I read a friend of mine’s post of Facebook the other day about her au pair quitting. It was a bad time for her not to have help and she was a little down. She went so far as to say “why me”? I felt bad for her but it was a little hard to delve too deep into sympathy. And I realized that it must be that way for many of you when I tell my tales of staff woes.
Always, I try to be clear that I am thankful for the help I have and I appreciate the work they do. Most of the time, I do not complain. Really. No, really, I don’t. Even what I am about to share with you is not a complaint – it is just an example of why it is hard to add extra people to your day.
We have a new cook. He is married and he and his wife have worked together for a long time. We only needed a cook. But….. now we have a cook and his wife. They have two adult sons. We have fairly decent quarters. I am not letting two adult men live behind my house. So, we also pay them extra for housing. So, now it is costing us a wee bit more than it should. However, they are a lovely couple and I am very happy to have them here. I do believe you get what you pay for.
They are also kind and easy to be around. The other day, Francis comes up to me with a large green piece of fruit.
Francis: Do you like these ma’am?
Me: Uh, what is it?
Francis: It is a grapefruit, they were selling them at our church, we got you one.
Me: Wow, thank you. That was really sweet.
Rani (Francis’ wife): I will peel it for you so you can have it for breakfast. It is better to eat it on an empty stomach.
Okay, yes – awwwwwwwwwwww – that was really, really thoughtful. However, I am not a big fan of grapefruit. Yes, I really, I should just be grateful. However, I am really not a big fan of grapefruit. I am also not a big fan of breakfast or of things that are best eaten on an “empty stomach”. Maybe it’s me – but telling me that is not exactly enticing!
Anyway, Rani stands over the sink for about one hour and peels the grapefruit. Why does it take an hour, you ask? Because in India, peeling grapefruit does not simply mean removing the peel – it also means removing each piece of pulp and separating it from the membrane. No, I am not kidding. Yes, I walked into the kitchen at least five times and told Rani she really did not need to do that and I marveled at how much work it was. I did not add that it was all unnecessary because it was highly unlikely that I was going to actually eat a grapefruit. But you can be sure I thought it.
Jewish mothers have nothing on Indian staff when it comes to making you feel guilty. They don’t even mean to make you feel guilty. But how can you watch someone painstakingly peel the pulp of a grapefruit from its membrane and not at least try it. Dang it.
True to my normal forgetful self, the next morning, I totally forgot about the grapefruit. When Rani came in, she asked me if I liked it. She had already moved past me and was closer to the fridge than I was – so I had to be honest and say I didn’t feel great that morning. I was simply saving it for tomorrow morning.
Morning number two. I remember to pull out the grapefruit. My teeth are sensitive so I don’t like cold fruit. And I do not like grapefruit. Did I mention that yet? So, I let it sit for a little bit to warm up – I felt like I was five and my mother was about to spoon feed me cough medicine. Then I remembered that my dad puts sugar on his grapefruit. Hurray. That is what I could do. So I pull out the sugar container and dump 3 big spoonfuls of “sugar” on my grapefruit. Only, I have a cook, so I am not in the kitchen that much and apparently – when you haven’t been around it that much – salt looks just like sugar. Dagger.
So, in reality I dumped 3 very large spoonfuls of salt right onto my grapefruit. Did you know that I have Meniere’s and that I have to really, really watch my salt intake or I get nauseous and very dizzy – like can’t walk straight dizzy. Yes, brilliant.
Did you also know that Indian houses don’t have garbage disposals and that the toilets don’t generally flush everything down? Did you also know that in India, people are very resourceful and will go through the trash because there isn’t too much that cannot be reused. So, I could not dump the pulp down the garbage disposal (don’t have one), I could not flush it down the toilet (would not have all gone down and Rani cleans the toilets), and I could not throw it in the trash (because sometimes they sort through my trash). Because, even if you are rooting through MY garbage, I think it would be rude to throw away a gift from you.
Yes, I did try to rinse it off and then add the real sugar. Yes, I really did. No, it didn’t work so well.
My good intentions were making me crazy and I decided that I had to throw away the grapefruit. There was just no way I could risk taking in all that salt. And, besides – have I told you – I. do. not. happen. to. like. grape.fruit.
So, I wrapped it in a paper towel. But it seeped through the paper towel. So, I put it in a plastic bag and tied it in a knot. But I just knew it would be discovered. So, I went to the cat litter and cleaned out a little bit and put that in the bag and tied two more knots in it.
It sounds crazy – and it probably was – but, now, I couldn’t eat it – and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings.
Do you see how complicated it becomes and that is just the grapefruit! 😉