Monday, January 11, 2010

When Communication Is A Problem

We all know the importance of choice of words and I bet you don't know how it is going to drive you up to the wall like I do when the wrong choice of words is used.

My new maid came to join our family in Nov last year. She's only 21 years old (yeah, we remember we saw 27 on her profile but then you know how 1 and 7 fooled us sometimes) and has never leave her country before. Deep down, I had prepared for the worse, that she doesn't know the basic expectations nor the most fundamental discipline that we expected from our previous maid. But, I am fine to take her as long as she is willing to learn and has some level of initiatives. The one thing that I didn't know is how communication can be a challenge.

Right after I came back from my recent trip I found that my bedroom floor was super sticky and there were dusty and hair at the corner of the living room and under the couch.

Me: Arnie, did you sweep the floor when I was not around? How come it is still so dusty?Arnie: Yes, madam
Me: Did you sweep under the chairs and tables? And from the corners? *pointing to all those direction*
Arnie: No, no need!
Me: What do you mean no need? You have to! Remove the chairs and tables and sweep! Did you?
Arnie: No, no need madam!
Me: What?! Stop saying no need. I am telling you that you have to! ...

I came home from work one evening and realized that I didn't bring the keys with me, so I honked and have Arnie to open the auto gate for me. I saw her stood at the front door and waving to me. I couldn't understand and so I wind down the window:

Me: Open the gate for me Arnie
Arnie: No, no need open madam.
Me: What? Open the gate! I want to park my car inside.
Arnie: No, madam, no need open. *then she pointed at the small gate and asked me to come inside from there*
I parked my car and walked through the small gate...
Me: Why didn't you open the gate? What do you mean no need?!
Arnie: *Took the auto gate remote control and pressed on the button several times, but the gate couldn't open* No need!
Me: Arnie, the door Cannot open, not "no need"!

Pat uses different pieces of cloth when he washes his "precious" (car) and he will just leave the cloths outside the porch when he is done. When our previous maid was with us, she knows what to do with those. But Arnie, she just kept all those cloths in the washroom. One day, Pat realizes those were extremely dirty and so he asked:

Pat: Arnie, did you wash these cloths? How come it is still so oily and dirty?
Arnie: Cloths? No, sir
Pat: These cloths *showed it to her* Did you wash?
Arnie: No, no need sir, no need wash!
Pat: What no need wash? Please wash them and dry them every time I finish with them. See so oily? How can I use them?

Only last week I finally realized that her "no need" can be "cannot", "not yet" or "didn't"! It has been driving me nuts every time I had a conversation with her. I couldn't understand how can she be so stubborn? How can she answer me "no need" when I told her that she "Has To"? I felt like my blood pressure was shooting right up to my head when I heard "no need" from her.

Her other standard answer is "don't know". Charlotte has request now and then, sometimes she asked for her old toy, 1 small piece of a particular paper, 1 small ring, 1 small hair pin...and Arnie's standard answer is "don't know". She got me so mad that I had to tell her I don't want to hear "don't know" anymore. She better know where are all Charlotte's toys and stuff. I mean, my house is not a 3 storey big bangalow, I only have 1 room for all Charlotte's toys and those are all in boxes. How difficult is it to find one?

There are many other cases that made us go "Arghhhhh"!


  1. It's hard to find a good maid! I know...

  2. It's even tougher than educating our kids. Sometimes i wonder, if a 2 yrs old kid can understand us, why can't a 20+ adult understand our language. Maybe they just be ignorance, sigh!