Prison Break: Maids

John left this comment regarding my maid posting:

“escape out the roof at midnight to ‘hang out’ with the construction workers”

🙂 seems like you’re turning into an old fart.

I guess I may as well come out with the full story of this one. It’s Friday and there’s nothing better to talk about at the moment.

My next door neighbor has two maids: one about 17 years old, cute but knows it, and one a couple years older and much less flirtatious. Whenever my neighbor is gone, the younger one (I think her name is “Indah”) tends to hang out on the curb with the construction guys who work down the street. Now since this isn’t my native country, I can’t speak on behalf of Indonesians about what’s appropriate and what’s not. As far as I’m concerned there’s nothing wrong with that scenario assuming three things: she’s done with her work, she’s keeping a very good watch over their two children, and she’s not bringing the men into the house.

I think many people would disagree with me, saying that it’s not proper for her to be hanging out with men in front of the house seeing as she’s ‘only’ 17. (they should see what American teenagers are doing!). I believe she ended up pairing off with one particular guy for the last few months – a construction worker perhaps 10 years older.

The other night, during the Chinese New Year, my neighbor went to the maid’s quarters around midnight to offer a gift for the new year. To her surprise, there was no one there. She searched the house, only to discover that the locked door to the roof was left open. In her fury, she locked the door once again, forcing the girls to come home a couple hours later to a locked door. They had to come back through the front of the house at 2am with their boss waiting downstairs. Apparently my neighbor got the truth out of them; they’d been sneaking out often to meet up with the men from down the street.

My neighbor called them some names I won’t repeat here (don’t need google picking me up for words like wh*res and sl*t). She made them pack their belongings and leave the house right then. I haven’t seen them since.

It has since to come to light that Indah was suspected to be pregnant for a month or so now, and when my neighbor offered to take her to the doctor she firmly disagreed. Now that she’s been fired, we’ll never know.

Here’s the dilemma: In a culture where you have an employee living and working in your home, how much responsibility should you take over their actions? If a girl is only 17 and you know she’s having s*x with a man 10 years older who is most likely just using her, he’s only making $3 a day, and quite likely would abandon her should she fall pregnant, is it your place to intervene? If I sound pessimistic, please understand this is not an uncommon scenario. At times, men will also persuade the maids to let them in the home so that they can scope out the belongings for a theft-session later on.

So, where do you draw the line? Do you take the approach of saying, “It’s her life” and leave it at that? Should you intervene when perhaps it’s not your business? Is it your business if she’s living under your roof?

I personally had an odd experience my first year in Indonesia. My maid had her “husband” living in our house for a couple of months WITH MY TWO ROOMMATES AND I COMPLETELY UNAWARE. (we later found out she was never married) Now, before you laugh and say, “stupid bule!” – realize she had our schedules down perfectly, as we came and went very predictably, she was going to bed at like 7pm (we assumed she needed lots of sleep), and none of us even went into the back area of the house where she stayed. It was only when I came home from work at lunch for the first time all year that I discovered the fourth “roommate”.

  • That’s indeed a common problem with having sleep in maids. I got tired of having to deal with that sort of stuff, not so much the morality of it, but all the associated risks: one they started lying to you, then you can’t trust them and it’s not easy to have people living with you when you can’t trust them. My maids are husband and wife, occasionally they will have some relatives visiting, i don’t mind, so long as i am told in advance.

    having a couple is just so much easier on the mind, really.

  • Maids without property to consider, they are okay with and free to enter sex-desire rather than sex-love for a long-term commitment. For most owners/bosses, they can’t accept this as having a different perception. They undertake a different form of (marriage) life with commitment. Sex-love to own matrimonial property I can say here.

    Things can change if the boss marries the maid.

  • my family used to have a similar maid problems like your neighbour had. the two maids sneaked out of the house from the back door and jumped over the 2.5-meter walls for their rendez-vous avec the construction workers across the streets. i got suspicious when one morning i found one of the maids was sleeping in the back yard because for some odd reason, she got locked out of the house. i confronted them, they confessed, apologised and promised not to to do it again. but of course, they did it again and again. eventually my parents let them go coz they were sleepy during the day and seriously slacking with their jobs.

    i guess your maid’s business is your business if she lives under your roof. it’s not only about having maids with appropriate attitudes, is it? but it’s also about your safety. it’s not uncommon for maids to ‘work together’ with some construction workers/thugs to rob the unaware owners.

    good luck with the searching, brandon! it’s tough but i’m sure there’s somebody out there for you… *LOL*
    my parents just got back our old maid back after she got ‘hijacked’ by a neighbour for about a year! apparently the wage was better but the neighbour was too strict about giving her annual leave…

  • John

    i suppose it’s difficult to draw the line when you are living under the same roof as your employees.

    interesting one.

    (hope i didn’t come across a bit harsh or anything, wasn’t intended…)

  • Miamhail

    It must be a difficult scenario for you. Should your neighbor have been as quick to send the girls out, especially since one of them might be pregnant? I struggle with the morality of that. In addition, a responsible employer should never revert to a screaming, diva-ish tirade by calling the women sl*ts and wh*res, either. That, in itself, seems immature and abusive. There are other methods of displaying anger than to revert to such language. Mommy Dearest doesn’t seem to be much more adult and responsible than her employees.

    You mention the employers children– I don’t know of many 17 year olds that have a good amount of common sense that could, or should, be left alone to watch the house or the children.

    Entering into employment shouldn’t mean the end of a social life for these women, however guidelines should be firmly established. It was the Chinese New Year; why on earth is it so bad for the girls to go out for a little bit? Certainly the employers have their share of days out.

    I have numerous friends who employ nannies, most of whom are here from Europe and all live with the family. They are given time off– to include evenings out and overnights at times– though they have rules (no boyfriends in the house, things like that.) Their responsibility is to the care of the children while the parents are working, but they didn’t sell themselves body and soul to the parents when they signed the contract. True, the maids should have let their employers know what they would be doing that evening. If you are a full-time employee, you should have certain rights– time off, health benefits, and the right to safe and respectable treatment– even if you live in Indonesia. Of course, this is just my humble opinion. As my experience living abroad is limited to Japan and Malta, I might see it differently. Forgive me if I have spoken out of turn with these comments.

    Do these women enter into service via a written or verbal agreement? Perhaps a written agreement that spells out what is expected, including expected personal behavior off-hours, should be a part of the hiring process. It seems as though an older, more settled maid might be in order.

    Again, just random musings from my little slice of Heaven… good luck on your search…