• Mary MacCarthy

House cleaner describes entering homes during Covid-19 lock down

Updated: May 7, 2020

I received a follow-up from Susan, the L.A. house cleaner I spoke to a week ago.

Susan - like many workers across the U.S. - is facing a near-impossible choice during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Susan could fully respect the "stay at home" directives, and be sure that she is protecting herself and her family from the virus.

But that leaves her with just a bit of income - money from the thoughtful clients who continue to pay her during the quarantine, without making her come to clean their homes.

Susan simply cannot get by on such a dramatically reduced income. So for now, she's continuing to work for the clients who request her services. HOW AM I GETTING BY THIS WEEK? Well I got a text to help this family - not just any family, a family whose house I’ve been cleaning for the past five years.

I don’t go anywhere without my mask. I take precautions, I research. Well, I get there, mask and gloves on, with a smile on my face. I had seen a rainbow the day before, and I was feeling full of hope.

I’m standing outside with mask and gloves, and this lady had nothing - no mask, no gloves, giving me orders. I wasn’t even allowed to say ‘hi’ to their kids from outside. I was given strict orders to only clean the windows and bathrooms. No contact with kids, not even from a distance.

First, I did the windows - by the way, on a four-story house in a wealthy neighborhood. Then I was escorted with my little basket of supplies - by the husband - to do the bathrooms. But every five minutes the wife would appear. Whoa! She caught me washing my hands and wiping my face. She immediately told me I wasn’t allowed to breathe inside. Only outside.

I felt, This is Real. The Fear is Real.

I followed orders. I’ve got my own back. And I educated her on the virus…

I asked the wife, ‘Why aren’t you wearing a mask?’

She said, ‘This is our home. We haven’t gone anywhere but our garden, we’ve been quarantined the last two weeks.’

I told her that it doesn't matter - she should still be wearing protection when anyone comes to her home.

I know more than them. After all, despite their money, they don't have knowledge. I could be the one taking the risks, not them. They may very well have asked me to walk into an infected house.

Just an update of my diary. A voice from the shadows.

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