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Welcome to Mexico
By Victoria Schmidt
There is nothing more individualistic than one’s home. Even while renting a furnished home, the occupants imprint their own environment. I’m a person who prefers angles to straight lines. I like my book shelves organized with the books lined up, and stacked one upon the other, depending on space. The photographs on our display tables are angled. Our maid, however, likes everything lined up.
We’ve had several maids, since moving to Mexico. While this in no way makes me an expert on maids, it does give me insight into their behavior. I have liked all our maids, and have trusted them all. I feel guilty when I pay them what I consider to be a pittance for their hard work. Our maid gets paid less for cleaning our home twice a week for a month than what we paid our cleaning lady for a half-day’s work in the USA. I appreciate our maids, and for the most part, they have all done a good job. Some of them even clean behind and under the furniture.
With maids, there were degrees of them teaching me, and me teaching them. It often doesn’t work well for either of us. So, like many people here in Mexico, I have learned what I call, Maid Self-Defense.
I have often had to search throughout the house after a maid has cleaned trying to find things. I have learned to never expect that our maid will put things where I would put them. My photos have been rearranged, bedspreads changed, and I rarely find things in my kitchen when I need them. Often after a cleaning, my husband and I will make the rounds of the house trying to put things back where they belong. Our current maid is on maternity leave, so we are breaking in a new maid. WE put empty hangers back into the laundry room so they are near the dryer. SHE puts them back in the closet. WE keep the dish soap on the sink. SHE puts it under the sink. And I’m not even going to try to describe what she does with the flatware!
Once we couldn’t find our towels. The towels had been in the dirty laundry basket when we left, but the basket was now empty. Our laundry sorter didn’t contain the towels. So I looked in the linen closet, and there they were, folded neatly. Not washed mind you, but folded very nicely.
Shoes and slippers are really fun at our house. For some reason unknown to me, my husband must have at least three pairs of shoes out at all times. Don’t ask. Anyway, when he’s running around the house looking for his shoes we know the maid has put them away again. We’ve found them in the closet, on chairs, and on shelves. Perhaps she really hasn’t decided where she thinks all these shoes should go.
So before each cleaning day, I go throughout our home performing Maid Self-Defense. First I put away all the dishes. Then I tour through the rooms looking for any clothes that need to be hung up, put away, or placed in the laundry; collect stray books and put them away; pick up business papers, and make sure they are filed away; hide the dog toys, (our maid keeps throwing away the dog’s bone;) and generally “clean” before the maid comes. Maid Self-Defense has helped to shorten the time I spend going around the house putting my photos back at angles, reorganizing my books, and searching for my husband’s shoes. Now if I could only find my raincoat!