Friday, September 9, 2011
BRAIN FART: I WAS "THE HELP"
Hello, folks, this is Miss Fanny here with another Brain Fart, and since a little time has passed since the release of that movie “The Help”, I thought that I’d throw in my two cents worth like everybody else I’ve been talking to. My daughter-in-law, Hattie, talked me into going to the movie theatre to see it. I hadn’t been to a movie for so long I couldn’t remember the last time. Who wants to see triple sequels and double prequels? And forget 3-D. Why should I pay extra money for some glasses that I can’t wear once I leave the theater? Not to mention that I don’t want those monsters and bugs and other crazy things leaping off the screen at me. It might be fun for some 4 year old preschooler, but I’m a full grown woman!
Anyway, I saw the movie and the first thing I’ve got to say is that the acting was great! I really enjoyed it. As for the story line, I’ve been there done that. Before I moved north I was the help. Lord knows that the work conditions weren’t a picnic, but thank goodness that it wasn’t as bad as the ones in the movie. Even as fiction that was a mess!
When I was the help, I worked six days a week, but I lived in and I had my own bedroom and bathroom. I can’t say if my employer would have let me use her bathroom or not, but I do know that bathrooms were segregated everywhere else in the city, so who knows. The couple I worked for was typical for its day. He was a big executive in a tobacco company and she was a socialite housewife. Like the women in the movie, the one I worked for never did a lick of work. I did it all, and I did it well. I took pride in my work and I kept the house spotless and cooked meals that would melt in your mouth.
The lady of the house more or less ignored me except to give orders, but every once in the while she’d have some sort of spell and ask me some questions about myself. Since I wasn’t trying to be her friend, I usually answered in one syllable words, which translated into leave me the hell alone. She wasn’t slow. She got the picture, so much so that I was more or less invisible in the house. You wouldn’t believe the things I found out about her and her husband. I could write a book.
I took care of their two kids from the time that they were a couple of months to the ages of 7 and 9. They were pretty good kids. I taught them to say please and thank you, yes ma’am and yes sir. They caught on pretty quick and they really weren’t much trouble. Did I love them or their parents? I really can’t say that I did. I liked them okay. They were nice enough for the times and under the circumstances, but it was the south. The family was into segregation and keeping my people down. I was into doing the job that I had been hired to do, and saving enough money to get the hell out of dodge. Loving my employers or their off spring wasn’t in the plan.
I worked for the family for ten years, and until this day I don’t think that anybody in that household remembered my last name. That was okay with me. The pay was low, but they paid me in cash every week and that’s all I cared about, getting my money. So in my case the love affair between the help and her employees didn’t exist, at least on my part. I saved that money until I was able to buy a one way ticket north, then I kissed my Mama and Papa goodbye, hopped on a train and never looked back. I guess the family I worked for missed me when I didn’t come in that morning and then maybe not. I don’t know and I don’t care.
I guess you’ll say that I was the other side of the help, not the touchy, feely, cuddly kind, but the kind that saw working in the household of others as a step toward getting me what I wanted.
There weren’t many opportunities back then, but a lot of daydreams and I’ll tell you something. I was never ashamed of being a maid. It was good, honest work. It allowed me to help my folks when they needed it and in some cases the wages of many maids have paid for houses, cars, furniture and college educations for their children. No! Being a maid was nothing to be ashamed of, unlike being one of those multi-millionaires who cheats people out of their life savings. Given the choice of the two, I’d rather be the help.Now muse on that!