Jan 7, 2008

Royally Hosed

I have had 4 cleaning ladies since I have moved to Brussels. Prior to moving here, I had none. But at 8 euros an hour, it is hard to pass up the idea of someone else cleaning your toilets. First here was Yvonne, then came Mika, then came Jana. No I did not scare them away with my harsh demands or collection of exotic beatles. They each moved on to bigger and better houses, er I mean things.

I was just scolded by my cleaning lady, #4 Conchetta. Apparently, we do not meet her standards. Of course, I should preface this by saying she works 4-days a week for “ A Countess”, and she is one of four other staff members. I told her I have no title (that I can repeat), and I don’t hold formal receptions in my house. She raised her eyebrows in surprise, as if everyone in Brussels has 200 people for dinner. I wanted to tell her I am lucky if the oven reaches 200 degrees---but couldn’t translate into French that quickly. Conchetta pulled me aside to show me the bottom of my garbage can, and tisk-tisked me when she saw the jumble of plastic bottles beneath the kitchen sink. I wanted to ask, “You want me to wash my trash can before you come?” but was too afraid (or ashamed, I don’t know). I was also given a list of cleaning products. This is fine. But one of them is apparently so potent, so toxic, I practically need a hazmat suit just to touch it.

“But you must clean the toilets with this.” She insisted.

Why? I don’t cook in them, I pee in them. Lysol has worked fine for most of my life. I am now stressed about having a cleaning lady. Defeats the purpose non? So, today, before my cleaning lady arrived, I went through the cabinet and lined up all the bottles “just like she likes it.” And then vacuumed the bottom of my garbage can because she doesn't like the smell. I tried to look up in my dictionary how to say" It’s a garbage can, not a bubble bath. But no entry. Anyone out there who wants to sent that to me, I'd appreciate it. I forgot to even look in my refrigerator to see if there was a dried scallion clinging to the bottom of the vegetable bin. I’ve decided to keep Conchetta out of my office . The stacks of books, paper and day- old coffee cup (still half-full) would not please Conchetta. So readers, as much as I have complained about the service (lack of) in Belgium, I have found the antithetical…Conchetta. If only we could get her a job at Belgacom or VandenBorre working the cahsier desk! Hey...there's a thought! My kitchen looks great; Toilets are very clean, although I do worry the toxic fumes will rise up and peel the skin off my bottom, or the porcelain itself. And today, Conchetta just couldn't take it anymore. She hosed out my garbage can. Gives new meaning to Royally Hosed, non? A bientot from Belgium.

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