The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: Honorable Mention

canstockphoto4598050An Honorable Mention from The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” contest goes to Leisha at cancerinmythirties for a job where the Ick Factor seemed age inappropriate.

She was sent one The Green Study Coffee Mug, a cheesy postcard from Minneapolis and I made a $25 donation to her local Red Cross chapter.

The Worst Job I Ever Had — OR — A Hairy Guy & an Old White House

by Leisha at cancerinmythirties

I was eleven years old.  I’ll give you a minute to picture an eleven-year old. At 11, you are just a kid.  So much to learn.  So many mistakes to make.  You still need someone to look after you.

But we needed the money. So I placed an ad in the newspaper:

Summer Babysitter/Mother’s Helper:  Responsible 11-year-old girl available to care for your child(ren).  CPR-certified.  3 years experience.  References. Light housekeeping/cooking if needed.

I received a number of calls.  I’m not sure that all of the men who called actually had children.  But that’s another story!

Anyway, I had been babysitting for my younger sister for years and had branched out to babysitting for friends, neighbors, friends of friends/neighbors since turning 8.  Think about that for a minute.  I have eight-year-olds.  Two of them, in fact.  And I cannot picture leaving them alone for 20 minutes.  I cannot picture them cooking.  Or cleaning.  Or caring for other people’s children!

But I did all of these things at the tender age of 8.  So, by 11, I was an old pro.

Of all the calls I received, the most appealing came from a woman who said she’d need me Saturdays and most weekdays and that I could start that Saturday.

Why was it the most appealing?

1.)  I could walk to the house.  We did not have a car, so proximity was important.

2.)  She had a two-month-old son — and I loved babies.

So I said yes.  And I walked there on Saturday morning, arriving early because I was a very responsible eleven-year-old.

But I was not prepared for what I would find or for what this job would be.

I had passed the house many times on the school bus.  It was a weathered old white house in poor repair.  The lawn was littered with bits and pieces from at least a few vehicles.  And there, in the long gravel driveway, was a run-down old truck with a skull and crossbones bumper sticker on the back window and a pair of panties hanging on the rear-view mirror.

But I was not one to judge.  I grew up quite poor.  Owning an old white house and a run-down old pick-up truck (with or without the panties) would have been a dream come true for us.

When I knocked on the front door that first day, a tall, hairy guy motioned me inside.  He looked me up and down and gave me a smile and a wink I had seen before.  Then his wife swooped in, red lipstick-stained cigarette dangling from her mouth.  She handed her infant to me with as much care as you’d expect from a football player tossing a football.  “Here are the other two,” she said, pointing to Jimmy, age 7, and Cassie, age 4.

And with that, the man and woman left, promising to be back “later.”

In the months that ensued, “later” meant anywhere from 2 to 10 hours.  I never knew.  Sometimes the couple would leave and go to an unnamed place.  Sometimes their bandmates would come and they would all go out to the old barn in the back to play while I looked after the kids all day.  And sometimes it meant that the mother would leave me home with the children and the hairy man.  And on those days, he often wore only a pair of boxers and said he enjoyed watching me bathe the kids.  Yes, hairy guy was a weirdo!

And the kids, oh, the poor kids.  I fell in love with 4-year-old Cassie and 8-week-old Joe.  They were sweet and cuddly and needed to be nurtured.

And, to my dismay, 7-year-old Jimmy fell in love with me.  I learned this when he took me back to the old weeping willow he called his treehouse and attempted to kiss and handcuff me to a tattered backseat his dad had dragged in there from his old car.  Of course a discussion about boundaries ensued.

And yet I returned.  All summer long.  And on the days when their parents came home drunk and/or stoned, I stayed late without pay and walked home in the dark.  Those kids needed me.

And I will never forget them — or the worst job I ever had.

Congratulations, Leisha!

Be sure to check her blog and these enlightening (age appropriate) posts:

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11 Comments on “The Green Study “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest: Honorable Mention

  1. What an amazing story — well told. Glad you survived with only the ick factor, as the father seemed, well, you know.

    It is amazing what we did as little kids — and I think we’re better for it. Our kids didn’t grow up having to learn how to deal with real life (and weirdos) the way we did. And while that’s good in one sense, in the long run I don’t think it is.

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    • Thank you, Elyse! Yes, in hindsight I am thrilled that I survived this one with only the ick factor — he certainly did seem “you know,” so it could have been MUCH worse.
      You are right, it is amazing what we did as kids — and how different things are for kids today (I’d never let my kids anywhere near that house and hairy guy!). It’s also amazing that we turned out as well as we did, all things considered! 🙂
      Thanks so much!

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  2. Great imagery (of some bad images)…nicely done.

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  3. I can only imagine the way that collected effect of those small droplets of kindness administered over time conspired to positively affect the lives of those kids to be more than a reflection of the lack of nurture they were exposed to. Who knows what parasitic monstrosities of relationship you may have prevented through your acts of kindness. I’m thankful for people like yourself in the world because if it were not for you, I don’t think I would have been able to latch on to the skills to cultivate nourishing relationships in my adult life, and perhaps to be able to share the compassion you so eloquently outlined in your story from time to time as well. Excellent read! Thanks.

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    • Thank you so much… What a kind and touching comment. I have honestly never thought of it in that way and have only felt badly for what my 11-year-old self was unable to give those children. Your words make me feel like that time could have actually helped them in some way beyond those months we spent together — and thinking of things in that way is truly a gift for my soul.
      Though I don’t know your story (I do plan to visit your blog), from your comment it sounds like you had quite a rough childhood. But I can also tell from your comment that you have grown into a kind and compassionate adult despite your experiences.
      Thank you so much for your words — and I look forward to visiting your blog…

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  4. Reblogged this on cancerinmythirties and commented:
    This story (which you may have already read here) was written in response to The Green’s Study’s “Worst Job I Ever Had” Contest.
    I am grateful to Michelle at The Green Study for awarding me an Honorable Mention (including a donation made in my name to The Red Cross, a lovely mug, postcard, and a feature spot on her blog today). I am honored that she could look past its disturbing nature and thought it worthy of a prize! 🙂
    Be sure to check out the other winning entries — along with Michelle’s blog (TheGreenStudy.com) — it’s terrific! Thanks!

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    • Thank you for saying that about the kids, Kat — poor little ones…
      And thank you for the comment about my name. As you know, I’ve been reluctant to include it in my posts, especially because it is so different and leaves no room for anonymity. But when Michelle asked if it was okay to include it here, I thought about how I have missed not being about to share that very basic and integral part of myself with people like you, so I think it’s probably a good thing that it’s finally out there!
      Thank you, Kat!
      Leisha 🙂

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