Kenneth Cleaver 

Consumer Correspondent

Kenneth H. Cleaver

P.O. Box 1034

Colorado Springs, CO 80901

May 13, 2004

Mr. Vance Mehrens

Vice President

Merry Maids

860 Ridge Lake Blvd.

Memphis, TN 38120

Dear Mr. Mehrens:

I recently broke down, did the bachelor thing and hired your people to clean my pleasure pit. No complaints about their work: The pit is all sorts of spotless.

The thing is, I can't buy into this Merry Maids idea.

You've probably heard the oft-quoted line by Harvard University's president, Lawrence Summers, who argues, In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car. Summers is referring not to my apartment, but Iraq. The idea is that if Iraqis don't feel a sense of ownership of their country, they're not going to justify our love.

I'd like to extend Summers' metaphor to housecleaning: Just as no one has ever washed a rented car, neither has anyone ever enjoyed cleaning a stranger's toilet.

The notion that your maids are whistling like punch drunk Disney dwarfs is ridiculous and, quite frankly, more than a little arrogant. They may be relieved at having marginal, low-wage employment (as opposed to none) or perhaps they're just buzzed from cleaning agents, I don't profess to know.

I don't expect you to change your name on my account, but you might want to start thinking about it. I could handle something like Old Maids: We'll Clean Your Mess, But We Won't Pretend to Like It.

We Americans appreciate brutal honesty as much as we cherish our delusions.


Kenneth Cleaver

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