I think, hiring someone to help me with cleaning (and only cleaning) for four hours a day would give me four hours free time to deal with everything else.

I think, listening to the opinion of strangers will help me take a more objective decision.

I think, it might be too early, but I think, I might be wrong.

For two weeks now, we have this guy coming for four hours every day and help me clean the place. He would come around 1 pm and finish at four or five. If a type of chores would require two person, or a set of skill outside of cleaning, I would let him help the skilled worker, who is almost always his friend.

For the most part, the cats are fine with him. They do not hide from him, they are not hostile toward them, he is not hostile toward the cats. If he works in one section of the cattery, the cats move to the other, if he move to their section, they went to the next corner.

His schedule forced me to live around his. I still sleep at 3 am and wake up at about six, after which I would clean the litter box and rush to make cat food and feed the cats so that when he comes, he can just clean all over the house from back to front. I did this once, Susan did it once, and it took both of us four hours. That’s why the guy work four hours.

The other reason is my only complaint about him. He is short minded, and sometimes even empty headed. He cannot work unsupervised or he will do everything wrong and I will have to do it all over again. He forgot one task or two.

And I always have to clean up after him.

He would sweep the floor, put the rubbish bag to the corner and forgot to bring it out when he goes home. He piled broken things to the other corner, clean the rest of the cattery almost squeaky clean and then go make a cup of coffee. After he got home, I will find the pile of broken things in that corner where he left it, haul them all out back and forth to the recycle bin, and found his cigarette butt in the planters, near the hose, and his coffee cup in his shelves.

I know he struggled to keep things tidy because the outdoor cats keep knocking things off, and rain doused everything everyday, so I told him to open one box of shelving unit in the living room and put it out. I told him one row of shelf can hold about twenty kilograms (40 lbs) of stuffs.

He didn’t want wire shelving like I use in the kitchen. He wants one other, so when I went to the bathroom, he drag the box out and when I come back it’s half way done.

I bought that shelf on discount to use for my books, sewing machine, computer, printers etc after my room is fixed. It’s a heavy duty shelf because I have tons of books that would buckle regular shelves. One row of shelf can hold about thirty kilograms (60 lbs) and he use it for fertilizers, empty tanks and buckets, and gardening tools.

See why I told him to use the wire shelves instead of the other that he fancy?

That’s fine. I will manage.

He also put his coffee cups and spoons there and if I just trust him and not bother to check, there will literally be dozens of dirty spoon (which I wash) and cups and rotting coffee there, and a village of ants.

Did I mention cigarette butts?

When I told her about this bad habit of leaving bits of the job for me to clean up, Susan didn’t seem to faze. She just told me “yes but” he is doing a great job and that he is worth the dollar. She said so each time I mentioned it, and repeat it again when the story about the cleaning guy went on air.

I took her opinion seriously because I want to be objective. It is possible that I am just too strict. Maybe I am just mean, maybe I am just too strong, maybe I am overwhelming. Besides, everyone else in town does a sloppy job, and every other people live with it, so maybe that is standard and I should just brush it off. Maybe cleaning the house back to front for four hours is too much.

Maybe he is just too busy and tired, and his brain has glitches. There are seven people in his tiny rented house, tiny, as in as big as my front yard, three of those people are children. All four adults are informal workers, unskilled employees. I know how it feels to be struggling to feed so many mouth. I myself work from dawn to dawn to keep The Whiskers’ Syndicate alive, and I speak English, I have internet, I have laptop and I am well connected to people who can help. I doubt he even graduated high school.

I am trying to put myself in his shoes and walk a mile, plus a little.

I give him all the tools he needs so he can work better. I make him a list of work that he can tick off so he won’t forget or leave something where it shouldn’t be (he left glass cleaner by hot stove. Glass cleaner is inflammable) I put labels on every single bottle if the direction is in English. Slowly but sure I introduce him to home appliances so he can work faster.

His favorite is high pressure cleaner. Every single time he comes to the house, that’s the first thing he touch. I told him that since he will be working with water from rainwater tank, he should first turn on the pump, let the water run a little until all the air bubbles are out, and then plug it in. All he do is turn on the pump plug the hose in and when bubbles stuck in the unit, he just keep forcing it until either I run to the back to jack everything out before the machine blow, or hear me yelling to do it the right way as my hand is holding chicken breast.

And then, he will spray all over, and splatter lint everywhere. After he finish dousing the whole playroom, he will sprinkle lysol here and there, brush left and right, squeegee, and done.

It never occur to him that the lint he spatter will stick on the wall and I will have to scrub it off later on.

So instead of four hours free time, I ended up with six hours of extra chores, and I just keep helping him to do things the right way.

I first raised my tone when he push paint and whatever tools left from the renovation to the corner right under my bedroom window because that is the only spot that is always empty. I told him no cats wants it there and I never put things there because it leaks when it rain.

He put things there anyway, and haul the whole unopened waterproofing concrete and put it right under the leak. I bought that bag of concrete on discount to use for my room, and although it’s discount it’s still USD 75.

The bag melt.

He saw that the bag is wet and it started to disintegrate but he ignore it.

I lost my patience and told him to move the freaking concrete and put it into a container.

He done so, put the container right back under the leak, and go home.

You know what ex feral cats do to pile of things? Spray.

You remember where he pile the things up? Under my bedroom window.

So, pile of things, cat spray, leaking rain. How would that be under bedroom window that already smells like mould and fungus?

Last Friday I found myself waking up late (I haven’t been sleeping for three days), rush for everything, and no matter how much I try, I know I won’t be able to keep up. In fact, I realize it then that every day for two weeks I just keep jumping like Freddy Krueger chased me off my bed every morning and is rushing like crazy to get things done before he comes so I can “assist” him and can spare extra time cleaning after the guy I pay to clean for me.

I am not strong, I am not brave, I don’t know how I do it. People never believe me when I said that I cracked under pressure, and before I blasted myself off to hell, I grab my phone and told the guy I have things to do outside so he didn’t need to come.

It was bliss. All of a sudden the whole sanctuary stopped rushing around and I can feel the air slowly turned light. No tension, nothing. Just the intense hot sun, the wind, the cats, and me.

I was on top of the ladder trying to mount a door stopper when one of the ladder’s pin snapped.

I felt the step under my foot collapsed so I instinctively grab the door, hung by the door frame on my arms, and landed on my foot. I sprained one ankle, and it swell so big and hurt so bad for a few good minutes I just lay there on the laundry room.

It could be worse, really, I could have went down with the ladder, fell on my butt or back, and slammed the back of my head onto the edge of the sink.

I put compress, I taped my ankle, took pain killer, and go to sleep hanging my foot.

It’s still swollen on Saturday, but I can walk, so I went to fetch tuna and go home. Again, I call the guy off because I wouldn’t be able to chase him around and fill in his blanks.

Instead of the usual, I thought we’d have a little picnic and the cats and I eat under the bright sky. Them and their tuna, me and my store bought bento box.

Throughout the afternoon, the whole sanctuary looked like battle ground. Cats everywhere, in various tummy up position, sleeping in peace until the next day. No, seriously, until the next day.

Did you see Nellie draped herself over that blue bin? She didn’t budge until midnight.

The house was so quiet my next door neighbor (Hanshin’s mama) went upstairs and open the window to peek on us and make sure everything is all right.

The air was so light and relaxed, instead of working, I sleep.

I haven’t seen them enjoy the day like that for a very long time. When the guys are around the cats are usually in the play room on the top shelves, or around the corner, or behind doors, lurking. They are fine with him, but are cautious and stay alert.

They didn’t rub my feet anymore, they didn’t give me headbutt anymore, they stay put on the side until he’s gone.

Malaya’s baby usually can sleep everywhere with the cutest styles and pose, but lately, I have a hard time finding him because he is so very quiet, and he always find the most secluded spot to sleep and not come out until he is hungry.

Cleaning wise, my guy is the champion. I wouldn’t be able to clean the way he does and for that alone, he is worth the dollar, and that is why I gave him a chance, but for the rest, he is a lot of work. I hired him so I can have extra time to get my businesses off the ground that I can work from home and spend time caring for the terminal kitties, but after two weeks it’s still untouched.

Everyone learns in different pace, and different ways. He probably have never touched any of the advanced technologies that I have in my house. He probably have different methods of doing things. Two weeks is a relatively short time to judge, but the longer he adapts, the more tensions he gives the cats, and so far, since he thinks cats are cats, he doesn’t seem to care so much. Animal welfare is still beyond logic here, and he doesn’t come from high places to begin with. I have to understand he has a longer way to catch up, and I have to be fair by giving him the time he needs to adapt.

He is, after all, the lesser of all evils. He is not perfect, but he keeps his mouth shut, he brings himself around with common courtesy (whether he meant it or not), and he is not treating the cats like a bunch of garbage.

I have to be fair to myself and adapt to other people. I fully understand that my speed is, to many of people here, is beyond recognition. Demanding him to run on my lane is like comparing a bike to Ducati. I need time to slow down after a decade of full speed and full force, and change, unlike love, can’t happen overnight.

Still, I have to be fair to the cats as well. This is their house, this is their life. I took them off their previous lives to give them better days, and some have only begin to accept their term of retirement, and it will be unfair for me to make them change all over again because I need someone to clean the place like Samson.

A close friend I often confided to told me that if he just keep going this way, it’s better that I use his salary for myself and buy more home appliances to make my work easier, or faster, or to hire someone to help me establish my online business, buy better equipment or pay some apps to help me fund raise, or just keep him as freelance to help when things got out of hand.

Wise advice.

The next two weeks, we will see. I really want this arrangement to work out. I know he can, but it’s not me who has to be compelled to prove it. It takes two to tango. It will be cruel to cut him off at the end of the month (if he can’t make it) because Ramadhan starts in May and he will need money for his family to spend during his big day, but again, if he wants to break the glass ceiling and make his life better, no one else can open the path but himself,

For now, let the wind blow the chime and the air light. Let us dine with the sun and sing with the rain.

Let the lions sleep tonight.

~ Josie


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Josie And The Whiskers' Syndicate

The first and only cat refuge in Bandung (West Java - Indonesia) a capital breeder of a nation without animal welfare law. We care for Bandung's unwanted animals, operate a TNR as much as our budget allows, and continue to educate people about compassion to animals

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