Eh, maybe. Era is really overkill, but it works for a headline.
So* I’ve had a maid come in somewhat frequently for the last, oh, year or so to do cleaning. Started at the old place, of course. She’s Sri Lankan and I don’t think I ever mentioned how I met her. Hmm. Odd.
I was at church. This is sometime in the first, let me see, month or two after I arrived. I went to the washroom. You know, to do stuff that has to be done in a washroom. She walks up to me and asks me if I need a maid because she’s looking for work.
Well, she wasn’t quite that articulate, but that’s the general idea of what she got across.
I’m thinking that this is a pretty inconvenient place to be bugging me, added to the fact that I’m in a hurry, and she didn’t even bother to introduce herself to me. I tell her I don’t need a maid.
Now. First assumption. I’m white therefore I’m rich. Second assumption. I’m white therefore I can’t possibly know how to clean my own house. Third assumption. I’m white therefore I’m too lazy to clean my own house.
Anyway, I end the conversation and go my merry way.
A couple of months later, she assaults me at church again, asking me if I need a maid. Nope, I don’t. This time, though, it’s in the hallway, not the bathroom, so I’m feeling a little more kindly towards her.
I dunno. I can’t help it. I don’t like holding conversations like that in the bathroom. I guess I’m a prude. *shrugs*
I write down her name and phone number.
Half a year later, I talk to her at church – this time in the kitchen – and ask her about how much she charges. She’s not too eager to discuss money, but when I suggest Rs. 300, she’s quite happy with that. I’d done the research before hand and already knew that that was on the cheap side of what foreigners pay, but on the high side of what locals pay. I figured that it was reasonable.
We eventually have her over to clean.
At the old house, which was significantly smaller than this one, she worked hard. I was usually in the living room, and all the rooms there are off that room, so I’m fairly close by to anything that’s happening in the house.
While we were at that house, I had no major complaints about the work she did. Sure, she could give more attention to detail, like behind the faucets in the bathroom. You know, the stuff that anal retentive people like me notice.
Then we move into this big house.
At first, she seems to be okay with getting things done. She’s paying less attention to detail than she was before, but there are a lot more rooms to clean, so I figure it’s a pay off.
Eventually, it reached the point where I think she slowed down drastically and started getting lazy. And not as much was getting done.
At the old house, she could manage to cook a meal – rice, protein curry, and at least two vegetable curries – in about an hour and a half. Maybe two hours. Not as quick as me, but I can let that go.
Lately, she’s taken three and a half to four hours. To cook that same meal. Granted, she washes dishes before she starts, but she did that at the old house, too.
We had her come over last Saturday to clean, and this time, I changed tactics. While she was in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, I sat at the dining room table working – it’s right below the kitchen and means that I have her in sight the whole time.
Then I had her clean all the upstairs bedrooms, and while she was doing that, I went upstairs and did some work of my own – unpacking our books, sorting through papers, unpacking anything else that was left, that sort of thing. So again, I was close by her and could keep an eye on her.
She worked very well. She got a lot done. And I was satisfied with her output.
I told her my sister, niece, and nephew were coming on Thursday and also asked her to come on Tuesday to clean the downstairs. Now, I said Tuesday, not Wednesday, because I know that there’s a possibility she won’t show, and that gives me an extra day to deal with things. Why do I know this? Because she’s done this before. That, and that’s the way things are done here.
So what happens next?
She doesn’t show.
We thought she might show today. Small possibility. She didn’t.
Basically, she’s gotten used to being lazy and doesn’t like me taking control of the situation and making her work harder. So she no-showed to prove to me that I’m dependant on her, can’t live without her. Passive aggressive response. And Fahim says she’ll probably show up next week Tuesday and will play the whole misunderstanding card.
Except that I know for a fact that she did not misunderstand. I made sure of that in the way that I worded things.
And she’s not working for us anymore. By not showing up, she’s lost her job.
Now, Fahim also says that, of course, her expectations are that she’ll still have a job. Because Sri Lankans pull stuff like this all the time. It’s the national way of life. Too bad.
She’s in for a surprise.
And because my sister, niece, and nephew arrive Thursday (tomorrow, now), I’m doing the cleaning instead.
My back hurts. And now I have to hire someone else.