The Housekeeper: A Stranger Who Knows All Your Habits And Secrets

Recently, I have been fortunate enough to land a stay in a luxurious serviced apartment in Singapore, courtesy of my husband’s company. Ironically, I am a Singaporean with a HDB flat in Singapore, but if the company offers free accommodation, why should my husband and I refuse? Haha.

And so, I started living in a serviced apartment in a central location in Singapore, with air-con on full blast every day, free buffet breakfast every day, free swimming pool and gym usage every day and even hardworking housekeepers who come ringing the doorbell  to tidy up the place every day.

I do feel extremely lucky, but until now I can’t quite get used to having housekeeping services every day. It is one thing to have house keeping services when you are a tourist, enjoying a short stay in a hotel, but it is another thing when you are almost at home every day and having the house keeper enter the apartment when you are inside too.

Because I will be staying in this serviced apartment for 3 months, I am no longer an unfamiliar anonymous face. The housekeepers do recognise me. And hence, it becomes embarrassing if I make a huge mess of the apartment.

The housekeepers do not know me personally, but I am sure they have seen my favourite Calbee potato chips bag wrapper, the half eaten pork ribs I used to stew soup, the Ghiradelli chocolate bar wrapper etc. in the dustbin. They do not know me, yet they are aware of what I ate yesterday, something that even my mother doesn’t know.

The housekeepers do not know me personally, yet they have seen the underwear, the clothes and the skirts that I hang out to dry after washing. They know exactly what I am wearing underneath too!!! Is it scary or is it scary? Sometimes I try to time my washing, so that my clothes are dry and safely kept in the wardrobe before the housekeeper come in. But then, it is so tiring and frankly quite ridiculous, to have to watch your actions over a housekeeping issue.

But the most awkward feeling is when the housekeeper is in the apartment together with you. I’ve never had a maid before, so I do not feel good about having a stranger under the same roof vacuuming the floor and changing the bedsheets just beside me. It makes me feel like I am some sort of “master” and they are serving me. And of course I am not. I am just a lazy bum who is lazy to go out when the housekeeper comes in. And so, I try to “make amends” by always asking the housekeepers if they want to have a drink, and always thanking them profusely. I also try to make myself invisible when they are doing the chores, like I will be in the living room when the housekeeper is in the bedroom, and I will go to the bedroom when the housekeeper is in the living room.

Once when I was sleeping, the housekeeper rang the doorbell, I wasn’t in time to rush out to the living room to open the door. As a result, by the time I reached the living room in a dishevelled state, the housekeeper had already entered. Without my permission. Seeing me clad in pajamas with my messy hair.

I really feel uncomfortable with such infringement of privacy. Of course it is not the housekeeper’s fault, but all these situations make me feel a bit anxious even when I am at home. Because I am always wondering: “When exactly is the housekeeper coming? ”

I usually try to make myself scarce when the housekeeper is coming, like head out to buy lunch or go to the gym, so that the housekeeper also has the privacy to tidy the apartment without me hovering around. But because there are so many housekeepers, their timings are always different. Sometimes, they ring the doorbell at 9am, sometimes at 2 pm, sometimes at 11am. Therefore I can’t even predict what time I should head out.

Nowadays I resolve such a “problem” by simply putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign outside my door permanently. The apartment might be slightly messier, but at least I get my privacy and no longer have to feel jumpy every time I hear sounds along the corridor, signalling the arrival of the housekeeper.