Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Free lunch

The unexpected mid-year salary raise offered to me on a silver platter did, in fact, occur, and it came with a pile of work because there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch. 

The new housemaid, 15 years old, left again after two weeks of employment.  I am back to washing dishes and bearing mother's lamentations on doing the laundry.  I secretly suspect she enjoys the leverage of driving me to guilt for never being home with enough time to do the laundry. But my guilt is purely based upon her pleasure or displeasure, and nothing to do with my time or the laundry. Obviously if I had my own way I would invest in a one-touch button washing machine and come home to find my clothes dry.  It would of course be a waste of Jakarta's scorching hot sunlight to use a drying-machine, but I would of course be using solar cells to power it so that should be fine. 

I digress.  The maid resigned, saying she was tired and wanted to go home. Mother asked whether she wanted a raise, whether she wanted less work, whether she wanted to go to school. She said, no, she just wanted to go home. Mother asked what she was going to do back home and she replied that she didn't know. I heard the story over the phone, in my office, at my desk littered with a thousand-million to do's. My primary concern was for mother, but we had gone through so many long periods without a maid it really wasn't anything out of the ordinary or insurmountable. My other concern was if her parents had no money and she would not go to school and she did not want to work then what did she want to make of her life? 

I was overworked, harsh, and prejudiced. I knew nothing of her 15 year old mental situation. If her parents were anything like typical uneducated parents in this country they would hope to just marry her off as soon as she came of age and hope for the best. But I wouldn't know.

All I knew was that I had no patience for her lazy explanations because nobody should expect a free lunch, not the rich and certainly not the poor. That said, she is too young to be working. If it weren't for the thought that she needed the work to help her get by in life, what reasonable person could hire a child? 

On that note I shall make myself imagine that she is going back home to follow her heart, defy her parents,  tell them that she has her whole life in front of her, that she is not ready to work or get married, and she wants to just sit home and read whatever she can read so that she can get a scholarship to school.

What are the chances of that being the case?

I regret that I wasn't home enough to talk to her properly.

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