Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Job History Part I

I guess I’ve lived a privileged life because I’ve only seen feces smeared on a wall twice, and once it was a fridge. The first time was when my young potty-training (or toilet teaching, as it is now called) son came out of the bathroom and, inexplicably, scooted along the fridge. His motivation puzzles me still. The second time was upon returning home from a delightful evening with my charming husband. We paid the sitter, whom we considered fairly competent, and took her home. Later we noticed a medium-sized (not large, but not tiny either) stain on the wall about a foot above the changing table. On the changing table was a solitary wipe delicately placed over another quarter-sized smear. Peculiar? Indeed. Why cover the tiny stain with a wipe without first cleaning off the wall? And, more perplexing, the wall? Ours is not to question why.

I am just relieved (and, frankly, surprised) that this never happened to me when I was a babysitter. Babysitting was my first real job; ergo, part I of my Job History Series. As a babysitter I was bad luck. Many of my regular customers got divorced. This always surprised me—I never saw any warning signs at all even though I totally snooped. It was a little awkward to babysit during the divorce, but afterwards it was usually ok. One lady had me come over to watch the kids while she cried. Not good. She was a full-fledged beauty queen—literally Miss [state] (I’m protecting her privacy). While married, her controlling and anal retentive husband had me safety pin a sock around their baby’s neck so it wouldn’t get cold. In retrospect I can see that the potential safety hazards of a sock pinned around a baby's neck probably outweigh the risk of a breeze, but I was just following orders. I like to think the beauty queen was better off without him and went on to lead a better life.

As is often the case, he remarried quickly. He asked me to babysit and I did. I wish I had been more loyal to the beauty queen and said something girl-powerish like, “I’m sorry but my services are not part of the settlement,” but I loved the smell of money. Still do. In fact, I bought this big pack of a detergent recommended by a friend whose clothes smell good. Unfortunately, the first time I used it I was totally nauseated for some reason and began to associate the smell of the detergent with vomiting. I thought of giving the remaining detergent to the friend who recommended it but it seemed rude to say, “This makes me want to vomit but you’ll like it.” Especially since she and all her family have that same smell. Long story short, I persisted in using the detergent so as not to waste it even though in made me sick and before long I realized that it made my clothes—sheets especially—smell like cash. Not dirty old stinky cash but new, fresh, crisp cash. So now I can stand it. Mind over matter!

The dad of another couple who got divorced used to pick me up and drop me off on a motorcycle. There were no helmets involved. I suppose that should have been a sign that he was a rogue. The last couple to divorce while under my care was one of my favorite couples. They were beautiful people and so were their children. The dad was just a little shorter than the mom but other than that everything seemed great. She sold Mary Kay and actually WON the pink car held out as a carrot to so many desperate stay-at-home-moms looking for just the right pyramid scheme to change their lives. Hey, I don’t’ think divorce is funny—but Mary Kay is. My sister Carly already told this in her blog but it bears repeating: She was enticed to one of those recruiting meetings where upon they sang (chanted?) “I feel good and I feel great. I am a money machine.” Nuff said.

Happily, some of the people I babysat for did not get divorced. Almost all of them lived in Willowbrook Condominiums though, wich has caused a strange psychological phenomenon to happen. Willowbrook was built in my neighborhood when I was in about 2nd grade reaching its full capacity of young, married families when I was at peak babysitting age. It was new and nice then and I thought all the families I babysat for were really cool and rich to live there. In my mind, Willowbrook is my dream house. I remember the layout perfectly and even though it is 20 years old now it still seems very fancy to me. I just can’t shake that image. I’m not saying Willowbrook is a dive now or anything, but I live in a house and I still fantasize about someday arriving and being able to rent one of those old condos. Christian has the same thing about NuSkin. He worked in the mailroom when he was young and so having a real job there seemed so cool and great. Still, in Christian’s mind, NuSkin is the fanciest job EVER. Again, I’m not saying it’s not, I’m just saying.

As I grew out of babysitting, I got a job at RATA leather which was a home business. Mostly I would pack boxes and assemble little leather kits and products. It was here that I first began to wonder if I could possibly be autistic, because following simple instructions was so much more difficult for me than for my co-workers. Nevertheless, I never got any feces on the wall.

Stay tuned for Part II (Deux) in this series.


  1. I totally feel the same way about Willowbrook. In fact, I once told the girl who tried to lure me into her Mary Kay piramid (who lives in Willowbrook now) about how I used to think Willowbrook was so fancy and isn't that funny because in reality. . . ooops. Had to stop there. Had to back pedal. Have stopped receiving calls from Mary Kay girl who lives in Willowbrook.

  2. Babysitting stories can be harrowing, but are good blog fodder...like the time my sister accidentally flipped past the Playboy channel only to discover that the playmate being highlighted was the lady she was babysitting for. NOT KIDDING. She liked long walks on the beach and horseback riding naked... can that be sanitary?

  3. I babysat once, the three-year-old did a human slinky down the front concrete steps and I thought my babysitting career and non-convict career was over. But he got up, said "Buh" and lumbered off.

  4. I don't think the mail room at NuSkin is the fanciest job ever. I KNOW it is. They paid me 50 cents extra per hour because I told them I knew French. Then one day the guy who really spoke French was sick and I had to try to take an order from a French-speaking Canadian. As it turns out, you don't learn much French in high school. I just kept saying, "I don't speak French very well" as if that wasn't totally obvious to the caller.

  5. R., I can't tell you how glad I am that you confessed that you aren't Fifi. You had me really confused for a moment.

  6. I can totally relate to the sad babysitting stories. There was a family in my ward that Eliza and I always babysat for, and didn't realize all the problems they had till we were much older.

    They had a little boy named Sam, and a dog named Lou...

    Haha, I'm totally kidding. Babysitting Sam was a sweet job for a 13 year-old.

    But babysitting IS sometimes depressing.

  7. Kacy,
    It was a dark and stormy night last Friday as I sat at this very computer, commenting on this very blog when mid-sentence my water broke and I actually spent a few silent moments contemplating whether I should go handle this new situation or finishing responding to your blog. In the end, the rapidly raging liquid running down my leg won the battle and I had to leave in the middle of my funny story about the 3 year old who made me watch her nightmarish vaginal delivery video every time I went and go to the hospital where a mere 2 hours later my child was pulled from my womb and officially born. How bout that. Anyway, I feel so connected to you as you were the one leading my forward at the time...

  8. Congrats! I heard from Carrie about the blessed event but did not know that you were reading my blog at the time. I am so honored. Now every year when you tell little (Hannah?) her story you will HAVE to mention me. I have wormed my way into your life permanently.


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