Call me paranoid, but I am pretty certain that my cadre of help that I employ around the house are starting to work together and not just to clean my bathtub. I am growing more and more suspicious that they are writing a book detailing their awful experiences incurred by working for me. I don’t know if they were inspired by The Help or if I am a little sensitive since seeing the book and movie’s success, but I think my maids around the house are writing something eerily similar.
My suspicions start with where they would probably begin their narrative: the unabashed abuse with which I treat them. I know you are probably saying that it’s OK because they’re maids, and that is exactly what I thought too. That was all before I read The Help. Then I was like, “Damn, those maids can write some abuse stories.” And let me tell you, my stable of maids have plenty of tales they could recant in detail.
On a wild guess, I’m going to say the first thing they’ll probably talk about would have to be the canings. Slapping a fresh piece of sharp bamboo across their backs if they miss a spot seems like it might merit its own chapter, if not the “hook” that we’d read in the introduction. I thought it would make them feel at home in Singapore, Acapulco or Indian reservation from where they are from. In hindsight, I now see the power of this sold through Amazon under some catchy theme like, “Hot Survival Stories.”
I would say their next chapter might be the wrenching pain that might have come with the separation from their children I caused. It is kind of a funny story about how I had an inside joke with my maids. “If you ask for a raise, I’ll report your families to immigration.” While they never asked for that raise to minimum wage, I thought it would be hilarious to tell INS where to find my maids’ children anyway. The agents busted into homes and schools to send their little rascals to far away lands. I now see how this could have struck a chord with my help.
Childless and starving, they toil away in my one bedroom apartment eating the scraps they find. I even spill some crumbs while I eat around them and now I am realizing what can happen by being a harsh employer. These industrious cleaners might be writing a book about me. And what will I do then?
My first reaction will be to deny everything. Who would you believe? A bunch of maids making wild accusations or a fine upstanding gentleman who hires maids and abuses them in the privacy of his own home? I didn’t pay to get soundproof walls in what I call the “punishment room” to get written up in a tell-all expose. This is all despite the fact that I can now see the empathy these maids might earn if news of this got published.
In time, I would probably be found, investigated and sentenced to treat my maids with respect. But would this really keep my apartment clean? I think the only way to avoid problems like this – while also producing best-sellers like The Help – is for bosses and maids to write about their experiences together. That way nobody’s feelings get hurt.
Instead of the book saying stuff like, “He locked me in the outhouse and kept me there for three days without food or water because I looked him in the eye,” we could compromise on the final draft. My help and I can edit this down to, “My boss is a wonderful person who treats me with kindness and respect.” Bam, best-seller right there. I get a clean apartment, my help gets to flex some literary muscle and we reap the profits. In fact, we’ll make so much that my help could even earn some help of their own that they can mistreat until the next book comes along.