Imelda, Where Are You?!

By Margie Harrell


maidPalm Springs, California: For the third day in a row I sit and wait for the maids to arrive. They were highly recommended by friends and required a deposit up front. We were happy to get them as they are very busy. We hope that they will like us, and so we wait.

Imelda was my maid when I lived in Mexico. She also was recommended by friends but there the similarity ends. I now live in America and the rules of the game have changed. Where Imelda was happy to have the work and asked very little in return, my American maids arrive with “attitude.” First it’s coffee time, then they survey the damage to the house. I am intimidated by them from the start and arise early in the morning to clean before they arrive. Heaven forbid they should find a dirty house to clean and drop me as a client. Imelda called me her amiga, she didn´t know the word client and would never have used it if she did.

I call the office of my cleaning service. Yes, they were supposed to clean today but something came up and they will have to try and work me in next week. I thank them (thank them!) and wish them a nice day. Have I gone mad? I am the employer and they work for me! But I only think these thoughts because I need them. By now, I am wondering what the cost would be to fly my Imelda up here twice a month. When we are desperate, we tend to ramble.

I’m in luck! My neighbor has a friend who knows a girl who just might agree to work for us. My lucky day. I promise myself I will be good to her. Perhaps fresh baked cookies and some muffins would be a nice touch. I will wash the scatter rugs myself so she won’t have too much to do—no heavy work I was told up front for this maid.

I allow my mind to wander back to the days when I lived in Mexico and like clockwork Imelda would appear at my door with a smile on her face and greet me with a cheery Buenos Dias! She has five small children and lives in a sparsely furnished adobe house but has a wonderful outlook on life. To her, a great day is when I give her five pesos more for a job well done. Occasionally I had castoff clothes for her which she graciously received whether they fit her or not, as she would put them to good use. When I went away on short vacations, it was always Imelda who looked after the house and cat. She was happy to do it and I always knew things would be well taken care of. I would probably have to take out a second mortgage if my U.S. maids ever house-sat!

I know, I know, cost is relative. I hear that every time I balk at the high cost of living here in the “land of opportunity.” It’s not the cost that irks me so much as the non-service you receive for it. Mexico with its manana and live-and-let-live attitude could certainly teach the rest of us a thing or two.

But wait, the phone is ringing. It’s my new maid! I keep my fingers crossed and say a prayer. It seems that her aunt´s daughter by her second marriage is getting married today and she will be unable to come to work but will . . . try and fit me in next week. Here we go again! Imelda, where are you?!


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