Let's Hold On That Househelp Just Yet In The Post Lockdown World
Updated: May 24
Ladies and gents, let’s hold on to that maid and cook yet.
The COViD-19 lockdown might have brought with it the realisation that indeed you can cook up a storm in your kitchen, your banana bread has Julia Child swelling with pride, and you clean your house to a shine. You discovered the maid’s blind spots, you mopped that floor with the intensity of a pole dancer, and your kitchen counter looks shinier than your baby’s butt. What started with a feeling of panic and resignation about the absence of househelp has now turned into a self-congratulatory epiphany that you are all you need, after all.
But let’s just hold that thought for a bit.
Consider this. You were able to bend over backwards cleaning your house not despite but because of the lockdown. There wasn’t an office to go to and you and your partner WFH, so you didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn trying to find a decent outfit to wear, iron, blow dry that hair, pack a tiffin, spend hours looking for a cab, and then all those hours in the commute. All that time you saved on taking chai breaks at work you used on making the chai at home. All that time saved in not having meetings that could be emails went in looking up recipes on YouTube, procuring ingredients and then cooking that meal that took you two hours -- a routine 30 min job for your cook.
When things come back to normal, you might be better aware of your ability to do their job better, but still with the lack of time and physical and mental bandwidth to do them efficiently.
Besides, do you really want to be washing dishes for an hour - a most mundane, non-exciting chore by most accounts, when you could be spending that hour reading a great article, watching a mini documentary, creating something or working on what would help you get closer to self-actualization than something clean to eat from?
Let the maid and the cook do their jobs. Let them earn their bread and butter so you can get yours served on a platter as the economic world order designed to be. The wheels of the economy must keep running if we have to see a post-pandemic normal world. For a minute put yourself in your maid’s place. Maybe your boss too realised that he’s well-equipped to make those Powerpoint presentations himself for which he pays you a packet. But is he about to do it? One would doubt it. We all can do most non-skilled jobs and some skilled jobs with a little training and practice, but there’s a good reason we don’t. Delegation is not just a management theory. It’s the essence of economy.
Let this time be not about congratulating yourself on a job done better than your maid or your cook, picking faults for their shoddy work in hindsight, and not needing them anymore. But about realising the hard work done by them all these years, and appreciating them a little more. Yes, in all likelihood, the maid doesn’t do as great a job of cleaning your house as you do. But then she also doesn’t derive the same benefits of that shiny counter as you do. She doesn’t get to post about her self-made domestic-bliss on Instagram for a house well-mopped. What’s a matter of pride for you is a routine job for her, that admittedly pays just enough to stay above below-poverty-line. For you it is one house, your maid and cook do this at multiple houses, other than their own. If the lockdown and the accompanied responsibilities left you with calloused hands, feet and a backache at times, chances are your maid has them on a more regular basis. You love it when your partner/flatmate takes the slack for a day and you don’t have to move a finger. That’s how the maid feels when she gets a day off. Still have your job post lockdown? Feel grateful and pay it forward.
Hold on to that maid and cook. Tighter than ever. And while you’re at it, let’s be more generous and empathetic towards them.