In the beginning of June, I had brought my kids with me to one of my client’s. The client is a national retail chain and the kids really like the product. A nice, young woman must have seen how frazzled I was and came up to me and introduced herself. She asked if I needed a nanny. Up until that point, the thought of hiring a nanny never crossed my mind. However, I was so overwhelmed and exhausted that I quickly invited her over for dinner.
Once back at our house she spun a tale about how the “crazy” lady who she was renting a room from was renting out all of the other rooms in the house to family members. I had dealt with odd landlord and roommate situations in the past, so after talking it over as a family we decided to invite her to stay with us for a few weeks until she got a new living situation sorted out. That was a Sunday night. On Sunday, I ran around doing personal errands and she tagged along. I bought her all sorts of personal items (shampoo, clothes, a new duffle bag) and took her out to lunch. That night my husband and I went to a concert and since we had gotten the tickets months before, we had already previously hired a babysitter. She seemed OK with this arrangement and went to bed early.
Monday was her real first work day. When I ran a background check on her, all her references said great things about her and the only thing that came up legally is some traffic and parking tickets. I talked to her about what I had planned that day when she told me that she did not have a current driver’s license. That was a problem since a large part of her job was to pick and drop of the kids from school and activities. She asked me if I could bring her to the county treasurer to pay the tickets. Of course, she had no money…so I would have to pay her in advance for work she had not yet completed. We decided that once I picked up the kids, we would all go to the courthouse. Since it was 1pm by the time we got to all of the kids, it took us forever to get into a few towns over where she had to deal with the treasurer. The courthouse closed at 3:00pm and it was already 2:30 by the time we finally figured out where she needed to make the payment. Finally, we got to the treasurer. Now, when she explained about the tickets and about the fact that she had accrued fines and fees for not paying them on time, she gave me an estimate of about a hundred dollars. By the time I met up with her to pay, the cashier told me the amount due was $500. I was pissed because I was lied to, but paid her bill and told her I was not going to pay her again until at least July. She seemed fine with that. On Tuesday, I was focused on doing stuff for my clients since I basically wasted about 4 hours with the nanny the day before. She asked me when I was planning on bringing her back to the treasurer since she was unable to get her license reinstated and I tried to explain the whole “If I don’t work, U can’t pay you” thing. Anyway, it was around then I started noticing things missing. A few checkbooks. MY driver’s license. A credit card. Wednesday rolled around and we had at least twenty “your time” versus “my time” talks. This girl was either in the mirror or on her phone texting/checking voice mail. We got in the car and I told her that we were going to the DMV closest to the house to get my license replaced (at that time I just thought I lost it somehow). She started yelling at me about how she needed a valid license to drive the kids around, and I slowed the car down and told her that when I worked for an employer I was the one who was responsible for paying any traffic tickets and I was the one who kept my license current. Not my employer. She kept on yelling at me. I stopped the car. I calmly said “This clearly is not working out. Your employment has been terminated. Get out of the car.” And she did. Lessons learned? 1). In the span of three days, this woman caused major havoc. Thankfully, I am very aware of my belongings and noticed immediately when things went missing. 2). Always perform background checks. Document everything when it comes to domestic employees. 3) Keep the lines between employee and manager open.