Friday, March 19, 2010

Money Matters

Today I return to cleaning for Leo, or Dr. Mansoor, and his wife Carolyn, who is seriously ill. Back when I first started out as a housecleaner, Carolyn was one of my first customers; she was recently divorced from her first husband and had just sent her youngest of four children off to college. Those first 10 or so years that I worked for her, Kay McCarthy, as she was called then, was single. She held a few different jobs over the years; working in the state legislature, then for an arts organization, and the last job was a three year contract to organize a statewide bicentennial celebration. The jobs for the arts group and the bicentennial required a lot of traveling around the state, but we still saw each other as she was occasionally home when I was there cleaning.

I also cleaned for Kay’s next door neighbor, Anne Carson. These two women were my earliest customers, and I have cleaned for both of them throughout the years. There was a three or four year period however, when Kay remarried and moved to the town of her new husband, Leo Mansoor, who prefers the formality of being referred to as Dr. Mansoor. When she and The Doctor relocated to Oak City, Kay called me and asked if I had any openings available. Luckily I did and soon I was cleaning for Carolyn (she began calling herself Carolyn because Doctor Mansoor, maybe you can guess, preferred the formality) and The Doctor. In the beginning I was careful not to call him by name because I did guess he preferred not just the formality but the elevating title. Then one day arranging a cleaning date with his daughter in law he overheard me refer to him as Leo when I said, “next week will work because Carolyn and Leo will be out of town and I’ll be free.” He often passed on to me copies of articles he had written over the years for various newspapers or magazines. That day I found a note attached to an article requesting that I refer to him as Doctor Mansoor. Ugh.

When I started back to cleaning for Leo and Carolyn in their new home, my rates were 20 dollars an hour, and stayed at that level for several years. When I told Carolyn about the impending increase, her only remark was that she had been wondering when my rates would go up and gave a nod of assent. About two weeks later, I found a letter in my mail box that exploded like an IED in my living room. The Doctor wanted to know what had prompted the unilateral decision to raise my rates and proclaimed that my fees were approaching those of a doctor.

I gave them two weeks notice and left.

Now Carolyn can not drive, she is unwell, and Leo wants ‘someone familiar in the house’ for his wife. Though my prices have gone down, his fee will include gratuity and be 25 dollars an hour.