Chapter 59 - 2001 Maid of All Work

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∞ 59 ∞


The job started out nice...

Valentina was very eager to please and show that she was dedicated to the post. She made a list of usual jobs Emily had asked her to do such as the kitchen, bathrooms, vacuuming, plus a separate list of larger jobs she though needed to be done, that she planned to tackle one at a time. Neither of the Shnellbrot-Thomas's were very communicative, but there was plenty to do and plenty of extra things that needed attention –minor and pressing alike– that someone like a housekeeper might have taken charge of. Stuff that didn't really have a place was strewn about; many areas that were little used and had been forgotten (or avoided) looked like they hadn't been cleaned in decades; projects that hadn't been completely finished were pushed off to the side here and there, but then there were also quite important safety issues that Valentina was surprised hadn't been attended to, considering Emily's condition. Never having been a cleaner and with Emily not telling her differently, she just did what she would have expected someone working for her to do (what she would have liked done herself, but likely wouldn't have been able to realise and articulate if she were stressed out and pregnant).

Emily herself constantly seemed preoccupied or in a rush, which Valentina imagined also couldn't have been good for the baby in her stomach or her existing children's development. Edward (Mr Shnellbrot-Thomas) who had agreed to the buyout of the majority of his shares in his family's press stud and zipper empire a few years back, seemed very lost to Valentina. (To the rest of the world he spent his days effectively pretending to be busy in his office with important business affairs... at least when he wasn't carrying out important duties as lord of the manor, such as showing Valentina the best way to wash out the vacuum cleaner filters or planning the guest list and seating chart for the next hunt they were hosting.) Valentina felt sorry for the couple... for a little while.

The combined kitchen-family room took about a quarter of her time up each day, except for when she needed to mop the floor and it took longer. Like many of the building's rooms, the space was three or four times the size of a large kitchen in an ordinary house. Afterwards, she did the other things Emily had shown her and in the rest of the time she ticked the jobs off on her own list: She polished the staircase which probably hadn't been done since the previous owners had first purchased the place; cleared away boxes that had been in the passageway since they arrived; made plans to re-organise the chaotic pantry, swept out the fireplaces, cleaned the dogs' beds and made a further list of things she thought were probably above her station, but were dangerous and needed immediate attention (the carpet coming away on the staircase the family mainly used for example). The Shnellbrot-Thomases initially seemed very pleased and all seemed "marvellous" and "splendid"... for a little while.

The polite exchange of Valentina anxiously apologising and assuring Emily she would be quicker once she got everything cleaned up to a certain level (there hadn't been a cleaner there in some time) and Emily graciously saying that she understood and even offering to pay once for Valentina's staying past the time as she struggled to get everything finished, lasted about two weeks. The initial novelty of having a new cleaner, who seemed far nicer and far more polite than their most recent ex-cleaner Madame Rousselle (if they didn't count the one who had lasted three weeks in-between) soon wore off and was replaced by the realisation that the new cleaner couldn't clean. Or at least she 'couldn't clean' to Emily's expectations of the post. She wasn't looking for a household manager who pointed out that there was black mould under her children's bath mats. Neither was she looking for someone who took everything off and cleaned under and behind every nook and cranny (unless of course she happened to look under or behind that particular nook or cranny – which she had an uncanny knack for doing). By 'cleaning', Emily meant: "give it a quick wipe and move on"... but of course what she really meant was: 'get it all done the way I want, so that it all looks like it is clean, but do all it in half the time'.

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