Friday, February 11, 2011

Household Help

This week's Friday Weekly State Department Roundup is being hosted by Ogles and Observations. The theme this week is household help. Be sure to click over on Friday to check out everyone's stories of having help around the house.

I was totally blessed to have possibly the best staff EVER in Jakarta. I had a maid I adored and the kids loved and a driver who was funny, patient with the kids, and got my husbands humor. I still keep in touch with both via FB!

One day I was cooking dinner. Dwi (the maid) was outside with the kids and Haryono (the driver) had gone to the embassy to retrieve David. I was alone in the house with my glass of wine, the dinner prep, and my computer which was streaming a country music station from back home. I was happily chopping away, sauteing, and simmering. At the same time I was also singing along with George on the radio and two stepping my way around the kitchen. That's George Strait y'all, just in case you are wondering Geroge who?

I forgot one thing, the kitchen window was wide open. It faced the driveway so that when Dave and Haryono returned from work the first thing they saw was me dancing and singing around the kitchen. To this day I have no idea how long they were standing there, I just know that when a station break came on, I quit singing and there was a sudden burst of applause from the window. I looked up to see my husband camera in hand, Haryono, Dwi, the kids, several of the neighbor's staff, and a gardener or two, all standing in the window grinning like mad. Totally busted! I blushed furiously and took a bow, what else could I do? Then as soon as everyone had scattered I slammed that glass of wine.

One of things I looked forward to the most about coming to Malawi was having help again. A few years of doing it all in Frankfurt had me looking forward to living the easy life again. It is strange thing to have help, at least if you were brought up in America. Most Americans don't have household help of any kind. A few of my friends had a maid that came in twice a month and did the dusting and such but no one I knew had a full time maid, never mind a living in. That was something you only saw on TV, like Alice on the Brady Bunch.

So far there isn't an Alice for me here in Malawi. In fact I am currently without household help although I do have two gardeners that I am totally convinced are somehow related to Naoma's driver. If it weren't for the kids I would probably be content to keep it that way, but in Malawi if you want to someone to watch your kids once in a while so that you can go out to dinner you need to hire a full time helper. Seems a bit like overkill, but that's the way it is.

I had hired staff, not only a maid but a cook as well, before our arrival here at post. They were the staff from the people that had this house before us. That didn't work out as well as we had hoped. They have both since moved on to new positions and I hope are much happier. I have decided that I will never again hire staff before I arrive at post, not even if it means I may need to do without for a while. It is just too important that I be happy with the people sharing my personal space on a daily basis. It's a tricky business this having staff thing.


Anonymous said...

Love your post! It's in this week's State Dept. Blog Round Up:

Camille said...

I LOVE George Straight!

Monica said...

okay. we have to straight??? he IS one of the most tolerable. you know country makes me gag. ;o) oh...and...I WANT STAFF!!! ;O) miss ya.

Anonymous said...

So true! Having staff is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I do really like having someone else clean my house :) (And houses in certain places just get dirtier) On the other, you need to mesh well if you're going to have someone in your house full time.
Morocco was great--I had a woman twice a week who cleaned and was a fantastic cook! Plus I really liked her. But even she had her faults, the worst of which was that she was unreliable and sometimes just wouldn't show up. Her cooking made it all worth it though.

Anne said...

I can imagine myself doing the same thing (but with some music genre other than country). What a great story.

TulipGirl said...

What a great story of dancing in the kitchen!

Since this staff thing is new to us, we have already agreed to try out the previous staff... (A gardener who has been working on our large, lovely yard for 4 years and a housekeeper who worked for the person Hubby is replacing.) Both are provisional. . . and I really, really hope it works out. Though, I know who to ask if it doesn't!