A Housecleaner\’s Curious Adventures
by Louise Rafkin
When she was a kid, Rafkin dreamed of being a spy for the CIA. As an adult, she got a degree in journalism, but ended up more often employed at something she had a natural knack for: cleaning houses. She turned it into a specialty, cleaning homes for a string of rich clientele. This book wraps it all together- her penchant for cleaning, her skills as a writer, and her inclination to snoop through stuff and figure out stories about her clients\’ lives. Other People\’s Dirt is the full scoop on housecleaners. What her pet peeves are, her favorite cleaning products, her critique of vacuum cleaner models. What she\’s learned on the job, and her forays into the lives of other kinds of housecleaners: agencies that employ teams of maids (usually poorly paid in the end), services that provide housecleaners who mostly pretend to dust and scrub while scantily clad, even a spiritual group in Japan that cleans toilets as a form of humble service. At one point she seeks out the woman who used to clean her own house when she was a kid, but communication is nil (her mom\’s housecleaner never learned English) and she doesn\’t get the revelations or make the bond she was seeking. This book reminded me a lot of Nickel and Dimed, and the breezy tone similar to that in Confessions of a Slacker Mom. At first I was enjoying it a lot, but then got annoyed at the times Rafkin would hint at some secret she knew about her employers, then refuse to tell. Or this blatant typo: \”my need to tow the politically correct line\” (it should be part of your foot, not a method of hauling)- usually I can gloss right over errors and ignore them but in a short book, it leaps right out and irritates me. And the final chapter, about her time in Japan, just became confusing. So in the end the story kind of fizzled, but I did like it most of the way through.
Rating: 3/5 ……… 195 pages, 1998