Summer in Washington is supposed to be slow. So why do so many of us feel as though we're continuously running ourselves ragged? It's hard enough to find time to eat lunch some days -- let alone get the car detailed, buy your niece a birthday gift and take Rover for a haircut.
"We find people who say, 'I'm just too busy to . . . I'm so tired I can't,'" says Brenda Siegel, founder of the Virginia-based company Angels at Your Service. "Their to-do lists are growing out of control, and they can't seem to get it all done."
One solution: Employ someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. The major caveat to such outsourcing, of course, is that paying a person to wait for the cable guy or sell Aunt Lucy's necklace on eBay gets expensive fast. But for those of us desperate for a few extra minutes in the day, the tradeoff may be worth it. If you're up to your ears in errand overload, consider these four handy helpers, all of whom promise to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Angels at Your Service
Headed in for Lasik surgery with no one to drive you? Call this seven-year-old company, which will dispatch one of its 50 trained staffers to drop you off and wait for you afterward -- maybe even get you a Jamba Juice in between. Laundry, gift wrapping and prescription pick-up top the list of services commonly requested by clients, but president Siegel claims she and her Angels are equipped to handle everything from grocery runs to finding that "something blue" for your wedding day. Consultations are free, and prices start at $17.50 per hour, with a four-hour minimum for certain services. And should you have a particularly wacky want, don't despair. "Even if we don't advertise a service," says Siegel. "It still might be something we can do." P.O. Box 10829. Alexandria. 703-924-3600. www.angelsatyourservice.com.
Door to Door Organics
If you're tired of the lines at your local supermarket, call on this family-owned business, which will dispatch a box of certified-organic produce to your door as often as once a week. Sign up on the company's Web site, picking the variety and quantity of produce you want and choosing either a one-shot delivery deal or a weekly "subscription." The company takes pains to please picky eaters: you can request fruit- or veggie-only boxes, and if you want to send owner David Gersenson a list of preferences, detailing your hatred of eggplant and love of corn, he says he's all ears. Items on offer include standard broccoli and Roma tomatoes, as well as more exotic fare such as cilantro and wheatgrass. Prices range from $36 for a 15-pound box to $60 for a 33-pound box -- which is no bargain, but neither is it outrageous compared with places such as Whole Foods. 7036-D Easton Rd. Pipersville, Pa. 888-283-4443. www.doortodoororganics.com.
Toby Moore, Adam Vitarello and Justin Lesher want to demystify eBay for lazy (or Luddite) auctioneers. Drop off your iBook G3 or George Nelson lamp at the pair's two-month-old Georgetown waterfront store and they'll price it, take photos, write up your listing and manage the auction. Of course, there are parameters to the duo's peddling: They won't take items that are likely to sell for less than $100, and while in-home pick-up is available, it's only for items likely to garner at least $1,000. They also charge a 30 percent commission on sales up to $500, and 20 percent on sales above that -- which might seem a little steep, but as Lesher points out, "Consignment stores take up to 50 percent, and auction houses can take even more." 3211 K St. NW. 202-337-7768. www.espotstore.com.
Rosa's Mobile Pet Groomers
Thanks to this pampering palace on wheels, pet owners in Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Kensington, Potomac and upper Northwest need never drag terrified mutts or scratch-happy felines to the salon again. Your furry companions will receive a bath, coat and nail trim, blow-dry and brushing -- all in the van, which will come to your curb, and all in about 45 minutes. Prices range from around $50 to clean up a muddy beagle to more than $200 to detangle an especially persnickety Persian. One thing to note: The service is available only for two or more pets at a time. If you're a solo pet owner, you may want to coordinate with a neighbor and split the tab. Bethesda. 301-946-0040. www.cleandognow.com.
-- Kate Ghiloni