Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Maid Horror Stories

For almost a year now, my happy and peaceful home life has been challenged by problematic house helps every now and then. My husband and I had been searching and praying for a hardworking and good-natured maid since the last trimester of my pregnancy but we had not been lucky. We have already hired five (5) maids since then. Each one left for one reason or another. We’ve tried referrals. We’ve tried an agency. But until now, all of which I would consider as horror stories.

The first one wanted to leave after a week saying she misses her children. We asked her to wait until she has a replacement and that she pays us for the expenses we have incurred for getting her from the province with her service. I was seven (7) months pregnant then and bedridden. At first she agreed and told us that she understood my situation but the maid changed her mind after a few days and insisted to leave even without replacement. She said that she could no longer wait because she misses her children terribly who were left in the province. So we decided to let her go. We just hope and prayed that we’d find a new one soon. Then some time later (one to two months after she left us), a neighbor of ours told my mother that he saw our former maid in Marikina with her husband. We realized that she did not really go back to the province but used only her children as alibi. She also told my mother-in-law before we got her from the province that she is separated from her husband and that she has no plans of contacting him or reconciling with him. But less than a week since she arrived from the province, she already texted her husband using my mother’s cellphone. All the while my mother thought that she was texting her own mother who was taking care of her children for her. My mother discovered that she was not telling us the truth when she received and read a message from our former maid’s husband. I considered it a blessing in disguise that she already left because she was also a gossipmonger. She tells many negative stories about other people to us. We even see her going to the neighbor’s house to gossip. We told her stop doing that and not to go around the neighborhood talking about other people’s lives. Eventually, since my parents know the people in our neighborhood, they reported that she was also spreading negative things about us. Again, I was shocked and infuriated that someone who hasn’t honored her commitment and who lied to us about her background and real reason for leaving even had the guts to spread negative word about us.

God heard our prayer one week after I gave birth. We found our second maid. This one was younger. I patiently trained and taught her all that she needed to learn in keeping the house clean and in order. I taught her how to cook and how to care for the baby’s things. Not long after we got her, I noticed one by one that our glasses, cups and saucers were missing. I discovered that these had been broken. I observed her how she washes the dishes and found out that she’s not careful that’s why she breaks a lot of things. I could hear the sound of glasses and plates hitting each other as I listen from our living room. I corrected her and taught her how to properly put dishes and glassware in the sink and how to wash them to avoid breakage. Then I noticed that she turns on our tv, dvd player and stereo without asking for permission from us. I sometimes wake up in the morning hearing loud music from the living room. I would see her cleaning the house while playing loud sounds. I was shocked to discover that she even had the nerve to use my husband’s cds. She wasn’t even contented to turn on the radio. Sometimes, when using the radio, I notice her changing channels every so often. My husband and I talked to her about this but I guess she has gotten used to it that she just keeps on doing it every time she uses the radio. One day, my husband turned on our dvd to watch a movie but it wouldn’t work anymore. He was forced to buy a new one since watching movies at home is one of his favorite past times and form of relaxation. She also keeps using earphones while working and when in her room. Thus she could not hear me well when I’m instructing her and when I’m calling her from the master’s bedroom. One time, I went to the maid’s room to look for something in our utility drawers. I saw that her room was in disarray. Things were scattered on the floor. I saw candy wrappers and other trash lying around on the floor and under her bed. Then, what shocked me the most was when I saw my lip gloss and make up mixed with her scattered things and labeled with her name. I immediately checked my things and discovered that they were missing from where I kept them. I didn’t reprimand her about it but I thought that if this girl can get little things from us, then she cannot be trusted also with big things. I became more vigilant towards her. I was shocked with her ways. I was taught by my parents not to touch or get things that are not mine and that if I want to borrow or use something that belongs to another, I should ask for permission. We even practice this between family members. That’s why it surprised me that our maid simply took my things and used our appliances without seeking permission from us. My husband was hesitant to let her go though, because he knows it would be difficult to find a replacement. So again, we tried to exercise patience with her as she performs her duties. Eventually, we decided to send our laundry to the laundry shop because she doesn’t wash clothes well. She also doesn’t know how to iron clothes properly. My husband sometimes ends up ironing his polo shirts again because he’s not satisfied with what she has done. It was really a challenge to live with her seeing her work. My patience was tried day in and day out as I see her watch tv while washing the dishes. No wonder she breaks a lot of things. She also doesn’t clean the house well. The only good thing she does is when she holds the baby, she really very careful and caring. The thing I didn’t like though is that she kisses the baby and listens to radio stations wherein the DJs say words that are not meant to be heard by children. God must have heard my prayer to end my agony because she eventually decided to leave us and go back to the province when she learned that her father died. It’s just sad that the death of her loved one was the reason she left.

Our third maid left after two days. Eventually, I found out that she didn’t like that I ask her to constantly wash her hands after touching raw food and after using the CR. She also thinks that using alcohol before holding the baby was OA. The fourth maid, who now came from the agency, said that she didn’t like the set up in our condo wherein the drying cages are upstairs. She also didn’t like to be asked to go out of the house to do errands. She asked permission to leave and not finish her contract after I sent her to buy Cerelac from a nearby Mercury Drugstore for the first time. I told her that we do our grocery weekly and that she’s only asked to do errands in cases of emergency or if something important from our pantry runs out. Well, she said she has made up her mind and she wants to leave even though she knows that it’s stated in her contract with the agency that she needs to wait for her replacement. I called the agency and reported about the issue. She eventually listened to the agency representative and continued to work with us. But I noticed that she’s usually wearing a scowl on her face while performing her duties and would not even go out of her room unless we call her. Moreover, she goes out of the house without asking for permission or advising me that she’s going out. I just discovered a number of times that she was out and that the main door was unlocked. So, we decided to simply let her go because my husband and I do not like having someone in our house with that kind of attitude. Moreover, we want to ensure our safety.

Then, the agency gave us our current maid. At first, I thought that she’s ok. She knows how to clean the house and she’s doing a better job ironing our clothes. She doesn’t use our appliances without permission. She has broken only one mug so far in the past 3 months. But there are more serious concerns that I noticed in her that I didn’t like. First, she is very rough in handling my baby whenever I pass the baby to her like when I’m going to eat or take a bath or go to the CR. She’s not gentle when holding the baby or when she’s helping me change his diapers. She also talks to the baby in an irritated manner with a raised voice (“pasigaw o pasinghal at pagalit”). I hear her say “O, ano? Pinatak mo na naman laruan mo?” or “Hmmmp! Talon talon ka na naman!” I already called her attention regarding this but she still keeps on doing it that it came to a point that I really got irritated with her. The second thing I didn’t like in her attitude is that sometimes she doesn’t obey my orders and chooses to do things her way. The first incident was when we were at a spa in Gateway. I asked her to hold the baby beside me while I’m having a foot spa. A few minutes later, I was surprised to see her go out of the spa carrying my baby. I got scared! I thought she would kidnap my baby. She was even teaching my baby to wave at me as if saying “bye-bye”. I was so angry that she took my baby away from my sight. I was relieved when after a few minutes I saw them again and I motioned her to come in. Then, I told her not to go out of the spa and to stay close to me.

The next incident happened last weekend at my brother-in-law’s house. We were having dinner so my mother-in-law asked her to hold the baby while I eat. I actually do not mind holding the baby while eating because my husband and I have gotten used to it. One of us usually feeds the other while the other one holds the baby. Especially now that I have noticed how she holds and treats the baby, I have become wary of passing the baby to her. But out of respect for my mother-in-law, I consented. Before I gave the baby to her, I told her to watch her voice because she might already damage the baby’s eardrum by speaking in a loud and brash manner. Then while we were eating she went out of the dining area to the garage area. I told her to stay near the fan because the baby perspires a lot and it’s dark outside. Mosquitos might bite the baby. My mother-in-law spoke to her in their dialect (bisaya) to bring the baby in because she might slip in the tiles outside. My father-in-law did the same, spoke to her in their dialect and asked her to come in. She still didn’t bulge. In my anger, I hurriedly gulped my food down and shouted at her to come in and bring my baby near the electric fan. I was fuming mad. For the second time, she has imposed her will and took my baby out of my sight. She has also shown disrespect to all of us especially to the elders who even spoke to her in their dialect. She was spoken to in a diplomatic voice three times at least but she would not listen. I had to resort to shouting just so she would obey. Good thing she went back in after I shouted at her. Otherwise, I would have stood up, went outside, took the baby from her and reprimanded her on the spot. It was very clear that she was defying our orders and authority over her.

The next incident that she insisted on her will was last night when she insisted that she fetch her niece (also a maid) today who has just arrived from the province and bring her to her employer in QC. I asked her when she has made that plan and decision and why she has not informed me in advance or sought my permission first. I told her that it’s not right that she’s the one committing to meetings or appointments like that without seeking her employer’s permission first. I asked her if someone else can fetch her niece since she didn’t tell me ahead of time that she’s going out today. Then, what she did surprised me again. She said in a raised voice and angry tone, “E sinong pang magsundo dyan e ako ang tiya?! Ako nakipag-usap sa magiging amo nya kaya ako dapat maghatid!” She said this with a scowl again on her face and with matching stamping of feet and shaking of body. I simply chose to keep my mouth shut because deep inside I knew I was already angry too. I didn’t want to have another confrontation with her. So I called her agency and the head of security of our condo and informed them of my maid’s insistence and demeanor. Actually, this wasn’t the first time she answered back after I have corrected her and pointed out her mistake. There was even a time in the past when she pointed a finger at me (“dinuroduro ako”) while explaining herself. Again, angrily. The other time she talked to me that way was when I called her attention after I saw her ironing clothes and using a cellphone at the same time. I told her in a diplomatic way to turn off the hot iron if she’s going to use the phone or talk on the phone later after her work to avoid fire. I was about to go out of her room when she ended her phone conversation and shouted at me saying, “Sobra ka naman! Ngayon ko lang ginawa ito sinisita mo na ako! Kaya ka pala nilalayasan ng mga maid mo! Masyado ka mapanita!” When I heard her say these words and saw her talk to me again in that way, I lost my temper. I shouted back at her reminding her that she is talking to her employer and that she is at fault and that I have all the right to set the house rules and correct her when she’s violating them. We ended our confrontation the other night when she said that she will only work until the end of the month. I immediately informed her agency of what happened.

The head of security came to our unit and talked to both of us about our disagreement. I was surprised that she spoke so politely to him and in a very low voice. She spoke in a gentle manner to me in front of the head of security. Only a few minutes have passed since she lashed at me. That means that she is capable of showing respect and that she intentionally disrespected me and defied me.

Of all the maids I had, this one was the worst. All my previous maids do not answer back when their mistakes are being pointed out or when they are corrected. They admit that they are at fault and say that they’ll do better next time or will simply say they will leave. My current maid is the only one who behaves brashly and acts as if she’s the employer. I have worked with janitors and drivers before and all these people have become my friends. They were so courteous and are even very eager to serve me. This maid is very different. She has violent tendencies. Imagine, she had the nerve to shout at me, talk to me in that way and point a finger at me in my own home!

Last night, my husband and I talked to her and discussed our issues. I was very disappointed because she denies all that she has done and said to me and that she talks to the baby in that manner. She said she could not remember any of those times. Then, I asked her to watch me while I help her remember all those incidents by re-enacting them in front of her and my husband. You see, I have photographic memory. When an event or incident has made an impact on me, I can remember exactly what happened from the facial expressions, body movements, position of the person, exact location of the conversation or event, the actual words used and sometimes even the clothes that the person was wearing. I have an eye for details. Many times I can recall and recite in verbatim what has been said. So, I felt frustrated when she started denying the incidents I’ve recounted. Then, I asked her, “How would you feel if I record and videotape all our conversations?” She said, “Bakit naman kailangan pa umabot sa ganon?” I answered, “Dahil ‘di mo maalala ang mga ginagawa at sinasabi mo.” (Because you can’t remember what you say or do.) Then, my husband told her that maybe she’s not aware of her words and her ways and that she’s already offending another but she did not notice. She kept insisting that she can’t remember anything like what I have recounted. Then, my husband asked her if it’s possible that she was able to do and say those things in the heat of the moment. It was only then that she hesitatingly admitted that maybe she was able to do or say those words.

This is really a horrifying experience for me considering that I even got her from an agency. My husband and I thought that maids from agencies are better. But we were wrong. My consolation is that I learned some lessons and that this experience has strengthened my resolve to stay home and personally take care of my son. If she could do those things to my son in my presence, what more could she do in my absence? It’s a good thing I noticed her ways right away. I was reminded once more that even when you treat other people in a very nice way, there’s no guarantee that they will treat you the same way. Sometimes, they even do bad and mean things to you. I learned that basic etiquette is not practiced by many people these days. That some people do not acknowledge their mistakes even when it’s already obvious. That sometimes they even have the nerve to get angry at those they have offended. That some people do not know or simply choose to show respect to their neighbors even when they deserve their respect. That it’s really different when family members especially mothers care for their little ones. There is love in every touch and in every word spoken. Even when you get tired or irritated at times, you still hesitate to react or respond negatively to the child. And when you make the mistake of giving in to your emotions or tiredness, you feel remorse that you have done something wrong. I still thank God that He has allowed this to happen. At least now I know better how to handle maids and how to be extra careful and vigilant to ensure my family’s safety especially that of my child. I still hope and pray that one day we would be able to find a good house helper. Nothing is impossible with God anyway.

These maid horror stories over the years taught me many lessons in handling/dealing with maids. These experiences also moved me to come up with house rules and to develop a maid manual that I can use to orient newly-hired maids and to supervise them. I'm sharing this manual for free here in my blog to help other homemakers like me in managing their maids.

Download Mommy TG's Maid Manual for FREE! 

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