Sunday, September 4, 2011

Letters from Egypt: The Egyptian Maid

As I discussed in my last blog, Egypt will give you several stories that could possibly have others rolling on the floor laughing and my maid experience is one of them. Many people opt for maids because the service is relatively cheap (for Egyptian maids, the standard is LE 50, around $8, per cleaning; but more for Filipina/other ethnicities).

In the three years I’ve lived here, I never had a maid. I wasn’t raised with a maid – well, let me retract that – I WAS the maid at my house. However, a couple of months ago I finally broke down and got my first maid. My thinking was this: she’s never going to clean the way I clean, but she can come once a week and then I only have to deep clean my apartment once a month. The first maid always showed up early and for the first two times, she cleaned really well. I overpaid her LE 75. She said because I was foreign, she usually takes more – which pissed me off immensely, but we agreed on LE 75 and for her work (THE FIRST TWO TIMES), it was worth it. Then I got her for my friend at LE 100 per cleaning because his apartment was a lot larger than mine.

Many times these women cleaning just for men do not feel the men will notice if they don’t do that great of a job so basically she cleaned like crap for my friend. The clincher came when he was going out of town and told her he wouldn’t need her services for one day and she said in a huff that she couldn’t come any other day because she had work. He replied, “I didn’t ask you to come another day.” She said, “Well, you still have to pay me.” And that was that. I fired her for both of us.

So my neighbor recommended his maid. As I don’t trust anyone to have a key to my apartment, I requested she arrive before 9 am. The first time she arrived at 9:15 am. This is normal and I just let it slide. Next time: 9:45 am and the last time: 10:15 am. So on the last visit by this particular maid, I open my door and begin scolding her for being so tardy. Then I look down at her feet and wait for it…wait for it…SHE’S WEARING MY SHOES!!! I begin throwing quite the temper tantrum. She tells me she will clean them, but obviously I don’t want them anymore. It isn’t that I think I’m better, it’s the point that a) those were MY SHOES and b) I don’t know where the hell her feet have been – she could have toe funk.

As I continue my rant, she turns to me and says she doesn’t like my attitude.

Not only was she over an hour late, but she took my shoes and had the audacity to show back up wearing them. As I recanted this story to my friends, they all offered to send their maids. My response: NO THANK YOU. They’re more trouble than they’re worth! And once I said that, my friends began regaling all their problems with their maids. Ummm – if I said I didn’t want the drama (ie my American Kraft Singles suddenly being depleted from my fridge while my Egyptian cheese remained), why would they ever offer me more?

In addition, did you know that apparently Windex is purchased in Egypt for a one-time use only? Since my apartment never smelled clean, I have to wonder what exactly inside my pad needs a WHOLE bottle of Windex?

It brings me to this: how the hell do you people put up with the maids here? I’m done. I only experienced it for two months but I have to say, if I can’t clean it, well, it ain’t getting done!


  1. What a disappointment! Would you ever consider getting a Filipino maid - their different value system might lessen the headache. Pay more for less hassle.

  2. No, I don't think I'll go for another maid period despite a different ethnicity. I don't really feel comfortable with people going through my things anyway and I work all the time - so for me to stay and watch is pointless as I might as well just do it myself. I do have a young girl that I trust so should I have visitors, I usually get her to come in and I clean with her. However, that's like once a year.

  3. Love this post! It's too funny :) I know it's kind of weird to have to stick around while somebody cleans your home, but maybe you could do other stuff around the house while the maid cleans? There's always computer stuff to do - at least on my side. Since I'm in Texas and getting somebody to clean your house is prohibitively expensive, I'll have to stick with doing it myself for the meantime.