It was funny really. No one knew her name until it happened. She was always just ‘the cleaning lady.’ She would come to the house every Wednesday to mop the floors, polish the furniture, and do the laundry. If any of the visitors to the house asked who she was they would always be given the same answer: “Oh, that’s just the cleaning lady.”
She’d been with the family for years, and no one had ever given her a thought, she was almost a part of the house. Like the chip in the paintwork on the upstairs landing where the eldest child had run into the wall on a toy truck the cleaning lady was one of those things that were overlooked in the house, unless you were actually looking for them.
She had been overlooked, until that day. The youngest child, eating his cereal at the breakfast bar, the news on in the background, was the first to notice the story that was unfolding on the screen.
“Mum, isn’t that the cleaning lady?” He had asked.
“Hmm.” His mother had responded, turning around to look at the screen. “Yes, I think it is. I need to go speak to your father.” She hurried out of the room as fast as she could manage, heading directly for her husband’s study.
There, on the T.V. screen being interviewed by a broadcaster was the cleaning lady. The boy watched in fascination, his cereal long forgotten to go soggy, as the cleaning lady shared all the family’s dirty little secrets. All of his father’s dodgy dealings and under the table bribes were being laid bare by the woman they had all given so little thought to none of them even knew her name.
And there, on the screen, underneath the cleaning lady’s face was her name and occupation.
Margret Smith, Cleaner.