Thursday, 16 April 2009


We have a cleaner. For the purposes of this post I shall call her Leijla. Leijla comes twice a week and does her best to restore the house from trashed to presentable. It is not an easy task, and nor does it last more than 10 minutes after the chaos creators reappear.

Leijla and I have developed quite a good relationship. We sit and have coffee every time she comes and we talk (in Bosnian) about stuff. She has a son who at 6 is just that little bit older than Adam and who goes to the same nursery. I quite often run into her there at pick up time and we always have a bit of a gossip as our children rush off to play on the slide. She has taken to passing on the clothes that her son has grown out of to Adam, refusing any payment for them (and there is some nice stuff there - Levis jeans and the like, barely worn). We've been over to her house and she has bought her son here. We've become friends really.

When she first started she would often ask for an advance in order to cover nursery fees or whatever. I had no problems giving her an advance, she also works for our landlord and I trusted her. She hasn't asked for an advance in a while so I thought that her husband had found work or something like that. I didn't like to enquire too closely.

As you have to pay for almost everything in cash in Bosnia, we tend to have a reasonable amount of cash in the house, particularly at this time of the month just before we pay all the bills. Yesterday we had 100KM (about £50) go missing. It wasn't the first time money has gone missing, but we put it down to forgetting to note that we had taken money out of the tin or something like that. We were getting suspicious, so were keeping closer tabs upon it, and yesterday morning we counted 900KM in the tin, in the evening there was only 800KM. I was in the house for most of the day and there was only one person who went upstairs near the tin during that time, Leijla.

I now don't know what to do. I don't know for sure that she took the money, but I'm about 80%. I know that she needs this job, as well as the one with our landlord. I certainly don't want to accuse her of something like theft without being positive. When I said that I had lost some money and had she seen it yesterday she said no.

Dave is furious. I'm not. I'm just sad. I don't have enough friends (especially friends with children who are occasionally around during the day) to blow this one out of the water. And I enjoy her company, our coffees, laughing about our children and her tips on what to do with kids in Tuzla. But if I think, as I do, that she has been taking money from us it will be very difficult to recreate that trust and intimacy.

I am so disappointed.


Mummy said...

It is horrible when you take someone into your trust and your family and something like this happens. I have a good friend here whose nanny stole from her, just silly small amounts of foreign currency (my friend is an air steward so always had lots of left over cash sitting around). They were torn about what to do for all sorts of reasons - she was part of their family now, they knew she was the sole earner in her family and she sent everything back home to the Philippines, their daughter adored her and was well cared for, even more important when Mum was overseas so often.

In the end they did what you did, just asked if she had seen the money. She said no. However, they then made a point of moving the money to somewhere a bit more hidden and were much more careful where they left cash and any valuables. She got the message and things have been hunky dory ever since.

Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

Oh no - what an awful situation.

I don't know what to suggest. All I know is that you have to be able to trust your friends.

I tried to leave this comment three times now, but blogger is playing up. Am crossing everything this time

Maternal Tales said...

Oh you poor thing. I think I agree with Mummy here. Move the money to another place that she couldn't possibly find and then just carry on. I know that your trust has been broken but (and I don't know here), maybe their mentality is different. Maybe they think you can spare the money and that it's not such a big deal and maybe they are more desperate for it than you know. It's hard to judge sometimes. But it would be a shame to lose a friend (even if she has taken from you).

Just a quick aside cos it made me laugh (in a way). My Mum had a cleaning lady once who used to do her ironing too. Instead of doing the ironing at my Mum's house she used to take it home in black plastic bags. The ironing was always full of my Dad's expensive work shirts. Anyway, one day she came in and said that she was sorry but her husband had thrown the shirts away by mistake. He had assumed because they were in black plastic bags they were rubbish. My Mum was upset but accepted it. A few weeks later my brother and I were doing a car boot sale and we saw the cleaning lady with a stall selling my Dad's shirts!! Seriously. My Mum was not happy after that...

Good luck with whatever decision you make and keep up posted!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Thanks so for all your comments.

Mummy - I think we will probably do the same thing as your friends. We now have a lockable safe box in which all the cash now lives.

Laura - I do agree. It is so difficult when you don't have trust. I'm really struggling with it right now. And I've been having problems with Blogger all day too. Must be in the system somewhere. Thanks for keeping on trying.

MT - Your poor Mum. She must have been furious!

As we are not 100% sure (there is a possibility it could be someone else but it is remote) I've decided to keep her on but just keep a more watchful eye and be less trusting. I'm still sad and disappointed though. I'll keep you posted on any developments.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Oh no. What a disappointment. I think you are doing the right thing - keeping her but making things a bit less easier to grab. As Maternal T said, you never know what's the story behind.

Sparx said...

Oh, oh what a very touchy situation. I agree with the advice - mention it, move the money and carry on. I don't know if you can get them there but we bought a tiny safe that screws into the floor and we installed it in the bedroom closet and covered it with bags. We leave any spare cash or cards or passports etc there just in case. Temptation is easier to resist if it's out of sight...

J. said...

I agree. Move the cash. I understand she's been a friend--of a kind. I lived in BiH; I know the desperation people have, the high unemployment, unresolved war issues, etc...But stealing is not cool. (I say this as a counsellor and former aid worker as well.) That was not an insignificant sum of money. Be wary. Good luck.