The Servants’ Corridor

In our house, like just about every house in Dubai, there is a room for the maid.  Unlike most houses in Dubai, we do not have someone living in said room.  For one, it’s barely bigger than the walk-in closet we had at our first house; for one hundred forty-six other reasons, we don’t have a maid. This room is pretty separate from the rest of house, I mean, God, you can’t have people SEEING the help and where they live. Embarrassing.  The maid’s room is in what I like to refer to as “the servants’ corridor”.  It’s a hallway off the kitchen where the laundry room is also located.  The hallway exits the house into the garage, and you can lock the door to this hallway from inside the kitchen so those wretched thieving  servants can’t steal your precious belongings at night.  You know, and keep them in their closet-room.  Where they clearly have space for YOUR shit, in addition to their own.  The whole room is not even as big as my BATHROOM, just to give you an idea of how genuinely small these rooms are that these poor girls are living in.

I digress.

So we don’t have a person living in this room.   What do we use it for?  Not much, really.  The bathroom is for overnight guests (the whole ONE we’ve had; shout out to you, Tina), and YES the maid’s room has its own bathroom!  Are you crazy??  The maid can’t use the normal HUMAN bathroom!!! The ironing board is in there, and we store our luggage there.  Also, the desk from my former office is in there.  -Oh, so it’s your office?  NO, IT ABSOFUCKINLUTELY IS NOT.

Allow me to explain such an outburst.

The servants’ corridor creeps me the fuck out.  I have been in the bathroom in the maid’s room ONE time in the almost 12 months we’ve lived in this house.  I was in it for 14 seconds, to put towels in there for a guest, and a bathmat.   Didn’t go in there before, haven’t been in there since.  I will pretend all day that “I just don’t ever have a need to go in there”, but let’s be real: that bathroom is SIGNIFICANTLY closer when I’m cooking than the one I sprint to by the front door.  I don’t even care.  Not going in there.

Until recently, it was just my personal weirdness that kept me out of the room.  It was just kinda creepy.  But since we’ve been back from visiting our family and friends in the States for the summer, that part of the house has become dead to me.  DEAD TO ME.  If I had to choose between killing a bug, and going in that bathroom.  I don’t know.  I really don’t.  It would depend on the kind of bug, and what time of day it was, and whether or not any other adults were present.

It started off with just weird little things.  Things that could be “explained” with “logic”.  Like when I turn the air conditioning off (the servants’ corridor shares the unit the cools the kitchen, guest room, and play room), and yet it’s on in the morning, or when I get back from grocery shopping.  Peculiar.  “Electrical gremlin” or some shit.  Not too creepy, but only because the thermostats throughout the house are kinda glitchy like that. Fine.

But one September day, shit escalated.  We had just gotten back from picking up Older Daughter from school, I grabbed my water cup and headed to the kitchen to refill it.  When you walk into the kitchen, if the door to the servants’ corridor is open – and it is 99% of the time – you have a direct view of the door to the maid’s room, which is also open most of the time. But it was closed.  All the way-latched-closed.  I stopped dead.  I’m sure that it was open all day, including when I left.  I stood, frozen, staring down the hall at this door like nutter.  *Panic Level: 5*

dog staring at door

Was I sure?  Was I REALLY sure?  Maybe I just THOUGHT it was open because it usually is…I can’t really say that I FOR SURE looked at it earlier in the day.  Regardless, it’s HIGHLY unusual that the door is closed.  Ok, Husband must have closed it after he ironed his shirt this morning.  Then a thought struck me!  MAYBE he closed it because he’s hidden my anniversary present in there!  It’s a good plan, he knows I don’t go in there. *Panic Level: Neutralized*  I plan on peeking in there, right after I grab the laundry.  Totally not snooping, I was over there doing laundry!

Round up the whites from upstairs, come back down, and again I’m playing Frozen-heart-Anna in the middle of the damn kitchen.

ice anna

 

The door is open.  It’s only open maybe 5 inches.  But THE DOOR IS FUCKING OPEN.

Whether it was or was not open earlier in the day, it was DEFINITELY latched closed 3 minutes ago.

*Panic level: IMMINENT DEATH* Full-on panic mode.  Not bug panic.  Someone-is-in-your-house-and-you-are-all-going-to-die horror movie panic.  LOCATE THE KIDS.  -Having a snack in the dining room.-  SHUT AND LOCK THE HELL OUT OF THE DOOR TO THE SERVANTS’ CORRIDOR.  DO IT FAST SO THEY DON’T GET THEIR ARM OR SOMETHING THROUGH THE DOOR BEFORE YOU LOCK IT.  -Ok, locked.-  GET THE KIDS.  GRAB THE KEYS.  GO OUTSIDE.  Check that the garage door is locked.

–PAUSE–

I have to interrupt this thrilling tale of suspense here to explain the door locks here really quickly.  I know, I’m the worst.  The doors don’t have either of these:

door lock thingies

Except for 2 non-exterior doors, and the doors to the water closets which DO have this deadbolt knob (special thanks to Britt), each door has a key.  Each door has ITS OWN KEY.  Closets, bathrooms, doors to each section of the house, and the doors to each of the rooms in those sections.  A separate key for EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.  We have TWENTY-NINE KEYS for our 3-bedroom house.  Yes, I counted.  And there is no skeleton key, no no.  You just have twenty-fuckin’nine keys for your house.  Good luck keeping that shit straight.  And if you need to get out in a hurry, say, in case of a fire (or maybe when there’s a stranger hiding in the maid’s room waiting to murder you)?  Forget it, jump out the window.  The door to the servant’s corridor DOES have this knob, thankfully.

–PLAY–

Ok, Erin, breathe.  Maybe Older Daughter opened it.  She was probably stealing tape again.  Grreeaaatttt.  In an excellent display of “in an emergency, you must remain calm to prevent widespread panic”, I casually grabbed my keys and asked her if she had gotten anything out of the maid’s room while I was upstairs, knowing full well that she had not moved from the table.  “No, why?”  *Panic Level: 8*  “Oh, I was just looking for the tape.  I thought maybe you had gotten it out.  Hey guys, I need to look for something in the car, can you come help me?”  I really should get an award for how completely normal I sounded in that moment because DOORS DON’T OPEN THEMSELVES.  SOMEONE WAS IN THE HOUSE.  With mild protest, the kids came along, and rather quickly, in terms of kid speed.  They didn’t even question why I locked the front door behind us.  The garage door was indeed locked, so with that corridor was now sealed. TAKE THAT, PSYCHO MURDERER!  *Panic Level: 7.5*

Buuutttttt, now what?  We can’t stand outside all evening until my husband gets home.  Do we go back in and, what?  Act like someone isn’t banging on the door?  (Would they do that? *Panic Level: 8*)  Or would they just quietly creep back into whatever hiding place they came from?  Which is preferable in this situation, but how long has this person been in the house? And WHERE have they been all this time?  What are they doing? *Panic Level: 8.5*  “I thought we were looking for something in the car?” DAMN IT, why the hell did we raise smart kids?! “uuhhhh, yeah…I just remembered thaaaaaat it’s inside.”  Older Daughter apparently ain’t got time fo’ that.  “Seriously, Mom?  *makes obnoxious sound in throat* Can we GO BACK to our snack then??”  SURE DUDE. LET’S GO INSIDE AND GET MAIMED!  A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL! “And WHY did you lock the front door to look for something in the car?”  Talk about ungrateful.  I should have left you inside with the serial killer.

My heart is POUNDING as the door opens and the kids skip back in without a care in the world. *Panic Level: 9*  They’re eating their snack, I’m standing in the kitchen looking like an IDIOT staring at this locked door.  I text my husband 1. to let him know our lives are in danger and 2. to see if he thinks I should set the house on fire, solving the problem.  I try to be all casual about it and just outline the situation without sounding like I’m on the verge of an aneurysm.  His response?  He’ll be home maybe in about an hour. AN HOUR. I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure to kill the 3 of us, it would only take LESS THAN AN HOUR.  It’s cool.  Love you, too, buddy.  I’ll stand here, cooking this sauce, watching the door like a HAWK.  No big.  Maybe have a heart attack, that sounds like a good way to round out the day.  But making the sauce has a calming effect because I can’t cook, so I need to focus on what I’m doing. *Panic Level: 5*

It being September, we had recently gotten back from being home for a month.  When we left we went around matching the aforementioned 29 keys to their doors, to lock down the house while we were gone.  SO when we got back, we obviously had to unlock said doors.  To speed the future lock/unlock process, we left the keys in the locks.

Guess what has just occurred to me.  *Panic Level: 8.5*

I locked the door by turning the knob, but the fucking keys are IN THE LOCK, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR.

death

This person could be ANYWHERE in the house!  This has got to be some sick cosmic joke! *Panic Level: 9.5*

You’re probably thinking “Why didn’t she just take the kids to the park around the corner?”  Because it’s over 100 degrees and HUMID, ya smarty pants.  Don’t interrupt.

My first thought is that this person would be in the guest room.  It’s a great hiding spot, it’s another room we don’t really use, and it used to be a patio that the owner had enclosed, so it’s really separate from the rest of the house.  I am absolutely NOT looking in there.  It’s just not happening.  I lock the door (with the keys, score one for me), and call it good.  Now I’m standing in the kitchen, making this pasta dish, with my back awkwardly to the counter so I can see both offending doors.  Hysteria is dropping because I still have to interact with the kids like a sane person, AND I’m trying not to mess this sauce up on the final steps. *Panic Level: 5*

By this time, it’s been about an hour and my knight in shining armor has returned.  I clearly have done myself a disservice by so nonchalantly explaining the situation. *Panic Level: 6*  He is so composed as he unlocks the door and goes into the maid’s room. *Panic Level: 7*  Like I asked him to reach something off a high shelf. You are NOT understanding the urgency here, man.  He goes in the maid’s room *Panic Level: 8*, opens the bathroom door in there *Panic Level: 9*

suspense

AND HE FINDS NOTHING.  THERE IS NOTHING.

Nothing in the guest room, nothing in ANY room.  Great, now I look like a full-on raving lunatic. FANFUCKINGTASTIC.

So while everyone else enjoys a lovely pasta dinner, I’m sitting there, barely eating, EXHAUSTED from the HIIT I’ve just been doing for the last 2 hours.

I know what I saw.  I will catch you one day, creeper.

And I’ll pee my pants screaming.

 

FWP: I’m afraid of a room in my house.

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