Na condition make crayfish bend. – Nigerian (pidgin english) Proverb.
Mrs. Rotimi is a working woman, who’s married with 2 kids. Her maid left suddenly on Friday. She had returned from work hoping to be served her dinner, take a shower and go to bed. But that evening was different. Immediately she opened the door, the welcome she got was the voice of her kids who were starved. They were groaning. When they got home from school, the security man gave them the keys to the house. The maid had left. Suddenly and unexpectedly. Even though she was exhausted, Mrs. Rotimi knew she had to cook, not just for the children, but for herself and her husband. It had to be a proper meal, not something she could just mix together and ask the children to manage.
Her mind immediately began to race. Monday was just by the corner. Everybody knows how short weekends are. After how tired she felt that night when she was all done, she knew she wouldn’t make it one more day with that routine. In fact, she had made up her mind that she would not touch anything in the house that weekend. She would get a new maid by Sunday and the new maid would do all the back log of work. She immediately reached for her phone to call the domestic staff agency. The man on the other end assured her that he would make three potential maids available by the next day for an interview. That, at least gave her one reason to go to bed excited.
Saturday came in a hurry as expected. The first maid came and Mrs. Rotimi knew it was an outright NO. Everything was not right. She knew it immediately. It was the same with the second. She was already getting tensed because she knew that was her last hope. She had taken so many unofficial days off work, she didn’t want to appear incompetent.
The lady finally showed up. She didn’t appear looking so good but she looked strong. She showed up ready to show herself to be an experienced person. During the interview session, she made sure to explain in details all she had done in the past. She could name all the appliances in the house and how they work. This was like music to Mrs. Rotimi’s ears. She was hearing everything she had hoped to hear. She asked that the lady show up the next day for a “practical interview”. She showed up, did a uber impressive job and immediately, she was hired.
The first month went by and by the second month, Mrs. Rotimi started to notice everything that was wrong. Her maid no longer swept properly, the furniture was dusty. She seemed to be distant from the job because she needed to be reminded before anything was done. She began to notice how scared the kids were of her(the maid) she was beating them at every slight provocation and would even threaten them if they reported. Her regular question to them was ” If not for condition, do you think i’ll be here”? Mrs. Rotimi’s shouting had resumed. How could someone be a totally different person in one month? This was her fourth maid this year and she was determined not to trade this one for another. But for how long would she have to continue like this? Resignation wasn’t an option for her. She wished she knew exactly what to do to turn things around.
Meet Ms. Circumstantial….
As fictional as this story seems, this is the story of many Nigerian women. They have been caught in the maid incompetency web but don’t know how to liberate themselves. The maids know their madam’s have no choice; well as it seems. If you have a maid who is under-delivering, she’s probably a “Circumstantial maid”. Below are some of their characteristics.
- As their title implies, they most likely applied for the job, not because of interest in housekeeping, but because circumstances demanded that they did. e.g money
- Will appear to be hard working in the first week to first month of employment: because they will do everything to prove a point they are best suited for the job.
- Zeal starts to fade shortly after.
- Do only what they have been asked to do not what needs to be done: will hardly go beyond.
- Always moody : Very distant from the job. Their prominent thought is how they don’t deserve to be where they are.
- Spends long hours on phone: Mostly communicating in another language.
- Doesn’t like to be corrected.
- Always has an excuse and reason for every mishap.
- May be short-tempered : starts picking fights with security, neighbors, friends, the kids and so on.
- Starts to make up stories : Someone is sick, sister is getting married (you know all the stories they bring up)
- Mostly a morning person: Is likely not to do an excellent job once the day is winding down.
After seeing this, most women are probably saying to themselves, that they’ll avoid this type of person. The sad truth is that the domestic housekeeping market is populated by the circumstantial maid. The way forward therefore lies in how to get a circumstantial maid to deliver excellently well for you. Here are some guidelines below:
- A routine : While a routine may not work for a “natural”, it is perfect for a circumstantial. They like to know ahead what they have to accomplish.
- A contract in place: Pre-engagement contract detailing the number of days they can take off work, agreements on salary and implication if their parts of the contract are not met. The circumstantial likes to see that you are honoring your side of the agreement too.
- Schedule their tasks instead of drawing up a to-do list. (I will discuss this in detail soon).
- Inform them prior to schedule changes.
- A companion. One thing you want to avoid as an employer is to leave the mind of your circumstantial maid Idle. Their idle minds are the ones that come up with things we shouldn’t be talking about. The companion can be a radio (introduce a station that they can relate to), a trusted neighbor’s maid, learn a skill close to home, and so on.
- Give time for improvement: your maid won’t change overnight. After you introduce a new system, give room for her to change.
Notice that none of my guidelines involves you spoiling her with things? The truth is most people who think buying gifts will solve their problems, end up with sentences like “after all i did for her”. Gifts are not bad, but they should come as an encouragement or reward for a good job done not as a bribe. If not, you’ll be the object of your maid’s manipulation. There are other tools that will help put your maid in the right frame of mind to work well. We’ll be discussing that when we discuss tools.
I hope this is enlightening for you. Would love to hear your circumstantial maid experience and what helped you work effectively with her. Drop a comment below.