Saturday, September 10, 2011

Au-Pair Drop-Out

(credit ukaaa)
Now that I am safely sitting far away in my sublet, I can write about this on the internet. Basically, my au-pair experience sucked. The 5-year old basically had free reign and was allowed to hit me, spit in my face, call me an asshole, hit me in the eye with a foam sword, etc. with very little consequence. I felt the family wanted another older, more responsible child instead of an adult employed by them. They didn't respect my time and though I asked several times and sat down with them to explain that I'd like some kind of schedule so I could make plans and have friends, they just assumed I would stop whatever I was doing for them and generally only told me my hours the day before or the morning of, which just made me really anxious.

Honestly, except for joking around with their oldest son and playing with the cute dog, I started to hate everything about my au-pair job. The first time I visually appeared upset in front of the family was after I cut up some fruit for their 5 year-old and his friend and brought it upstairs. I told them they needed to wash their hands first and they refused and spit in my face. Now I'm not talking cute stick-your-tongue-out whatever, they literally covered me with spit. I herded them to the bathroom, where they still refused to wash their hands and when I went to go help, I got the door slammed in my face. Meanwhile, the Mom was downstairs, doing god knows what, while I was getting completely disrespected by her child. Eventually I just told them, "Alright, if you treat me badly, you're not getting any fruit and I'm going downstairs now". I stormed downstairs, put the plate on the table in front of the Mom and asked, "I don't know what you want me to do! They spit in my face and refuse to listen." Her reply was just, "Do you like kids? They're just being 5 year-olds."

This was the general response. Now let me tell you, if I had ever spit in a babysitter's face when I was a kid, hit someone or was generally as bratty as her kid, my parents would've grounded me for a week, taking away any TV privileges, no friends over, no phone, etc. My parents rarely ever touched us, but when we were bad we generally had to write a LOT of apology letters to whoever we wronged and had a stern talking-to. I said to the Mom, "I know I need to learn how to better deal with him, but what are the consequences when he acts like that?" The answer was nothing. No consequences. Apparently this behavior was completely acceptable and didn't warrant any punishment.

Fuck. That.

I got yelled at for such things as putting the tea cup on the wrong side of the place mat and they made me mow the entire backyard lawn, which is definitely not an au-pair job. When they asked me at a later date if I would mow the front lawn, and I inferred that I would not care to, the mother made it seem like that was preposterous and asked me, "Well, what DO you want to do?!". The last straw occurred as I was attempting to get the lawn mower to work, crying hysterically in their front yard. I think my exact thought was something like "Fuck this shit, I'm leaving." I almost texted the host Mom "I quit" right then and there, but realized I probably needed somewhere to sleep first.

We had a date to talk last Sunday, where it was decided that it was not a good fit and I was leaving. They said I could have until mid-September, which they later revoked this past Wednesday when they told me I had to be out Friday (2 days later). Now, I am a relatively independent person, but there are plenty of 18 year-old au-pairs who don't know anyone in the country, don't speak any German and who have never lived abroad before. The fact that they would just shove someone off like that is absolutely ridiculous.

To add insult to injury, yesterday before I moved out I asked about getting paid. They said they would only pay me for 2 of the 3 weeks I worked, because the last week I was in-and-out looking for jobs and flats. When I explained,  "Well, what am I supposed to do? You told me to get out so I needed time to find somewhere to go!" Her response was that the chores and errands I did for them were payment for being able to sleep there. Honestly lady? You people are fucking rich. I'm pretty sure 70 euro extra for the week would not have broken the bank. My general thought is that them choosing an au-pair that didn't "fit" is mostly their responsibility. They brought a woman over an ocean from America. If they are so particular, they should have asked me more questions about myself, actually taken the time to Skype with me, etc. They fucked up and made a wrong decision and I was left in a shitty position in a foreign country, so I definitely should have been paid for the last week.

Anyway, I'm now happily sitting in a sublet in Kreuzberg, far away from them. After a few interviews, I have a job as a freelance English teacher and am making my first attempt at the visa on Monday morning, so wish me luck! I will be going to Rostock in East Germany for 6 weeks starting September 26th to teach an intensive English course and then coming back to Berlin November 10th, after which I'm staying forever! I'm sure I'll be back some weekends as well. Now I just need to find an awesome flat for November!

I wish I could just find a long-term flat now and stay here, so I could finish getting settled and make some friends, etc. but it will be an adventure, right? And earning a paycheck will definitely be nice.

So get ready for some hopefully less emo posts, now than I have escaped from indentured servitude and am no longer quite as prone to random fits of hysterics! Yes!

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