The other reason why I fell off the face of the blogosphere there for a while is because I'm moonlighting as my own housekeeper. Our housekeeper, Nancy, went berserk.
She'd been with us for seven years. Older Colombian woman, fiftyish, very trustworthy--the kind of person we left in charge of the house and dogs when we went on vacation. Dependable, committed, good head on her shoulders. No children, but in a twenty-year-long relationship with a Dominican man. A hard worker, too. No beauty, but the work kept her in shape. She didn't seem to care either way--never saw her wear makeup, she dressed simply, comfortably, and although she dyed her hair, she often had an inch (or more) of grey roots showing.
Her life wasn't easy. She worked at five or six different houses; I recommended her whenever I could, and through my network she found two other jobs that paid well. She was saving, first for a car--she got it last year--and then for a house. She'd found one, half-built and cheap, that she thought they could afford and then finish.
And then she went on holiday. End of March, for two weeks. To Colombia, to see her family (I assumed). When she came back with a bruised and bloated face, I thought she'd been in an accident.
"Oh my God, Nancy! What happened to you?"
"I got my eyes done."
Blink. Stare. Force the few neurons not stunned into stupefaction to wrap around this. "You got--your eyes. Done?"
She beamed. "Got to fight back. Age, you know. How does it look?"
Horrible, that's how. And a week later it hadn't improved.
Now, I'm no stranger to plastic surgery. My first job, when I was sixteen, was at a cosmetic surgery clinic. I saw plenty of just-sewn-up visages. And I'm not squeamish. But this--well, let's just say our dear Nancy did not pick a scalpel artist.
Damn it, I wanted to say. You risk your life with some quack to get a few wrinkles postponed? But of course I did not say. I rearranged my own--surgery-free--face into a smile and told her it looked great.
But the surgery was not finished with me. Due to the scarring, she couldn't work in the sun. Couldn't clean the terrace, the front porch. Leaves accumulated before I finally got off my ass and picked up the slack.
Then she couldn't iron. "Because of the heat." Well, Curacao weather is a nifty 100 degrees, every day, all day. Maybe 95 at night. I didn't see much difference with whatever heat wafted up from the iron, but what do I know? My concept of ironing is reduced to changing wrinkles from place to place. But I picked up that slack, too.
And that brought us to an impasse. She came three times a week, twice for cleaning, once for ironing. Since she wasn't doing that anymore, and since her salary comes out of my own pocket--remember, I quit my income-producing day job last year--I thought perhaps we could cut back to twice a week. I'd save some money, she wouldn't have to iron.
But she was terminally offended.
Two weeks later she asked me if we could talk. Certainly, said I. I don't feel comfortable here anymore.
Record needle slides across the acetate. Huh? Why? What happened?
I don't know.
Like a true broken record, we went in a loop. Why? I don't know. What happened? I don't know. Is it because of the two-versus-three days? No. Then why? I don't know.
I'm not a patient person, especially with drama. So I cut the loop short after the third time--yeah, I did get that far--and told her OKAY. What else could I say, anyway?
And now... I clean house.