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On a scale of neat-freak to slob, I fall somewhere in the middle and probably a little too close to trifling. I’m not one of those everything must stay in it’s place kind of people, but I also try not to let things get so bad that just the thought of cleaning my apartment wears me out. Admittedly, I have been in that place many a time and the last time I decided to do something about it: hire someone else to clean up my mess.

Just the thought of doing that made me feel a smidge ashamed. I’m single, I have no children, I work decent hours, and my apartment can’t be anymore than 450 square feet or so. There really should be no reason I can’t not only clean my apartment in a jiffy, but also maintain some level of decency on the cleanliness scale on a regular, but when a family member told me they were making a last minute trip to my city and asked if they could stay with me, I knew there was no way I could get my house to a familial level of respectfully clean in less than 24 hours plus take care of everything else I had to do. So, I went to the all-knowing Google search engine and typed in cleaning service NYC. When the first option that popped up told me I could get two hours worth of a scrub down for $15, pretty much all the shame I felt about what I was doing went away. Until my cleaning lady showed up on my doorstep.

In my deepest, darkest prayers the night before my cleaning I had just one wish: please don’t let this woman be Black. It was worse: She was Caribbean. As non-PC as this is going to sound, I would’ve felt no type of way about someone of a different race coming to clean my pig sty of an apartment, but a Black woman? It felt like my own mother just stepped in my living room and could barely look at me for disgust. A Caribbean woman? Multiply that feeling times 10.

I wished I could flee my apartment and leave the cleaning woman to it alone but I had work to do before heading into the office so I attempted to shut myself up in my semi-clean bedroom and hope she’d go about her business without laying into me too much. Five minutes into the visit Renee asked me to meet her in the bathroom. Aww hell.

“When your floor looks like this, you need to schedule extra time to scrub it.”

“Yeah I know it’s bad.”

“You need to put down a bath towel when you get out the shower.”


She must’ve sensed my disdain for bath rugs.

“I’m serious. Give me yuh old t-shirts and I’ll see what I can do.”

Goes to living room.

“Why you nuh have no rugs down on yuh floor?”

“I like hardwood.”

“Okay but you got tuh be on top of yuh dusting then. See that’s why I have a runner when I come in my house instead of tracking dirt all over the floor.”

“Yes m’am.”

We went back and forth like that for the entire two-hour cleaning as Renee pulled me out of my bedroom to witness the “work of art” that was my new clean stove top — a sight, she warned, that should encourage me not to let things get as bad as they were before she arrived.

And then there was the finished product of my bathroom floor that no longer made me regret the college t-shirts I begrudgingly gave up so she could scrub every nick and cranny of my tile.


There were also the dishes in my sink Renee took it upon herself to wash that I just had to thank her for and pretend like she wasn’t judging me inside — instead of outwardly like she did for pretty much everything else.

Still, when all was said and done all I had to do was put the handwritten Thank You note Renee left for me on my mantle, lock my door, and return that evening with my uncle to a spotlessly humble abode and know it only cost me less than I would’ve spent on cleaning products and a little bit of womanly scolding. At least she didn’t tell me the way I keep house is why I don’t have a man and, funny enough, I have kept up on my cleaning since Renee’s visit. But if I get into another pinch, she most definitely shall be back.


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