Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A Clean Sweep

A few weeks ago, our cleaning lady Ah Chuan announced that she was taking annual leave.
            “I’m going to China to see my ancestral village!” she screamed at Amanda who didn’t even look up from her magazine as she stuck up her hand with a thumbs up and said, “You go, girl!”
            She later told us that she had no idea what Ah Chuan had said on account of the fact that she was wearing her ear-plugs at the time.
            “I always wear ear-plugs when she comes to clean,” she told Sharyn. “It’s the only way to get through the morning without going deaf!”
            “Then how you know what she say?” Sharyn asked.
            Amanda brightened. “Oh, my new iPhone 4S recorded it. Somehow, Siri managed to translate what Ah Luan was yelling at me! I still don’t know how that happened.”
            Anyway, the long and short of it is that the apartment I share with Saffy and Amanda hasn’t been cleaned in two weeks. And it’s not looking or smelling pretty.
            “I swear something has died in the bathroom!” Saffy complained a few days ago as she emerged in a cloud of steam.
            “It’s probably my virginity!” Barney Chen growled from the depths of the sofa where he was idly flipping through the latest edition of Men’s Health.
            Saffy stared at Barney for a moment, her towel wrapped tightly around her suffocating bosom. She opened her mouth to say something and then immediately shut it. “You really never can tell with that boy,” she said to us later as she half-heartedly patted a sofa cushion.
            “What are you doing?” Amanda asked.
            Saffy straightened up, a little out of breath. She looked surprised. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m dusting!”
            “You’re patting the cushion. All you’re doing is puffing the dust up in the air where it’ll resettle onto the couch and on other surfaces!”
            Saffy bristled. “Excuse me, but who died and made you the housekeeper?”
            From experience, Amanda sidestepped the challenge and changed tracks. “The toilet is just revolting! Jason, I do wish you’d aim properly. And put the toilet seat down when you’re done!”
            I stiffened and told her that she should be directing her complaint at Bradley. “He’s the one who needs lessons in aiming!”
            Amanda turned to Saffy who had the good grace to look embarrassed. “I’ve tried!” she said earnestly. “Really, I have. But you know what new boyfriends can be like? It takes a long time to house-train them! Look how long it took us with Jason!”
            “Excuse me!” I said icily.
            “Listen,” Amanda said urgently, “my parents did not send me to Harvard so that I could clean up a guy’s pee off the toilet seat.”
            “And not your boyfriend, some more!” Sharyn piped up. The comment earned her a filthy look from Saffy.
            Meanwhile, we’ve tried dividing up the house chores with mixed results. Saffy’s idea of cleaning the floor involves moving a damp mop in wide circles around furniture.
“Why aren’t you cleaning under the sofa?” Amanda cried.
Saffy looked genuinely surprised. “But why would you?”
Of course, I was assigned the bathroom, but when I was done, the whole room sparkled. Still, that hasn’t stopped Saffy from complaining that taking a shower now is like bathing in bleach. “How many bottles did you use?” she complained last night. “The fumes are so strong I can almost feel my skin stripping right off me!”
The kitchen has been a bit of a disaster though. Apparently, not only did Amanda’s parents not send her to Harvard to wipe up after her flatmate’s boyfriend’s missed aim, they also never taught her how to rinse a dish after washing it.
“But it’s fine, it’s organic dishwashing liquid!” she protested after Saffy and I started coughing up bubbles during dinner. “It won’t kill you!”
Saffy complained to Sharyn that not only is she being burned alive by bleach fumes every time she takes a shower, she is now also being poisoned by dishwashing liquid every time she eats. “It’s all Ah Chuan’s fault!” she fumed. “Why does she need to see her ancestral village, anyway? It’s not as if anyone knows her there!”
“Wah liau, go home to China also cannot, ah?” Sharyn asked.
But Saffy isn’t letting go of this bone. “I swear, if I die, I’m so coming back to haunt that woman! It’s completely irresponsible of her to leave us to clean up after ourselves. If we could do it, we wouldn’t need to hire her in the first place, would we?”
Amanda says that sometimes it shocks her how much sense Saffy can make. 

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