The Cleaners are Coming

“Why do I have to clean up the house if the cleaners are coming tomorrow?” Honestly, my husband sounds like a recalcitrant teenager.
Well, duh, is what I want to say. But for the thousandth time over the long years of our marriage I try to explain it again.
“Their job is to clean,” I begin.
“Exactly,” he says, triumphantly.
“But if we don’t tidy first, they won’t be able to get at the dirt and they’ll tidy for us.”  I’m trying to make this simple.
“Right,” he says, with the patience of Job (according to him). “I’m always telling you to take it easy. You don’t need to tidy – that’s what we’re paying them for.”
“But if they tidy for us,” I say for the millionth time, “we’ll never be able to find anything.”
I remind him of the time when I lived in Chicago, and Eva, my over-helpful cleaning lady, took all the mail when I was away for a couple of weeks and stuffed it in one of the drawers in the hall table. It wasn’t until I opened the letter beginning: Unless you pay your bill promptly….that I realized what had happened. Eva also used Easy-off oven cleaner on the top of the electric stove, thus rendering it lethal, but that’s another story.
I remind him of the fact that he’s always looking for something – his glasses, it goes without saying, are always somewhere else. Where did he leave his newspaper (bathroom probably…)? How about his calendar (under that pile of papers…)? And where’s his favorite trowel (in the compost heap…)?
Often, of course, I know where his stuff is because I just do. I have a feeling that wives often pay more attention to things that are out of place than most husbands. (Probably said something sexist there. Oh well.) In any case, it’s clear to me that adding extra layers of tidied items to his already straying belongings would simply make it all worse. I glance over at him.
A miracle has occurred. I think I’m beginning to get through to him. He’s shuffling some of the papers on his desk around. He’s tidying!
“Have you seen my cell phone anywhere?” he asks.
“The cleaners tidied it up last week,” I say. Just to make a point. Actually, it’s in his jacket, I think.

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