Terrible Tuesday – Guns, Paranoia and Small Children

February 23, 2010

   I’ve had several people ask if my last story as a nanny was entirely true. I understand. If you’ve never lived that life, or had jobs with rules for interviewing (like you can’t ask if your potential employee intends to be knocked up in the next few years) then you probably can’t imagine this is real. It is. I’m not exaggerating or making any of these up. So keep that in mind as you read this next one:

   During interviewing for a part time position, I came across a family through Craigslist that was looking for a nanny 3 full days a week (10 hours a day) for their 3 month old daughter. After speaking with them by phone and deciding we were all initially on the same page, I went to meet them.

   I arrived at a large home in a nice, quiet neighborhood. Schools were nearby, kids were out playing, and I thought it seemed really charming. They were a mid-30’s couple who appeared laid back and very excited about finding a nanny. They kept saying they were looking for a part of their family.

   It was going well initially, although I was a little weirded out that we were in a pretty dark kitchen area at the table. However, after a few minutes of chit chat the dad pulled out a large stack of papers. All typed. And began to read me questions off of them. I didn’t mind too much, after all, I had the same thing in one of my notebooks I brought along, until he started asking if I had ever been arrested, did I like to party, how was my credit, would I mind having a credit check run on me, was my family willing to be called and talked to, and then… did I know how to use a gun? All of these prior I answered no, no, fine, sure, um – maybe, and then a blank stare. A gun?

  He said that if I didn’t know how to use one he would be happy to pay for lessons. I was really unsure of what to say at that point, and his wife chimed in, “And if you ever see anyone sneaking around here or looking over the fence you have to call the police and then us immediately.” By this time I was freaking out, and then the dad added, “And our daughter can’t ever go outside with you. Besides the backyard. Ever.” I asked what about if I stayed with them long term and wanted to take her to the park down the street or out in the front yard when she was older – and both of them shook their heads. “No,” he said emphatically. “We simply don’t feel comfortable with that.”

   I was dumbfounded. What on earth could they mean? I figured at this point the interview was pretty much over for me, I couldn’t imagine being trapped in the house all day with an infant and having to be so paranoid about people poking around their home. Why would people want to?

   I found out in a minute. The husband asked if I had any questions, and since I just wanted to leave I said no, and he said he thought I was the perfect candidate, and would I like to see the house? I agreed out of complete curiosity, and as we went past a room (not making this up) he pointed to the closed door and said, “If you ever go in this room I will have to…” he paused and must have seen the look of complete horror I had on my face so ended it by saying, “have to change your social security number.” He and his wife laughed nervously and then both said, “No, seriously, do not go in this room.”

   I was a mess at this point. I had a massive headache from trying to think of a way to leave their home immediately without being murdered or locked away in their basement. The wife must have noticed because she said, “We both work for the government. That’s why we have all these rules. The room has a lot of confidential documents and information in it. We know if certain people found out who we were they would come after us and our daughter.” They both had these looks, almost smirks on their faces like they knew they had sufficiently freaked me out and might have impressed me. Yes on the former, no on the latter. Not impressed.

   Well. Government jobs (CIA, FBI?) certainly explained a lot but I still couldn’t imagine working for them no matter what they did. So I said I had other interviews to do before I decided, which was true, thanked them, grabbed my things, and left as quickly as possible. They called and left me a message a few hours later offering me the job, and I called back and declined, saying I had found something else that was closer to my home. The dad said he was devastated and wondered if more money would make me change my mind? I privately thought that them giving me unlimited access to their bank account wouldn’t have even tempted me into taking it.

   I can’t think of who would have been comfortable taking a job like that. I found one of my amazing families to work for right after that and remember sitting at their table hearing them ask about how often I’d take the kids out and being so open with their lives. It was a huge relief. Those experiences made me appreciate the normal people even more.

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