Sunday, 25 March 2012

Why I'm not getting a maid (again)

So I was hanging the laundry the other day when I thought to myself, "How many more times do I have to this?"



It’s like every time after I hang one batch of laundry, there will be another batch waiting to be hung, if not on the same day, then on another day.

It's as certain as death and taxes. Because everyone wears clothes. And those clothes have to be washed everyday. And those washed clothes have to be hung and dried.

It never ends.

This is not what I imagined my life to be. I’d rather be playing Angry Birds Space.



I mean I have my own Wikipedia page! I’m too important to be hanging up socks and bras.

Getting a clothes dryer is not an option because from experience, I know that a dryer ruins clothes. My beloved Weird Al Yankovic T-shirt is unwearable because of a damn dryer.

I need a maid.

Too bad my mother is getting too old and her leg hurts so much she has trouble standing.

And my wife would rather be playing Words With Friends.

And my teenage daughter refuses to do anything I say.



So I need to hire a stranger to be my maid. And not just a stranger, but a stranger from another country.

And this foreign stranger will have to live with me and my family in my little HDB flat. Awkward.

And then you read in the news about all these maids who kill or steal from their employers. That's even more awkward.

Yet, despite all the headaches (day off or no day off?) and possible death by strangulation, Singaporeans remain addicted to foreign maids like the maids are to their Bangladeshi boyfriends.

Years ago, I once hired a maid from the Philippines to help look after my daughter when she was a baby.



I remember picking the maid up at the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre agency and I instinctively wanted to help her carry her luggage but then wondered if that was the right etiquette.

What if someone took a picture of me lugging my maid's bag behind her and posted it online? My reputation would be ruined.

Right away, I didn't like that having a maid prevented me from being the naturally kind, considerate and helpful human being that I am.

I had to learn to be a lazy, cold-hearted and suspicious boss who expected everything to be done for him at home and treated the maid as a likely liar, thief and child kidnapper.

Which is kind of paradoxical. How could I not trust someone I hired specifically to care for my baby daughter, the most precious thing in my life?

Then I found out that the maid was married even though the agent had told me the maid was single. So either the agent lied or the maid lied to the agent.

It was a minor thing, but the seed of paranoia had been planted.

Then one day in the maid's room, I found a book that belonged to me. She had taken it without asking. The irony is that the book was the Bible.

Yes, I own the Today’s English Version of Good News Bible, which had not been read since Benjamin Sheares was president. Even though it has pictures in it, I could never get past Genesis.

At least she found some use for it. I let her keep it.

But after the lying and stealing, my wife made sure that the maid didn't have pictures of our daughter to send to her accomplices to plan an abduction.

My wife also quit her computer programming job to stay home and watch the maid, which to me, kind of defeated the purpose of having a maid.

But after a horrific incident where the maid scalded my two-year-old daughter’s fingers so badly the skin peeled off, we eventually took the maid back to the agency after employing her for 18 months.

My wife swore never to hire another maid again. She never went back to work and made me hang the laundry.

I just have to accept that I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life.

Thank the Bible my wife doesn’t mind indoor drying. That greatly reduces the chances of me falling out a window.

Oh, and she can live with not-so-clean windows.

I wonder how my mother’s leg is doing.

- Published in The New Paper, 25 March 2012

Hi

I read your article and it was witty and humorous. Well explained your thought process

Keep writing such articles.

Thanks
Ramesh

Ps so how is your mother's leg?

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