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Monday, October 08, 2007

Is there a Maid Made for me?? This one is to Support you Rohini

Rohini posted on her pillars of strenghts- her multitude of maids that help her get along with life.
There were comments and there were comments- the terms maid, the question on employing maids and the (un)fair treatment.
My many bits on the same to those who do not understand the intricacies of maid management.
1. Skill Check- If I were to not employ maids/ servant/ help/ cleaner /any other politically correctly termed personnel- I do the cleaning, washing, housework and become a maid in Itchyland with little or no time to spare for the men in my life- kids, hubby and myself. Hell, the rest of the men in my life would have never come into the picture if I had housework sitting on my head. And with my limited skills of jhaadoo pochaa, my home would have been a perennial mess. Going by pure management skills- outsource if you are not competent- I outsource that and employ employees for their skill set in home care and pay them as per the prevailing market/ neighbourhood rate.
2. Keeping a maid is economically viable- Given that if I were to do my own housework, I would have been kicked out of office for late coming and early leaving- my potential to earn in my current job is multiple times more than what I would have earned as a maid in my own house or what I spend on hiring an employee to work for me. Pure economic sense to hire a help.
3. Pros & Cons of a full time maid-
a) your cooking menu and recipe should match their likes and dislikes rather than the converse.
b) if you feel like skipping a meal/ cooking and doing with left overs/ bread/ nothing/ fruits- the maid does not allow it or rather you don't allow yourself because of the maid
c) If you live in a 2-bedroom/ bathroom house - it becomes a 1-bedroom/ bathroom house- automatically no one uses the other one because of the mess she makes and does not bother to clean up. Try and ask her to sleep in the hall if there are visitors- goodbye to late night/ gossip sessions with your guests
d) the refrigerator no longer belongs to you- all chocolates/ juice/ fruits/ milk/ eggs/ snacks vanish / disapparate - infact the foreign-chocolates are stashed in your cupboard or in the locked drawer in the living room for safe keeping. And you never get cold water for yourself.
e) You can't have a late night- she might complain to the agency that it disturbs her- since you are treating her as another family member, if there are visitors and your dinner gets delayed she ought to bear with the delayed dinner and not crib.
f) No more Privacy- cannot fight in peace with your spouse, cannot talk for fear of eavesdropping, can't have a quickie on the sofa (the price we pay for keeping fulltimers!!)
g) perennial worry of she letting someone inside your house while you are sleeping and therefore you are forever locking doors and walking with all the keys
g)The good part is there is no morning uncertainity, help on hand 24 by 7.
4. Pros & Cons of a Part time one- uncertainity- most of her relatives fall sick/ die/ marry very often. The refrigerator part holds true for part timers also. Atleast they are out of your hair by evening. Sometimes it is a pain locking all over and watching your back.
5. Even your cupboard is not yours anymore- 6 months ago- my sisters gold bangle, moms Rs 5K, MIL's Rs 2K vanished. 2 weeks ago I have noticed that a platinum bracelet worth sing $ 600 that Hubby got for my birthday is missing from my cupboard- I really don't know what to comment on this. Few minutes ago I was contemplating using hypnosis to find out where it is. You can't outright blame anyone because you have no proof.
6. The baby maid's duty is to boil the milk morning and evening- 1 evening I come back and happen to notice that the milk is way above the normal level, there is no cream and once emptied there was no cream settled at the bottom of the vessel- the milk boiling duty is summarily handed over to me and MIL and the refrigerator locked from access to the maid.
7. Refined oil- 1 litre over in 1 week without anyone using- every few days 1/4th used to go missing and cunningly done on the days MIL used to do some cooking. Later she said she uses gingelly oil only for her cooking.
8. Ojas is very clever in pointing out at people who hurt him. I strongly suspect one of the maids twisted his arm slightly because he suddenly started screaming and pointing at his arm and looking at the maid. She was the only one in the vicinity and he was coming on the way when she was cleaning the floor. But i had no proof to pull her up for that.
9. When the maids turn up late, we reach office late and have to manufacture new excuses everytime because you cannot always say maid did not come to your colleauges- sounds unprofessional and a blot on your managerial skills- one day they will start wishing that they had hired a man who will just not bother if maid does not turn up and will go along with their work.
10. You fix a maid as per time of arrival at work, work hours, job description, amneties- food/ tea etc. In my case for the house cum baby maid (until I could find and hire a baby maid) it was supposed to be 6 am to 8 am, return visit at 11 am to 2 pm so that the housework is done in the morning and she goes on to do the other houses and come back to help with the babies. I increased her salary proportionately and offered lunch. The lunch happened, salary happened, timing moved on to 7 then 7.30, then 8 and now 9 without consulting me. The baby maid was hired from 8.00 to 7.00 pm - It has become arrival anywhere between 9 and 10 am and going back sharp at 7. Earlier if I come home earlier and half day on weekends - all this without negotiating with me.
11. Only tea was agreed to because my MIL cannot be servicing their requirements all day. She gets her own food. Now they emotionally blackmail my MIL into doing dosas for them. If I happen to give them some food over the weekend they start bullying MIL during the week days to continue as I did- what the hell!
12. Advance happens every week inspite of agreeing on a monthly settlement.
13. They love to talk against me to MIL and against MIL to me- subtly offcourse-"don't you want to apply oil to the baby"- I say no. "Oh, Amma does it". I say- good, so I need not do it.
"Why is the bathroom dirty". "Amma used it". Expecting me to go and fight with MIL for leaving the bathroom floor dirty with foot marks. "I hired you to clean up the bathroom also, so why didn't you do it?" is what I say. Tyrannical it may sound but as it is my MIL is old and sick and taking care of 2 doubly troublesome is not an easy cake. So I can't expect her to do a non-messy job of everything.
14. They love to take weekends off- the only day when I can supervise the housekeeping, do some re-training and relax from my weekdays.
15. Inspite of 2 maids my home is dirty because they don't bother with the nitty grittys on the week days - dusting, cleaning the table...the works. They stand to attention on the weekends they manage to make an appearance and (re)lax on other days.
16. The baby maid sleeps when the babies sleep- Can I even begin to think about sleeping because I was awake the entire night feeding/ changing nappies / taking them to toilet/ getting them the bottle?
17. Method of hiring- word of mouth is by far the best- and better if they live close by and not depend on public transport. The agency took 1 month's salary and each one- 3 in succession worked for 1 month each- that was 2 agencies and 3 maids- because when 1 left, they never replaced and I had to go for another one. The last one lasted for 2 days and left along with the bangle and cash.
Infact each one takes a share - 1 set of new clothes of the kids are missing, dosa batter was missing apart from the big ones.
Inspite of all, I have never sacked a maid- the cost of looking for one is more- emotional costs included- stress, can't pay attention to work etc. Each time I vaguely think of changing a maid, they throw a googly upon me and quit and the good one dies (yes 1 did).
While the sympathies are with the maids (if car and cycle get hit, the car fellow is blamed even though it was the cyclist's fault), the maids take full advantage of the working women- and they don't fear anything- If they come late do you punish them by giving them a demotion or not paying bonus or giving them the pink slip? Will their career come to an end? Will you give them a pay cut? Come month end and you will pay full salary and give empty threats of cutting pay the next month for absence. We can have a leave policy for them if they manage to come for more than 20 days a month. They know they are indispensible and while they have multiple jobs on hand we do not have multiple maids on hand. And they get to work for many employers so lot of job security.

***The above may sound angsty, but I am angsty after the bracelet incident and will continue to be so until I magically find it because I have been talking of security camera, astrologer who can find out the thief, going to police, finger print checking etc very loudly...(hypnotism is the secret thought)


Shobana said...

What a shame...abt the lost stuff I mean and what a bad lot of maids we have these days..every one wants to exploite the other person. And there are some people who want to support such people...


Minka said...

Oh yes !! outsource the drudgery and concentrate on your core competence - what works for corporates works for homes too . I say this line to anyone who asks how I "manage". MIl had to be convinced of course. I just don't know how she worked for 30 years and did all house work and cooking herself ! Even if it's a 1-BHK in Mumbai, it's hard work. But all other aspects of her life were obviously wiped out. I wouldn't want that for myself ! But that's the choices people make !

Rohini said...

Great post - I think the pros and cons of full-timers versus part-timers are covered well.

Your post made me feel really good about my maids because they really are excellent - I have never missed any money or jewelery and mostly, they are quite punctual and let me know well in advance if they want a day off. I guess one takes these things for granted - thanks for making me appreciate them all the more :)

Lavs said...

What a post. You have summed up the “maid” situation so well that I can picturize you and your maids in my mind’s eye. I agree with all your points and fear to think what would happen when I become a mom and go back to work!!!

Lavs said...

Itchy-Pls claim your winner badge.

Lavs said...

it looks a bit elongated na? It is just a jpg image, download it again from my page, and i will also send it as an email attachment to you. download on your comp and upload!!!

Lavs said...

looks like its raining awards and badges at this site! Rock on!

lumi said...

In the U.S. the vast majority of us do it ourselves :) Just to get someone to come clean once a week for an hour or two costs $100 a go which is quite out of reach of most. As a result everyone in the household pitches in when it comes to cleaning and chores. My daughter is a champ at laundry and dishes and cooking simple meals, my former husband was excellent at laundry, vacuuming, and dusting, and I cleaned the bathroom and mopped the floors, while everyone did their part to keep things organized in general. Yes, we both worked full time. Frankly, I'd rather do it all myself and know that things were done the way I liked, nothing went missing, and I didn't have to feel like a prisoner in my home.

Liveazee said...

Everything that you have posted is ALL true. I recently ran a small experiment by starting a "Maid Agency" in Bangalore. This idea came up when I was researching on something else & found out that even the Agencies are no good and they fleece a lot of needy people.

So I thought of doing something about it & the result is a Home Staff Register which can be used for reducing the kind of experiences that you have faced with hiring domestic help, cooks & maids.