May 6, 2007

Oh, woe is me!

View from the kitchen window

I take few days off and my blog's Google rating drops from 5 to 4 (high is good, low is bad), my Technorati rating skyrockets to 87,000 (high is bad, low is good), and reader Gordo starts cheating on me with another La Gringa. Who says blogging isn't hard work?

But, anyway, thanks for asking about me, everyone. I'm fine, just a little down about the latest maid situation (article below). I went back and forth all week about whether to write the whole long boring story and then finally decided to get it out of my system. I hope it doesn't bore you too much. I actually left out a bunch of things. If you don't live in Honduras, you might even find it a little shocking. If you live in La Ceiba, you've probably heard it all before.

"Getting it out of my system" was one of my main reasons for this blog. It's an upside-down world here and sometimes I felt like I was losing my mind. The blogicito has helped my relationship with El Jefe, because I can complain to you instead of him. I finally quit asking him "Why?" all the time and instead relate the stories to you and feel vindicated when you ask "Why?!"

Of course, most "why" questions can only be answered by "This is Honduras!" Even Hondurans will tell you that many things don't even make any sense to them.

I'll have to say that these experiences with maids do get me doubting myself. Is it me? Will I ever fit in here? Is it normal for an employee to start arguing with their boss and asking for favors on the first day? Is it normal to start taking days off the first or second week of a new job? Would a Honduran woman think nothing of giving her shoes to a maid? We've hired enough men for construction, odd jobs, and gardening to know that this sort of thing certainly isn't normal among the men.

I didn't have a lot of experience with maids before I came here to Honduras. I cleaned my own house for most of my life. The last couple of years I was in the U.S., I had a Mexican maid once a week. When the first woman went back to Mexico, she referred her cousin who worked until the day we moved out of the house to come here. They both were pleasant, hard working, and completely trustworthy.

What makes me saddest of all is that we are in a position to be able to help at least a few people. To me, an honest job where someone can be proud of their work is much better than a handout. I'm a generous person by heart. But when people have so often tried to take advantage, it just makes me suspicious of every story I hear. I would be happy to help someone to send their kids to school or pay for their doctors. I would love to give raises to reward a job well done as we have done with male workers, but none of the household workers stay long enough to get a raise. How can I give someone a raise when they miss one or two days of work per week and lie and steal?

There is a saying in Honduras, "Give someone a hand and they take the elbow." That's similar to the English saying of give someone an inch and they take a mile. I have found this to be so true. It really seems that any kindness is mistaken as an act of stupidity which deserves to be fully taken advantage of.

Am I wrong to think that bad behavior shouldn't be rewarded? Or is this another cultural difference to which I will never adapt?

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