There is a disussion on domestic help over at John and Belle's which I found by the way of Apartment 11D. Belle has many smart things to say but I still cannot resist to add my own 2 cents. See, I don't have as good a reason for employing domestic help as Belle does -- I'm not chronically ill like her. I'm perfectly able to clean up after myself, as much as anyone with two kids under two is able to do this. But I have a maid who comes twice a week for eight hours to clean and do the laundry. I also have a fulltime nanny who takes Alan -- and more and more often David -- to the park all day long. They leave at 9 (11 in winter) and come back at 4:30. Rosy cheeks and all.
In the eyes of some, like Chun The Unavoidable, this makes me a total dork. I'm the evil capitalist exploiter. I'm just scum. Just, I'm not. I'm actually doing a good deed. Doug and I are supporting two families which would be far worse off if we didn't employ those two girls. We pay them above the going rate which makes us evil in the eyes of whole different buch of people -- there's just no avoiding being evil, I guess. Anyhow, Vali The Nanny adds valuable income to what her husband earns working at the US embassy. They have a kid and they want to be able to buy him things like a computer and such, which they couldn't on the husband's pay alone. Anda The Maid supports her entire family, including mother-in-law, on the wage she brings home. They both couldn't not find other work in Bucharest. But even if they did, they both actually make more money working for us than working at any job they could get out there in the real world. The real world here in Romania is a dire place for unskilled workers. We pay sick days, we give holiday bonuses, we give generous tips on occassion, we function as a lending bank in times of dire need, we give gifts like clothes and toys for Vali's boy. For that, we get two of the sweetest women who are utterly dependable, very trustworthy, absolutely crazy for our children, and very happy with their jobs. In return, we have a clean house which is rare with two kids, I don't have to do the ironing, which I hate, and the kids have a mother who is much better rested (albeit not well rested) and therefor less of a shrew. It's a win-win situation. Among expats in Bucharest, it's sort of an unspoken rule to employ someone to do the cleaning up and minding the kids. It's developmental aid applied directly. I dunno. I just can't bring myself to feel as an exploiter. Principles are nice if you live somewhere where people can afford them.