Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Do You Treat Your Maid - Part 2

Not long, a second maid came through the recommendation of my landlord. I cannot remember her name but I always remembered her smile. She's always wearing a smile from day one we met her. I know she's only 17 year of age but they always tell you at least 2 years more. I was told she lived far away (at the mountain area) - about 2 days travel to come to our town. She's the only child and taken care by her grandmonther. Had not worked before and sure enough she doesn't know how to cook/clean. Perhaps I cannot say she doesn't know how to clean - she doesn't use a mop before or floor detergent. Back in kampong, they sweep floors, maybe mop only on occassion. We must not assummed that those maids from "kampong" knows how to operate modern household appliances. An eye-opener to me initially having talk to her to understand her background. Her grandmother does very thing for her. So how can I expect to know how to do simple things. But then it didn't bother me because I was interested in giving her training to do things "my way" and not be "manipulated" again as in the first maid's case. Of course, I had to be strong with my words at times because she behaves like a little girl. Actually she's more at home, do what she's like when she had done her work. I don't mind but still need to draw a line somewhere. Once, my husband and I went out in the car but forgot something so we drove back. We heard loud music from our house. She had tuned on the hi-fi and enjoying the music. I've to tell her she can listen to the stereo but had to keep the music down so as not to irritate neighbours. We gave her alot of freedom at home and would take her out when we do not cook (usually on weekends) but she always prefer to stay home. She can talk to maids next door but I always remain her not to talk too long as their "ibu" may not like it. Do you know that even in Indonesia, maids at almost every household, the employer also practise what some Singaporean employer does. Cannot go out, cannot talk to other maids... I think the problem here is that Singapore employers are afraid their maids will learn "bad things" from other maids as well as comparing salary, off-days.... Sure we are worried but they do need some socialization besides the employers family. If she is treated well I don't see problems. Also very important, like this 2nd maid of mine, she's a true kampong girl and is not afraid of anything, you've to have patience to train her and speak to her openly. I always tell her that if she has any problem in understanding what I said, always asked again and clarify. There should not be problem when things are understood. Well, back to track, I left for Singapore again after her arrivial about 3 weeks later. One morning, my husband called me from Indonesia and again the story started with "her grandmother is sick, she needs to go home for a while." This story was often repeated (I was told by the locals), it's a way of wanting to be released from a few days of work to go "home." My husband and I knew that she will not return after she left. I went back to Indonesia the next few days and the maid was told she can only go home when I returned. I arrived home around late morning and she was ready waiting for me. She packed all her belongings (not much) and asked if she could take that new pair of shoes which I bought for her. I told her she should leave it, not having the trouble to bring back again (it's actually a sign to her that she should leave without taking anything from me since she is not coming back again). I gave her our home phone to contact us when her grandmother is well enough for her to return to work (in my heart, I was hopping she would come back as we got along quite well and I didn't want to start training a new maid again). Well she left, and no news for 3 weeks until one fine day, she called to tell me that she is not coming back. At least she had the courtesy to inform us.

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