Thursday, March 6, 2014

The day we lost our ayi

21 months.

That's how long our ayi lasted.

If you ask my friends, it was about 18 months too long.

But, my personality ( totally non confrontational and non assertive) does not mix well with the culture of the Chinese Ayis. 

I had been warned when we hired our ayi that I must treat her as an employee. Keep it strictly business. Make her stay the complete time she's being paid for. Do not let her work quality slide. Supervise her work. Make her do tasks over if completed below standards. Make sure she doesn't use the toilet rag to clean the counters (or anything else). More than anything, DO not get attached. 

Guess what? 

I'm guilty of all of the above except for the toilet rag. I color coded towels so I could supervise from afar, easier. Blue for glass, red for counter surfaces, yellow for toilets (color of pee makes it easy to remember!). Only one time of witnessing, did it take for me to believe my friends about Ayis using just ONE rag to clean an entire house. I freaked out and that's when the color coded towels got put into play. No problems since.

As far as the rest of the no-no's, I am guilty.  I let her work two hours and paid her for three. I remopped floors when she had used too much water and not enough ( or none at all) cleaning solution. I did my own laundry, but left it for her to fold. She'd show up late and leave early--and I'd let it slide until I had a bad day, and I'd get all ballsy and try to enforce that she must arrive at 3:00, no later. She'd appease my request for a few weeks, then start coming late and leaving earlier. Her work became sloppy, but she loved my son. He loved her. They'd chitchat together through out the house as he followed her like a puppy dog. He'd ask her for something to eat, and she'd get it. When we would start getting ready to go out, she always made sure Sal had a hat and jacket. She was a part of my kid's daily life- and as much as I was irked about her punctuality and sometimes sloppy work, I couldn't bare to fire her.

Afterall, it was my fault for not being a good manager. 

But, last week, a friend of mine texted me to ask what compensation I paid my ayi, and for how many hours. I texted back my answer, and my friend then shared with me that she had hired my ayi. She then asked what hours she worked for me, adding that she was having her come from 4:30-7:30.

Hold the eff up. She was being paid by me to work 3-6. In my mind, I have been paying her to be available for MY family for those three hours whether I use her or not. In her mind, when the work is complet, she is free to leave. Since the pattern in my household is being finished by 5:00, she accepted another job that overlapped times. This pissed me off. I am essentially paying her for two hours she never intends to work for me. 

I had my husband's assistant phone her to relay my disappointment in finding out she was double booking and to remind her that we were paying her for three hours, holidays and sick days. She was to make herself available for my family M-F from 3-6, end of story. It was during this call, my ayi requested a small raise and wanted to change her hours to 2:00-4:00p.

 But uhm, no. I just caught you double dipping and you're asking for more? 

No way. Just no.

My answer was no raise, and I said she needed to work 3-5 and occasionally until 6:00 for the rate we've been (over)paying her all along. 

The very next day she knocked on my door with tears in her eyes and key in hand. She picked up Sal and started bawling as I got her last pay together. I handed her the money, and away she went.

Just like that, she quit.

It's for the best, but it still saddens me that she's gone.

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