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. 

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4 Responses

  1. Salaams,

    The feeling of being entitled to other people’s property on the assumption that they already have enough is sadly common among cleaners, maids, etc. I am not being deragotary, the exceptions are few. You just have to assume they’ll steal rather than give them the benefit of doubt. Some feel if you’re rich enough to hire a maid/cleaner, you won’t miss a few items here and there.

  2. Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Rahim
    As Salaamu Alaikum:
    Sister, Insha Allah, I am going to give you 70 reasons why you blogged about such an unfortunate incident. And I pray, insha Allah, that Allah SWT will allow you to give the cleaning women 70 reasons as well, before alluding that they may have taken your stuff. Sister, I don’t mean to be critical of you but you must be extremely careful about your whining; especially about losing a few dunya items. So what? Did they take your health or your life? Did you have four witnesses that saw the shaggala taking your items? Fear Allah, dear sister. Just let it go. Al hamdullilah, Allah SWT has shown you His ayat concerning “with hardship comes ease”. Your ease is the hasana you and your husband and family received just having your children gaining knowledge of Quraan. Some people will never attain this in their lifetime. So be careful of the waswas of the shayateen. The proper adab was for you to ask the shaggala if she needed anything from your lot. You know that these people are in extreme need at times. I encourage you to not blog about the negatives but rather about the positive. For instance if you want to warn us about the dirt and grime and overall pollution of Cairo or any other city, just tell us to be prepared to show by example by cleaning up whatever we can while we traverse the city, that we should direct beggars to the mssjids, as well as use insect repellants when going out doors to deal with the insects we may encounter. And if you feel uncomfortable about inviting people into your home for a service call, then lock away your “things” before they arrive. But be reminded that this is dunya not jannah and if we survived the fitnah of America then “us in egypt” can survive the fitnah in Egypt or anywhere else…as long as we are surrounded by constant reminders of our Allah and His Prophet SAAWS. Just suck it up next time, dear sister. Remember to cover the “shame” of our fellow Muslims. May Allah SWT continue to reward you and us for our efforts to please Him…ameen.

  3. Jazakillah for your advice. I don’t believe that I was whining, and I said that the stuff was ‘minor’. I was actually more upset at feeling as though I was taken advantage of which happens quite a bit when you are a foreigner.

    I write about living in Egypt, the good and bad, to give people an idea of what it is like. If a person is going to travel they need to have a realistic view of what to expect. I do try to balance out the negatives with the positive aspects of living in Egypt, and I feel it’s obvious we wouldn’t have been there if there was no benefits. If I did anything wrong, may Allah forgive, but I believe I was very careful NOT to accuse her (neither online nor in person). And I even said, maybe she did throw it away by accident (not likely).

    Anyway, people will always differ on certain things, including how we express ourselves. Wassalaam

  4. I disagree with malika. One can’t be truthful or balanced if they don’t mention the negatives AND the positives. And its also harmful cuz then somenoe like me who is now going to be moving to Egypt wouldn’t be informed of the negatives, only the positives. That’s not too cool with me.

    Anyway i just woke up so im like a groggy. i don’t know if what im saying is flowing or not properly.

    Anyway, sis if you could please email me that’d be wonderful.

    i’m also a bit into homeschooling but will properly send my child to school .. at least quran school and maybe some extra cirricular activities.

    I also want to know about what you think about living in madinat-nasr vs al-rehab vs maadi…

    could u please email me asap?
    sister from USA

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