Thank goodness "Syndicated Washington, DC Columnist with fitness, cleaning, computer and Web work ... " doesn't live in the New York area like I do. She has become the target of laughter and, in some cases, contempt because of the Craigslist ad
she placed in the "part-time help" section.
Gawker.com poked fun at the ad
in a post under the headline "DC Columnist Seeks Help Doing Everything: $15/hour," noting the 23-point list of tasks she asked for help in performing – everything from interior design to gardening to dance instruction to you name it.
Most of my friends and colleagues were shocked and appalled that someone would be expected to do so much for, well, so little. Their advice to the would-be employer ran along the lines of: "You want to find someone with all those skills at that price? Good luck!"
Well, my dirty little secret is that I have found someone who fits the bill and who has been working with me for almost a year. OK, I do pay more than Syndicated Columnist wants to pay, but not that much more. (And I do feel bad that I can't afford to pay her more.)
To tell the truth, I'm not sure if I found her or she found me. Our matchmaker was her sister, who is a friend of mine. My friend figured that my lack of household organizing skills would be a perfect match for her sister -- let's call her Personal Consultant -- who is a genius when it comes to personal organizing and was starting her own business.
Before I met up with Personal Consultant, my dirtier little secret was that my home was a disaster area. I had never been good at tidiness – just ask my first college roommate. And after years of putting 110 percent into my job (as one colleague put it, we worked, went home, touched the door and went back to work). I needed a 120 percent makeover of my house.
After volunteering to take a buyout from my job, I discovered I had the time to get things straightened out. I just lacked the skills. Enter Personal Consultant. We started with the 21 years of detritus that I had removed from my work cubicle and had jammed into my car. We rented a motel room because there was no room for anything else to be stuffed into my house. In a matter of hours, Personal Consultant had the strange conglomeration of items organized to the point that the motel room looked more like a well-organized store. So much the better for deciding what to keep and what to toss.
Then we tackled the house, starting in the basement and working our way up. We found lots of things to throw away and we found lots of things that were useful. We had a gut-cramping laugh when we uncovered a book titled "Feng Shui Your Home." That's when Personal Consultant reminded me that such books need to be read, not just placed in the area that needs to be re-organized.
Personal Consultant plays with my dogs and has made friends with my attack cat. She does laundry. She shovels snow. We go shopping together, and on occasion we have even indulged in massages or pedicures.
So Syndicated Columnist wants someone who can organize – check. Someone who can cull through my wardrobe to improve my image – check. Help with basic interior design – check. Yardwork and gardening – check. Do body work on cars – well, no one is perfect. (Did I mention that Personal Consultant is a wonderful cook?)
In essence, what Syndicated Columnist is looking for – and what I am lucky to have – is someone who will take care of the things that wives and mothers traditionally took care of. These are the things my mother took care of while I was going to school and participating in more extracurricular activities than anyone should have, because that would look good on my college applications. And these are the things that are insufficiently rewarded in our economy.
Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. And when some of those children grow up, it takes a village – or at least one superbly organized Personal Consultant -- to hold everything together. Value: Priceless. Pay: Woefully inadequate.