Received Thursday, February 25, 2010
I am a nanny. I have been with my current family for seven months. My previous family of two years moved to Chicago in May. Thank goodness they gave me two months severence pay, because it was hard to find a job. When i say hard, I mean, I have my standards too. I am a professional nanny. There are some jobs I won't consider. For example, I don't want to work too far from home, I won't work for a single parent, (women in particular have boundary issues), I won't work in a position that requires any housekeeping, (I prefer a position where the family employs a full time housekeeper; once a week doesn't cut it, I won;t work for a family that does not respect my off time. I arrive punctual and demand that they do so, too. As part of contract negotiations, I specify my overtime rate begans to accrue after the tenth minute they are late. My overtime rate is 1.75 times my regular rate and is paid in half hour increments, rounded up.
I think I do a fairly good job of screening families. Even so, I am not happy with my current position. You might wonder where I get the audacity to make the demands I make, but I do this up front so the family knows what my breaking points are. This way they have the option to accept me or not. I don't want a job, I want a job that I can enjoy.
Do I enjoy my current job? Not all that much.
I'll list for you the problems I have encountered. These are problems I just deal with quietly, as I am grateful to have a job in these disturbing times.
My employer is a narcissist, stay at home mother who is never home because she is always working out, getting spray tans, shopping or having laser skin treatments. This, is her business. However, she never passes up the opportunity to impart some of her beauty or fitness advice on me. I am 5'5 and weigh about 160 lbs. The other day we were walking up the steps at the same time and she said, "hold it". She then put her hand on my thigh and instructed me how to contract my muscles while I walked up the steps to tone muscle and lift my buttocks. I kid you not. She also loves to suggest lotions and potions that work for her. Her lotions and potions are not in my budget, but she does not consider this, for she is in her own world. I have hair on my arms. She tells me, "I used to have arm hair, I felt like an orangatang. You need to laser that off. It will take six sessions and be gone forever. I'll make an appointment with my gal for you". Again, she just doesn't get that I don't have money to blow on 6 laser arm hair treatments, but she did make me so self conscious about my arm hair, I started layering tshirts with long sleeved shirts underneath.
I agreed to go grocery shopping as part of my job. No big deal. Wrong. I go to five markets a week and shop every day somewhere. I have been sent to Korean grocers and remote fish markets and whole foods all in one day. My lists are peppered with hard to find items. Grocery shopping is probably thirteen percent of my job.
I am a bit more eco friendly than my boss and her husband. I believe in recycling. She doesn't. I offered to handle all of the recycling for her. She said, "I don't want a bunch of ugly plastic containers around the house. Pass". She also told me on Monday that she "drank an entire six pack of diet coke on Sunday and smiled every time she tossed a can in the garbage". Yes, she thinks it's cool to be destructive.
She has two children, a boy and a girl. The boy she treats like gold. He can do no wrong. He was playing with his penis at the kitchen table and I said, "henry, lets use your hands to eat your cereal". Mom jumps in, "Henry, that is your personal penis. If you want to touch him, go in the bathroom" and then she shoots me a dirty look like I have somehow scarred him for life.
Her daughter is 19 months old. She blow dries her hair EVERY DAY except when she cannot because I give her a bath in which case I am instructed to BLOWDRY her hair. This is an all season thing. I can understand getting the wetness out of a child's hair, but the little girl's hair is thin and doesn't really hold water and mom likes to STYLE it.
Mom's relationship with her husband is wonderful. They don't fight. They speak respectfully to each other. He adores her and she him. But they love to show affection when they say their hellos and goodbyes. I am most often there during these exchanges as it usually breakfast and dinner time. We're talking movie kisses with slurping and spit as they part. Can you imagine how uncomfortable I am? The husband calls the house looking for his wife many times a week. He expects me to know where she is, but if she doesn't tell me where she is going, I don't ask.
My employer is also not very bright. The housekeeper had left a can of concentrated orange juice on the counter. I had passed it by and not done anything with it. A bit later, my employer says "taste this, does this taste bad". She is drinking a glass of orange juice from a juice class. I take a sip, it is overpowering. I say, "did you dilute it?" She just looks at me. I don't think she knew what dilute meant. I tell her she was supposed to add the cans of water to it and mix it in a picture. Her response, "Then why wouldn't I buy it from a carton?". (I don't know!)
The last annoyance that I care to mention here is my boss and her Internet savvy. She constantly needs my assistance and it doesn't matter if I am busy building castles downstairs. She will summon me by the house PA system, "I neeeeeeeeeed you". The pressing problems? She accidentally sent a blank email, she is stuck on all caps, her number key pad won't work, she has typed facebook as acebook and is trapped in to doing a bunch of surveys.
I get paid every Friday, on time. My check never bounces. I don't have to remind either of them and they are never late. To those with jobs who think they have real grievances, I say suck it up and be grateful. And when the weather is bad, the father stays home and they don't want or need me.