Today, the first of the month, is celebrated in many countries as the international day of workers. It’s not celebrated that way in Jamaica. But, after years of living in England, and moving around Europe, it is May Day, and a tip of the hat goes out to all workers.
But, I have a class of worker in my mind: domestic workers. Jamaica is a place that has a national union for such workers, who do much to make lives tolerable for many people. It’s not all a bed of roses, though. This week, I read where a friend was looking for a helper who was honest and hard-working. That didn’t sound good, but it’s not uncommon that household goods and possessions go missing and the villain is ‘the domestic’. But, we also have cases where the helper gets blamed wrongfully.
Contrary to the villainous side, GraceKennedy last year started a contest to find the best household worker, and it’s continuing now for a second year. It’s a group that in Jamaica is wholly female (at least as far as the eye sees). By contrast, household workers in other countries are both genders. In Guinea, many were men. Here, we see the constant stream of people walking up hills towards ‘nice areas’: women set for a day of work indoors; men set for work outdoors. Given the number of male friends I know who are the ‘housekeepers’, I have a wry smile at that sight.
While I detest housework, I remember it being part of my role when I got married, in that unspoken contract about sharing duties in a home. I like ironing and my mother taught me how to wash and sew. I used to have piles of clothes ready to press and catch up on my diet of TV at the same time. I did not know then how much exercise I was doing and burning calories, by standing. Vacuum cleaning was only fun because it gave me a chance to find items of clothes that had disappeared, often lounging under sofas and beds. It also taught me to check how good a housekeeper was by looking under beds. I often see lots of fluff. Hmm.
Theft is not my issue with the household worker, but their almost unfailing ability to perform magic. Not the Obeah that many of us know, but making items of clothing disappear, and in some rare cases, multiply. I did a quick informal poll of friends last week: our conclusion was that a conspiracy is underway, with washing machines and driers part of the plot to make pairs of socks into orphans. How else can I explain the drawerful of single unmatched socks in my closet? In our house, the puppy is often the villain, too, and socks in the yard suggest his little mouth has been active. For little or no pay, or bribed with a snack? Hmm.
A friend suggested tying the socks together, and telling the housekeeper to not untie them, even though they don’t wash well tied.
I will try that. Hankies were his problems, and the dozen or so he had once were now down to three.
Missing clothes are simpler to deal with than misdirected clothes. I traveled a few weeks ago and packed my blue shorts for golf. Lord! When I tried them on, I could only get one leg on! They were my wife’s.