(maid's quarters at bunratty castle, ireland. taken in 2010.)
Whenever I chat with someone from the US about my daily life here, it usually comes up in conversation that I have a maid. The convo always comes to a screeching halt as my friends say this:
"Wait...YOU HAVE A MAID?!"
Like suddenly they've discovered my life in Kuwait is a scene from Downton Abby...but with more sand and camels. (If only someone held a silver tray with my yoga pants + t-shirt as I dressed every morning!)
Back home (in America), having a maid is pretty unheard of...at least within my region + social group...so the reaction is completely valid. Perhaps it's not that way among wealthy Americans, but among the lower to middle class, a maid, a gardener or a cook is considered a serious "luxury". Even stating that you have a personal trainer can raise an eyebrow. Frankly, having hired help in America denotes a certain level of "status", yet we sheepishly keep it on the low-down lest someone think less of us for not doing everything with our own two hands. (It's a strange game we all play.)
But here in Kuwait, hiring a maid is absolutely normal...from the middle class to the extremely wealthy, it seems everyone has a maid. Infact, some apartment buildings simply have maid service built into your rent. You pay nothing extra, and thrice weekly a few ladies come to your door and straighten up your place. Often, Kuwaiti families have live-in maids...more than one! And, if you ever visit a mall in Kuwait, you'll see scads of mothers shopping, followed closely by a maid (nanny) pushing a stroller or holding a baby. Occasionally one maid per child, too!
There's certainly no taboo here.
When we arrived in Kuwait, we had yet to purchase mops, brooms, cleaning supplies and the like. So we thought, "Heck. Let's roll with it." We hopped on the maid bandwagon. The cost was a reasonable $100 a month, and three times weekly a very, very sweet Sri-Lanken woman showed up to clean for an hour.
But the past four months have confirmed that I am absolutely rubbish at having a maid...completely humiliated by someone else cleaning up my mess. Gabe would laugh as I tore around, muttering, "The maid is coming! Hurry and clean up!" Smoke nearly flew from my heels as I washed the dishes, and swept the floors. I closed the doors to the bedrooms, and told her not to worry about the office. Every piece of laundry was hidden, lest she think it was her job to fold my unmentionables. (It happened once. I died of embarrassment.)
And once week when the maid rang the doorbell, I'd smile and say, "You don't have to clean today! Have a good day!"
Then I'd tip her as she left...
...it's that dang American guilt. Or maybe it's because I spent a brutal summer working as a hotel maid and several years as a waitress. I couldn't help but feel badly about sprawling across my bed, reading...while a kind, underpaid woman scrubbed my floors. Floors I was perfectly capable of scrubbing.
Either way, continuing with maid service made no sense. After four months of this charade, Gabe and I put an end to our maid service...and I'm so happy to clean. There's not much to do during the day, so sweeping a few floors and doing my own dishes is a welcome distraction.
Sorry, Kuwait. Hire your maids, do your thing. No judgement! But maids just aren't for me.
Also, I've funneled the "maid money" into a new dining table + chairs. So, there's that.
Win, win. ;)
Do you have any hired help? I promise I won't judge! If not, if you had the spare cash, would you spend it on a maid?