You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

That thing? You’re ready to let it go.

It sparks joy, but not enough. Or it doesn’t, and you’re not sure why you didn’t donate it before. Indeed, boxes of things are ready for giveaway and you’re looking at sparkling-clean digs. Did you do it yourself or, as in the new memoir, “Maid” by Stephanie Land, were you assisted by a stranger in your space?

When she was a young woman, Stephanie Land dreamed of becoming a writer.

In the meantime, she tended bar and thought of moving from Washington to Montana, where so many writers found home. She took odd jobs to get by, applied for college, and met a man who fathered her child, a girl that neither had planned on having.

Shortly after the baby was born, he told Land to leave.

Newly homeless and with daughter in tow, she landed in emergency housing, then in transitional housing, awaiting final paperwork that might’ve allowed for more stability. Her predicament was embarrassing and exhausting; she wanted to work, to pay her bills, and buy basic necessities. Instead, Land endured hours-long lines, applying for grants and cards and bandages to keep her afloat.

She became a statistic.

For Land, and millions of Americans like her, pulling oneself out of poverty is fraught with “fragile circumstances.” Land needed a job, but childcare was iffy and more income meant less help. No help meant no gas money to job-seek. With little support and few options, she started working as a paid-under-the-table, part-time housecleaner.

“My job offered no sick pay, no vacation… no foreseeable increase in wage,” she says, “yet… still I begged to work more.”

When “more” was not forthcoming, Land started her own fledgling business, hustling for clients, branching out to lawn care, and bartering for what she needed. Still, she endured humiliation and difficulties, until a client who didn’t see her as “invisible” gave her advice and a caseworker gave her a lifeline.

Your desk, bathrooms, conference room, your entire home sometimes seems to sparkle more than normal. You write a check each month to make it happen. Now “Maid” shows you who does the work.

This, however, isn’t a new story: author Stephanie Land begins with a few hindsight-regretful decisions and a paycheck-to-paycheck existence that’s lost, along with reliable shelter. Readers are likely familiar with this, and the seemingly-endless bureaucracy that comes next.

The narrative shifts considerably, once we reach the part in which Land takes a job as a housecleaner, but it’s not always a good shift. There, readers get an eloquently-written look at uncomfortable, complicated processes that seem designed to keep people from getting out of poverty. We also get a peek inside the life of a maid, but Land makes the work seem like last-ditch, last-chance employment. Housekeepers who love their jobs might beg to differ.

In her foreword, author Barbara Ehrenreich points out a happy ending inside this book; getting there will open your eyes wide. You’ll absorb “Maid” like a sponge. You won’t be able to let it go.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@rentonreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.rentonreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Washington State Fair cancelled

COVID-19 outbreak claims another event

Renton church offers online funeral services

As a result of COVID-19 closures, the church decided to find a way for people to gather and mourn loved ones

TLG Motion Pictures CEO Erik Bernard and TLG founder Courtney LeMarco on a set. Photo courtesy TLG Motion Pictures.
Local production company seeking film, TV pitches from young minority creatives

The Big Pitch competition, put on by TLG Motion Pictures (“Hoarders”), started about six months ago.

Relay for Life of South King County moves online

American Cancer Society donations to be taken during May 30 virtual gathering

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                A woman checks out jars of honey and jam at the Renton Farmers Market in 2018. This year social distancing guidelines are changing the look of the market.
Renton Farmers Market is back June 9

The 19th season of the market will look a little different due to social distancing guidelines

Auburn Symphony Orchestra announces 2020-21 season

Begins with Summer Series scheduled to start June 21

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Auburn dance studio finds creative solutions to keep going during COVID-19

Pacific Ballroom Dance moves to online classes; group returned home early from national competition

Photo by Haley Ausbun
                                Boon Boona Coffee in downtown Renton is well-known for its large cafe space, but owner Efrem Fesaha has found a creative way to keep people to to-go orders only, putting a table right at the door. The order from the Governor hasn’t been easy for small businesses in Renton, and many are just taking it day to day and hoping for financial relief from local and regional leaders.
Renton communities reach out during shut-in

Local organizations, volunteers and businesses try to make the best of quarantine

Renton and AARP team up for seniors

New fitness park to funded and will open late in the summer

Renton March 2020 Youth of the Month
March Rotary Youth of the Month

Rotary members recognize three Renton School District high school students each month… Continue reading