Prison Break: Maids

John left this comment regarding my maid posting:

“escape out the roof at midnight to ‘hang out’ with the construction workers”

🙂 seems like you’re turning into an old fart.

I guess I may as well come out with the full story of this one. It’s Friday and there’s nothing better to talk about at the moment.

My next door neighbor has two maids: one about 17 years old, cute but knows it, and one a couple years older and much less flirtatious. Whenever my neighbor is gone, the younger one (I think her name is “Indah”) tends to hang out on the curb with the construction guys who work down the street. Now since this isn’t my native country, I can’t speak on behalf of Indonesians about what’s appropriate and what’s not. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with that scenario assuming three things: she’s done with her work, she’s keeping a very good watch over their two children, and she’s not bringing the men into the house.

I think many people would disagree with me, saying that it’s not proper for her to be hanging out with men in front of the house seeing as she’s ‘only’ 17. (they should see what American teenagers are doing!). I believe she ended up pairing off with one particular guy for the last few months – a construction worker perhaps 10 years older.

The other night, during the Chinese New Year, my neighbor went to the maid’s quarters around midnight to offer a gift for the new year. To her surprise, there was no one there. She searched the house, only to discover that the locked door to the roof was left open. In her fury, she locked the door once again, forcing the girls to come home a couple hours later to a locked door. They had to come back through the front of the house at 2am with their boss waiting downstairs. Apparently my neighbor got the truth out of them; they’d been sneaking out often to meet up with the men from down the street.

My neighbor called them some names I won’t repeat here (don’t need google picking me up for words like wh*res and sl*t). She made them pack their belongings and leave the house right then. I haven’t seen them since.

It has since to come to light that Indah was suspected to be pregnant for a month or so now, and when my neighbor offered to take her to the doctor she firmly disagreed. Now that she’s been fired, we’ll never know.

Here’s the dilemma: In a culture where you have an employee living and working in your home, how much responsibility should you take over their actions? If a girl is only 17 and you know she’s having s*x with a man 10 years older who is most likely just using her, he’s only making $3 a day, and quite likely would abandon her should she fall pregnant, is it your place to intervene? If I sound pessimistic, please understand this is not an uncommon scenario. At times, men will also persuade the maids to let them in the home so that they can scope out the belongings for a theft-session later on.

So, where do you draw the line? Do you take the approach of saying, “It’s her life” and leave it at that? Should you intervene when perhaps it’s not your business? Is it your business if she’s living under your roof?

I personally had an odd experience my first year in Indonesia. My maid had her “husband” living in our house for a couple of months WITH MY TWO ROOMMATES AND I COMPLETELY UNAWARE. (we later found out she was never married) Now, before you laugh and say, “stupid bule!” – realize she had our schedules down perfectly, as we came and went very predictably, she was going to bed at like 7pm (we assumed she needed lots of sleep), and none of us even went into the back area of the house where she stayed. It was only when I came home from work at lunch for the first time all year that I discovered the fourth “roommate”.