Disclaimer: This post was published originally on Sunday October 20th. I then took it down as per Dyala’s request because she got word that the family had actually asked the maid to sit and she refused.
My friend Dyala Badran was having lunch at a Beiruti restaurant today when she spotted something that made her twist in anger.
A Lebanese family was sitting across the place from her having their Sunday lunch. They were all seated happily, enjoying their food. The father was cuddling his newborn who was sitting on his mother’s lap. And there was their maid, standing there, clutching the chair that was empty… save for the bag of the madame.
And Dyala documented that moment in picture.
Let’s talk about two scenarios.
The maid wasn’t actually told to sit as Dyala was told, in which case I wonder what is it about the madame’s brain that got her to think that poor human being, who probably spends more time with that woman’s children, looking on their table had no right for a chair. Oh, nevermind. How could a Lebanese share a table with the Help? It’s so beneath us, duh!
The maid actually sat at one point to nurse the baby. Then she was told to stand up again after finishing.
The madame probably thinks she’s doing her maid a great service by taking her out with them for Sunday lunch. Who’s willing to bet she will brag about her open-mindedness in that regard to her friends in a few days? Who’s willing to bet she may have also forgotten to feed her lunch? Who’s also willing to bet she’s even prouder of that uniform she got her because “their clothes are just too filthy?”
The family asked the maid to sit and she refused. People took this as a sign that the family is good, that people treat maids well but they don’t want to benefit from our goodness as Lebanese.
Has anyone wondered though: why did that person refuse to sit? Why does she refuse to take a chair? What has led this person to believe that sitting, as an equal to the family on that table, is an abomination? What has gotten that poor woman to believe that she shouldn’t take the seat that the bag ought to have?
Regardless of whether scenario #1 or #2 played out in that restaurant yesterday, a pattern emerges of a disgusting Lebanese mentality that manifests in a behavior that believes sharing the table with that person is a disgrace, a lowering standards. That woman didn’t sit because this country is brimming with disgusting individuals who don’t think she deserves an empty chair.
Dyala has written her own blog post on the matter in which she has declared “shame on [her]” for taking down the picture. I regret hiding this blogpost yesterday as well.
We “import” these people in a form of modern day slavery. We work them like there’s no tomorrow on a salary that is not only laughable but a disgrace. They don’t have rights and even if they had, we make sure they don’t have access to any of those rights’ forms. They cannot seek protection. They suffer from our abuse day in day out. Our media ridicules them or goes on manhunts against their existence because the Lebanese is always right.
But that doesn’t matter, I guess, because Beirut is THE place to visit.