Next to godliness

When I told a friend of mine a while ago that we’d decided to hire a cleaner, his response was “Why pay someone else to do something you can do yourself?” To which my reply was naturally “Why do something myself when I can pay someone else to do it for me?”

Ok, so there’s a limit to the household tasks I’m willing to outsource, but is there something fundamentally wrong or objectionable with paying someone else to clean up after you? Considering that I’ve never lived alone, cleaning, for me, always involved a large element of cleaning up other people’s mess, whether it was house-mates’ or children’s. It was inevitably a sore point, involving endless wrangling over rotas, job descriptions and quality control. If I lived alone I might be more inclined to carry out the tasks myself, but when you need to clean a three storey house, and doing so eats into the time that you could otherwise spend with your family, I feel no compunction in calling in the professionals. Besides, it takes our cleaner four hours to do something well that it would take me a whole day to do badly.  Plus, in a recent development which removed any lingering doubts I may have had about the idea, the Belgian government (back when there was such a thing) introduced a new system called Dienstencheques, or Titres-service. The idea is that you pay your cleaner pretty much the same amount as you would before, but it’s all legal and above-board, and the workers get benefits, paid holidays, etc.

As it is we tend to keep things pretty clean and tidy during the week (it’s not as if we drop food on the floor and leave it there, thinking “It’s ok – the cleaner’ll get that for me”). In fact, I’m quite the tidiness freak, constantly clearing up and putting away, organising and ordering, a place for everything and everything in its place. I consider “throwing away” (or recycling, as appropriate) to be part of this, and I’m always looking for ways to reduce the clutter by ditching items which have outlived their usefulness. One of the most frequent questions I ask my wife is “Have you finished with that? Can I throw it away?” Ok, that’s two questions.

So I consider that I do take an interest in, and some responsibility for, my immediate environment. But if I can get someone else to wipe the toilet bowl for me, I will.