If you know Team Osweiler, you know we are not fancy people. We usually can take care of ourselves and don’t mind if a thing or two around the house is out of place. However, we are also very obsessed with watching the TV program Downton Abbey. Perhaps it’s because we enjoy the escapism of another time and place with other problems and complication. Either that or we miss England terribly and can’t wait to get back there some day. But whatever it is, I am glad for our obsessions.
You see, at Downton there are rules when it comes to Upstairs life and Downstairs life. Service is not a position to look down on, it is a job to be respected. People take great pride in their work and the running of a household. Of course, the Crawley Family is rather kind and gracious to their staff, which I’m sure was not always the case back in the day, but none the less, there is a lesson to be learned by us in the middle class who find ourselves thrust into an upper class lifestyle.
Here in Niger, Team Osweiler is in the upper class. No, we don’t have butlers, ladies maids and valets, but we do have house staff. Even before we moved into our home, it was highly suggested we find domestic help for cleaning, cooking, laundry, gardening, etc. and I was one to be very hesitant. “I can clean my own house,” I thought, “and cook my own food.” Little did I know the extent to which these tasks could very easily grow.
However, it’s not just about the cooking and cleaning in this lifestyle. It’s also about creating jobs in a place that is difficult to find good work. We hired a housekeeper who works three days a week here and three days at another home. She cooks the most wonderful meals and works very hard to keep the house in top shape. Our gardener is here every morning watering our plants, washing the car and taking care of the pool. They have great pride in their work and I find that it is an honor to be able to afford their service.
At Downton, service is not about working against one’s will, it is about the ability to do one’s job to the best of one’s abilities. As an employer, if I do not find the respect in that, then I am just another prat who is able to throw some money at a lowly servant. I learned about the responsibility of the upper class to use money to create jobs for the community, rather than lock it up in a bank account, never to be seen. Perhaps if we had more wealthy people investing in the working lives of others and not hoarding millions for what reason, to ship it off shore and avoid being taxed? Maybe the Crawley Family can teach us all a thing or two about what it means to be wealthy.