Last Sunday, I fired our two live-in house helpers after discovering that, instead of keeping an eye on the house while we were out, they themselves went out and then sneaked back in the wee hours of the morning. When confronted, they did not deny that they had done it before. Because we have live-in domestic helpers more for security reasons than anything else, and both having proved that they were too irresponsible to do the job, I let them go.
We already knew that their disappearances had to do with the presence of construction workers in the subdivision. A new house is being built in the property right behind ours and I was never oblivious to just how “friendly” our helpers had become with the workers. I knew why it took them forever to walk the dog and why the liked to play volleyball in a nearby empty lot. And since construction in the subdivision is in full force with one house after another being built, there will be construction workers around for months and months.
The ex-helpers sent text messages two days later, apologizing, but we didn’t take them back. A matter of lost trust, really. Haphazard work can be corrected but lost trust cannot be regained with remorse and promises. It’s also a matter of personality. Women and girls who, instead of paying attention to their housework, are more interested in catching the eye of any male who cares to look their way are better off in jobs where they aren’t required to do anything except be neat-looking, friendly and pleasant. I don’t think that flirting is unnatural nor evil but if giggling and whispering and batting the eye become the primary reason for getting up in the morning, well, there are plenty of establishments, here in the suburb or down in the city, with signs that say “Wanted: GROs.” We just weren’t willing to wait around until the day when they’d decide to bring the construction workers inside our house for a quick and friendly tumble.
And that’s just a fraction of the story. Their daily four-to-five-hour afternoon nap is a different issue altogether. I posted the whole lot in my Web log and my readers shared their thoughts and horror stories as well. Let me share a few of the readers’ comments with you. Some have been translated from Filipino.
Jet (a Filipina nurse living in in California with her engineer husband, Jay): “You will realize how liberating it is, I promise you, not to have to ‘get along’ with household help. They’re not anymore like in the olden days who showed concern; now, even you treat them well, you’re just another job to them. Since we moved out of the Philippines, Jay and I learned a whole lot about picking up after ourselves and relying on ourselves so that we don’t end up living in a pigsty… and that’s how we discovered what a good cook he is! We do have a cleaning lady come in for half a day every couple of weeks and believe me, it’s cheaper, more convenient and much more efficient.”
Jomanette: “We had a nanny who left after only a week complaining that the job was hard. My husband was surprised because I bathe the kids in the morning and feed them at noon. At night, my husband looks after them. They take their nap from noon until around 4.00 p.m. So what was so hard about the nanny’s job. After that one left, we didn’t hire a replacement anymore.”
Lee: “Ever since I had my own household, I’ve been looking forward to the day when maids would be dispensable. And now that the kids are able to pick up their own toys and bathe themselves, I think I’m getting there. Right now, the maid is on leave and promised to be back in two months, but I’m not very enthusiastic. And, yes, it’s very liberating… no one to get along with, instruct, get mad at when the work is done badly, and fear that they might be bringing strangers to the house when we’re out. A former maid of my in-laws (we live in the same compound where maids live in a separate house) “adopted” three adults without our knowledge for several weeks?! And we even had a security guard – and he never told us! I know two families in San Lorenzo (Filipinos)and Valle Verde (Chinese) with big houses and without maids. They just have a cleaning/ironing lady and a gardener come in twice a week. Wallah! Peace and quiet… and their houses are so clean!”
Carol B: “I once had a house helper for the same reason as you – we don’t want leave the house unoccupied. One time, we went home with a fire two blocks away from our house and we got scared that the fruit of our labor would be gone in a jiffy. So we hired a helper. We treated her as a member of our family. I even bought her snacks – chips, chocolate, etc. After a few months she developed friendships with other helpers and some useless guys in the neighborhood and that was when problems began. She asked my husband if she could join the volleyball league of our subdivision. Of course, we didn’t let her join because she’d be practicing all afternoon. We reminded her of the primary reason why we hired her. Weeks passed and she had another request – if she could work at SM while she’s still employed by us. How could she serve two employers at the same time? We told her she could work at SM but she had to leave. She chose us. Then one day we came home a little earlier than usual and discovered that she’s not around. Right there and then we fired her.”
Fuzzy’s mom: “The irony of high technology these days… I live in the US and everybody pretty much keeps up with his household chores – no house helps but gosh, sometimes when you go to their homes, it’s a disaster and more so if they have pets and their houses smell very dirty with hairs all over the place and even on their clothes. Can’t stand it! I think we Filipinos like to have an organized and clean house but it’s a gamble finding good and responsible help.”
Louhanna: “Gone are the days of the efficient ‘all-around’ maid. I remember when we were young, we only had one stay-in maid. She woke us up (I have a sister), bathed us, fed us, cleaned the house, did the laundry and ironing of clothes and cook. Now, running my own household, grrrr… They want specific jobs, they watch TV with their feet up… There was one, my goodness, she broke up with her boyfriend then slashed her wrists! I had to have her stitched up and given medication before I sent her packing.”
Gene: “I am pretty sure your household can survive without any live-in household help. Kids grown up, already. We in Canada do everything by ourselves (name it, we do it). There is no help available; yes, those with lots of money to splurge on live-in help can. With almost all appliances and cleaning gadgets around, it’s much easier to maintain the upkeep of the house and the chores around.”
I’d share more of my Web log readers’ comments but I’ve over my space limit already. Bottom line? I am so NOT alone in my gripes about the quality of available house helpers these days.