Monday, 19 November 2012

Working hard

Last week the gritlets came up with the smart idea they would earn money.

Normally, I would immediately agree to this. Quicker than you could say exploitative child labour I'd have them stitching Claire's Accessory bags, or gluing the wiggly eyes on soft toys in the dead-eyed manner of a Special Economic Zone migrant.

Unfortunately, their idea is nothing so vaguely helpful as earning their crust via a scheming employer. No. They came up with an employment scheme called Helping around the home.

I am unhappy about Helping around the home. It is basically, 'we do jobs, you give us cash'.

Hmm. Sounds to me like extortion from my pocket when the grislets should jolly well pull their weight. Four of us are here, and when I last looked there were no staff, housekeepers, laundry assistants or 'women who do' hiding behind the curtains. Between the four of us we surely have the sense and ability to wash, cook, clear up after ourselves, and not set the place on fire. (I only set the dinner ablaze once. For goodness sake don't keep going on about it.) Daily assistance around the home, in my opinion, should involve no cash. Only the satisfaction gained from helping each other and creating a mutually supportive society. And then what happens next? When the employment experiment is over? More hazard. As in, I am not picking up my coat because you are not paying me to do it.

Obviously, I tried to put the griblets off their ghastly scheme. Primarily by turning every household job into a long-winded, difficult and problematic tendering process.

I listed six areas of housework and insisted written bids for the contracts were presented in a proper manner. Then I demanded each job be submitted to a further round of wrangling and bargaining. Because I am ruthless (and know how to divide triplets), I egged on Shark and Tiger to undercut each other on the Table Setting bid until both of them offered to work the entire week for one penny. Then I gave the job to Squirrel on account of the ridiculously unrealistic bids coming in from the competition.

But despite my best efforts to recreate the misery, daily grind and routine back-stabbing involved in office politics, the grimlets persisted.

Eventually I gave in.

They have just completed the week's employment. I incorporated into the end process a further smidgen of realism by means of a staff appraisal designed to identify areas where they failed.

Gratifyingly, it took all afternoon, and meant I could use phrases like performance-related targeting and action to improve client satisfaction. Now I am in hope they never, ever, want to re-run this experiment ever again. It has left one in a fuming temper, one not talking to me, and one locked in the bathroom. Thus I hope their next idea to earn their meagre pound is nothing to do with me, but is hiking round the neighbourhood, offering to wash cars.

Tiger. Won bids for dusting and vacuuming. Frankly, the vacuuming was terrible. She swung the Dyson round like a weapon, scowled all the time and sucked up next to nothing before finally demanding two pound fifty. I gave it to her gladly, just to get her out the way. (I might take a note of that strategy, actually, for when Dig comes home.) On the plus side, she enjoyed the dusting since it required the purchase of an extendable fluff-on-a-stick with which she could stab her sisters.

Squirrel. Won bids for table duties and tidying the shoe racks. Dreadful. It was like putting Chaos in charge of time-keeping. But her winning of the bids was political, so I can't complain.

Shark. Won bids for laundry in and laundry out. She made an attempt. Then I realised we were washing the clean clothes all over again while a pile of mud-stained jeans was crawling out the door looking for pedestrians to mug. Did the job myself when she'd gone to bed.

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