Working as a nanny had it’s upside sometimes: Freckles loved to make homemade smoothies so we experimented with different fruit combinations and each had our favorites. We would sip on smoothies and go over her parent-assigned homework or jump on the trampoline in her backyard until she fell down in exhaustion.

It wasn’t all fun though. I was expected to drive her to various practices, day camps and play dates, as well as do simple chores like return their Blockbuster movies and pick up the birthday cake for their dog from the dog bakery. Yes, people really buy stuff like that. I contented myself with the knowledge that I would get paid back all of the mileage from these trips, so they didn’t bother me too much.

Then one day I walked into her dad’s house to discover the police interviewing Freckles’ stepmother. She had left her brand new BMW in the driveway with the keys in the ignition and someone had stolen it. I grew up in a fairly safe, small town and was one of those kids that almost never got in trouble – so I was completely unprepared for how I was about to be treated. As soon as I walked in the Stepmom pointed at me and said I was their new nanny and they should question me. Picture me about to chomp down on my half eaten muffin, freezing in the doorway with my teeth barely scraping the top while two police officers stalk over to me.

I was immediately ushered into the den and asked a series of questions: had I told any of my hoodlum friends about Stepmom’s propensity for leaving her keys in her car? How could I not know she did that often, don’t nannys know all of the family’s secrets? Where was I last night? Can I prove that I was at my house watching TV? Being able to recite the latest episode of House is not an alibi.

Being a 16 year old kid, I mostly just sat wide eyed and nodded to whatever the police said. After a long lecture on the type of punishment I would face if I were protecting the car jacker, they let me walk away and I discreetly called my mom. After telling her what had happened, she had me hand the phone over to Stepmom for a lecture of her own.

At the end of the summer Freckles’ family asked me to continue working for them during the school year. I would have to leave school immediately after my last bell while she hung out at her school for half and hour for me, which meant little flexibility in terms of social life or group projects. After finding out that work-experience class required a For-Profit job that filed taxes, I let them know that I would not be continuing and gave them plenty of time to find a replacement.

At the end of the summer I provided them with a detailed spreadsheet that included all of mileage broken down by date and where I was driving to or from. I handed  it off to Sandy who hemmed and hawed and eventually just refused to pay, saying that she didn’t think it was fair. After quite a few harsh words between her and my mother, she ended up saying we didn’t have a written contract so there would be no way to enforce it. My mom was pissed.

What I learned from that job: Contracts are very important and rich people are assholes.

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