A tale of two extremes

There’s a TV show in the UK that has recently made its way to Spain and it has quite a different take on the clutter/declutter reality TV market. The Spanish title translates to You get dirty and I’ll clean it up which is much more expressive than the original UK title of Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners.

The idea behind the show is that people who spend a large portion of their day cleaning their houses and getting rid of germs, go into houses that haven’t been cleaned in years.

At the end of each episode the narrator tells us what each person has learned from the experience, and more often than not, the cleaners say that they have relaxed their cleaning regime at home and the ones whose house was organized and cleaned say that they have learned the value in keeping their house visitor-presentable.

I’m not going to get into the perception of either side of the equation that the show generates as there is quite a bit of controversy over both sets of images. That’s not what today’s article is about.

No, what I find fascinating is the learning from each other part. I’ve already talked about this in my post about the concept of good enough but I wanted to explore it further.

At work, my former boss was all about the details and I’m a big-picture person. We often clashed (although that’s too harsh a word as conversations were always pleasant with her) about the number of details that needed to be considered before making a decision, as well as what, and how much of something should be kept, and for how long.

We learned a lot from each other. She learned that sometimes details only confused issues and I learned that they also allowed us to make well-informed decisions and gave a sense of history to what we do at work.

On the personal side of things, I come from a family where there’s always a silver-lining to any cloud and so planning wasn’t as important because there’s an opportunity for fun in every situation. My husband believes that more fun can be had if things are planned fully and that plan is kept. We’ve each learned to move a bit more towards the center. I have admitted that a great plan makes for a great day, and he allows that a plan not followed doesn’t mean total disaster.

Those are just two situations where some sort of relationship with an opposite personality type enriches my life.

How about you? How has a relationship of two extremes helped you?

5 Comments for “A tale of two extremes”

  1. posted by SkiptheBS on

    My late mother seldom cleaned, a fact cited in divorce papers and by landlords who called me in to do it. My allergies are extreme and in my youth, efficient medications had not been invented. I would keep it all clean and organized when healthy and let it all go when ill.

    Science caught up with the sneezes and I’m now a contract cleaner. I work for one clutterbug and one hoarder wannabe who grew up in extreme poverty. Their piles of tools, plastic bags/containers/forks and worn-out sheets serve as constant reminders to keep it clean and keep it simple.

  2. posted by Her from There on

    I had my ceiling repaired and repainted recently. I apologised to the painter for the mess (it’s school holidays, I was injured for 8 months last year and am still unable to do deep cleaning, etc) but he said “This place isn’t dirty. Lived-in is one thing, but I go to houses that are filthy, and trust me, yours isn’t.” That statement really made me think. Yes, the house gets messy at times, yes, there is dust where there shouldn’t be, yes, my plan to have a place for everything and everything in it’s place is still a work in progress (and I suspect it will be until my kids finish school), but is it dirty, or unhealthy? No. I actually watch Hoarders to feel better about my own home! And because I’m fascinated by what tips people over from ‘messy’ or ‘lived in’ or ‘collector’ to hoarder whose home can’t be accessed for basic functions.

  3. posted by JessiPlaysJazz on

    This is very true in my life; I veer towards the pathological end of OCD/POCD when left to my own devices, and it gets a little neurotic. My partner on the other hand, is a self-described hot mess. End result is that I have relaxed significantly because I realize that the mess isn’t actually going to kill me, and he’s learned to tidy up a bit more so that I don’t have a breakdown. The balance results in a presentable house that looks like people live in it. I’m learning to be OK if all the laundry isn’t folded and in color coordinated squared stacks (I’ve cataloged, made a spreadsheet for and numbered all my clothes; his had historically been stuffed in ‘the drawer’) , and he’s getting better about actually hitting the laundry basket. We are all crazy, just in different ways lol. It’s better all the way around. I’ve let go of bleaching everything, every day, and now just give it a wipe if there are crumbs on the counter and then call it good. Haha. I feel healthier and so does he 😀

  4. posted by Margaret on

    My first job after graduating was as a research assistant to a professor whose courses i had avoided while getting my degree. He came from an applied background, and I was a theorist who studied the pure side of the subject. I showed up one day, and he handed me a problem he had been working on all night, and told me to take it to the coffee room and he would meet me there in 10 minutes. 10 minutes later he walked in the room and chastised me because I was sitting drinking coffee, the paper closed. I had found the problem immediately. A few years later I had my first career job, and my boss made a big mistake with his program and we had to fix the data. Both my boss and I were purists and no amount of our combined logic could solve the problem. I stayed late that night and wondered what my old professor boss would have done, and I started churning data through the computer, the bad data, and some manually corrected data. When my boss arrived in the morning, he found a note from me on his desk saying, “Here is the magic number. If you add this to all the wrong data, you will get the correct data.”
    This comment is not about house cleaning, but it is about fixing messes, and an example of being open to the other person’s approach.

  5. posted by Kenneth in Virginia on

    I clean most of the house every week to get rid of the dirt and the cat hair. But the germs are on their own. As far as having to share a house with others, “one who loves does not notice.”

    I do wonder, though, at the mention by Skip about growing up in extreme poverty. Both my parents and grandparents as well as those of my wife lived through the Great Depression. I imagine it made them all extremely frugal and to some extent, people who hung on to everything possible. Yet none of those people lived cluttered lives, nor did they live simple lives, either, lest you think that uncluttered means simple. But they all had barns.

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