Podcast Follow-Up: Maid (A Book on Working Poor)

This week’s podcast episode was a fun one to record. I got to talk a bit about a pastor assessment process I am going through and Evan got to talk about an episode of the rebooted Twilight Zone he watched. You can check out the episode below:

In between those two discussions was a brief chat about a book that I had just finished up. The book is called Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. It’s written by Stephanie Land and I only got to speak about it briefly in the podcast, so I wanted to give a few thoughts on the book now that I have a little more time to articulate myself.

If you are unfamiliar with the book, Stephanie writes about her experience as a maid as she tries to provide a life for her and her daughter, go to school, and make ends meet. Throughout it, she chronicles houses she cleaned, emotions she felt, relationships she tried to kindle (or rekindle), hopes she had, and ways she was treated. There were numerous times I felt myself getting uncomfortable because of how unaware and out of touch I am with other folks. Here are just a few of those thoughts I find myself thinking:

  • On being anonymous: Stephanie writes about her desire to be known. In fact, the title itself—Maid—alludes to an idea presented in the book. While working for a cleaning company, Stephanie would notice that her clients’ houses would often just write “Maid” on the calendar. She longed to be known—to have people talk to her, ask about her, know her name, etc. This longing is something deep inside everyone, but we (myself included) are often content on treating people anonymously—knowing them gets in the way.
  • On arrogant judgments: A few times in the book, Stephanie talks about the process of buying food with food stamps. She talks about the feelings she had when standing in line trying to buy food and the judgment she might feel as someone else in line would say under their breath, “You’re welcome” as she completed her purchase—as if they had some significant role in helping her buy her food. It is so easy to position ourselves as the one who had no problems—they always exist outside of us. Stephanie brings that out.
  • On parenting: Single moms are amazing. There are times that Courtney and I try to juggle everything with the boys and we’ll feel exhausted. Reducing the number of hands on deck but needing the same level of responsibility is a world that I honestly cannot fathom.

It was a good book—a challenging book. Thoughts like, “We should be kind” and, “Compassion is good” and, “Let’s give people the benefit of the doubt” aren’t revolutionary—but that’s what Maid continued to bring me back to, and I’m grateful for it.

I'd love to hear your thoughts . . .