For the second time in five years, I had a cleaning service come home to flush out the dirt and dust I had accumulated in my personal pixie’s absence. They showed up at the door at 8:00 AM sharp. Four of them went to work in different corners of the house and in two hours they packed and left with a check in hand.
As I watched them clean I realized a few things. I felt apologetic almost for watching them work. I could not some how see it as a service for which I was paying them. As one person cleaned my bath room, I felt I had to apologize for the sorry state it was in. As another cleaned the floor patiently first with a vacuum meant for hardwood and later with a wet mop that gave of a mildly pleasant smell, I hopped out of his way and felt like I was intruding on something private. As much as I wanted to see how each of them worked, I was worried they would think I was staring impolitely or micro managing them.
An hour after they left, I am still sitting and wondering about why I feel the way I do. I think a lot of it has to do with dignity of labor. Growing up in an environment where the occasional scolding would include “if you do not study well you can graze cows” or “work as a maid” seemed to reinforce the feeling that it was a shameful thing to do. Now, I know better but it explains why I feel like I have to treat any one doing a manual job with extra care and walk on eggshells around them.
As I revel in the clean and fresh smelling home, I realize I have a long way to go in unlearning a lot of things.