Terrible Tuesday – “Put me in a pickle”

March 2, 2010
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    As a nanny, I often found myself using my own items to help out with the job. Like my car. With my first family I didn’t mind this, the dad was awesome about paying me for anything extra, and the kids were old enough to make sure they followed the rules (no food, seat belts on) and were respectful about not tearing it up. When that job was up, and I was looking again, I decided that any family with children under 5 would need to provide a vehicle for my use because:
A. I couldn’t fit more than one car seat in my car.
B. It was a 2 door Mercedes. No baby seat was fitting back there without me eating the windshield.
C. I didn’t want a load of small children tearing my cute car to shreds.
     While this might seem unreasonable to some, you have to realize that it wasn’t a big deal, at least monetarily, to most families I interviewed with. A nanny car was like purchasing a small dog or a cocktail dress. It was a blip on the money screen.
     I headed out to an interview with 2 small children with a dad who worked outside the home and a mom who was expecting her third child and wanted to head back to work about 2 weeks after having it. I arrived in, yet again, a neighborhood that screamed “We have a ton of money!” I was let in by the dad who was really nice. He led me into the kitchen, asked me if I wanted anything to drink, and said he’d let his wife know I was here. They had a beautiful home with lots of pictures of their two boys, a large dog, big windows all over that went from floor to ceiling, and a huge backyard covered in toys. It seemed pretty normal and happy.
     The mom arrived in and sat herself next to me. She definitely looked 9 months pregnant, but she also looked extremely irritated. “Well,” she said briskly, “Thank God you speak English.” At that my eyes almost jumped out of my head. What? She continued, unaware of any reaction on my part.
     “We have two kids and I need a nanny to help out around here. Obviously I’m pregnant and I’m having a hard time keeping up with them. He -,” she tilted her head towards her husband who was looking like he wanted to hide in the chair, “has to work all day and I’m left here all alone. Let me give you a rundown of the day. I’d need you here by 6am to cook breakfast for all of us. The kids will need to be dressed and ready for their daily activities by 8am. At 9 I like to have hot tea with some type of scone – he,” again with the head tilt, “usually does that but he’ll need to leave for work earlier for the next few months. I have a morning activity planned for the boys every day that you will take them to. I’ll have you drop them off, come back here and start laundry and then fix lunch. After I eat – I like to eat alone – you’ll go pick up the boys and serve them lunch, then naps. Finish the laundry and you can start putting baby stuff in drawers for me. Once the baby is here I will expect you to care for her in the afternoon so I can get a nap in. I don’t know if I will go back to work, I would prefer not to,” evil eyes darted towards “him” who was now smashed so far down in the chair I wondered if he would just simply slide off soon and lay on the floor. “But it seems as if that might not be an option. Either way, I expect you to pick up where I left off around here. After you fix dinner and clean up the house, you can leave. That should be around 6:30/7. Oh, one thing I absolutely must have you do – I hate smears from the boys hands on the windows. Those will need to be cleaned every evening.” Like I said before, floor-to-ceiling windows. Everywhere.
     I’d like to say that at this point I told her she needed to advertise for a servant, not a nanny, but then she happened to glance at my resume package the agency had sent her. “I’m sorry,” she said slowly in a voice that sounded anything but sorry, “You require a car? What did you get here in?” Her voice dripped in sarcasm. I explained to her that my car wouldn’t fit two car seats, the wear and tear on it ended up costing me money, and that it was easier for the parents to provide it because my insurance wouldn’t cover it as a business vehicle.
     If looks could kill, I would have burst into flames right there on that chair and died. So would her husband, who I could tell had apparently not mentioned this to her. “We really don’t require that much driving,” she said.
     “You mentioned I’d be taking and picking up the kids from daily activities and coming back in between that. That’s a lot of miles no matter where the places are,” I said, wondering why I even bothered arguing with her.
     “Yes,” she said slowly, “And what we pay you should amply cover that cost.” Amply was stretching it. They were offering a rather low salary for their area and needs. And the fact that the actual job was much different than the job description they had given the agency made the pay even worse.
     I mumbled something about giving it some thought and thanked them for their time. She stood and said, “So will you take the position?” I told her I had other interviews and would let them know by the end of the week. She looked absolutely stunned that I would consider anything else. Suddenly she became super sweet, saying, “Is it money? Because we could consider going higher, that was just a jumping off point. And you know, a car might be easy to come by. We could even let you drive the BMW for a while.” As shocked and confused as I was by this complete turn around, I stuck to letting them know in a few days.
     I called 3 days later to decline the job. Yes, I hoped with all my heart I would get the answering machine. I got her husband, who excitedly told me that his wife had just had their baby, a little girl, the day before. Now feeling awful, I explained to him that it just wasn’t a good fit and I had found another position. There was dead silence on the phone. “I thought we told you we would offer more money,” and I heard desperation in his voice. I understood. I wouldn’t have wanted to tell her the news either. I reiterated I had taken another job, and he said angrily, “Well, you’ve put me in a real pickle. Do you understand that? What am I supposed to do now?” I tried not to giggle at the “pickle” part, because I had really never heard anyone actually say that. I told him I was very sorry, hoped he would find someone, and he hung up without another word.
     The agency told me later on that they interviewed over 30 people for the job. No one took it and eventually they put the kids in daycare. Where I’m sure they had many more “pickle” incidents.

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