How to approach the rage cleaning woman
Essays & Shorts

How to approach the rage cleaning woman (and survive)

I used to think that when the house got too dirty, my husband would take one look at it and decide that now was the perfect time to royally piss me off rather than clean it himself. Because boy, can I clean in a rage.

When my temper explodes like Mt. Vesuvius – violently spewing a deadly cloud of super-heated gases high into the sky and ejecting molten rock, pulverised pumice, and hot ash at 1.5 million tons per second – the tiniest thing out of place becomes a target.

I clean the kitchen with loud determination.

Wipe surfaces clean with brutal intent. And aggressively vacuum carpets to within an inch of their existence. I deposit trash by the front door with a fury and purpose that would make Lyssa, the ancient Greek goddess of mad rage, envious.

The house becomes a scene from a disaster movie with children and spouses running barely ahead of impending doom, squealing in terror, and picking up favourite toys and clothes before they’re sucked into the cleaning tornado, never to be seen again.

And, oh the humanity, the socks! Socks EVERYWHERE. Balled up in between the couch cushions. Shoved into bookshelves. Left on top of shoes. Lounging casually on stairs. Reposing under the kitchen table. Thrown over the armrest of the easy chair. And very rarely in pairs, I might add, like they were never meant to have mates.

I always wonder what makes other women scrub the house like the whole damn thing needs to be sent to its room and think about its poor life choices. For me, it’s the dishes left all over the house that trigger the rage clean.

That and the floor Legos. There’s nothing like stepping on a Lego to make the fury travel instantaneously from that pointy, little sonofabitch up your body until it blows the top of your head off like in a cartoon.

You should always approach a rage cleaning woman at your own risk.

Because most women who enter the state of the rage clean are aggressive and unpredictable. They can commonly be found at the end of a long day when they come home to a messy house, on the weekends after a reasonable night’s sleep, or just before house-guests are due to arrive.

Rage cleaning women also tend to act violently when you approach them, especially if you make even the tiniest mess or move the most insignificant of items out of place in a house that is currently being exorcised of the daemones inordinatio, Demons of Disorder.

Some wild animals should not be approached by anyone, at any time, and the same is true for some rage cleaning women. However, if you must approach, it is best to go about this endeavour as you would go about approaching a highly territorial wild animal: by first observing from a safe distance.

Because the rage cleaning woman will show specific indications of just how furious she truly is. Look for signs of deep agitation, such as an angry scowl on her forehead, and irritated grunting. If you notice a twitching eye or see symptoms of perspiration, she is fast approaching the Point of No Return, and making any kind of contact is ill-advised. Hissing and growling are clear signs that you will only incur personal damage should you choose to garner her attention.

Retreat immediately if you hear her uttering rhetorical questions, such as: “Why do we even have trash bins?” or “Am I the only one who does laundry in this house?” or “Where IS that smell coming from?” or “Who. The. Hell. Left. The. Wet. Sponge. In. The. Sink. Again?!”. Approaching at this point will only land the blame for all the aforementioned transgressions squarely on your shoulders, innocent or not.

You should always be aware of aggravating factors.

If she has not eaten, is especially tired, has not slept well or enough, is in a foul mood to begin with – potentially caused by others dwelling in the same house, or due to extended family and friends being barn-dwelling glitter scrunts – or is in pain, take extra caution.

Preparing her favourite snack and having it on hand for when she finishes her purification tornado to eventually descend from her storm-form, will make you her very favourite person. You may try to offer it before this descent but be warned: it may do you no good and can simply land you on her shitlist.

To make your approach, begin by letting your presence be known – but without making any sudden movements. If she’s listening to music, you’ll need to get the volume down so she can hear your plea.

If she’s listening to it over speakers, turn it down only slightly, just enough for her to notice that it’s gone down a fraction. If she’s using headphones, you’ll want to stand in her periphery and wait for her to take notice of your persistent, but not demanding, presence.

It is imperative you not startle or scare her because she may react defensively and attack.

Move slowly, remain calm, use a soothing tone, and be peripherally aware of your escape routes, yet never look at them directly, or you will be sent down one in short order.

And whatever you do, never, ever turn the music down to a bare whisper in one fell swoop, or dare pull off her headphones: this will result in a Category 5 Shitstorm of Epic Proportions, and the day will not end well for you.

When you finally garner her attention from a safe distance, begin pleading for forgiveness and apologising for your existence. Immediately and profusely. Show her your palms to demonstrate that you come without weapons and mean no harm.

Assume a submissive posture by leaning slightly forward and keeping your gaze down. Getting down on your hands and knees will make you appear less threatening and significantly less annoying, though this may make it more difficult to escape should you provoke an attack.

Show her you come in peace by mimicking her behaviour. It has often been suggested that you should mimic the behaviour of wild animals if you wish to approach them. If an animal is eating grass, you can pretend to eat the same grass to demonstrate that you are kin rather than threat. A similar strategy may be adopted when approaching the rage cleaning woman.

Picking up clutter as you go, putting items back in their designated places, straightening books on a shelf, or holding a trash bag as if you’re on your way to take it out, may grant you more success in your approach.

According to unscientific but totally accurate studies, rage cleaning women are less likely to attack a person doing chores – vacuuming, dishes, laundry, collecting trash, organising, dusting etc. – than a person showing no sign of shouldering some of her burdens.

You must always be on your best behaviour.

Use the word ‘please’ lavishly and refrain from any smartassery to reduce the risk of enraged, expletive-filled responses. And whatever you do, never question the cleaning. Asking, “Why is the floor so sticky?” while the floor is still wet from her mopping will only infuriate her further.

Exclaiming, “Boy, that sure is filthy!” when she’s standing in a downpour of dust from wiping the tops of the kitchen cabinets, which get wiped only once a decade, will merely provoke a stare of silent rage and shoot you to the top of her shitlist.

Besides, the next thing you know, she’ll only demand to know what kind of maladaptive individual you are to not have rectified the situation sooner since you clearly have such remarkable powers of observation.

You’ll want to avoid direct eye contact at all times. I repeat: never stare down a rage cleaning woman. Direct eye contact will quickly be misread as dominant behaviour or a challenge, and she’ll gear up for a confrontation. Which you’ll lose. Because if you think the rage cleaning woman incapable of engaging in a verbal boxing match while simultaneously cleaning, you are sorely mistaken.

Engaging in an argument will only fuel her righteous purging, and you’ll get a dressing down as you’ve never had before. You’ll find yourself admitting to being guilty of things you’ve never even heard of.

And what’s worse, prolonged, direct eye contact may result in a barrage of accusatory questions, such as: “What is so difficult about cleaning off your own plate and putting it in the dishwasher?”, “Why does everyone in this house insist on leaving their clothes on the floor?” or “Do any of the boys in this house know how to aim?!”

Be ready to retreat at all times.

If the rage cleaning woman begins to shout at you, talking through clenched teeth, or staring at you in seething silence, slowly back away. While you still can. Do. Not. Run. She may interpret that as an invitation to grab hold of you, snatching you faster than a monkey swiping a smartphone from a tourist at a temple, and detaining you for questioning.

If you use caution as you retreat, maybe even ask if there’s something you can carry for her, you should be able to escape without incident.

The only time you should make yourself scarce like a genie popping back into the bottle is when she barks like a drill sergeant at you to do so. And you must always be prepared to walk away from an encounter with a rage cleaning woman without having achieved what you wanted to.

Since she is incredibly temperamental and prone to explosive outbursts in the rage cleaning state, allowing her to realise that you’ve interrupted her solely to ask, “Where do we keep the towels?” or remind her to pay the car insurance by the due date, is a fatal mistake.

If there is no approaching her, all you can do is wait.

Eventually, her mood will mellow, and you can go and, again, begin by apologising for your existence and any wrongdoing you may or may not have been party to.

Since your house will most likely be spotless or some long-ignored task finally completed, offer her your abundant thanks and sincerest praise for how much better the world is because she did the work no one else was willing to.

A glass of her favourite beverage, a ready-drawn bath, or a dinner she doesn’t have to cook herself, will only benefit you in the aftermath. And if even those offerings are too paltry to save your hide from a world-class ass-whopping, then at least she’ll be able to drink to your memory without having to get up to pour her own damned whiskey.

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