Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Fifty-Seven Cents

Me. Prospective laborer . . . and fashionista.

I was going to be minding one child.
For two-plus hours.
And the best part? Someone was going to pay me for doing it.
It was my very first official baby-sitting job.
Actually, my first baby-sitting job of any kind.
I had just turned twelve.
I was legal.
And I was way past excited.
Imagine having a job and getting paid to do it. And fifty cents an hour wasn't uncommon. Why, some of my friends had even been paid a whole dollar an hour!
I could just picture the wealth that would soon be mine!
I reported for duty at precisely the right time, armed with everything I might need. Books. Games. Snacks.
Shannon, the little girl I was looking after, was four.
And adorable.
She played quietly and was fairly obedient.
I’d have to say it was a good first-time experience.
All too soon, her mother was at the door and my time was up.
Now, for the exciting part. Where I got paid for the work I did.
Or maybe I should clarify: Where I should have gotten paid for the work I did.
“Diane, I’m sorry, I don’t have any change,” her mother said. “I’ll have to pay you later.”
“Oh,” I said. “Ummm . . . all right.” What else could I say? ‘No. I’ll stand right here until you produce the money?!’
I packed up my kit and left. Okay, that was a bit . . . anticlimactic.
Several days later, at Church actually, the mother approached me. “Diane, I asked your brother how much I should pay you.”
Wait, I thought. You asked my brother? My brother?! Why on earth would you ask my brother and not me?
“He told me that you charge twenty-five cents an hour.”
Excuse me. He told you what?!
“So here’s your pay for two and a quarter hours.” She dropped two quarters, a nickel and two pennies into my hand.
Fifty Seven cents.
Fifty seven cents?!
I stared at the woman. Then at the money in my hand.
I had worked for over two hours for fifty seven cents?!
Suddenly my dream of riches made babysitting seemed like just that . . . dreams.
I still managed to smile and thank her.
I think.
I know I had words with my brother who simply shrugged and said, “How was I to know?”
I’m sure you can probably understand why I never hired him as my manager.
Oh, and I never really did much babysitting after that.
A few times when I simply couldn’t think of an excuse.
But I made up for it later by producing and raising six children.
Hmmm. I just realized that I never got paid for that, either.
Well . . . not in money.

22 comments:

  1. Oh, that makes me mad!

    Why would she ask your brother?!!

    I have to admit that I, too, babysat for 25 an hour, considering myself lucky for 50 cents an hour...

    I can't believe that lousy woman gave you 57 cents...

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess she was an exact change sort of person! :)

      Delete
  2. I think people used to take advantage of kids. I remember my first job at 50 cents an hour. I only babysat twice my whole life. Well...not counting my own kid.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I babysat once at 12 yrs. old at my house. Sweet baby who slept the whole time. I was paid with two yards of fabric, which I made into my favorite dress (for the time).
    57 cents?

    ReplyDelete
  4. My first babysitting job was next door to home, one child, and she was mostly asleep. But I didn't like being away from home, especially at night.. I too got paid 25 cents an hour-the going rate in the late 40's and 50's. BONUS_around Nine p.m. the Grandpa would come home from the bar, give me 10 cents, and go to bed. I stayed until the parents got home of course, he was a little tipsy. I never loved babysitting, but it was our first chance to earn money. Shirley J.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw it as my great introduction into the world of finance! And this was in the early seventies! How come I was still making 40s and 50s wages? I could have used the dime tip, too . . .
      :)

      Delete
  5. Oh I do feel for you! I was lucky to babysit for generous parents, which made me go back over and over :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm . . . I don't think my parents ever paid any of us to babysit each other. That would have been a sweet deal!

      Delete
    2. They weren't MY parents!! Sorry for that unclear explanation - they were the CHILD's parents :) And I was the younger of two kids, so I never would have gotten any experience if it wasn't for that child!

      Delete
    3. Hmm - not sure if my comment went through or not ... I just wanted to clarify that I was talking about the child's parents, not mine - I was the younger of two kids, and if it weren't for that child, I wouldn't have had much experience before having my own :)

      Delete
  6. Oh I hear your pain and totally agree with Delores. People truly did take advantage of babysitters back in the day......especially small towns. People use to pay me 10 cents an hour. No joke. AND insist that their house be spotless when they got home! I had to clean up some of the filthiest of homes. It was a pig stye when I got there! My mom use to shrug it off and say "Well, they are members of our community." Or "We go to church with them." or "They need our help." And they would call my mom and complain if I didn't clean it up to "their standards". No kidding! Being in a small town....there was no other jobs....so I stuck it out till I was 16. Then quit and bummed rides off people to go into the next town for REAL work. Getting paid to serve icecream at a DQ. With real pay cheques and benefits. I was rich! lol.

    It taught me one thing....I made sure I paid MY babysitters while raising 6 kids......very well. The going rate anyway. AND.....I insisted that NO clean up of my house was to be done. They were to babysit only. That was what they were hired for. {I was a neat freak anyway. It bothered me when I came home and saw the ONE cup that was put in the sink just before we left the house.....had been washed and dried and put in the drain pan..by the time we got home! HA ha. She was hired often that girl. ; D }

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cleaning to 'their standards'. I once cleaned what I thought was a cast iron frying pan - only to discover after I had scrubbed a bit that it was actually stainless steel. Ick. To glad to know you you learned from your past! Actually, I always remembered my story when I paid our babysitters too!

      Delete
  7. Well gee, just in case you're referring to me, I used to babysit for two-bits/hour. I remember when I went out to a farm on a service call. The farmer and wife (good family friends) had to leave suddenly and they asked me to watch their 3 kids (7, 6 and 3) for an hour... I didn't make anything and even had to deal with an adventure that wasn't in the babysitting manual...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were always so much better than me! And I want to know what the adventure was that wasn't in the babysitting manual . . .

      Delete
    2. Let's just say 3 year old, and blowout, and let your imagination do the rest...

      Delete
  8. That is awful, only .57 cents... wow.. lol

    I once watched four children for four hours and was paid four dollars... suffice to say I never baby sat there again... haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I wonder if your employers went to the same school of finance that mine did . . .

      Delete
  9. I used to babysit for four kids from 7 pm till 2 am. It was a flat fee of $3.00. I was grateful, but naive. However, I ate most of her candy that she always had around on her tables.

    ReplyDelete
  10. At 17 I babysat a few times for a work friend and his wife so they could go out. They had two little boys, a two year old and a 3 month old baby. They weren't sure what time they'd be home, so I charged $10 for the night and they stayed out till past midnight each time. in that time I fed and changed both boys, played with the older one and cleaned up any dishes we'd used. Then they moved away. That was the end of my business venture. No one else seemed to need a babysitter.

    ReplyDelete

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