Maid Staging For Expat Disease
How's the Expat disease coming along for you?
1. You start out refusing to hire a maid as you feel that such an ostentatious luxury would only further support the infrastructure of exploitation, lending validity to the master-slave, colonial-native stereotype that you feel many of your kind have only too easily slipped back into. You DO have a conscience and have kept the capacity for pity, unlike many expats who, when they arrive for their tour of duty, seem to leave their personal moral belongings in the seat-pocket in front of them or in the over-head lockers, the bastards...
2. The sister-in-law of a friend's maid needs a job as a domestic helper; mid-contract her employer is leaving town and money is required to continue to put her daughter through school back in up-country Philippines somewhere, and her aging mother is sick. Really, you would be doing a sort of private charity thing here, helping to rescue one family at least from destitution and the oppression of massive poverty. It's not her fault that the Philippines is an economic basket-case and that globalisation is sucking the life-essence out of the third-world. What alternative does she have, other than prostitution or becoming a prisoner in a Hong-Kong-owned sweat-shop in Saipan, churning out $400 brand name products for a fraction of a cent each? Plus your meals are cooked, your flat is cleaned, your clothes are ironed, and your bags are packed meticulously whenever you have to fly off for work to some regional hell-hole or other.
3. You have a brief period of bliss when everything seems to be working out well. She has learned how make kedgeree for breakfast, how to toast the bread pretty damn perfectly, how to make wonderfully tasty spring-rolls and make herself invisible whenever friends visit.
4. You worry that your maid is taking advantage of your kindliness. Is she having parties when you are away? Does she have a secret boyfriend? She came home late one of her Sundays off, extremely drunk and threw up all night. Breakfast was shoddy next morning. You wonder about how sick her mother really is, as generally she seems so happy.
And your savings are not accumulating as fast as they should because you are paying way above the minimum wage; hey, you are not a slave-driver after all. It could be all that expensive steak you eat, and that classy red wine you have taken to of course, but you ARE are a successful person - obviously, you are an expat right? No more second rate for you. But she does seem to spend an awfully large percentage of the housekeeping money on laundry detergent. Is she, could she be selling it in Statue Square on Sundays afternoons?
5. When her contract is about to run out, you consider letting her go. There was that issue of the missing coins. She said she cashed them in and used the money for groceries, but did she? You wish you'd kept a closer watch on the accounts book she has diligently maintained. You are certain you gave her $500 just last Monday, so why did she ask for more this morning?
You start looking around for friends who are leaving town, maybe to snaffle up their maids. She has to go back to Manila, or somewhere near there, for her mother's funeral now, so this might be a good time to pull the plug. She will have trouble getting another job because your references are so ambiguous - you thought they were witty.
You have started exchanging exaggerated horror stories with expat acquantainces as you sit around the bar drinking Long Island Iced Teas, stories about their worst maid experiences and the foibles of your soon-to-be-ex-maid.
There was one story that cracks you up, about the interview where the maid asked if there would be any opportunity for "headache money". "Headache money?" "In case madame has a headache, sir might still have his needs."
You also laugh about the many-times-told, presumably apocryphal, possibly not, story of the guy whose wife is away for the weekend, who awakes on the Monday morning after a drunken night out in the pick-up bars of Wanchai and his conquest for the evening gets up, asks what sir would like for breakfast this morning, and seems to know AN AWFUL LOT about the layout of the apartment...
You laugh and then wonder if you shouldn't have pushed the intimacy a little bit with your maid at some stage. You know she likes you and she's still pretty cute, despite her age, in that micro-woman way. After all, she must be lonely too, so far away from her husband for so long and he's probably cheating on her anyway, the bastard.
5a. Your next maid only lasted a week before she fell out the window to her death. You worry about the mechanics of this as you live on the ground floor. She had been crying a lot, but you didn't know why as she only spoke limited English. Was she depressed after leaving her Indonesian tribal village at such a young age or was that pair of underpants genuinely beyond her reach?
[end Singapore Addendum]
6. Your new maid is someone "between contracts" you picked up in Wanchai [or OT] last Sunday who is quite happy to do the housework completely naked whilst you (also naked) watch football on cable TV and screw her whenever someone scores, so long as it might lead to an extension of her Work Visa. It is all a great laugh.
7. You love her, even though you know she
is was is a hooker.
8. Your family arrange to have your body shipped home from the Bay of Islands village. It will take eight hours to get to Manila, and your casket will be on the roof a bus for most of it. The last of your cash went on buying pigs for some obscure village ritual. A rabid dog bit you during the heights of the ceremony, so the story in the press goes. Your family wanted to arrange an autopsy but your remains disappear mysteriously before getting to the airport. The Australian Consulate is closed because of a bomb-scare, so your family have no-one to contact. The ex-
maid's wife's phone number no longer works. The village pigs are noticably plumper this year.
I wrote this today, bored as all fuck because it is STILL snowing in Austria and the only people who can speak English are up on the hill... I was thinking it was
hilariously brilliant mildly amusing in a cynical world-weary sort of way, then I got a nagging suspicion that I have read something very much like it before, maybe in John Lancaster's novel, "Fragrant Harbour", maybe in Nury Vittachi's coffee-table book, "How HK is That?", maybe in Svend's Wanchai Chronicles, maybe on BWG's blog. Maybe anywhere...
Fuck, that's the problem with Alzheimers for us
writers bloggers: you lose track of from where you are plagiarizing things.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Having read none of the items you may or may not have plagarized, I found this entry a funny, albeit very disturbing, indictment of many aspects of modern patriarchy.
i found it to be funnier than a room full of yankees drunk on mint julips!
*bless your heart*
This is a very odd entry but funny. :)
When would you be back?
I missed the Singapore addendum: please reread...
reread..and still funnier than a room full of drunk yankees...
btw, when are you going to be back to posting in your own time zone? and how's the knee? still attached?
This is a classic! Even though I would probaly fall into category 6 or 7, I can understand the issue.
Keep up the writing. Maybe one day I'll learn to write as well as you do........
Funny, disturbing, odd, patriarchal, a classic.
I'll take those all as compliments.
I'm never sure, when I write something that I like, that anyone else will share the vision...
Skip: I panicked when I started to see myself encroaching on becoming a 5 and have defaulted back to a 1.
[The last three points I wrote only AFTER putting this post up: they're the funniest/saddest in my opinion and they tie the whole post together. How could I have started this post without knowing I write those key points? It's weird, so strange how my mind works... As if y'all didn't know THAT already...]
saturday/24mar...check your gmail, i was asked to pass a message to you, can't remember if i did/didn't bother to look..just re-sent it ..yeah, i'm bored
There may well be a companion with them who is better versed in what to do than you are. In this case all you can do is ask if they need an ambulance and offer assistance. This may be as simple as shielding the victim from passers by to save embarrassment.The life of epilepsy sufferers would be made much easier if more people understood that it is
not contagious, or a sign of mental disease.