Sunday, 2 October 2011

Where are Perfect Maids Made?

Maids come in all shapes, sizes, colors and attitudes. Some are thin and some are fat. Some are dark and some are fair. Some are active and fast at their work, others are sloppy and slow. Some are quiet and have a subtle presence while others are loud, noisy and always eager to talk.But whichever one you hire, after a while you end up feeling not-quite-satisfied and wonder if our neighbor has a better, more efficient and more regular maid.

Not really! She has the same sob stories to tell if anybody would care to listen. Care to listen? Of course! From short corridor chats to lively and animated kitty-party discussions, to a serious exchange of strategy tips of managing them at office lunch breaks ... this is one common topic that unites all women.

The fact remains that maids are an extremely important part of our lives. Even the men in the household will swear by this. Who has not been through depressing and almost mournful mornings when the maid has chosen to take leave, unannounced? It is also true that maid management is more complex than project management. However, if you develop a closer understanding on this important matter, you are likely to be able to use your  people management soft skills more effectively.

This is what I have figured out:

1. Maids deliver only 70% of what they agree upon.

What You like to think - "She agreed to a set of tasks before we negotiated the salary and she better do them all."

What is the reality - She will take short-cuts whenever possible. If you are not looking, she will skip sweeping under the bed. If you point out and make her do that, she may skip washing the basin in the bathroom. There is a good chance that by the time you enter the bathroom and figure it out, she would have finished the work and left. Next day, when you carefully supervise the bathroom cleaning, she may put the vessels in the drawer without drying them.

What You could do - Accept it, learn to live with mediocrity in life. If you are too particular, hire multiple maids and allocate fewer tasks to each. Are you done? Not really, supervise them closely. Of course you run a risk of earning the reputation of a hard task-master amongst the maids.

2. On an average, a maid will take one day off in a week.

What You like to think - "What? 4 Leaves? I agreed with her that she will take a maximum of 2 days leave. And that too after informing."

What is the Reality - On rare occasions, they inform in advance--maybe during festivals like Diwali, Eid, Holi. Other times, they do not leave us with any clue. The next day, they come up with indisputable problems like 'I had a severe headache', 'My relative was ill' etc. I once had a maid who worked with me for several years. She was unusual in her honesty. One day she said 'I will not come in the evening as I am taking my kids for a mela'. Another time 'I am taking my kid for a birthday party for the first time'. I found the reasons too sweet to dispute. In fact, once she took a day off, and when I asked her next day, she said 'I just did not feel like coming to work'. Acceptable, I thought, there are days like that with everyone. As far as this is not a regular habit.

What You can do - If you can live in a not-so-clean house for a day, try to do as best as you can and then go eat out. It is a deserving excuse with multiple benefits. It will cheer you up and lift your spirits and it will help by not increasing dirty vessels to an already full sink. If this solution does not look acceptable, plan for back-ups. Hire multiple maids for doing different tasks (if you have more money to shell out, hire them for same tasks, it does not hurt getting the house swept once in the morning and another time in the evening too). But if you think otherwise, then one is on leave, you are left with fewer jobs on your head. If you are lucky, the other one will agree to do those job for extra money, and your life will be as smooth as any other day.

3. They love perks at the job.

What You like to think - "Perks? What for? She is getting a good salary."

What is the Reality - Who does not like perks at work? Those tea-coffee machines in the office are almost a necessity.

What You could do - Each maid has a weakness for something. Indulge in that, at least few days in a month, if not on a daily basis. Some have a deep craving for tea. Some appreciate getting something to eat as they leave early in the morning without eating much. Most of the times, they will be happy with a few slices of bread and pickle. If you feel like pampering them, toast the bread for them. They really appreciate it. Another very common and well-appreciated perk in summer is cold water. Almost all of them love to have a glass of  fridge-cooled water.

So coming to 'where are perfect maids made?" The answer is nowhere! Just like there are no perfect husbands, there are no perfect maids. But just as one goes for match-making, one needs to carefully go for maid-matching. The matching of temperament, I mean. If you are a quiet person, a competent but talkative and loud maid may be a nuisance. I may be okay with a trust-worthy, child-friendly mediocre maid than the other way round but my neighbor may not be able to bear a speck of dust in her house.

To each, her own soul-maid!


  1. Man's happiness strongly depends on quality, punctuality & behavior of the house maid his wife hires, trains & fires without him having a say at any stage.

  2. Bindu, great post. You have hit the nail on the head. I am sure everybody has the same experience with maids. Although I am sure they have their own side of the coin too.


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