When I was in Grade School, all my friends and I could talk about was when we'll reach High School and stop studying. When I reached High School the topic shifted to boys and dating. When I got to college, almost the same topic was discussed who was dating whom, what careers we would eventually go to. After college, we discussed about settling down and about the future.
When I got married, the number one topic of discussion - the house help.
There are people who are lucky to find that perfect helper that will stay with them for a long time, while some are unlucky and keep changing from time to time. It is stressful because managing a household is not easy. Believe me, it looks easy but it's not.
This brings me to my recent stressful moment. Helper woes.
You see, I have this helper who is very lazy. I already made out a list of things to do, printed them on paper and even laminated it for her so she can browse on it from time to time. But she doesn't care, she just does her own thing. She was with me for seven month. Until I really got tired of reminding her of things to do - I had to let her go. But before she left, I got to speak to the sister of a friend's helper - the sister of the friend's helper was looking for a job (she was based in Bacolod), and thus I asked to speak to her, to interview her a bit. I asked if she was masipag, and she said yes, I asked if she could cook, she said a little, I then told her her salary and that there's a day-off of only once a month and I do not allow overnights day-offs, she agreed. After the conversation - my friend then sent money for their boat fare and their 1k salary advance. After a few days - she got to Manila, I had to pick her up at my friend's house. She seemed really nice and looked decent, although I doubted her age, she said that she was 39 but she looked older than 39, but I didn't mind this little detail. I was more concerned on how she'd work. For a week, my mom's helper was with her to help her out and guide her on what she has to do.
My mom's helper who has been with us for about ten years told me in confidence that my helper has told her that she wished that they were together, and that my mom's helper doesn't leave her alone. This made me wonder, why she would say that. After a few days with me, when I was about to go to work, she asked if she could make an advance on her salary. This made me laugh, I mean - barely a week with me and she's asking for a salary advance? I then told her about my policy on not granting salary advances, she then told me that she just asked me, she was taking a chance that I might say yes. I also lent her a cellphone so I can contact her in case of emergencies, and so that her family can contact her too! I gave her a load good for one month also, so she can make calls right?
After a few week, when I reminded her to always have breakfast prepared for my Panget, she burst into tears and told me that she was having a hard time cleaning the whole house and that she was takot to cook for for us because we might not like what she has cooked. She then proceeded to tell me that she didn't expect to work for a Chinese couple. This irked me because what the hell is the difference working for a Pinoy, American and Chinese couple? If she was looking for work, whatever race her employers was should not matter right? But I guess for her, it mattered heavily. She then told me that she's feeling numbness in her arms from working all day. First of all, I NEVER told her to clean the whole house everyday, in fact - I have a laminated list of things to do everyday, once a week and once a month! Where did that come from? When everything was settled and cleared, she then looked happier and normal.
Then come last week, she asked me if there was 'something' in our house, because she felt that there was. She was cleaning our bathroom one day and she said that she felt something touch her waist. I then told her that it might have been hunger or paranoia because if there was indeed something, my two previous helpers would have mentioned it, my mom's helper would have told me too.
Last Saturday during dinner, she went up to me and told me that she wanted to leave already. This was because she felt something and was really afraid. She then told me that the night before, she saw something - a black shadow going up the stairs. She said that she couldn't sleep and that she has been bothered for a while. I am not the type to force the issue, if she didn't want to work anymore, by all means go! She was convinced to go, she even said that her brother will pick her up the next morning. She then called her sister, my friend's helper - her sister then asked to speak to me, she asked me if I had a problem with my helper. I told her that I do not have any problems, it was her sister that had issues with the work and the house, she then asked me if it was okay to still take her, I said yes of course but it seemed like her sister was convinced to leave already. I then told my helper that my mom suggested for me to buy a radio for her to use since the house was quiet during the day. After saying that she told me that was willing to work again, and so I accepted.
Just before lunch, I received a call from my friend. She told me that my helper spoke to her sister and told her that she didn't have any food to eat for the past two weeks. What the hell?! My friend said that she called me so that I could fix whatever issue there was with me and my helper. I thank this friend of mine, THANKS S!!
I was honestly pissed, I then confronted my helper. I told her what was this she was telling her sister that she didn't have food to eat. She then burst into tears telling me that she wasn't eating because she didn't know what she was allowed to get frozen chicken & meat from the freezer and veggies from the refrigerator. I was very much irritated because all of my helpers knew (because I told them from Day 1) that they could get anything from the fridge. She said that she didn't recall me saying it - which was honestly bull because she remembers me asking her what she wanted to eat! Why would I ask her what she wanted to eat when I didn't want to feed her in the first place? When her sister would call her to ask what she had for lunch, she tells her that she hasn't eaten lunch, of course - her sister will get worried right? I then asked her why she didn't eat - she then tells me that she has lost her appetite after doing her chores - now, is that my fault?
I was really worked up and so I asked her, if she was just making an excuse to leave her work, because I don't buy those excuses - she could just tell me flat out if she wanted to leave and I will let her leave! Why make an excuse to leave right? She then said that she wanted to continue to work, but she had to call her sister first to ask if she will stay or leave. Oh my gosh, by this time - I was pissed. If she had to ask her sister EVERY little detail, then she might as well ask her sister for her salary! I mean why ask her sister's opinion? Couldn't she decide on her own? My gosh! I then waited for about 15 minutes while they spoke - her sister told her to work till she reaches a month so that she can at least get part of her salary, to which I agreed. I would let her go easy because I advanced her part of her salary and the boat fare, how was I supposed to get those back right?
I have to say, I treat my helpers very humanely. I give then more than enough food, they share what my Panget and I eat. I encourage them to take breaks and even tell them to watch TV at night. I speak to them in a very soft tone using 'po' for elder helpers. I never raise my voice to them and when I need something, I ask them nicely with a smile and say thank you after. I have never threatened them nor have I hurt them in any way. I do not understand what this current helper's problem is, I am honestly hurt and confused. I mean, it would be okay if ever I did not give her food, but I always reminded her to take food from the fridge, I even have a stash of sardines, instant noodles, corned beef for her in case she gets hungry.
Hiring help is so stressful, what more in the coming months when I'll be looking for a good and capable yaya. Will they get along? Hahaha!!
These woes of ours tell us that we're in a certain stage in life. Right now, I'm at the stage of newlyweds looking for good help! hahaha...
Oh yeah, I asked her real age - she's 42.