The Maid? I Think She’s Taking a Nap

Posted on 25/11/2012

When you’re living in the Philippines, it’s a good idea to hire a maid. They’re not expensive and they make a world of difference for you (and your wife). In actuality, what they call a “maid” over here indicates a person who is far more than someone who will just “tidy up the house”. The politically correct term for these ladies is “helper” but, in actuality, a more accurate term is “servant”. My wife had worked as one, for a well-off family in Hong Kong for over 15 years, when I first met her online. So I thought that it was time that she had the benefit of having her own maid. In case you’re wondering what the maid is expected to do, here is an incomplete list of the things that our current maid does: hand wash the clothes, clean the house, scrub the floors, cook lunch, feed the dogs (six of them), goes to the market with my wife, sweeps the yard, takes care of the plants, helps us prepare for parties, and on and on… We live out in the rural area, where things are cheaper and people are poorer – so we pay her 4,000 pesos a month (about $97.50). She works eight hours a day, six days a week and goes home, down the road, every day. Plus we give her bonuses and help with her family’s expenses from time to time.

Now before you think of me as Mr. Scrooge, allow me to tell you that this is top dollar over here and her friends are quite envious. This is especially true since we’re extremely nice employers, never “bossy” and at lunchtime, she cooks lunch and eats with the wife while watching TV and she works at her own pace and is never rushed. This is unheard of in these parts. Plus, her job with us makes it possible (along with her husband’s rice farmer pay) to send their daughter to the local college (!)

Anyway, of course, I’m referring to my current maid. The first one we got wasn’t quite as good. To say the least. Her name was Rita and she’s related to one of my in-laws (my bother-in-law’s wife’s brother – by way of marriage to his son). Oh, did I mention that she wasn’t quite as good? Well, this young lady did about 1/5th the amount of work that our current maid does and spent the majority of the time either texting on her cell phone or sleeping (!) This is what happens when you forget to see the obvious. Good maids are at a premium, here. The one I have now would easily be working for some other foreigner if our pay and treatment of her had not made her very loyal to us. Her family is close to us and her daughter calls me “Uncle Henry”.

So, why do you think a relative of mine would be foisting his daughter-in-law (who lives with the family since her husband ran off) on me and my wife? That’s right – she was useless! She also had a penchant for wandering off the property during working hours and making off with our fruit to hand out to her cousins. When my wife started a garden (in the hot sun) a neighbor asked her, “where’s your helper”? Well, she was asleep in one of the bedrooms after a hard afternoon of soap opera watching. Even the in-laws felt sorry for us and eventually pointed us in the right direction after they suggested that we fire her (!) So, you may ask, how do you deal with sensitive family issues? That’s up, next.