Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Help


Some people call them housekeepers, some call them maids, and some old school Sri Lankans call them servants. I call them a godsend, and the devils themselves!

I never had a maid before I came to Sri Lanka. I had cleaning people in the US; two Polish guys who cleaned really well but broke everything in their path. A lovely Mexican woman who was speedy, loved my dog, and trustworthy to the hilt. One guy (he called himself a majordomo) cleaned my house but jammed everything that was out of place into a closet.

Early on I saw that some Sri Lankans locked their rooms from the maids. Locked their closets. Locked their refrigerators and even their kitchen cupboards. I thought it was a paranoid thing to do. You have a live-in maid and you lock everything up tight as a drum. How could people live with such distrust?

Well, I soon learned. I won’t list all the disasters I’ve had with the maids I’ve hired. I stopped counting at 17 maids who have gone through the revolving door of my Sri Lankan life. One ate everything in sight. I mean everything. One went on a bender after I had a party, with the leftover booze and had to be taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. One thought we had pornography because she saw the “Sex and the City” series on DVD in the TV room.

One maid helped me clean out my closet of all the fancy clothes I hadn’t worn in ages. About a thousand dollars worth, so I didn’t want to give them away. I put them in a trash bag because I didn’t have a box large enough. When I went to check on them in the storage room, I couldn’t find them. I asked the woman where they were and she said, ’I thought they were trash and so I threw them out.’

Stunned, I held my tongue. How stupid can you be, I wanted to say? But then I thought, she couldn’t be that stupid, she must have stolen them. Not one to accuse someone of stealing, I didn’t fire her immediately (I should have!), but I did let her go the next week.

The next maid found one of my nice work blouses hidden underneath the fired maid’s mattress! It had been altered! Now that’s pretty damn cunning. I should have reported the thief to the police.

We don’t have a maid anymore. Not since the last one got cheeky with Lipton and me. We clean the house ourselves, but sometimes things just get out of hand and so my friend lends us her maid Emilda, and Emilda stays over one night and cleans for two days. She’s a lovely woman and doesn’t mind Toby, the dog. She even cooks – last night’s dinner was great. Better than eating out!

My most favorite maid had to quit because her husband was stalking her. She now lives overseas and comes to visit every three years, brining bags of presents for both Lipton and me. I miss her dearly but am glad she’s safe and happy.

Another friend whose daughter lived in China says she experience the same problems. As have Sri Lankans themselves. You want to hear an animated conversation, just bring up the topic of maids. Women, and men, will go on and on and on about their own maid dramas!

As can I!

Emilda hard at work in the 2nd kitchen.

Emilda's happy I took her photo.

Today's yummy breakfast, by Emilda.


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