Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Price of Hired Help

I'm about to delve into a topic that is a bit controversial to those who have not grown up in Asia. It is a part of everyday life here to a large number of people. It can be a great privilege if you find someone wonderful, but a nightmare if you're unlucky. I think I'm somewhere in the middle.

Our temporary helper from the mainland arrived to start work for us over the weekend. We had to hire her because our helper E, which worked for us when we were living here before needs to wait for her present contract to end at the end of September before changing employers. With both kids going to school, no car, Hubby working late hours and me getting bigger by the day, I really needed the extra help around the house.

We already had someone helping me out part-time for the past 3 weeks. I needed the part-timer mainly to wait across the street at 3:30pm for Boy Wonder to be dropped off by the school bus. Nachos gets off school at 3:30pm as well, thus I couldn't be 2 places at the same time. And since we already got the part-timer everyday, I asked her to also do some odd things around the house like ironing and cleaning.

Our mainland helper was not suppose to start until late May, but since it is next to impossible to predict how long it takes for visas to be cleared, I had to get her once it was approved. They are only allowed to stay for 3 months. So in the meantime while both helpers are here, I've been asking the part-timer to teach the mainlander how to iron and take the bus to the market and back.

Although things may seem to be working well at the moment in just 5 days, it was definitely a rough weekend.

I took the kids to pick up our helper at a friend's house who introduced her to us last Saturday. I was told ahead of time by our friend that the helper turned out to be much older than she thought. The helper is 55. I thought as long as she wasn't slow and could deal with things around the house it should be fine.

After we got home I showed her around the flat and told her what chores she will have to do. When I showed her the sink which had a spoon and a fork in it, she simply grab it, rinsed it with water and was about to put it away! I rolled my eyeballs and told her although things may look clean, it doesn't mean it's clean until you have properly washed it. I had to teach her from scratch how to wash the dishes.

That evening she prepared a simple dinner of noodles which was good, so I was at least relieved that she can cook. Turns out she was the company cook at a bank.

The next day was a Sunday so we were all sleeping in. But at 6am I was rudely awoken by noises in the kitchen. Our helper was up and fiddling around in the kitchen. I told to PLEASE not do anything this early in the morning and start when we are awake. But a few minutes later I could hear her in the next room mopping. I quickly got up again and told her to stop and besides, she shouldn't be mopping when she hasn't even swept or vacuumed the floor!

After another hour or so the kids we up, so she thought it was her cue to start "cleaning" again. This time I heard her in the kids' bathroom and I couldn't get out of bed quickly enough. I caught her cleaning the WHOLE toilet with the toilet brush!!! AAAAAAHHHHH!!! I was almost screaming at her to stop and had to show her how to properly clean the toilet as well. And just to be safe, I didn't even bother letting her use one of those cleaning cloths. I told her to just use toilet paper and throw it after each section of the toilet. And I also had to tell her to make sure she washes her hands with soap afterwards.

Later in the day while I was in the kitchen I saw her use a damp rag to wipe off the kitchen counter top. I told her never do that again and that she had to use a squeezed dry sponge and wipe in a uniformed direction. I asked her if she knew why and she said so that there won't be marks? I had to explain to her that if she wiped randomly, she'll just be pushing all the crud back and forth. But if she wiped in one direction, she'll be sweeping all the crud into one area then be able to wipe it all off in one swoop. I told her the same concept applies to mopping. Then I showed her what she had done that morning with the mopping. Since she didn't sweep or vacuum, all the carpet fuzz and crud had caked all over the floor.

I also had to teach her about cutting meats and vegetables separately. She had no idea why she had to do that. I tried to tell her about cross contamination and in the end just told her she had no choice and to make sure she does it. I took out our color coded chopping mats with a cow, fish and carrot printed on each one and told her to follow it. I also said she had to wash the knife properly with washing-up liquid after cutting meats or fish before cutting vegetables.

In addition to all this drama, I also realize she is quite hard of hearing and can't see very well either. Her Mandarin isn't that good as well because she's from Fu Zhou where they speak the Fujian dialect. She can't read that well either because all the Chinese characters here are traditional Chinese while she reads simplified Chinese.

I'm going to bare with all her short comings because I don't want to risk changing her and having to deal with someone even worse. Hubby can't stand her already so its a good thing he's been so busy at work. Nachos don't seem to mind her but Boy Wonder doesn't want her to help him with anything. Its funny how people pick up vibes from total strangers.

At this point we're all really looking forward to Grandma coming here at the end of June. With her here she can help with Boy Wonder and Nachos. School will be over by then and Grandma can keep the kids occupied. Poseidon should be due in early July and the helper will just help me look after the baby and cook. I know Hubby will be rolling his eyeballs again with this, but since this will be our last baby, I want to make sure I eat well, rest well and make sure my body properly recuperates from this pregnancy. I know I won't be under house arrest for a whole month this time, but I'll make sure I make the most of it and utilize the helper as much as possible for as many weeks as I can after Poseidon arrives.

Since the helper can only stay for 3 months, she will be leaving at the beginning of August. At that point I should be back on my feet. Our part-timer has offered to come back whenever we need her again so that should be good until E comes to work for us full-time at the end of September.

1 comment:

Liza Ang said...

jie, you wanna bet she won't last 3months? hahahahaha!!!

how can nachos look *exactly* like you but have blonde hair? she is your mini-me.

btw, if our helper needs training, will send to your training center. hahaha!