Sunday, August 03, 2008

Houseboy No. 15 Is Done

When I contacted an agency several months ago for a new houseboy and gardener, they assured me that their "employees" were trained. BS! Trained? Not in the very least. Clueless. Totally.

Gardener No. 6 didn't last and has been replaced by Appuk - who does a fabulous job! He is old, he is slow, but he works very hard and anticipates what needs done and just does it - and if he thinks the bushes need trimmed and is not sure whether or not he should trim them - he asks. I am hopeful that he will be here as long as we are here so that I do not have to worry about finding a "real" gardener to replace him. [Although, interestingly enough, twice yesterday during my morning walk with The Kids two workers approached me and asked if I needed a gardener. Do they know something I don't? Is Appuk planning on retiring or leaving?]

I have tolerated HB15 even though he doesn't do a very good job, but he gets along with my Kids and that is extremely important. However, I realized a couple of days ago that no matter what it is that HB15 does or cleans for me it is nothing more than a half-ass job. I am not going to tolerate it any longer. I spend as much time cleaning up after him and re-cleaning that it makes absolutely no sense to have him coming here to work. I contracted him to come and work for me three days a week from eight o'clock in the morning until one o'clock in the afternoon. Last month he started telling me on Monday that he can only work three hours. Three hours doesn't get everything done. So after three weeks, I eliminated Monday from his schedule. There problem solved. You no longer work three days a week - now just two. This coming Wednesday will be his last day. Does he know this yet? No. But I won't have any problem whatsoever telling him when I pay him on Wednesday that his services are no longer needed.

The bathrooms are only being cleaned marginally. I went in to DH's bathroom this morning to put new towels up and realized that the spots on the floor that I noticed last week are still there. HB15 spends about an hour in each of our two bathrooms cleaning them - what exactly he is doing in there is a mystery because he obviously isn't doing the cleaning that I've instructed him to do. We had issues with him being on his "mobile" while he was here working for me - and I had to flat out tell him that he needed to put it away - he is working for me and that work does not include talking on your damn phone! He goes into the bathrooms and I hear water running - and the toilet being flushed - and all of the "sounds" that one would hear and make cleaning a bathroom - but he isn't cleaning - or the spots wouldn't be on the floor, would they? HB15 shuts the bathroom door - I should have known better than to allow him to - I'm guessing he is running water and spending the entire hour texting on his mobile - while at the same time doing the bare minimum as it to make it seem like he is cleaning the bathroom. Obviously, he isn't.

I have stacks and stacks of rags - which I clean and neatly fold. We have had the same conversation now about two dozen times - HB15 and I: Use a new, clean rag, for each job. Am I the only one who understands that if you use the same rag for every single job that all you are doing is pushing dirt around?!? I do not want you dusting furniture with one rag and then using it to clean my counter tops. What do YOU not understand about this? Each time that he is here I have to "correct" him on this. And yet, even after we discuss the issue, he continues to use the same rag. I have literally taken it out of his hand and put it in the cleaning bag next to the washer. I ask him if he understands and he says that he does. Obviously, he doesn't.

It is very, very hot outside. And lately it has been humid, too. About a week ago, I saw what looked like a big bug shoot across the floor in front of me and into our broom closet. I moved the vacuum to "stomp" on it and discovered it wasn't a bug, but a baby gecko. I like the little gecko's and had no intention of ending its little life after I realized that that was all it was. However, I don't really want little baby gecko living in my house with me, either. And The Boy will go absolutely berserk trying to get it if he realizes that there is one. Two days ago little baby gecko was crawling up the wall and hid behind a picture - I told DH and had him catch it and take it outside. Yesterday morning I opened the back door and little baby gecko shot back inside. Apparently it is too hot and humid outside for him or her and he or she wants to live inside. DH tried to catch little baby gecko, again, and couldn't. Baby gecko is now residing underneath the refrigerator, in what DH said is a pile of dirt. My fault. I haven't specifically asked HB15 to pull the refrigerators out and clean underneath them - or vacuum the backs of them. Is is really asking too much to find a houseboy that will take a little bit of incentive and actually do something extra - like pull the refrigerators out and clean under and behind them? Yes. Apparently, it is.

On several occasions I have had to tell HB15 that he needs to move the furniture when vacuuming - no, not all the furniture - I don't expect him to move our bed or the bureaus, but I do expect him to move chairs or at least make an effort to reach underneath furniture with the vacuum. I have seen "dust bunnies" living underneath our furniture that are larger than real rabbits! Why do I have to repeatedly tell HB15 to vacuum underneath the buffet or to move the chairs? I shouldn't have to - he's been told on numerous occasions - and yet he still insists on not doing what he's been told. He refuse to vacuum the air conditioning vents unless I specifically tell him to. No, they don't need vacuumed every time you bring the vacuum out - but once a week would be good. Oh, right, you're working a shorter week now - and don't have time. You - or your agency employer - have decided, contrary to what I requested - that you don't need to work for five hours on Monday - only three hours - and I eliminated Monday's since it doesn't work for "your" schedule. Newsflash: You are going to accommodate me - I am not going to accommodate you.

We are leaving for the States soon. I can do all of the housework until then. We will have a man come stay here and take care of The Kids - he is going to have to clean up after them and himself - as HB15 won't be coming... I don't have the desire or the time to try to train someone new before we leave. It will just have to wait until we return. But I am done paying HB15 to come to my house and do a half-ass job that I have to turn around and either reclean or clean up after him. After HB15 has finished cleaning the kitchen floor this coming Wednesday he will be finished cleaning for me. The only reason he has lasted as long as he has is because it is so frustrating to have to try to train someone new. I may decide that I don't even want a houseboy any more. I do much of my own housework - I do all of the dishes, the laundry, and vacuum regularly anyway. I really only want someone that will do the big stuff - clean the tile floors, the windows, the bathrooms... I can do a better job and it is just NOT worth the frustration!


  1. Just a thought, but, can you hire a woman? Men (my own included) are a bit useless when it comes to cleaning. I think their standards just aren't as high as women's because we tend to be more critical, and think critically about how things *ought* to be done, instead of just getting it done, to be done doing it.

  2. There are very few "women" available to us ex-pats, AIO. The women that are here are housemaids for Saudi families - we are not allowed to contract maids - who knows why... Occasionally someone will know one and the word spreads quickly that so and so is available. I will jump at the chance when it is next offered.

  3. Was going to recommend the same thing - if you can get a woman, it might work out better for you.

    However - if you get a hormonal one, holy crap. They take things really personal if you confront them about something they've done wrong. That's the only issue. And it gets weirder if you've got one that is older than you.

    Having houshold help in this part of the world isn't as glamorous as I thought it would be. Bless their hearts, some of them really do try but when you get the ones that know how to play the game, it really screws up your attitude (notice I said'd think they'd be the ones who feel bad).

    Good luck. I hope you find someone!

  4. "Having household help in this part of the world isn't as glamorous as I thought it would be." Yeah. No kidding, there, L_O!

  5. my though was get a woman to do the job. When I was working full time I thought about getting a cleaner, but decided it wasn't worth the grief, so just got on with it myself......I wish you luck and don't blame what you are doing.


  6. let me just say the women here aren't better as the men (and for us not living where you live they are easier to get). When word spreads there is a good woman, look out because the expats will pay the 2,000 SR + needed to keep them.

    The men are easier to get, easier to keep, more available and less expensive. And nope hard to find a decent one. Key is to find one that listens. But they are few and far between. I'm back to cleaning my own house, can't keep up but when I do clean it is better than any man or woman I've had in my house.

  7. I am a first time poster on your blog, and I just want to say that I really do enjoy reading about your experiences from the part of the world you are in.

    I do have one question though. In the area you are currently living in, is it mandatory that you have a "house boy", or is it encouraged there to promote jobs?

  8. Gill - I had a great woman in the States that came once a week and did the floors - white tile [mistake! what was I thinking when I picked out white tile?!?] and whitewashed oak - the bathrooms and the dusting. She did not do windows - really, she didn't. She did a great job and once a week was all I needed even though I was working - I could do the rest. I will probably try to find someone to just come once a week and do the floors and bathrooms, here. I'll do everything else.

  9. No kidding, NZ, 2000 a month?!? It would be worth it. Let me know when you find "her." I'm going to try to find someone when we get back - but for the time being - I will just do it myself. I, too, do a better job. Perhaps I should be hiring myself out... Find one that listens. I repeat myself and repeat myself - and ask, "Do you understand? What did I just say, show me." Standard response, "Yes madam." Then to the "show me" part - I get the "deer in the headlights" look.

  10. Ess - Feel free to comment anytime you'd like.

    No it is not mandatory to have a houseboy. We all have them. If you find a good one - you keep him. I just have not been lucky enough... I'm not sure it is even encouraged to promote jobs. It is, however, part of the lifestyle here.

  11. 2000 a month and up, but they do live in and leave on the weekends. I can talk to a couple of friends who have local maids to see if they know anyone if your interested.

    My house guy was decent enough, not the best cleaner but would listen. "tell me madam if i do something wrong that way I know" hard to find that. Of course Mr. Man offered him a full time position at his office.. so I lost him.. grrrr


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