Image from Google
I had an interesting conversation with my maid today about an incident that happened few weeks back.
Few weeks back, my inlaws hosted an open house and there was a band. They were performing all sorts of songs (English, Malay, Indonesian, Taylor Swift.. you name it), and they encouraged the crowd to come and sing with the mic etc etc. Nothing out of the ordinary; a lot of events have sporting people come up and sing along too, most of the time mediocre-ly hehe. Anyway, to cut the story short, I was mortified when I saw my maid up there along with another maid belting out an Indonesian song and dancing away in front of a crowd. I thought this was so inappropriate, especially because there were so many men watching them and taking videos. I gave her a long lecture that night and basically told her if she wants to work with me, be serious and behave demurely especially in public. While I had to entertain guests, she was supposed to take care of my kids, not entertain the crowd. She agreed and ever since that, she has been good to us and not pulling any more of that kind of stunt.
Today she asked if she could speak to me. And during out heart to heart, she basically said that she has been focusing on work and all, but people still see her differently. I said I don’t; when I get mad, it’s just that one thing and I move on (provided you stop doing what I don’t like). She said that I have been cold, but the truth is that I’ve been so busy at work I’m very tired everyday. She said she sincerely wants to move on from that and she wants to give work her all, and I said well that’s really good. She had tears falling down her cheeks and I was wondering what was going on. After a while, I realised that she just wanted someone to talk to. Maybe the fellow maids or other people have been teasing her or she herself feels ashamed or something, that she needed assurance from someone that people will still see her for the good and not just the tiny dent she’s done to her credibility. I guess when we tegur our maids for doing work wrong, we go out and move on very quickly. But for them, they’re in the house thinking about you all day and feeling very sad, not having anyone else to talk to.
And that made me think of a bigger issue.
I’m sure some of you have maids of your own so maybe you can relate. Our maids travel far to work for us. They leave their families to find an honest job in another country so they can earn a bit more, they send money back to their kids, they don’t really have working hours, they have to watch you be happy with your family, they have to take care of your kids like the their own who they miss dearly, they probably deserve more pay than some executives in the office simply because they work tirelessly from day to night… all this, and they have no one here they can lean on. We as employers, we are the only ones they have to depend on, the only ones who are the closest to family they have here, so always always treat them with love and respect. Work is work, of course, but it’s a little different here because you live together, so the family bond must also be there so that everyone can live harmoniously.
Sometimes, we have to put ourselves in their shoes. If you’re tired, you can go for a massage or a facial. If they’re tired, they just have to get on with it. If you’re sad, you can call your friends and talk for hours. If they’re sad, they look at their kids’ photos on the phone and then get accused of playing with their phone too much. Every night, you lay down on your plush bedsheet that she helped wash, while she returns to her small room at the back of the house. Tonight served as a reminder to me that I should always remind myself to be kind to others and treat people with love. Especially people who make my life so easy that I don’t have to worry about my house or kids when I’m busy working. In companies, we have HR departments to think of all sorts of perks and activities for staff happiness. At home, we are the HR team for our maids. Let’s ask ourselves, what have we done for our maids or helpers to boost their happiness? Besides just salary.
Not once do I think I’m better than my maids. My job is running a company, their job is running a house. I ship out clothes, they mop floors. We all have jobs and tasks, we are all the same, but just with different jobscopes. Never think that because they are maids or helpers, that they’re on a lower level than you. In the eyes of God, we are all the same. If God wanted to take everything away from us, He can in a blink of an eye. So be grateful always, and make others happy too while you’re at it. If you have a maid, go and tell her you appreciate and love her. She’d be so happy to hear it, she’d scrub even harder for you. Hehe.
(Oh btw this isn’t Kak Siti. She’s so fierce she’d never be caught dead dancing in front of people)