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The non interference rule

by Clare, 30th April 2006

MindMyHouse’s resident Blogger on Assignment, Clare, continues to bravely housesit a variety of Brisbane’s more comfortable suburban properties. This third post from Clare is all to do with hard lessons learned about how good intentions need to be reigned in least things go wrong!

washing_machine

Saturday, January 29, 2006

One thing I have been learning as I do more house sits is that it is fatal to interfere with the household status quo – no matter how good or noble your intentions. Let me provide a string of examples.

In one house I was less than happy with the state of the dogs rather disgusting bedding, so I thought I would wash it and make it all nice – less really for the dogs than for me. The results were disastrous. The washing machine broke down and I had to call in the repairman at a cost of $99 and one of the dogs wouldn’t sleep in his bed for the next two weeks. She eventually reconciled herself to the new smell before the owners returned fortunately!

A second example – I decided I would get cleaners into another house to minimise the exhausting process of cleaning and moving out. Because I had enjoyed the house sit, I thought I would help out the owners and I got them to clean stuff I hadn’t used and they somehow managed to scratch some of the pristine new surfaces. They also raised some venetian blinds I hadn’t touched and I had quite a struggle getting them back into their original positions. In addition to this, they moved some outside deck furniture and I was unable to return the table to a stable position where it didn’t rock. One thing is for sure I won’t be recommending those particular cleaners to anybody else!

And yet another example – I opened a window which was clearly rarely opened and a prized wedding photo blew off the shelf. The frame chipped and what I thought were scratches became apparent. The problem was I had no way of knowing whether the frame had already been chipped before it blew off the shelf. Consultation with an art restoration expert revealed that what I thought had been scratches on the photo were in fact insect trails. To tell the truth after being lovingly restored for a cost of $45 the photo probably looked better after my stay than it had before I arrived!

Last week while whiling away the time in the motel after my radiator blew up, I surfed onto a mildly entertaining but often cringeworthy movie titled My Boss’s Daughter (2003) where a hapless young man agrees to housesit for his boss. He not only discovers that he is landed with a difficult pet but a number of people come around and completely trash the house in spite of his best efforts. Clearly the writers had either done some house sitting themselves or knew somebody who had. Less realistically, however, all turns out roses in the end with a minimum of expense and effort. Incidentally the director of the film is David Zucker who co-directed my favourite comedy film Flying High (1980). One can only wonder what has happened to his talents en route after seeing this more recent offering.

But the film does make the point that people coming around to a housesit are a problem and even more likely than the house sitter to break the rule of non-interference. One of my visitors to one housesit aimed a kick at one of the dogs because of the dog’s overly enthusiastic and doggy welcome. Other visitors at another housesit decided to pick up and examine the objets d’art. I immediately went into a panic over fingermarks and the objects not being returned to the precise spots from which they had been removed.

After these various contretemps, I have to constantly remind myself to curtail any temptations to ‘improve’ conditions in my house sits or make it ‘nicer’ for the owners. What I think personally is nice and helpful more often than not simply lead to problems, expense and an anxious housesitter!

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About the author: Clare

Clare is an intrepid house sitter braving the wilds of suburban Brisbane, Australia. All names of people, pets and suburbs have been changed to protect the guilty.