We had a very interesting experience in negotiating with our current cook when we were hiring her. We asked her how much she wanted for coming once and cooking for two people. She referred to the neighbor who had introduced us and said that she was getting Rs. 1800 there. It was temporary job and she expected Rs. 2000 from a permanent one. We were confounded. House helps had never quoted their current salaries while trying to negotiate, especially not if it was less than what they expected. Then she confidently said that we should see her work and then decide.
We have seen her work now and we’ll happily pay her Rs. 2000, although the amount of work she has here is less than what she had at the neighbor’s place. Not only is she a better cook than all others we had till now, she takes a lot of pride in her work and does it carefully. It is the small, little thing that matter. If an ingredient is missing, she doesn’t go whining how would she work without it. She reminds us to buy it, but also figures out how to cook without it at that time. She cleans up the kitchen after cooking, although she knows we have a maid who is supposed to the cleaning. She also cleans up the cooking utensils if she figures that the maid has already left and won’t come until tomorrow. We and many others we know have been the victims of super-inflated egos of the cooks. If the maid didn’t come, they won’t cook unless you give them washed utensils. And in most cases, they aren’t that great a cook either.
Pride is not vanity. Vanity is what makes many other cooks think too well of their mediocre work. Pride is what makes our cook strive to actually do it well and better. She is a South Indian, but makes much better chapatis than many North Indians. She didn’t take offense when I asked her to redo a dish with more spices. She used it to learn about our preferences and made the dishes after that more to our taste.
I would like to have a maid that would take pride in her work. Keeping a house clean and making it livable! And I’d pay her more than “market price” for this. It isn’t only the programmers and writers who would do well if they took pride in their work and loved it. Almost everyone can benefit from it.