I needed somebody to feed and pet the cats while I was away in Toronto, so I arranged for a woman from Kentucky and her 17 year-old son (here visiting UCLA and other colleges) to stay here via Craig’s List. I had the apartment professionally cleaned before I left, and asked the woman (whom I trusted based on her nice friendly vibe over the phone plus her being from Kentucky, which is where my grandfather was born and raised) to please leave things as spic and span as she found them.
The place was indeed scrubbed clean and very tidy when I got home this evening, but it also reeked of cigarette smoke. I wrote her the following letter:
“You cleaned the place very thoroughly but –hello? — it smells like Brown and Williamson!
“I presume that the cigarette smoke is your son’s doing. Or perhaps yours as well. You seemed like a very considerate person on the phone, Cynthia, so I presume it wasn’t you who did the actual indoor smoking. But obviously you’re not that considerate or you wouldn’t have allowed cigarette smoke to putrify my apartment at all. You would have told your son, ‘If you want to smoke, stand outside the front door.’
“As far as I’m concerned, it was exactly like coming home to find a load of steaming crap lying in the middle of my Persian rug.
“Are you or your son faintly aware of the concept of smoke-free rooms in hotels and motels? Have you ever heard of the term ‘smoke-free rooms’? Do you have any idea why hotels have these classifications in place, and why some people say ‘I definitely want a smoke-free room’? Because cigarette smoke stinks, and most people (even smokers) find the idea of having to lie and sleep in rooms with the after-stink of cigarettes to be repulsive.
“And yet (a) you allowed your son to smoke at will in my apartment or (b) you smoked in my apartment, or (c) you both smoked in my apartment. One of these three clearly happened.
“Do you remember my saying to you when we first talked that I don’t trust 17 year-olds because I have two teenaged sons myself (18 and 20, actually) and I know what they’re like? And then you assured me that nothing dirty or damaging to the apartment would happen and that you’d keep the place spanking clean, etc.?
“I would rather you didn’t clean the place at all rather than leave this place reeking of cigarette smoke. All I can figure is that the culture you come from in Kentucky (where my grandfather was from) doesn’t think one way or the other about cigarette smoke and that everybody smokes so what does it mater?
“You’re costing me another $100 now (on top of the previous $100 I spent on house-cleaning before you came) because I’m going to have to bring my cleaning guy back in and do everything he can to eradicate the foul stink in this place.
“Proud of yourself? I am very, very sorry that I decided to let you stay here (even though you were good with the cats and cleaned up very nicely all around, especially in the kitchen and the bathroom). As far as I’m concerned you’re both Kentucky trash.”