123Valerie Strikes Again

Unprecedented Self-Indulgence.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So Fresh and So Clean

When I was 16, we found out our cleaning lady was stealing from me.

This was shocking for several reasons, chief among them was that my family had a cleaning lady. See, I grew up anywhere from at the poverty line to middle class, depending upon the year.

At that time we were, apparently, in the middle class. The cleaning lady was my step-Mom's idea. My Dad went along with it because, well, he had no choice. Still, he was unhappy with her excessive use of the Mop 'N Glo:

"I just bought a bottle last week! What's she do? Drink it?"

Her name was Dorothy, I think, and she came once a week on Tuesdays. I went to high school with her granddaughter – at least that's what Dorothy said. In a school with a couple hundred kids, I didn't know who her granddaughter was. Maybe I shouldn't have told Dorothy that.

In any case, I was working as a cashier at the Bi-Lo grocery store (along with my then-boyfriend Chad, ex-boyfriend Baby James, Baby James' current 23-year-old girlfriend Stephanie who bought us all wine coolers, and an assortment of polite young Vietnamese men all named Vang). I brought home roughly $119-$132 a week. High rolla!

No one taught me how to budget money, a lesson that's come back to bite me in the butt since then. But at the time, I employed a very scientific process of depositing $100 from my paycheck into my bank account and "living" off of the extra for the week, meaning I typically had about $24 in cash on me – and I always knew exactly how much I kept in my coffer (aka underpants drawer).

So, it was with great distress when, one Tuesday evening, I went to check my stash and found only $11 where $17 should have been.

I looked high and Bi-Lo for it. No where. I asked my parents if they "happened" to take it. No go.

We were all stumped. It was decided I was under the influence of wily teenage hormones and had no idea what I was talking about.

Then, the next Tuesday evening, I went to check my stash and found only $27 where $31 should have lived. Curiouser and curiouser. It seemed that the thief was making change from her takings. Strange.

My parents eventually put 10 and 9 together, and left a "bait" of $19 out for Dorothy. When they came home to $16, it was clear what needed to be done.

When Dorothy left, head low, so did my family's dreams of opulence. We couldn't even hire a proper cleaning lady, for Pete's sake.

So, we retreated solidly to a comfortable middle-class life that my folks upheld for years … until my Dad and Step-Mom dissented a few years ago to *boldly* buy a Rumba for the dog hair.

And I say good for them. My parents work hard. Very hard. In fact, I suspect their assets could afford them an existence far, far above the middle-class life that they lead.

But they stay grounded. In fact, their latest "thing" is Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. They compete with each other (with love, of course!) to see who can spend the least money during the week. For a hot minute, I thought my parents were taking debt advice from an English chef with an attitude, but I had my reality TV mixed up.

Put down that Mop 'N Glo, you stupid wanker!

No surprise that my Dad is winning the spend-thrift challange, though my Step-Mom has way cuter clothes.

Kids, I've been thinking about this because there are some crazy financial times coming. I make no bones about the fact that I still don't budget money – but I certainly know how to at this point. I hope you do, too.

And even if you aren't up to budgeting, whatever you do, don't hire a cleaning lady right now.

In the Comments section, tell me about something that someone stole from you.



  • At 9:25 PM , Blogger WendyB said...

    If you don't hire a cleaning lady, how's she going to get by in these tough financial times? :-)

  • At 7:30 AM , Blogger Del-V said...

    When I lived in Baltimore someone smashed the window out of my car and stole some shitty, shitty CDs. After that I just kept my doors unlocked so the jerks in my neighborhood could take what they wanted without smashing my windows.

  • At 10:23 AM , Anonymous Bobby said...

    I don't believe I've ever had anything stolen from me, except my heart. (Joke.)

    Although...I did get caught stealing a Nirvana CD single when I was 13. It was the day before Thanksgiving. Dinner was pretty awkward that year...

  • At 6:46 PM , Blogger pistols at dawn said...

    What haven't I had stolen from me? I've been mugged, burgled, had cars broken into, and...well, I led with all the good stuff. So let's go with "my dignity."


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