Saturday, September 5, 2009

awkward conversations with my landlady

Landlady (who I also pay to do my laundry): I’m sorry, when I did your laundry I got bleach on some of your underwear. It’s just that there were stains. You know… blood.
Me: Yeah, sorry… um… it’s fine.
Landlady: Oh, are you embarrassed to talk about this because there are other people here? Don’t worry, they’re my family!
Me: No, no… it’s fine.
Landlady: These are women’s things. We can talk about them.
Me: Yes. Anyway I have to go, bye.

Scene: In front of the small surf boutique my landlady owns.
Landlady: Renata, come here! I want to show you something!
Me: Okay. (Enters store)
Landlady: (Picks up a stack of panties) Look, these are very nice. (Begins showing me each individual pair) These ones have lace… these ones are pink… they are very pretty, right?
Me: Yes, they are very nice. But I already have enough underwear, thank you.
Landlady: Yes, I know. You have a lot of underwear.
Me: …. Anyway I have to go, bye.

Landlady: Do you want me to do your laundry?
Me: Oh, no thank you. I know you are very busy, and my other volunteer friends told me about a Laundromat nearby.
Landlady: You can’t go to a Laundromat! They don’t care about your clothes there! I care about you!
Me: Well… it’s just that the Laundromat is very cheap, and I am a volunteer and don’t have that much money.
Landlady: But I wash your clothes with love!
Me: Well… thank you.

Landlady: Did my girl do a good job cleaning your apartment?
Me: Yes, thank you. How much do I owe her?
Landlady: (Hands up in surrender gesture) It’s up to you.
Me: Well, I thought four hundred was too much. The other volunteers say it costs them two hundred to get their apartments cleaned, and their apartments are much bigger than mine.
Landlady: My girl will not want two hundred. It’s not about money. She cleans your apartment with LOVE. She is not some person who is only interested in money. She has a good heart. She will want three hundred pesos.
Me: … okay.

*Previous awkward conversation involved her talking about “her girl” and me not realizing that she was referring to her middle-aged neighbor who was sitting there the entire time. She convinced me that I should pay “her girl” to clean my apartment because she is so poor and needs the money, even though I feel awkward about the whole idea of paying someone to clean for me. But also I don't want to be overcharged for it!

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