Wednesday, January 19, 2022

the perfect servant

You know you belong in a place when you belong to it.

Helen Mirren, as the housekeeper Mrs. Wilson in Gosford Park, captured that spirit exactly.

What gift do you think a good servant has that separates them from the others?

It's the gift of anticipation.  And I'm a good servant.

I'm better than good. I'm the best.

I'm the perfect servant.

I know when they'll be hungry and the food is ready.

I know when they'll be tired and the bed is turned down.

I know it before they know it themselves.

Now, I may not be the perfect servant. But there is no doubt that I am a servant to my Barraganesque house. To call me the owner would be hubris. I am a steward. A care-taker. To ensure this small architectural miracle passes on into other hands and generations who will have the opportunity to enjoy it as much as I do.

Wednesday is the day I feel as if I should be slipping on my servant togs because it is the day of the week when most chores are completed. The photograph should give you a few hints of how the morning goes.

Dora arrives around 9 AM to help me clean the place. But, before she arrives, I have several chores that Dora jokingly refers to as "el trabajo de Steve" -- the things owner Steve has delegated to servant Steve.

1. I combine the used toilet paper wastebasket in my bedroom with the contents of the office wastebasket, and put it in the patio with the bag of leaves and flowers that have fallen during the past few days.

2.  I clean the sink sieves and tie up the kitchen garbage bag, wash the garbage container, and put the bag with the other bags in the patio.

3. Because they need regular cleaning, the burner heads and pot supports go into the sink for a deep wash.

4. During the summer, I need to cut back the patio vines weekly. Sometimes, twice a week. In the winter, I can get by with every other week. But that is two to three hours teetering atop an ever-unsteady ladder. (In truth, it is this old guy that is unsteady, but I have yet to find anyone who can trim the vines without leaving them in dire condition.)

5. When the yardwork is complete, I shower, strip my bed, and gather up the rest of the week's laundry. If Omar remembers, he will leave his bags at the front door (with enough of Yoanna's clothes to cause the laundress to wonder if anything is amiss.)

6. The water we consume and use for cooking is bottled. They are about five gallons each. We go through one in about two days. That means that Wednesday will find at least one empty bottle at the front door. 

By that point, I don my chauffeur cap to drop the laundry at the laundress (for pickup on Thursday) and to exchange the empty water bottle for a full one at the neighborhood Oxxo.

What this little chore list leaves out is the unmistakable fact that Dora does the hard work around the house. I do not like washing windows. Partly because I have absolutely no skills for the task.

Without Dora, the house would be a streaky mess. At least 80% of the walls of the rooms that face the patio are glass. She also mops, sweeps, makes beds, tidies up Omar's room, and makes certain that all of that consolidated refuse gets to a secure place where the dogs will not be spreading in the street what we considered to be unusable inside the house.

So, there you have it. I am not the perfect servant, just a willing one. And a regular one

If Perfect Servant is to be worn by anyone in this household, it has to be Dora the Almost Indispensable.  


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