An Expat's Experience Having a Maid in Malaysia

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For many expats in malayisa, the opportunity to have a maid is a new experience and some find themselves wondering how they ever managed without one, Marybeth Ramey reflects on how having a maid has impacted and improved her own life.

Even after almost 20 years in East Asia, the thought that I am able to have a maid is still magical. Like most Americans, I watched rich people on TV have maids and growing up, never met a family who had one. For one thing, having a maid allows me to luxuriate in the delicious delusion that I am wealthy, immensely successful, and certainly I am not one of the Little People.

For another, having a maid means among other things, that I do not have to pursue looking for a new spouse. Ha-ha. But true. Like the majority of working women, I need help maintaining hearth and home.

I miss my husband, who now lives and works in another country. I miss him at times like when I notice I have about 47 different black cords tangled together from my computer up to the TV. Robert would have had those babies all bundled properly, hidden from view and probably able to reduce their number by half. I also miss him whenever a ceiling light blows out and I realize I cannot climb a ladder to replace it; or when I fall in the shower and my head gets stuck in the floor drain, or when the washer hoses flood the ceramic tile floors, not to mention when the extraordinarily heavy mahogany bed leg just breaks off while I am innocently sleeping and not even moving. And I really miss his skill at breaking into any kind of door, including car doors, when I have managed to lock us out. Don’t tell anyone, but it is his absence that results in me leaving an unlocked door or window somewhere when I go out.

Simply put, I love my maid. I love everything about her. Especially that I can tell her what to do, how to do it, and then she leaves when it is all done. Robert always stayed. I love that both the maids I have had here in Malaysia have their husbands with them so they come a few days a week, leaving me those other days to accumulate bills which they then go pay, build piles of dirty laundry, soil various sections of the furniture, and of course eat and drink my way through the cupboards holding the dishes, until there are no plates, glasses, or cutlery left that are clean.

I think the majority of American are not very comfortable with having our maids live in, probably because we are aware we really can be very embarrassing people in our natural habitats. I know I always clean up a bit before the maid comes so as to not scare her off – for example sweeping up broken glass, unclogging toilets, and looking for any clothing left in inappropriate places. Underwear on the balcony? I simply cannot remember, and that’s what I’m sticking with.

Gerlie was my maid for ten years and it was so wonderful not be argued with, to see her smile rather than sneer at the dirty dishes (“Oh ma’am, if you washed them, I would have no job!”), and to have her look longingly at all the semi-wet work clothes buried under the dry towels and washcloths as if she couldn’t wait to get started. My new maid, Olive, is absolutely thrilled to go to the bank and be given RM1,000 to go spend in all types of stores. (I was a bit shaken by her enthusiasm at first, to the point where I reminded her there was a list to follow for all purchases!) And she likes nothing more than rigorously attacking my leather furniture with her wipey cloths.

And to be truthful and very frank, I also love having a maid here in Malaysia because I am just plain lazy and find housework, errands, and bill paying to be torturously boring. I like being able to use all that time instead to read a good book, go out with friends, and Skype with the grandgirl. Oh, and of course making sure I have squeezed in enough time to miss my husband.

In Malaysia, my maid takes the orders while I give them, ahh… what a life… made to order for me!



Source: The Expat August 2013

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