Sunday morning I had a cleaning job with my friend Mary, a helluva cleaner, a very funny person (and a possible pickpocket, according to mjenks, who is also a very funny and, I’m sure, perfectly clean person in his own right).
It was the cushiest of jobs, Sunday’s. There was a bucket of hot soapy/bleach-y water, rags of varying sizes and stages of rag-ness, polishes and scrubs. There was a vacuum (go Dyson!), a free computer chair that wasn’t going to make the move, and a hundred-dollar bill at the end of it all.
Sounds almost too good, dudden it?
Hear me, O Short People! Let Mary and I serve as your what-not-to-do guides!
First of all, did I mention that this was a cushy job? A completely empty two-bedroom apartment (other than a very large wok we found in the kitchen), one bathroom.
We cleaned our way toward the door, closing doors behind us. And there, hanging in the little entry was this (or a reasonable fascimile thereof).
The tiny dessicated corpses of dozens and dozens of insects were visible through the bottom of the fixture.
"What do you think?" Mary asked.
"I think that thing comes down and I wash it," I said.
Mary grabbed the abandoned office chair. "It spins," she said, "but you can handle it."
The brain cells I'd been saving for a rainy day fled the room laughing as I climbed up onto a chair on wheels and, reaching as high as I possibly could, unscrewed the four nuts holding the light to the four hooked chains that hung from the ceiling.
The mummified bugs were given a proper burial (i.e., heaved over the deck railing into the woods), and I washed the light fixture.
OK then. We'll just put this back...
But while I may have been tall enough to unscrew the nuts, I was not nearly tall enough to fit the fixture back over the hanging bolts, not nearly tall enough to hold the fixture over my head with one hand, get the bolts to fix through the holes and then screw the cute little nut on to the exposed bolt…
We took turns, the two of us, standing on the revolving chair, making grunting noises as we revolved, slowly, the blood draining from our trembling arms, alternately laughing and swearing in that delightfully feminine way we have…
We did that for 25 minutes.
Mary brushed her bangs away from her face. “I’m going to the neighbors. Somebody’s gotta have a taller chair around here.”
She came back two minutes later with two women carrying the most beautiful carved-teak, tapestry-seated chair I’d ever seen.
We took our shoes off.
It was a slightly higher chair, but not enough to make a difference.
“I geet my husband,” one of the neighbor women said. “He taking nap.”
A wonderfully tall man appeared moments later, rubbing his eyes and grinning sheepishly.
“You need some help?”
He stood on one chair, Mary stood on the other, and I, as the shortest one in the room, stayed on the ground, catching falling washers, passing up the nuts, and slowing Mary’s counter-clockwise revolutions on the Office Chair of Nausea.
The gleaming light fixture was back together in 10 minutes.
There's a lesson here, people, but danged if I know what it is. Where there's a will there's a way? Put a plan in place before you start? Have a laughing good-natured woman with you at all times?
Hard to say.
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