I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it, no doubt, until I’m forcibly restrained, but looks like we’ve made it through another work week.
As on previous Fridays, I’ll be divining the overall tone of my weekend by what was on my iPod this morning. Here goes:
We Are The Ones by The Coup
Foxy Lady by Jimi Hendrix
Time To Get Away by LCD Soundsystem
My Party by Kings of Leon
I Wanna Be Adored by Stone Roses
Enough Space by Foo Fighters
Burma Shave by Tom Waits
In reference to that last song, I’m not old enough to remember the Burma Shave billboards by the side of the road, but I know of them: you could read them, one line at a time, as you drove.
To Get Away
From Hairy Apes
From Fire Escapes
Try Burma Shave!
Or the slightly titillating
Try Burma Shave!
Well, it’s Friday; and we’ve moved from previous “Bum Stories” to “Cleaning Lady Stories”.
This week? The Tale of the Missing Cash!
The year my son was in 6th grade, I worked every possible job I could, and many times, he came along. His instructions? To have dinner packed and ready to go for when I got home from work. I would dash in, change my clothes, and we’d run back out to the car to eat on our way to the job site. His favorite thing to pack for these four-wheeled dinners? Cheese sandwiches, pickles, grapes, and Diet Coke. Mmmmm.
Many of our cleaning jobs were one-shot deals following the refinishing of a hardwood floor. Back before dustless sanders were common, the refinishing of a hardwood floor left talcum-fine wood dust everywhere; and the company I picked up jobs from offered my services, for an additional fee, following the floor’s completion.
The house that night was enormous, full of old, dark furniture and ceiling-to-floor bookcases that had, thankfully, been covered with sheet upon sheet of clear plastic to protect them from the dust. The home owner, a tiny, troll-like woman who spoke to us from the railing over the second floor did not come downstairs and instructed us, rather rudely, I thought, to remain on the first floor only. The place was incredibly ill-lit, and we spent a good four hours damp-dusting and changing buckets upon buckets of water for our rags.
We were home by 10:00 or so, exhausted and dirty. A quick shower, and straight to bed.
I received a call from the police the next morning.
“Is this Pearl?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Pearl, this is Officer So-And-So with the Minneapolis Police Department. Did you clean the house at such-and-such lane last night?”
“Yes, I did.”
“Can you tell me if anything unusual occurred there last night?”
What? Wait – why are the police calling me? Years of whispered campfire tales of men with hooks for hands breaking into cars and dogs stuffed into microwaves seeped into the stiffer edges of my brain, the edges where leaping to conclusions comes easier than logic. Had a crime been committed? Was the tiny little woman on the second floor okay?
“Unusual?” I said. “No. We cleaned. We left. What’s going on?”
“From what time to what time?
“Got there about 5:30, left at 9:30, 9:45.”
“Did you meet the homeowner?”
“Elderly woman about four foot nothing, beady eyes, suspicious nature?”
The cop laughed. “Yes.”
“Yes, I met her. What’s going on?”
“Ma’am, did you break into her house last night at approximately 2:00 a.m., go into her copy of Dante’s Inferno and steal cash?”
I started to laugh. “What?”
“She believes that you broke into her house, took the money she keeps in Dante’s Inferno, made yourself a sandwich, and left, neglecting to lock the front door.”
Several dozen smart-aleck responses – having no basis in truth but sounding vaguely like a poor imitation of James Cagney – ranging from ‘You’ll never take me alive, copper!” to “You tell that lady to keep her mouth shut if she knows what’s good for her, see?”, shot through my brain. I, of course, said none of them.
“Officer,” I said, shaking my head, confident it would transfer over the phone. “Sometimes I smoke, sometimes I drink, and I’ve been known to use harsh language, but I don’t steal.”
He laughed. “Yeah, this is more of a courtesy call than anything else. She couldn’t say how much money was in the book or the last time she saw it, but she seemed certain the cleaning lady took it.”
He promised to keep in touch if there were further developments.
I didn’t hear from him again.
I'll be here Saturday and Sunday, but whether you are or not, have a lovely weekend!
4 hours ago