The just concluded 2017 general elections have seen a change of guard in various places and in my house they cost me my domestic manager aka house help. She left for her rural home on the eve of the elections day ostensibly to go and vote for her favorite candidates.
I had a big part to play in this decision after realizing that she is of age and had never participated in this patriotic duty. After enduring some civic education lecture from me and assuring me that she was going to keep our agreement to come back two days later, she left swinging her red bag never to return.
At first, my domestic manager said her reason for not coming back is that she was unsure of how the political landscape in the country was going to be after the results were announced.
Well, that was understandable and most people had the same reservations. However, things are slowly going back to normal and I have repeatedly assured her that in case of anything I would make sure that she is safe. This, only earned me missed calls and unanswered text messages for several days.
Eventually, I got a curt text informing me that she had decided to get married. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I got myself in the familiar, yet unenviable position that many mothers dread and hate, looking for a domestic manager.
In the past, I used to delegate the issue of scouting for a house help to my mother back in the village. However, this time she couldn’t find one immediately and suggested that we both look for one. So, I called my contacts and shared on my social media platforms that I was looking for a domestic manager and needed one as soon as possible.
That is how I got to meet and answer calls of some of the most interesting, terse people on earth. After listening to me, I would ask if they had any questions and yes they did; only that some of them were bordering on invasion of privacy, lack of respect and rudeness.
Some just made me grit my teeth for lack of a proper response while others were actually quite sensible and came from a good place.
Here are some of the questions you should expect if you are facing the same predicament or are likely to face it in the near future.
1. Do you have a husband? A quick discussion with my contacts and fellow mothers revealed that most wanted to know if you have a husband to know if their workload is going to be heavy. The heavier the workload, the heavier the pay.
Some wanted to know so that they can move in and in the process take him for themselves. For some house helps, a house with a husband is meant more financial security.
2. Why are you not married? Here I was candid and I told her that I felt it was an invasion of my privacy. She was not satisfied and wondered if I would get married in the future. After gritting my teeth I repeated that she was really crossing the line and in any case, only God has the correct answer to that so she could take it up with Him if she was not satisfied.
3. How many children do you have? This question mostly relates to the workload and pay to be expected. I am at various stages of negotiations with three after this question was answered to their satisfaction.
4. Is your child normally co-operative in the mornings when she has to go to school? This one was fair enough but there are good days and bad days with children just like with the rest of us. I answered one that way and she never called back so I guess she wanted a positive answer and not honesty.
5. How many times do you eat rice in a week? This was an interesting question for me and I told her that I do not have a timetable but it was frequently. She listened patiently and she told me that she cannot have light meals during supper time and I may need to change the meals I cook for supper. She added that she cannot have bread without margarine as well and things like arrow roots and sweet potatoes for breakfast were out of the question.
Strangely enough, this one did not ask about any other aspects of the job, including her expected salary which seemed very strange to me.
6. Are you planning to have any more children? To this one, I answered that yeah I believed that I was still in my prime and would like to have more although I did not have any immediate plans to expand my family. She seemed very pleased with the answer and went on to ask other questions.
7. Do you have any other people living in your house? Upon further interrogation, I gathered that the other people in question included ailing grandparents and young brothers and sisters- in- laws. Friends and families with babies were also included in this group and households with such guests are apparently not favored by domestic managers.
A reason for this is that the domestic managers are often given more duties that were not in their initial job descriptions, at no extra pay because of the other people. Some of the guests also treated them badly and expected much more from them than even their employers.
8. How would you react if you came and found that I had not managed to carry out all the duties you assigned me because the baby was crying and gave me a hard time the whole day? This was a fair question and I answered I would understand although I did not expect it to be an everyday occurrence.
9. Do you lock your bedroom? Here I was curious to know why she would ask such a question and she answered that there are times she might need things from my bedroom and locking it might make her work difficult. I asked her things she was referring to and she was at pains to reply and I decided that she was wasting my time and went to the next one on my list.
10. What made your last domestic manager leave? To that, I answered that I was not willing to discuss another person who was not there and who did not affect us in any way.
11. Where do you work? I told her my employer. One also wanted to know where our offices are located and I thought she wanted to know just in case there was some sort of emergency but it turned out that she wanted to know if it was a familiar company to her. She would be able to gauge how much I earned from the name of the company.
This one was very chatty and in the short time, I knew her she had already narrated to me her experience with a mom who worked from home, wondering aloud why her employer needed a domestic manager in the first place f she was not going o any office. She came to the unfortunate conclusion that her former employer was just lazy.
I did come to the poor woman’s defense and schooled the young girl on why and how some people worked from home. Women have to stick together and not bring the other woman down. I also told her that it was not good to talk about someone who was not there to defend herself.
12. How many rooms do you have in your house? This question also has much to do with their workload and expected salary and I thought it was a fair question.
13. When am I expected to wake up in the morning? That was a fair question and answered to her satisfaction.
The interview session between an employer and her potential domestic manager is very important and gives both parties a chance to know each other better. It also gives the domestic manager a chance to know what is expected of her.
You should, however, be careful about the information you are giving out because some use it in a negative way and can work with outsiders to steal from you.