At 14, I remember vacuuming each foot of carpet in the massive house and folding pastel shirts fresh out of the dryer. I loved the way the windows soaked the house with light, a sort of bleach against any gloom. My mother and father had come as refugees almost twenty years ago from the country of Moldova.
I loved how I could always find a book or magazine on any flat surface. My mother worked numerous odd jobs, but once I was born she decided she needed to do something different.
The professors’ home was a telescope to how the other (more affluent) half lived.
They were rarely ever home, so I saw their remnants: the lightly crinkled New York Times sprawled on the kitchen table, the overturned, half-opened books in their overflowing personal library, the TV consistently left on the National Geographic channel.
I took these remnants as a celebrity-endorsed path to prosperity.
I began to check out books from the school library and started reading the news religiously. It was there I, as a glasses-wearing computer nerd, read about a mythical place called Silicon Valley in Bloomberg Businessweek magazines.
There exists between service workers and their customers an inherent imbalance of power: We meet sneers with apologies.
At the end of their meal, or stay, or drink, we let patrons determine how much effort their server put into their job.
She put an ad in the paper advertising house cleaning, and a couple, both professors, answered.
They became her first client, and their house became the bedrock of our sustenance.