Wednesday, November 08, 2006


It would be inappropriate to even consider asking, “Are you alright?” The answer, being blatantly apparent, is of course, “No.”

Fatima, just another poor woman who came to The Sandbox, probably lured under nothing less than false pretenses in an effort to provide for her family back home, has been “terribly beaten” by her employer. After not paying Fatima, who was hired as the family maid, for the two [horrific AND dreadful!] months she was in The Kingdom the employer [also known as “sponsor”] kindly dropped her off at the airport with a one-way ticket, so that she could return home to Indonesia.

Thankfully, alert officials at the King Khalad [sic] airport “knew something was amiss” and contacted authorities who were able to track down the employer and who, at the time
this article was written, was taken into police custody.

Whatever the kind of custody the employer was in was far too kind and lenient. Short of keeping the employer – no, make that EMPLOYERS! – in some sort of
torturous bilboes / pillory / stocks combination contraption – then these EMPLOYERS [the actual “employer” and his “young wife”] were being kept in a custodial situation quite a cry above that which “they” kept Fatima. We can surmise that certainly these two employers were given considerations they never fathomed giving their maid!

Only time will tell if the new and improved “
Super Maids” assuage any of the egregious acts of abuse all too commonly and routinely inflicted upon domestic help in The Sandbox. In no way, shape or form could I or would I condone any of the mistreatment employees experience whilst in the care, custody and control of their contracted and sponsoring employers. Suffice it to say however, at this stage in the game, with my first-hand comprehension as a mostly calm, rational, and reasonable woman saddled with a [very slight] perfectionist syndrome and perhaps some [very minor] “OCPD” symptoms, I could, with only the smallest, most minute provocation easily want to pummel the crap out of someone else with a broom or mop or floor cleaner. That that “someone” happened to be the domestic help who, for whatever reason, was seemingly not performing to expectations or standards as anticipated would only seem to make sense… [Just wait until you read my post about the paper delivery, the downtown grocery store and the local “Walmart.” Sadly, in my current life, Walmart is but just a fantasy…]

A few short days ago I grumbled in an e-mail to a dear friend [thanks, Marie!] that I have fired our most recent “houseboy” after giving him three [long – very, very long!] weeks of specific instruction as to what I want done and how I want it done. And, thankfully, she was all too understanding of the aforementioned “rage” that could take over one’s personality to make a “mostly calm, rational, and reasonable woman saddled with a [very slight]
perfectionist syndrome and perhaps some [very minor] “OCPD” symptoms” or for that matter, any person, regardless of whether or not they possess the many wondrous qualities that I have been blessed with, want to pummel the crap out of their “domestic help” with a broom or mop or floor cleaner.

Those three weeks with our most recent houseboy consisted of real “hands on” instruction; I literally cleaned one of our three bathrooms each of those three Saturday’s that he was here to show him EXACTLY what it was I wanted. This was not a situation where I simply handed the man a can of Lysol Tub and Tile Cleaner and a roll of paper towels and said, “Go at it.” No. I did the whole, entire bathroom from start to finish – top to bottom – like I want it done, with the products I want used – to show him! A “how to” video would be less specific and could not provide as much instruction as I did, starting with:

* Spraying – frosting – the entire outside of the commode with
Lysol Foaming Basin, Tub & Tile Cleaner and wiping it down with white, Scott paper towels [I’m sorry, Mom, but it really does take more than one and a half paper towels!**];

* Spraying – frosting – the entire inside of the commode – lid, seat, rim, etc., repeating the above step;

* Squirting
Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner into the commode bowl and letting that sit while continuing on; and

* Removing all personal use items [soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razor
, rubber duck, etc.] from the tub and shower area and spraying the tiled-walls with Lysol Foaming Basin, Tub & Tile Cleaner and cleaning the tile with an instrument that is a brush on one side and a “scrubbie” on the other to get all the soap scum off in between the tiles – and thoroughly rinsing the walls by throwing large plastic cups of water onto the tile starting at the top and working downward – quickly drying the tile with another dozen or so white, Scott paper towels – don’t throw these towels away – they can [and, yes, Mom, they will**] be reused; next

* Generously sprinkle
Comet Cleanser with Bleach in the [ceramic] tub and let it sit; while you

* Use a “lime scale” remover product such as
Cif – which used to be Jif – to spray and clean the tub and shower hardware [we have salt water – it leaves a nasty, hard residue on everything!]; and going back to the commode

* Take the toilet brush and scrub the inside of the toilet – this particular task on any “bathroom cleaning to do list” is now complete; continue on with

* Scrubbing any dirt / salt water residue off of and out of the tub with a hard sponge which is thoroughly rinsed by throwing large plastic cupfuls of water against the entire surface; and

* Then replace the personal items removed earlier, putting them into the EXACT places where they were originally located [i.e., the razor and soap go on the far corner of the tub because The Baby – who insists of keeping a very close eye on me at all times and especially as I dangerously stand in this confined “ceramic and tile area enclosed on one-side by an easily nudged aside cloth curtain and a mildew-proof plastic curtain” while hot water projects out on to me – could otherwise easily grab one of those items in her mouth!!!] – and, the rubber duck? That goes in my husband’s bathroom. It is purely for decorative purposes and thus gets replaced on the top soap shelf in the shower even though no other “built-in” soap dish is used for anything else, ever [and good grief, how many times must someone have all of this explained to them as well as shown to them before they begin to comprehend and understand and can do it right?!?];

* Take the saved, previously used to wipe the tub / shower tiles
white, Scott paper towels and wipe down the baseboards of the entire bathroom;

* Spray the sink, fixtures and countertop areas with
Lysol Foaming Basin, Tub & Tile Cleaner and wipe clean with additional white, Scott paper towels;

* Clean the mirrors and any other glass areas with
Windex and wipe with white, Scott paper towels;

* Clean the towel racks with
white, Scott paper towels onto which you spray Lysol Foaming Basin, Tub & Tile Cleaner – spraying the towel racks directly results in covering your walls with cleaning products [the walls, of course, should be cleaned seasonally – spring, summer, fall and winter – unless otherwise required depending on the amount of “Kid” slobber];

* Spray
white, Scott paper towels with Windex and clean the glass of any hanging pictures or framed prints, doing the same for decorative glass and/or plastic containers of hand cream and cosmetic containers;

* Noticeable finger-prints and hand marks on white painted doors and light switches should be wiped clean; and

* The bathroom is clean but for the floor which should first be swept and / or vacuumed; then

* Using clean rags and the “red” bucket filled with “sweet water” [the drinking tap water, not the salt water] and
Clorox wash the bathroom floor on your hands and knees [these areas are not large in this particular “townhouse,” if they were, then I would use the floor cleaner but it would be about impossible to try to maneuver around the toilet in this particular instance]; and finally

* Using the “white” bucket and a couple of clean rags, re-wash the floor with straight “sweet water” which fairly effectively rinses off the bleach so that if you are barefoot there is no “sticky” feeling if your feet are wet or damp as you walk across the tile floor…

Viola! The bathroom has now been cleaned, disinfected, sanitized, and shined… Simply repeat the same procedures with the other two bathrooms. Total cleaning time: approximately 45 to 50 minutes PER bathroom.

The point [which was really not to explain as best as I possibly could how to clean a bathroom] is that I did all of the above and probably more each time that the last houseboy was here – according to schedule – during the three afternoons a week he was coming. And, there is a schedule – oh, trust me, someone with a [very slight]
perfectionist syndrome and perhaps some [very minor] “OCPD” issues has a schedule. The houseboy was coming three afternoons a week for three hours at a time and so I scheduled Saturday to do the three bathrooms, Monday to do the kitchen cleaning and Wednesday to do the kitchen / den / laundry room and entryway floor[s] – it’s all one big ugly gray and peach linoleum covered area divided by a couple walls and doorways – but for goodness sakes the floor cleaner basically does all of the work and the floor is ALWAYS done on Wednesdays!

After three weeks of my showing him how to do all of this – each afternoon that the new – now gone – houseboy was here we spent time together doing all of these things which in essence was me doing the cleaning while he observed my techniques for which I WAS PAYING HIM! And that picture? Umm... Oh, I know! Wrong. All wrong. Very. Wrong.

Which brings us back to how it is that a mostly calm, rational, and reasonable woman saddled with a [very slight]
perfectionist syndrome and perhaps some [very minor] “OCPD” symptoms, could, with only the slightest, most minute provocation easily want to pummel the crap out of someone else with a broom or mop or floor cleaner. Because if you can’t get the “how to’s” after three very patient weeks of my showing you how, then yes, I DO want to hurt you – be it emotionally or physically or both – I want to take my frustrations of your absolutely total ineptness out on you. But, because I am such a “calm, rational and reasonable woman” I will not beat you with some heavy, sure to cause bruising and pain object. Nope. Not me. I can not and will not condone any kind of mistreatment toward the domestic help. My solution: You’re fired.

So, now, again, I am back to doing the housework myself. It’s not so bad. I am not going to lie and say “Oh cleaning the bathroom is cathartic! I look forward to cleaning the bathrooms on Saturday. Once you start, you will probably find it quite relaxing.” Yeah. Bullshit. At least the stress of not having it done to my liking, to my satisfaction and standards, and in my timeframe, isn’t causing me further inner turmoil for the time being… That is, until the next houseboy comes along.

**When I was growing up, a roll of paper towels was treated more like a commodity than a disposable product. My Mother expected that a SINGLE – or better – less – make that a HALF of a SINGLE paper towel – would be used to clean the entire downstairs of our house… And if that wasn’t enough, we were expected to let the paper towel dry out and reuse it for several more weeks.

**As far as exclusively choosing
white, Scott paper towels is due to the fact that using colored paper towels might clog our septic system if we had one and we do not… [Whether this is true or not, I really am not sure – this is what we were told as children and it has stayed with me, and therefore do not use colored paper products. …] More specifically, when prints on paper towels run or bleed their color onto white surfaces cleaning efforts are doubled by now having to clean to remove “color” stains. “Scott” might want to consider giving me some sort of compensation for the promotional consideration I have extended. Or maybe not, as my first choice would be Bounty – which – naturally – cannot be found in The Sandbox; Scott is, in actuality, my second choice. The two aforementioned preferences are because sometimes when you use a lesser brand you end up with nothing more than a handful of soggy, goopy tissue… Feel the joy. My goodness, when has housekeeping – cleaning the bathroom – ever been such fun!?!


  1. What is the likely outcome in terms of punishment this vile couple may get? It is absolutely horrendous and more than likely a common occurence in the Magic Kingdom, that poor woman was truly lucky that some empathetic (seemingly a rare quality amongst Saudis) airport personnel had the sense to act.
    And dearest Sabra you are priceless! Far from me to dismiss your domestic woes, but you certainly had me in stitches. I guess the next candidate will have to undergo stringent tests of his skills before he is hired.
    May I add that my personnal preference for torture implements are a combo of the rack and cat o'nine tails vigourously applied. {;-)

  2. ROFL!! OK, I can see why having help could be stressful for you :-) I'm going to print off the bathroom instructions for Soma and see how long it takes for her to laugh at me!!

    BTW, you can get Bounty here - you might want to send dh to Spinney's next time he's in Dubai. On the other hand given the choice of Spinney's or Gold and Diamond Park ...... hmmmm tough one that!!!

  3. Excuse me, NS and Rose, but this is about Fatima! She was beaten, to beyond recognizing. Remember? And from what I can gather, it was ALL because she didn't follow the bathroom cleaning instructions. So, you see what happens when you don't use Lysol and a half roll of Scott WHITE papertowels when you clean one bathroom?!? [And, yes, now I am kidding.]

    What happened to Fatima is truly unpardonable. We can only hope that the “employers” are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. [Cough! Oh, excuse me. Cough, cough, cough…] Yeah, thirty days and ten lashes will teach them a lesson – certainly enough to deter anyone to NOT to ever do THIS again. Oh, and you’ll be keeping Fatima in jail for three to thirty years? And HOW MANY lashes??? Yep. Case resolved.

    Regardless, NS and Rose, glad you were both able to get a good chuckle out of my bathroom cleaning instructions. [You should see the closets! Yes, they truly are organized by color, sleeve length, all shirts facing the same direction... And yes, my spices are in alphabetical order, why? And there is a small check list on the inside left cupboard so that if one is running low I can know what it is I need to add to my grocery list. Oh, never mind...]

    Just out of curiosity, who out there folds their grocery bags???

    The way to achieve that perfect, permanent crease in the plastic bags is to set the iron on low and use a piece of damp linen to iron the bags after folding... In case anyone was wondering...

    P.S. Rose – Do not know what souk DH ended up at, but I ended up with a gorgeous necklace! He may have paid too much, but I work hard, here, and I deserve it. Okay, tomorrow is Friday. It is grooming day for the Kids! They just luv it. Ears cleaned; teeth brushed; both Kids thorough brushings - The Baby gets barrettes! If I thought she would be still long enough, I'd paint her nails. The Boy had a bath this past Saturday, before I cleaned my bathroom. It is also appliance AND make-up brush collection cleaning day. Instructions to follow. Oven has been "frosted" with Easy-Off. And on that note, I'm off to bed.

  4. Nothing I can say about Fatima would express what I truly think, not without my keyboard melting. I hope her employers rot in hell, but honestly, I doubt they even know what they did wrong. Education should be the solution but I wouldn't trust the Saudi educators not to perpetuate the problem.

    Glad you got the loot from Dubai! Too right you deserve it.

    I would try your ironing grocery bag technique but sadly I don't possess an iron. I could give them to the nice ironing man who comes every Tuesday though ...... well, maybe not :-)

  5. Oh! I am a bag folder as well, a firm believer in recycling, but it never did occur to me that you actually can iron them.?.?...
    No wonder you are pressed for time my dear!

    If there is a follow up on the sorry case of Fatima's employers I sure hope you'll keep us posted.
    It is amazing that a people so fond of corporal punishment and incredibly over the top sentencing for small time criminal, seem totally unconcerned about such isssues as domestic violence and, worst of all child sexual abuse! Enough to make one "A kaste öp!" as Ingrid from Oslo would say. ( I am sure this brings up fond memories for you dear Sabra.)

  6. NS and Rose - Pleeezzzzeeee - I am NOT ironing my grocery bags. Folding them, yes. Ironing them? I fold them, and then reuse them to scoop the presents the Kids leave for us. No need for creases in plastic grocery bags to scoop poop...

  7. Paper towels are meant to be used sparingly. One towel can be used over and over.

  8. Dear Sabra,

    My name is dan. I'm a 28 year old personal servant living in Manhattan, NYC. I live with my boss and keep her apartment spotless. Laundry, errands, cleaning, cooking. I would be offended if she had to lift a finger in her apartment or feel anything "sticky" on the bottom of her feet on any surface of the house!

    I grew up in New Jersey. Not a lot of boys where I come from become domestic servants. But it's in my blood. Always has been. There was nothing else I wanted to be. So in a funny way, I was moved by your houseboy entry. I created an account just to reply to you.

    If you ever need a houseboy because you're living in the US, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to serve you.

    Please write me at if you can. I'm not sure I'll be able to find any response you post here.



  9. monstrous...

    this is exacty the type of post ANGEL at WHT does quite well...

    i wrote ANGEL when you left that note, remarking on the blocking of her website, and thought she would like to explain why they are blocking her amazing site personally.

    she probably was simply so busy, especially during the election season, she hasn't written to you as of yet.

    i will send her a note again.

    her website focuses a great deal on the threat of Islamic Fascism, including the horrid treatment of Women.

    those in SA, the ARAB region, are probably not too happy to have such expression in their oppressive midst.

    thanks for the visit and the fine post.

    please, take good care.

  10. Paper towels are precious. How many trees must fall?

  11. Can't beat the help? The kingdom is starting to go soft ;->

  12. It must be so difficult, having to show the houseboy how to clean the bathroom THREE WHOLE TIMES!!

    You're very spoiled. Get over yourself.


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