Household - clarify everything before hiring someone. A funny story.

Discussion in 'Household Staff' started by atlantis, Nov 1, 2016.

  1. atlantis

    atlantis
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    2016 has been difficult for our household. We've successively "lost" the guy who was clearing our lands, gardening and doing pretty much any heavy work involved in the house and the two grannies who were doing some housekeeping and cooking and, not the least, drinking beers with me while informing me about all gossips of the 'hood.

    We have been unable to replace them so far and, when a friend of us told us that she knew a couple looking for work we were quite happy. We met with the couple and everything seemed OK. We agreed on a pretty attractive salary by manadonese standard (UMP for each + 10% bonus + food, lodging, amenities...etc) and far above the market. Therefore we were confident that they would be motivated and that we should be spared some surprise.

    During the interview the couple mentioned that they had one kid, a toddler. I told them that he was welcome to stayed with us and obviously to be fed by us. Further on in the discussion, and after that we accepted the kid, they informed us that they also had a daughter they were still taking care of, aged 17. Since we already said OK for the toddler and considering that the older daughter could help caring about the toddler and free some time for the mother, we said OK. We even went up to decide to renovate a small house on our land for the whole family, considering the fact that the initial staff room we planned to offer would not be suitable for a couple + a toddler + a 17 years old daughter to stay altogether.

    In a discussion with the friend who initially recommended us the couple something surprised me. She told us that the couple was "lucky to have found someone giving them work while being ready to accept the whole family". I first thought that she was exaggerating a bit implying that a whole family of 4 would be such a burden.

    They started to work with us as live out, meaning without the kids, pending the renovation of the house. Yesterday, our tukang finished the paint and the few last things which needed to be fixed, meaning that the house was ready to welcome them. This is when Tante X came to us telling us she was a bit confused. She explained us that her older son (in fact they have four kids) who is married and have a kid was the one looking for the toddler when she was working and that it was convenient since he had a son of the same age as her son. She therefore indirectly suggested that the older son, the wife and the kid move in with them in the house newly renovated!

    I have to admit that I was amused by the request. I have not answered yet, albeit I have no intention to accept. However I gave a phone call to our friend to ask her to clarify her initial meaning of whole family. She learnt me that, beside the older son, wife and kid, there is also the father and mother + 1 in-law. :smile:
    Morale of the story: One of the numerous beauty of living in Indonesia is that even if you have been there for years, you can always be surprised by a situation.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  2. waarmstrong

    waarmstrong Well-Known Member Charter Member Cager

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    So I understand the domestic staff search continues. Hopefully you have less cryptic friends willing to make recommendations.

    I too am a bit surprised that a recommendation was made in the first place. My experience is that the reputation of an Indonesian making a personnel recommendation becomes tied to the character and quality of the person recommended. Accordingly, many are reluctant to recommend anyone likely to perform poorly thus tarnishing their reputation.
     
  3. jukung11

    jukung11 Member

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    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Good insight. Interesting to see someone with as much experience and a local reputation someone still tries to take advantage. The old give an inch?
     
  4. Davita

    Davita Well-Known Member Charter Member

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    Atlantis' generosity knows no bounds...he is a hero in the Manadonese mystique...almost a god...:love:...just kidding...good post and very true reminder for us all...and not unique to Manado.

    Western culture and traditions, in respect to household staff, is vastly different to Asian and can often be misinterpreted...and I don't mean to include the drug-infested British loonie in Hong Kong.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  5. fastpitch17

    fastpitch17 Well-Known Member Charter Member Cager

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    You are so right Atlantis. Just 30 minutes ago we sent our new housekeeper of one week to the train station to return home. It's very diffecult to find help here either live in or out so when my wife's sister from Palembang said she had a neighbor who is between jobs and looking, we said we were interested.

    Sister explained to the lady who was looking that her sister was super clean and did everything in a Western manor including the home. It was no problem because this 35 year old lady had experience working for an American, Chinese, and Korean.

    Sister told my wife she was smaller then our last one so didn't eat as much but had a lot of experiance. My wife could only speak to her by phone and after asking her questions that pertained to the position and going over salary and benefits, we provided a train ticket from Palembang to Bandar Lampung.

    She arrived late evening and the first thing we got wide eyed over was her so called smaller then the last housekeeper. She was 140cm with arms not much bigger than my thumbs. OK, there isn't much heavy work besides a bucket of water but we were hoping to get ourselves away from lifting water onto the dispensers. That was evident from the first sighting, that wasn't going to happen. Arriving in the evening there wasn't much to talk about and we got her settled in.

    Over this past week things seemed to get worse for choosing this person. Ended up, her no family did include a non working husband and two children. One child each at their parents. She informed us that she had always just left her children for one to two years but now that they were in school she was hoping to bring them with her. We said no, we had no room and were not willing to have children running around. She said she understood. We went over a cleaning, sweeping, mopping, laundry schedule and always include that there will be alot of down time so we expect her to find things to keep her busy. Like pulling some weeds, polishing, just keeping busy. There are only 2 of us with no children so dust is about the worst thing she has to stay on top of. Nope, that was too much and she informed us that we would need to hire someone for any weed pulling and that we should hire another housekeeper to assist her because she has always worked with 2 housekeepers in the household.

    We allow help to eat what we do if desired but we lean towards a Western diet more than Indonesian but there are still Indonesian dishes we have regularly but there are ways we like them prepared. She fought us on our way and said she has to have things a certain way or she can't eat it. She also informed us that she never eats leftovers the next day, only freshly cooked. Too bad.

    By day 4 she was arguing and talking back to my wife in a very loud voice and was constantly talking to herself. By day 5 I said enough and bought a ticket for her to return home on the earliest available train which is day 7. She said she understood and that she couldn't do as we wanted. She also request working at least another week but I said no.

    My wife's sister is very appologetic and will be at the other end of the housekeepers journey to confront her and address the miss information she was given. Not our problem. Right now both my wife and I are breathing a sigh of releif but soon the search has to start again.
     
  6. jukung11

    jukung11 Member

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    I was thinking a lot about this from the post. This was emphasized a lot by a corporate cultural trainer on my way to Indonesia. It is the concept of power distance. I had read about it befor, but she emphasized it as a cultural misunderstanding that can lead a westerner to get taken advantage of. The west has a low power distance with everyone being seen equally powerful. When this is brought to people living in an Eastern culture in can screw with peoples basic understanding of your role and you may be perceived as the fool.

    I am not saying that is what happened here, because that would be impossible for me to know. I also assume Atlantis has more experience than I could in this situation.
     
  7. Smallworld

    Smallworld Active Member Charter Member Cager

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    I am not sure if I would be able to allow a married couple to move in under "my roof" with a toddler and children. Probably I would explain them I was not ready for "the whole family" to move in and was misinformed by person who recommend them. I would do it rather quickly (if I am not in desperate need of their work) before they would adjust themselves to settle for good. The next thing you may experience is the whole village moving in.
     
  8. Bad_azz

    Bad_azz Well-Known Member Charter Member Cager

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    Of my two employees in the time I have been here I have had men. They care for the animals and do the heavier work that I don't like doing/ struggle with- such as water bottle changing , floor cleaning , a bit of driving hubby about if I am unable to go.
    Shopping down the market, running up and down on errands and so on.
    The first guy we had was ace- young & a bit of a wide boy - Mr BS - but had a heart of gold- he died age 27 from breast cancer. :'(

    The guy we have now is older and his hobby is cooking, so he cooks for us every day & he loves doing the shopping too.
    I kinda like working with the guys more than women- I firmly believe a whole lot less hassle. Oh how sexist I am - sorry peeps. But that has been my experience- would I have a woman living in my house & working for us- hmmmm I doubt it.
     
  9. Terry MacArsey

    Terry MacArsey Member

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    I've got my wife's brother (about 18) living in our house for about the last 10 years or more because the stepmother apparently won't give him food if he stays with his real father (next door).

    For years, every time me and my wife had an argument I threatened to throw her brother out to her fathers house but then I changed my mind and told her that he is welcome to stay as long as my stepdaughter moves from our house to her fathers house so we look after her dads kid as long as they look after my wife's daughter (my stepdaughter).

    I never had any intention AT ALL of following this through because my stepdaughter has always been treated as if she was my own daughter and has always called me Papa.

    I just wanted to make a point about how crazy the situation was. If my wife's brother marries I hope she doesn't expect me to accept his wife and a few sprogs as well.

    I have said countless times to my wife's brother that I don't have a problem with him and I feel sorry that he is caught up in the middle of this.

    I have also asked my wife whether she would have married me if I had said that I loved her but not my stepdaughter. Of course, chance that we would have married.

    So why did her father marry but for 10 years can't have his own kids in his own house and the stepmothers kids (and their kids) are being supported by him after he's had a stroke.

    As far as I'm concerned he should not have married when his new wife said that his own kids would not be welcome to stay in his own house.
     
  10. William King

    William King Well-Known Member Charter Member Cager

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    Apparently not uncommon here. Sadly.
     
  11. jukung11

    jukung11 Member

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    Then who is going to take care of the father when older? This normally falls to eldest son or all sons in most Indo cultures I know of. This is a primary concern to many.
     
  12. jstar

    jstar Mr. 10,000

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    It seems they have more children (also together)?

    On the household staff; quite some I have seen so far, choose to have their children stay in the kampung. Of course taken care of by family members. But it just doesn't work; the kids have to wake up at 5, have no friends to play with and nothing to do besides watching cartoons and when they're old enough for school it is very inconvenient with start & end times.
     
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