It’s been months I know and I’ve been so delinquent, but here’s the last (promise last na) part of Manang’s saga just so there’s closure.
ON MANANG’S RESIGNATION
A part of me felt that Manang leaving was probably for the best.
Moe and I both felt that she was getting too old (and addled) to work. In fact, before all of this even happened, we had already started a retirement plan for her (to level expectations, it’s not Bo-Sanchez-stock-portfolio-fancy. We just bought her pigs so she can start a business).
But, we shouldn’t have lost our temper with her. SHE’S A GRANDMA, grandmas get crabby. Besides, Manang has been good to us. She deserved to leave in good vibes.
So I apologized for being disrespectful. But I also made it clear that she often made us feel disrespected as well. I emphasized that because we treated her like family, we adjusted to her quirks – it seemed unfair that she wasn’t giving us the same consideration. I pointed out how she would sulk and threaten to resign whenever we corrected her. Nevertheless, I thanked her for everything and assured her that she can always come to us for help.
She tearfully acknowledged my sentiments and apologized for her shortcomings.
Despite making up though, we both knew it was time for her to go. It was officially the end of our Manang era (or so we thought).
I needed to look for a helper-fast. As always, my tita was there to save the day:
She was considering several options, but given the urgency of our situation (Yes, the situation was urgent! Whenever I’m left maid-less, I would feel like pre-adoption Cosette in Les Mis and would LSS on “Castle on a Cloud” while taking out the trash), she decided to refer her old cook, Ludy because she needed a job right away. Her endorsement though, came with a strong caveat:
Though Ludy was okay at her job (my tita is a legit classy, discerning Tita of Manila, so getting an ‘okay’ from her is a big deal), she had an attitude problem. In fact, she was let go because she fought with ALL their other helpers. The only reason why she even considered recommending her was because we’re a one-maid household and she knew Ludy would have no one to fight with.
You have to understand, when it comes to helpers, I’m a little bit of an insecure ho’: I go for any flawed shmuck who gives me the time of day.
I decided to give her a call.
First Warning Signs:
The interview itself went well. She seemed experienced, capable and although she was a cook, she was willing to do all-around work.
But, off the bat, she asked for pamasahe from Bicol and an advance to give to her kids.
I may be desperate, but I did learn my lesson from previous experiences. I told her I wasn’t comfortable sending money remotely, but if she can find her own fare and some money to give to her kids, we’ll reimburse her once she’s here.
Dude, she was not happy.
She immediately sent me a barrage of messages. She claimed that my tita knew her naman and it wasn’t in her nature to dupe people. She proceeded to list her credentials ONE TEXT AT A TIME (she was a college graduate, she worked for distinguished people, she even had a Facebook account [?!?]).
At first, I answered politely. But, SHE WOULDN’T LET UP!
I started ignoring her messages.
That made her more determined. In a span of an hour, I got 70++ messages and a few dropped calls.
UH – can you spell PSYCHO??
Finally I got fed up and told her we weren’t interested in getting her anymore because she was creepy. She apologized profusely and explained that she got overzealous because she was desperate for a job. I thanked her for her time and told her in no-uncertain terms that we cannot give in to her requests.
The following morning, she asked if she could still work us if she found pamasahe.
Again, psycho alarm bells. But again, desperate.
I cautiously agreed. Within hours, she was on her way to Manila.
Psycho or sweetheart?
I was a little nervous meeting her and was berating myself for letting a potential Norma Bates into our lives.
But she turned out to be pretty pleasant. She was articulate, polite and efficient. She was very hardworking, would always make it a point to greet us (Manang would just crabbily pass us by) every time she saw us AND, best of all, she fed us fantastic meals. Dude, she could pretty much whip out whatever we asked her to cook. NO MORE TAPA-LIKE STEAK! Wee!!
I have to admit, Norma Bates kinda won us over.
She arrived on a Sunday. By Friday, I was convinced we found a good replacement for Manang. I remember sleeping that night with a warm feeling of satisfaction. Love wins! (Or whatever.)
THE ROYAL RUMBLE
The following morning, Saturday, I heard raised voices.
Okay, take note that this is a common occurrence in our house. Roche, Moe’s long-time helper and the current caretaker of our real house (read here for background), usually comes over to wash Moe’s car and then she and Manang participate in an all-out whine-about-life fest. Sometimes, they get excited and raise their voices.
I figured Ludy was just contributing to the whining fun, so I ignored it and left to run errands.
That afternoon, Roche texted Moe that Manang and Ludy got into a huge argument. To understand why, let’s backtrack a bit:
Manang requested that she stay until the next salary cut-off. I readily agreed because this gave her a week to show Ludy the ropes. I asked them if they could share Manang’s room in the meantime. They both seemed to genuinely not mind the arrangement.
But then, Roche told us that Ludy kept on bitching that she was getting migraines because that Manang woke up waaay too early. Manang in turn, reasoned out that although she liked waking up at the crack of dawn, we actually didn’t impose a “call time,” so Ludy could simply go back to sleep and wake up whenever she wanted. Ludy accused Manang of deliberately making her look bad.
Petty right? We decided not to intervene.
The following morning, Ludy asked us if she could stay with Roche in the other house while Manang was still around because the two of them really couldn’t get along. She started griping about her Manang issues and lamented that she was merely commenting on her migraines when Manang started to become huffy and giving her attitude.
When we got Manang’s side, she claimed that she was just calmly doing her work when Ludy started screaming at her about her morning habits. She also told us that she didn’t want us to deal with the drama, so she was okay to leave earlier than planned just to keep the peace.
Okay. Let’s break this down: We already knew that Ludy had an attitude problem. But Manang wasn’t a ball of sunshine either. So in the Great Battle of the Nanny Divas, the truth was probably somewhere in the middle.
To deal with the tension, we decided that:
- Ludy needed to get used to our household routine, so she will not be allowed to stay in the other house.
- It seemed heartless to send Manang away right then, just because she couldn’t get along with the new help.
- Since we had a spare room and they were just fighting over sleeping arrangements, Manang could stay in the guest room in the meantime. It was just 3 days anyway.
Okay, done. We left for errands confident that we had resolved the conflict.
But when we got home, we recieved more messages from Roche: Apparently, Ludy had been psycho-shouting at Manang FOR HOURS. She only stopped when we arrived. But now that we’re out of earshot, she’s at it again.
Crap. I should have trusted my psycho radar. We decided to talk to Ludy after dinner. But, while we were eating, she drops this bombshell:
She was resigning. She said she couldn’t get along with Manang, and since we didn’t want to send her away, she’ll be the one leaving.
Dude, Manang had 3 days left. She was causing so much ruckus for 3 freakin’ days.
Battle of the Nanny Divas, we have a winner.
I absolutely do not respond well to ultimatums. I told her she was welcome to leave- but she had to reimburse us for her pamasahe and cash advance first. Moe was so furious that he insisted that she needed to pay for her uniforms as well. (Okay- I wouldn’t go that far. But united front. So fine. Pay for your uniforms, newly-crowned Nanny Diva.) Ludy reluctantly agreed.
After all that BV, Manang quietly approached us and asked if she could stay in the other house with Roche in the meantime. Poor lady was probably terrified that Ludy will strangle her in her sleep, so I agreed.
As soon as Manang left, Ludy started rambling. First, she tried to convince us that Manang was an evil two-faced witch. Then, get this: She claimed that she always had pleasant relationships with people and this was the first time she’s fought with someone that worked with. She then proceeded to tell us that she really liked us, and that she actually wanted to continue working for us, even if (get ready for the shade) our salary offer was much smaller than what she was used to.
Liar, liar pants on fire.
I told her I knew exactly what she happened in my tita’s house- and, contrary to what she’s implying, we’re actually doing her a favor by taking the chance on her even though we knew she had a terrible temper (that shut her up).
As for her rescinding her resignation, I said I needed the night to talk to Moe (My turn to lie–I just wanted to buy time partly because I didn’t want her to sneak out during the night without paying us back and partly because I wanted one more delicious home-cooked meal before she leaves).
The following morning, Moe fired her in earnest.
After all that drama, Ludy’s departure was pretty anti-climatic. She was able to pay us back the morning she got fired, proceeded to pack her things quietly and even offered to let Roche check through her belongings to assure us that she didn’t take anything.
She seemed so reasonable that it actually made me wonder if I was overreacting to the situation.
But when she left, Roche and Manang started spilling the beans:
Apparently, behind our backs, she was constantly whining about how she was used to loftier households and how working as an all-around made her tired.
She also been after Manang since she arrived. It started with just making parinig and escalated to cursing and screaming. In fact, she hounded Manang relentlessly, goading her every time we had our backs turned.
The eerie thing was, she would go all Amazonian on Manang but would suddenly morph into Nanny McPhee every time we were around. Scary!!!!
A few days after she left, she had the gal to text me and ask if she could work for us again. When I told her no, she asked if we could recommend her to people.
Uh- didn’t we just fire you??
The last I heard, she was worked briefly for someone in our village but got fired again because she fought with another helper.
MANANG THE RESURRECTION
As usual, this experience made me appreciate Manang.
Turns out, that when Manang left to stay with Roche, she actually wanted to go back the following morning because she was worried about leaving me alone with Ludy. “Baka kung anong gawin sayo Ma’am eh!” she passionately relayed.
Despite the warm and fuzzies, I had to remind myself that we had gone through this before; I didn’t want to ask her to stay (or extend) unless she was fully committed.
But then, while Roche and I were discussing how she could temporarily divide the work between the two houses, Manang interjected: “Ma’am wag ka mag-aalala. Dito lang ako hanggang makahanap kayo ng kapalit. Di naman ko kayo iiwan ng ganun-ganun na lang.”
I was beyond touched. I gratefully accepted her offer in a heartbeat.
As time passed, I became more and more thankful for her spontaneous acts of caring:
- We were discussing her pig business, spontaneously, she offers, “Ma’am, sa pasko, pa-lechon ako ng isa! Pamasko ko na yon!” (poor piggy, but it was a sweet gesture anyway)
- There was a fire in our neighbor’s house and Manang wakes up to find our house covered in thick, black smoke. She wakes Moe up in panic and he immediately rushes to the neighbor’s house to assess whether we needed to evacuate. Here’s the thing: I went out with friends the night before and was completely knocked out while all of this was going on. When I finally came to, I was kinda shocked that I slept through all the chaos. I was jokingly giving Moe a hard time about leaving me when I was obviously in no shape to fend for myself when Manang enthusiastically interjects “Eh andito naman ako nun Ma’am. Kung kailangan hilahin kita paalis, eh di hilahin!”
All these little things me realize that Manang may be a shrew, but she’s a shrew that cares for us.
Meanwhile, after a few weeks, my tita calls me again and says she had someone for me to interview.
I should have been ecstatic, but I couldn’t help but feel melancholic. We were finally going to say goodbye to Manang.
On the day I was about to call our potential helper for an interview, I decided to again talk to Manang in earnest.
I told her we had found a potential replacement. I asked her again, if she still wanted to resign. Nonchalantly, she states, “Hindi ma’am. Bakasyon na lang ako sa New Year.”
And just like that, she’s back with us again. Lol!
To be clear, we still bicker occasionally. I still get hella exasperated when my new t-shirt ends up in Moe’s closet (“Eh magkasing laki kasi ma’am!”) and she still gets huffy when I correct her for cooking tough steak.
Despite all of these, there’s a new level of appreciation for her. Cranky and addled as she was, she really set the bar high for all our future helpers. At the end of the day, it may be easy finding someone more capable and efficient, but finding someone who has her malasakit will be close to impossible.