Jillian R.
First of, some pregnancy updates. I had mild contractions all night, and during the more intense ones I'd go "this is it!" but they either faded away or made me want to go pee again. So, slept through the discomfort and woke up at 3.30 am like every other night and couldn't go back to sleep until 4.30 am - like every other night.

Now, an update on the post yesterday about my Maid from Hell (MFH). In her text to me 10 minutes before she was supposed to show up for work, she asked if instead of her usual afternoon shift, she could start work at 8 am this morning. Oh yeah, she just sets her own work time and then asks me if it's alright. Since I have a doctor's appointment this afternoon and having her work in the morning is really more convenient anyway, I agreed. I was also hoping to get our money that she owed and my cookbook back.

I really wasn't expecting her to arrive on time, and just like I thought, she arrived 10 minutes late. And here's where it gets a little funny. She told me she had the cold yesterday and was still not feeling quite well - to be fair, she did sound like she had the cold. She said she dropped by to pay us the money and return my cookbook but was it okay if she skipped work today. I said alright. Then, she adds "I'll come tomorrow at 12.45 pm". Really, it's like, she's the boss, deciding when she shows up for work; but what was I supposed to do? A person with the flu (if she really has it, or else she's quite a good actress) drops by, pays me and says she doesn't want to infect a pregnant me with the cold and I fire her? What kind of monster would I be?

Anyway, I agreed to let her come in to work tomorrow afternoon - but I don't really know what will be left for her to do.

See, I had wanted her to clean my balcony in our bedroom, which has no hose. So to clean it, one would have to carry a bucket of water from the bedroom's attached bathroom out there and rinse it. I really didn't want to be carrying buckets of water but I thought if I waited for my MFH, it will never ever get done. So I did it myself. It is now all sparkly and clean. The "winter" season is coming up in the UAE (which is not really winter, it is more like a warm fall) and we are planning to sit out on the balcony sipping tea!

I then went outside and hose down my backyard too. Every thing is pretty much done. What's left for the MFH to do?
Jillian R.
I'm 38 weeks pregnant and am swollen, achy and in pain almost all day, every day. Every other day, we drive 45 mins (it used to be a 20 min drive from our apartment, then we moved) into the city to see my OBGYN who checks up on me and tells me to go home and wait for my cervix to dilate some more. I was 2.5 cm dilated last week. At this point, every time I see her, I beg her to induce labor but every time she says it's better to just wait. So I reluctantly come home and wait. Not. Happy.

Anyway, in spite of all the pain and discomfort I'm going through, I have to deal with my maid from hell (MFH).

To understand my predicament, allow me start from the beginning. When we moved into our new villa, we had to sell our two year old range cooker which I really, REALLY love because the villa already comes with one. My range was so new and clean even at two years old that if I put it back in the store you wouldn't be able to tell that it's been used.

On her first day of work, while showing her around, I happened to casually mention to MFH that we were selling the stove and how upset I was because the landlord's stove has a ceramic top (I've always preferred a range with a gas top but an oven that is electric) and is a bit smaller than mine. Also, it needed some elbow grease. It was then that she mentioned that she and the husband were moving into a new place and were looking to buy a range cooker. I was a bit reluctant to sell such a big appliance to her at first because I felt like we should be paying her, not the other way around, plus we had just met and this will be a cash transaction after all, so it might not be a very ideal situation. However, after discussing with Eric and spending the day with the MFH, a deal was struck. We were to hold the stove for her till the end of the month (today!) and she would cart it away and pay us. Win-win, right?

A week in, even though her work was far from satisfactory, I really wanted to give her a chance because she seemed like a nice girl and looked like she had (fake) initiative when I tell her things. One evening she called and told us that they happened to have a truck ready and if they could cart the stove away then and that she would give us a third of the price first and pay the rest with her wages. Call us nice, or gullible (I can't decide anymore), we agreed.

Now, there are many reasons for me to let her go, here are just a few;

- Showed up 15 mins late everyday, EXCEPT on the one day that I expected her to be late like all the other days, and jumped in the shower, she showed up on time and I had to get out of the shower dripping wet to let her in, risking falling down the stairs (I was very careful though).
(We now established that the later time is the time she is supposed to start)

- She normally comes in the afternoon, but there was once she said she would come at 8 am. I get up at 6 every morning, so that wasn't too early for me. The problem was, instead of going through my "morning stuff",  I showered, got dressed and waited for her - let me just say that I am not the kind of person who just lays around in jammies while the maid cleans around me. I get up and help her, since I need the light exercise anyway. She never showed up. It was until about 2 pm that I got a text from her saying that she was sick. Correct me if I'm wrong, but even being sick, one could still text on time, not six hours late!

- And it's like I never ever learn! MFH saw one of my cookbooks and asked to borrow it. I let her. Two weeks later, I got it back and it was dog-eared to heck! And I mean, deep, deep lines that you can't unfold. 10-15 pages of ruined, GLOSSY paper. I can't even look at the book now without feeling like having a good cry. She apologized but apologies cannot unfold glossy pages. I was so shocked when she returned the book in that state that when she asked to borrow another glossy cookbook I just weakly nodded while Eric sort of rub-pat my back to console me. I told her never to dog-ear my books. I haven't gotten the second book back yet. We shall see.

- Today; I guess I should take it as an improvement, 10 minutes before her work time is supposed to start, I got a text message from her saying she was sick. This was AFTER I spent the morning giving her a head start by vacuuming the house. I thought at least she could just mop and tidy up. Easy day. Not.

See, now I'm in a pickle. I need to get rid of her but she might just disappear with the rest of the money she owes us. Her wages are nowhere near the amount - with her being sick and not turning up half the time. Plus, I want my second cookbook back.

I really didn't want to have a maid in the first place, but Eric, the ever loving husband that he is, convinced me that having help during these last few weeks of pregnancy would help tremendously. I thought so too, except this is more stressful and aggravating than helpful. The MFH did help me unpack boxes while Eric went to work every day though; without her which I wouldn't be able to do because I'm not allowed (and can't) lift heavy things.

I really need to see how all this plays out. I'm sure I will have more updates soon. So don't go anywhere.
Jillian R.
After yesterday's long rant, I will try my best to keep today's entry as short as possible.

To get a clearer picture of today's story, let me show you my backyard.

This was our backyard when we moved in

And this is the backyard now

After getting quoted all sorts of ridiculous prices from a few maintenance and landscaping companies for cutting up a few overgrown branches and to sweep up some leaves (a lot of leaves actually, about 2 ft deep), Eric went to the hardware store and bought a bow saw and cut the branches himself. Quoted price, 300 AED ($80). Bow saw was 25 AED ($6), rake (a good retractable one too), 65 AED ($17). We paid someone 100 AED ($27) to rake up the leaves. We saved a total of 110 AED ($30). It was about an hour's job. 

$30 might not feel like very much, but think of it as 110 units of money. 110 units of money buys quite a lot, doesn't it?

Now, the problem is getting the cut up branches and leaves to the dumpster, because there is no garbage service in our community that picks up "big" pieces of garbage, say a stained mattress or a torn up couch, we all have to either lug our own garbage to the dumpster located outside the guard house (which in our case is just a 5 minute walk away) or pay someone (there are "services" like that) a ridiculous amount of money to drag it away for us.

Anyway, our branches and leaves made about 5-6 boxes and we left it outside the house not knowing what to do with it. We can't exactly pack it into the back of our car or drag 5-6 boxes to the dumpster, because these are cardboard boxes (which we moved in with) which will probably tear after 10 feet of dragging or so, and we can't exactly carry them because they're too big! We asked around and nobody seems to know the number of the "service" to call. So there the boxes sat since last Friday. It's been a week.

Today, the security guard came knocking on my door saying that there had been complaints about the boxes, which were a bit of an eye sore really, but we didn't know what to do with them!

I asked if he knew who I should call to get rid of them. He said he didn't know, but he asked if I'd be willing to pay "something" for a gardener to remove it, I said yes. Then it was like magic, a gardener appeared from nowhere, really, out of nowhere! I had looked before, because I had the same idea, to ask if a community gardener could remove the boxes, and I'd tip them well, but I've never spotted anyone nearby! So, this gardener jumped out of nowhere and wanted 100 AED ($27) for him and his buddy to take the boxes to the dumpster 5 minutes away, they had carts, so it wasn't that hard! It's a one-trip job with a gardening cart!

I insisted that I wouldn't pay more than 50 AED ($13), because REALLY, 5 mins of pushing a cart to the dumpster for a hundred units of money is a bit much! The guy started making a pitiful face saying how poor he is. I get it, they don't earn very much, but they have to be reasonable! In the end, I didn't want to stand outside arguing about money so I agreed to give them 60 AED ($16).

10 minutes later, they came knocking on my door again to say that they were done. They did a good job I must say. Not a single leaf was left behind. So I thanked them and expected that to be it, then the guy said "Madam, JOOS?"

I said, "What? I don't have any juice, sorry". I really don't keep any bottled/boxed, sugary juice in the house, but the guy was relentless! "Madam, joos?" He wasn't about to leave so I gave them a couple of bottles of water. Only then, they left.

Jillian R.
I looked at my last entry dated June 10 and am absolutely shocked that 3 months had zipped by. I really meant to write more but life sometimes get in the way. 

I'll run through some updates quickly; we went to Penang for a three-week visit, it was hot as hell every day whilst we were there then cooled off during the LAST three days of the trip, just to mess with me. I found myself sweating profusely ALL the time and running through a pack of tissue a day (which I'm not very proud of because tissues aren't exactly environmental friendly, are they?). Then, we came back to Abu Dhabi, expecting to move within a week but of course, just like most things in this part of the world, moving got delayed and we were stuck in our old apartment with boxes everywhere for an additional three weeks, the whole time worrying that the landlord would kick us out before our new place was ready, while I'm 8 months pregnant!

So finally, after all that we managed to move in to the new place just fine. It's in the 'burbs' so to speak, it's out of the city, away from people who hate dogs and walking them has been nothing short of normal - nobody barked at us or screamed or taunted them and of course, no crazy person tried to run us over with his motorcycle. Instead, we have street gardeners who actually smile pleasantly, people on the street who wave and kids who stop and ask what are the dogs' names. I know these are normal things to you, dear readers, but trust me, it certainly is NOT here. Apart from the people, it's a great community with beautiful greens and landscaping, not an easy feat in the middle of the desert!

Anyway, moving into a new place this late into the pregnancy meant that I would need lots of help unpacking and making the home baby-ready. So we're forced to hire a housemaid to help me while Eric goes to work. We found a nice girl who started working for us for about two and a half weeks now. The first week she came every morning and helped me put the house together, which I'm really thankful for because there was no way I was able to do it myself with my belly in the way. Plus lifting things probably wasn't a good idea anyway.

My issues began the second week of her working for us. I have very high standards when it comes to cleaning my home. First of all, I have two dogs, which means there is fur everywhere and with the baby's impending arrival, the need for everything to be clean is even more crucial than ever! I never wanted to be the kind of person who stands over her maid and watches her every move, so I told her what needed to be done and left her to it. Then last weekend, I decided to vacuum and clean my house myself - which was when I discovered the most horrendous things (apart from some of the horrendous things I already saw her do while working)!

- She never vacuumed or mopped under the bed
- The vacuum dust bin (I use a bagless vacuum) was never emptied, so it was filled to the brim with fur, so I have no idea how it managed to suck in more fur and dust
- I see her mopping in circular motions and although I didn't think it was an issue before, after I mopped, my mopping water was the color of milk tea. So the floors were never really cleaned
- I also happened to see that instead of the half bucket of water I told her to use for mopping, she uses a QUARTER of an already small bucket, so the mop was never submerged fully in the water
- She never rinsed out the bucket, so it was covered in a layer of sand and dust
- The wet rags she used to dust and clean were left to fester and breed bacteria although I told her specifically never to leave wet rags to fester and breed bacteria

... among other things.

I really can't afford the time to train another maid so I've decided to just stick with this one and provide her better training. So when she came by last Monday, I gave her a notepad and a pen and told her very nicely of course what needs to be done, all over again. While she appeared to be paying attention to the things I was saying, she NEVER TOOK ANY NOTES!! Then, here comes the icing on the cake, before she left, she asked me if I wanted her to put my vacuum cleaner dust bin, y'know, the one with all the dust, sand and fur remnants INTO my DISHWASHER once a month or so to clean!!! I get it, she means well, but really?! Dust bin, dishwasher?!! All I could say at the time was "WHAT? Why? NO!!" Oh, she apparently does it in some of the other households she works for.

This is my vacuum cleaner by the way. The bin has a total of THREE parts - the bucket, a mesh filter and an inner HEPA type filter, one just needs to rinse it with soapy water, and voila, done! Why does it need to go into the dishwasher?! I just washed it myself, it took all of TWO minutes.

I must be honest, I'm very disturbed by this. Will update again soon, with I'm sure, more misadventures.

Note: I feel that I have to clarify, I don't feel as if just because we can afford to a hire a maid (whom I'm not very proud to say, are quite reasonably priced here), she has to cater to my every whim and fancy, I don't think it is unreasonable to want a certain level of cleanliness and hygiene in my own home. Having said that, despite all my ranting I still treat my maid with respect, and I always made sure that her well being comes first.

"Don't you know how hard it is to find good help?" - Adrian Powell, Devious Maids

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