Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Conversation with my Filippino Helper

The thing about foreign helpers, they "scare" me to a certain degree.

Currently, I have a part-timer who comes in once a week to help with the ironing and some basic chores. Frankly, I dont really need her since I'm doing the main chores on my on throughout the week. However my husband who is used to having a helper prefered to have one coming in once a week to relieve me on weekends.

Well, I always believe in treating helpers right and respect them like you would to a friend. So even though she is a part timer by the hour, I didnt mind her taking time off to have her quick lunch -may it be noodles or bread on me. In return she is equally honest and diligent, and I can safely say we got along well.

Last sat, my helper for some reason started this conversation with me. She started off saying she enjoyed working with us, saying if there is no perfect boss then we are prob close to perfect. She shared that she looked forward to coming our place every sat because she get to laugh, listen to music (my ipod selections), and we never hover around her watchin her (No wonder I always thought she never want to leave our place early sticking around till eve). Then she started to tell me about her HK employer.

She is currently upset with her HK employer because the HK woman is trying to reject her maid's leave back to Philippines. Technically, the maid is entitled to go back for a month based on her accumulated leave. However her HK boss said that her brother just had a newborn and she wanted her maid to help with the new born, so the HK boss said she is "troubled" if the maid return home. I was astonished. How could the boss be so inconsiderate? The maid also have 4 daughters of her own and she hasnt seen them for a year, and she really wanted to go back for her daughter graduation. So I could sympathise with my helper.

While working, even in winter, she isnt allowed to use the hot water because her employer said the hot water may melt the water filter installed at the tap! I was like snorting in disbelief! Melt? Then she must be some HK cheapo to buy something cheap and nasty for a tap filter to melt! I mean tap filter are meant for BOTH HOT and COLD water stupid! She also had to hadwash all the clothes instead of using the washing machine because the HK owner said the washine machine is dirty. How ridiculous?! I was shaking my head. If the washing machine is dirty, go freaking get a new one!!!

Then my helper started to tell me how usually she is told she is disallowed to have breakfast until she finished teh designated chores, and she is also not allow to eat her dinner until all the chores are done. WTF?!! And the dinner is only instant noodles that's it, while the HK family eat their own stuff and told the maid not to touch anything from the fridge. No wonder I was wondering why my maid was so happy when i offered food before and she told me she was very touched. I felt like I am supporting some abandoned and mistreated home pet.

I can never understand some people. Why employ a maid if you cannot be decent enough to treat them right? Instant noodles everyday while you eat your fish and meat before her? What is worse is that my helper cannot let them find teh biscuits she bought or they would stop buying stuff for her assuming she can buy food herself with her own pay. I think it is so inhumane. Even if I am only listening to one sided story, I have a tendency to believe at least 70% is true.

Because the HK family also doesnt drink from tap water direct (since they are often discoloured and yellowish), the maid is suppose to fill the water container with the filtered water from the tap. My maid gleefully told me she deliberately filled it with pure tap water instead of filtered just to spite them. When it comes to laundry, she also deliberately misplace some socks and stuff just to piss off the old lady at home who apparently nag at her everyday. Everyday, she would call her other friends to complain and curse her boss in her own language,calling her bitch, asshole etc etc....I laughed at her description (because I am also not the victim) and told my helper she is sooo bad! My helper looked at me seriously and asked me if i really thought so.

I told her it is not my place to comment since I do not live together, and living together often have conflict and frictions and so its easy to get angry. I did tell her that she shouldnt though unless they really torture her or abuse her rights.

That eve, I told my husband, it is scary to have a live in maid. I am "scared" because you really do not know what they can do to you if you piss them off too much. Which is why we are to date, no keen of ever entertaining the thought of having a live in maid.

I'm just thankful I havent done anything to piss her off!


littlecartnoodles said...

I've been interviewing Filipino helpers to work for us full-time. When asked what they look/hope for in an employer, I was surprised that quite a number simply said, "One that would treat me like a human being"

Employers that expect their helpers to work 18 hours a day in exchange for the minimum wage and 3 cup noodles a day, deserve to have their helpers pee into their soup !

"me-no-mad" said...

No kiddin?!! That is what they said? How sad!!!

It;s funny how "power" has the tendency to corrupts people, bringing out the worst in them.

I agree, people who doesnt treat their maid well deserve their desserts...