For many years my husband and I have been privileged enough to hire a cleaning service to help us clean our house while we both work full time. I love coming home on a weekday and find my home tidy and clean! It’s such a luxury. The woman who has cleaned our house is called Grace (this is not her real name, out of respect for her privacy).
Grace is not from Sweden. Five years ago her husband died and left her with their two children, now in their upper teens. Around that time Grace decided to start a company with a woman called Katinka (not her real name either even though I care much less about this woman’s privacy; you’ll soon understand why).
It all sounded great: Katinka (who speaks swedish) would take care of the practical side of things, clean part time and Grace would clean full time. In Grace’s case you should know, full time often means working days of 10 hours, not uncommon either that she works weekends. Over the past five years I believe Grace has been away from work only a couple of weeks per year in total. I don’t know anybody in Sweden who works harder than Grace.
Yesterday I found out that for the past five years, Grace has been living off 8.000kr (roughly 800EUR) per month, before taxes. She has not received holiday-pay. She has not received sick-pay. And she was denied time off to join a course to learn the swedish language. For five years, Grace has cleaned houses, worked her *** off and believed her so called best friend Katinka when she told Grace that all of her work generated 8.000kr before taxes.
Yesterday I also found out that during the past five years, Katinka allegedly has bought a summer home in Spain, a luxury car and has renovated her home in Sweden. This makes me sick to my stomach. How can Katinka live with herself every day I wonder?
Grace has been way (I mean: WAY) too trustworthy. I know that. She has put herself in this position and has chosen to believe another person whom she believed to be a friend. She has signed contracts without understanding what they mean. Who does that? But right now Grace needs help, and a lot of it. She is in need of legal help to figure out how she can leave this company that she co-owns with Katinka. But she doesn’t have money to pay for it. She needs help finding another job: either through starting her own company (by herself this time) or finding employment. But how easy is all of that when you don’t know the language of the country you live in? It’s such a mess this whole situation.
So here I am trying to figure out what I can do to help Grace. Because she’s the one that has cleaned my house for all these years, and has done so with so much love. Sometimes she baked cakes and left them in the fridge for us. Every week she arranged my daughters’ millions of stuffed animals and placed them funnily in her bed so it looked like they were welcoming her into bed. Every week I find my towels folded ‘hotel style’. And so on.
I realize that for years, the larger part of the money I have paid for the cleaning of my house has gone to a woman who is capable of exploiting another person in this rotten way. I’m really frustrated about that right now. But what to do with it? It helps to write about it, I notice. My husband and I are currently trying our best to help Grace with both legal help and employment, but we also notice that there is only so much we can do. It really is up to Grace to decide how to move forward on her path in life. Grace told me that she doesn’t want anything from Katinka, just to leave the company without any trouble. Her opinion is that Life will take care of Katinka. You know, karma. I can only hope it does!
Photo: Mitchell Griest – unsplash.com
OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this makes me so fkn angry