Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, No, You Didn't!

Wednesday morning Inam does our floors. The tile. Kitchen, living room, dining room and hallways. Wednesday has always been floor day, here. This morning, I was in the kitchen just finishing up breakfast when Inam came in from the living room with his bucket of dirty floor water and emptied it into the sink. What the?!? Oh. No. You didn't! He did. My dish scrubbie was in the sink, dishes were in the sink and the idiot dumped the entire bucket of dirty floor water all over everything.

You couldn't say, "Excuse me, Madam. Please move the dishes?" Nope. We go over things like this time and time and time again. I may as well just beat my head against the wall. The reason I was hurrying to get the breakfast mess cleaned up in the kitchen was so that he could do the floor without us being in the way. No. This is NOT the first or second or third or fourth time that I have instructed him to move anything in the sink onto the counter before pouring his bucket full of dirty floor water on top of everything. It is little stuff like this that puts me over the edge.

Yes. I had to say, "Inam, do not EVER let me see you pour water into a sink containing dishes again." Of course I am going to rinse them and put them in the dishwasher and wash them on "sanitize" [high temperature], but still. It is just the point. Can you be that stupid? Apparently.

I truly do feel sorry for houseboys, here. These men did not one day in their own country wake up and say, "I want to be a houseboy for an ex-pat family in Saudi Arabia when I grow up." No. Of course they didn't. I do understand that. Perhaps if they could get jobs in their own countries - Bangledesh, India, Sri Lanka, or wherever - then they would not have to come here to be domestic workers. But, since, in those countries, where one specific religion is predominantly practiced more than any other and where birth control is not allowed to be used due to religious beliefs, then you have to face the fact that there is not going to be enough employment for all of those people and thus, you are going to end up in some other country doing whatever job you can get - and in this case - domestic work.

It is hardly my fault that you are working as a houseboy in Saudi Arabia. Consider yourself lucky to have a job. Period. And consider yourself extremely lucky that you found someone to employ you [even though you've already been fired once - because you are so damn slow and dumb as a box of rocks!] that pays you well and that doesn't abuse you. I rarely raise my voice to Inam. [Inom, Inam - I think it is actually Inam, but I called him Inom for so long and he never corrected me that it is habit but I don't intentionally mispronounce his name. Or, do I?]

Yet, he continues to do things over and over and over that I have specifically said NOT TO DO. Like pour a bucket full of dirty floor water in a sink that has my kitchen scrubbie in it or dishes. Or sweep before picking The Kids' bowls up or if I have food out. Or not pick up The Kids' toys before sweeping and actually sweep them! [Yes. He has done that on several occasions, as well.]
Or fold laundry just because the buzzer went off on the dryer and I didn't race to it myself. And put the soap in the built-in tile soap dishes in the bathrooms - which I don't use because soap just gets gunky and slimey in those - I use small plastic soap holders which can be cleaned in the dishwasher [or replaced] that keeps the soap from getting gunky and slimey...

Truly the jobs I have Inam do are nothing more than basic. I would never ask him to clean my refrigerators. I'll do it. No one else could possibly do it as well as I can. I don't ask him to do laundry - in fact, one other houseboy got fired for doing the laundry - and Inam has been told several times NOT to touch the clothes in the dryer. I'll do it, thank you very much. I don't have him make the bed or change the sheets. I like it done a certain way. Don't take care of my shoes. You don't know where they go. Just put them in the closet and I'll make sure they get put in their plastic boxes and then stacked where they go. [Two, three, four pairs of shoes a day... Depends what I'm doing. I am guilty of taking my shoes off and leaving them under the coffee table or under the computer desk. Just put them in the closet. I'll take care of them.] Don't dust my purple vase collection. If one of them is going to get broken, then I want to be the one who does the breaking, so I'll take care of dusting and washing them. Little things... Just do the bathrooms, the floors, the vacuuming, keep the patio furniture clean... But for goodness sake, don't make me keep telling you NOT to do things like pour dirty water in a sink that is full!

Is that asking too much? [Rhetorical!]


  1. Rehabilitation courses for the women?? Got to wonder what THAT is about.
    As for the houseboy issue, here the houseboys have a REAL job and do the house stuff on the side. I have a good one, thank heaven. He is the compound gardener. Does an excellent job there, too. Roger comes in every other week and does our ceiling fans (10 foot up so I couldn't reach them even with a ladder) and general all round cleaning. I only had to tell him once what I wanted done and how. Wish I could send Roger to you. He is a gem.

  2. I've been through so many, Linda... Houseboys. I'll keep this one because he does - for the most part - do a really good job at what I DO ask him to do - but forgets all the things I tell him NOT to do.

    It was after I did this post that I realized he'd moved the pile of jeans I had on the floor ready to go into the wash. He FOLDED THEM and put them in the laundry basket for me. Can you believe it? Oh well...

  3. would a short scream of fury be in order to facilitate cementing certain instructons in his brain?

    could passive/aggressive behavior an explanation for the "duh" behavior of the sink saga?


  4. It was just short of a "short scream of fury" this morning, SA.

    Even DH came out of the study to the kitchen to see what I was all "bent over" about.

    "Passive/aggressive" behavior? Quite possibly!

  5. Hi Sabra -

    Is having a houseboy even worth it? Seems like they cause a lot of grief.

    Knowing me, I would have had to throw out whatever the dirty floor water had touched in the sink. There wouldn't be enough hot water in the world to convince me not to! :)

  6. Really? This is your biggest problem?
    A- He's not your slave.
    B- There is a language barrier I assume.
    C- Maybe you should switch roles for a day and have him bark at you while you show him by example just how perfectly you do things for yourself.
    D-He might not be as cultured and as manicured as you seem to think you are- maybe prenatal malnutrition as a result of poverty- would you like to try the affects of prenatal malnutrition on your children in order to test my theory?

  7. Kitchen scrubbie is gone, Shannon. The two small plates and knife? Cleaned by hand with anti-bacterial soap and then put in the dishwasher.

    Houseboys do cause a lot of grief, and sometimes it seems they are not worth it. Then I do my own cleaning for a while and realize how much I WANT - not need - WANT one.

  8. Read back through my archives, Victoria. I don't treat anyone like a slave - and in fact, stick up for them, here. Yes there is a language barrier - which is why I show whoever is working for me exactly how I want things done - even if it means doing it several times myself - so I am covering the language barrier and showing by example just how perfectly I do things. Being cultured and manicured has nothing to do with this. I have done my own housework - plenty of it for decades. Prenatal malnutrition? How is this my fault? Don't have children that you can't afford to feed - no matter who you are.

  9. Replying to ‘3:04 AM’

    To paraphrase a proverb: Before criticizing a woman, walk a mile in her stilettos. (Meaning: One should not criticize a person without understanding their situation.)

    Of course the enlighten ones – wrapped in their cultural silken-cocoons – are always the quickest one to make judgments. Until you have moved from your comfort zone and lived in another country so as to experience suffer third world ignorance first hand, you will then be entitled to pass judgments. Trust me, it is both astonishing and frustrating to bear witness to the depths of ignorance that is prevalent outside of the Western world. (How can I defend my argument: I have lived and worked in Saudi & China.)

    This leads me to the point taken with malnutrition. The English language speaking Chinese workers appeared to be better fed than their counterparts in Saudi (meaning: workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka) yet they too had difficulty comprehending the most menial task requiring what we term in the U.S. as common sense.

    I might concede that 3:04 AM may have a valid defense with respect to the houseboy’s (Inam) possible exposure to pre-natal malnutrition. I would venture that Inam’s mother taught her children by setting the example. And had the future mother-of-Inam not poured dirty floor water on her dishes – while Inam was still in the womb – mom-to-be would not have been yakking-up vital pre-natal nutrients in her back yard.

    Come on. The fundamentals of good hygienic practices have been around for centuries (as documented in the Old Testament.) People make choices and some chose poorly.

  10. Well said, StDiesel. I hope I wasn't too harsh on Victoria [3:04] - as that truly was not my intention. But I did want to defend myself... Fine job by you. Kicked it up a couple of notches. Thanks!

  11. I’m glad to be of assistance. No, you were not too harsh on Victoria [3:04]. I thought you did a fine job in terms of politely – yet firmly - defending yourself by providing facts to illustrate your position. Your most succinct point being: “Read back through my archives, Victoria.”

    What flabbergasted me were the idyllic, new-age revelations employed by Victoria to excuse poor judgment & behavior, and that being: It is not the fault of the guilty individual but the fault of the employer (based on your postings, any reasonable person will determine that you are a fair employer) or societal/environmental shortcomings. Valid influential factors but they do not excuse the inescapable reality of an individual’s personal responsibility. It smacks of elitism to me. And I don’t care for it. We are all responsible for our behaviors on an individual level, regardless of the cards dealt to us.


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