I have a house staff and I dig it – big time. Living where we live, allows us the opportunity to hire the help of numerous people. There’s our gardener. He’s the quiet type and keeps to himself and the plants mostly. I’ll give him a wave when he arrives and he gives me a wave back. He comes twice a week to water things, cut the grass when it’s needed, pull weeds, etc.
We also have a pool guy, who just happens to be quite the attractive chap (why is it always the pool guy?). He comes once per week to do whatever it is that pool guys do – check the chemical levels, clean out the gunk at the bottom of the pool, and to change the speed of the water aeration if it’s needed. We always say ‘Bonjour’ to one another when he arrives.
And then, there is our housekeeper. She comes every day, Monday through Friday, for around four to five hours per day. She cleans and cooks for us. Simply put, she rocks. She was born on the island and had her first child when she was sixteen years old. She is illiterate.
It’s just so deliciously decadent to have her here. Since I am still waiting for my work permit to be completed and finalized, I have plenty of free time on my hands. Each day we now have a bit of a routine schedule. I wake up when my Frenchman wakes up and take my shower. I then make myself some coffee and have my breakfast outside on the back patio next to the pool. Reading the New York Times and checking my emails, I sit and enjoy the morning. She arrives around 8:30 a.m. We have a small morning conversation. Or I should say, we TRY, to have a morning conversation.
Yes, I actually am speaking French with her…eh hem…I am TRYING (have to take credit where you can) to speak French with her. She speaks no English at all, so it’s been a bit of a challenge to communicate. It’s probably one of the worst demonstrations of any form of conversation – grand speeches reading the chaos theory these are not. I’m certain I sound like a total fob. And because she is unable to read or write, I am unable to write down what I think she’s saying. It is total immersion and at times it feels as if the water is going over my head.
All of our French/English dictionaries and verb books are in the container which is still on the high seas sailing this way. I am left grunting and grumbling – searching for some sort of divine clarification with my words. As if by making enough sounds, the correct French will just fall out of my mouth. Pamela finds this hilarious and many days we spend our time laughing and trying to understand each other. But, something is starting to occur. We have our own method of communicating, now, and I think she’s learning some English and I am definitely learning some French and Creole.
Since she is a native Mauritian, she speaks Creole. I’m pretty certain that some of the words I’m picking up are not French, but Creole. I may even be developing a tiny bit of a Creole accent when I speak French. How confusing will it be the next time I am in Paris!? An American, who speaks a bit of French with a Mauritian Creole accent? Oh that, I’m most certain, the natives will adore. And then I will be right back at the beginning of the language loop. Fumbling with my new words and being extremely confused as to why no person living in France can understand me when I thought I had it down. Such is the cycle of learning a new language with multiple patois, I suppose.
When the house staff first started, I felt a tad awkward about it all. I would be struck suddenly with these feelings of Protestant-raised, mid-western guilt. Happiness and true satisfaction only comes from hard work, I would think to myself. Wake up early, work hard, and go to bed early in order to do it all again the next day. Saturdays are for cleaning and running errands. Sunday mornings are for church. Pampering is self-indulgent and really truly for the bourgeois. And, you know, the bourgeois are all stuck on themselves and can’t really be happy because they are not working hard.
Not true. I got over these nonsense feelings in a day. Having people handle all the housework is totally a-w-e-s-o-m-e. You are left with a feeling of ease and contentment. The day suddenly has so much more time in it to do what you really want to do and hey! what was it that I really wanted to do? Sit and watch giant ants fight? Ya. Sit and watch giant ants fight.
I highly recommend the lifestyle. Deep within, I know it will all come to an end when we leave here; but for the time being, it does a body and mind good. Therefore, while some may say or think it highly inappropriate to hire a house staff and actually be giddy about it, I say to them, “Have you ever tried?”