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#1
Old 12-02-2011, 09:58 PM
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Do you know anyone with servants?

What percent of households now have full-time "help" (maids, gardeners, footmen, cooks) as opposed to the past ('20s and 1880s might be informative). Is this a cultural or a monetary shift?

My first thread... I live in a very affluent community and am in construction, so I see not only how houses are built, but how they are used via remodels. I also have affluent relatives. No one in my experience aside from 4 or 5 people who are 100-millionaires or more has full time household help. Cooks may be brought in for specific meals (as opposed to caterers for parties--cooks are regular but part-time help). I'd love a cook, but I'd feel guilty no matter how much I made or worked.

Caretakers are a different story--a lot of the larger parcels have them, but they are not expected (IME) to perform the above household duties.
#2
Old 12-02-2011, 10:08 PM
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How do you define full-time, though? Live-in? Forty hours per week?

My mother-in-law has a close-to-full-time servant, in that she's there 40 hours per week if she bothers to show up. That's in Mexico, though, where labor is cheap. The cognate is true, to: servienta.

Here in China we share a servant (ayi, meaning "auntie") with another family. Between the two families, it's a full-time gig. Again, the labor is cheap. And in the case of China, it's often pointed out that having an ayi is part of our social responsibility.
#3
Old 12-02-2011, 10:23 PM
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My brother and his SO (good jobs, but not wealthy) have a 40 hour a week nanny for their baby.
#4
Old 12-02-2011, 10:49 PM
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At my high point, we had two live in nannies (we had twins) and a full time house keeper/cook. Of course, this was in China and wages are much lower. Now in the US we do it all ourselves (and the kids are older).
#5
Old 12-02-2011, 10:52 PM
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Nanny. Didn't think about that--it's sort of the catch-all these days. However, it sort of falls to child care, and if time is left over, house care. It might be a sub-set of the old servants?

I think other countries than the US/EU might have other standards...
#6
Old 12-03-2011, 12:00 AM
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I grew up with a black nanny although she was more of a part of the family than a servant. It was a symbiotic relationship. My ex in-laws have live in caretakers on their 300 acre farm in New Hampshire.

With modern machines, there isn't much need to have actual servants around unless you are disabled. It is more hassle and money than it is worth. There is a reason few people have them. The total cost of full-time labor is high even at minimum wage. It is better just to call in gardeners, cooks, and maids as a service when you need them.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 12-03-2011 at 12:03 AM.
#7
Old 12-03-2011, 04:12 AM
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My wife has me. Does that count?
#8
Old 12-03-2011, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mwbrooks View Post
My wife has me. Does that count?
Probably not. On the other hand, you have her.
#9
Old 12-03-2011, 04:43 AM
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I tutor for a family that has a nanny/housekeeper that lives with them. She gets Sundays off, I think.
#10
Old 12-03-2011, 05:09 AM
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I know several people outside the US who have servants. In one case they've had families with them their whole lives, with sons and daughters succeeding in some positions, though that will almost certainly change in this generation. I'm not sure if you mean to restrict the countries you are asking about. Aside from full-time nannies and other domestic workers, I don't know of anyone in the US who has live-in servants.
#11
Old 12-03-2011, 05:15 AM
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Kind of.

I know a woman who owns a holiday home in Bali. She only goes there a few weeks each year and has "servants" while she is there. The rest of the year the "servants" live in the house and it is their home. They move out to the local town and act like "servants" when she is in Bali.

When she dies the Balinese family get the place.
#12
Old 12-03-2011, 05:28 AM
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It's very common to have Fillipina maids in Hong Kong

Last edited by Namkcalb; 12-03-2011 at 05:29 AM.
#13
Old 12-03-2011, 07:03 AM
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We had a fulltime nanny for our kids (10 hrs/day during the week), does that count?

I know one family with actual live-in help.
#14
Old 12-03-2011, 09:08 AM
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It's becoming quite common in my area for families who bought McMansions to "pay" for them by having a foreign au pair. In effect, the girl gets free room and board and attends university here, and takes care of the kids. Some of them complain that the family uses them like an 80 hour a week servant, having them do much more than take care of the kids. Others say they only work about 20 hours a week.
#15
Old 12-03-2011, 09:10 AM
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I live in a compound. I have communal cooks, waiters, houseboys, car-wash boys and gardeners. My first wife had maids and cooks.
#16
Old 12-03-2011, 09:15 AM
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My paternal grandparents always had a maid that came 2-3 times a week (sometimes more) to do chores and clean around the house. When my grandfather died and my grandmother remarried, she took the maid with her to the new apartment, again 2-3 times per week. Now that she's widowed again, granny currently has no help.

As my grandparents got older, the maid became more useful, doing the tedious chores that would hurt their back, and helping with cooking and ironing. My grandparents did a lot of the chores themselves, like laundry and dishes, but the maid would put the plates away and iron the clothes.

My ex's sister has a live-in maid/baby sitter, but that is in Brazil, where again, wages are lower. She's not wealthy, but she is in a higher socioeconomic position than she appears.
#17
Old 12-03-2011, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
My mother-in-law has a close-to-full-time servant, in that she's there 40 hours per week if she bothers to show up. That's in Mexico, though, where labor is cheap. The cognate is true, to: servienta.
Yeah, but neither sirvienta nor servicio implies full-time.

I know one family that has live-in servants: the servant family has worked for the family of the mistress for centuries. Everybody else I know who has full-time servants by the definitions of the Spanish government (over 30h/wk, the masters are responsible for the servant's Social Security), this person is a caretaker for an old person.

My mother and brother have the same cleaners, a married couple who come in 4h/wk (2h but two of them). This is much more common, as is having a cleaning lady whose first duty is taking the young children to the bus stop/school (5-10h/wk).

Last edited by Nava; 12-03-2011 at 09:25 AM.
#18
Old 12-03-2011, 10:12 AM
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Canada has a program where you can import a child-care worker on a special visa. I know this because I saw a program on how it was being abused on Canadian television. Theoretically, they are supposed to get days off, etc.; some people take advantage of the threat of visa reovcation to nake them work slave hours, skip wages, take away their passports, do all the housekeeping, even pass them on to their friends and physical abuse. Good old first world. However, the recruiting agecies back home apparently also get in on the exploitation action. The leverage in the arrangement is very one-sided.

Apparently, you can get a full-time, live in nanny for your child-care. The number mentioned was about $1000/month. Currently, a lot seem to come from south-east Asia, especially the Phillipines. A few decades ago, the nanny of choice came from Jamiaca; since the visa was a help to full immigrant status, this is where a lot of the Jamaicans in Toronto got their immigration papers from.

A well-off couple who do not qualify for subsized day care could conceivably spend over $1000/month on just day care, especially with more than 1 kid. This option is a real bargain if you have the house with room for a live-in nanny.

As for anything more than that, per the OP? You need a gardener, there are landscaping companies that contract for that; they take care of finding people, maintaining all the equipment, on grass-cutting day 10 people show up and the whole 10 acres are trimmed in an hour. A guy with a front end loader shows up after the snowstorm and your driveway is clear in 10 minutes, Ditto for house-cleaning. Instead of one person who lives in, enough people show up to finish the work in an hour or two; someone's vacation? They worry about filling in the gap. Don't like the result? The owner of the company sorts out your complaints, and Consuela is replaced by someone else and never shows up again. For the pool, a trained pool-boy will adjust your settings so the pool stays clean and clear.

Chauffeur? The company I used to work for, apparently the high mucky-mucks in head office had drivers (along with a private dining room on the 24th floor in an office tower). Rather than fighting through a 1-hou city commute crawl, they sat in the back and read reports and the driver dropped them off in front of the office, took care of parking, and picked them up again at 5. Convenience is a perk. But, evenings and weekends, unless it was company business I assume they were on their own. The chauffeur did not live with then and enjoy the perk of banging the upstairs maid and the lonely missus.

The only guy I know who did have a servant (a live-in nanny when the kids were young) was an eccentric type who among other things, stayed fit by doing his own gardening pusing a lawnmower around an few acres and raking the leaves every fall. He also fixed up a lot of his run-down turn of the centurn mansion by himself. Some city workers once stoppped by and asked him who owned the place. He said he did. "No you don't," hey said. "We've seen you here. You're just the gardener."

It's so much simpler to have contractors today, and so much simpler if you have your own private house and don't have to run a household for a few extra live-ins. You don't have to try and find a jack-of-all-trades to do all the different tasks a modern household needs. Not too many people can afford enough servants to hire one for each task. Plus, wages and labour standards today make it difficult to demand the round-the-clock service we associate with old-style servants. Those standards are a by-product of the abuse the old-style rich people did heeap on their hirelings.
#19
Old 12-03-2011, 10:23 AM
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One of my ex-boyfriends is from an affluent community, and when I dated him, his family had two full-time "gardeners" and a full-time housemaid. They also had an au pair for the children when they were younger, but by the time I met them, that was years ago.

They thought they treated the housemaid like a family member, but being from a poor family with no servants, I could tell the difference, and I was horribly out of place because I tried not to treat her like a servant, and that made the family a little miffed at me.

The gardeners were there all the time, working on the family's cars, fixing tiles in the house, working in the garage, running errands for the housemaid (they got the groceries a few times while I visited) and doing holiday/seasonal decorations to the house. They were not treated like family, and were in fact profoundly ignored by everyone in the household.
#20
Old 12-03-2011, 10:54 AM
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Agatha Christie was quoted as saying she never thought she'd be rich enough to own a car and too poor to have a servant.
#21
Old 12-03-2011, 01:32 PM
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Moderating: Moved thread GQ->IMHO

[moderating]
Generally speaking, any thread that starts with "Do you know anyone..." is better suited for IMHO than GQ.
Thread moved.
[/moderating]
#22
Old 12-03-2011, 02:01 PM
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I am friends with an older actress who retains a live in housekeeper; the housekeeper's husband is her handyman. She also has a gardener. When she visited this summer she commented that my garden looked so nice that she was entertaining thoughts on hiring me!
#23
Old 12-03-2011, 02:37 PM
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When I lived overseas for work, I had a full-time live-in maid and a driver.
#24
Old 12-03-2011, 03:05 PM
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I know a well-known rock star/musician and she has full time help. She has an assistant and also a guy who takes care of the house/shopping/cooking and she has a nanny for her two kids (she may not anymore, they're older now. I haven't been to her house in a few years.)
#25
Old 12-03-2011, 03:28 PM
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My sister in law lives in Hong Kong and has a live-in nanny/housekeeper and a full-time chauffeur.
#26
Old 12-03-2011, 04:50 PM
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I know lot of people. Upper middle class and up in India all have servants, usually a full time cook and housekeeper, and then some part time others.
#27
Old 12-03-2011, 05:13 PM
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I have friends in India who have a gardener, chauffeur and maid but they live in a compound of extended family where having help is still common. Those of her family members who reside in their own homes do not have full time help, though they may hire someone to bring packages from market to their home every week.

I know women from Australia and the U.K. who worked as nannies here in the US and my brother and sis-in-law had nannies for a couple of summers until the oldest child in the family could drive. I know lots of people who have part-time help such as a regular lawn care service or cleaning service but no one with full-time help who doesn't need it for a medical reason.
#28
Old 12-03-2011, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
I know lot of people. Upper middle class and up in India all have servants, usually a full time cook and housekeeper, and then some part time others.
Even lower middle class will often have part time help.
#29
Old 12-03-2011, 06:19 PM
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I would never spend money for a chauffeur, but a live in housekeeper would be a blessing. Maybe not live-in, maybe just full time during the day. I hate housework and would rather work more hours at my job and then pay someone else to do the housework than spend the time doing it myself. Realistically, when we're a little better off financially, I'll hire a cleaning service to come in weekly or bi-weekly.
#30
Old 12-03-2011, 06:36 PM
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I'm defining servant as someone who serves only one client, instead of, say, the cleaning person or gardener who has several regular clients.

Barring caretakers for elderly family members, I only know one family (painting clients of mine) who have a staff of five full-time people who pretty much work around the clock taking care of four children, laundry, cleaning house, outdoor maintenance such as mowing, pool maintenance, garden, snow shoveling, etc.

They're a relatively young couple who own a monster house, his n hers Bentleys and other assorted high-end vehicles, all bought with proceeds from being high-up on an MLM pyramid scam scheme built mostly with Monavis acai berry juice and some sort of magic protein weight-loss cookies.

Bless their little cotton socks, it's easy to be a bit contemptuous but they are providing employment to a few people in a shit economy (SE Michigan) and spending lots of money on stuff like plastic surgery, man-waxing, spas, expensive toys and other essentials.
#31
Old 12-03-2011, 06:45 PM
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Nannies and housekeepers and groundskeepers? Yup. In fact, my son is one of the few without a nanny, housekeeper, or groundskeeper.

He has a few friends with one nanny per child. One friend of his has a nanny from 7am to 7pm. There are two and part of their shifts overlap. The evening one cooks and cleans.
#32
Old 12-03-2011, 06:49 PM
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I would die happy, yes, ecstatic, if I had a chauffeur. I hate driving more than anything in the world, I hate trying to find parking spaces, I hate shovelling the driveway, driving on the highway, and even running up to the 7-11 for a couple of things. My late m-i-l didn't know how to drive and technically her husband was her driver, but only if he felt like it!
#33
Old 12-03-2011, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
I'm defining servant as someone who serves only one client, instead of, say, the cleaning person or gardener who has several regular clients.

Barring caretakers for elderly family members, I only know one family (painting clients of mine) who have a staff of five full-time people who pretty much work around the clock taking care of four children, laundry, cleaning house, outdoor maintenance such as mowing, pool maintenance, garden, snow shoveling, etc.

They're a relatively young couple who own a monster house, his n hers Bentleys and other assorted high-end vehicles, all bought with proceeds from being high-up on an MLM pyramid scam scheme built mostly with Monavis acai berry juice and some sort of magic protein weight-loss cookies.

Bless their little cotton socks, it's easy to be a bit contemptuous but they are providing employment to a few people in a shit economy (SE Michigan) and spending lots of money on stuff like plastic surgery, man-waxing, spas, expensive toys and other essentials.
I hope to hell they're not in one of the Pointes.
#34
Old 12-03-2011, 07:34 PM
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The vast majority of people I know with servants are people who had them/have them overseas, where the culture is just very different and where these people who are making good money in U.S. dollars are just extremely rich by comparison to the locals.

I knew a guy who was a manager for a major energy company overseas, he was making good money but not crazy money (six-figures but lower six), and he had essentially a villa with more servants than he had family members living on site.

My grandparents were somewhat affluent and had a nanny for their children, and I know several upper middle class families with live in nannies. But that seems to be the only common full time servant anymore.

I also know people who live near a guy who is worth anywhere between $800-$2bn (most sources say firmly over $1bn these days) and he lives in the same 3 bedroom ranch house he's owned since the 1970s, and he eats at Applebee's 3-4 times a week. He does have a house cleaner come in once a week so his wife doesn't have to clean the house, and a guy that mows his lawn. But I know people that make $50k/year who have a weekly house cleaner (in some places you can get bare bones house cleaners to come in intermittently for around $70/mo.), and lots of old people I know pay a sawbuck or something to a neighborhood kid or some friend of a friend to maintain their yard.

Even if you live in a McMansion, there genuinely is just not enough cleaning to be done to justify a 24/7 full time maid. You would have to almost live in a castle to have a home that, with modern cleaning tools, would need a 7 day a week cleaner on site. And then at most it'd be like one person, in the old days even a moderate sized house would require a staff to maintain, so in the 19th century it wasn't just the fabulously wealthy who had servants but really the middle class and on up (the middle class was super small then, though, the vast majority were working class.)

Some things also just "aren't done" anymore, for cultural reasons. I don't care how rich you are, if you're an American you're putting your own clothes on in the morning. I can guarantee guys like Bill Gates do not have manservants who dress them in the morning, but 100 years ago or more no rich man put his own clothes on or even shaved himself.
#35
Old 12-03-2011, 08:02 PM
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While they were alive, my grandparents had a handyman and a maid of all work/companion, and my mom had 2 non-live in day maids and my brother and I had a governess [paid for by my grandparents] until I was 12.

I hate doing housework ... at various times while mrAru was out to sea I traded living space in the house for housework and yardwork so I wasn't all alone.
#36
Old 12-03-2011, 08:48 PM
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I knew a guy from one of the leading Houston families who'd been raised in a fully staffed house; he claimed he was 5 before he realized his mother wasn't black. Don't know who was live-in or came in each day, but the family had benefits set up for the staff & seemed to treat them OK.

He said that sometimes you just want to have a very light supper--but servants expect you to have a full meal in the dining room every evening. Living on his own, he had a cleaning lady come by once or twice a week. Put the dirty dishes in the washer; she would run it & put them away. Kept the kitchen pretty clean--but the night before she was expected he might leave a bit of a mess...

(By the way, the first series of the original Upstairs Downstairs is now on Netflix Streaming.)
#37
Old 12-03-2011, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
The vast majority of people I know with servants are people who had them/have them overseas, where the culture is just very different and where these people who are making good money in U.S. dollars are just extremely rich by comparison to the locals.
Yup, that's us - we've had household staff in Egypt, Mozambique and Indonesia. Back in the US we wouldn't dream of it, even if we could afford it.
#38
Old 12-03-2011, 10:40 PM
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Here, near the Mexican border, about a third of families in the upper-middle class have full time help. They tend to be jack of all trades-- clean, cook, child care, errands. It works out to be cheaper than if you hired for each job separately.
#39
Old 12-04-2011, 05:49 AM
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I hope to hell they're not in one of the Pointes.
Nope. Grand Blanc.
#40
Old 12-04-2011, 06:14 AM
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Oh, yeah, I forgot about the driver. I wouldn't call him a servant, though. He is my dedicated driver, and he's available 24 hours, seven days a week. I rather hate the arrangement.
#41
Old 12-04-2011, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Ashes, Ashes View Post
Here, near the Mexican border, about a third of families in the upper-middle class have full time help. They tend to be jack of all trades-- clean, cook, child care, errands. It works out to be cheaper than if you hired for each job separately.
Very common in El Paso, although most people I new just had someone for cleaning 1-2x/week. Others did have the whole shebang. You sometimes find some unfortunate situations where the child has been raised by someone with limited English who is highly distracted by her other duties. We would have kids coming in for tutoring who weren't stupid, but they had so little exposure to everything that it made it harder for them to make new connections.


With contractor vs direct hiring, is there a liability difference? I'm assuming a properly insured contractor would cover workman's comp issues.
#42
Old 12-05-2011, 12:17 AM
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With contractor vs direct hiring, is there a liability difference? I'm assuming a properly insured contractor would cover workman's comp issues.
Whether you're contracting an individual who's self-employed or a company with multiple employees and in those locations I'm familiar with, if you're contracting you're not responsible for tax withdrawals, workman's comp, health insurance (if required by law), etc. If you're the employer, you're responsible for all that.
#43
Old 12-05-2011, 01:19 AM
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That's another thing. Why don't we have footmen and lady's maids these days? Why not?
#44
Old 12-05-2011, 01:41 AM
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My friend has a housekeeper. She has been taking care of his home for over 10 years. From what I understand, Bill promised his wife a housekeeper when his ship came in. His ship came in and he delivered.

She keeps the house sparkling clean, does the grocery shopping, does the laundry and deals with the people who clean the windows, pools and gardens. She cooks dinners and makes his lunches.

She doesn't live in and she has has the weekends off. She makes sure to leave food that just needs to be nuked over the weekend.

She isn't "part of the family", its very clear that she is paid to do this. She is a very nice lady who is nice, polite and does her job, then goes home.
#45
Old 12-05-2011, 01:43 AM
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That's another thing. Why don't we have footmen and lady's maids these days? Why not?
Thinks its because we have learned to button our shirts up ourselves. You do know why your buttonholes are on the left, right?
#46
Old 12-05-2011, 02:41 AM
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My next door neighbors have a full time maid; they're ~70-75 yoa and so's the maid. I think the maid's been with them since the mid-60s. She cooks, cleans, does the shopping, walks their little dog. They travel, separately and together, quite a bit so I see the maid around more than the home owners.
They also have a yardman/car and home maintenance guy who's there ~every other day...he takes the trash cans to the curb Sunday night, returning Monday afternoon to take them in, that sort of thing. He sets up for their parties...their back garden looks like something from House Beautiful. The front and side yard has huge live oaks and pecan trees, so lots of maintenance.

The people on the other side use her parents' live-in family as helpers on home improvement work, which never seem to end.

Across the street both parents work; they have a live-in nanny/house keeper for their 3 year old.

My husband has me but I 'live-in' more than work. He's gone for weeks at a time so it's pretty necessary someone's here.

Last edited by Breccia; 12-05-2011 at 02:43 AM.
#47
Old 12-05-2011, 03:27 AM
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if i wasn't staying in a managed residence, i'd have three instead of the present 1 (driver.)
#48
Old 12-05-2011, 04:30 AM
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Back in the 80s I was living in Kansas City, MO and working in Overland Park, KS and took the bus every day from the Plaza. And every single person on the bus (other than myself and the driver) every morning and afternoon was a middle-aged African-American woman in a uniform. It served as a sort of maid shuttle.

So some folks have them. Personally, I believe that rich people should hire full-time servants, just to supply jobs. But most of the ones I know have only part-time crews that work for a lot of other people.
#49
Old 12-05-2011, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
So some folks have them. Personally, I believe that rich people should hire full-time servants, just to supply jobs. But most of the ones I know have only part-time crews that work for a lot of other people.
That's exactly the social pressure that I was referring to in hiring a servant that neither my wife nor I really want nor need. In my case the CPC backs the social pressure. In the United States, I'd say screw that crap. But of course in the United States, I'm not rich.

In complete seriousness, though, the use of part time work working for other people is a more efficient allocation of resources, and is overall better for the economy. A better economy means more, better jobs in the long run.
#50
Old 12-05-2011, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Tride View Post
What percent of households now have full-time "help" (maids, gardeners, footmen, cooks) as opposed to the past ('20s and 1880s might be informative). Is this a cultural or a monetary shift?
It's a technological shift. More labor-saving devices means fewer man-hours required to do things like laundry.
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