Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Making Sense of Mess.

It's a fascinating study in psychology to come home and see what another human being has done with objects they have utterly no emotional attachment to.
We have a cleaning service come every 2 weeks to take the edge off the house's slowly worsening state. It's interesting to have them because they come in the day, clean, and leave after locking the door behind them. So when you get home, like I did last night, and you don't remember they were coming, funny things occur. Like I stand in the hallway for 3 minutes trying to figure out why Bob took the time to like my shoes up against the wall in pairs before going to work. And folded the jacket I tossed on the dining room table. Things like that.
But what follows upon it dawning on me that we were visited by Ye Merrie Maides is a small tour around the downstairs figuring out exactly what has changed since this morning when I went flying out the door with my lunch trying to get to work a little early.
Because there is no emotional attachment, they have decided that things that sit together on surfaces must go together -barring obvious things in the bathroom like toothbrushes and toothpaste, that have a context- and that when they do go together, there is some sort of geometric arrangement to be made of it.
Without the benefit of knowledge where we normally store items and why, they collected up every single DS game piled up on my various flat surfaces and arranged them, neatly, on the shelves of my TV console upstairs. They gathered all of the paperwork in to one pile and placed it at the corner of the coffee table, having no way to know that we actually had them separated out because they were 3 different issues. And the coffee table actually had items lined up neatly and squared off along the edge and the corresponding opposite corner.
The geometry of organization was fantastic. And when they made the bed they didn't stack the pillows upright like we did, but laid them all flat. It was so odd that I found it intriguing, mostly because it wasn't my way of doing things.
It gave me pause to sit and think about it. We'd both forgotten they were coming, and so we hadn't tried to pick up the mess around the place in an attempt to convince the people coming to save us from being slobs that we were not slobs. There was a LOT more to deal with this time.
There are multiple geomtric piles of items on flat surfaces around the house. The coffee table and kitchen counters are clean again. To their credit, my martini from Monday night was still half-finished in the martini glass. They were smart enough to know I insist on hand-washing those things, and also smart enough not to drink the rest of my drink. Both would have gotten me upset.
But I digress.
As I looked around I noted that they tried their hardest, making best sense of the space and what we did with it to do what THEY need to do with it. Even though they were no longer there (and hell, I hadn't even realized they'd been there at all for the first few minutes) they left something of themselves behind. They had no idea why we had things where we had them. But it looked nicer when they left anyway.
I think that says a lot when a total stranger can arrange my house to look better than I can, honestly.
Perhaps it's weird to be so fascinated with something so mundane, but I like seeing how corners and edges and shelves are mentally ingrained as storage spaces for items spread out everywhere. They fold the towels differently, and they always take the items off the edge of the bathtub, which strikes me as a perfectly viable place for bubble bath to go. Why do they do it that way? Who knows. But it is INTERESTING.
If I find out it's the same 2 people each week, I may randomly leave them cookies at some point in the near future. It's the least I can do to thank them for this little insight in to human behavior.

No comments: