Diaries Magazine

The Wonder-ing Maid

Posted on the 06 June 2012 by Mavie
You'd think in a country where labor is cheap, you'd find hundreds of domestic helpers to take care of your house.
Think again. I'm sure many of my readers in Riyadh would agree it's not easy keeping hold of one maid, whether she works part time or full time for you. I actively began looking for a full time maid to come and live with us, offering her the standard market rate salary with one and a half days off a week. Many came, and many left - all with different reasons for leaving. Excuses ranged from sick relatives to travel arrangements to health problems that appeared overnight.
With the dust accumulating in corners, and the bathrooms in need of a clean I hired a part time maid to come and work on an hourly basis. All seemed to be well, then a couple of weeks later she texts me to say she is sick and will not be coming that week.
The following week she comes for a few hours, then disappears again. This pattern continued for the next few weeks and I was left wondering where all these maids go. Then I hired a new maid to replace her and guess what? The pattern repeated itself with the new maid, and the one after her and the next one too. They come when they feel like it and when they don't feel like cleaning that day, you'd be lucky to get a text explaining why. So what's the real reason they wander away?
It's not the employers behaviour, I can guarantee that in my case. Once I had finished the difficult task of training them, not an easy feat I might add, I left them alone to get on with it, only inspecting their work for the first week.
Why do we train them? Because not all maids know how to take care of a house, you have to show them how things are done - I once hired a maid who I had asked to change the bedsheets. I returned forty minutes later to find the bed made but the pillows askew. Asking her where she put the dirty bedsheets, she looked at me confused, a few seconds later I found the old sheets STILL on the bed! The maid has taken the new sheets and simply put them over the dirty sheets. No such thing as laundry in her book!
Another maid was asked to clean the bedroom, consisting of only dusting and hoovering the room which should take about thirty minutes or so. When I still didn't hear the hoover, I crept up the stairs to check on her progress. I found her sitting beside my baby's cot talking on her mobile. When she saw me, she panicked and hung up pretending to dust the cot next to her. I asked her what she had been doing for the last thirty minutes, as only the dresser looked clean, and she explained that the room was so dusty that she has to go slowly to get all the dust off the furniture. So, it wasn't the fact that I was paying her per hour, was it?
Last week I asked my newly hired maid what makes them leave so soon. After careful prodding she admitted that they are always looking for a better job, one which pays more or gives more benefits. A few part time jobs combined pays more than a full time job with the added benefit of sleeping in your own bed on your own terms. She confides that some families wake maids up in the middle of the night to clean children's vomit or get them something to eat, who would want to stay for that? 
If you have any stories you'd like to share or want to add another viewpoint, please feel free to voice your opinion below.
The Wonder-ing Maid

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