Horrid helper stories

All Woman

LAST week we shared helper horror stories — tales of domestic workers who felt they were discriminated against or treated unfairly by their employers. Today we flip the coin to hear from the families who have hired helpers and regretted it, as the helpers were only out to help themselves.

Justin, contractor:

I responded to an ad in the classifieds for a helper because my wife and I were both very busy and we needed some help around the house. We are not rich, but I guess some helpers feel that if you can afford to hire them, then your pockets must be lined with gold. Granted, she was hard-working, and she did help out. The only problem was that we bought things in bulk to save money, and she loved to take things — detergent, cleaning products, tissue, food items, flowers, utensils and so on. She always brought an empty bag to work and left with it full. We had to let her go.

Sonia, nail technician:

When I got pregnant my spouse and I got this helper to take on some of the things I couldn't manage. But she wasn't really much of a help. She was overweight, but I didn't really consider that it would affect her because I know 'big' women who can still work. But she was so lazy; she always came complaining that she didn't feel well, and always had aches and pains so she couldn't complete her tasks. The only thing she liked to do was cook, and then fill a large container with food for herself.

Lancelot, entrepreneur:

I was working out of town a lot so I got a mature lady, who came highly recommended, to stay with my elderly mother while I was away. She seemed like a nice Christian, and seemed fond of my mother, who was in the early stages of dementia. I would wonder why my mother would always cry when I returned, but I chalked it up to her missing me. But soon things started to go missing in the house, and I set up a hidden camera to really see what was going on. To my shock, she would leave my mother unattended for much of the day while she entertained her friends and family members in my house, and when my mother would say anything, she was screamed at. I had in fact hired the devil, and didn't realise.

Emily, homemaker:

I admit that my son was a challenge in his pre-teen years, but that's how boys are. My helper insisted that he had the devil in him, and one day he finally confessed to me all the stories of the things she would do to him, then threaten him with eternal damnation if he told us. He said she would put his face close to the sewing machine and threaten to sew his lips shut, would tie his hands behind him and have him sit under the dining table for hours, and would prevent him from going to the bathroom until he soiled himself. When he eventually told us, and we called her for a meeting in which we planned to confront her, we didn't see or hear from her again. We reported it to the police, but to this day no one knows where she ran off to.

Joan, teacher:

We hired one of my husband's distant relatives from the country as a live-in helper, and that's the worst thing we could have done. I don't know if it's because they were related why she felt she didn't really have to work, but she literally just lived there. She just threw everything in the washing machine, even the things I told her to wash by hand. She never cleaned. She just stayed home all day watching cable TV and using the phone and internet. We sent her back to the country after about a month.

Tonoya, sales representative:

My husband was away on the farm work programme and so for months at a time I would be the only one parenting our newborn. So we decided to get a nanny for the times I would have to work outside the home. I would pump milk, freeze it, and then all she was expected to do was thaw the milk and feed the baby. I even showed her how. One day I came home to a baby obviously in distress, and the nanny told me that “di milk did done” and the baby had had nothing to eat since lunch. This was strange, because I had dozens of packets and bottles of milk in the freezer. When I pointed this out she said she didn't know — she had assumed that the packets of milk powder in the cupboard were for the baby, and had been feeding my child powdered milk even though I wished to exclusively breastfeed. I fired the nincompoop on the spot.

GD, brand executive:

I had a helper for a while. It was good at first; there were boundaries and so on, even though we would run jokes. But after a few months I guess she felt like she was indispensable. She just started to slack off and was very feisty on top of it. It started feeling like we were begging her to help, and working was a bother to her. She even brought three friends over for dinner one time without saying anything to us. Familiarity really does breed contempt.

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