As you will be painfully aware from Part One of my shocking unfoldments last week, there remain a further two shocking unfoldments of which I must divulge myself.
The upshot of the first is that my teenage step-sister Angel will be moving in with us in the near future. How exactly that came about, I do not totes understand, but Don is all for it. Between him and Angel’s unhinged mother, I am officially outnumbered : (
And so to item two: the toilet brushes debacle. I was not alone in thinking that it was the helper who had taken all of my designer water closet ware and sold them via the Real Singapore Expat Wives Classified Facebook group – was I, Momma’s View? No, I was not.
The helper did seem to be behaving particularly shiftily when I raised the issue with her, but I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’ve been listening to the Serial podcasts, and I felt I could do well to adopt the journalist presenter’s argh-I-just-dunno attitude; if only as good practice in the event that I go into investigatory journalism. I would be fab at that, given my legal background, and there must be a ton of stuff happening among the Expaterati that I could delve to the bottom of.
So during my presumption of helper innocence, and my consequent investigations re other possible suspects, I made myself get up unusually early last Friday, in order to gently probe the pool guy. He comes twice a week, but I rarely see him as his visit coincides with the irritants getting ready for school, which is a stress that I prefer to avoid.
My strategy of subtle probing with Mo, said pool guy, was to force him to drink three cups of tea in rapid succession, and then suggest he use the guest lav (the one where the single, much cheaper temporary replacement brush is now stationed). What I intended to do next was to nonchalantly apologise for the un-stylish toilet brush that he would no doubt have clocked, and closely observe his unconscious reactions. A tick, perhaps. A sudden flinch. Indirect eye contact. A powerful desire to change the subject, or just general defensiveness.
As I stood in the kitchen, waiting for Mo to emerge from the loo, I happened to notice that Milly (four-year-old daughter, not thus far under suspicion) was running out the door to catch her bus, in possession of a brand new baby Burberry’s handbag.
“Wait, Mills! STOP!!“, I called after her, and dragged her back out of the bus, our helper in my wake.
“What precisely is that, and where on this earth did you get it from?!”, I demanded in, like, quite a low-key way.
Milly looked nervously at me, then at the helper, and then at me. And then at the helper. And then at me.
“Auntie got it for me”, she said, pointing at the help.
Ah ha, I thought so!! It was her all along! So much for presumed helper innocence. It was only 7.56 in the morning, and already I had cracked the case. Take that, Serial!! (There’s a second season, and it’s not solved yet?? What now, now?!)
“Off you go then, lovely Mills”, I said, giving my little girl a huge motherly hug (that I got a nice pic of to put on FB to show how amazebobs I am at this mothering thing).
“Have a gorgeous day! Super handbag by the way, babes!”, I added for good measure, as the bus door closed.
WELL. As you can imagine, dear readers, I had to have some very strong words with the helper that morning.
Taking everything I know about police interviews, I asked the helper to sit opposite me at the kitchen table, and proceeded to simultaneously embody both good cop and bad cop, as follows.
“So. Milly says you got her the Burberry bag. But that can’t possibly be true, because with my eagle eye, I noticed that it’s not a fakee, so there’s no way you could afford it on the pittance we pay you*”, I said as good cop, continuing, “and anyway, I know that you are a very honest woman. You will, of course, tell me the truth. I have some cake here for you that I will give you just as soon as this matter is resolved”.
“Ma’am”, she stammered, guiltily, “I’m sorry… I am not the one who gave the bag to Milly… I…” –
At this point, I cut her off because I needed to switch to bad cop. I stood up to my full towering 5’10 height and said, “Ok, you just tell me where she got it from then because from where I’m sitting… standing… this isn’t looking so great for you! All I have to do is call the MOM, book a cab to Changi, and you’re outa here, babes! You know that, right?!”
With irritating predictability, she started to cry. Yes, dear readers, with only a single round of good cop bad cop enacted dichotomy, she was putty in my hands. Ugh. I wish people would stop crying at me.
“Ma’am, I’m so sorry, I didn’t get the bag for Miss Milly. She said you gave her money to buy! I only went with her to Paragon.”
My expert knowledge of body-language told me that the help was speaking the truth, but I wasn’t going to let her off that easily.
“Well, where did she get the money from then?!”, I demanded, harshly, but fairly I think, under the circumstances.
“I think… I don’t know, but I think… Maybe she sometime uses the Internet..? Sometime maybe on her iPad Mini, maybe at friend’s house..?”
In my agile mind, the pieces began to fall into place. I could literally feel the network connections sparking inside my awesome brain (thanks to the two-year neuroscience MSc I audited), and I knew immediately what I had to do.
I went onto the classifieds page where I had seen my loo brushes for sale – when I was too distraught to notice details, which is because of the shut-down that transpires in the amygdala in the event of extreme anxiety – and there on the screen was the name of the vendor: Milly Austen-Jones. O.M.Geee.
It’s a few days later now, and I have yet to raise the issue with the Millster (she’s an exorcist head-spinning nightmare when she’s upset), but I had such a super nice weekend on Nikoi Island with my girlies that maybe I won’t bother. So what if I nearly had the helper jailed or deported? My chi is in a fantastic place today, and Milly is loving her bag. I have to say that she has impeccable taste, and her entrepreneurial spirit is commendable . She not only created a Facebook profile, at four years of age, but she got herself onto a group too! That’s my giiiiirl!!
Maybe she’s not so irritating after all.
Part three of my expat unfoldments is somewhat less palatable. But the nice thing about it is that it can’t possibly be truesome.
* Not that we do pay her a pittance. We pay her twice the going rate. I’m not having any staff of mine going round the island saying they’re inadequately waged!