Monday, April 14

Some people I will just never understand ...

One of the directors at my job, and sadly, not the one who volunteered the information that I was competent enough to change a template, told us this little gem last week:

"When my house cleaners come by each week, I try to remember to leave them a little something extra ... some more dirty laundry or I'll throw a party the night before or maybe add a couple dishes to the sink. You have to make them work for their money, you know."

I swear, there are some people who I will just never be able to get. How does someone end up acting like that? And how do they not feel positively bad about themselves for even thinking like that, let alone doing it and then bragging about it to your co-workers? If I ever had a house cleaner -- which I wouldn't, but if I did -- I would probably tidy up before they come over so they wouldn't have to work as hard on my house at least. And I'd tip well.

Speaking of house cleaners, I recently finished reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. I had been meaning to read it for years but I was a little disappointed. It was a good perspective for an upper-middle class professional to air around town to other comfortable middle-classers, but I didn't learn much at all and I don't think she took the financial part of the deal seriously enough.

3 comments:

BlackenedBoy said...

We do have someone to clean our house, but we're always sure to straighten up a little bit (make the beds, move things off of the floor, etc.) before she comes.

Your co-worker sounds like the type of person who's insecure about himself and so brags to others in an ostentatious way.

The people who usually boast most loudly about the help are the people who used to be the help.

Jenn & Owen said...

Okay, two things: First, < rant > I read Nickle & Dimed a few years ago and I found it condescending and shallow. She looked down on her coworkers with liberal upper-class contempt for the working class people who sustain her in her upper-class lifestyle, even as she pretended to put herself in their shoes. She wrote with contempt about her (female) co-workers because they were "dependant" on men or somehow unable to get by on their own. She didn't seem to realize that among working class people, financial dependence runs deeply both ways between couples and even roommates, in a way that someone who can call a bank or friend or family member for a $5,000.00 loan any day of the week couldn't possibly understand. 2nd and 3rd generation liberal intelectuals have about as much connection with the working class people with whom they claim to identify as the right-wing neoconservatives, it's just that the neocons aren't so hypocritical. < / rant >

Second, if I were to have a cleaning service (please why can't I afford a cleaning service?) I wouldn't leave extra mess, but I can't imagine why someone would clean and tidy ahead of time - my clients don't go out and improve their marriages before they come to me to get them divorced, do they? No. We all have our role, and it doesn't help to have dillatantes messing around in our area of expertise.

Electronic Goose said...

@ Jenn & Owen: I agree with you about the book. I thought the concept of bringing publicity to the lifestyles of the working class was admirable, but perhaps not even possible from the perspective she tried to take. She attempted to "identify" with her co-workers, but it was really more pity than anything else, and she continually separated herself from them in every way she could.

I see your point about the cleaning service, but I think that, coming from the mindset that I wouldn't have a cleaning service in the first place, I would still clean up if a cleaner spontaneously showed up at my front door for some reason. I worked in the service industry for so many years that I can't help but want to relieve the physical burden of those who are employed in that type of job while making their working experience slightly more enjoyable by lessening their workload. It's like I feel I need to justify their low wages by helping them in what ways I could; if not monetary, then by length/hardship of physical work. I shouldn't have to compensate them for their low wages, but I don't think their skill level justifies how low their wages actually are; that is, everyone is entitled to a living wage. Not a "living wage" but an actual living wage.