36 Things I Learned From the Cleaning Lady

  1. She’s from Brazil.
  2. Her first husband was a successful businessman back home.
  3. In the 80’s, the Brazilian government tried to take all his money.
  4. He couldn’t deal.
  5. So he killed himself.
  6. She moved to the United States and remarried.
  7. It’s been 24 years.
  8. She has a daughter — she’s 22.
  9. Her daughter is going to medical school. She works and cleans apartments too.
  10. About ten years ago, the cleaning lady got cancer.
  11. Her family thought she was going to die.
  12. She gave power of attorney to her mother.
  13. Her mother stole all her money!
  14. Then she stole her assets.
  15. Her brother said: “It’ll be better if you put your house in my name.”
  16. So she did.
  17. And then he kicked her out.
  18. She had no medical insurance.
  19. She cleans a famous VC’s apartment in New York.
  20. He’s a billionaire but he still rents it — $47,000 a month.
  21. He’s only there 4 times a year.
  22. She’s spoken to the VC 3 times in 15 years.
  23. He prefers email.
  24. Or talking through his assistants.
  25. He still paid her medical bills.
  26. Her husband got a new job — driving a truck.
  27. She got insurance.
  28. She’s not mad at her family.
  29. She likes cleaning apartments.
  30. She’s Catholic.
  31. She puts her trust in the Lord.
  32. She says the more you give, the more you receive.
  33. “The VC gives away his money,” she says. “And that’s why he’s so rich.”
  34. She’s happy.
  35. She loves everyone.
  36. When she left today, she said: “Thank you.”

get in touch: paulcantor@gmail.com

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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