Going Down Under

…My life abroad

Las Empleadas November 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Andrea @ 4:37 pm

Some relationships in life are very odd.

 

The past few days I have become uncomfortably aware of the way I relate to our two maids, Aurorita and Rosita. 

 
These two women literally wait on me constantly.  They cook all of my meals, sweep my floor, do all of my laundry.  They dust, vaccuum, empty the trashcans, and even unlock the gate every morning so I don`t have to do it.  Rosita always says, ¨Un lindo día!¨ Which means have a great day, and Aurorita when she does it always says, ¨Cuidanse much niñas!¨ Which means take care and be safe, girls!  And I have to alert them exactly an hour and a half before I take a shower so they can connect the hot water.

It is odd to have two live-in maids.  Especially when my living standards here are considerably lower than they are at home.   My host mom has made it clear that the maids have their place and that I am not to treat them as anything more than a maid.  So I feel awkward talking with them about how my day was, and I can tell they feel awkward when our conversation goes past, ¨would you possibly be able to iron this for me tomorrow?¨  My host family does not mistreat them, although sometimes they do speak a bit harshly to them when they make simple mistakes like forgetting to put the mustard out or something.  But when I asked my host mom if I could take them out for coffee as a thank-you at the end of the semester, she told me it would be best not to because ¨they might feel uncomfortable¨ with that.  It just isn`t done; someone who is waited on returning the favor like that.  However, if it wasn`t for their steady income thanks to my host family, they would be destitute.  It provides them with security and stability.  I can tell that my host family can`t really afford two maids, but they took on Aurorita just for the sake of giving her work so she could survive, because at this point she is too old to find anything else.

I`m not gonna lie, it`s nice to not have to do chores.  And it will take some adjusting next semester when I am expected to do them again.  But I hate the feeling of having two women whose entire lives revolve around serving me and my host family.  It feels… wrong.  I have asked if they have family.  They don`t.  I have asked what they like to do for fun.  They watch soap operas in their little rooms out back.  And I can`t help but wonder how it is that I am so disgustingly fortunate sometimes, to be able to live my own life, to be able to leave my bed unmade this semester, and to not have to reach for my keys when I walk out the driveway.

My mom is probably laughing reading this right now, thinking, haha let`s hope she makes up for lost time and starts to actually help with the dishes and laundry when she gets home.

Anyways, I don`t really know where I was going with that.  Except to say, living with empleadas has given me an interesting perspective on class structure and my place within society.

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One Response to “Las Empleadas”

  1. Annamaria Says:

    Andrea,

    Their salaries are probably paid from a portion of the stipend Messiah gives your host family for housing and feeding you–sort of applied “dorm fees.” I’m guessing, but am pretty sure your hosts get paid for boarding you. It’s too much to ask for them to be your valets too, but you definitely need that kind of “maintenance” from someone.

    Not that I would be bringing that up in conversation with them, if I were you. But when you’re home, you could ask the coordinator at Messiah.

    I once heard the chairman of the Religion dept at Temple University say that the only valid relationship is an economic one… That’s not a believer’s stance, but it certainly is the World’s.

    I’m not really comfortable myself with those kinds of dominant/subordinate relationships–I’m more a collegial, circile-of-life personality. It’s really easy to begin to disrespect folks if you’re a “power-oriented” type. Just keep your heart open, and be respectful. They’re the Lord’s hands and heart to you. Remember He said that a real leader would be the servant of all–those folks who need to be the ones “in charge” at the head of the table are headed in the wrong direction.

    Stay honest, Sister!


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