December 8, 2006

Day 6: Maid situation

I did expect the former maid to show up for her pay today, but it was pouring down rain all night and all day today, so she didn't come. Tal vez mañana si Dios quiere (Maybe tomorrow, God willing).

Training a new maid is a lot of work. You can't imagine. I suppose you are picturing me sitting around with my feet up eating bonbons while I wave for another cup of coffee. Not so!

I have to teach them everything, which, given my Spanish abilities, usually means doing it while they watch or at least helping them to do it. I have a whole list of warnings I have to go through, which are mostly ignored.

For example: No Bleach! One lady ruined an entire set of brand new sheets. I asked her to try to get out a couple of blood stains from smashed mosquitoes. I've done this myself many times with the hand laundering soap with no problem. She used bleach, straight from the bottle. The next time we used the sheets, they began to shred up like they were made of tissue paper. Bleach has been the demise of clothes, cleaning rags, and cotton mops. Bleach is also popular for mopping floors, a practice that could be deadly for my dogs.

Another example is Ajax cleanser. I have a beautiful pedestal sink in the guest bathroom that was completely ruined within 6 months with Ajax. The porcelain finish was just scrubbed away. Oh, it's clean now − the problem is that it is scratched and yellowish so it will never look clean again.

All the cleaning products either have instructions in English or no instructions so I have to constantly check on what they are using. One maid tried to clean the mirrors with Pledge furniture polish. Another one used floor cleaner to clean the granite countertops. Another one used an entire bottle of Spray 'n Wash stain remover (about $5 here) to hand wash her own clothes. She thought it was detergent.

I have to explain that water is not good for wood, that it isn't hygienic to use the same rags in the kitchen and the bathroom, that you have to wash your hands before you cook, and even what to do with two sheets for the bed.

That's why it is so frustrating when someone quits. I have to start all over again. This is why I usually do without a maid for several months after one quits. It's almost easier to do everything myself, but it's not the Honduran way.

When in Rome....
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