I employ a maid, have so done for years, because beyond all of the 'we are coming here and taking a job, so we also have to create one', reasoning I often offer, without a maid I would most likely drown in refuse of various colors, manage to unwittingly breed bubonic plague in the kitchen, or be attacked by a vicious Mr. Hanky while on the toilet. I hate cleaning, and would rather not drink wine for a whole year than vacuum, not to mention, wash the floors. Luckily I'm a spoiled expat wife.
Regardless of my clear need for someone to clean the house, do the dishes, and iron the clothes, I just can't seem to pick them well. I always end up experiencing severe heart burn and headaches. These maladies are partly do to the exciting new things and ways of doing things my employees introduce into the household, and partly to my having to deal with these new and exciting occurrences. I like being bossy and commanding until I actually have to do it, especially when it comes to some such foreign stuff as cleaning.
I will not bore you with my previous battles on this front, but instead concentrate on the current one, and perhaps even receive some advice from the more diplomatic types out there. Believe me, I know this is a luxurious problem to have, but a problem it is nonetheless.
Anyhow, I have never quite figured out how to start off with a maid, and perhaps I should explain more and show how everything should be done, and not attack the problems that may arise, since currently there are PROBLEMS arising left and right. The 'amount of cleaning products used' is an oldie but a constantly resurfacing goodie, regardless of culture, as is the 'moving things around will make it convincingly look like everything has been cleaned', right alongside my personal favorite: 'piling random, but important, papers and mail and stashing them in even more random places'. These are all issues I have recently attempted to deal with with ever more faltering success. However, South Africa has also thrown some previously unexperienced punches at us.
Seeing as we are so extremely wealthy we practically bathe in money, the maid seems to think that buying a new tube of toothpaste signifies that the half-full one is immediately to be thrown away (no she is not siphoning the stuff, she is honestly throwing it out). This purge also extends to kleenex boxes, if there are less than 10 kleenexes left, once used make up sponges, wine bottles left half empty anywhere but the fridge (yes, you guessed it, this one really got to me), and any item she cannot confidently decipher the use of, especially if the said item is made of plastic. Several times now we have had the discussion of 'what counts as garbage', but regardless of my insane sign language thrown in to make my point, I see no improvement. I don't like being wasteful if I can avoid it, and the situation being out of my control is making my stomach acid rise to my throat much too often.
Putting things away, i.e. hiding things is something we have experienced before but never on this scale, or done with such inventiveness either. My sneakers, that I wear every single day, keep disappearing and not just into my closet either. Just yesterday I found them propped against the patio wall outside. Of course. My queries as to why they keep disappearing are answered with rather empty stares and one of the dreaded 'what is that word'. I tried tekkies with just as much success. I have also recently been unable to find certain tiny bits from my camera and sincerely hope they are not being embraced by the black plastic bag.
Another new and rather horrid discovery concerning the cleaning habits of my maid, is her use of just one rag for the entire bathroom. Indeed, this means she washes the inside of the actual toilet bowl, with the same rag she uses to clean the sinks, the counters, and the bathtub. I have been bathing in my own feces. Beyond gross, disgusting, and horrid. I actually screamed a little and have hopefully scared her into comprehension.
A storm in a teacup you might say (well, except for the feces). I know, it's comfortable house wife (not the desperate kind) drama, but all of the above are simply issues to be ironed out, or at least compromised on. However, my number one issue is something that really boggles me. I have encountered variations of it before, and swiftly dealt with them, but the brazenness of the person I'm currently up against is throwing me off my game. In truth, my employees can pretty much clean or not clean anyway they like (again excluding the feces) as long as my respect for and my trust in them are met with equal respect and honesty. I hate being taken advantage of, or being lied to. Unfortunately, both seem to be going on.
My maid only works for me three days a week. I buy bread, margarine, and some ham for her to eat for breakfast and for lunch, these being the foodstuffs she requested. Since we don't eat bread, she is allowed to take the rest of the bread and ham with her if it has already expired or is about to do so. However, in the past month other things have started to disappear from the fridge, such as eggs, avocados, grapes, and soda pop, and she seems to be taking a whole loaf of bread with her every other time she comes to clean. I admit, we are not talking about a great loss for us, but it is a question of principle. When asked whether she still eats the bread, she forcefully maintains she does. She also forcefully maintained she did not clean the toilet and the bathtub with the same cloth, or sweep the floor with the feather duster meant for the ceilings, even though I saw her do both.
What am I to do? Sigh.