single mom works for the babysitter

One of my colleagues at the restaurant is a painter, scores a few hundred dollars with commissions here and there, and she’s a single mom with two kids. Always bubbly, always smiling.

On Tuesday she had a particularly slow night: two tables; took home $70.

            I asked how bad that is, compared to a good night.

            She sighed, still smiling because smiling is what she does, and said that it’s actually hardly enough to pay the babysitter.

            “The babysitter I use charges $20 per kid per hour.”

            I’m horrible with math and so I stand there blinking at her for a minute, trying to figure out the numbers here, failing, but knowing intuitively that, on nights when she needs a babysitter for the duration of a shift, she’s basically working just to pay a babysitter. That she’s basically the babysitter’s employee.

            She sees it on my face and gives me a wide-eyed nod. “They know how desperate you get. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Gee. Maybe I’m in the wrong profession.’”

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