Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Life in Mexico, the Maid

It's common to have a maid character in Mexican sitcoms
In Mexico, it is almost a rule that any middle class family has a maid. Getting a maid is somewhat of a status symbol for many Mexican women, and woe to the married woman who doesn't have one.

How much does hiring a maid cost? It depends a lot on the area. In Mexico City's most affluent districts, it might cost 40 dollars per day. In lower income areas of the country, it might be as little as 8 dollars per day.  Most maids come once a week and work for several women. Others work two or three times per week in a single household. Some work everyday in the same household. And finally, a few of them live in the household, especially if they had to leave their hometowns in the countryside to go live in the big cities.

Sadly, almost no maid receives any benefits that they should get by law, for example paid vacations and social security. On the other hand, they typically get at least one meal. The ones who live at the employer's house also get free lodging, all meals, a small TV, and a day off.

The preponderance of the maid in Mexican households is so big that it's highly reflected on the culture. Telenovelas (soap operas) often have a poor, yet noble maid as a heroine that has to suffer the injustices of life and the explotation of the rich family she works for. However, her faith and her virtues help her overcome all obstacles and the family's son is able to see her for the great being she is, ditching the family-approved selfish bride to be for the true love of the maid.

As I mentioned before, having a maid is a status symbol. It is somehow denigrating for a middle class woman to do the heaviest house chores herself, especially if she has kids. However, the other extreme is when a woman relies completely on her maid to the point where the maid is practically the one raising her kids.

The relationship between a maid and a housewife is somewhat similar to the ones portrayed in the book "The Help." It is a love-hate relationship where two people on different sides of the paycheck (maids are always paid in cash, tho) live with each other. Some people treat their maids much better than others, obviously, and not all maids are the honest, noble women portrayed in telenovelas either. Lately, there's a movement toward ending the use of the word "maid" and substituting it for a word that's seen as less offensive. The one I personally dislike the most is "the woman that helps me." Moreover, no matter how much loved and appreciated a maid is (and they often are), she is never seen as an equal. They may eat the same food at the same table, but not at the same time. A maid might be brought with the family to the vacation in Acapulco, all expenses paid, but she's there to take care of the children and serve as an errand girl. I have never seen a maid being invited to a wedding of the family just like a co-worker or a relative would.

Does that mean that if you live in Mexico you shouldn't hire a maid? No, it just means that you have to pay her as fairly as you can and treat her humanely. In fact, for many poor and uneducated people, especially those from rural Mexico, being a maid is one of the best jobs they can aspire to, and it allows them to send their children to school.

I'm ending this article with a quote about maids that's common in Mexico: "When a new maid arrives, she doesn't bring happiness with her. But when she leaves, she takes it with her."

Want to know more? Read about how to find a good doctor or hospital in Mexico.


Robert Ervin is a freelancer who writes about healthcare, medical tourism, and living in Mexico.

If you're considering traveling to Mexico for healthcare or retiring in Mexico, you may want to  get yourself a copy of The English's Speaker's Guide to Doctors and Hospitals in Mexico in order to find a good doctor or hospital in the main towns and cities of Mexico, or The English Speaker's Guide to Medical Care in Mexico, to understand how the Mexican healthcare system works.  

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