A Hierarchy of Chores

LaundryWhen I was little, we had a housekeeper. She came in once a week to vacuum the
carpets, scrub the toilets, and try her best to make the house feel like it did not contain three young children and a handful of hairy pets. I remember thinking, as I contemplated whether cleaning my room or loosing my dessert privileges was the greater evil, that she had the absolute worst job in the world. I hated cleaning my room, and it was just one little room! This poor woman had to clean whole HOUSES, and they weren’t even HERS, and she had to do it EVERY SINGLE DAY.

And that, I suppose, is the kind of thinking that karmicly lands you a job cleaning toilets every single day.

I run a bed and breakfast these days. I have four guest bedrooms, and in the 120 days of a Black Hills summer, each of those four rooms gets cleaned (on average) 3.5 times each week, making for a total of 14 toilets scrubbed every week of my summer.

Yes, I did the math. You see, a person starts to be concerned about average toilet-scrubbing rates after one has scrubbed so many toilets that one’s eyes start to go crossed.

The other thing one starts to do, at that eyes-crossed point in the game, is one starts to make ranked lists in one’s head about the relative awefulness of each chore. It turns out scrubbing toilets is in no way my least-favorite chore. So here, for your consideration, is my Ranking of Chores, in order from most to least favorite.

Laundry
Sorting it, putting it in the washer, starting the dryer, and even folding it. Laundry is such a bulky chore that getting through it really makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Besides, it’s warm and smells so nice.

Making beds
Crisp, fresh sheets, hospital corners, artfully arranged pillows. Another chore that is large in volume and makes it look like you’ve done a lot of work.

Sweeping the floors
An easy way to really make a place look clean.

Cleaning sinks
They’re not usually as dirty as the other bathroom fixtures, and making the faucet all shiny makes me feel like the guests will really believe the place is clean.

Cleaning toilets
Let’s face it: modern technology makes this really easy. With a disposable sponge on the end of a long wand, you hardly even have to touch the toilet!

Putting laundry away
It’s clean. It’s folded. It’s sitting in a mountain twenty towels high on my dresser. The mystery of why it’s so hard to get it from there to inside of drawers or closets is akin to the mystery of what happens to socks in the dryer.

Mopping floors
Stupid hardwood floors. Stupider laminate floors.

Hand-washing the special dishes
Hmph. Soapy, crumby water. Boo.

Cleaning bathtubs
I can’t explain quite why I loathe this task so much. Bathtubs are big and the things that get left on the bottom are never, ever nice things.

For all that, none of these tasks is so bad. When you clean a toilet nearly every day, it doesn’t have a chance to get aggressively gross. And if you can get some good tunes or a good story to listen to while you work, the repetition doesn’t become so mind-numbing.

And when strangers pay you for the privilege of judging your housekeeping, there is serious satisfaction in having a sparkling toilet to offer up for their consideration.

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