NOT PROOFED YET HOUSEKEEPING A HOUSE THAT’S NOT YOURS

HOUSEKEEPING A HOUSE THAT’S NOT YOURS
Any person who has any knowledge or experience of working inside the “private home” of “the
white folks” comprehends the dynamics related to the relationship between “us and them”,
employer and employee. The tasks demanded in domestic service even creates and
promotes an environment that can only be defined as incestuous. Thus, this dual “fishbowl”,
partially “co-habitative” relationship necessitated that a delicate balance be struck between the
parties.
The housekeeper is aware of what and who comes in and what and who goes out of the house
during her work day. Through observation, they learn the employers’ public and private habits,
unrealized dreams, desires, secrets and idiosyncrasies. The housekeeper knows the white
folks more intimately better than they could ever know her. In some ways, the help has the
advantage.

As a “servant” and subordinate, the vast majority of housekeepers were unfortunate enough to
be considered subordinate to the children of the household (ages of both parties,
notwithstanding). To complicate matters even more, this tenuous relationship definitely varied
from employer to employer. The degrees ranged from passable, to barely passable , to
intolerable, to hell no, I got to go! In addition, the employer/employee relationship could be quite
fluid and regarded as anything but static. It was changeable and occasionally the maid could be
“running the show”, albeit temporarily, depending on the circumstances.

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