Maid in Peru
Day 015 – August 6, 2011
In addition to being exposed to new culture, the opportunity for our children to learn a foreign language, and the ability to travel to new places, one of the other things that made my lovely wife giddy about the prospect of moving to Peru was the chance to hire a maid to cook and clean for us.
My wife grew up in a Latin culture where employing a maid is common. Growing up in the United States as I did, this was not as common despite my upbringing in a comfy middle-class suburban environment. Yes, we had a cleaning woman (and right about now, two of my friends are doing their best Steve Martin impression from his movie Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid), but I would contend (or rationalize) that having a person come by once a week to clean is different from a person who stops by every day to cook dinner, do laundry, mop the floors, buy groceries, and do whatever else needs to be done.
I was not 100 percent comfortable with hiring a maid.
So far, in the two weeks that we have been here, all the other people from the States that we had met had told us how fantastic it was to have an empleada, which is Spanish for “employee” in the broad sense, but a more specific meaning is “maid”. When I expressed my reservation about having someone in the house during all hours of the day while I was there, to a person, everyone told me that those feelings would go away in a few weeks after the maid was doing her magic.
I was still not 100 percent comfortable with hiring a maid.
My lack of being onboard the Maid Express had nothing to do with any feelings of guilt about hiring someone to do our dirty work. I am a person who follows an “aspire-to-hire” philosophy. I am not a handy-man in any way, shape, or form. If there is something that needs to be fixed, mended, repaired, or built, I am happier than a spider sitting in a web full of trapped flies to hire someone to do the job. My time is important to me and if someone else can do the job, then they should do it. In addition, they could probably fix, mend, repair, or build it better than I.
So why was I still not 100 percent comfortable with hiring a maid?
Because, deep down, I thought I could be a wonderful house-husband. For years, my lovely wife had cooked and cleaned and kept a wonderful house while I worked in Cubicle-Land. Here was my chance to repay her and do all the house-y work she had done.
The one flaw in my Grand Scheme was that I had no real skills in the this arena. I can cook, but not well. I can clean, but not well. Once that domestic delusion of mine was discarded and disposed, we set about to find a maid.
This is why we found ourselves on this Saturday morning sitting in our living room interviewing Candidate #1. However, with my inability to speak Spanish at more than the level of a three year-old, the interview was a two-way conversation between my wife and Candidate #1, who from this point on we’ll call Ethel. I was along for the ride watching my wife lob questions at Ethel, Ethel answering them, and Ethel showing us her references. I had my questions, but they would have to be translated by my wife and Ethel’s answers would also have to go through the translation engine that was my wife.
When the Babel Fish is finally discovered, I will be first in line to buy one.
It was odd being merely a passenger in this transaction about who would be spending eight hours a day in our house Monday through Friday. Whereas my lovely wife could glean information about what type of cleaning products Ethel used, what her favorite recipes were, and how long it would take her to arrive at our house, the only criteria I could rely for our potential empleada was her demeanor.
In the end, while we liked Ethel, we had other candidates to interview and experience has taught us that you never go with the first choice. I’m not sure why, it’s like one of those rules I’ve heard about like washing your hands after handling chicken or not using the sink sponge to clean the toilet.
See what I mean about my domestic skills.