Welcome to Indonesia !

March 22 2007

So I get this strange SMS from Decy right in the middle of an all day meeting.  Something is clearly wrong, she is upset and she needs to talk about it - Read on.

As background, we pay our drivers very well relative to other drivers.  We pay them well relative to "professional" drivers, and we pay them extremely well relative to "regular" drivers.  We know this, and we've always known this.  We have set extremely high demands/expectations on our drivers and we expect them to perform.  Their base salary is based on a 60 hour week - overtime pay begins after 60 hours. They run errands for us.  They pay bills for us.  Sometimes they go shopping for us.  They do not sit idle.

People talk - doesn't matter the culture or country.  Decy has been going to some of the expat ladies teas and one of the subjects is salaries for domestic help.  We are careful what we say as we recognize we are on the upper end of "normal".  We only quote base salaries and we remind folks that its based on a 60 hour week.  But, just like the ladies talk so do the drivers .... and Pak Yono and Pak Mustafa know they are well paid.  Its their call, but they normally lie about (play down) their salaries.

Well, it seems that Pak Mustafa had suddenly decided that he needed to "protect" his salary and to ensure he always had favor with us.  So, what did he do ... he went out and found somebody who practices majic.  Don't know what all that person did ... but what we do know is that:  (a) Pak Mustafa washed one of our cars with "majic water", (b) put "majic water" in our windshield wiper fluid, (c) put "majic water" and something in writing (some type of spell or prayer) in our car, and (d) put something in writing in his wallet to link him to us.

As of right now, Pak Mustafa is suspended without pay - so much for majic !  We have replaced the windshield wiper fluid, and we have removed the thing from the car.  Additionally, we have prayed for and layed hands on both cars as well as the house and everything in and around it .... as well as the people passing thru its doors.

I don't believe in "majic" - and from what I've seen it is pretty much illusions, superstition, and use of drugs - at least here in Indonesia.  I know we have a God that is all knowing and all powerful.  What bothers me the most about this incident, is (a) the invasion on our privacy (ergo his thinking he had the right to put something in/on our car), and (b) the concept that his salary (and our minds) could be based on "majic" instead of job performance.

As I understand it, one of the things he was "hoping to achieve" was that whatever he said or did that we would "always agree with him" and that we would never reduce his salary.  With this concept, then, theoretically he could become a lousy performer, not meet the expectations, but still demand (and get) salary increases. WRONG !!

Don't know if/when we will allow Pak Mustafa to return to work.  His timing was very bad for him ... next week is spring break ... we don't need 2 drivers for most of the next 10 days.

One thing we ARE doing is sending a very strong signal/message to our staff directly (through discussions) and indirectly by our actions that "majic will not be tolerated nor allowed in our house".  We are reminding everybody that we treat them with respect and honor; we don't look down on them; we don't yell at them; we don't hit them. We allow them to eat our food, drink our water, and to be comfortable in/around the house. We allow them to worship when and how they want to (all are muslims).

What is and must always be clear is that there is no place for majic in this house - and any acts of such will be dealt with quickly and appropriately, up to and including termination of employment. From my perspective, majic and theft are the offenses that will be dealt with severely .... laziness and or incompetence can be addressed through coaching and counselling .... lack of skills can be addressed through training and teaching.

Well ... so much for this blog ... time to go to work.

Suzanne Morgan

March 22 2007
And the winner is...the tortoise.

The Capn

March 22 2007
heh... grandma hit the nail on the head...