Ladies who board…
What a Landlady Says About Them
They are Unbusinesslike
and “Chronic Kickers”
“What is the matter that women who have no home find it so difficult to obtain what passes for one even by paying for it? What advantage has a man over a woman as roomer or boarder? I am beginning to find the burden of my woman’s estate too heavy to bear. I have hitherto considered it very enjoyable and honorable, but the experience of the last three days has made me willing to change places with the veriest wretch that ever wore trousers. Now, will you, out of your own experience and observation, solve this mystery, for you do not seem like one to hold an unauthorized opinion?”
“Of course,” replied the lady, “there are boarders and boarders just as there are landladies and landladies. For my part, I like ladies in the house. Every house is pleasanter and should be the better for their presence. But the fact remains that they are more trouble than men. When they are in their rooms all day, where they have a right to be, they are generally wanting something not in the bond. They– I am talking now of the careless, selfish, or simply inconsiderate ones– insist upon extra service; they will ring for the girl to come up three flights of stairs to put a lump of coal on the grate, to open a window or shut it, or to find their nightdress.
“They'll go into the bathroom, even those who have no need to economize, and wash out all sorts of things, laces and handkerchiefs and stockings; this in time fills up the waste pipe with shreds and ravelings, and the end thereof is a plumber's bill. They will either ring for a flatiron or else they will come down into the kitchen with their trailing skirts and attend to the pressing out of their gowns there. They will bother the girl, want a little more fire and an ironing board, a little starch and a holder, and it will frequently end by the girl offering to do the work for them just to get them out of the way.
“They want a little thread, or a darning needle, or a teaspoon, or some mustard, or table salt, or camphor. It seems to me there's nothing from a pin to a porous plaster that I have not been asked for by my lady lodgers. They want frequent changes made in the arrangements of their room. The bed doesn't stand the right way, the curtains are too thin or too thick, the back of the rocking chair is too high or too low. They lose their pass keys and burn the gas to heat curling irons and pipe stems where with to curl their hair. They receive calls, properly enough, but they forget that it requires the time of the servant to answer the bells for these callers.
“And, as women spend money less freely than men, they do not consider that extra service should receive extra pay. If the truth must be told, I find it much easier and more pleasant to transact business– from small matters to greater ones– with a man than with a woman. Women are not businesslike, and they will pay $20 for a bonnet willingly and haggle over a wash bill. Again, in a house full of lady lodgers or boarders, there are occasional strifes and envyings, jealousies and gossipings not pleasant. These are a few of the reasons why women are considered undesirable as lodgers and boarders.”– Carlotta Perry in the Chicago Tribune, 1891
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