One of the jobs I had when I was in college was cleaning houses with my roommate. We had one house in particular that gave us fits. The owners were retired, but the man had been a doctor and the wife a concert pianist. We felt like they were always looking down their nose at us. I would have just shrugged them off and done my job, but my sweet roommate and coworker Doré was determined to win them over–and eventually she did.
Don’t ask dumb questions while cleaning houses.
Curiosity got the best of me one day. Normally we cleaned empty houses, but this couple was always home. The man smoked, and I pondered the fact that he was a doctor. The two just did not seem to jive in my mind. As I was cleaning that day, I blurted out, “I’m surprised that you smoke since you are a doctor!” No, I don’t mince words! The man looked at me with his usual cross face and very indignantly huffed out that in his day everyone smoked yada yada yada. This still didn’t explain how that now that he did know it was horrible for his health he hadn’t quit. I did however, have enough sense to keep my remaining thoughts to myself!
The money in the pot.
Another day after we had been cleaning there for a while, I started wondering about the dollars that were in a big pot–some sort of décor from the Orient. It was no doubt very expensive, but it looked to me like the equivalent of an Oriental chamber pot gracing their living room.
This couple rarely talked to us. I think they didn’t want to waste the money they were paying us in conversation and they were decidedly unfriendly. I could keep my mouth shut no longer, however, and finally I asked, “Do you know that you have several dollars in that pot over there? It’s been there ever since I started cleaning here.” The couple locked eyes from across the room. I distinctly saw a twinkle in the man’s eyes and the little corners of his mouth turn up in the faintest of smiles. It was the first time I had seen any heart in either of them at all.
It wasn’t until years later that I heard that rich people often leave a little money lying around the house on purpose to test the integrity of their cleaning help. This was one test that I passed with flying colors!