Before I arrived in Shanghai Phil had a great cleaning lady. The day I arrived her body was taken over by sulking, clumsy aliens.
Or so it seems.
The cleaner, or 'Ayi', resented me being here for any one of the following reasons:
- She did not like the social status of being a cleaner, and so before I arrived she could pretend that she was more of a mother figure to Phil, looking after him. After I arrived it was obvious that he didn't need her like that, and that, yes, she was just a cleaner.
- She was madly in love with Phil, though she is married with a child, and was hoping for the Cinderella happy ending that lies in the hearts of almost every Shanghai girl: marrying a foreigner and being richer than they could imagine. (Of course being a foreigner equates with being rich, regardless of the reality).
- By me being here she thought that her workload had doubled, in spite of the fact that I did a lot of the cleaning myself. It may just be me, but I think if you are paying someone to come twice a week to clean your one bedroom apartment, you shouldn’t find yourself standing in the shower scrubbing black mould off the tiles with a toothbrush.
When we tried to change the time she came from Wednesday and Saturday mornings to Tuesday and Fridays, she point blank refused. Then turned up at 5.30am Friday morning. Noisily.
I came to Shanghai excited about the prospect of having a cleaner for the first time in my life. I was expecting something like this:
I was not expecting this:
A friend who has been in China for a while pointed out that she was probably trying to get fired. She would lose less face if she could blame the whole thing on us (and by "us" I mean me).
In any case, the woman was a liability, and so we fired her (and by "we" I mean Phil).
And although we'll probably not get back the bond/deposit on this apartment because of everything she has broken, she had the nerve to ask for 3 months severance pay.
Oh, how we laughed.
So if you know a good Ayi, we are in the market.