You might get a good house to own or on rent in a metropolis or even its suburbs these days; but to get a domestic help, especially when both the husband and wife are working, is next to impossible. Middle class and well-to-do families count on these maid servants for a lot of their chores in the house right from cleaning, washing to cooking and running errands. The workers have even formed associations to press for fixation of minimum wages for various kinds of work they are entrusted to do and expect to be treated as family members.
More shocking are the obstacles the employers face right from the search for the employee to earning her/his goodwill and retaining the person so that their routine life can move on. When there are elderly people or school-going kids at home the couple become desperately dependent on these servants and have to concede the package they demand. As most of the time it’s word of mouth that helps in locating a servant, it is only to a certain extent that the credentials of the person can be verified. Only time can reveal qualities like loyalty, punctuality, perfection at work, skill sets, cleanliness, etc.
Gone are the days when servants had breakfast out of the leftovers the family offered. These days servants come to work after breakfast and return home for lunch. Their wages are determined by what you ask them to do — things like dusting windows and furniture or cleaning showcases entail extra payment. Gadgets like washing machines are also insisted upon by them. In such cases the ‘Herculean task’ for the servant is to load the washing machine and switch it on! Once that is done the servant has the ‘great’ job of collecting the clothes and putting them on the clothesline on the terrace. Collecting them back in the evening and folding them up has to be discussed as one of the terms and conditions just like going to a grocery store. In the rare cases where this is agreed, make sure to liberally tip them lest their displeasure falls on the family.
Festival seasons are tricky times. Only in the rarest of rare cases does one get to see a smile on the servant’s face because more often than not it is difficult to meet the expectations/demands they put forward. If family events come up, the maids know how to tackle the situation. Either they go on a French leave and turn up only after the guests move out or ask for extra payment with the next month’s wages.
Never argue with them on the genuineness of their reasons for absence because you might lose them after a while. They soon get in touch with the neighbour’s maid and search for greener pastures. After this one ends up at square one with the hunt for a new maid.
With a maid at home there is no telling what to expect every single day. Hurdles are placed at regular intervals forcing one to believe that ‘maids are from heaven’ and should be treated like royalty.