I should've known we were about to meet a real character. The phone rang, and a woman asked if I was the Suze of the Suze & Ev who had left a flier at her door.
“That's me,” I said. “The Suze. How can I help you?”
“It says here that you love to clean,” she said.
“That's right,” I said. “We do!”
First there was silence, then a pause, then she giggled. “Is there something wrong with you?”
That afternoon we drove out to Marie's, where we did our usual walk-through, scheduled a time and settled on a price that suited us all.
Cleaning Marie's was a challenge, but not because it was so dirty. In fact, just the opposite. Her place was one of those museum-like houses where not a hair was out of place. Pristine. My first thought, which fortunately I kept to myself, was: “what does she need us for?”
But then I spotted the cat. Long-haired, white (what else?), blue eyes, and super-friendly. Probably shedding up a storm and driving Marie nuts.
However, if the kitty was shedding, you couldn't really tell because it blended right in.
There was white carpeting in the living room and bedrooms, white tile floors and counters in the kitchen and bathrooms. All the walls were white, and so were the bed covers and pillows. The carpets always seemed freshly vacuumed before we arrived each Thursday. We figured she had two different cleaning services and had us each come twice monthly.
In spite of the stark white appearance, it didn't look too sterile. It was actually very pretty, a house straight out of a magazine. Opulent white orchids bloomed in large white ceramic pots around the big white tub. Thick white bath towels hung in the master bath. But it was tricky not to mess things up! Whenever Ev saw me heading into the master bath to clean he'd caution me to “not get anything dirty.”
Another unique thing about Marie's were the telephones. We never figured out why, but she had ten telephones, positioned in pairs next to each other throughout the house. You guessed it. White. We never asked her what was up with those phones.
Everything from the picture frames to the sofas to the fridge was white. But one thing in the whole house stood out because it was jet black. On the kitchen counter, where other people set their cookie jars and canisters, was a big, black microscope. Was she checking the bacterial count after we cleaned? Don't ask. We didn't.
One Thursday, as I set my supplies down on the kitchen floor, the cat moseyed through as usual, sniffing delicately at my bucket and checking to see if I had brought her any treats. I almost did a doubletake. Her fur had been thoroughly and completely shaved away, right down to her soft, pink skin. I guess that's one way of dealing with it!
Dogs and cats fur real
One of the main reasons people hire you is to deal with the cat fur and dog hair. And who can blame them? The stuff is stubborn. The other day I was vacuuming the inside of our car. I found Burt-hair (our orange tabby, a.k.a. The Office manager) woven into the car seats. How did it get there? It had to travel by our clothes and hair, since Burt has never been in the car.
No wonder pet-loving people hire housecleaners!
When your clients have pets, be tolerant. Carry a de-furring device. And remember, pets are people too. And by that I mean that your clients no doubt think of little Munchkin and Fifi as their own kids. Learn their names, right off the bat. Then talk to them while you work, if you find yourself being shadowed, as we did with Hershey, the long-haired Dachshund. What a cutie! But very shy, although quite curious about us and our activities.
Then there are the opportunists. Like Bingo the Boxer, a darling pup but a little too wired for his own good. Every time we'd open the front door he'd try to make a run for it. Watch the door, so there are no Great Escapes while you are busy cleaning. Believe me, your clients will so appreciate that.
Another thing. Wherever there are dogs & cats & ferrets & parrots indoors, there are pet odors lurking – the other big reason that pet-people hire housecleaners. We suggest arming yourself with our not-so-secret ingredient, orange essential oil. Lavender works too, and lemon. Rub a few drops inside the vacuum hose. Works wonders to replace that musky (let's face it, stinky!) dog smell. Essential oils have enzymes that eat up the stink-molecules. I sometimes resort to a spray can of orange “Air Scense.” Good stuff. It neutralizes the odors and freshens the air. Just be careful not to spray it near or above keyboards, computers, or other digital devices.
So there you have it. Dogs and kitties make cleaning more fun. They can be the source of wonder at many of your jobs that might otherwise lack entertainment. One of our clients had an old, five-toed cat who had the softest fur imaginable, and who absolutely loved the sound of the vacuum cleaner. Every time we turned it on, she would wander into the room, get as close as she could to the vacuum, then curl up and fall fast asleep. You could actually vacuum her and she loved it! Boy, I wish our cats were like that.
People like Marie and dogs like Hershey make housecleaning one of the most interesting ways to make a living!