Apologies in advance for any offense to delicate sensibilities that may be offered in this thread.
I don’t know how to interact appropriately with servants.
Normally, one’s youth and upbringing would supply this knowledge, I imagine. But my youth was spent in the US, in circumstances that were… extremely modest. In other words, we had no servants growing up. My only exposure to a maid was Hazel and Florence in The Jeffersons.
So, here I am, a relatively successful professional, and while I was single, it never occured to me to have a maid, for instance.
Then I married, and my bride was from the Dominican Republic, and from a family that was quite well-to-do there. It’s fair to characterize my in-laws as both wealthy and high-society.
When my wife and I began a home together, and she almost immediately got pregnant, I yielded on the maid front, to the extent of hiring a nice lady, Anna, once a week to come in and do housecleaing. When she’s there and I happen to be home instead of at work, I chat with her… I know her husband’s name and kids’ names, and I generally view her as a contractor, like a plumber or an electrician – hired to do a task, but a professional of sorts, if that makes sense. Day to day tasks, of course, we just did ourselves. And my wife never suggested that anything more was needed or necessary, and I don’t think it is either.
Now, here we are on Christmas vacation in the DR, staying at my in-laws’ lovely and spacious home. And this, finally, brings me to my question/debate.
There is a daily maid here. She apparently has Sunday off, and is not live-in, but she’s here in the morning, cooking and cleaning. No one here really talks to her, so far as I can see, but maybe that’s my language skills causing a false perception, I think. So I ask my wife. No, she says, it’s different here. For example, at home she doesn’t hide the valuables from Anna. Here we make sure the jewelry and passports are hidden before the maid cleans. We don’t chat with the maid; it’s not done.
Maybe, I suggest, if we chatted with the maid, we’d come to view her in such a light that hiding the passports was not necessary.
No, says Mrs. Bricker. You don’t understand the difference. Here, we pay the maid 500 pesos* a week. If she stole and sold my wife’s green card, she could earn 40,000 pesos or more. The gap between have and have-not here is huge, much more than in the US. And these maids come and go. Maids have stolen from them before. She reminds me, too, that we’ve worked with Anna for four years. Every year I’ve been back to the DR, there’s been a different set of maids. It’s not a long-and-faithful-service dealie.
Anyway, says Mrs. Bricker, you just have to understand it’s different here.
I’m prepared to accept that.
But on a fundamental level, it tweaks at me.
Am I crazy?
- USD $1 = RD$28, so RD$500 ~ USD$18