Monday, November 28, 2011

The trouble with maids...

A week ago, I sent the maid packing. Immediately, that same day.

We already had plans to let her go and she knew that. I'd given her notice already so she had been sourcing for an employer but finally decided to go home so we'd bought a ticket for her to leave in December.

But last week, the crazy woman with more than one screw loose tried to pull one over us by pitching a 'fainting fit' when we said she could not go off that Sunday. For the record in case you're some diehard human rights activist reading this, we're not unreasonable ogres who keep our maids in chains. First, she was entitled to two days off. I had already given her THREE days off in the span of two weeks, as well as an advance on her salary. Second, she did not bother to ask us or inform us that she was going off that Sunday. I thought that was basic courtesy at the least.

So we said no. And immediately she started fake-hyperventilating loudly and then fell -  rather gracefully I might add - into a faint.

Both KH and I stared at her for a second before I started laughing. I couldn't help it. It was sheer bad acting. I was also furious that she dared pull this stunt to hold us to ransom. To take the cake, while I was laughing and telling her off, she actually opened her eyes and looked at me before closing her eyes again. Less than five minutes later, she got up, went into her room and started messaging on her phone. So much for 'fainting'. Fastest recovery ever.

Bad acting or not, it proved that she was clearly not right in the head and quite unstable. It would not be safe or wise to leave the kids with her in the house. So there and then, I told her to pack up and we shipped her off to the agent, changing her ticket to a flight that left the same day. I was so glad to be rid of her. She took with her 7 pieces of luggage including five mobile phones, and almost left her room full of garbage, waste paper, sweet wrappers, dustballs, three pairs of shoes and an unmade bed. Had I not seen all the gunk, I would have been left to clear all that. As it was, I made her do it before we took her to the agent.

Still, I thought she got off lightly. I was so angry that I wished murder was legal.

For all the trouble, the lackadaiscial quality of work she gave, I felt really short-changed as an employer. We housed her, fed her, paid her and followed all the terms of her employment contract. She started off blur for someone who claimed to have three years experience (I later found out it was three years with four employers), and eventually added insolence and entitlement into the mix. Towards the end, it became so frustrating to deal with her, to instruct her and to supervise that I'd rather just do the work myself instead of asking her to do it. She was just slothful and incompetent. All I wanted was fair work and I didn't even get that from her.

So right now, I'm quite bitter about my experiences and really not feeling very charitable to any domestic worker or even to any human rights activist who dare champion these so-called 'rights'. These people should spend time in my shoes, spending the sort of money I've had to spend on lemon maids, have them enter their homes, wreck their possessions, put their children in danger through thoughtless behavior and still try to pull off irresponsible stupid stunts like that.

Not all maids are like that, true. Neither are all employers the Simon LeGree activists seem to love to paint. Before anyone starts to champion these causes, maybe they should walk a mile in the shoes of employers first. The maids have recourse to their embassies, to the activists and shelters. To hear the activists talk, employers often look like slave-driving, sick, sadistic, power-hungry opportunists. Okay, maybe some are. But what of the majority? What recourse do employers have when their maids turn out to be nightmares? Who speaks up for the employer who got scammed into hiring someone unfit and unsuitable?

I'm not even talking about the ones who completely go off the rails, but just the ones who are incompetent or lazy or both. Has any activist tried training someone like this? Especially if you believe the bullsh*t on the CVs they give out. It's annoying and frustrating enough to give you a coronary! Activists may think that maids are given the short end of the stick here, but there are maids who come here and think it is a stepping stone to freedom, a swinging social life etc, happy to do the bare minimum and demanding more from their employers.

This is the second one I've had to change in less than a year. I'm not a demanding employer, in fact I've been accused of being blind to their faults to the point of laxity. I don't make unreasonable demands like some employers who dictate everything from hairlength to mobile phone usage. I've given previous helpers a great deal of leeway and freedom - just ask any who've worked with me. Yet even this was not enough. For the record, I changed the one before this because she was busy moonlighting as a mamasan for other maids, matching them on their off days, with men. My neighbour complained after she'd persisted in offering her services to his maid.

These horror stories are more common than activists like to think.

To ship someone off, find someone new, get used to them, train them all over again is an expensive, exhausting, painful process with no guarantee of success. Each domestic disaster just makes you angry, more wary and less trusting. Its a vicious cycle that bodes no good for anyone - employer or maid.

We all have choices to make and nothing is ever a "no choice" situation. I put up with this because I acknowledge that I am not a superwoman. I've tried juggling housework, chores, cooking with a full day at the office, attention for kids etc and I just end up exhausted at the end of a very long day that starts at 5.30am and ends at midnight. I've come to the conclusion that we just can't have it all.If I want to keep my day job and even consider to increase my work hours, I'll just have to learn to close both eyes, grit my teeth and bear it - shoddy work, poor attitude and sometimes, psycho behavior.

I'll be a fair employer and give her what is due, what we agreed on in terms of pay, off days, sufficient rest, privacy etc (note, dear activists - what WE agreed on, not what YOU think is 'fair') I just won't be someone who treats the maid as 'part of the family'. She isn't and will never be part of our 'family'. She is an employee and I am an employer. Let's be professional about this. Compassion, love, and other warm fuzzy feelings are extra and not included in the package.

Any bleeding-heart activist who gives me drivel about this can just go stuff a sock in it.

1 comment:

Diane Wee said...

Oh no! From someone who had to change 3 maids within the year, I really feel for you. At least you managed to get your old maid back. I'm praying that my #3 will finally make it. Sigh.