Sharing My Problems With The Housekeeper Proves I’m Not Racist
We have a heart-to-heart moment before she cleans my house
Have you met my housekeeper? Her name is Maria. We’re on a first-name basis, so I don’t need to know her last name. That’s how close we are.
Maria is from Guatemala. Or is it Honduras? I always mix-up the poverty-stricken countries my servants come from. Sorry, I shouldn’t use the word “servants.” How do I think of us? Friends. That’s what Maria is to me–a good friend, who just happens to scrub my toilet.
When she arrives, I always greet her warmly, and offer her a drink. “DO YOU WANT A GLASS OF WATER?” I shout very slowly, so she’ll understand. She always replies, “No, thank you,” but I get it for her anyway. That’s how thoughtful I am. She doesn’t have time to drink it, with all the cleaning she has to do, but I’m sure she appreciates the time-wasting gesture.
We like to catch-up while she vacuums the room I’m in. I try to get her to talk, but she’s not very chatty in her second language. It doesn’t matter, because she’s such a good listener, and never interrupts me, which is all I need to keep talking.
Nothing demonstrates trust like sharing your most personal secrets, and vindictive grudges. Dumping my emotional baggage on a domestic worker is my way of saying, “I see you. Even if I can’t hear you over the sound of the vacuum.”
I view Maria as an equal, and not part of an exploited underclass. I don’t see class, just like I don’t see race. To me, she’s just another rich, white person, except she does household chores while I make her uncomfortable with my aggressive familiarity.
I take the time to really open-up to Maria. Like when I complain about my entitled son, Chadwin. She always nods and smiles, so clearly she agrees that Chadwin doesn’t appreciate his trust fund. I’ve never asked if she has children, but I imagine she has dozens of them. Not because she’s Latina — that would be racist! I just think she wouldn’t understand how spoiled Chadwin is if she hadn’t gone through it many times herself.
I also disparage my lazy husband, Chadwin Sr., who still hasn’t found a place to dock our catamaran this summer. I’m sure it’s the same with her…