update: employee is trying to force me to accept a loan I never asked for

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose cleaner was trying to force her and her spouse to accept a loan they never asked for? Here’s the update.

I wrote in about the employee (my independent contractor cleaner) trying to force me to accept a $500 cash loan I didn’t ask for or indicate I wanted in any way. I already provided an update in the comments of that post: we didn’t keep the money, we were able to insist she take it back that day.

Here’s my further update:

We had to fire her.

Not only was she perpetually late and left early, spent a quarter of her paid time standing around talking (and saying we were being weird/off when we wouldn’t fully engage with her during these rants, when I was supposed to be working/studying), and her quality had gone downhill despite me reminding her certain jobs that needed doing, she also decided to tell our close mutual friends “Jack and Jill” that we said something terrible about them. When Jill reached out to ask “what the hell?” we told her we didn’t say anything about them and we didn’t know what she was talking about, and she said our cleaner, who was also their cleaner, said we “had a problem” with them (which we absolutely did not).

Turns out our friends had newly rented a house from our cleaner, which if I had known in advance, I would have strongly recommended against (I knew they were moving, I just wasn’t sure where). The cleaner was treating them like personal slaves, lying to them, and trying to manipulate them, to the point where Jill was having a breakdown from anxiety. She was using Jill’s high opinion of us to manipulate her.

I was so distraught that my friends thought we’d said terrible things about them that we went to the house that night to talk it over, only finding out once we’d arrived that it was being rented from my cleaner. After we figured out what was going on (with her lying both to them and us), my spouse and I agreed we’d have to fire her and find someone new.

Side note: we told our friends about her trying to force a loan on us, and they said that when she told them the story (because of course she did!), she’d doubled the offer to $1000 which my spouse had exclusively asked her for, he had only refused it because I was home, and then he’d yelled at her about it. No mention of throwing it in the bin, of course!

So that week when the cleaner came to my house, my spouse was prepared to fire her. However, she was in a foul mood and spoiling for a fight, saying we’d disrespected her by going to her house and talking about her behind her back. She said, “This will be my last week, then,” not expecting my husband to agree, which he did. She was expecting him to fall over apologizing and placate her, tell her she was wonderful, our friends were wrong, and that we’d do anything to keep her. She was in a textbook narcissistic rage, and when he wouldn’t play her game, she went running back to Jack and Jill and told them we fired her, that I stood there and swore at her and said her work wasn’t any good (I wasn’t even home?!). My friends called her out on her lies, saying that behavior doesn’t sound like me, and then in retaliation she literally kicked them out of the house they were renting, that they’d only just moved into.

Our friends told my husband what she’d said and done, and he messaged the cleaner saying, “Look, YOU said it was your last week, but just to make it clear, I am terminating our agreement. Do not come back. Have a nice life.”

And then he had to block her because she kept messaging, saying she never said anything about us and sending nonsensical screenshots. Honestly I’m not sure why she valued our opinions so highly, but I suspect it was all a weird game she was upset at losing.

Then, after all that, she backflipped on the whole kicking our friends out of the house, and said they could stay if they did exactly as she said when she said it (including weird cleaning requests, demanding Jill go on walks with her, and telling one of them the other owed her money). Then she went to the house and found out they were packing to move again, and went through their rubbish and opened their mail and started a fight. Then she told our friends that she made up with my spouse and that she had gone to our house and told him “everything” (not nice things) about my friends and said he agreed with everything she said. My friends said to her, that didn’t happen, he’s blocked you, and she had to go away, humiliated that she’s no longer able to manipulate them.

They moved out to a new house. I hired a new cleaner and he showed up on time, did an excellent job, and only spoke when he needed to.

{ 263 comments… read them below }

    1. sacados*

      Seriously. Just … WOW.
      That might be the biggest “well that escalated quickly” that we’ve had on AAM

      1. Avi*

        Maybe not the most bizarre person ever featured on this site, but definitely in the top 1%.

        WT actual F is wrong with some people?

    2. Anhaga*

      I am still super-confused about how a contracted employee who apparently was not that good at her job felt she had enough power over anyone to do this kind of stuff and not have it blow up in her face.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This is what people mean when they talk about the power of conviction, fake it til you make it, you need to project confidence in yourself. It works up to a point–and then if someone keeps pushing past that point people who have seen through the charade are awkwardly side eyeing as the little man behind the curtain shrieks impotently.

      2. pancakes*

        It seems pretty straightforward that her perceptions of herself and the world around her aren’t accurate.

      3. Candi*

        She wasn’t reacting to reality, she was reacting to the script in her head.

        Holy cow, though. This is too bizarre for television. I’m glad the writer had AAM for a reality check, and that her and her husband and their friends chose to communicate with each other instead of reacting in a way that increased the drama.

        Aaaaand, if they had a lease, wouldn’t the cleaner have violated it if she just kicked out her tenants, especially for bananacrackers reasons?

        1. Grumpy Old Sailor*

          “Aaaaand, if they had a lease, wouldn’t the cleaner have violated it if she just kicked out her tenants, especially for bananacrackers reasons?”
          I would guess so, but without knowing the jurisdiction this takes place in… (I mean, it’s possible it’s someplace with completely idiotic laws, I suppose). That said, I think if I were the tenant and this kind of horse puckey from my landlord started happening, I’d bail on the lease myself.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Honestly they were probably cheering the excuse to get away from their now former landlord, she “sounds lovely” to deal with.

            1. Princess of Pure Reason*

              This comment made my day. And reminds me that I have not yet done the annual holiday viewing of Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.

              “Christmas is a time for miracles. So maybe, if we screw up our eyes really tight and pray to the big pink pixie in the sky, someone will come and reward us.”

    3. MBK*

      Right? So many things to choose from, but… What kind of arrangement allows for a landlord/house cleaner to demand their tenants/clients do “exactly as she said when she said it”?!

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        She must have been reading feudal law re: relations between the lord of the manor and the peasants.

        And misreading that, too, while she was at it.

    4. Prof. Kat*

      You know how some people giggle uncontrollably when they’re uncomfortable? I don’t usually do that, but right now, I am giggling uncontrollably, because this is an absolutely bonkers story. I cannot even wrap my head around it. The world is a wide and varied place! I’m glad the LW and their friends were able to sort through the madness and band together to get this woman out of their lives. This could have gone much, much worse if they hadn’t communicated and believed each other.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – she sounds like a “master of drama” and enjoys spreading the drama around. In this case she really overplayed her hand though.

      1. Ama*

        One thing I’ve noticed about people like this who lie to create drama or a benefit to themselves is that they always seem to forget that people can compare notes.

        This was a more minor situation (no raging happened), but I had a coworker once who would try to play me (at the time the person in charge of processing expense reports) and our budget manager off each other. She’d ask me if a certain expense was reimbursable, and if I said no, she’d go to the budget manager and try to claim I said it was reimbursable (or vice versa). We just would call each other as soon as she left our desk and make sure we both were on the same page.

        She tried to pull in our mutual manager once, but we’d already told our manager what she was up to, so she just said “Ama and budget manager are the experts here, whatever they say is correct.”

        1. Rainy*

          I had a co-irker (who has left thankfully, because she was TERRIBLE) whose lies and triangulation attempts were so blatant, costly, and unremitting, that by the end of her time with us, any meeting with her had three (3!!!) directors sitting in on it to minimize her lying about any one of them to any of the others, because it had happened so often. I don’t know why she wasn’t fired.

          1. EPLawyer*

            The fact the directors did this rather than just look at the person and say “We know you do this, we don’t believe you, stop it” says more about the directors’ trust in each other than anything else.

        2. MonkeyPrincess*

          YES! I was in a similar situation. Someone was trying to sound Very Important, and telling all sorts of people (including me) lies about each other. But she really seemed to have no clue that… people talk to each other? The lies were discovered in an astonishingly short period of time. It was the quickest rise and fall of anyone I’ve ever seen.

        3. Ace in the Hole*

          It always amazes me when I see this happen.

          Our former HR guy really disliked me and tried to discredit me by using me as an example of employees using excessive sick time in a meeting with our executive director. First problem: I was in the same meeting! I immediately asked what the heck he was talking about since I’d only used a few hours of sick leave that year. Most of the time I’d been out of the office wasn’t sick time – it was working from home. Second problem: he should have known that, because neither I nor my boss had filled out a leave request form and HR guy was the one who provided my remote work equipment.

          Then HR guy dug in deeper by heavily implying that I was falsifying my timecards, suggesting that there was no way to know how much I’d really been working. Third problem: my boss was in the same meeting and confirmed that I was, in fact, working and that my productivity exceeded expectations. Oh, and a lot of my projects had been delivered to the executive director, so she also confirmed that I was definitely working.

          HR guy still kept digging, saying that if I was working why hadn’t I clocked in using the company’s phone app? Aaaaaand that was the nail in the coffin, because I pointed out (in front of the executive director and the whole management team) that he had never informed me this app existed or provided me with a copy of our policy on remote work, so I was following the outdated procedures he HAD provided to me. Meaning that IF there was a problem with how I was tracking my hours, it was 100% HR guy’s fault. Oops!

          I think he must have just expected that someone as low on the hierarchy as me would be too cowed to talk back in a meeting with all the bigwigs.

        4. A nice fish*

          I’m a teacher and have come across a memorable few parents who try and do this – saying different things to the class teacher and to the school leadership team. Again, they never seem to realise we talk to each other! And in fact I’d been prewarned about this behaviour when their child moved into my class from last year’s teacher!

        5. Alternative Person*

          When I was a tutor, I had a kid like that. The kid combination hated and respected me because I was always onto their nonsense, but the other tutors and staff always fell for it, every time even when I had told them over and over again to you know, ask extra questions (this kid wasn’t particularly good at planning a second layer at the time) and always double check. They would even fall for it after I had given the actual instructions. It was immensely frustrating.

          It got to the point I refused to teach that kid because their lies were reaching the point they could have gotten me in career ruining trouble and their sibling was going the same way. I felt particularly awful because I was one of the very few people who saw through their BS but this kid was on the path to become a very sophisticated manipulator by the time they become an adult without enough people to guide them differently. The entire family pulled out of that place after a while, I can only hope wherever they ended up next was more willing to tackle the kid’s crap.

        6. Princesss Sparklepony*

          I have a sister like this. The thing is, at first it’s little things. Weird inconsistencies, odd stories, things that don’t check out but it could just be a misunderstanding… As people who do this get older, the control slips and the lies get wilder and caution is thrown to the wind. It’s all about the drama as well. They want a world in which they are on the stage. And it’s all about them. Eventually, they burn through people and have to find new marks to play their games on. The cleaner went from 1 to 1000 way too fast and lost any control that she had. When they are younger they can usually play it out longer. As they get older the need for a drama fix becomes too intense and they go straight to 1000. It’s an addiction.

  1. Tea Please*

    Holy Moly what an update! That was so many boundaries crossed it’s amazing the cleaner is able to get work and rent houses and operate on any kind of professional level.

    1. Elenna*

      Based on only the contents of this letter, I don’t see any evidence that she is, in fact, able to operate on any kind of professional level.

    2. It's Growing!*

      I wonder if the house she rented to the friends was actually hers? All things considered, it’s possible that it was just an empty house she claimed was hers. Good thing the friends moved!

      1. Ama*

        Eek I didn’t even think about that, but we’ve actually had people pull that scam in my city, you might be on to something.

      2. irritable vowel*

        Yeah, I’m struggling a bit to understand how someone who works cleaning houses would own an extra property to rent. (I say this as someone whose parent worked nights as a janitor when I was growing up – we definitely didn’t have enough to own one house, let alone two. Not at all meant to be a judgmental comment about people who clean houses!)

        1. Worldwalker*

          Might have inherited the house. Aunt Sally dies, leaves you her house, you stay in your apartment and rent the house for income, come out ahead but still have to hold down a job for expenses.

          1. Candi*

            My dad and stepmom’s landlord works at a grocery store. Part of it is a lot of the day-to-day of his properties is handled by a rental company, so he gets bored.

        2. allathian*

          We don’t know anything about the cleaner’s financial situation. Some people work because they like to work rather than out of financial necessity. These are also often the sort of people who can get away with being unprofessional in their jobs, because they don’t depend on the income. I bet this cleaner doesn’t depend on the income she gets from cleaning houses, but doing the work does provide her with access to people she can attempt to manipulate, that’s where she gets her kicks.

        3. Anna*

          My friend’s cleaner also owns I think two houses. One in the country where we live, one in her home country. She cleans for extra extra income. She also supports a few family members in her home country. By all accounts she’s doing well for herself and her family, and my friend is happy with her work as well. I was also surprised, but people have different ways of managing their finances and their work, clearly.

    3. Boof*

      The depressing thing is it’s hard to get the word out about bad personal landlords and I bet she will sucker more people into renting from her just to drive them out – hiring a bad cleaner is obnoxious but moving into an house with someone like that can cost thousands for moving etc plus lost time, stress, crazymaking; and it’s really hard to attempt to recoup such costs.

  2. Amber Rose*

    You know that meme of that dude just blinking in disbelief? That’s me. That’s my face reading this.

    No words, just… WTF.

    1. calonkat*

      The only thought I could generate beyond the shock was “if this was a movie I’d have turned it off as unbelievable”. Real people can be so much stranger than we can imagine.

      1. Princesss Sparklepony*

        There was a movie years ago. Set in SF. Nice house! The cockroach swarm scene I still can’t forget… Pacific Heights. The psycho was the renter. The house had two apartments so he could do things to them without going much out of his way. I can’t remember what his motivation was. It starred Michael Keaton, Melanie Griffiths, and Matthew Modine.

        Not quite the same as this story, but a terrible rental experience nonetheless….

      1. Rachel*

        That blinking guy deff looks a lot like Cary Elwes! But his name is actually Drew Scanlon. The gif is from when he worked for a video game video website.

      2. Sue Wilson*

        That’s not Cary Elwes, haha, his name is Drew Scanlon when he was a producer on gamer website Giant Bomb

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      My jaw literally dropped and stayed there. I’ve seen people say that before on articles, but this time, it really happened. To me. I just… wow.

  3. Elenna*

    I. Um. I have SO MANY QUESTIONS but I suppose the only answer is “there are issues going on in her head that you don’t need to and shouldn’t get involved in”.

  4. Double A*

    Whhhhhaaaat. I am sorry you went through that but it was entertaining as heck to read. And I’m very glad you’re all free of the cleaner.

    1. Salad Daisy*

      Wow I was just thinking this would make a great Steven King book/movie. Great minds think alike!

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say that this is The Cable Guy meets Misery! Glad that I’m not the only one!

    3. Laure001*

      Yes, because in Misery, the crazy lady has a clear goal: she wants the book to be written. Which makes sense. In a way.
      This crazy lady has no clear goal, except maybe for chaos and misery to win the day.

      1. Candi*

        Between the forcing the loan and the rental, I think one thread is clear: She wanted people to be obligated to her.

        And that scares the crap out of me.

    4. Polly Hedron*

      And like Parasite, a South Korean movie about evil servants, which won four 2019 Oscars, including Best Picture.

  5. Introverted Type-A Employee*

    Now THAT is how you drop an update, folks! What a wild ride! Good riddance and glad to hear everyone has this menace of a person out of their lives!

      1. Observer*

        A doorbell camera can be a good idea anyway if you get a lot of deliveries. “Porch pirates” are unfortunately a thing in many areas.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        And if you do decide on the camera, pick the brand/company carefully. A lot of them have questionable privacy and security practices and questionable relationships with local law enforcement.

        I’m not against the principle of being able to check a camera pointed at my front door (sounds super convenient, actually!), but a lot of the readily available options are less than ideal.

        1. Pikachu*

          The Mozilla Foundation does a thing called Privacy Not Included. They put out amazing reports on privacy issues as they relate to smart devices. There is a security cam on their bestof list.

          1. SarahKay*

            Thank you for this – I had a security cam and stopped using it because of data privacy concerns. Off to investigate the Mozilla page now :)

    1. Hell Job Escapee*

      Ok I am definitely breaking out, “What in the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” sometime in the near future.

    2. Jh*

      We had someone we hired in our home lie and steal. I changed the locks, fired her via text, and blocked her number. Just saying, there’s a way to avoid drama with people like that! But honestly, warning signs are important, people who are high drama usually give up easily early on and if you don’t typically buy into their drama.

  6. CoveredinBees*

    Well, that was a much wilder ride than I was expecting. Glad you and your friends are free of this person.

  7. rebelgoat*

    Well that was BANANAS. I might change any codes/locks/passcodes and set up some cameras, who knows what she managed to get a hold of in your house, or what she might plan in retaliation. And definitely create a packet that documents your experience with her. One of my family members were targeted like this, it went as far as the whacko lady creating a false police report saying they HIT her during her termination meeting. Liars don’t deescalate lies.

    1. Artemesia*

      A temporary freeze on credit would be wise here as well. She had access to all your private information.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think the credit freeze is excellent. After all – people have mentioned that she was willing to dig through trash…….

  8. Lolo*

    Change your locks, get a door-cam, and start documenting every time she tries to contact you. Maybe look into a restraining order.

    When it comes to people like this, it’s better to be overly cautious and cover all your bases.

    1. Greymalkin*

      I was coming here to say the exact same thing. Get a restraining order, because this does not sound like a person who will happily go on her merry way once your friends are out of the house.

      And this might be minor considering everything else that happened, but opening someone’s mail without their consent is a federal offense (at least in the US), is it not?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Actually, once it’s in the garbage, it’s considered abandoned property and is fair game. That’s how cops can go through your bin and look at tossed-out mail. It’s good practice to annihilate everything that may contain sensitive information with a cross-cut shredder.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            Sort of, but not entirely. If it’s still in the house, it’s still yours. But if it’s on the curb, most places, once it’s in the trash, it technically belongs to the trash company. They trash company just won’t object to the cops going through it.

            I can’t help but think that a complaint to the Postal Inspectors might get this woman the help she apparently needs, though.

            1. Nerdling*

              It’s highly unlikely the postal inspector(s) in the area would have the time and prioritization to handle something like this. They’re covering large swathes of the country and are focused on major offenses such as drug trafficking, money muling, etc. The most the one here would likely do is refer the behavior to the local law enforcement for a discussion about how This Is Not Done. But she’s not presenting as an immediate danger to herself or others in any way that would escalate things above that.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It didn’t sound to me like the mail was in the garbage either.
        If anything was credit card offers or identifying information, I’d suggest they check their credit reports fast and put on a credit freeze.

  9. Egmont Apostrophe*

    What was the point of making them accept a loan from her? Just to get her hooks in tighter? I don’t get it.

    1. Nanani*

      I suspect she had cast OP and everyone else into very strange roles in a play showing exclusively in her own mind.

    2. Bernice Clifton*

      Favor-sharking. She was buying them off in hopes they would feel like they had to put up her subpar work, gossiping, and treating their friends like crap.

      She also gets bragging rights about her benevolence of buying a disabled, needy client* an expensive item.

      *Not my take on the LW and her husband, but probably what this woman would say.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        This. I’m guessing at least part of her thought process was “they can’t fire me if they feel indebted to me because of this big favor that I did for them.”

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          I suspect that she wanted something to hold over their heads. She did seem to be a very “interesting” character- so long as she is viewed from afar.

          It’s being close that is the problem.

      2. Observer*

        but probably what this woman would say.

        Even “probably” is an understatement. After all, we know what she already said to the OP’s friends!

        1. EPLawyer*

          Exactly. She already put the friends in her debt and put them in ackward positions. Then kicked them out (was there a signed lease? A chat with a lawyer if they don’t get their deposit back might be a good idea) when they didn’t play her weird little game anymore. Then tried to get them back when they called her bluff but only on condition they play her even weirder game.

          This woman is beyond having issues. She cast herself as some sort of benevolent savior of people who then expects fealty. Not just gratitude, fealty. Noblesse oblige and all that.

    3. Holey Hobby*

      It’s not worth trying to swim in some people’s brain soup. I don’t think things like “motivation” or “plan” or “expectation” are really happening in there, at least not in the way you think about them.

      1. quill*

        I can sort of put this together as a string of independent, contextless decisions. In terms of the lies though, there’s a clear theme even without a plan.

    4. Asenath*

      Yes, probably to get her hooks in tighter. Once you accept something from someone who is, ummm possibly living in a different reality, or, well, I’m no psychiatrist, I don’t know, but behaving like this, that one undeniably real exchange can become the foundation for all kinds of fantasies or lies. I don’t want to go into details, and it wasn’t anywhere near this severe, but someone who did actually do me a real kindness also spun a wildly exaggerated tale based on that real incident to another party, possibly to get one up on that person (“I helped Asenath in a way you wouldn’t/couldn’t….”. I was flabbergasted when I found out, but it was in a way a very educational experience. I hadn’t known some people think and operate like that.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This, exactly. A person helped a friend of mine in a very profound way and then said person thought she could actually dictate the conditions of my friend’s life based on the favor she had done, as though she were a child. It was bizarre.

        The husband being disabled set off alarm bells in my mind while I was reading this letter. All I could think of was that whacko movie about predatory guardianships that’s on Netflix right now. “I Care a Lot,” or whatever it’s called.

    5. tinybutfierce*

      Having previously been friends with someone who turned out to be a lot like this woman, I’d bet money on her doing it just to feed into her own narrative of being a nice person. She can’t be a mean, gossipy manipulator; remember that time she gave you $500 you didn’t ask for simply out of the kindness of her heart? She’s so nice!

      It’s really just an attempt at a cover for her less tolerable/acceptable behavior.

    6. Maya*

      I’m not a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychic, but I’d guess some combination of:

      -Wanting everyone to know what a Nice Person she is, doing Nice Things for her poor disabled employer
      -Needing to reverse the employee-employer power dynamic by being financially in charge
      -Wanting to be the Mary Poppins fantasy housekeeper who’s basically a family member and just takes care of everyone out of the goodness of her heart

    7. Boof*

      Forcing unwanted / unasked for favors is a pretty common grooming tactic for abuse
      Subsequently will milk that favor for 10x the worth

  10. Phony Genius*

    Although it sounds like this happened in a country outside the U.S., I’m pretty sure the cleaner violated several laws that protect renters from their landlords. The problems here are much larger than the original letter.

    1. Elenna*

      LW mentioned in the comments on the original letter that they live in Australia. Regardless, I do wonder if Jack and Jill could press charges. But they may just want to get this cleaning lady out of their lives.

      1. Observer*

        I’d be willing to bet that all they want is to NEVER have to see or hear about the cleaner again.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Agreed. Going to court just puts you back in contact with this person. Just back away – they sound very much like they are living in a reality of their own making. Those are the people that you need to worry about.

      3. coffee*

        Tenancy rules vary by state in Australia but I would guess the cleaner violated a bunch of them – for example, coming over without notice. We do have fairly weak laws around ending a tenancy so, depending on where she is or how much notice she gave, that is (depressingly) possible, particularly since I’m sure the cleaner would lie about the reasons she’s kicked them out. Also who wants to get into a legal fight with someone like this?

        (There has been some rental law reform over the past few years, and as home ownership becomes more expensive, there’s even more of a push to improve rental rights in Australia. Fingers crossed. In 2020, Victoria passed a law meaning that a landlord has to allow renters to have a pet unless there is a good reason not to. Huge improvement.)

        1. Freya*

          The tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment has been violated. And in no Australian state has the process for a legal eviction been followed.

      4. Sleeve McQueen*

        God. In that case, I hope she wasn’t the cleaner I once had, who turned up with no equipment of her own and then when I told the cleaning service who sent her that I didn’t want her to come again because she used my kitchen sponge to clean the toilet *and put it back on the kitchen sink*, rang me up and said that I was very bad and she hoped god slit my throat. Then when I complained about the throat-slitting thing, denied totally that it was her, a bold attempt given a) she had a fairly distinct accent and b) she didn’t hide her caller ID and had called from her home phone. Needless to say, she was terminated at the agency and I got sent a muffin basket

        1. Candi*

          Whoa. Glad that agency had sense.

          The only time I’ve heard of cleaners using the client’s cleaning stuff was with someone had sensitivity issues (scents, substances, all the fun stuff). The client asked if the cleaners could use their own carefully picked cleaners instead, which the cleaning company was fine with

    1. pope suburban*

      It certainly seems that there’s *something* happening with her, though I have no idea as to what. If this was really a big change in behavior (and not just the cleaner thinking she’d insinuated herself well enough into LW’s life that she could drop a mask), then I hope the appropriate people can get her the help that she needs. And, thankfully for LW, she is not on that list of appropriate people. This strikes me as something that’s pretty fundamentally sad, and also something that the LW is in no way obligated to manage. I’m just glad LW, her husband, and especially poor Jack and Jill are all disentangled from this person now. The cleaner sounds like a pretty stressful person to be around, to put it mildly.

    2. Observer*

      Well, yes. Something is clearly wrong with this person. But I don’t see how anything we have to say is going to make a difference.

  11. Amethystmoon*

    I guess the cleaner was being unrealistic that being fired is not an option? I just cannot fathom doing even remotely ever anything like that. But I actually care about my paycheck, probably because I’m not wealthy enough to own a house.

    1. Nea*

      She apparently owns a spare house that she does not need the rent for, if she’s so casual about kicking out renters.

      I know, armchair diagnosis is a no-no, but I do find it telling that someone so fond of stirring drama has two forms of income that both give her an excuse to nose around where other people live.

      1. EPLawyer*

        ooooh. Regardless of what is going on, good point. She specifically CHOSE income streams that gets her into people lives in a close relationship. Then BOOM. We go on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (TM Triss merigold)

        1. Nea*

          Like a lot of people, I have promptly added “What in the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride” to my vocabulary. If for no other reason than I can use it in more places than “What in the hot crispy Kentucky Fried f-.”

        2. pancakes*

          I wouldn’t go quite that far. I live in a city filled with millions of renters and don’t know anyone who has a close relationship with their landlord. I did have a friend whose landlord lived in the building and spied on my friend from the roof deck, which happened to be outside the friend’s bedroom window, but that was because the landlord was unhinged, not because they were close!

          1. Xanna*

            In my province you can see the outcomes of tenancy disputes and reading through cases – it’s really so clear how quickly things can go so bad (and how often they do) when the person you’re paying and reliant on for housing thinks they’re some type of feudal lord/minor god? It’s just an inherent power imbalance between landlord and tenant and when the landlord tries to push that boundary things can get so bad in so many bizarre ways??

            I’d never considered it from an employment perspective but I think the general idea of boundaries in a work context is so applicable to tenancy and I’m just really enjoying this whole discussion- thanks so much for the update OP!!!

          2. JustaTech*

            I had a landlady (friend of a friend of my mom) who was generally fine to work with (very patient with me being a first time renter), but she did keep trying to give me her cat. And when I explained that I couldn’t have a cat because I was going back to college she proceeded to try to give that cat to every single person I ever had over.
            Poor cat was a longhair that they kept as outdoor only, it was absolutely covered in mats and (probably) tumors.

            Oh, and years later my landlady’s husband ran into me at the grocery store and he said “hi” by pulling on my pigtail!

    2. Candi*

      Well, employee protections in Oz are more along the line of the UK’s, but she’s also a single person, maybe incorporated, not the kind of company the laws usually apply to.

  12. dogmom*

    OP would you mind sharing if you happen to be based in Florida? Say, the Fort Myers area? I know someone there who fits your description of “totally bananacrackers cleaning lady.”

    1. Wisteria*

      Looking for opportunities to pile on with stories about her is giving her way too much headspace in all of our lives. She was awful. She is gone. Isn’t that enough?

      And they live in Australia.

    2. pancakes*

      The idea that there’s only one bananacrackers person in any given line of work is very quaint. I don’t want to attempt to diagnose anyone, just give some perspective: The NIMH puts the prevalence of personality disorders in adults at 9.1%.

      1. dogmom*

        The cleaning lady I know did a lot of similar things — turning clients against each other, thinking they’re conspiring against her … everything LW wrote fits this person to a T, and I didn’t read the original letter so I didn’t know LW’s not in Florida.

        1. pancakes*

          Paranoia isn’t terribly rare, either! And is associated with multiple conditions. Just as a matter of statistics, a number of people suffering from conditions that cause this sort of behavior are not going to seek out a diagnosis, and a number of people who have a diagnosis aren’t going to take the medications prescribed to them, particularly if the side effects are bad. That’s true even in countries where everyone has healthcare.

        1. Nea*

          I know someone who used to do marketing for Lifetime. You’d be surprised at the stringent rules about what they don’t allow!

          1. Caliente*

            I think I would definitely be surprised because I have seen some TITLES! I don’t even watch Lifetime (except Married at First Sight this last season only) because its just too much based on titles alone and I am no effing prude! lol They just make me roll me eyes too hard or something, idk what it is.

    1. Jack Straw from Wichita*

      Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking each time it took another completely banana crackers turn!

    1. dresscode*

      I thought the same. And that the friends who also have a cleaner would use her as the landlord. Strange all the way around.

      1. Presea*

        Indeed. Both at the same time can also be great for someone who likes hands-on work, who really really loves to deep clean, someone who wants passive income/a side job but also has a flexible full-time job… and also, in this case, the free run of someone else’s living space and being able to take advantage of those sorts of power dynamics definitely seems like a factor.

        1. pope suburban*

          Yeah, some people just like to stay busy and/or help out people who might have a lot of other things on their plates. Not that that’s necessarily the case here, this person doesn’t seem nearly that benign, but the basic concept makes sense enough. I knew a girl who had a side business as a home organizer just because she was good at it and because she liked being able to help out people who felt overwhelmed by decluttering or managing space.

        2. Pikachu*

          A free run at her own tenant’s living space! What a gross invasion of privacy! She could intentionally do damage to keep a deposit or manufacture all kinds of evidence to make a case for eviction. No thank you.

      2. nnn*

        Ooh, that might answer the question of why it’s worth her while to work as a cleaner when she’s in an economic situation that allows her to own more than one house!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          It sounds like she might be self-employed? In which case, she owns a business & some real estate. But she could have inherited the property or bought it in a soft market.

          Either way, both cleaner & landlady would be appealing jobs for a manipulative busybody. Now that switchboards don’t exist anymore…

        2. Jaybee*

          A lot of small-scale landlords (i.e. ‘people in a position to own more than one house’) also have a day job.

          They’re in a position to own the house because the rent from the tenant is paying for the mortgage. They’re not buying the house in cash with a spare $500k they have lying around.

          Most of the small-scale real estate investors I see in my job are not rich. They’re blue-collar, a lot of them have full time jobs in construction (making it less expensive to invest since they can do their own renovations and don’t have to pay for someone else’s labor) but I also see a lot of people who work day jobs in nursing and in food service.

          1. Jaybee*

            Point being – I would not find it odd at all to meet someone who owns one (or even a handful) of investment homes who also works a day job as a cleaner.

            I’d be a little surprised if they worked for SOMEONE ELSE as a cleaner rather than independently/running their own cleaning business, but not THAT surprised, honestly. But that’s clearly not the case here since LW fired her directly. She works for herself, not for someone else’s cleaning service; it’s her company (or just a DBA/sole proprietorship).

          2. allathian*

            Yes, this is a fair point. You don’t necessarily have to be independently wealthy to own more than one house, especially if you’ve inherited the second one.

            That said, even if the cleaner was in a position where she didn’t need to work for a living, she could be a (bad) cleaner just to get access to other people’s properties.

      3. pancakes*

        Landlords do not have a free run of their tenant’s living spaces. It’s going to vary by location, but where I live they can only enter without reasonable notice if there’s an emergency, and with notice, only to show the place to prospective tenants or as provided by the lease. Wanting to bicker about a rejected loan isn’t an emergency!

        1. Frauke*

          Thank you! I have lived in rentals for nearly all my life (32 years total, about 10 different rentals) and I can count the number of times a landlord has entered while I was actively living there on one hand, and always with a clear purpose and with a renter present. I live in a place with very good renter protections though, so landlords could get in major trouble for violating the law on this.

    2. Generic Name*

      Yeah, that struck me as well? Maybe she really just loves cleaning?? Although, after the update, it sounds like what she really enjoys is being all up in other people’s lives and sowing chaos.

    3. OftenOblivious*

      With this wild combo, she might have convinced someone to let her live somewhere for free while she rents out her house.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I wondered if anyone else thought this – that she was renting out her own house/subletting because she managed to get a live-in cleaning job somewhere. I mean, I try not to make up stories….

  13. redflagday701*

    The cleaner has not been this angry since the time some jerk at her previous job upstaged her Hawaiian rolls.

    1. Alex the Alchemist*

      I really like the idea that all of the wild people we read about here are all just the same person at different jobs. Wonder if she was also in the duck club…

      1. redflagday701*

        I’d like to see an Ask a Manager shared universe like the MCU, where all the horrible bosses and co-workers join forces, but instead of Thanos, the big bad is the owner who wants everybody to be in a porno.

        1. Deejay*

          And as with Stan Lee in the MCU, there’s one familiar face that cameos in every story. It’s actually Alison.

  14. I'm Just Here for the Cats*

    Wow! This is like something out of a bad soap opera.

    I’m glad your friends are out of there and you have a good cleaner now. If there’s any agency or review list I would consider posting something about how she acted.

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I think a very factual, the sky is blue, dry recounting would be okay. At the least it would save others from getting stuck with her.

      Alternatively, I can totally see just backing away now that you are clear of her.

  15. The OTHER Other*

    Wow, what an update. I remember the original story and thinking hmm, that’s weird, I bet this cleaner is weird in other ways, too. Well, OMG did she ever exceed expectations!

    Sorry you had to live through it, it sounds like it was exhausting, I’m glad you are rid of her!

  16. Bamcheeks*

    Part of me thinks this escalated quickly, and part of me thinks that this is a very logical continuation of the attempted manipulation and boundary-crossing from the initial letter.

    1. Candi*

      Both are true. Many people like this, on getting pushback, go into a milder, less pushy phase for a while, then start pushing boundaries against once their target has relaxed and there’s been time to reframe the narrative.

  17. ChemistryChick*

    Great googly moogly, that escalated quickly.

    OP, I’m sorry you and your friends had to deal with all that, but I’m glad you’re all better off now.

  18. RJ*

    I would nominate this for Update of the Year 2021 if we had such a thing. Wow. Talk about a nightmare situation.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Right? And given that it’s only the 21st of the month, I’m guessing there are loads more updates to come and that some of them might be even more amazing than this one. Though I’m not sure how that would be possible.

  19. Properlike*

    Wow. I’m surprised OP and spouse let her back inside their house to fire her, unless they needed the key back? I’d probably change the locks before then anyway and fire her by phone. Holy chipotle.

  20. Freddled Gruntbuggly*

    Holy forking shirtballs, that was NOT a good place in life for you! So happy you’ve all washed your hands of her and swept her away! My mind is thoroughly boggled.

  21. Elizabeth West*


    I just kept reading and it just kept getting worse! Holy Hanukkah balls!

    Boundaries can get blurry with contractors who perform regular services in clients’ homes. I used to chat with my yard guy’s wife while he was finishing up, if she came along that day. But she was a friendly person who also worked as a cleaner, did not gossip about her clients, and didn’t act totally bananacrackers.

    I’m glad OP and spouse and their friends have escaped this person’s clutches!

  22. Too many hats for this salary*

    I…what the cheeseballs? I mean, I KNOW people like this exist, I have worked with these kinds of loons before, but just…I’m going to go join my jaw on its sudden vacation to the other side of the planet now.

  23. Cheap Ass Rolex*

    I’ve encountered this kind of madcap perpetual-motion-grifter only once in my life, but I can confirm that people like this exist.

    Glad you’re all shut if her! Hope there’s some kind of online rating where you can earn other people.

  24. anonymous73*

    I would have suggested firing her after your initial letter. You don’t force someone to take money from you, especially someone who isn’t more than an acquaintance, and then get bent out of shape by suggesting you throw it in the garbage if they won’t accept it. As others have suggested you need to change your locks if you haven’t already done so, because I wouldn’t put it past her to have made a copy of your key. And if she keeps finding ways to harass you, I’d file a restraining order or something of the legal variety. This person in unhinged and she is capable of just about anything IMO.

  25. Bananarama*

    Absolutely nuts behavior.

    That said, can we not armchair diagnose people with NPD just because they’re shitty? People can be shitty without a personality disorder and there’s nothing about a personality disorder that makes someone shitty in a special way that no one else can be.

  26. RosyGlasses*

    I am… agog.

    Also, if this were in the U.S., in many states she would be able to be sued as a landlord for doing those things. Mindboggling!

  27. Popinki*

    I’m exhausted just from reading the update. I can’t even imagine how draining living through the whole DRAMAAAAAA must have been :O

  28. Uranus Wars*

    Well doesn’t this just sum it all up: I hired a new cleaner and he showed up on time, did an excellent job, and only spoke when he needed to.


  29. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    As someone who’s renting for the first time in 20 years (long-term, anyway – there was a 5-month-long month-to-month stint in 2010), I’m blown away by the idea of a landlord requiring a tenant to go on walks with her as a condition of the lease. Thank dog that my landlord lives in another state! (and is a reasonable person, I hope) (and also owns too many properties that he couldn’t possibly go on walks with all of us if he tried!)

    1. Observer*

      As a landlord who lives in the same house as my tenant, I’m equally blown away. The idea of that kind of relationship demand is beyond bizarre!

    2. coffee*

      I’ve been renting for years and this still blows my mind. It’s just so far outside any normal or reasonable lease condition.

  30. cwhf*

    Wow. This lady is a serious drama llama. That was….a lot. Glad OP and her friends have extricated themselves from this person’s sphere of influence and interaction. Yikes.

  31. Chria*

    Wow, this reads like a post on /r/amitheasshole. So much drama and angst driven by a narcissist. I’m glad op and her friends were able to get this person out of their lives.

    1. Bananarama*

      I believe there’s a rule against armchair diagnosing others – there’s other things you can call her besides a narcissist.

      1. allathian*

        Well, regardless of whether there’s a diagnosis or not, she’s certainly exhibiting a lot of narcissistic behavior. It should be okay to say that without instantly being accused of armchair diagnosing anyone.

      2. pancakes*

        People who don’t have any sort of disorder can be narcissists or narcissistic as well. The word isn’t as limited in usage as you’re suggesting.

    1. Candi*

      OP*, LW*, and if they’re using a username, [username]* are all ways to find them.

      The * is invisible unless you’re running a Ctrl-F. Alison put it on purpose so people could find OP/LW without running into the bazillion uses of them in the comments.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      For this letter, the OP commented as LW1 and her spouse also commented a few times as Spouse of LW1. There is some interesting detail in the comments!

  32. The cat’s ass*

    Dang! This person isn’t a drama llama, she’s a whole herd of drama llamas! Glad you’re all well out of it!

  33. CAinUK*

    I…what? Look, this is all a bit…off. Reliability of narrators is always in flux, and I notice lots of arm-chair diagnosing (and a lot of drama) that requires BOTH parties to be overly-invested? So I’ll just say that I’m glad OP is out of this (truly!) but also it’s worth OP thinking about why it took this level of WTF to set a boundary? Also, the “new cleaner never speaks” vibe is not the ideal takeaway…

    1. JustaTech*

      “only spoke when he needed to” isn’t quite the same as “never speaks”.

      Like, my cleaner is at my house today and if the past is anything to go on he’ll only say “hi!” and “all done!”. Maybe more since I made him a box of Christmas cookies.
      But that’s because he and his helper are focused on getting the job done and we’re focused on working. He’s a busy guy so I don’t want to take up his time with chit-chat (and I’m not a chit-chat kind of person).

      Even my MIL, who wept when her cleaner announced that she was retiring (after working for my in-laws for 25 years) and *loves* to talk, keeps her chatting with her cleaner limited to the beginning and end of the shift.

  34. OP*

    OP / LW here.

    Some people are confused as to how a cleaner can afford to own a house. We are in Australia which has an incredibly decent minimum wage, and employment conditions and protections compared to the US, and she was being paid well above minimum wage. She was also older than us and had it much easier getting into the housing market 20-30 years ago (it’s very hard now for a variety of reasons). Loads of landlords still have to work. Also she wasn’t always a cleaner.

    As for the whole kicking the tenants out, she very clearly felt that she had control over them since she was offering rent cheaper than market rates (which at the moment is very high so she probably thought they had little choice but to comply with her crazy demands) with no bond in a verbal agreement – although verbal agreements are legal, it’s incredibly hard to prove anything in courts without evidence.

    Rather than seeking any legal assistance and go through the time and effort required to take her to court (in the meantime she would have changed the locks and lied to the police because again – no evidence), my friends decided just to move out and sever ties rather than continue to deal with her. Jill’s mental health was especially affected.

    And yes, opening someone else’s mail is illegal, and you can report it to the police, but again it wasn’t worth it to my friends.

    Thank you for all of your comments. At the time it just seemed like high school drama I wanted out of my life, but reading your reactions has helped me see that it was all incredibly bizarre. We haven’t had any contact with her since.

    1. Candi*

      That last sentence is good to hear, OP. I hope you all are safe and well.

      It’s true when you’ve never experienced looney toons like the ex-cleaner’s, you have very little frame of reference to go by, especially since the parts of your brain that handles categorization and reactions are sent into TILT mode by the bananacrackers. So it’s hard to know how to react.

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