Tuesday

Mom filled with anxiety and guilt needs advice about Nanny

Received Tuesday, August 19, 2008. - Perspective & Opinion
Okay - can I ask a question about pay and anxiety? I am a working mom with 2 children aged 5 and 3, with another baby on the way. We currently pay our full-time 52.5 hour/week, live-out nanny $1000/week before taxes, also pay our portion of taxes, plus $2200/year medical, $1000/xmas gift, $250/birthday plus other occasional gifts. She has a credit card in our name for ALL expenses. She's babysat for us perhaps twice (with additional pay of course, not time in exchange), 2 weeks paid vacation, 10 holidays, 5 sick days (actually has been more like 15-20). Our two are in preschool and spent the summer mostly in camp. She does their laundry, their cooking and tidying, can use the credit card for all child-related expenses including zoo, meals for all out, home/craft supplies, with a generous weekly limit. When the boys are in school/camp, she's done the food shopping and a few errands. We all get along very well, she's great with my children, we have regularly scheduled discussion times so she can bring up any issues, we think she's great (and so do some local nanny-poachers), we just bought a new car for her/us to drive with the new baby which of course we will gas up. My anxiety is over a few things... 1/she has some family issues (she basically supports her family) and is pushed to ask us continually for more by them and... 2/she lives a LONG way from us by her choice (we've offered to either help her find a place closer, for her to stay over if she's ever tired, whatever she'd like)... 3/she has frequent stress-related sick days/afternoons which I have been supportive of her finding help for... 4/she has asked us to also pay all physician and medical copays... 5/why do I feel guilty sleeping in some mornings and napping some afternoons while she is working even though I'm in my 3rd trimester?

43 comments:

the mrs. said...

It sounds to me like you're doing the very best that you can, OP. I worry more that you're stressing like this in your 3rd trimester, when you should be relaxing and enjoying your pregnancy.
Are you feeling taken advantage of? Because I couldn't quite tell if you felt that way or not. I see that you are very kind to your Nanny, but has she come to expect a lot, and you're worried about that? Or, are you feeling like you could do more?

Casey said...

Sounds like you are a very caring employer. She makes plenty of money and you should not feel bad about the pay you offer her. She seems to be borderline taking advantage of you and your generosity. You should not feel guilty for taking a nap.

However,
a 52.5 hour week could be increasing her stress and the 'sick' days. I know when I feel overworked, I take a sick day to recover.

Since you are in your 3rd trimester, I'm sure you are just as exhausted, but if there is any way to give you both a break 1 afternoon a week, i would recommend it, since it sounds like you don't want to lose your nanny. She might be getting close to burned out and another baby on the way won't be helping.

h said...

Sounds like another entitled nanny.

Hire a professional American nanny.
Fire this one. 15-20 sick days? Are you kidding me? My nanny makes 1200 for 43 hours, full HMO health care insurance, 3 weeks paid vacation, 5 set holidays, and we allow her to choose 5 days off during the year. She can take them as a week off or add them to a weekend, the only thing we require is that she pick the days so that the schedule is set in January. If nanny is sick beyond this, I don't pay "sick days". If nanny works all scheduled days during the year, I pay an extra week salary to her as a bonus at the end of the year.

I could never survive a nanny who took gratuitious sick days. I don't think I could survive a nanny who took three sick days. Too many people depend on me. I depend on my nanny and she knows it.

You are being taken advantage of.

h said...

The weeks salary as a bonus for showing up for all scheduled work days is of course beyond and in addition to any normal bonus the nanny would receive.

yousoundlikeadreamtoworkfornot said...

h,

what is it like to be so important?

nynanny said...

A professional american nanny? Are you serious? Just how do you know that OPs isn't?

empathetic nanny said...

H--- "another entiled nanny".... that's a yucky thing to say---- get over yourself.

OP---- As a nanny, she is lucky! May I ask where you live? Although, it doesn't seem to matter, because I can't imagine the cost of living is that bad, that she wouldn't be able to live on such a generous salary. Anyhow, as far as everthing else goes, I woudn't worry--- please you just focus on bringing a beautiful new baby into the world!!!!! You should not feel guilty about resting. When my former employer brought my beautiful sweet youngest (oh my gosh I love her soooo much!!!!!)into the world she rested all the time! No bother at all.. I get it and I am sure (and hope) yor nanny does too! As for the family thing, nothing you can realy do, but it is sweet of you to care. If she needs more money, perhaps advances on a bonus. Yes, a nanny relationship IS delicate and special and different from a buisness... but it is STILL buisness. Not your responsibility. The co-pays.... NOT your responsibility. Medical COULD be negotiated 100%, but as someone that doesn't even HAVE medical benes... I would crap my diggersat the prospect of even a SLIGHT persentage paid!As for the living closer... again nothing you can do--- unless it constantly makes her late for work. Which brings me to her sick days.. no more! If she needs toi take them, they need to cut into her vacation time. As for stress days? She is not the Air Traffic Control... IF she is having a seriously BAD day, sit down and do a puzzle... play graveyars with the kids... or suggest a fun activity with the kids that involves stretching, quiet music etc.... I am not all new agey-- but it is AMAZING what a little quiet time an a back with controlled breating wil do for kids and adults alike!!! I guess in summation--- hang in there, rest-- your body needs is... and if you are EVER looking for a nanny give me a call ;) yo sound like a GREAT AMAZING AND GENEROUS employer! Now, you go concentrate on bringing a pefect addition into your family and our world!

empathetic nanny said...

RE: Sick Days:

I meant no more this year... despite what H's yucky comment would suggest EVERYONE deserves at least three sick days a year. I am pretty sure that is the average across the board. Or perhaps negotiate in HOURS instead? Nonetheless, I meant to say if she takes anymore this CONTRACT year` of hers, then you should have them cut into vacation hours. :)

HAHAHAHA said...

YOUSOUNDLIKEADREAM---- LMAO!!!!! THAT is the FUNNIEST thing EVER!!!! HAHAHA.. LOL.... EVERYONE.... go click her name and see who comes up!!!! LOL LOL! RIGHT ON!

HAHAHAHA said...
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UmassSlytherin said...

Thanks! I thought you guys would like that one!

oops! :)

nynanny said...

Good one, Umass!lol!

Kaitlyn and Daniel said...

You definitely sound like a great employer. However, I would ask her if she needs to cut her work hours down to 40. Does she just work M-F, or is it all seven days? Maybe you could condense all seven days work into five, and that would help cut down on the stress of travel time. It sounds like you're a very supportive person and as for the physician copays...well, let me put it this way. If she was working at any other office, would they pay her copays? No. You should not have to. Especially since she makes an extremely good salary. And as for the sick days, once again, do like most employers would and dock her pay! Just because she has medical problems doesn't mean she isn't part of the real world. And don't feel guilty napping now. When your new baby comes you know you'll wish you had napped all day and all night. :) Good luck!

DowntoEarth said...

This is what happens when you get too involved with your nannies persoanl life. She is playing you OP. I don't know if I would want a nanny who is so stressed out that she misses 15 to 20 days and keeps asking for more more more. Maybe it is time to find another nanny and let this one find a job where she can come and go as she pleases ? You do not need the stress she is giving you right now.
I would tell her to pay her own co-pay and start docking her for everyday she is late or doesn't come to work. I know you feel bad about her stress with her family but it seems to be affecting your life and that should not happen.

DowntoEarth said...
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Edie said...

The pay/perks sound really great to me, on paper you sound like you would be great to work for and a nice job to have!

Fifteen to twenty sick days per year concerns me. That is a LOT. In my five+ years as a nanny I have taken one sick day-total.

She sounds like she has a lot of odd stuff going on in her personal life that may leak (or have started to leak) into her professional life and her ability to do her job.

mm said...

really great comments here.i'm starting to think maybe op needs a new nanny? She's being taken advantage of.

Kathrine said...

I think she is working too many hours, perhaps that would cut down on the sick days.

I would continue to be firm with her.

I don't see why she should have to move for you...!

lovesthegirls said...

I don't think that they expected her to move FOR them... I really get the impression they care for their nanny.... and try to help her...

kathleencares said...

It sounds like this nanny has it pretty good. She does work a lot of hours, but it sounds like she has some breaks as the kids are in school or camp for part of the day. I don't think you should feel guilty at all. It sounds like she has a lot of personal issues that are getting in the way of her job, and to be honest, it kind of does sound like she is taking advantage of you with all the sick days and asking for extra money for family and medical co-pays. I would talk to her about your concerns. It sound like she is great with your kids, but you could find another great nanny without so many personal/family issues that would be happy to take a job like this.

Manhattan Nanny said...

You sound like a good employer, and you should not feel guilty even if you are lounging around watching soaps and eating bon bons, especially in your third trimester!
More than five sick/personal days is an issue you need to address.
It looks like your nanny is either burned out, or dealing with some serious health issues. You seem happy with her, and with a new baby this would be a hard time to transition to a new nanny, especially for your children.
So, what can you do? Can you shorten her hours? Do you really need her when the boys are in school to run errands etc.? Maybe one or two 1/2 days off would make a huge difference, especially when the new baby arrives, and the job is even harder. Or perhaps find a mother's helper for a couple of afternoons so she can leave early.

nannyinmanhattan said...

Can I work for you?
You sound like a dream!!

nyc mom said...

I think it's clear your nanny is taking advantage of your generosity. The pay and benefits you offer are fair and generous. Asking you to pay physician copays is unfair, though if this were a huge issue you could offer to negotiate it at the next raise time and include it to a predetermined limit. Although 52 hours is a lot, since the kids are in camp I'm guessing your nanny has built in down time even with running errands. 15-20 sick days is excessive for any job. I also do 5 sick/personal days a year, paid out if not used, for my nanny. Just as with most dedicated employees in any field, my current and past nanny rarely used 1-2 sick days a year. Major medical illness is another issue of course, but were that the case your nanny would likely need a leave, not just to take a huge number of unscheduled sick days. You need to specify that sick days beyond 5 (barring a major issue that you could be flexible about) either start using vacation time or are not paid. My prior nanny, who was wonderful in virtually every other way, also used to bring up raises every few months, even though she had gotten her requested annual raise the first year. It drove my husband and I crazy! Finally, we made it clear that raises would only be done once a year, though she was of course free to ask for whatever she wanted at that time and we would discuss it. I thought we had said this at hiring, but it was not written down so we added this to a new work agreement, discussed it in detail, and everyone signed. This solved the problem and I think our nanny was happier to have a definitive time frame too.

I think you are in for a bumpy road though because with the addition of a third child and now no downtime, your nanny's job is likely to become much more difficult. I hope you have spelled out how her job and pay will change then because she's only going to be more tired soon! Are you sure she is healthy enough to deal with the stress of 3 kids, including a new baby? I have 3 kids myself and found it much harder to find a great nanny to handle a baby and older kids - so many were good with one but not the other.

I also understand your guilt as I work half time, but am still getting only 3-4 hours sleep a night with my baby so often need to go back to sleep in the morning. I also work ER shifts which mean I am up all night at times, thus needing to sleep in the day. It took me a while to feel comfortable doing this and getting past the mommy guilt of resting while my nanny was working. But I realized after trying to care for my kids on very little sleep that we were all much happier and safer if I was rested first! My nanny is great about my ever-changing schedule and weird sleep routines and never adds to my anxiety, thankfully.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Re: salaries
Nanny markets vary widely around the country, so we can't really judge unless we know the market.

Casey said.
"she makes plenty of money"

empathetic nanny said...
"I can't imagine the cost of living is that bad, that she wouldn't be able to live on such a generous salary. "

Plenty of money? She doesn't say where she is, but that salary is before taxes, and in NYC we pay state and CITY income taxes in addition to federal. While 52k is a good salary, it is not a top salary for a nanny here, and given the cost of living (it would be hard to find a one bedroom apt. in a safe neighborhood for less than $1,500 a month) it is hardly "plenty of money" to support a family on.

Swiss Nanny said...

Hi OP, where do I sign up to be your next nanny?? :) I think you sound like a great employer, and no, you shouldn't feel guilty for anything!! Relax, and just try to get through your last trimester. As for your nanny, you are paying her to be there. If you are allowing her to do her job, and not hovering over her while you are home, then who cares what you do! I wish my employer took some cues from you! Kudos!

cali mom said...

OP, I agree with the majority who have commented that your nanny is taking advantage of you. There is no earthly reason you should pay her copays for doctor visits. And I don't see any good reason she should be so stressed out by her JOB with its current description (on her own to run a few errands and do a bit of laundry) most of the time during her 52 hours. How on earth would she handle the addition of a new baby and associated tasks, if she is that "stressed out" and overburdened that she needs to take 20 sick days??? per year.

I'd suggest that this would be a good time for you 2 to go over her current job description and how it will change with the new baby. Maybe offer her the option of fewer hours for less pay. And specify the number of sick days, with the agreement that more than that taken will be either counted as vacation days used, or hours not worked, and her pay will be reduced accordingly.

Her family problems are her own, you needn't stress over them along with her. And where she lives is her own choice. If she doesn't mind a long commute to her job and is punctual and efficient, it should not be something you need to stress over.

mom said...

OP, I also think oyu sound reaqsonable to work for, and so would probably have no trouble finding another very good nanny if this one wishes to keep sticking her hand out to you for things she has no right to burden you with. Her behavior sounds very unprofessional...wich should not be the case when it sounds like you are treating her very professionally from your end. For the salary and benefits you offer, she should act like a professional. I think it is also disrespectful of her to try to wheedle exrtas out of you...as if she is somehow entitled to share in what you have. In a corporate job, she would be so fired for doing this to her boss.

Regarding the comment where somebody said that although this is a good salary, it is not "plenty of money" to support a family on...I disagree that that should be a criteria in determining salary. Employers are not responsible for the lifestyles of their employees. They are responsible for paying a fair wage for a particular skill. If this is standard for nannies, then so be it.

And regarding the comment that the nanny can basically suck up her anxiety because she is not an air traffic controller..I also disagree. An overly stressed person should not be pushed to be responsible for innocent children. Snapping on that job can be just as tragic.

Maybe a few less hours for your nanny would be a good plan? Do oyu have the ability to cut maybe 5-10 hours out of your schedule to let nanny go home and hour or two earlier each day? Three kids are a lot to handle...and maybe that could be the tradeoff for watching the third child...a few more hours of R and R for physical and mental recuperation. This might help with her stress level. I agree with everybody that the sick days have to stop. If she is really so emotionally fragile that she cannot cope with work, you may not really want her watching your kids.

Westchester nanny said...

OP Where do I fill out an application? I see so many comments saying she works a lot of hours, I've never worked less than a 50 hour week in my 13 years as a nanny. My week is 55 hours at LEAST and can be up to 60. Nannies work long hours, unless you work for someone who does not or a SAHM.
I think that many sick days is ridiculous. "Stress" related sick days??? What in the world is that? I cannot imagine telling my boss she had to stay home from work because I was too stressed to come to work and believe me the kids are stressful.

OP You seem very generous. Do not at all feel guilty for napping while you're pregnant, your baby's health is what is important. Your nanny should leave her family drama at home, that is what true professionals in every type of job do. She is there to do a job and as much as you seem to care and help her she should be doing the same in return while you are pregnant.

mimi said...

Wow..52 and a half hours a week..WITH a long commute. And the lingering notion that a new baby and more work is on the way...She's Burnt out! I am not saying it's OP'as fault, nanny knew the hours and nanny knew the drive distance. It's not fair to you OP,to have to deal with someone who burnt themselves out and its not fair to nanny to not be taking care of mental stability by having such a grueling week. I work from 6am to 6pm each day Monday thru Friday for a total of 60 hours...I am nearing a burn out and when it hits, I'll change my job. But I knew that 60 hours was my schedule if I wanted to do what I do and I accepted that. But when it becomes something that starts to wear me down ,I am out. OP, you have to just cut the cord, your kids deserve someone who hasn't burnt out yet...Did you ever think that maybe she would like to quit but can't bring herself to because she likes you and doesnt want to add finding a new nanny to your plate during this pregnancy? Find a new nanny...you owe it to everyone.

chick said...

IMO, your nanny is burned out, and she does really seem to be taking advantage of you.

If you are willing to consider finding someone new, that's what I'd suggest.

If not, then do as was suggested above, and sit down with her and go over all the changes that will be coming with baby #3. It's possible she will insist on staying, in which case, you need to explain that there is going to be a sick day policy revision, because you depend on her being at work every day.

At that point, if she doesn't give notice, ask her if she would like to have her hours reduced, with an appropriate reduction in salary/benefits. Tell her you're concerned that her health won't allow her to be effectivw with 3 kids, and that you'd gladly hire someone else 20 hours or so per week to reduce her workload.

If she still won't quit, put her on probation, suspend any raises/bonuses until 3 - 6 months have passed with a major attendance and attitude improvement.

Now, if she is truly simply struggling, she will either shape up once you talk with her, or she will find other employment. Why? Because you aren't going to let her dictate the terms of her employment the way she has been doing until now.

As a nanny, and as a human, I believe that certain people will push their employers limits until the employer pushes back gently and reminds the employee that they are expected to DO THEIR JOB.

Good luck to you!

No Longer Anonymous Regular said...

I too thought this nanny may be looking to quit/get fired. Reminded my of my first nanny experience. When I hired my first nanny I was four months pregnant. Although she had an easier schedule than she eventually would (my then pre-schooler was out of the house all morning and my then kindergartner was in school until three), we made it clear during the interview process that the job we were hiring for was for a 3 child family, that she would have to do full time infant care once the baby arrived, and that was built into the salary and benefits package we were offering her (which was well above market for a two child job and good for a three child job). We selected her because she had strong experience with infants and multiples so we felt she would be a good match. She started out strong and definitely lived up to her glowing recommendations for the first two months, but started to show up late (and eventually no show more and more often) as I entered my third trimester. She went from going above and beyond to completely unhelpful, even though we were treating her well and we are good employers (my current nanny has said several times she loves working for us and ours is the best job she's ever had). It got to the point where she wouldn't lift a finger beyond driving the kids to and from school and planned activities. She would watch me waddle back and forth between the car and the kitchen with grocery bags without so much as offering to at least take the bags at the door when I was eight months pregnant and she would call me at work to tell me I needed to pick up x, x and x on my way home because we were all out. Both times this happened when I got home everything she asked for already was in the pantry or fridge--as I told her I thought is was on the phone--and she just shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't see it. There were also several weekends I had to do the kids laundry because she didn't get to it. When I asked her if something was going on since she seemed to not be getting to everything and she was showing up late, she had the nerve to say that I expected too much of her and I didn't help out enough around the house (this was 2 days past my due date at this point). Because I was late in my pregnancy, I kept her on too long under the reasoning the kids knew her and seemed to get along well with her, figuring she would go back to how good she was in the beginning when whatever must be going on in her personal life was resolved. Plus, honestly, I was too tired to look for someone new. She did not improve and I did fire her after I was home for two weeks following the birth of my baby (during which she didn't even so much as lift a finger to care for him or change a diaper) because she had digressed to the point that she was not even supervising my preschooler properly. In retrospect, I'm sure that was what she was angling for from the beginning--take a job where she is making above the normal range for two kids (because we hired her for a 3 child job) and get fired before she actually needed to do a 3 child job.

My recommendation is cut your loses and move on now. She does not seem to approach your job as something she enjoys and wants long term. It can be difficult finding a nanny who is good with all 3 kids, but there are many good nannies out there and some do enjoy working with and do well with multiple kids. When you really find the right match, there are no issues like this, and the mutual caring and respect that seems to be lacking right now. Your current nanny does not seem to care about your needs and well-being as much as you care about hers.

r to the c said...

OMG! Any nanny would be lucky to have the job you describe.

Is it maybe time for you and your nanny to part ways? Sometimes a change is just needed.

GL OP!

minneapolis nanny said...

shit! can i work for you?

minneapolis nanny said...
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minneapolis nanny said...
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nynanny said...

Oh yea, minn. nanny, she'd hire you in a second with a foul mouth like that. Not.

Miserly Bastard said...

You have a very generous compensation package. You should have no guilt about making your nanny work for her money, nor should you feel obligated to give her anything additional. She is easily in the top 10% of nannies compensation wise.

Cali Nanny said...

hey there op,

as a full-time, live-out nanny of three years, i would LOVE to work for you. you are generous! she's probably awesome and deserves it. so you are even. don't feel guilty to give her even more. this is coming from a nanny.

Anonymous said...
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Chitown Nanny said...

I would LOVE to work for you. What city are you in?? :)

My last job was $550 per week, and I was household manager, nanny, chef, housekeeper, driver, and, often, personal shopper for the mom. No medical, bonuses, credit cards (mom would send me to the store with a list of 30 items - and twenty bucks), or tax input from my employers. I worked between 45 and 65 hours a week. No overtime, no "sick days", and my two requests for personal days in the two years I worked for the family were met with threats of firing. When I got sick or stressed out - I still showed up at 7AM.

I take what I do seriously, and I love the kids dearly. I could only afford the bare minimum of rent, bills, and food, but I stayed because good people take pride in what they do and live up to their obligations. I can't tell you how many days I was at work dealing with screaming toddler fights and in the back of my mind thinking of my own problems - like being broke and wondering which bill I would have to let slide or whatever family crisis had presented itself, all while mom brought home a new Chanel purse or regailed me with how stressed SHE was and could I stay just an hour later and put the kids to bed so she could come home without seeing them/dealing with them? If I had a job like the one you're offering, I would be giving your kids spectacular care, NEVER taking a day off, and counting my blessings for having a copay in the first place - I hate living without health insurance and I live in fear of getting hit by a car on my bike or coming down with something Tylenol can't cure.

If your nanny needs assistance with anything, it should be finding a job closer to her! You deserve someone great, and you are lucky you can AFFORD to find someone great, who will keep your house in order, care for your kids, and let you relax while you're pregnant. HEL-LO, that's why you hired a nanny in the first place! "Stress-related afternoons"...good lord, that is the lamest thing ever. Your nanny sounds like a freeloader who needs a lesson in real-world finances.

Don't feel guilty about napping, hon! While she's on your clock (your extremely generous clock, at that), you are entitled to do whatever your heart desires...shop, nap, talk on the phone, take a walk...or search for a new, fabulous nanny.

uesmom said...

To all Moms - chitown nanny is a perfect example of why you need to take care of your nannies. Even though she sounded miserable in her last job, she tried to do her best. However, do you see her reaction to OP's generosity? And her remark...
"If I had a job like the one you're offering, I would be giving your kids spectacular care, NEVER taking a day off".
If you take care of your nanny, she will take care of you!

Chitown nanny, I hope you find your perfect fit one day, you sound like a wonderful nanny!

cali mom said...

Chitown, why would you even accept a job like that in the first place, let alone stay longer than 3 weeks?

chitown Nanny said...

Cali, not all parents are forthright in their expectations from the get go. At first I signed on for "driving kids to and from activities (in their car) and kids' laundry, with some dinner prep"...I love to cook, laundry is no problem at all, and I actually loved caring for their garden. I did all these extra things at the house out of pride for their beautiful place...bringing in the trash cans, etc etc. Before you know it these are my expected duties. I did NOT agree to be their errand girl, but that's what my job turned into. At first it's just small favors - pick up drycleaning on your way home...select some party favors as a fun activity with the kids...then it compounds, doing more and more stuff for them...you love the kids and are attached to them...plus, it's a pain to do the whole job search over again...so you just deal with it. It's not like I was a slave. I considered myself pretty lucky, and most of the time the tasks I was assigned were not incredibly difficult hardships for me. The only thing I really didn't like was the lack of health insurance/taxes. I was working like a professional but not receiving the benefits of such good work.

I used to work at a coffee shop before I moved here...for 8 dollars an hour. 12 bucks an hour sounded pretty good to me! Like it or not, that job helped sustain me in my own place for two years of my life. And I was making more than a lot of people in this city. It wasn't princely, but I don't have very expensive tastes. The cost of living has gone up, though, and I didn't receive any raises after my first year of hard work. You don't know which jobs will give you fat bonuses or which will have tons of perks or which will be just like the parents say...or deviate wildly. People are so easy-going and generous-sounding until you've worked with them for a while and they start to take advantage of your peaceful nature and kindness.

I'm not saying that nannies should do the bare minimum...but don't be too much of a rock star, ladies...because before you know it your list of job duties will spiral into infinity! Luckily I was good at all of it lol.

I'm not a quitter. And no one should be snarky to anyone else about their choice of job! Some people don't have the cojones to just abandon a job for little reasons. And sometimes a dream job slips into something hideous so gradually, you don't even notice...