To recap a little bit about how I started my life here in Madrid, let me remind you that I spent my first 8 months living with Diana and her son, Jaime. It turned out to be a very long 8 months.
Everything about my new life at that time was so shiny and exciting and I absolutely loved it. I loved that such an old city could offer so much new energy. It was invigorating. I loved my new work schedule, my new friends, new food, new metro, new attitude, new smells – everything about this city was making me fall in love with it … except for one little thing.
My new living situation was just a little off. I was living in a great neighborhood. I had my own room in exchange for teaching English. I could basically come and go as I pleased. But, I must say that it was difficult fitting in with my new family. It took some time adjusting to their routine, their lifestyle, etc.
At this time, my working situation was also pretty solid. I was working as an English teacher in the mornings and, in the afternoons I would pick up Jaime from school, take him home and give him an English class for about an hour. Diana couldn’t pick him up from school because she worked from home and didn’t want to be interupted.
It was at this point when I came to find out that working means different things to different people. To me, working means well, working. For Diana, who “worked” from home, working meant watching Argentinian movies online and talking very dramatically to her married French lover on the phone … and apparently waiting for me to bring the kid home so I could do some mundane chore that she had set aside especially for me, as soon as Jaime and I walked in the door.
Conversations upon coming home usually followed this pattern:
“Cariño! All-blessed bundle of joy and happiness, you are home!! How was school, my little sunshine ray of everything non- evil that life has given me wrapped up in a little handsome man package of childhood innocence and goodness?”
“You – can you pick up that plate and take it to the kitchen?”
Now, we had already discussed keeping the house clean, helping out with the cooking and all those things necessary to live together. I had absolutely no problem doing my part by cleaning, shopping, cooking, etc.
The thing was, though, that these requests were just so small and easy to do that they weren’t even worth the time asking someone else to do them. But also so small and easy that, of course, I couldn’t really say no to doing them, but it drove me crazy day after day.
I know what you are thinking , “Whats the big deal with doing a little chore here and there?”
Because it was never anything basic like, “hey, could you fold the laundry when you get a sec?” No, it was always something she had “prepared” for me and presented it to me right as I walked in the door. EVERY SINGLE DAY.
And yes, of course she could have done these things herself in between playing dress-up and talking to her french phone lover. It was almost as if she enjoyed giving me this special little present EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I used to imagine her thinking, “That girl must be so bored schlepping all around Madrid all day long in 105 degree heat. I think I will surprise her with a special little chore that is right up her alley. I’m sure she doesn’t want to sit down for a minute and take a load off, especially since she is required to carry my son’s 10 pound backpack along with her own 5 pound bag of teaching materials that she lugs all over town. No, I’m positive that she wouldn’t even like to take off her shoes when she walks in the door. A glass of water? No way. I’ll attack her with my special chore as soon as she walks in – it will make her feel so super special!!”
It was so infuriating that I started keeping track of the weird shit she would ask me to do as soon as I entered the house. Here’s part of a list I obsessively started keeping about week 4 into living there:
- “I’ve been waiting to clean that tupperware out. Can you do it?”
- “Can you water this plant?” (Not, the plants, but the one plant that she had not watered that day, just so I could partake in the plant watering glory.)
- “I think there are dirty clothes in the washing machine. Can you start it?” (Washing machine was full of dirty clothes and even detergent. Someone just had to push the on button.)
- “Can you turn the tv off? Its too loud.” (Standing in front of the television that she had just turned on.)
- “I’m a bit tired today, can you clean behind the oven?”
- “Jaime’s socks stink lately. Can you tell him to take them off as soon as he gets home from school?” (Standing next to Jaime)
- “The toilet smells bad. Can you look at it?”
- “Can you call Jaime’s dad and tell him to call me? “
- “There’s a pile of dirt on the floor. I swept it into the corner earlier.”
God, it just drove me crazy every single time I entered the house.
At first, I thought, “Why sure! I can do that for you!”.
Then, I thought, “Really?”
Then, I started to think, “Have you been waiting for me all day to do that?”
Then, it was more of a “What the fuck, lady?”
Then, it got to be “I’m seriously going to punch you out one day.”
Then, it was more like … well, you get the idea.