Sometimes the weirdest memories come to me out of nowhere.
When I was in high school, my only real side job was babysitting. I sat for this really, really great family that I loved so much. We're still in touch on Facebook. The girls I babysat are now beautiful, successful women with families of their own.
I started sitting for them my sophomore year. They were in Gulfport and I was about 20 minutes away in Long Beach. I didn't have a car - or even a license - so they would come pick me up on Saturday afternoon, I would sit for them while they had a date night, spend the night on their sofa, and they'd drive me home sometime mid-morning Sunday. They only paid me for the hours that they were out but that was fine because I didn't have a boyfriend and wasn't going anywhere or doing anything anyway. It didn't matter to me where I slept.
I watched my first Saturday Night Live episodes from that sofa.
The summer after my sophomore year, I stayed with them Monday-Friday while the girls were out of school. They paid me good, like $5 an hour. Minimum wage was only around $3.35 an hour back then.
My junior year, I somehow found a new client. I don't think the family knew my regular sitting family. Maybe they were recommendations of recommendations? I don't remember how I found these folks. They lived in a big, beach-front home in Pass Christian, where all the big, beautiful beach-front homes are located. The new family had two young children - like, toddlers. Much younger than my regular family, whose girls were like age 4 and 6.
I sat for this new couple a few times. They paid well. They lived about 10 minutes away. Dad would drop me and the husband would drive me home. The best part was getting to play house in their big, beautiful, beach-front home. If you didn't know it already, your teenage sitters are 100% playing house in your home.
Then one Sunday my junior year, the wife of the big, Pass Christian house called and asked me to sit. I told her I really didn't sit on school nights. She said it was for her two kids and her friend's two kids and they were all young and would be asleep the whole time and they would come home early and they'd pay me double.
Well that was a deal too good to pass up, so I had my dad drop me at their house. The wife and her friend were dressed to go clubbing. Their husbands were out of town. The four children were already in bed.
I didn't have much to do. I watched cable TV. Ate their snack food. Smoked the husband's cigarettes.
When it got late, I laid down on the sofa and tried not to fall asleep. Around 1 a.m. I started to feel scared and confused and didn't know what to do. I called my dad. Woke him up. He agreed to come over and sit with us so I could sleep and hopefully make it to school the next day.
The women finally showed up around 7 a.m. They'd gotten a DUI and spent the night in jail. They wrote me a check for $50, which wasn't anywhere near double pay for the 12 hours I'd spent with their 4 kids. My dad was furious. He told them that I would never sit for them again.
And I didn't, for a long time.
Later, the family moved to a cute but much cheaper house off Jeff Davis in downtown Long Beach. They called me to sit again, and I did. The all-nighter never came up. The husband paid me well. I stole several packs of his cigarettes from the freezer.