Wednesday

The Mrs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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Last year, I had been working as a nanny in London for a few years and decided that I wanted to move to NYC (I have dual citizenship). I registered with some agencies and straight away I saw a job that appealed to me. The client liked the look of my resume, and before I knew it I was booked to go have a week trial in their summer house in the Hamptons. The night before I was due to leave, I received a phone call from the housekeeper letting me know that he would be picking me up from the airport and telling me that I was not allowed to wear anything that showed my shoulders or legs, as per the rules of the lady of the house. Ok, I thought, maybe it’s a Hamptons thing? Maybe she wants me to fit in with everyone? I didn’t have time to research it so I just shoved all my long sleeved tops and trousers into my case and hoped for the best.

When I arrived at JFK, I met the housekeeper and he seemed nice enough. He gave me a few pointers about how to behave in front of the “Mrs”, as she was called. We reached the house in very good time so the housekeeper took me to the supermarket ; apparently the Mrs didn’t like people arriving early and he didn’t want to annoy her. He must have bought $500 worth of bottled water for her and said that he did so every few days. I later learnt that they employed someone just to keep the pantry in order (and believe me, everything was always in its place anyway, with row after row of healthy foods in bulk and a whole shelf just for water).

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28 comments:

Nanny Kate said...

This is CRAZY!! $500 on water?

I am just curious (hope this isn't rude)-were they at least offering an excellent salary??

ericsmom said...

Thanks for the story! It made me laugh and angry at the same time.

O.P. did they have to pay you for the day you were there?

CuriousDad said...

Cool, and interesting story. I could see an OCD suffering boss being that way. The 70+ page manual and only a half hour to study kind of tips it off.

I was told a story that people from NY and South, when they traveled up to Maine for the summer, would bring huge amounts of Poland spring water with them. Of course where they were vacationing, the springs were where that particular brand of bottled water was coming from in the first place.

CuriousDad said...

BTW, do you find other large estate households, set up in a similiar manner with domestic staff? Not talking about the OCD mother and kids. But how the staff itself was set up.

world's best nanny said...

I am an HM and my bosses, plus kids spend about that on h2o monthly. Of course they aren't whacked! I would've been so tempted to put my hands in that underwear drawer and toss it all up in the air! Between my MomBoss, the housekeeper and me we still can't manage to get the clothes upstairs at times!

MinuteMuggle said...

oh my goodness! the scary part of this story is: I believe every word of it!

OP: you have a wonderful sense of self and sense of humor! you should write more! Loved your story!

Momkat said...

A very good read. Glad you found a nice family.

BTW, the behavior isn't OCD. I have OCD and it's an anxiety disorder with repetitive thinking...and with Zoloft and behavior therapy, it's virtually non-existent at this point. The "Mrs."
behavior is just plain obsessive,
controlling, or whatever you want to call it. But it's not OCD.

lovesthegirls said...

I think he was using the term loosly. Momkat; with all due respect to your condition!

small world said...

Wow, Momkat, what a small world! To have the doctor who diagnosed this person right on this very board!

Know it all.

Momkat said...

Smallworld,
That comment certainly wasn't necessary. In fact, it's rude! In my opinion.

small world said...

I apologize, Doctor.

Momkat said...

Small world,
Obviously, you don't get it...so sad!

mom said...

Small World,
Why are you picking on her?

cali mom said...

Jesus. Yuck! I wonder if the principal (or "Headmistress"?) at the girls' school will praise them for their expertise at "self expression" when they decide to smack other kids in the face with toys and/or rocks every time they get mad. Wonder how The Mrs. would feel if other kids "expressed themselves" by smacking har daughters in the face with toys? Or her? You should have "expressed yourself" more clearly to her perhaps. What a freaking nutjob!!

CuriousDad said...

To all who took umbrage at my OCD comment, I apologize, no insult was intended. As far as it being a diagnosis, that was not my intention. Though I in my second post it could easily be construed that way. I should have been more clearer. I attempted to abbreviate my post, since I tend to write long ones and know that can tiresome to others. Unfortunately some clarity on what I am trying to say was lost. My comment for the OCD was in the loose sense of some OCD sufferers sometimes having the need to regiment their lives and need rituals in their lives. Such as the point where the mom only allowed people to eat at dinner was family and the help making the nanny eat separately. I have had two friends in my life who were both diagnosed OCD. One did things similar to the mother in the description, all his clothes were tagged with what piece goes with which piece, and numbered with the date he bought the item. He had to have 4 closets for his clothes, one for each season and they rotated in a regimented manner every four months. Used his dresser only to store board games. Everything (Clothing wise) was in drycleaner bags or gallon sized zip-lock bags (shoes). He was a good friend and a nightmare as a roommate. Since he had told me he was OCD, I figured what he did was part of the rituals that some OCD people take on to give him some relief from his anxiety. Hence my thought the mother might have been a bit OCD.

But again Mea Culpa, I apologize.

Momkat said...

Curious Dad,
No offense taken on my part. That was just my first reaction. There's actually another diagnosis called "obsessive personality disorder." To me, this sounds more like that...but as "small world" most elegantly and kindly said, I'm not a doctor. Have a good one...I personally love reading your posts...very witty! And insightful =)

Nanny P said...

Momkat. you may have ocd, but do realize there are many types of ocd and this mom probably does have ocd, the underwear in order the manual, the way things have to be done, typical signs of ocd. those are repative motions. remember there are all types of ocd, not just the type you have.

MissDee said...

$500 on water, no manners taught, "no" couldn't be used, the child was praised for hitting you, a pig as a pet and a nanny manual?! Why doesn't this family get a reality show?

mom said...

Miss dee,
Probably because even that level of obnoxious piggishness has become commmonplace enough that nobody would bother watching it...unless the participants are already famous and nursing floundering careers in their original fields of entertainment....making laughingstocks of themselves, and thereby ruining any possible chance of ever being taken seriously again as artists

Jacqueline said...

NannyP-

I have to say, maybe "the mrs." does have some form of OCD or maybe she is just an anal-retentive control freak. Not everything has to be blamed on some disorder or diagnosis. Some people are just bitches.

Disclaimer: this is no way against momkat or anyone who truely does have OCD. OCD is very serious and scary thing to deal with and I am not in anyway denying it's existence. Thank you.

OP said...

Hi guys - OP here,

Nanny Kate - I can't quite remember what the salary was but all the jobs I applied for paid $75K+. Not nearly enough to work for a family like that :)

ericsmom - Yep, they paid me. Not sure how they worked it out but I got a check for $400 in the mail a few weeks after I got back. My therapy sessions cost more than that though! Ha! Only joking!

CuriousDad - In my current job, I work with lots of different staff. My employers are multi-millionaires, but it is not a formal household. I can joke around with my bosses, something I wouldn't have been able to do with the Mrs (I forgot to add in my story that I wasn't allowed to approach her directly. If I needed to talk to her, I had to go through the housekeeper!!) My current employers have the mentality that they want to spend their time doing what they like doing (exercising, socialising etc) so everything else can be done by other people because they can afford to pay for it. They have even created a part time role for my husband (driving, walking the dog etc).

MinuteMuggle - Glad you believed it all. Sometimes people look at me as if I was the crazy one when I tell the story!

MissDee- The pig could become a celebrity, but nobody else in the family deserves to!

:)

mom said...

OP,
I'm glad to hear your husband is working for them too! I was sort of wondering about the logistics of you working in the US and him living in England, but didn't ask because I didn't want to divert the thread to that topic.

mom said...

PS you would think some of these people who want to teach their children that because they are rich they can do anything they want to, to whomever they please, would have taken a serious lesson from what happened to Paris Hilton. Thank goodness she's (Paris)seeming to be turning her life around somewhat now...but imagine how many never do, and spend their lives either entirely out or control, or too self absorbed to ever give or receive real love.

Psych Nurse said...

If anyone really cares, there are two types of OCD. The first one is categorized under "Anxiety Disorders," and encompasses the symptoms of repetition (compulsions like constant hand washing) and obsessions (not being able to walk through a doorway without saying a certain word 10 times - or something similar).

The second type of OCD is categorized under "Personality Disorders." These people are the ones who are controlling, line things up, categorize things, etc.

Personality Disorders are very hard to treat; they require intense psychotherapy, DBT, CBT, etc. Anxiety Disorders can be treated with anxiolytis and anti-depressants (and therapy, of course).

Sounds to me like "The Mrs." has a severe personality disorder. Probably more than one. Hope this helps to clarify.

CuriousDad said...

OP,

Sounds like the boss you wrote about was one of those who wanted a more "Formal" domestic staff. Be glad she was not going to put you in a uniform. Traditionally the Housekeeper and Butler were the heads of the domestic staff and everything went through them to the owners. Unless the owners directed themselves to the staff. Of course this would be something from the Edwardian up through the Gilded age (1920'). Very interesting anyone still wants their staff to act like that. Makes me wonder if some of the more long "living" titled nobility and other rich dynasty like families still have that type of staff.

Momkat said...

Psych Nurse,
That's what I was trying to say, that this woman has more of an obsessive personality disorder. Whether that's called OCD, I don't know. I'm also guessing she has a borderline personality disorder. But that's purely a guess...

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Kelsey said...

This is insane! And I thought MY previous boss and charge were awful! Thank goodness you had enough sense to go on home.