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She works hard for her money, as the song relates. She’s the cleaning lady, the one who gets on her knees and scrubs your toilet of all the things that none of us would ever wish to look at, let alone touch. She mops and dusts and vacuums your house for $40-$50 bucks, then hurries […]

The Cleaning Lady

by Philip Farruggio

She works hard for her money, as the song relates. She’s the cleaning lady, the one who gets on her knees and scrubs your toilet of all the things that none of us would ever wish to look at, let alone touch. She mops and dusts and vacuums your house for $40-$50 bucks, then hurries off to her next job, if she’s so lucky.

She does this 5 days a week, pulling in anywhere from $400 -$500, minus her supplies and gas, and sweat and aches. Then she has to factor in the nanny who watches her boy so she can work at all. That’s another $150 off the top. Even still, her 2-year college degree could never get her that much in some white collar job–not with today’s economy. So, she’s the "cleaning lady", trading in respectability for some green.

She’s got a husband and a baby boy. The husband works too; the baby laughs and cries a lot. Sometimes her husband cries about not having health insurance. He’s a craftsman, skilled enough to pull in the same as his wife; not skilled enough to get his boss to pay for health insurance for the crew. Not too many craftsman jobs out there now, so his bargaining power is reduced to a whimper. Like most Florida businesses, its a non- union shop, so the benefits are one week a year paid vacation, and a few sick days and holidays, and that’s it.

The cleaning lady joins her husband in having no health insurance. Simply cannot afford $400 a month for decent coverage. They did get some for the baby, thank goodness. She, however, was not so lucky. Had a stomach attack a few months back. Between the emergency room, the tests and the specialist, cost her $1,500 bucks, money she did not have. She pays it off, the bill, a little each month, and curses a system that does not look out for the little people, the one’s who clean our toilets.

The other day, one of her clients told her some startling information. She could not believe it, until she saw it right there in the Business Week magazine. It said that, on average, top executives in U.S. corporations earn over 500 times more than their lowest paid full-time employee! 500 times! She could not comprehend how someone could make that much money, and not care that she and her husband could not afford health coverage. She wondered if rich people could even go to church and worship a Jesus who spoke of sharing one’s wealth, not hoarding it. "Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to heaven!"

It was getting late. She had to get to the sitter and pick up the kid, go to Publix and grab something for dinner. Mustn’t forget the Pampers too. Then she began to laugh, the laugh one creates to push aside the anger, and the frustration. This was Tuesday, cleaning day. She never got to do her house. It would simply have to wait, like everything else it seemed.

Philip Farruggio, son of a longshoreman, is "Blue Collar Brooklyn" born, raised and educated (Brooklyn College, Class of ’74). A former progressive talk show host, he runs a mfg. rep. business and writes for many publications. He lives in Port Orange, FL. You can contact Mr. Farruggio at e-mail: brooklynphilly@aol.com.