Influencer Laments Helper's 'Entitled' Behaviour Online, Gets Schooled About Graciousness Instead
She claimed that her helper has a history of stealing from the home.
Conflicts between employers and their domestic workers are common occurrences in many Singapore households—it can sometimes be almost like a chicken and egg situation. As outsiders, we will never know the full story.
However, in an employer-maid relationship, there are still certain expectations and boundaries to be drawn, as well as values to uphold to.
Taking things without asking for permission, according to Singapore influencer Jessica Loh, is definitely not one of them.
Maid Taking Food without Permission
In a series of Instagram stories Loh posted on her account @shiberty on 13 June 2020, she expressed displeasure over her foreign domestic helper’s actions.
Loh’s maid, Ning, was said to have helped herself to the Seafood bee hoon that Loh cooked as part of her friend’s birthday feast, seeing that there was a lot of it.
After having found Ning “sneakily eating” the beehoon for dinner in the kitchen, Loh called her out on it for she did not seek permission before doing so.
“Taking something without permission that doesn’t belong to you is stealing,” wrote Loh, adding that had the helper asked nicely, she would have “even offered her tiger prawns and crabs”.
“It’s just basic manners,” Loh wrote.
She also claimed that she offered her maid the same exact dish the previous time she cooked it but had been too busy this time to offer, was not sure if there was enough, and was rushing off to deliver the meal.
Meanwhile, Loh described her maid’s tone as “irritated” and “aggressive” when asked to seek permission in future.
Loh claimed that the helper replied: “You have so much, what’s the problem? I eat little bit, cannot?”
Still, Loh said she was prepared to let it go—if not for Ning’s Whatsapp message to her the following morning.
This eventually incurred Loh’s wrath, setting off the series of IG stories of her lamentations.
According to Loh, Ning refuted her in her Whatsapp message, saying that Loh’s “gone too far” and “[she has] to know [her] place as a boss.”
“YOU CLEAN BECAUSE IT’S YOUR JOB”
Loh alleged that Ning said she did not get to eat until 9pm after helping out with the cooking and cleaning.
The influencer, however, showed on her posts that they have wrapped up the cooking at 6.25pm and Ning even prepared dinner for her nephew around 7pm.
She said her maid could have cooked extra for her dinner instead of “stealing [her] food.” “The rice and egg [are] free flow, she can eat anytime. (sic)” She also told the helper that cleaning is part of the job.
“YOU CLEAN BECAUSE ITS YOUR JOB. It’s not a favour to me. It’s what you are supposed to do. You are living in dream is it (sic),” wrote Loh, adding that it did not entitle the helper to help herself to the food without permission just because she helped with the cooking.
Loh also described the helper’s attitude as “entitled.” Loh also claimed that Ning had previously lied to the family in an incident involving the same seafood bee hoon. She claimed that Ning was said to have sent an image of Loh’s grandmother—living in Australia—eating the seafood bee hoon Ning claimed to cook herself to Loh’s mother.
When confronted on the lie, she said Ning replied: “You think I have the money to buy crab?”
According to Loh, this is just part of the problems she has been experiencing with her helper. Showing a photo of what seemed to be the helper packing a box, She claimed that the helper has threatened to stop working for the family.
Reportedly Stolen from Family Before
Loh also wrote that Ning had “a history” of taking things from their home without permission.
With that, she went through Ning’s belonging to ensure that “she’s not stealing more”. To which, Ning complained: “my thing also you want to take, you not shy ah?”
In the end, Ning remained in the household.
Local Maid Advocacy Group Pens Open Letter
The story of the rift between Loh and her domestic worker caught the attention of MaidForMore, an Advocacy Group for Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore.
On 15 June, they posted an ‘open letter’ to Loh via Instagram in hopes to address the conflict.
According to MaidForMore, their intention was to help bridge the gap between the employer-maid relationship and not “call [Loh] out”.
They too explained that similar incidents involving their maids have happened before: from their personal items being misplaced or moved while carrying out their duties, and without consent.
It can feel “alienating” and “demoralising” for some domestic workers to come across items during their chores and know that they can never afford them, according to MaidForMore.
With that, they sought for Loh to “approach such conflicts with grace and openness,” and the same time acknowledges that while they encourage employers to be understanding in such incidents, the group does not condone bad domestic helper attitude and misbehaviour.
“We do not condone the trespassing of personal boundaries and property without consent,” they wrote.
While it is “cathartic” to express that anger towards the “person who has wronged you”, MaidForMore wrote “that temporary relief can have lasting effects on your relationship and home life.”
It will take time for trust and rapport in forging a healthy employer-maid relationship at home, but the “pay-offs are worth it,” the group added.
Improve Relationship with Maid: Identify When Your maid is Stressed-out
There could be many reasons why your domestic worker could be overstepping his/her boundaries or not carrying out his/her as expected.
Living together in a shared space for an extended period of time can lead to tensions, and sometimes unresolved feelings of anger and frustration.
Sometimes, it could be due to unspoken feelings of stress. The best way is to talk it out with your maid, and realign expectations and boundaries. Here are signs of a stressed-out maid you must not ignore:
1. She’s slacking on her work
She may do this intentionally to try and get her message across to you (“Ma’am, I just can’t handle all this work”), or unintentionally as her anxious thoughts overrule her daily routine.
If you notice repeated slip-ups, sit her down and talk to her about why she’s making mistakes. It could be that she is genuinely forgetful and a simple solution like getting her to write down her daily duties every morning could help. Or it could be her way of ‘rebelling’ and expressing to you that she’s dealing with a problem, personal or otherwise.
2. You catch her snapping at your kids
If you suspect your maid might be ill-treating your child, look out for subtle and not-so-subtle signs of this behaviour in your little one, such as displaying anxiety when left with your maid, or more obvious signs such as bruises or bumps.
And if you do catch your maid venting her stress on your children, there can really be no excuses at all for this behaviour — show her the door as soon as possible.
3. She starts seeing ghosts and spirits
It’s not unusual for some maids to be quite superstitious, but if they start talking about ghostly beings in your home, you may want to take this as a sign that she is anxious about something, or really wants to leave.
4. She constantly complains about her health
It’s true that life as a domestic helper can be quite strenuous, more so in some households than others, and this work can take a toll on a maid’s health in one way or another.
And it’s true that it’s our responsibility to show concern over a maid’s health problems and help her get appropriate medical care. However, even after multiple visits to the doctor and several rounds of medication, if your maid still complains about her health, it could be a roundabout way of saying she has other issues, or that she wants to leave.
5. She starts showing you attitude
If you notice that your previously polite helper is now rude, short-tempered, ignoring your requests, and is basically showing you heaps of attitude, it might actually be that this behaviour is an in/voluntary result of stress and anxiety.
Sit down with her, talk to her about her behaviour and get to the bottom of what’s causing it.
Lead image via Instagram/shiberty