A couple of months ago, my wife and I were taking a trip. On the flight back home, my wife started reading The Nanny Diaries. For the next 5 hours, I was subjected to comments like, “Oh my, that’s so true… listen to this…” followed by snippet from the book.
For those not familiar with the story, it’s about a nanny and all the degrading experiences that her wealthy Manhattan employer puts her through. I didn’t the read the book, but when my wife rented the movie last weekend, I figured it was worth a couple of hours of my time. With Scarlett Johannson playing the lead role, the movie couldn’t be all bad. I was wrong.
For nearly all of the 106 minutes, it was one over-the-top situation after another. The nanny wasn’t treated like a person at any point, but instead a servant. Not only was she poorly paid, and her room essentially a small closet, but she had very little privacy and rarely got a day off. She also was forbidden to have a love life. It wasn’t long before I thought that this movie is more unrealistic than any science fiction movie I’ve ever seen. Anyone would have quit that job in the first week. This would be especially true of this nanny since she has a college degree. At the very worst, she could become a nanny for a different family as the movie made a point of how high the demand is. The explanation the movie gave for her not quitting is that she felt that she might have Stockholm Syndrome. It seemed like a poor explanation for someone undergoing constant abuse. If there’s a piece of advice here, it’s that you should remember that you are in the business of “you” – think twice before you let your job define who you are.
Without destroying too much of the ending, the nanny learns quite a bit about herself and is a stronger person for having gone through the experience. It was a year of great personal growth. It was at this point, about 100 minutes into the movie, that I found something I could identify with. I’ve taken a similar action this year – deciding that I should work almost exclusively to improve myself. I only hope that at the end of the year, I discover as many answers as the nanny did.