I have a great relationship with my mechanic, namely because I can’t afford a car that doesn’t brake down once every few months. So when I called him to tell him I needed a few things done, he made me a proposition. No not that kind! You all have been stuck in the house too long.
He offered to trade the car work for some house cleaning. “Sure!” I said. I love to barter my services. You don’t need to be a rich Karen to get a professional house cleaning. I love to help people out and I’ve gotten some really cool goods and services in return. I’ve written an article here to explain how to barter for house cleaning.
So we set a time and date. He would work on the car while I cleaned his house. I had never been there before as we usually did all the work at his shop. He said it was a small house but it was getting a bit unmanageable, him living alone and working full time. “No problem!” I said. “I’ll fix you right up!”
Needless to say, I was not prepared for what I pulled up to. Cars filled his dirt yard in various states of repair. Tires stacked chest-high jutted out of the ground like rubber chimneys. Wow, I thought. This must be the place. I pulled my car into the only space in the driveway that didn’t have some sort of mechanical object in it.
The yard was like a mine field, with unknown parts here and there. Me, never having been in a war, or worked on a car for that matter, did not know if I happened to step on one, would it explode. I maneuvered very carefully towards the front door.
It was a small house, weathered and a little run down. He came out onto the front porch and waved. He was a jovial man, in his 60s with a pot belly that preceded him a few feet. I waved back, praying he was actually a neat freak inside. Hmmm…a neat freak mechanic? That might be a stretch.
No such luck. The inside looked like the outside but with furniture thrown in the mix. Wrenches and nuts and bolts littered the coffee table, which was actually just two tires with a piece of plywood on top. Car batteries lined the walls. The kitchen was must have been his parts room, because every manner of alternator and starter covered the old Formica counter tops. I noticed a carburetor that looked like he was using it for a toaster.
Oh, and for a nice centerpiece, a whole engine hung from a small crane-looking thing in the middle of the room. Not to mention, every manner of fast food bag and box in the Tri-county area littered every room. All I could do was nod and grin while my OCD hyperventilated in the corner. “Wow,” I said. “This is quite a place.”
“Yeah, I guess I bring my work home.”
Nod and grin.
“I haven’t really done anything to it since the wife left.”
Oh, how long ago was that?”
“About ten years.”
“Ok,” he said. “I’m gonna get started. Do what you can and move whatever you need to. I don’t expect it to be a palace or anything.
Nod, nod, nod.
He went outside and I looked down at my cleaning caddy wishing I had something more industrial, or mechanical, like a leaf blower. My OCD was now rocking back and forth in the corner whispering “Everything’s gonna be ok. Everything’s gonna be ok.” My brain wasn’t having this and picked up my OCD and slapped it in the face. Pull it together man! We can do this! It’s just some parts, and tools, and an engine. At that point OCD ran out of the house.
I decided to start in the kitchen. I had to get all the tools and parts off the counters. I opened the pantry and the shelves were empty. Thank god for small miracles. I went around the house collecting everything car related and putting it in the pantry, with the tools in a card board box I found in the bedroom.
I found a little vase and decided to get creative. I put some wrenches in it like flowers. It was cute and my brain was very proud of me. OCD be damned! We got this. I got out my heavy duty trash bags and threw away all the trash. After an hour of this I was finally ready to clean. My mechanic was still clanking away on my car.
The cleaning was pretty straight forward. An old house like this is not going to look spotless, but I did what I could. I got the old vinyl floors looking pretty good and the sink back to a respectable white, well respectable enough for my mechanic. I went through three Swiffer dusters for the inch of dust covering everything. I found some rugs in the hall closet and put one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom. An old table cloth was perfect for the plywood coffee table. I even put a few of his knick knacks out that I found thrown in a corner. I looked around and nodded in satisfaction this time.
“Holy cow!” my mechanic exclaimed as he walked in. “Am I in the wrong house?”
We walked around the house and I explained everything I did. He couldn’t stop thanking me and told me my next tune up was on him. I was exhausted but content that I could help out. Nothing like the Cleaning Lady’s touch. And he loved the tool flower pot. Score one for The Cleaning Lady!