x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Marriage is in cleaner hands

They solved their differences by hiring a cleaner, but now she wants to leave for a new job.

By making the decision to continue to work for us or to abandon us, our cleaning lady has the power to either hurt or help this marriage. Before her, juggling work and my obsessive compulsiveness about having a clean home, coupled with Mr T's laid-back attitude about dusting, quickly created a monster.

All I could think about on the way home from work were things like the dirty bathroom sink that I never got around to scrubbing, or the dust bunnies in our living room's corners that I really needed to find the time to vacuum.

Not only were our weekends being dominated by cleaning stints, when we moved to a larger apartment there was a lot more work to do.

I began to want a cleaner to take care of the bathroom-scrubbing detail more than I have wanted anything in my life.

A chance meeting with our friends' cleaner would fulfil that desire. We just clicked, united in our mission to defeat dirt.

What ensued was a weekly rendezvous, where she would appear every Tuesday morning and join me for hours of scrubbing our apartment until it reached my sterile standards. I began to love Tuesdays, mostly because before long, she took over the scrubbing part while I relaxed with a cup of coffee.

Having the cleaner in our lives did wonders for our marriage, eliminating some of the most mundane household chores, but the situation would not last.

Our wonderful cleaner is being tempted away by a full-time job with a family she already works for part-time, taking care of children who love her.

I resent them, this family I have never met. But I resent the person I have become living in the UAE even more. In all my years living in Canada, I had never sent my clothes out to be ironed or dry-cleaned; I just never bought clothes that required dry-cleaning. Styling my hair at a hairdresser? That was a luxury that occurred once a year, if that. And I cleaned my own house.

It is dangerous to become used to the ease of life here, to the cheap manicures and pedicures, to the cleaners who take care of the kitchen floor and the bathroom sink. I can't help but wonder what will happen when Mr T and I leave the UAE, and I have to do all those things for myself.

That day, however, is far away. Until then, I have something else I have to do, and quickly: hold on to the world's best cleaning lady and get her to erase her notions of abandoning me out of her head.

I am not above a little bribery to save this marriage.