This morning I sacked her.
Yesterday, on arrival at work Allia looked slightly dischevelled. She had talcum powder on her face and neck and some in her hair. I thought perhaps she had just not noticed when she left the house, so I asked her if she knew that she had white stuff all over the place, and she told me that she had put some powder on to make her skin look younger (she has a date with a taxi driver on Saturday night and obviously wants to look her best).
I left her at home with Connie and went to the supermarket and for my exercise class, expecting when I got back that she would have tidied the kitchen and started work weeding a large veggie patch that we have.
Arriving back two hours later, she had not done anything much at all, and was sitting in the garden with the baby running around (eating a huge banana about 10 minutes before lunch time which was slightly annoying, but I left that). So I went over to speak to her and find out what had happened.
"Oh, she had been at a friend's birthday party the night before and was not feeling so good, so she hadn't really started the weeding yet, sorry," she said.
Then she started rambling on about stuff, and even, I thought, slurring her words. I decided that perhaps one of her gold teeth had come loose causing the slight slurring of speech. Then I went inside to fix lunch for my husband's boss's girlfriend who was coming for lunch.
As I prepared the noodles, Allia came into the kitchen and started going on about how hot it was, and how it had looked like it would be really easy but actually it was quite hard work, and how she didn't really want to do the veggie patch. I told her that if she hadn't just sat around in the garden for two hours, that she could have done the bulk of it while it was still cool. I gave her a hat, told her it was tough luck and to go and get on with it.
Twenty minutes later she was back in. Could she go home? She had had too much to drink the previous night and she felt bad and she wanted to go to bed.
Absolutely not, I told her. She needed to take her job seriously and make sure that she was fit to work. If she had a heavy night, it was not acceptable to come to work and not perform.
She stumbled off to the garden again.
Ten minutes later, back she came. This time going on about her family and all their problems, one minute crying and sobbing, the next giggling like a school girl. I began to really wonder what was up, but then the door bell rang and with some relief I told her to go away as I welcomed my boss's girlfriend for lunch.
We sat outside enjoying a relatively sophisticated lunch of asian salads and noodle dishes, with crystal glasses of fizzy wine and all looking very pleasant and expat, which is the sort of lunch the boss's girlfriend likes.
Suddenly Allia lurched onto the balcony, again looking rather out of sorts, and started gushing over the boss's g'friend. "Ochin Priatna," she said (Soo pleased to meet you). Then again, "It is sooo nice to sshe you," she slurred, talking rapidly in Russian to a lady who clearly did not understand much of what she was saying. "Thanks, Allia, are you going to do the ironing now?" I asked through slightly gritted teeth, thinking to myself, I wish you would go away!
"Gosh, Allia has really lost the plot today," I said to Husband's boss's girlfriend (HBG), who raised an eyebrow in response.
"You don't think she is drunk, do you?" I asked
"Well, it certainly looks like she is," said HBG, "And I owned a bar for 27 years so I should know!" she said.
Allia came out again for more rambling and interrupting our lunch for the third time, giggling again like a school girl.
I marched her into the kitchen and asked her what on earth was going on. Had she been drinking? Only a little bit, she said. She was behaving very strangely and slurring her speech, and not working properly, I told her. She laughed her head off and asked if she could please go home as she needed to sleep.
So I told her to go home immediately and that I would call her in the morning.
This morning, she showed up at work and cheerfully greeted me.
"Allia, please sit down," I told her. "I don't like to say this to you, but you cannot work for me any more. Yesterday was terrible, you were drunk while you were looking after my tiny daughter, and you can no longer work for me."
"Please give me another chance," she pleaded.
"No, Allia, you have had your chances," I said. "I cannot leave you in charge of our beautiful tiny daughter and have you drinking vodka. We live in this country all by ourselves, and have no family nearby to help us with our kids. We trusted and paid you to look after our kids. How can I leave my children with you if I cannot rely on you to be sober?"
"Oh, I will be such a good person. I will never do this again, I will be the best possible nanny you have ever had." she begged.
"No Allia, I am sorry," I said. "You cannot be trusted not to drink. You cannot guarantee to me that you will not do this again, because you never know when it will be a new person's party, or you will have problems that make you want to drink. I cannot employ you any more.
It was all pretty tragic to be honest, and not a very happy moment. "But now I don't have any work," she said.
"Duh! Yeah," I thought.
"It might have been worth considering that before you had a vodka tipple at 9am,"
"I am sorry that you have no work, Allia, but this is your problem. You have done it yourself. I hope you can sort yourself out."
I hope that she will go to the AA here and try to get better. Frankly, she lives a pretty hand to mouth existence as it is, and it is not far to go from having a very small home and a job, to being a destitute alcoholic which I would hate to happen to her.
Quite apart from her problem with drink, I have come to have some affection for Allia, and she for me. She told me that she understood what I was saying and that she was really sorry for what she had done. I gave her her salary and she left.