Friday, June 20, 2008

A Plug, and a Conundrum

First, the plug. For a fantastic description of what traffic is like in Istanbul, read Siobhan's post about driving here. I'm terribly impressed with her for getting a licence and braving the morons on the road. Hats off to her and my other foreign friends brave enough to drive in Istanbul.

Next, the conundrum. I've written in the past about my cleaner. A couple months ago, despite having been told by doctors she couldn't get pregnant, a wee surprise appeared. When she told me, it was one of those awful moments of hearing someone is pregnant and not being sure if it's good or bad news. Fortunately she took my hesitation as a linguistic misunderstanding.

But the poor woman wasn't in the best of health in any case, and this pregnancy is really giving her a beating. She's been hospitalized three times already, once for heavy bleeding and twice for intense morning sickness and fainting spells. I feel so sorry for her, I really do. Plus, I'm not sure the heavy work of cleaning along with the exposure to the huge amounts of bleach and detergents she uses are really the best thing for her. But she's an adult and it's not my decision. And of course she needs the work now more than ever.

The upshot of all of this is that she hasn't been able to come for the last couple of weeks. I'm a shoddy housekeeper in the best of cases, but during these two weeks LE came down with
sixth disease, during which time he was mostly fine except that he went off his food for several days resulting in a whole lot of thrown and spit out food. I cleaned the floor a few times, but decided it was a stupid waste of time because an hour later it was a sticky, chewed raisin-y mess again. That, plus the dust from the open windows plus the amount of hair I'm still losing post-partum and post-solid foods, it was getting pretty dodgy around here. A lot of 'What's this stuck to my foot?' LE has started picking up bits from the floor and, after determining they're not yummy, throwing them into the trash.

The cleaner was supposed to come yesterday, but she wound up in the hospital again from fainting. So we went for emergency back-up, and got the kapıcı's sister to come today. Right now she and another woman are whirlwinding around undoing the filth we have wrought over the last couple of weeks.

So here's my conundrum. Shall I fire my cleaner? I like her and she does a good job, and it's possible she will feel better after the first trimester. Plus I feel an obligation towards her as I know she needs the money. I was even planning on giving her an un-asked for raise, partly because I really appreciate her, and partly because everything has gotten so damned expensive over the last year but salaries have stayed the same. On the other hand, she could still end up having a hard pregnancy, and with the bleeding, probably shouldn't be doing hard work and I'd feel guilty contributing to any crisis with the baby whether it was my decision or not. Plus, hard work won't really be possible in the last trimester, and by the end of the year, she'll be busy with a new baby anyway.

There's a middle ground, of keeping her on but keeping this other woman as a backup. It doesn't quite solve the problem though.

So, keep the cleaner or fire her ass?

How very privileged and posh I feel to be having this particular problem! It would feel better if more martinis were involved.


Anonymous said...

I'd say take a cue from what you yourself would hope (not expect!) to happen if you'd gone through what she is when you were expecting LE.
Now there's an interesting topic for Monday.

Stranger said...

Ah, well that's easy then (and actually the solution I was leaning towards): Keep her on to come when it works for her, not get too worried when the quality of her work begins to deteriorate because she's exahausted and awkward, get a backup cleaner for the last months of the pregnancy and the early newborn time, and give her the raise in any case.

I guess some part of me feels obligated to be an 'employer.' And 'employer' would say, 'You're not turning up and you're not doing a good job, therefore, why should I give you money?'

But that feels terribly wrong, even though in the end, all I want is to have a clean floor and not have to do my own ironing. It's not as though she's taking advantage of me or anything. In fact, given how cheap cleaners are, and what a luxury it feels like to have one, I feel like I'm the one taking advantage of her.

Thanks, dear Anonymous (wink!). It's a very good way to think about it. Maybe I just needed to feel comfortable being a big old softie.

Anonymous said...

Good choice, you old, softie (or leftie or feminist depending on one's take!).
I can't work out why I am anonymous all of a sudden. What happened to me being me?
Maybe I'll maintain the subterfuge my computer has decided to adopt ...
See you tomorrow.

Kataroma said...

I agree with anon. I think you need to act like an "employer" (rather than, say, a sweatshop boss!) in the sense that you need to cut her some slack during her pregnancy and the early newborn phase but keep her on - and maybe give her a bit of "maternity leave" in the form of a raise or a bit of money to help with the baby. She obviously needs the money and I can't imagine anyone would hire her now that she's pregnant.

Us women need to stick together! And if you need to do your own ironing for a month or two then just do it.

Stranger said...

Kataroma is exactly right about how an 'employer' should act.

It's sad that my tendency is to think otherwise.