Saturday, October 17, 2009

I need assistance. Or assistants.

This is beginning to look very attractive.

At a shoot, the model said, "Oh fuck, I'm wearing a dress? I forgot to shave my legs." She flipped open her phone and said, "Where are you? Get me a razor and I need it now." Five minutes later, a girl appears (I kid you not when I said 5 minutes) with a 7-11 plastic bag with, not one, not two, but three fresh razors (model must be really hairy, eh?).

At another shoot, the stylist had her assistant lug around the bags and clothes and shoes while she walked about the set in her sky-high heels, fresh as a daisy.

At the office, a fellow editor-in-chief had her driver pick up all her bags and folders and bring them to the waiting car where she just slid into the back seat and had the door shut for her and she was whisked away. No, this wasn't Pauline of Preview.

At a bloggers event, I asked a fellow blogger how she can update her blog three to four times a day, "You have a full-time job, like me. Goodness, when I get home, I still have to do chores." "Chores?" she laughed. "I have a maid."

Watching Mad Men the other night, I was struck by how they bossed around their secretaries: "Call this guy, make me coffee, pick this up, type this, send that." Or how Betty Draper barked, "Show him the door, take the laundry upstairs, get the kids."

Betty may be the perfect housewife...

... but that's because she has Clara behind the scenes!

That is not my life and it has never been my life. In my job, I xerox my own pages, fill up my own forms, schedule my own meetings, call the people I need to talk to myself and bring my own huge bags. At home, I do my own cooking and cleaning and housekeeping (with a lot of help from Vince who loves to clean!). We don't have a car so I take the bus or the train or the cab or the tricycle. I line up at the bank to pay the bills, the grocery to buy food, the drugstore to refill my prescriptions, the post office to send and pick up packages. I do everything!!!

"No wonder you're so tired," my friends all tut-tut, their beautifully painted faces expressing concern and their perfectly manicured hands patting me sympathetically. I look at my own bare nails, cracked from exposure to detergent and bleach or at my own uncombed hair and wonder if they're right: I need slaves.

Yes. Slaves. Say what you will but Filipinos still have that master-slave mentality. We never pay our help/assistants well enough for the work they do for us. And we never allow them to treat us as equals (be honest!). And that is just a step above slavery. That is why I refuse to have maids or hire an assistant. But these days, I'm really beginning to think I need one. Or two. I need help.

Blair and Dorota have a cute relationship. But I don't know
any Filipino who has a cute relationship with their maids.

My idea of heaven now? At work, I can wear heels all day since I'm not running about doing my errands and picking up papers myself. I don't need to worry about heavy bags because someone's sent them to my house already. Then I come home to a clean house, the table set and hot home-cooked food waiting for me. I will eat it then stand up and not think about washing the dishes. Food magically appears at meal times. When I open my closet, freshly laundered and pressed clothes greet me. My shoes are always polished. The rabbits are always clean and fluffy. I can just focus on me and Vince and books and writing... It sounds lovely but I simply can't see myself bossing about another human being.

And this is why I can't imagine having children! I just can't handle anymore on my plate!

Oh, maybe I just need a day at the spa and the salon. I'll feel better after a good massage, a foot scrub, a mani and pedi, a scalp massage, a facial and hot ginger tea... Mmmm.


  1. Neighbor, this is the exact reason why I realized last year that I was more impressed with Manila editors (and employees) versus the ones in NYC. The 'big names' you and I read about all have assistantS who take care of the nitty gritty. So for editors, like you, to have achieved so much with little assistance, on top of keeping house, etc., that's very magaling :)

    By the way, I changed my mind about getting you the Verilux UV wand? I have other more practical things in mind for you and Vince for the house. But I'll bring mine and see if you find it useful then I can just probably ask my mom to bring one over when she flies to town.

  2. After reading this post, I am in awe in how you can do EVERYTHING! You really need help. Why don't you try getting a cleaning lady/laundry lady first and see if you both like it? Then, hire help after? :) It's hard to find maids who think and work like you. But once you find one, you won't even feel that she is a slave, 'coz she's not :) Think of her as part of your new staff (at home) hehe :D

  3. You need an assistant? Can I apply? Haha.

    But yeah, I know what you mean. We grew up with a helper, but my parents forbade us to order them around. They were always instructed never to do everything my sister and I asked them to do if we can do them ourselves. Which is why I find it very weird to have someone do things for me when I can very well do them.

    Still, it hits the most at meal times, when I'm tired from work and all I want to do after eating is lie down in bed and not think about washing the dishes.

  4. Same with you Frances, I do everything on my own and I know how you feel and how stressed it could take...but I have a feeling (just a feeling) you're someone who'd rather do things themselves as you know "the right way" to do it, just like me, that's why I'd rather do things on my own than asking someone to do it then at the end, not satisfied! :) We do have a maid at home, but you know what? I am proud to say she's not a slave or a step higher than a slave at all! I think I'm even more of a slave than her! LOL Me and my hubby loves doing stuffs on our own too :) You probably do need help every now and then but I'm sure not the ones that you described...we'll go crazy girl! :) Lovely post!!! Enjoyed reading it!

  5. youre a one tough lady frances ^_^, its not easy juggling all those work,annd yeah its nice to have a maid to uplift some of the weight off your back,my mom do everything by herself too the time she hired a maid,she realized that she's not used to letting someone in the house other than us and she loves doing that by herself,she just gave the maid to my aunt.your husband must be proud of you for doing all those things..atleast if ever all the luxury,money,wealth,maids,will be taken away,you know how to handle things na,and those ladies whose used to having maids and pampering they will still need to adjust pa(and it'll be hard from up there to down there)..=D xoxo

  6. Since when do models have assistants? Jeez.
    I don't like bossing people around - any people for that matter - What happened to saying 'please' and 'thank you' along with the orders?

    I do almost everything too, mainly because I'm a perfectionist :)
    My hubby always goes grocery shopping with me, because he knows I'm not strong enough to carry all those bags!

  7. You know, what you said are all very true. Remember the HK guy who lambasted Filipinos for having maids just a few months ago? Not that I'm saying we all deserve it [because not everyone is like that] but house help in the Phils. are mostly, completely underpaid. Most, too, treat them not part of the family and it can be sad. When my parents were still in the country, we made our househelp take courses at TESDA so that in the future, when me and my brother would no longer be needing their services, they could get jobs as therapists and this happened a few years ago. I do miss having them around because they really make my life so much easier. But not having one right now is okay, too, coz I'm learning so much and I'm not scared of being alone with all my laundry and everything :D

    On the other hand, wow, you are a superwoman! I can imagine someone like me [single and far from being a busy editor in chief] having no house help but you -- you're wow! You deserve an assistant, even if only for work stuff :)

  8. NYMinute, anything at all will be appreciated =) Just happy that we'll be seeing you again!

    StyleKit, ya, tried that for a few months. But it sure was weird having someone else breathing and moving and eating in the house... Sigh!

    Maris, ya, it's at mealtimes that I feel it most. I just want to eat then sleep!

    Askmewhats, you saw right through me. And I'm glad to know that I'm mistaken about the "slavery" =)

    Shobe, same with my own mom! No maid could last with her!

    Duni, we're alike!!!I guess this really means having household help isn't an option =P

    Teeyah, how nice of your family to do that! If ever I get help, I want to do that, too--send them to school. =)

  9. I have an aunt from NYC who'd often say, "If you're in America, your kids don't have nannies. You won't make it there if you're used to helpers". Pisses me off. We're in the Philippines where there are few day care centers that will take your kids for more than 8hours without damaging your budget and commuting with kids is just too much of a hassle. The nanny is just there to wash our clothes (my nails are sensitive to detergent) and be the kids' companion when hubby and I are out. She's usually talking to someone on her cellphone or watching TV. Right now our nanny is on vacation. I'm a bit stressed. But aside from the huge pile of dirty clothes, we're doing well without her. I just got used to having a nanny. She's better than no help at all. Hope she comes back soon. :)
    You can get a nanny when you eventually have kids. The ones who'd do everything and who are reliable are very rare nowadays. They usually come with detailed job descriptions, eg. "bantay lang bata, hindi magluluto, hindi magpplantsa..." Marunong na din mga helpers ngayon lalo na alam nila they can easily go to Hong Kong or something.

  10. If you need an assistant and I'm already tired of my job, just email me hehe :P I think you'll be a kind boss... i think LOL :P


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