Thursday, February 14, 2008

Help Wanted - Experienced Nanny & Maid

Yes, you read it right. We are in desperate need of another nanny/maid. This sounds a little snobbish to my American ears because it's just not common for the middle class in America in which I grew up to have either of these. But, the middle class in Honduras - you can bet a lot of them have maids. Now, nanny is another thing. It is more like we need a babysitter. I work for about 4 hours in the morning. I leave shortly after 8am and get home by noon most days. We hired a 15 year old girl who has done work for us in the past to come into our home and watch our son as well as do light cleaning. Nothing major. Most of her time here was just keeping an eye on our son, which meant they probably watched a lot of cartoons. They did go play outside and go for walks once in a while, but she would often play with him while they watched TV. I figured as long as my son wasn't being neglected and attended to as needed, we could work with that. Papa is often in and out of the house anyway, so could keep tabs on things too.

She started almost 4 weeks ago now and she seemed to be excited about the job. We paid her really well, in comparison to what other maids are paid. She was required to work about 4 hours a day and like I said, it really was pretty light work. We also fed her breakfast and lunch. She showed up on time and seemed to respect our property. I never noticed food missing or things out of place like she may have rummaged through anything. The one thing that I did notice was that she often cleaned up Sister's room without us asking her to. Not that sister has anything extremely valuable, but I moved some of her jewelry that she had gotten as gifts out of the room and figured there wasn't much else that was worth stealing and if it was...well, it probably wouldn't be missed all that much anyway. Sister is 10. Our now ex maid just turned 15. We even got her a cake and ice-cream and had a mini party for her after lunch on her birthday. Sister doesn't have anything extravagant as far as furnishings or things in her room, but the things she does have are girl type things and compared to what our maid grew up with, I can imagine she may have dreamed of having her own room like Sister's, with stuffed animals and a stereo to play music and a pretty girlish bed set. So I let it go. Like I said, I never saw anything go missing.

Today we found out that she had been using the house phone against our instructions. Land lines are slightly different here. You pay per phone call and it costs more to call a cell phone. Land line to land line is cheaper. So we use our cell phones to call cell phones and our land line to call other land lines. We gave her emergency numbers and told her to call only in an emergency. Turns out that she used up all our credit on the land line. The tip off was when Papa was trying to use the house phone and the calls wouldn't go through. Confused, since he had just paid the phone bill, he called the phone company and requested the numbers called and proceeded to call the numbers he was told we dialed from our phone. Yep, they all knew our maid. As sick as this sounds, she spent two weeks pay in just over a week talking on the phone.

Papa questioned her asking if she was using the phone. She insisted that she hadn't. Then Papa basically reprimanded her, told her that he knew that was not true. Papa said she kept her head down and was clearly ashamed. Papa told her that we won't be needing her services and she forfeits this weeks pay (she was just paid last Friday).

I know I should say "no excuses". But in a way my heart goes out to her. I honestly think she didn't know that the phone use could have been tracked. She was being a dumb teenager who wanted to talk on the phone. If she grew up without a phone, how could she know. We just told her not to use the phone. I don't think Papa explained why she wasn't supposed to use the phone.

I felt like she was learning from us and also feeling a little more comfortable learning how we like to have things done. Not that we are real picky. She was just learning how to do things without being asked. Now we are basically stuck. We need someone starting Monday to look after Brother and we don't have a clue who or where to turn to.

Why do I have this wave of guilt for being tough and sending her on her way for this? I hear so many other horror stories about maids and ours was basically doing a pretty good job. Do you think this was too harsh and she deserved a second chance? Or did we do the right thing?


411 from Down Under said...

Gah, definitely a tough call!

It's a hard lesson for her to learn from. Hopefully the experience will shape (in a positive way) how she conducts herself on jobs in the future.

Heartbreaking to have to do to someone... but you can't have hired staff taking advantage of your household utilities for private use without your knowledge and permission.

lola said...

You did the right thing. Time will take care of your sad feelings. Remember; fool me once...fool me twice...

Older ladies are more likely to do job about taking care of children and houses.

lola said...

Sorry, I meant to say that older ladies are more likely to do a better job of taking care of children and houses.

Aaron Ortiz said...

I think you definitely did the right thing. If she's a good person, she'll learn a valuable lesson from this. If she isn't, it's best for you not to have her around anymore anyway.

karen g said...

I think you did the right thing also. It might be better like Iola mentioned if you could find a older grandma type. Did you tell the parents? they need to know so they can speak with her.I am sure Brian can explain what happened nicely so they all learn.

Jennifer said...

Nothing else to really say, since Aaron already said what I was going to say ;)

Honduras Sprout said...

You all are right. At least I'm trying to convince myself that you all are.

I think I may be softer than I thought. I guess I was thinking too personal about this situation and also about the alternative of not finding anyone or possibly, someone worse. Please Lord, no!

Come Monday, it will be interesting to see how this goes down. I've even contemplated if it would be possible to bring little Brother with me to work. My class is only 1.5 hours.

We talked to a girl tonight on the phone, but she said she works mostly with gringos and I guess I took that to mean, I'll charge you more. I may be a gringa, but I am making Honduran wages....which is another blog post.

Theresa said...

My neighbors (who are Yucatecan not gringo) have their land line in a box, you can answer the phone (it is an old fashioned one with the cord connected to the base) but not dial out unless you have the key. My maid has a plan on her phone where you need a calling card like for a pay phone. She can recieve calls but needs to use the card to call out, it keeps the kids from abusing the phone. Here the first 100 local calls are included, but calls to cell phones and anything over 100 is a toll call. 100 calls sounds like a lot, but if you have kids it isn't. That is just 3 calls a day. Since we don't use the phone much it isn't an issue for us.

Honduras Sprout said...

Theresa- I would love to see a picture of that phone in a box. Ha! The kind of plan you are talking about sounds like a good one with the card to call out too. Thanks for sharing.

chicadedios25 said...

You did the right thing. This is the one thing that angers me most about C....he never takes responsibility for anything...even after you have caught him in the they think we are retartded and won't figure it out?