A Day in the Life of a Maid

I was really happy the first day I went to work, because I’d never had a job before.
A friend and I went together to keep each other company.
I wasn’t nervous, even though I’d never been so far away from home before.
I felt important when the woman called to give me directions to her place.

My friend was nervous because of the stories she’d heard from other maids.
I told her if anything, the woman was the one who was supposed to feel nervous, because there were two of us and one of her.
But the woman turned out to be lovely. She treated us like her children.
We finished cleaning the apartment around noon. The woman wasn’t demanding, and she was very good to us.
It was a wonderful, wonderful day. One I’ll never forget.

I like my job, but I wish it was treated like any other job.
All jobs have evolved except ours.
Cooks have become chefs, doormen are now security guards…
But people still look down on our job.
We’re embarrassed to tell people we clean homes.
Our families ask us why our husbands let us do such degrading work.
They’re forced to lie about our jobs, because people talk and gossip.

And employers treat us like filth, like slaves.
They make us drink out of different glasses, for example.
Even though we’re all human beings.
An employer once asked me to wash my hands with bleach before touching her glass!
She wanted me to wash my hands with undiluted bleach! Why on earth would she ask me to do something like that?!
“Make my bed.”
“Polish every single shoe in the cabinet.”
“What is this duster you brought with you? I’m throwing it out.”
These are supposed to be educated people, yet they look down on us maids like we’re beneath them.

I never complain when an employer treats me badly.
I tell my troubles to God instead.
“Aren’t these the people you told us about, God?” I’d sob.
These people don’t know what others go through.
They think the people who work for them are after their money. They look down on us.

Even though we have a mission in life: cleanliness.
And cleanliness is next to Godliness.
That means that we need them and they need us.
They need to understand that maids are human beings.
And we need insurance.
I could fall off a flight of stairs while on the job. In fact, I could sustain any number of injuries.
We want government insurance like any other worker.

Work is hard and exhausting, but God helps me get through it because I need the money.
Work is important to me, because I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills or money pool installments otherwise.

Now, I usually try out an employer once before deciding whether or not to stay on.
If they’re good to me, I stay. If not, I never go back again.
I’ve been working for 3 years. I picked up a lot of experience from homes of all shapes and sizes.
Each place is different. Some employers are easy to get along with and aren’t too demanding. Others have complicated requests.

We work hard to put food on the table and because everything’s so expensive now.
Nowadays, a hundred pound note is worth almost nothing.
Transportation’s become more expensive. Employers pretend not to notice the increasing prices, because they don’t want to pay extra.
Sometimes, they’ll give you an extra 20 LE, while reminding you not to get used to it.
It’s not like I’m a beggar!
I do my job and expect my payment.
And what’s 20 LE worth now anyway? A single juice carton is for 20 LE.
Some employers pay you extra, while others play dumb.
So sometimes, I play dumb too.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to work for you anymore, because I can’t cover my transportation expenses and other expenses anymore. I’m probably going to have to stay at home from now on”, I’d say.
I used to take my money and go. Now, I count out the bills before leaving an employer’s home.
I need to make sure they paid me what I deserve.
I charge 150 LE for a day’s work. Take it or leave it.

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