November 11, 2007

Every one of you is fired!

Posted in Babysitting at 2:31 pm by Lauren

Sometimes I like to sing these lyrics of a Ben Folds song, when I feel the people around me need firing for some reason or another. I picked up the firing bug from my friend Regina, who fired me repeatedly from my former job, whenever I did something that didn’t strike her fancy. She would deliver the line with appropriate ennui: You’re fired. Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from her perfect delivery of the line. I enjoyed it and went on to fire my boss at school fairly often, which I’m sure annoyed him. But normally, I only sing the Ben Folds song (in my head!) for people who are way beyond my actually telling them they’re fired. That is, when people do something really exasperating. 

On Tuesday morning (remember, I’m retro-actively blogging, so this is October 30), I readied myself to walk to my babysitting job. On a whim, I checked my email first, and there I found an email from the mother asking me to call her before I came at 10. It was around 9:10 am at this point, and I had been planning on walking the 2.5 miles to her house. I didn’t yet have a cell phone, so I sighed and called her then. When she answered she sounded hurried and said she’d call me back in 5 minutes. I sat by the phone. The time when I could have walked to her house to get there on time passed. The time when I could have taken the train to get to her house on time passed. I griped to Elizabeth, “I hope she doesn’t still expect me to get there at 10.” Finally at 9:45 I called her back myself. She promised she just needed another five minutes, and she called back. At this point, I was ticked. She had now had three opportunities to tell me what this was all about, by email and twice when I’d called. At least have the courtesy to let me know what I’m waiting for. I told Elizabeth, “Who knows, maybe she’s going to fire me. I’m not sure that would be a bad thing.”

When she finally called back, she started out the conversation with, “I felt really uncomfortable yesterday.” This indirectness was just what had gotten us in an awkward situation the day before. I couldn’t tell if she meant to resolve the discomfort or to fire me. I decided to take it in the direction of firing and told her I’d felt uncomfortable too. She delivered me several classic break-up lines, “It’s not you; I think it’s me.” “We really liked you when we met you.” “Maybe it’s just not the right time for us.” “If it doesn’t feel right, we shouldn’t push it.” Awkward, awkward, awkward. We broke up.

I have never been fired before, at least not that I remember. I have done occasional babysitting for a few families who didn’t call me often and eventually petered away, but I think those were more of a scheduling thing (and a function of me being their back-up babysitter). One dog-sitting client silently fired Allen and me after our worst pet-sitting debacle ever when we took their rottweiler out at midnight; accidentally pulled the locks-by-itself door shut behind us (that was me; I didn’t know it would lock) without keys, cell phones, or shoes; and broke back in to their house with MacGyver-like action using a dog leash and a hanger through the mail box. (We saw no fewer than nine police cars during our time on the porch, and no one questioned us. We also saw a hit-and-run-and-chase accident. We were glad we had the rottweiler.) I would fire me too after that happened (and I have never closed a door – even my own – since without having the keys literally in my line of sight), but the amazing thing to me is that we simply never heard from them again. I’d at least have expected them to call and say, “Glad you got back in.” But I digress. Being fired was annoying, after having planned my other jobs around this one, turned down other opportunities, and waited three weeks for this job to start. With just five more weeks before I went back to the States to pick up my visa, I was very aggravated at the thought of having to find new work. And she had underpaid me the day before! But when the aggravation wore off, there was relief.

Not only was there a larger relief of not having to return to that awkward situation, there was a more immediate relief: now I could spend the day with Elizabeth! We had a low-key day (well, for me it was) getting a little lost but finally finding the National Library for Elizabeth, having lunch, and wandering the Jardin des Tuileries. After that, I had to lesson plan before my English lessons. Elizabeth set off with me to lessons to tour the 5th arrondissement a little more. Sadly, that was the end of our time together because after lessons we all met back at the apartment, grabbed our things and headed to the metro. Elizabeth was returning to Grenoble, and Allen and I were catching a flight to Scotland for the weekend.

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