Mrs. S. wants me to be at her Hampton house by 6:00 pm on Sunday, as it is a “very stressful and hectic” time of the day. Apparently she needs help feeding her children supper. So I pack my bags, say goodbye to my kids and I’m on my way. I program my GPS and Mandy begins talking to me. I chose the Mandy voice because it was the least annoying. I nixed the man’s voice because the last thing I wanted was some bossy man giving me directions. It would be like riding in the car with my ex.
The trip went fairly well until I hit the George Washington Bridge in Jersey. I was stuck for a full hour in bumper to bumper traffic waiting to cross the bridge. This obviously put me an hour behind schedule. Instead of the trip taking six hours, it will now take me seven. I was just outside the Hamptons when my phone started ringing it’s Linkin’ Park song. It was Mrs. S. asking, “are you still coming?” “I have a house guest, so I’m stuck with five kids by myself”. Five kids??? Stuck by herself??? So where is this houseguest I had heard nothing about? I assure her I’m on my way and not far from her house.
I pull in the driveway of a multi-million dollar “vacation house” and am in awe of the place. Clearly these people are extremely wealthy. Clearly I will stick out like a sore thumb. And I am correct. I ring the doorbell and Mrs. S. actually answers it herself. “What, no butler”, I think. “I’m so glad to see you” she says “Mrs. G. this is Elizabeth, my new nanny”. Obviously Mrs. G. hadn’t run away and left her children behind so I’m not sure where the “all alone” comment came from. The kids all come and swarm around me curiously and Mrs. G. joins them. “How nice to meet you” she says to my tattoos and beat up running shoes. Mrs. S.’s daughter whispers something to Mrs. G. and she nods in agreement. I stand there uncomfortably.
“Take Elizabeth’s things up to the room”, Mrs. S. says to the kids and they fight over who will help. At least they’re helpful. So far. I follow obediently when Mrs. S. tells them to show me around. I’m dumbfounded when the children enter a small bedroom with three beds. They plop my bags on one of the beds and it becomes painfully obvious that I will be sharing a room with two of the children. Mrs. S. breezes in and says I can use three of the dresser draws in the little closet. So now I’m reduced to living out of a small closet and sleeping in a twin bed in a child’s bedroom. Our prior conversations never even hinted at such an odd arrangement. My first thought is to not even bother unpacking, run down to my car and drive away as quickly as possible. I should have listened to my instincts had I known what sort of other oddities were still to come.
I transfer my belongings into the three dresser drawers and head downstairs. I ask Mrs. S. if she’d like me to do anything. I think she will tell me that it must have been a long trip and just to relax, but no, she hands me a broom and tells me to sweep up the crumbs under the children’s table. “I simply can’t stand crumbs on the floor”, she says. “They are always doing this!” she reports. They’re children, I think, they’re supposed to be messy. But I just sweep the floor while Mrs. G. continues to stare at my tattoos. My duties for this Sunday night continue until after 9:00pm and I am exhausted. I have a headache and just want to go to bed. But I have to wait until the boys are asleep so I don’t wake them. No T.V. or reading to help me wind down. I take a shower and toss around in bed for a couple of hours before finally falling asleep. My last thought before drifting off is what have I gotten myself into?