Jo Ann Jaacks: I can do it myself

Cleaning supplies

Cleaning supplies

Jo Ann Jaacks

When the doorbell that a friend installed for me abruptly ceased to chime its Big Ben tune, I first thought to ask for help again. Then, after two visitors had to bang on the front door, give up and text me that they had arrived, I decided to give a try to fixing the problem.

The piece that was plugged in behind the rocking chair seemed secure, but it could have been compromised by the movement of the chair. I firmly pushed it against the wall. When I inspected the little bell on the outside of the front door, it seemed a little wobbly, so I gave it a firm push. When there was no Big Ben calling out, I went back inside, removed the piece plugged in, replaced it in the outlet and slammed it with my fist. I did the same with the little bell. I’m not sure what the problem was, or which piece was the culprit, but the next time the bell rang, I ran out and opened the door, telling the UPS driver “Thank you!” even though the big box was for the woman upstairs.

I live in a spacious apartment with high ceilings and vintage wooden floors. Sometimes, while writing on deadline, I start thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to have someone else clean the apartment?” Back in the good old days, I always had a house cleaner, especially when my husband and I lived in a two story, two-and-a-half bathroom, four-bedroom home with a pub and wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling bookshelves on one side of the dining room and on the facing wall but with glass doors were three large china cabinets.

I called an organization that I had used before when I first moved in and my new bed was delivered in pieces, a lot of pieces. They sent a handyman who whipped it together in no time. Because I was in their records as a customer, they offered me a great deal on a three-and-a-half-hour cleaning the following day. Of course, I arose extra early and tidied up everywhere, left all the appropriate cleaners in their appropriate room, and stood up the vacuum and Swiffer in a corner for easy use. The time to expect my helper came and passed. It occurred to me I had no contact for her, neither did she have my cell phone, as happened the first time. After 30 minutes, I called the organization, who assured me they were monitoring her on GPS and she seemed to be coming in my direction. They gave me her cell number for reassurance , but all I got was a recorded message. After another 30 minutes, I began vacuuming the living room. Then a customer service rep called me with profound apologies and offered another helper at a great discount. I agreed and told her “I want them to do the windows.” (I have 15 large windows.)