I’m currently sitting on the balcony of my apartment while my new cleaning lady is scrubbing the counters in my kitchen and all I’m feeling is completely embarrassed that I ran out of time to clean up that red wine ring before she came over. Then my mind wanders from the overflowing trash I should’ve taken out to the old leftovers in the fridge I should’ve tossed to the dust bunnies in my bathroom I should’ve swept. Having this cleaning lady see my house dirty is like going to the dentist after eating a head of garlic. It’s just rude.
It makes me realize how much we agonize and prepare for the people in our lives who we pay to make our days easier. Before I get a pedicure I clean my feet so thoroughly they could pass the FDA’s sterilized surface test, I put all my coins into tidy little rolls before going to the bank, I politely stack my dishes and silverware for my waiter after finishing a meal out, and my hair never looks cuter than the day I get a haircut. And I won’t name names but I’ve also received intel that suggests many of us are prone to shaving our legs before a massage, wearing color-coordinated underwear for a doctor’s visit and eating a light breakfast followed by fifty pushups before meeting with our personal trainers.
Are these behaviors just common courtesy or are we avoiding the perception that we sometimes don’t feel like washing our own hair or cleaning our own toilet or smashing our own piggy bank? Are we wrong for wanting a nice woman in a surgical mask to extract grit from under our toenails while we kick back in a Sharper Image massage chair with a 2007 issue of Teen Vogue? Is it awful that I’m secretly thrilled to go back inside to find the toothpaste glob that’s been in my sink for over a week was cleaned with someone else’s elbow grease?
I don’t think so, but I also don’t see this behavior stopping. It seems that the little extra work on our part negates the small manifestation of guilt we feel from either forking over money for something we should be able to do ourselves or from subjecting another human being to the crap that accumulates along our gum line after six months. Because when the dentist high fives you for having “teeth so clean you could use an extra candy bar or two” (I will remember this compliment for all my years), or the stylist tells you your hair smells like coconut and jasmine, you smile at your two-hours ago self for making that tiny extra effort that made it all worth it.
I like to feel I’ve earned the right to sit back and enjoy a good guilt-free pampering now and then, but if all I have to do is scrub one wine ring before getting every other inch of my home cleaned by a professional while I relax in the sun with my dog , my conscience is clear.