True Story Tuesday: Secrets

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Photo via Unsplash x London Scout

Happy Tuesday! Let's bring it back to our favorite True Story family -- the same one from the stories Nail Polish, On Time, and The Stroller. As we know, this family had already given off major red flags. Their micromanaging was at an unhealthy, toxic level and their expectations of a nanny were simply not even possible for a human being to live up to. This incident I'm about to share was truly the beginning of the end for me.

I was scheduled to travel with this family on vacation. I had traveled with many families before so this was nothing new to me, but it was my first time traveling with them and their first time traveling with a nanny. As I was making arrangements on my end for the trip (booking a dog sitter, etc.), I decided to also have my sister drop me off at work the morning of the trip so I didn't have to leave my car at their place. I mentioned this nonchalantly just to give them a run down of my plan and was very surprised to learn they were taken aback by this plan. They were not okay with my sister dropping me off and therefore, knowing where I work. What? I was so confused. I pressed to find out their reasoning behind this. Why would it matter if I got dropped off rather than driving myself? Why couldn't my own sister know where I work? Plus, she already knew where I worked! I had pointed out the townhouse complex when we had driven by it before -- it was literally less than 2 miles from my house -- of course my sister knew where I worked! Just as I knew the location of the family she worked for. That's not weird or atypical. Most people have at least one person in their life who knows where they work for emergency reasons. Plus, the townhouse they lived in was inside a little community that you could only access by gate and their exact townhouse couldn't even be seen from the street! So my sister dropping me off would only inform her of the townhouse complex I worked in (which she already knew) -- not their exact place. It was so bizarre. I should also mention that this family was not a high profile family (at least to my knowledge), so it really didn't make any sense for them to be so uncomfortable with my sister merely dropping me off.

Once it became clear that my sister dropping me off was not ideal and something I was going to get in "trouble" for, we came to a compromise that my sister could drop me off, but only in the back ally of the cluster of townhouses so she didn't learn which exact one was theirs. She was not to come inside and meet them or help me bring my luggage in. This moment was a major red flag. In all my years of nannying, even for high profile families, this had never been requested of me. My sister, and even some of my close friends, had always known where I worked! My parents also always had the addresses of the families I worked for -- again, for emergency and safety reasons. So needless to say, this did not sit well with me, but I didn't press it further and chalked it up as another symptom of their neurotic, micromanaging ways.

While I didn't press it further, they did. They definitely were not happy that my sister was still going to be dropping me off (I guess maybe they expected I would back down and decide to just drive myself?), but since they agreed to the compromise, I thought we were all good. I was wrong. They sat me down and lectured me about it. Like they always did. They made sure to lay into me and make me feel bad/scared to mess up. They then let me know that I was to not ever disclose the area I worked in. I had to keep it a secret. If I absolutely had to, I was allowed to say the general area -- but I was forbidden to ever disclose even the nearest cross streets of where I worked. As they told me this, I became increasingly uncomfortable. I never signed anything in our contract agreeing to that and more than that, who did these people think they were?! I had googled them prior to accepting the job and I didn't find anything interesting/alarming.  This was totally out of left field for them to suddenly be so important and secretive.

I agreed to not disclose where I worked to anyone else, though if I'm being honest, several of my friends already knew the closest intersection of where I worked. It had come up in normal convo with people...."Oh I work close to where you live! I work near X and X". After that, a little while went by and it wasn't brought up again. Then one day they were taking a trip without me and I was to be housesitting while they were away. They were traveling to attend a family wedding and gave me the name and address of the hotel they were staying at. I was given explicit instructions to NOT tell anyone where they were staying. If for some reason their family contacted me inquiring, I was not to disclose the hotel -- I had to keep it a secret.  The only people who knew where they were staying was them, me, and two other guys who "worked" for them. I put that in quotes because I have no idea who these two guys were, I just knew that they worked for the father of the mom I worked for and they sometimes helped my nanny family out with random stuff.

My reaction to them telling me this was written all over my face. I could not hide my concern and confusion. They then told me that they have to be careful and that there are people out there to get them -- or something along those lines. They informed me that they always keep their hotel and exact whereabouts a secret. Even when it comes to regular doctor appointments -- it makes them nervous to have the same schedule week by week because someone could catch on and anticipate where they were going to go next. In this moment I was seriously like, WTF. I felt very unsafe. Who were these people? Why were they so secretive? They were going to the a family wedding and their own family (I'm talking siblings and their own parents) were not allowed to know what hotel they were staying at. Either these people were crazier than I thought and were both suffering from paranoia or there was legitimately someone they were afraid of. What kind of stuff were they involved in?? I had no clue, and still to this day, have no clue.

After this conversation, I immediately called the agency that placed me at this position to fill them in on what they had said to me. Like I said, I felt very unsafe -- if there were dangerous people they had to hide from, I was putting myself at risk by working in their home full-time. The agency agreed it was strange, but there wasn't that much they could do. My employers had given me very vague statements and they had already proven to go to the extremes with everything whether it be me opening a stroller more efficiently, me arriving early because on time was unacceptable, or now forbidding me from disclosing to anyone the general area of where I worked. While odd, it didn't seem that off when considering how they were in regards to everything else about their life. They were all around uptight people. The agency was well aware of all the problems I had experienced leading up to this point, so they were fully supportive of me professionally quitting if that's what I wanted to do.

I wasn't ready to quit yet, but as I mentioned earlier, this incident was the beginning of the end for me.

Do you have a story you'd like to share for True Story Tuesday? If so, email me at brooke@nannycounsel.com :)