Window cleaners

purple, black, grey, white, wheelchair, disability, children, girls, uniform, school, yellow, ginger, orange, illustrator, Hannah Foley, illustration, popcorn, school, educationI got myself into a tricky situation with window cleaners recently. I’d love to know if any of you get yourselves into the same sort of predicament. Here’s what happened…

When we first moved down to Devon the windows of our house were filthy so I asked our neighbour if he could recommend a window cleaner. He certainly could and when his window cleaner next came, our neighbour sent him round to our house. Let’s call him Bert (not his real name I hasten to add). I don’t know if I’m a bit grubby in this department but I have always felt a regular window cleaner to be a bit of a luxury and had only intended a one-off visit. The thing was, Bert did a fantastic job, and was super nice, and only charged £4 a time. £4 every six weeks or so seemed very manageable so Bert became our regular window cleaner for the rest of the duration of our stay at that house. But then we moved, and that’s when the pickle began.

Just before we moved I let Bert know we were moving and that we’d like him to continue to clean our windows at our new house. He duly noted us down in his book and that was that. But the spring passed, and then the summer, and he hadn’t appeared. The windows of our new house were even filthier than the last place. They really needed doing. I noticed an ad for a window cleaner in our local paper and left a message asking him to come round. I didn’t meet this chap, he communicated via text messages and put a note through our door when he’d done. We’ll call him Ernie (not his real name either!). He did a great job but he charged us £14. “Would you like me to come back next month?” Ernie asked. Not really, I thought to myself. But this was a guy who was getting out and making work for himself, and I have a great deal of sympathy for the self-employed (being so myself). Essentially I hate saying no and it was lovely not having to clean the windows myself. Maybe we could manage once a quarter, I suggested to Big Dreamer. Both agreed, I text Ernie back. All fine.

A week later I saw Bert, cleaning someone else’s windows in our street. “Hello!” he greeted me. He’d been looking out for me for weeks. He’d misplaced his notebook and couldn’t remember the number we’d moved to. Would I like him to clean our windows? “Yes,” I replied through a frozen smile. Absolutely. Please come and clean our windows. What was I doing? Ernie was now our window-cleaner! I had to make a decision but I hate telling people things I think they won’t want to hear so I procrastinated and I procrastinated.

Three weeks later a slip appeared through our door. Windows cleaned. Payment required. What?! Ernie had been back, completely ignoring my text about only coming quarterly. Crunch time had come. I decided to tell Ernie to stop coming. At last I text him, we’ve decided not to have our windows cleaned regularly after all. Wren looked at me from wide eyes, a little piece of her baby-faced innocence slipping away because she’d just witnessed her mother tell a bare-faced lie.

Ernie turned up on our doorstep the next day. Had he not done a good enough job? What was the problem? And by the way, he’d cleaned the windows again on Friday and he wanted paying for that. No, I explained, rummaging wearily in my purse, he’d done a great job but we had just decided to do them ourselves (!!!). I leant against the front door after he’d gone and looked mournfully at Wren. Why couldn’t I just tell him it’s because he didn’t listen and he was coming too often and charging too much and I don’t really think windows need cleaning that often anyway. She gave me a look of total disgust before turning back to her teething toy. Grow a backbone mother!

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