Because there’s nothing more fun than frustrating our readers, here’s a link to a video that’s entirely in German (and unembeddable): Eine Leipzigerin in New York. Why post it? Because it’s from a national German TV news report about Charlotte Richter, a German au pair who worked for friends of ours last year, taking care of three kids, one of whom is a good school-buddy of our daughter. Charlotte looked after our kids a few times as well, and is good people: on my recent reporting trip to Moscow, we met up (she moved from Manhattan au pair to Lufthansa intern in Moscow) for tea and dried horse meat at a really bitchin’ Uzbek restaurant.
The video, however, is misleading. Not because it’s false about Charlotte’s situation, but because it makes it seem like that’s what usually happens. It talks about what a sweet setup Charlotte had, living in a nice apartment on the Upper West Side, food and cell phone bill paid for, with free time to explore the city and a close relationship with both the kids and the parents of the family. It all looks attractive enough that I have no doubt that the clip will launch a thousand would-be Charlottes from their pleasant towns in Germany in search of a similar hook-up.
All I can say is, nein. Don’t come thinking you’re gonna get Manhattan. Because you’re not. You’re gonna get a room in the basement of some meth-town way outside of Cincinnati. You’re going eat McDonald’s for a year. You won’t live within 300 miles of another actual European, and your lack of a driver’s license will make you a virtual shut-in. Your biggest cultural excursion will be a trip to Glier’s Goettafest, a day of sausage-esque fun presented by the leading manufacturers of midwestern scrapple.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Fräulein.