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Diary of a Mad Housewife

By: Joanne Kaufman

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No sooner had Jeremy cleared out than two fellows from Delmont Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning rolled in. I found the company through The Franklin Report, the online version of a publication that rates New York City home services based on industry and client comments. (A Chicago directory is coming out this fall, and there are plans for a Los Angeles edition.) Delmont lived up to its rating of four stars (out of a possible five). One of the guys even took it upon himself to realign the pad under the cumbersome living-room rug.

The cleaner my house got, the worse the windows looked. So I returned to The Franklin Report and found lanky Ronald Bates of Belnord Window Cleaning Co. Bates claimed that he has done work for Connie Chung, and says that she had disappointed him: "People don't tell you what kind of windows they have. I tell them to look at their windows before I come, to let me know, so I can bring the right tools, but they don't." Bates did a sparkling job at $7 a window, but griped about various ancient frames, missing screws and child guards. "Replace those windows and get me back," he ordered.

You know, I could get used to this: gleaming glass, tidy drawers, people showing up at my beck and click. Though I had never before thought of the Web as an agent for domestic enrichment, let me just say, "Martha Stewart, stand aside." Clearly, I was ready to test my new best friend some more. Could the Web find someone to get my stamps and drop off a package at a friend's house? I e-mailed Nyerrands, which for $30 dollars an hour promised to handle these tasks and more. I wait an hour and a half for a reply. Nothing. I call. The young man who answers says they've received no communique from me. He checks again. Ah, here it is. "So you want two rolls of stamps?" "No," I say. "Please read my message again. Two books of stamps." "And you want a package delivered to 1148 Fifth Avenue." "No," I say "You're picking it up from there." Three hours later, the stamps arrive. An hour or so after that, the package gets to its destination--much later than if I had just taken care of it myself.

On Mag - November 2001