The Ink Penn

Say what?

When I read about Alfred in the Wall Street Journal, my reaction was, “Where do I sign up?” Hello Alfred is the brainchild of two young New Yorkers who dreamed up the concept in 2014 when they were both still in their twenties. The name Alfred comes from the name of the butler in Batman, and that’s what Alfred is—a butler or household manager.

I laughed aloud when I read the intro to the article explaining that one of “the more brutal realities of adulthood is the list of tasks and to-dos that, no matter how privileged or organized you may happen to be, never quite melts away.” Ah yes, when you’re finally out on your own without your mom or your mom’s household help to attend to your every little need, life can seem overwhelming.

I must admit that neither my mom nor her household help handled everything for me before I moved out. That’s because my sisters and I were the household help. We cleaned house, ironed, sewed on buttons and hemmed our own clothes. Grocery shopping, cooking, and paying the household bills were Mom’s domain, though, so I suppose there was some division of labor. As for my dad, he brought home the bacon as did Mom, but beyond that, he never lifted a finger. Okay, he did mow the lawn, but he only made messes inside the house.

All of that said, I agree that the task of running a household, whether for one person or two or more, is never ending. Grocery shopping, visiting the dry cleaners, taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the pets, taking the dog to the groomer, even scooping the cat pan are all chores that never go away.

According to my husband, one of my traits or quirks—he was careful not to say flaws—is that I routinely start tasks I don’t finish, at least not right away. What does that look like to him?

I open bottles of wine but don’t remove the cork from the corkscrew until I go to open the next bottle. I unpack my suitcase after a trip by removing the things I need right away but don’t finish unpacking for about a week. I open the many boxes from Amazon but don’t immediately put away the contents and trash the box.

All of my quirks would go poof if I signed up for Hello Alfred because “the weight of all of these microburdens “ would magically lift from my shoulders. Yes, Hello Alfred had me until I read that the monthly membership dues start at $279.

For that, you get a “domestic helper who slips in every week to put things in order and address any notes” you submit to the company online. The visits average out to 20 minutes, and of course, you can pay for more frequent or lengthy visits. Your personal Alfred will run errands, take out the trash, you name it.

Ah well, our household will have to struggle on without an Alfred, but when I hear co-founders Marcela and Jessica say, “We built Alfred to create time for people to do what they love,” signing on the dotted line is awfully tempting. Fortunately for me, though the Alfreds are available in Boston, L.A., N.Y., and several other cities, I was unable to locate any information about an Atlanta presence. Phew.

PS. Lord Banjo and I will be signing books at Posman Books, Ponce City Market, 7/28, 1 – 3 pm.

Kathy is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her books, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” and “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday,” at the Enchanted Forest, Amy’s Hallmark at the Forum, and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,

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