Saturday, November 26, 2011

The underdogs fight back, whilst others bite the hand that feeds them

I feel sick to my stomach.

It’s been a horrible week, following the news hour by hour in Tahrir. People being shot, gassed and run over by armoured trucks. The violence is sickening. Whether you agree with the reasons for the initial protest or not... you can't help but support the people who now are there demanding to be treated as human beings with a voice, rather than animals to be experimented on.

So my heart goes out to the Egyptian people who want to reclaim their dignity. Good on you.

This is why what I just had to do hurts me even more.

I just had to sack my new cleaner. She needs the money; she has a large family to provide for. I pay her well, and have her come twice a week, not because I really need that, but because its one way I can help the Egyptian economy, to help feed a few malnourished children.

Unfortunately some people have never been in relationships where if you are good to people they will be good to you. The regime they have been born into teaches them that honesty doesn't pay.

People in positions of status and authority often treat people who work for them as low lives, stripping them of any dignity, giving them no respect for what they do. Then of course the person treated in that way feels they are within their rights to treat anyone 'lower' than themselves in an even worse way and fight back in any way they can at the people who crush them. The victim becomes the abuser. I see it every day. The way the bowab shouts at his son, the electrician slapping his boy helper on the back of the head, the musicians talking down to the technicians, the managers yelling at the waiters. I can totally understand why the 'underdog' wants to fight back. In fact, in some ways that is exactly what is going on in Tahrir right now.... the people after being pushed down for so many years are refusing to stay down.

Then you have the issue that I had today, where because I have been nice to her, my cleaner thinks I am stupid, and does her utmost to take advantage. I try to do as I was always taught, treat others and you would want them to treat you, however, I am a foreigner, and a dancer, so for sure I can afford to 'lose' a few things. At least I presume that’s what went through her head.

This woman had, from the 1st time she came here, been squirreling away 'things' into a plastic bag under the sink... for removal out the house at some appropriate time. The omelette pan went missing last time, and this morning I discovered a bag with cleaning products, a door lock, a purse with spare change in it, taken from a wardrobe, and 4 expensive items of makeup (from UK- so not easily replaced!) taken from inside Ellie's make up bag, among other things.

The woman who had recommend her to me had suggested, when I told her about the omelette pan, to 'test' her honesty by leaving a 5 le note somewhere behind a sofa or something too. I did this today... and right enough... it was 'disappeared' too. Whatever else has already been taken out of the house will be discovered over the coming days I am sure. It makes me feel sick that I paid a thief to rob me.

I am so sad. She doesn't realise that if she just did her job well and turned up when she said she would etc then I would end up giving her things which probably would have been of much more use and value to her than anything she has already, or could have, stolen. She had already had a 'gift' of lots of old clothes and various bits and pieces I no longer wanted, plus a galabeya from me... and she had only been working for me for 3 weeks.

Times are hard, I see that, but really- biting the hand that feeds you? This is low and stupid and very, very sad.

My last words to her, I never want to see you again, and God be with you. I doubt that she will appreciate how much I actually mean that. If she treats people who are good to her like that... she must really have a miserable existence. Really, God be with her, and her children. I can only guess at the morals they will grow up with.


habibadance said...

What an awful way to behave, that's really sad Lorna.

Caroline Rose said...

Oh no ! Its not the lady who I met is it? The one you helped by giving her other work too? Please say it isn't !!!

Noor al Sabah said...

Dear Lorna, I understand what you mean in this post. And how you feel too. I never wanted one egyptian cleaner for me but I have spanish and other foreign friends that have had the same problem as you. You treat them with dignity and they bit the hand that feeds them.
It's true the regime educates all of them to set foot each other that they are in low position, whatever the work they do, from ministers to bowabs, but about this, you can't do anything one more time. I understand you wanted to help poor people and contribute around you to make a better world, but we can't educate 80 millions of egyptians, is not our work and is not what we want. I tell you this because your sadness is normal. You have been betrayed. It's not your fault and maybe is not the fault of her too. Maybe if she had chance in her life to have a better education, she don't do this. Maybe she do. Anyway, as I told you, you wanted to do something good.
We can't help the people in Tahrir. We are foreign so we just can support them, it's not our revolution. They must to do it. About this problem with their education is the same. You can't to do anything because you can't to change their minds, wrong educates since long time ago. So, you can do is not trust easily in any one. Is hard, I know because I live here too and I know so hard is it, but they show you how you must to treat them. As you told, if you do something good for them, they think you are stupid so, sorry for this but think first in yourself and make good things with people you are sure they deserve it. The others, God with them... I hope you will be better soon. Alf salamtak ya habibti. Big hug and kiss.
PS. Can I translate this to spanish and post in my facebook, if you don't mind? I think is good for all of us to understand what happend in Egypt with the problem of education and abuse of power. In our countries, we must to not forget we have to continue working for human dignity.

Kristy said...

Wow, I'm so sorry that this has happened to you. I just want to say that I really enjoy reading your blog--an inside look at what's going on in Egypt is really interesting. My mom is from Scotland and we have both done some belly dancing, so your blog is even more relevant to me! Thanks for writing :)

Pleasant Gehman/Princess Farhana said...

oh no....... but your blog is awesome : )

Pleasant Gehman/Princess Farhana said...

Oh no... that is bad.

But you're blog is always so interesting, love to read it!