Quelme (pronounced I-don’t-know-how) is our lovely Brazilian house cleaner. Our son Seth who lived in Brazil and travels there often says the Brazilians are the cleanest people he knows, often showering three times a day. And Quelme does make our apartment sparkle.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that she has to move everything that isn’t nailed down in order to do it. Which can be a problem because she rarely puts things back correctly. So when she leaves, I have to straighten every picture on our walls, put our bathroom rug back where I want it rather than where she left it, etc.
The other day I told Peter that we might need a new mattress. “Every night I feel like I am about to fall out of bed,” I explained. We took a closer look while changing the sheets and discovered that the front leg on Peter’s side of the bed was sitting on the molding at the bottom of the bedroom wall, about three inches higher than the other three legs. We lowered it to the floor, and we no longer need a new mattress. Clearly Quelme had lifted the leg to clean under the bed.
Things are complicated by the fact that Quelme doesn’t speak much English and I speak even less Portuguese. Once when Seth was here (he is fluent in Portuguese), I asked him to ask her to put things back where they were, assuring her first that we love her work and are very happy to have her. He did, but nothing changed.
Then last night, our alarm clock went off at midnight. We rarely set an alarm, and we would never set it for midnight. I quickly turned it off and went back to sleep. Ten minutes later, it went off again—I had pushed “snooze” instead of “off”. As I lay in bed, now unable to go back to sleep, it took me a while to figure out what had happened.
Quelme had cleaned that day.
I don’t know how to explain that one to her. I guess I’ll just straighten the pictures AND check the alarm clock before going to bed on the days that she has made our apartment sparkle.