Yup, that saying describes me all right. At least the latest “drama” in my life.
For several weeks, I’d been looking for a 2nd foreign domestic worker, given a very serious illness in the family and all the extra work my household has to take on.
Also, I thought, it would be good to have some stand-in when mum’s Picky Siti goes on her well-earned two-week home leave in mid-November.
Alas, a transfer maid from Indonesia (who must be younger and less experienced than Picky so as not to stir needless rivalry) seemed to have disappeared from the face of Singapore. Then in late October, I thought I hit pay dirt after calling the agency which claims to be the largest in Singapore.
Yes, they have one first-time maid on transfer; aged 24; been in Singapore for eight months and has had 3 employers already.
That should have put me on alert but stupid yours truly thought oh, poor thing, she was probably mismatched with those 3 employers.
Brought mum and Picky to meet her for a once-over be4 I signed her on.
Picky, after interviewing the potential, said: “Ma’am, she’s had 5 employers in eight months!”
Checked with agency which claimed because she came from another of their outlets, it didn’t have the full details. Later, it confirmed that she’s had five employers since February.
Picky also said: “She had a two-year-old daughter who died 45 days be4 she came to Singapore.”
Again, instead of being apprehensive about the potential’s emotional state, I thought, let’s give her a break.
Hence despite Picky’s reservation and the reservation of everyone I told about the potential’s work record, we brought her home on Nov 11, just 3 days be4 Picky left for home.
From the word go, Picky had many complaints about the newcomer which I put down partly to turf jealousy and didn’t pay much attention. Also, Picky has a tidiness and cleanliness streak that borders on compulsive obsessive. She can get upset when something as innoucous as the dining chairs aren’t properly aligned after a meal!
Then Picky was gone and all of yesterday I had no shield against the newcomer. I began to witness the substance of Picky’s complaints.
Basically, our household has many rules and regulations whereas the newcomer has no concept of. For example, we have separate knives and cutting boards for fruits, vegetables and meat. We are particular about cleaning all used crockery and cutlery with paper be4 washing them. We also keep different pots and pans for different types of cooking.
And i haven’t even started on the different sets of towels used in the kitchen: for hands, for wiping work tops, for pots and pans, for cutting boards and knives, for eating utensils etc etc
A maid who has been bouncing from one employer to another clearly isn’t a good candidate for such a household!
The truth dawned on me like a thunderbolt when the newcomer was “helping” me to make dinner last night. My intentions in employing her were good but like what they say about the road to hell, I’d better not let mine turn into such a road, for the new maid or for me.
So I took her back to the agency this morning, after sending it an email be4hand that “as it was my mistake to employ her despite her chequered employment history, I am making an offer to pay her $50 a day from Nov 11 to Nov 15, both days inclusive. Kindly make sure that the money ($250) goes to her account to offset her loan. I shall be giving directly to her a $10 hongbao for Hari Raya Haji.”
In addition, I’ve lost the agency fee of almost $500, plus some insurance cover, continuing maid levy till she gets a new employer and worse comes to worst, the cost of repatriating her, should she not find a 7th employer!
If nothing teaches me that if I’m not Mother Teresa I should never put myself into a position with the potential of trying the patience of a saint, then this incident definitely would.