Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Cleaning out my Closet

Life, these days, is fresh and new.  I recently moved to a new place in a new neighbourhood with a new roommate and – get this – I now have a domestic worker.  I’ve never lived in a house with a maid before.  In case you’re curious, it’s wonderful!

She comes once a week and leaves our apartment spotless.  She does our laundry.  Yesterday I came home and was shocked to find my underwear folded.  I have never once in my life bothered to fold my underwear.

She’d put it on the wrong shelf, though, so I picked up and threw it on my existing pile of underwear.  It probably stayed folded for less than 2 hours.

Even though I’ve only experienced maid service for one day so far, a whole bunch of things in this country make more sense now.  For example, I dated a guy for a few months and was shocked to open his wardrobe and see all his t-shirts perfectly folded and stacked.  Rows and rows of colours!  Not that he seemed messy, but at the same time he didn’t seem particularly neat and tidy.

In my mental list of pros and cons, his t-shirts were actually a strike against him.  “Anyone who’s this obsessed with organization needs to relax a bit.”  I didn’t say that to him, obviously, but it went through my head.

Now I understand that the t-shirts had nothing to do with him!  They were a product of his domestic worker!

Too bad our relationship had already shattered:  yesterday’s realization would’ve moved him a little further onto the “marry-able” side of the scale. 

“Who cares that we live on opposite sides of the world or have different political ideologies?  At least he’s not obsessed with folding his shirts!”

On the other hand, I feel like someone who grew up with a domestic worker wouldn’t fare too well in Canada: “I have to clean up after myself?  What the hell?”

I can’t imagine this man helping me clean up the morning after a big party.  Or spending hours washing wine glasses and scraping dried food off plates.

Not that most Canadian men in my life help with that stuff anyway.

Regardless, the point is that it’s awesome to have a domestic worker.  We pay her R145/day ($17 CA), which is generous; most people pay R100/day ($12 CA) – but she’s worth it. 

Back home, that’s how much we’d pay a maid per hour.

I’m going to become spoiled.  Sometimes I think I should quit this insignificant development work and get a real job.  Yeah, I may be ruining the environment with my fracking – but I could afford a maid!

I’m not quite there yet.  Eventually, though, folded underwear will become part of life as usual.  C’mon, honestly, who wouldn’t abandon their morals for perfectly folded underwear?


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