Expat Life in Qatar

Are You The Maid?

February 20, 2016

I just finished a 2-hour workout in Aspire Ladies’ Gym one morning and as per my normal schedule, I headed towards Villagio Mall which is just opposite the gym to buy some groceries and an avocado shake. Just as I entered the mall, I saw a woman walking towards me – dressed quite inappropriately considering that we’re in a Muslim country. When I was but a few feet away from her, she asked “Are you the maid?”, I didn’t hear her clearly or maybe I just wanted to make sure that she asked what she asked so I replied “I’m sorry, what?”. She asked once again, “Are you the maid? Did you just call me now?” I told her I wasn’t, wished her a good day and walked away.

It was only when I entered the supermarket did I realize what really happened there. The lady was obviously waiting for the maid who she was to meet for the first time that day. And being a Filipino, she thought that I was the maid that she’s waiting for. You see, there’s a stereotype for each nationalities here in the Middle East and being a Filipino – I belong to the nanny/housemaid category. I can see all of you cringing right now as you read that last sentence but it’s the truth and you don’t have to pretend that the stereotyping doesn’t exist. It does exist and to tell you honestly, it’s not the first time that it has happened to me.

Once in Dubai, I just finished a quick run in a park near our house and went to a nearby grocery store to do a bit of shopping. A man held the elevator door open for me as I sprinted across the building lobby with my bag of groceries. He asked me “which apartment do you work for?”. Again, I didn’t understand or maybe wasn’t sure if he asked what he asked so I asked him to repeat the question. I can tell by his facial reaction that he realized his mistake as he hesitated for a moment to repeat it, when he did – I just mentioned my apartment number and bid him a good evening. The very next day, as luck would have it for him, we met once again as I was on my way to work – wearing my airline uniform complete with the famous red hat and red lipstick (no, I wasn’t a cabin crew then). He couldn’t look me in the eye and I could see the drops of sweat forming on his forehead for the entire duration of our elevator ride.

The stereotype and racism is alive and well not only in this region but everywhere in the world. Do I get offended when I’m mistaken to be a nanny or a maid? To be honest, I was at first but then I realized that it’s not actually a bad thing. Why would I be offended to be mistaken as a nanny or a maid? It’s a legal job and there’s nothing to be ashamed of it. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest jobs one can have and to be able to do it properly is something to be very proud of.

I don’t know about you but I definitely wouldn’t hire just anyone to take care of my house or my child. There is more to it than being skilled or being smart. You don’t need a college degree to do it but what it requires is much more than what a 4-year course can teach you – it’s an emotionally and physically draining job that only those who are extremely passionate can perform well. I myself can’t be both – for starters, I’m not very fond of kids and I have an attention span much shorter than theirs. I’d probably throw a tantrum quicker than a 2-year old would if I’m left with them by myself. Both job requires a lot patience, attention, energy, understanding and most specially – trustworthiness. Having said that, I don’t think it’s not at all that bad to be mistaken as a housemaid or a nanny because I don’t have most of what the job requires (specially the patience part) and be presumed that I have all of those is something that I should be proud of.

Yes I know and am perfectly aware that it’s probably because of the way I looked (I just finished working out both times) why I was mistaken for a maid. Still, I don’t take offense on it because maids aren’t ugly. They just look exhausted all the time because they’re too busy taking care of somebody else’s house or child that they don’t have time to take care of themselves. They have sacrificed their time for their job and that, my friends, is dedication.

So here’s my message to to the lady in Villagio, I’m not the maid but thank you for thinking that I am one. And to all the maids and nannies out there, kudos and hats off to all of you.

 

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18 Comments

  • Reply trainwestcan2espano February 25, 2016 at 17:05

    Fact of life , people make assumptions! Fact of life, every worthwhile vocation is an honourable position,
    Fact of life – being yourself is more worthy than one who is pretentious.
    Good for you, ps I’d like to see the look on the face!
    Xx

  • Reply Emma February 23, 2016 at 00:02

    I definitely take my (figurative) hat off to maids & nannies – they must have the patience of a saint!

  • Reply Elena February 22, 2016 at 00:41

    That’s a very positive take on the whole situation! I couldn’t do a lot of those jobs well myself either, so I am grateful that there are people who have what it takes. I wouldn’t last a week with three-year-olds.
    Elena recently posted…11 Things I Wish I Had Known About: NorwayMy Profile

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 22, 2016 at 08:55

      Thank you. It is hard to always focus on being angry or being offended every single time. Nothing productive ever really comes out from it anyway. :p

  • Reply Anonymous February 21, 2016 at 11:37

    I am so proud of you !!!

  • Reply Sheila February 20, 2016 at 21:49

    Graciously written, Noemi!
    My sweet, white-haired 80+ year old “California girl “aunt has a very handsome beau from Mexico. He smiles and tells stories of being in her front yard and having people stop to ask him if he’s the gardener…either wanting to hire him or make sure he “belongs” in the neighborhood. Sure helps to have a great attitude about it!

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 21, 2016 at 15:28

      Thank you Sheila. I would love to meet the Mexican beau! He seems like someone I would get along with. 🙂

      One can only harbor so much hate when it comes to these kinds of things. I learned that racism and discrimination exists no matter how much people deny it so I can be sad or upset everytime I am subjected to it or be the bigger person and see it in a different light. As long as they’re not physically hurting me, I’ll be the bigger person. :p

  • Reply Nada February 20, 2016 at 19:02

    Very wise words Noemi! I agree with you that stereotypes exist for each nationality. For me, it’s about the stereotype of a covered woman. So many times when I tell people that I’m from Saudi, I get a strong shocked look on the person’s face. After that, the questions start rolling, which is why I’m writing the culture posts to answer those questions and banish the stereotypes. Or at least try to explain things to Westerners. Great post! looking forward to reading more of your views and thoughts on such topics.

  • Reply Boots February 20, 2016 at 16:30

    That happened to me too when we lived in Tokyo. The stereotype for a Filipina was either a maid or someone from the military base.

  • Reply Abby February 20, 2016 at 16:30

    Go girl!!! PS – a 2 hour work out?? Im impressed!!

    • Reply Pinay Flying High February 21, 2016 at 15:33

      The 2-hour workout includes 30 mins chatting, 30 mins walking around, 30 mins actually working out and 30 mins getting ready to go home. Lol.

  • Reply Khansa February 20, 2016 at 14:50

    Beautifully put down!

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