Here is a question I didn’t know how to ask you, because until now I have been too confused to discuss it. But a couple of weeks has passed, and finally I am ready.
What do you do if you decide to hire a cleaner, and before she even sets foot in your house, you see her peeing in your garden?
“Oh my God,” says my wife, dashing to me. “Oh my God.”
“What?” I say, because you would, wouldn’t you?
“She’s here,” she says. “She’s outside!”
“Where?” I say, looking out of the window.
“She’s at the side,” she replies, looking panicked. “She walked over to the bushes… and now she’s having a pee.”
My brain is not working fast enough to take this in. It sounds like my wife is saying the woman who’s come round to mop our floor is urinating in our garden. But my body has already lurched me to the side window. And over there, behind a bush – in all seriousness – there is indeed a huddled figure. A figure huddled in such a way that it can only be involved in the process of expelling excess fluids. This is absolute insanity. It is beyond my understanding.
“What do we do?” I say, because what do you do?
“I don’t know!” says my wife, because no one does!
“Do we stop her?”
But stopping a woman from peeing is not part of my skill set. And it would require engaging with her, and this would mean admitting there is a problem.
Deciding to hire a cleaner was a mistake. We should’ve just carried on allowing the housework to get on top of us. But with all these children we now have – I think it’s, like, three, but they move so quick it’s hard to tell – maintaining a basic level of hygiene once a week seemed a good idea.
But not from a cleaner who is actively making things dirtier!
“What do we do?” my wife says again, and I see what she means now. She means: “Do we tell her our garden is not really for peeing in and then send her home?”
“Why didn’t she come in and ask to use the toilet?” I say. “This is madness. We’ve got a toilet. We allow people outside the family to use it! People are always asking to use each others’ toilets. You don’t pee willy-nilly, hither and thither! What kind of world would that be?!”
We are starting to panic. This woman’s expulsions are like a time bomb. Soon, she will have finished her business in our garden and will be at the door. Maybe if it’d been a gardener I’d have been OK with it. Like, she could’ve said it was good for the grass or something, and I’d have believed her. Or she could’ve said she was marking her territory to ward off her rivals and enemies. But we haven’t even said hello and now our first meeting will forever be tainted by the thought of her hunched by a shrub in full flow.
“Do we pretend to be out?” I say. “Or just make a joke of it?”
“What, just go, ‘Ha ha! Did you enjoy peeing in our garden?’”
It’s a hell of an ice-breaker.
“Maybe she’s nervous,” I say. But you’d have to be a very insecure and inexperienced cleaner to be nervous about cleaning. How wrong could it go? Surely not much worse than it’s already going.
“People don’t pee in other people’s gardens!” I say, with great certainty, even though absolute evidence to the contrary is happening in real-time outside.
And then – she steps out from behind the bushes.
My wife and I instinctively duck away from the window.
“She’s coming in,” I say, darkly.
“How do we stop this?” says my wife. But we both know it’s too late. We asked her to come round. We did not specify she wasn’t to pee in our garden.
With great solemnity, we reach the front door.
“Are you going to say something?” I quietly ask.
“Me?” says my wife.
“You found her,” I say. “You sure she didn’t put this in her profile?”
“I’d have remembered,” says my wife, as the doorbell goes.
I’m going to have to do something. I’m going to have to make a decision.
“Hiiiiiiii!” I say as I open the door in a casual and carefree way, and I raise my hands in a sort of double-wave, and step away, avoiding any chance of a handshake.
“Hello!” she says, like a woman who hasn’t just soiled our soil.
“Come iiiiiin!” I say, extending any vowels I can to buy myself time and make it not weird I’m now on the other side of the room to her.
“You have a lovely home,” she says, and I can’t help but feel it was a lot lovelier about five minutes ago. There is a miniscule moment in time where it would be appropriate to bring up the matter of unsolicited urination.
“So the kitchen’s just here,” I say, and for you, I now present the answer to the question ‘What do you do if you decide to hire a cleaner, and before she even sets foot in your house, you see her peeing in your garden?’.
What you do, is absolutely nothing.