Thursday, May 08, 2008

in which i solicit

I accept advice when offered, even welcome it...but it is an rare day that I outright ask for it. Especially on the blog. But I'd love to know what you'd do if you were in my shoes (shoe).

(I have just tried editing this and it is rambly and scattered because so am I. Sorry.)

I have someone come in to help me clean my house. The CleaningLady has been coming since last fall. I really like her. She is very sweet, and we chat a little bit about personal stuff from time to time. Very nice person. She worked for MerryMaids when I first had her in, but after awhile she left there to work independently, and was happy to follow her.

In addition to a CleaningLadey, I have a son. He gets an allowance of $10 per week. Seems like a lot for a 10 year old, perhaps...but I make him pay for pretty much everything he covets. His latest goal is a Wii, and he's been saving allowances , gift monies, and forgoing purchasing other things for quite some time now. I think around December, maybe...when he realized that he wasn't get one under the Channukah bush.

Several months ago, February I'd say, MyFK started complaining about how long it's been taking to save up for said Wii, and about every months or so, he pulls out all of his money and counts it, and he's always got pretty much the same amount. He has either just above or below $100. For 4 months in a row now. Of course, this is odd, because at $40 a month of allowance, you'd assume that after 4 months the kid would be closer to Wii-land, right?

I'm sure you know where this is going, but allow me...I need to process this.

So about a three weeks ago, after months of listening to NoWiiWhining for months, and after checking in with my MyFavoriteKid's dad to make sure money wasn't being taken to his house on weekends and being spent in ways I might not be aware of, I realize that the money is being taken, and probably by the CleaningLady.

Three weeks ago, I have MyFK count his money. She comes, she cleans, he counts, less money. I suggest we try one more week. Maybe he counted wrong. We must be sure, I tell him. The next week he counts, she comes, she cleans, less money again. This time I realize that other people had access to the house that same day for that go-round, so we can't be 100% certain.

While waiting for go-round #3 I kinda quiz MyFk a bit. Is he sure he is counting correctly?? Is he maybe doing something shifty with money during the day, like (heavens) buying things he shouldn't be buying, or making friends by being a sugar daddy or something?? Is he stealing the money from himself because I'd told him I'd replace it if the CleaningLady was found out, so that he'd double his money?? (yes, I think he is that clever...and no, he probably is not...he is 10...but I'm his mom).

MyFK is slightly insulted by my questioning, but hey...if I am about to fire someone, I have to ask.

Just a few more details for you....the missing dough is averaging out to be about $10 a week, and MyFK keeps it locked up. His room is furnished with this gym-lockerish stuff from Ikea.

He keeps his money in that white nightstand there. He locks it. Now all the furniture in his room is that style, and it all uses the same key, and he keeps one out all the time plugged into the cd tower, so none of it is burglar proof, for sure. But CleaningLady couldn't have "accidently" opened the nightstand. She'd have had to gotten the key from the cd tower to unlock the nightstand, and there is no reason for CleaningLady to go in there anyhow.

Oh, and a few more details. I do not believe that she has a key to our house. Usually I am here when she arrives. I let her in, and I leave once she gets working to get out of her way. She locks the doorknob behind her. There have been a couple of occasions though where I have left the key under the mat for her because I had to leave before she arrived, and she'd leave the key on my dining room table and let herself out and lock up. This happened one time while I was gone for a week in Boston. She could have had time to make a copy of the key during that week (that would be ParanoidMeWhoMaybeNeedsAtivanForAnxiety talkin').

Ok, so if you are still with me, back to the 3rd go-round.

This week, MyFK is out of town. And CleaningLady came today. And nobody else had access to the house. I counted the money about 3 minutes before she arrived, and then to make things interesting, I sweetened the pot with a couple of 5's a 10 and some singles (I use peanut butter on mousetraps, too).

As I always do, I left while she cleaned. As always, I went out with my dad. We do it every Thursday morning. We run our errands together. Love it.

I came home minutes after she left and immediately counted the money.
$18 gone.
No kid to miscount because this time I counted. Nobody else around. No sugar daddy-ing, no nothing. Just missing peanut butter and a sprung trap.

It's the CleaningLady.
No, I didn't go buying a webcam to nab her (I almost did though!), but it's her. It just has to be.

Right after I counted the money and almost fainted from not breathing, a handyman friend of mine showed up to install a dog door, and he suggested that I stop payment on my check to her that day...pronto. Which I did. (not sure if I should have done that quite yet, read on).

I cannot even tell you how crappy I feel. I shall try, though. I feel the typical violated. I feel like I would have never guessed in a million years that she'd be the type to steal from a me, and even worse...from my kid. Any kid. I feel like I cannot trust my judge of character. I feel like I doubted my own intuition. I feel like I waited too long giving her the benefit of the doubt. I feel like crap for questioning my son's character, even though it was just to be certain, because firing someone without actual proof is a pretty big deal, but still...I doubted my kid, and I know he knows that. I feel like stopping payment on the check may have been bad, that she might retaliate. I feel like I need to change all the locks. I feel like I might not be able to go out on Thursday's with my dad because she knows that is my routine and neighbors wouldn't blink if they saw her car here. I feel pretty sick to my stomach, and this is one of those events that just sort of makes me hate people. I feel like I'd rather have been mugged on the street by a stranger than stolen from in my own home by someone I trusted to have dusting my personals. Gads, she even dusted my altar!! Ugh. And I am sad I have no more CleaningLady, and even if I found a new one, I'm going to now be feeling like they are all sneaky, probably.

Now, I have not called her yet to let her know that my check will not go through and that she has been canned. I want to do that tomorrow after the locks are changed. She may have tried to cash the check today for all I know though, and maybe she is plotting against me right this minute. That is why I am here typing this right now. I skipped teaching dance class tonight! To stay home like a worry wart and look up locksmiths!

So what would you do? I've talked with a few people today about it and I've gotten everything from "file a police report" to "sit her down and talk it out, good people sometimes do bad things" to "go kick her ass". And what do I do about how I feel?

I dunno. I am open for suggestions though. Have at it.

You know what, too? This week has really sucked.

I just need to say that out loud.

I had three doctor's appointments, none of them fun (one of them troublesome), a sleep study, a trip to the vet, a crown replaced, a debit card stolen, and a sneaky CleaningLady. I miss my kid, and I have actually gone to the mailbox every day just to see if he sent a letter home, which if he did, I probably wouldn't get until next week anyhow. I missed dance class, I didn't catch up on the blogging I wanted to (I still have one more day of the Boston trip, plus things around my house, plus ABC-along), I've only caught up on reading a few of the many blogs I am behind on, and I AM TIRED.

I did go buy sock yarn though. Totally to make myself feel better. Lame, I know...but I almost bought chocolate and pack of cigarettes, so I think I did the right thing.

It's Trekking Hand Art in the colorway "Feuerland" (fire land).

I'm calling it "seeing red, feeling like poop".


Carrie said...

You poor woman! I'm in the call-her-and-can-her camp. You have a right to get angry, furious, demanding, all of the airing it out feelings that you should barely keep in check while talking to her. And she should apologize. But you can't have her still coming to the house. Not trustworthy. Maybe try Merrymaids again? At least you'd have a company behind the maid to make restitution. Oh, yeah, and get the house keys changed. I mean, you've got a pretty good character read on her now. I'm not sure if I'd go out with dad the next Thursday, or maybe tell one of the neighbors to watch for her car, if they would. That would work.

Pretty sock yarn. Almost looks like chocolate.

Oh, and as for questioning your kid, we all make mistakes - and I mean he could have counted wrong or made a bad judgement moneywise. I wouldn't jump up and accuse someone of stealing without doing everything you did. Forgive yourself, hug your son, and try not to make a big deal of it. Hopefully he won't see it as a big deal, either.

I hope anything I wrote helps, and I'm thinking of you!

jodi said...

Aw, honey, I'm sorry. I'm with the talk-to-he camp as well. Can her, but give her a chance to show remorse just to reassure yourself that good people do indeed do bad things. But change the locks, if only to make yourself feel better and save yourself a lot of paranoia.

kasiaiscarly said...

I do think you need to call her ASAP about the check, so that SHE doesn't have any recourse against you. And, since she did clean, you may still need to pay her, just deduct the $18 she took that day. I would also file a police report, but that's just me. If this woman is a petty thief, do you really want to let her go off on her merry way to do it to others she cleans for? Not that the police will necessarily be able to stop it, but they may have a means to contact others she works for. There is never an excuse for stealing. If she's money shy, she needed to ask for a raise or work for more clients.

That's my 2 cents.

JohnK said...

I'm ditto-ing Carrie and Jodi.

Even though I'm not adding anything new I'm here with support, and *hugs*.

InkyW said...

call her this morning, tell her you put a stop on the check to reissue it less the $18 she stole from your son (because she did do work that day and is owed pay for it). call the police and change your locks since you aren't sure if she has a copy or not.

i haven't had a cleaning lady for over a year for a similar reason but i never could prove it.

~Donna~ said...

Call her to can she registered somewhere? Bonded perhaps? File a complaint with them as well as the police. Wonder if they keep info like that on people if someone calls them to 'check up' on potential employees.

It's not helping that MyFK is off on his own. week is going to be hell for me. I usually get very depressed and withdraw further into my self pity cave. My bad vibes spread out and pretty much screw up everything else.

It'll get better... *hugs*...

Anonymous said...

I would call her and let her know what you now have confirmed and let her know her services will no longer be needed. And that you have stopped payment on her check. She should consider herself paid with each of the amounts she took from your son. I would also call the Better Business Bureau and anyone she may be bonded with. I would also call MerryMaids to report on a past employee just in case she tries to get hired back again. For the next cleaning lady, I would go with a reputable company with recourse for these matters. Make a police report and definately change the locks!

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this. What a bummer.

Kim Ayres said...

99.999% of difficulties are either caused, or exaccerbated, by poor communication.

If I was you I would call her and try and find out what she thought she was up to.

But that's me.

Anonymous said...

Call her, can her, and file a police report. If she is stealing from you, she'll steal from someone else, and at least this will be on file to let that someone else make an informed decision.

I so hate that you have to go through this - it's so disheartening when someone violates your home and your trust in one fell swoop!

Janice in GA said...

That's hard lines, kiddo. I hate to think about not being able to trust people, especially since I'm a stranger that comes into peoples' homes (to care for their pets.)

I would probably have positioned myself in your son's room the whole time she was there for her last visit. That would have shown her that you were on to her and were guarding the cash stash. But I'm mean and vindictive sometimes.

I wouldn't have stopped payment on the check without notifying her, though. I'm not sure that's the best approach.

Wonder if she left MerryMaids for something like that?

Much sympathy...

Unknown said...

I'm in the camp of people who think that she stole at least as much as the amount of that check, so it's fair to cancel the whole thing.

It's possible that she's suffering from kleptomania, and needs help, but that doesn't make it OK. Call her and demand an explanation.

And it's not unreasonable to think that a 10 year old might be likely to make a mistake. This is a serious situation. Explain to him where you were coming from and maybe apologize for not taking over the money counting sooner.

Also? It was so unthinkable that you had to be sure before you could believe it.

You might want to check with Merry Maids--did she leave voluntarily, or did they fire her for theft?

Anonymous said...

ugh, ugh, ugh

I have no advice for you, alas, only sympathy and virtual hugs. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Most of what I would have said was covered by other commenters. I just fired a housekeeper because she lied to me... again, and for the last time. Her mistake was that it was so blatant, she got caught.

What I'm surprised others didn't say was that I hope your FK saw how you agonized over this and tried to make absolutely sure it was the cleaning lady before you accused her falsely, even though it may have caused him a little personal pain.

M-H said...

Late to this one... I think this is why I stick with the agency setup. Even when my cleaning ladies have left the agency I haven't followed them. I've only had one who was so useless I had to fire her, and it was so much easier to ring the agency and tell them I didn't want her back and why.

Glad it's over; sorry you had to go through it. I've had about seven cleaners over the years and never had this particular problem.

Anonymous said...

I would figure out how much you KNOW she took from your son and re-issue the check minus that amount and tell her if she wants it, she can come and pick it up. When she comes to pick it up explain that you changed the locks, she is fired and that you are calling MerryMaids to let them know not to ever re-hire her (if she is eligible).

The thing that disturbs me the most is that she stole from your KID. Arghhhh.