What would you do?

I’ve had a number of cleaning women come a go, at least five.  Most of the women who clean house in Egypt (they are called shaggala) are not professional housekeepers.  The more well-off Egyptians will often hire women from other African countries to clean, and they are usually more expensive (and so I’ve heard, better at cleaning). 

I’ve had a lot of people warning me about trusting cleaning ladies (or workers in general).  Most people feel you should basically keep a watch on them at all times.  I don’t have the time or inclination to do this.  If I hire someone to clean, I don’t want to have to trail them around the house.  I’ve also been told you must be pretty firm, or else they’ll walk over you.  I’ve found this to be true also.  Most of the women started off cleaning excellently, but slacked off as time went on.  I’m just not a very good task master (or whatever you’d call standing over while they work). 

On two occasions, I’ve had stuff disappear from the house.  The first time, dh, made excuses for the person (suggesting maybe I lost the items in question, I didn’t), although no one else could have possibly taken the things that had gone missing.  For me however, the trust was basically gone, and our relationship changed.  I ceased to offer her food with us, and certainly didn’t feel like any chit-chatting.  We eventually asked her to stop coming. 

This latest time, several items have gone missing from my kitchen.  Minor stuff, two new packages of Dove soap, a full jar of honey, baking chocolate.  I’m in the middle of a move and the shaggala had been helping me to  clear the kitchen.  I noticed the soap gone right away, and the kids said ‘the cleaner must have taken it!’ (they’ve never liked any of the cleaners, but that’s a different story.)  I brushed it off, till I noticed the other items missing.  Finally I called her and asked what had happened.   She suggested that the things had gotten thrown out accidentally, and actually told me to look through the garbage for my things!  Allah knows best, I think it’s much more likely that the stuff found it’s way out of the house in the full bag of stuff she left with.  I did offer her some used clothing, and old toys.  I realize now I should have looked through the bag, but I’m just not that kind of person.  I guess I’d never make a good supervisor :).  I know that we should not accuse a muslim of theft without positive proof, and I didn’t accuse her outright.  But I can’t believe that she ‘accidentally’ threw out new items, and left empty jam jars on the counter.  It just doesn’t make sense.  I’m a pretty easy-going person, but I don’t take  kindly to people trying to walk over me.  She’d requested a few other things and actually wanted to buy some things I’m selling, but the deal is off and I don’t want her back.  It is always possible that she really did throw out a full jar of honey, but if she did, I still don’t want her back.  What would she throw away next!

The kids were complaining to our neighbor about the incident, and he told them to just forget about it and be patient.  That Allah has blessed us with more and them with less.  It’s not the stuff that really bothers me so much, it’s the idea that someone may have felt they had a right to it when it was mine.  Also the feeling of being made a fool of by trusting someone. 


Bugged Out

I am neurotic about insects.  Roaches, flies, ants.  There is no room in the house for me and them both.  I wrote about the huge roaches that come up out of the bathroom floor drain.  But during Ramadan, I had a problem with the ‘regular’ kind.  After I’d noticed a few, I figured I better check for the source.  It can be in the bags of fresh produce from the corner, or in the eggs you bought.  That’s right, eggs.  The eggs here don’t really come in cartoons, they come in an open tray, usually without any wrappings.  If you want packaging similar to what you have in the states, you can get it from the supermarket, at a higher price.  So I’d usually have my eggs delivered from a corner store (that way I don’t have to worry about breaking an open tray of eggs).  Well, one day I pick up one of my newly delivered eggs, and a roach crawls out of the place where the egg was!  Here is my source!  I took down the previous egg tray and there are about 5 roaches sitting in the darn tray!  I kill them, but I’m still noticing the darn babies.  Every night, middle of the night, I am up in the kitchen with the bottle of Raid, spraying the spots where I see them.  Finally I don’t see any more babies.  I hope I have eliminated them all, inshallah.  I really, really have a very strong distaste for roaches.  REALLY. 

Before the roaches there was some kind of ant outbreak.  Not small ants, mind you.  Those huge, oversized army-type ants.  For some odd reason they were attracted to something in the bathroom.  I kept seeing them, everytime I made a visit.  One day I noticed a large number near the toilet.  I pulled up the rug and there had to be 20-30 of ’em under there!  And as I said, they are BIG!  It happened again with the laundry basket.  I dump the clothes to sort them out and there is a huge number of big ants inside.  More than before.  It reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds.  Except it was ants.  I was screaming and stomping at the same time.  The kids with me. 

Now I have read hadith which state not to kill ants.  And usually didn’t.  But this was just too much.  I can’t live with this many insects in my house.  The only alternative was to move.  This was all out war.  I bought some spray and started to spray the bathroom.  I also sprayed near the bottom of the front door, and some of the stairs in the stairwell (there is a crack in the stairs where you can see them coming out).  That seemed to handle it.  Oh and I also mopped with ‘gas’.  It’s sold by a man in a donkey cart.  It’s supposed to clean anything and get rid of ants.  Not sure what it is in English, turpentine maybe?  I am still not sure what attracted them in the first place.  The ants here are weird, lol.  They don’t just go for sweet stuff.  They will pick up other dead insects and carry them away.  They will cluster on snot paper (do they eat it?).   Right now it’s under control, but I expect an increase once it’s warm again.