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Monday, April 11, 2011

The Indispensable Maids

I have had a tough time on my hands all these days. There is a daily face off with two shrewish maids in the home arena where nobody wins or loses but the match is played daily. It all began in October last when I engaged two part time domestic helps. In the process of hiring itself I had an eye opening experience, as I went through a newer version of an inquisition at their hands. No kidding, it was just that. More demand and less supply have upped the scales in their favour. A volley of questions was thrown at me with a straight confident look. The questions ranged from the number of rooms and bath rooms to the identity of the maid/maids who worked before and how much I paid them and many more. I answered nonchalantly, ostensibly showing a ‘don’t care less attitude’ (though inside I was boiling). As if that was not enough they stepped inside and went from room to room assessing and surveying and talking in low tones between themselves. I was waiting for them in the lounge. After scrutinizing the pros and cons of their decision they inched towards me and said, “We will do your work.”

But I had not bargained for what came next. Without mincing words they declared, “We will have three days off in a month and on some other days if need be, will do half the job to leave early.” I murmured a weak opposition but hired them there and then. To tell you the truth, underneath my so called stiff exterior I nurse a phobia of negotiating terms with the likes of them. Their lives are rough and their language is no less so and I avoid facing their mindless arguments. I made a plan mentally and acquiesced to their inflated demands.

Now their job was done and mine started. I knew that I will have to apply all my management and persuasive skills, to tame this duo of shrews to some sort of reasonable behaviour. I resolved to use my varied experiences of handling hundreds of college students, in the course of my teaching career. In the span of a couple of months with patience and a little tact I thought I would be able to make some positive dent in their approach but I was sadly mistaken. Within a few days I learnt that they are very flighty and take and leave work at will. I really wished to help them as well as myself (the teacher in me always comes to the fore). I tried to impress upon them to stick to the work they have taken up in the first place, but their notoriety continues.

The battle lines are drawn as soon as they enter my house in the morning. I insist on a well done job while they execute a substandard one. One of them moves like a machine as if she is to catch a nonstop express train. Every few minutes while mopping the floor she looks up at the clock on the wall and becomes more energized. If I am not supervising she will skip a room and lie to me that she has done it. She does not seem to have any interest in the work per se and her only motivation is money. The other who cleans the utensils is a compulsive whiner.

While I persevere to make them more human and responsive, I relent that habits die hard. Ask me not why I don’t have another? Any guesses ?

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