"Maid for a Month" - Jan Wong - Toronto Globe and Mail
The Perfect Maid Crumbles
". . .We clean for nearly three hours, but Maggie charges for two. In a fair world, the client and her relative would say: Wait, we owe you more. But neither says a word. Instead, the elderly relative makes us mop her laminate floors all over again, this time with the grain so the streaks don't show. . ."
$1 Specials: Hot Dogs, Buns, Spaghetti Sauce, Peanut Butter, Frozen French Fries
". . .I worry that the boys and I won't make it through the month. Strange as it sounds, at first I don't know what I'm actually earning at the company I call Maid-It-Up Maids. I keep crunching the numbers. Now, it seems after paying rent, I'll net $8.75 per person per day. If this were real life, I'd get a monthly federal Child Tax Benefit of $204.67 and a National Child Benefit Supplement of $268.66. Our daily per-capita budget would swell to $14.38 a day — but we'd still be $7,631.08 below Statistics Canada's 'low-income cutoff line' . . ."
The Rules: No Radio. No Eating. No Talking. No Laughing. And Never Use a Clients Washroom
". . .Cigarettes cost $7.50 a pack. Budgeting is a skill I absorbed from my educated, successful parents. So I figure $9 an hour equals a gross monthly income of $1,368 in February. After $750 rent for my basement apartment, I'm left with $7.36 per person a day for myself, Ben and Sam. (For now, I'm assuming I would get a low-income tax refund and I'm not factoring in federal child subsidies, which I'll discuss next week.) Pat, I'll later find out, never got to learn such skills. Her mom had six kids with three different husbands, and now lives on welfare. . ."
". . .I am working undercover - though I applied for this job using my real name - but this is ridiculous. I'm practically under the covers with them. Then I understand. We are maids, and therefore we are invisible, subhuman, beneath notice. We are the untouchables of the Western world. . ."