Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Interview

Yesterday we interviewed Jo. to come clean our and N’s apartments, part-time. Jo. is M.’s little sister, M. being the guy who lives in the house we’re in now and keeps it in tip-top shape.

Let’s just say there were some communication issues, what with her being more comfortable conversing in Lugandan as well as extremely shy, but eventually we came to an agreement – though it’s unclear whether Jo. is on the exact same page as we are.

This is how the interview started:
Me: So we need someone to come in three times a week and clean our apartments, do laundry, etc etc (I’m not sure what I said but I went on for a little while). Is this something you’re interested in?
Jo: blank stare
J: Are you available to come clean for us three afternoons a week?
Jo: blank stare
Me: (growing increasingly nervous and now using hand gestures and speaking as slowly as possible) Three days? To clean?
Jo: Just clean?
Us: Yes.
Jo: No laundry?
Us: Oh yes, laundry, too.
Jo: And ironing?
Us: A little.
We all stare at each other.
Us: Is this okay?
Jo. leans her head back, stares at the ceiling, and thinks about it. She looks back at us.
Jo: Yes, okay.
Us: So you can come Monday and Thursday to our apartment and Friday to N.’s?
Complete incomprehension. N., it should be known, was not there. We tried to explain that he would be living next door to us, once we moved into the apartments, which we hadn’t done yet, that the apartments were in Kololo, not where we were now, but she had no idea where Kololo was or who exactly this N. character might be…

It went on like this for quite some time. If only you could have seen the salary negotiations. J and I had no idea what was a normal price to pay someone for what amounted to a day and a half of work. We asked Joan how much she made at her last job, which was full time. It amounted to $10 per month. J and I looked at each other, a little horrified, and J told her we could do better than that.

The first figure we gave her she told us was too high. We told her wasn't.

(She’s very sweet, only 17. She asked if I was 17, which reminded me of this other Ugandan woman I met who told me I was too young to be married. This woman was married with a 2-year-old and was seven years younger than I am.)

Then we discovered that Jo. lives almost an hour outside the city and we had planned on paying transportation costs. Her transportation costs amounted to more than we were offering her in salary, which seemed a little ridiculous. We adjusted the schedule so she would only come two days a week, so we wouldn’t have to pay as much for transportation. Then Jo. suggested that she might be able to find a place to stay in the city to get the transport costs down, but since that wasn’t definite…

Complications! And by this point, J had taken a business call in the other room so I was doing this all by myself and J. (sorry, lots of J names in this story), who rents the house we’re staying in, was home and overheard some of the numbers I was throwing out so he texted me from the other room to tell me it was too high and I texted back to explain the transportation problem, at which point he came into the room to help me…

Let’s just say Jo. starts April 23 at 8:00 AM. I’m pretty sure.

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