two weeks and acts pretty much in the manner of a reverse tornado. Instead of disordering the place, as a tornado would surely do, she thoroughly cleans, polishes, and orders the place, leaving nothing but beauty in her tracks.
I feel she’s improved the quality of my life even more than socks would have, if that can be imagined. She has, however, changed my behavior a bit. In the first place, she’s raised my standards for what I consider a clean place. I used to think a clean place included such obvious abominations as unstacked magazines piled on the floor, unwashed windows, and unfolded laundry strategically strewn on chairs and tables for ready access. Now, I am becoming morally opposed to such things because I’ve seen firsthand how much more beautiful my environment is without them.
Nevertheless, I still don’t keep the place nearly as orderly as she leaves it, and that leads me to the second way in which she has changed my behavior. On the days she comes, I scurry about picking up the place before she gets here. I suspect that’s because I feel guilty she must clean up my mess — even though that is, after all, precisely her job.
For a while, I thought I was alone in doing that. I figured no one else was crazy enough to clean their place right before the cleaning lady comes. But then I raised the topic of my eccentric behavior with her. And much to my wonder she replied that every single client of hers does the very same thing! All of us clean right before she arrives.
I now feel like I live in a city of nutcases. Although, as it turns out, that’s a comfortable feeling because, after all, I’m right there with the best of them.