The beloved Ann B. Davis, the wacky, wonderful "Alice" of classic sitcom, The Brady Bunch, died over the weekend at 88. The family fantasy, which ran to mediocre ratings from 1969-1974, lives on in the fond memories and vivid dreams of viewers. For some, these dreams are tied to "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" or dark, brooding Greg. For others, typically the "Carol and Mike" of what we now call a "blended" family, the fantasizing is fixated on the multi-tasking marvel who was America's Favorite Housekeeper.
Quirky Alice did it all; cooking, cleaning, marriage counseling, laundry, nanny-ing, wisecracking, and living in full-time. Had the cult comedy been set in this century, she would have undoubtedly known how to re-boot the Roku, handle social media e-holes preying on Cindy, and teach Ruby on Rails to Sam the Butcher.
But could any family today, much less a family with six kids, afford the services of an Alice? Even in 1969, it was a stretch for the Bradys. Architect Mike likely earned an "inflation-adjusted $15,687" a year. Minimum wage was $1.30 an hour. How do you calculate $1.30 an hour multiplied by the 24/7 Alice devoted to her career?
Today an architect's annual pay averages $64,150, according to recent estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while the nation's 104 million full-time workers had a mean wage of $46,440 last year. The estimated annual salary of a live in housekeeper ranges from $45,000-75,000 -- for an average family, not the Jolie-Pitts. Do the math; most housekeepers out-earn the families who need them.
Nor does the 2014 housekeeper job description include the massive To Do List so adeptly managed by Alice. Many of today's housekeepers are on duty only five days a week, don't do certain chores such as ironing, or personal errands for the parents. Special skills such as party planning or traveling with the family may cost more. In Silicon Valley, being fluent in Mandarin ups the price as does being a good vegan or gluten-free cook in Portland.
Even if you can afford your own Alice, she (or he) may not be easy to find. First there's the recruiting, the background checks (criminal and driving records), the interviewing, and negotiating the details, especially the confidentiality agreements, housing, and time-off.
None of which the Bradys ever had to worry about -- except when Alice showed up driving a truck in the 1995 Brady Bunch movie.
Have you been lucky enough to find your own Alice?
> Check out Housekeeping Jobs circa 2014