"Cleanliness is next to godliness," my grandmother would say, as she took down the kitchen curtains for their weekly washing.
You read that right. Grandma Vierling washed and starched her café curtains every week. She also mopped and waxed the floors weekly and attacked the dirty wax build-up in the corners with a sharp knife.
I thought I knew about clean living, until I researched "Final Sail," my new Dead-End Job mystery.
In "Final Sail," Helen works undercover on a luxury yacht while she searches for an emerald smuggler on a trip to Atlantis in the Bahamas. (That's the resort in the photo.)
Helen and I learned the rich take cleanliness to a new level. Helen has to dust the clothes hangers and light bulbs. Helen also has to vacuum "in the tracks."
What? You’ve never done that?
"We don’t run a vacuum over the carpet every which way," Mira, the head stewardess, tells her. "We vacuum the way you mow a lawn, so there aren’t random tracks."
Read how the yacht bathrooms are cleaned in this scene from "Final Sail."
"This is the on-deck head," Mira said. "We have ten heads for the guests, including their stateroom baths." This one made Helen’s bathroom look like an outhouse. The commode was a beige sculpture. The granite sink had gold fixtures. Two fluffy hand towels hung on a brass rack.
"The heads are cleaned after each use," Mira said. "That will be mainly your job."
"Every time?" Helen tried to hide her disbelief.
"Yes," Mira said. "I’m sure you cleaned toilets when you worked at that hotel."
"Yes," Helen said. She doubted the men on the yacht had better aim than the hotel guests. If they missed on land, how steady would they be on a shifting ship?
"You’ll also clean the sink, the counter, the mirror and empty the wastebasket. The toilet paper has to be folded into points after every use. It’s stowed under the sink."
"The labels on the toilet paper rolls should face out on the shelves," Mira said. "Towels are changed every time. They’re kept folded with their labels facing the same way. Most guests use the liquid soap, but if a bar is used, we put out a fresh one."
"Bvlgari is twenty dollars a bar," Helen said.
"Fifteen," Mira corrected.
"What happens to the used bar?"
"The crew gets it," Mira said. "Don’t expect to load up on fancy soap. You’d be surprised how many people don’t wash their hands."
"How do you know if a guest has used the head?" Helen was proud she’d remembered the nautical term.
"We keep in touch by radio." Mira pulled a two-way radio off her belt. "If I’m serving in the main salon and you’re doing laundry, I’ll radio you, ‘Guest X is coming back, used the on-deck head,’ and then you’ll clean it."
When Helen saw the master stateroom, she wanted to sink into the depths of the cushiony azure bed piled with dark blue pillows. "Most rich people’s homes are either fussy or gaudy," she said. "I could actually live here."
"All you need is twelve million for the yacht and another million a year to run it," Mira said.
"I’d better start buying lottery tickets," Helen said.
Order signed hardcovers from Mystery Lovers Bookshop: http://tinyurl.com/6wmrhoq
I’ll sign "Final Sail" at the Malice Domestic mystery convention in Bethesda, Md., this weekend. Join me and three other mystery writers for a champagne and cake Sisters in Crime celebration Sunday at the Annapolis Bookstore. The next day I’m at the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont, Pa., and then signing in Fort Lauderdale. The following week, I’ll sign in Houston and St. Louis. Event details are at http://tinyurl.com/3yyvcsd
Got 40 seconds? See the "Final Sail" trailer http://tinyurl.com/8a77vah