Something New (revisited) ...



For those born to the manor be, today’s story will be of interest, to none but me. Whatever the title one may use or choose, (retainer, domestic, cleaner, lackey, flunky, minion, maid, footman, page boy, valet, butler, manservant, housekeeper, steward, drudge, menial or slave), ones self respect you are apt to lose.

The whole idea of servants has always gone against the grain a bit with us. So what are we doing employing domestic help? Justification and rationalization is easy enough to articulate. We need the help. The house is too big. We are providing employment. I want more time with my wife. If, like us however, you are not accustom to “using” others it is not an easy adjustment.

We have no doubt added to the confusion by not knowing exactly what we want. I imagine we had some vague notion of a “Mommy” to take care of us. Of course the unfortunate village girl, had no more clue than us, what we wanted. After discussing the situation, and a good long look in the proverbial mirror, the wife and I came up with an action plan to help the girl to be successful. We recognized that it can be stressful to be put in a situation where you don’t know what is expected of you or don’t know how to do something. With some teaching, direction and a little more structure things are starting to run more smoothly.

Not sure how it will be taken but we try to treat her like family and include her in things. Sunday is kind of a default “family day” in Thailand. Even the most philandering male is likely to spend time with his “main” family on this day. With my wife’s brother leaving tomorrow, after visiting his son for a few days, and the niece being out of school for the day we decided to head off for the nearest waterfall. For us that would be Tat Khwan, around eighteen kilometers from home.

It took some doing but we talked the maid into joining us with her two children. With a mere eight and one half people in our party (the baby hardly rates as a full person) we were perhaps undersized and could have stuffed a few more bodies in the back of the truck. As many villagers focus on hard work and even harder drinking, I was easily persuaded to provide an alternative on the day. My wife is far more inclined to include children in our outings than I but the four we took (baby included) had the kind of fun reserved for the young of age or the young at heart. I played the part of chauffeur and photographer, keeping everyone safe and recording the event. Everyone else had a great time so I’m okay with that, though I would have far preferred being there alone with my wife and maybe a dog.

I doubt we could find anyone better suited to our needs in this village, so we are determined to make this work. As previously mentioned, the inquiries and speculation of the locals have blessed us with many a chuckle and reinforced the feeling in our maid that she has a pretty good deal. Do they make you do this or that, terrible thing? What do you do there? How do they treat you? Isn’t the farang difficult? How do you talk to him? Aren’t you afraid of their vicious dogs or perhaps ghosts. Why are you here at sports day, don’t they make you work everyday? Are you still working for them? Again, money is a difficult subject. Some ask why we pay her so much, while others say we are stingy. You just can’t win.

I find it strategically helpful to garner some clue as to how we are viewed by the villagers. Not that it is of great concern to us but by being informed we are able to moderate their concerns at times, discreetly. Of course some things they will just have to learn to deal with. Like no big house warming party. People around here don’t seem to mind hard work as long as you pay enough. They do seem to have a notion that being a maid is somehow demeaning, however. I wondered out load to my wife, how they feel when our maid is hiring them to do odd jobs and supervising their work? She assured me, they know where the orders and money come from, so they wouldn’t be inclined to give her any additional respect.

That thought might be extended to my own notion of working behind the scenes as a silent partner. I certainly hope not, as my wife deserves every bit of credit they might give her. The maid’s husband has helped with some yard-work. Her son needed some money so we allowed him to help his mother for a few days. Many village boys his age refuse to work so when grownups saw him, they were very generous with their praise. Hopefully, that will reinforce the development of a work ethic in her son and help keep him out of trouble.

My wife is quite nurturing by nature and among other things usually has lunch with the workers and sees that they are well taken care of. I keep my distance as that is who I am, and helps maintain my mystique. I also feel it works better if we speak with one voice. To date the maid is still adding to my wife’s burden but it is early days and we are beginning to reap the benefits. So we are still in the process of learning our job, much as our maid is learning hers.