Thursday, July 28, 2011

Help La Vida Lanka

Warning: The post that follows is one major rant session on dealing with the help.  Negastar alert!

Handling help seem to be becoming one of my biggest “grown up” concerns.  For one, I’ve never had to handle help before.  Leave that to my mom!  Based on what I see – it is mega stressful.  So stressful that it came a point in time when even my dad refused to hire full-time help.  Our then driver went AWOL after receiving his Christmas bonus and our then maid also resigned or something like that.  In any case when the driver tried to come back, needless to say, he was no longer welcome.  And we settled with driving ourselves (by that time all of us knew how to drive already) and taking a share of the household chores (mostly cooking and washing dishes).  We always had our wash and iron lady as well as a general cleaner.  Manang Franz, our wash and iron lady comes daily (except Sundays) while our general cleaner, Manang Conching comes once a week.

Landing in Sri Lanka, in as much as cleaning is not my forte, since I stayed at home for 3 months, we didn’t find the need to hire help.  Except for the company-provided driver for hubby of course.  When I started working, it was no longer sensible to try to do everything ourselves.  We first had our clothes washed and ironed in a store.  But we were getting unhappy with their services – plus it’s a lot of work taking note of all the clothes we send there.

Maid in Heaven or Maid in Hell? (photo courtesy of

We then hired a maid who does cleaning, ironing and washing twice a week.  She cleans really well, does the laundry ok but not exactly an expert in ironing.  After a while, she was showing some signs of breakdown in performance.  Suddenly my whites became a little blackish, she would displace my things (putting things at odd places – like cookbooks at the topmost shelves – no one is 8 feet tall here!) and not cleaning out the lint in the washing machine and what not.  After giving her numerous reminders and patience running out, today I came home and saw my ruined yoga pants – never been worn and totally brand new.  She ironed it when it wasn’t supposed to be ironed.  She told me she’d pay for it (in installments as the price of the pants would equate to 5 days of her salary) – and I really want enforce it.  Plus a serious talk this Saturday.  After a few ruined clothes plus this – I think it is just fair.

But I am also exploring my options.  Call it serendipitous but my friend just texted me this afternoon that a maid is going to be available soon.  In as much as I want to give my current maid a chance, I also have to watch out for my needs and I definitely don’t need this right now.  And especially not when the Luna comes.  I would need excellent hands to help me around the house – who will not give me unnecessary stress as I focus on Luna when she arrives.     

And those are just my maid issues…

When I started working, the company provided me with a driver.  The first one they gave me was a 22-year-old mad driver.  He doubles as a bus driver on weekends – so I guess that explains the driving skills right?  I had to get the Admin Manager and the Fleet guy to help me discipline him (he knows little English) and sent him to driving school.  His skills improved immensely!  But he asks for an advance almost every month.  Then one day, he went AWOL. 

They were able to get me a replacement after a couple of weeks but this guy, a bit more mature but knew less English than the first one and was a bit, say, “slow” in understanding.  You have to repeat many instructions (even when translated) and he was really getting to my nerves.  Add to the fact that he runs on red lights and loses his mind when he drives (as in "lost" siya).  Come on man, after the first driver – this is what I get?  I don’t even understand why they would assign that kind of a driver to a foreigner! So NOT safe!   

Hubby’s driver is such a find.  Although the English is still a challenge, I would consider it good already.  He is friendly, thoughtful (gives us fruits and food), street smart and has an excellent work attitude.  Of course there are moments when he doesn’t understand certain instructions and ends up really irritating me but his strengths outweigh his weaknesses.  So overall I am happy.

I now have a new driver but hubby and I decided that we’d switch (I’d get his and he’ll get the new guy).  I really can’t deal with a new driver right now – patience has dried up for training and re-training and re-training.  Though he’s really old (think your family driver that grew up with you and still serves your family up to now kind of old) but he is very experienced.  I like his driving style – very swabe and confident.  He actually just came from abroad and maybe also because of his age is having a hard time getting a job.  So we’re lucky to get him at the rate within our budget! 

I’ve heard a lot of “maid” or “yaya” or “driver” stories from my friends.  But never has it occurred to me that I would be dealing with the same issues.  As I build my own household, I also need the help to manage it.  And it is one hell of a task.  It’s like being the head of my own company really.  And if I have the same level of standards with my house help as with my team at work, well that is truly a source of major frustration.  I’m thinking should I lower my standards?  I don’t think so – because it’s the standards that I want for my life and I think we are all entitled to that.  Should I just be happy that I have the help while other people and other countries make it difficult to have one?  What if instead of help they create havoc?  Extending your patience?  Well I guess that is key.  But can’t we just get a really good help around the house?  The talent war is not just upon corporations – it is also on households as well.  And it is a really difficult and a “I really don’t need this right now” kind of challenge.  And one of the most difficult growing up lessons I am learning…  


  1. Ta funny how this is exactly my problem now. I don't wanna post about it because I feel like I'm gonna be judged coz I'm so lucky that I have a maid already who is pinay. I do need someone to talk about it and vent. Can you skype today luv?

  2. Hey sorry just saw your comment! Let's skype!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...