Maids are usually the last rung of humanity. Right before slaves. Why should that be? I don’t know, but it is. I specifically told Mrs. Wan, the director of the head hunter bureau, that I wasn’t looking for a ‘maid’. I specifically told her that, yes, I was looking for some woman to live naked around me but it didn’t mean I needed a maid.
“Of course,” said Mrs. Wan with a smile, “how do they say it in your own language? Yes, there it is: ‘gens de maison’. So dear Mr. You, you’re looking for ‘gens de maison’?”
We were in Mrs. Wan’s office. She was wearing a tight violet dress that hid nothing, high heels. Right off, I was intimidated. She was professional enough and listened to me explaining my request, which was not for me without much embarrassing moments. She didn’t seem to care that much.
I realized later the misunderstanding was my mistake. I had searched ‘Southeast Asia head hunter bureau’. That was Mrs. Wan’s company name, in English, just like that. ‘Mrs. Wan Head hunter bureau: Southeast Asia; Hong-Kong; Shanghai’.
I didn’t look no further. I called. A girl at the switchboard understood enough English and got me direct to the big boss, Mrs. Wan, who gave me an appointment. So here I was.
I always doubted that she had ever been to Hong-Kong or Shanghai but, today, I understand this was the best and coolest name Mrs. Wan had found for her company: “Mrs. Wan Head hunter bureau: Southeast Asia; Hong-Kong; Shanghai’. She was proud of it and had business cards that spelled it this way. Really, she just catered to expatriates during their stay, long or short, in this country, whatever the reason of their sojourn. She usually finds maids – gens de maison – gardeners, drivers, babysitters, cooks, filles au pair, massages, pizza delivery boys and whatnot and so on. But she really loved the title she gave herself: director of a head hunting bureau. Well, that’s how I found her.
It was apparently a good business. Her office was posh. I didn’t see a ring on Mrs. Wan’s left hand. For a moment I was sure she’s going to bed in a ‘Hello Kitty’ pajama. She saw the glimpse in my eyes as I was thinking this and I realized that, at that very moment, I was really looking at her. Which is fair business. Proof is, I had just finished my story that she was showing me more legs. So I figured we had a deal.
“Well,” she said, “I’m quite certain I’ll find the right people for you sir.”
The ‘sir’ hurt a little but, then again, old Mr. Me couldn’t hide. In any case, I took it to her word. That’s why I was so surprised, and a bit pissed, after meeting with the first woman she introduced me with.
Prior to that, I had already decided I’d meet only one woman at a time, and just one woman a day. So Mrs. Wan had set up four appointments in four days so I had to leave my newly refurbished house by the beach and come downtown for a week. I didn’t want to interview the candidates at Mrs. Wan’s offices, although she insisted, nor in the luxury hotel where I was usually staying as to not embarrass any one. So I rented an ‘apart-hotel’ in a good part of town, if not the richest. I chose this one apartment because it was on the top floor of a building and had a nice terrace with a great view of the city. The place was also private.
I had arrived the evening before, driving, and confirmed with Mrs. Wan the next day meeting with candidate One. “4 pm,” she had said. I looked at my watch. 4 pm it was.
It was a disaster. For one thing, I was utterly ill at ease, and her too, right from the beginning. As soon as she came in, I saw that, in one quick look, she had seen the place and assumed this was it. She saw some of my clothes not quite folded, a towel on the floor maybe in the bathroom. She thought this was easy.
I had her sit down, offered her a drink, which she refused. By then I knew she had enough English we could communicate (yes, I had asked Mrs. Wan that candidates speak a bit of English or French. “Of course,” had said Mrs. Wan). So I went to get a beer and asked this lady, who wasn’t bad looking by any mean: “have you been told about the being naked business thing?”
“Oh yes,, she said,” “do you want to see?”
I was surprised by the bluntness of her question.
“Well, no quite, … huh … right now?… it’s so fast… we hardly know each other yet,” I mumbled, shy and ashamed, feeling like an idiot.
She misinterpreted my reaction and believed I thought her body wasn’t good enough for me and, considering old Mr. Me, she was rightly pissed, although she tried not to show it. Me, I was desperately thinking as loudly as I could and trying to tell her this had nothing to do with her looks. But it was too late.
All of a sudden, she couldn’t contain her wrath anymore and then she cried out “… But… but… I can cook, I can wash clothes and take care of the house, I can do everything for you, shine your shoes even and I’m very good. And you know, even that naked business I don’t care that much. My last employer was fucking me every Sunday, while his wife and kids were at church. Every Sunday like clockwork. Never bothered to ask me or cared about me in any way. And every Sunday, after dinner’s prayer, I’d get my weekly tip, royal. And my employers before, all white guys like you, were the same and I never created any problem to them. So if for you it’s to see me clean your shit naked, I don’t care and if I’m not good enough for you I don’t care either.”
Her anger was now turning into sadness, she was sincere at last and I knew that she could use the money. By now, she had tears in her eyes. I felt like shit but I knew then that she was just a maid, that she couldn’t imagine being something else and, for what I wanted, there was no place for a maid. So I told her that but with much nicer words. She tried again: “you’re sure that you don’t want to see me, you know I can take my clothes off, it’d take just a minute.”
After she was gone, I took a cold beer and went to sit on the terrace. Night was coming over the city. I could hear the honks and tonks of so many busy people and I thought of my place by the beach. I was happy to have left a light on there. Then I took my phone and called Mrs. Wan.
“Come on,” I said. “So you figured I have maybe a maid phantasm and you send me this woman? So what’s for tomorrow? A nurse? A waitress? A stewardess? I’m afraid there is a misunderstanding.”
“No, no, no misunderstanding. Not all eggs in same basket,” said Mrs. Wan quite eagerly. “First girl no good, OK, don’t worry. Tomorrow 4 pm, another girl.”
She was right, all eggs are different and I was soon to know better about it.