Saturday, May 21, 2011

Nanny’s First Job, a cautionary tale of woe

Once upon a time, many many MANY moons ago, a young woman we’ll call, um…Deb, was going to school part time, baby sitting part time, and working at a major retailer part time. One day, she paused to take a breath, looked around, and said to herself, “Self, I think I am ready for a change. What can I do to make money and avoid going to school for a while?”

After looking in the newspaper want ads, (I did say this happened a long time ago, right?), Deb wiped the ink from her hands and said, “I’ll be a nanny! That sounds like fun, and I like kids, so it’ll be great!”

After answering several ads, and interviewing with a few families, Deb decided that she wanted to work for a Doctor (D) and an Executive (E), caring for their 18-month-old little boy (T). She was sure the $275 per week salary would be plenty, especially since she would only be working 50 or so hours a week, caring for a little boy who was, according to his parents, easy to amuse.

Deb reported to her first day of work full of sunshine and happiness, ready to adore her “charge” and learn all about her new employers from the nanny she was replacing, a sweet Chinese lady. Boy, did Deb learn a lot that first week! She learned that since T. was “underweight” he always had to be entertained by a floor show when he was being fed. Singing, dancing, puppet wielding, full on floor show 3 meals a day and 2 snacks as well. She also learned that T. got a bottle full of kiddie Ensure mixed with a cup of Hagen Daz vanilla ice cream when he refused to eat anything, which happened, oh, 5 times a day.

And Deb learned that E. was pregnant and actually lived in another city, working for a semi-shady fellow who wanted to open a casino. And Deb learned that D. not only prescribed antibiotics for his own kid at the drop of a hat, but that he also worked 12 – 24 hour shifts 5 days a week. No matter how Deb tried, she couldn’t make the math work out to her actually working 50 hours when D. was at work 70 – 80 hours and E was in a different city.

However, T. was cute, and he didn’t seem to actually need that mealtime show to eat once Deb stopped stuffing him with ice cream and Ensure. The fact that they couldn’t leave the property of the condo where Deb worked except to walk on a sidewalk-free road to a duck pond ½ mile away wasn’t so bad. Really, it wasn’t. At all.

Then, pregnant E. came home about 6 weeks after Deb started, and cried sad tears about how she missed her baby, and Deb agreed to go and live with E. and T. in a “suite at a grand hotel” owned by (semi-shady) boss of E.

Any guesses as to how grand that “suite” was? Here’s a hint. It was 3 connected rooms in a “hotel” on the level of a low-end Hyatt.

So, after getting lectured for ordering room service on her first night in the “suite” after traveling all day with disengaged E. and T. to get to the completely new, and ever so slightly dangerous, city where Deb knew only her employer, Deb figured out how to find a grocery store, wrested occasional control of the rental car from E. after promising she would deliver E. to work at 7 am each morning that E. didn’t need the car, and Deb set out to find fun things to do with T. other than hang out at the low-end Hyatt all day.

Sadly, many playgrounds in the main area of town were “not for our kind of people”, and the days began to drag. Toddler was bored, so E. put him in school. T. and Deb went with E. to see E.’s offices, and Deb realized that E. was trying (rather hilariously) to hide her very obvious pregnancy from her boss.

And then Deb realized, after opening the door to the “living room” one weekend day, that E. was a pig-like slob. Which meant that food left where it was dumped tended to bring ants into the “suite”. Deb also realized that if she was around at all on weekends, she would be told to work in the hellish pit of slop created by E. because E. was “tired and needed a break”. Luckily, there was a mall and a movie theater within walking distance of the low-end Hyatt, and the drivers who took tourists into the city proper always asked Deb Friday and Saturday nights if she was escaping the next day.

Eventually, D. came into town so he and E. could go house hunting. Of course, it was essential that Deb and T. come house hunting too, because that was a terrific day long activity for a 20-month-old on a weekend. Then, it was decided that D., E., and T. would go home for a long holiday weekend, and that Deb would be thrilled to NOT go home.

After some soul searching, and some discussions with her parents, Deb decided she needed to find out when there would be a house to live in, whether D. and E. had actually been paying taxes, and, generally, how much longer her 50 hour work weeks would actually be 75 hour work weeks. When Deb asked E. those questions, she was told that no house was going to be bought, because it “made more sense” to stay in the low-end Hyatt with a 22-month-old and a newborn, that of course no taxes were being paid, and that Deb should have known that her hours would get longer when baby arrived.

So Deb gathered her courage around her like a cloak, and said the magic words, “I am going to give notice as of now, since this situation is not going to get any better.” In exchange for that statement, Deb got to work 2 weeks with E. doing her best imitation of an icicle, a ticket home on a 5:30 am flight, and much huffing and puffing about “ungrateful people”.

Deb made her escape after 4 months of 70+ hour weeks, happy to have survived, and sure that she would go back to work in retail. Deb also got scary papers from the IRS a month later, and got to explain that D. and E. were a bit confused, since Deb was not the employer at all, and Deb was sad that D. and E. hadn’t been paying the taxes they had to pay. That was pretty fun, actually.

Then, Deb discovered that there were actual Nanny Agencies, and that the Nanny Agencies placed nannies with families who understood the concept of a 50 hour work week, and paying taxes, and all sorts of stuff that made it much more fun to be a Nanny. And Deb found a job through a Nanny Agency, and stayed there for 4 years. And then she found another job, through another Nanny Agency, and stayed there 7 years. And so on, and so on…

Deb realized that life as a nanny was pretty terrific when one knew a little about how the nanny world worked, and she also realized that almost every nanny she met had a scary story about her First Nanny Job. And Deb lived (mainly, overall) happily ever after.

1 comment:

Los Angeles Nanny Agencies said...

Most Nannies will agree that housework directly involving their charges is usually their responsibility. Therefore, keeping the children's rooms clean, doing their laundry, preparing their meals and cleaning up the dishes after the meals is usually part of the job.

Thanks a lot.