So, I have a housekeeper. I think I might have mentioned this. It's not exactly a situation that I ever imagined I would end up in - after all, isn't the Brady bunch supposed to be a fictional TV show - and one that happened in the Seventies? However, it's not a situation that I'm one bit sad about, despite the fact that I've now become utterly incapable of running my life without outside help. I like it. Wouldn't you like not having to scrub five toilets every week?
This week started out perfectly normal. Monday was Veteran's Day, so Brandon had work off. We enjoyed sleeping in, and around nine when we were finally getting up and dressed and feeding the children, Brandon asked if I had told Naila to stay home for the day. I had thought about it and intended to do it, but with the Marine Ball and Joseph's birthday, I had forgotten. I sent her a hasty text, "I forgot about the holiday. Please stay home and enjoy the day off. See you tomorrow!" and got down to making breakfast.
Tuesday morning I started school with the children, trying to make up for the sewing-related academic neglect of the previous week. Naila usually comes around 9:30 or 10 to take the boys off my hands so that I can discuss Mohenjo-Daro in peace with Kathleen. When she hadn't shown up by 10:15, I called her phone. A very polite lady told me something in Azeri that I didn't understand. When Naila's phone was still off by 11:30, I started worrying. Had she been hit by a bus? A domestic accident? Maybe there was a metro explosion? Naila has only missed one day of work, and is never late. And why did it have to happen on laundry day? I resigned myself to an afternoon of folding clothes.
I emailed Brandon. Maybe she just decided that I had texted her on the day of a holiday one time too many and had quit with no notice. I didn't think he was funny.
When I didn't hear anything from the family that has her in the afternoon, I figured it was something that they must know about and be okay with. I started thinking of how I would diplomatically ask her what she was thinking by not showing up without even a warning.
Later Brandon asked me if had heard anything from her other family. Nothing. He decided to take matters into his own hands and go ask the mom, who works at the embassy.
A few hour laters, he called back. "She's gone," he told me, "left the country on Friday night. Some sort of problem with her husband. G doesn't know when she's coming back, maybe a few months?"
I grabbed a paper bag to breathe into.
"What?!!? So you're telling me that she left the country four days ago and nobody bothered to tell me??!? And now I'm left without a housekeeper?!?! I had to FOLD MY OWN LAUNDRY today!!!"
Brandon told me to put my face back into the bag.
Instead I pulled up the embassy newsletter and set up an interview for the next day. After that I called my friends for support, enjoying their commiseration - how could she do this to me? didn't she know that I needed her? that I couldn't handle life on my own? I finished each conversation with a desperate plea that they send any news of someone looking for work along to me. There was no way I was going to fold my own laundry two weeks in a row.
After a failed first interview - a little young thing wanting 50% more money for four hours less work than Naila - I was able to find a lady through a friend whose friend's housekeeper's sister was looking for work. Never underestimate the power of the expat network. She started on Friday so I was able to avoid the horror of dirty toilets over the weekend.
My first housekeeper was amazing. I took her from friends who arranged the whole thing before we even got to Cairo. She worked from the first week we came in until the day before we left. She cleaned well, was cheerful, and loved my children. I was spoiled.
Now I've gone through the opposite story - two housekeepers quitting out of the blue in less than a year - and I miss Rere even more. Don't think, however, that this will cure me of my addiction. I can quit any time I want. I just don't want to.