The Female Nanny of the Male Lawyer's Family - C.4: Saying Goodbye to an Old Employer

The Female Nanny of the Male Lawyer's Family

C.4: Saying Goodbye to an Old Employer

Lu Chenchen's contract stated that she had one day off per week, which was Sunday.

On Saturday morning, after the family had finished breakfast, Mrs. Mao took Granny and the three children out, and didn't come back until after 9 p.m.

Lu Chenchen's job was just housework and cooking. The children weren't really her responsibility, so with the family out all day, she only did a bit of housework and felt bad about sitting around idle. So after the family came back, she helped the children wash up and get ready for bed.

It was hot, and the adults and kids were all sweaty, so they all needed to take showers. Big Mao was old enough to handle himself at ten years old, but Second Mao and Little Ming needed her help to wash and get ready for bed. She also blow dried Little Ming's hair.

After getting them settled, she went and knocked on Mrs. Mao's door to remind her that tomorrow was her day off, and that after making breakfast she would be leaving.

Mrs. Mao's eyes suddenly went wide. "Why didn't you tell me earlier?"

Lu Chenchen...

I already told you when I first started!

She really had nothing to say to defend herself.

Didn't families who hire domestic helpers already know about days off on weekends? Was it possible that the previous domestic helpers who worked for the Maos didn't get weekends off either? Lu Chenchen found Mrs. Mao's reaction a bit odd, but as a new employee, she didn't feel it was appropriate to ask.

"Tomorrow doesn't work," Mrs. Mao flatly rejected the request.

It had to work.

She had finally gotten a rare day off, and planned to go buy some personal items in the morning. She also had a regular client who needed housecleaning done in the afternoon. It was an elderly couple she had worked for a long time. The husband and wife lived alone, and with limited income could only afford to hire her once a week. In addition to cleaning, she would make steamed buns, dumplings, potstickers and other items for them to eat during the week.

"You know how to make buns, steamed bread, wontons and dumplings? You never offered to make any of that for us here." Mrs. Mao raised her eyebrows critically after hearing Lu Chenchen's explanation.

Lu Chenchen was starting to understand Mrs. Mao's personality. She was difficult to go against - treat her nicely and she could be cultured and elegant, but provoke her displeasure and her caustic remarks were more choking than oil fumes.

What a thing to say!

She had only been working here a few days. After having her cooking critiqued and being put under video surveillance, she had lost the courage to even stand up straight, much less offer to make street food like buns and steamed bread.

She probably couldn't even make a lion's head meatball that would satisfy her.

Lu Chenchen took a deep breath and kept reminding herself: live-in domestic helper positions weren't easy to find! As evidence, Boss Chen was constantly posting ads on social media looking for helpers, with new candidates coming and going while he never seemed to have open positions.

She had to treasure this job.

At worst, Mrs. Mao was just a bit overbearing and unreasonable, but not a bad person. Lu Chenchen would learn from this experience - in the future she would ask for permission ahead of time and seek Mrs. Mao's guidance more often. Mrs. Mao wouldn't make things too difficult for her.

But she couldn't compromise on her day off.

Lu Chenchen explained earnestly that if this were a regular housecleaning client, taking time off wouldn't be a big deal. But the elderly couple was nearly eighty years old, with no children around to help. They weren't prepared for her to miss a week. If she didn't go this time, they would have a very difficult week ahead.

After listening, Mrs. Mao was silent for a few seconds, then looked at her and said, "My husband is coming home tomorrow."

Oh right, after working here for several days she still hadn't met the man of the house, the one in the photo...if they were to meet...

Lu Chenchen came back to the moment and realized Mrs. Mao's words meant she still refused to compromise?

She nearly raised her neck in defiance: What does your husband coming home have anything to do with my day off?

Back in the day, didn't her own mouth used to be just as thin and sharp?

...Now life had just slowly glued it shut, bit by bit.

Lu Chenchen sincerely offered that if needed, she could make lunch before leaving, and it would still count as taking the day off.

"Forget it, just go!" Mrs. Mao said in a half-irritated tone. Before Lu Chenchen could respond, she slammed the door shut.

Fine, rich folks get their way.

Lu Chenchen rubbed her nose and left.

Luckily despite being angry, Mrs. Mao didn't make things difficult for her.

The next morning Mrs. Mao ate her bird's nest soup with a stony face, telling Lu Chenchen they were going out and she didn't need to make lunch.

Lu Chenchen thanked her profusely, aware her flattery skills were lacking and not daring to ask if she should prepare anything for the master's return.

After washing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen, Lu Chenchen had originally planned to go shopping for feminine products, but while idly checking subway routes to the Zhongjia Village station in Hankou, she realized just the subway ride alone would take close to an hour, not including the additional time to ride a shared bike. Given the time, she wouldn't have time to wander around the area.

With a long sigh, Lu Chenchen resigned herself to shouldering her 35 RMB faux leather backpack bought at a streetside stand, and headed to the subway station to grab a shared bike and hurry over.

On the subway, she sent Boss Chen a WeChat message asking if he had found a replacement housecleaner for the elderly couple.

Boss Chen didn't respond, probably had no luck finding someone, which meant she'd likely have to commute over two hours roundtrip again next week enduring Mrs. Mao's dirty looks?

Sighing, Lu Chenchen arrived at her stop and no longer had time to feel dejected. She first went to the market to buy two jin of pork leg, two large onions, a head of cabbage, and a handful of sweet potato noodles to make wontons and dumplings. After making sure she didn't miss anything, she found a shared bike and wove through busy streets to the narrowing alleyways.

Uncle Xu and Granny Xu had worked at a state-owned company before retiring. Their son worked away from home as a sailor and was divorced after years of separation from his wife and daughter.

Lu Chenchen had learned these things chatting occasionally with Granny Xu while working as a live-in maid nearby last year. She also took on weekend housecleaning for Granny Xu's family for over a year, but never once saw their son come home for a visit. His high school aged granddaughter would call ahead before coming over about once a month. She would eat the fruit Granny Xu specifically bought for her while complaining her dad still hadn't sent over child support, her mom still hadn't found a suitable job, and Granny would scold her mom for not being more selective when she got married, resulting in being stuck at home still depending on her elderly parents.

And so Lu Chenchen would see Granny Xu squinting as she gently combed her granddaughter's bangs with weathered hands, encouraging her to study hard but not explaining or defending herself against the complaints, just listening like a tree hollow, handing her granddaughter grapes that she didn't peel quite cleanly.

The granddaughter would generally leave after about half an hour, once her mother called. Granny Xu knew she was about to leave, and would take out a thick envelope along with the leftover fruit to pack for her granddaughter to bring home.

Granny Xu's home was on the sixth floor, with a cluttered balcony facing the apartment building entrance. After her granddaughter left, Uncle Xu who had been silently watching television would slowly get up, and he would stand with Granny Xu on the cramped balcony facing the street, seemingly seeing her granddaughter off as she left with her mother.

The elderly couple would stand silently for a long time before finally exchanging a glance and a faint smile, then leaving the balcony one after the other.

For some reason, this scene always made Lu Chenchen's eyes burn with tears.

While climbing the stairs, she got a call from Boss Chen saying he had just seen her text, and a new housecleaner had already been arranged with Uncle Xu and Granny Xu, but the elderly couple didn't want to switch. After going back and forth, he had forgotten about it until remembering today that Lu Chenchen was going over, so he asked her to communicate the arrangement directly since he had a maid signing an agreement and had to go.

Lu Chenchen cursed him silently for foisting this difficult task on her.

She cleaned and did housework as usual today, cleaned the range hood, and made steamed buns with buckwheat flour and fresh pork filling, and sweet corn mantou. Since it was hot out, the dough rose quickly. Seeing her still working on cleaning, the elderly couple took the initiative to help wrap the buns. The three of them chatted and laughed, and the four hours of work time passed swiftly.

Lu Chenchen stayed an extra hour to do laundry, and went downstairs to buy a 20 jin bag of rice to carry up. Then she slowly shuffled over to Granny Xu.

Before she could speak, Granny Xu asked first, "You're working in Lakeview now?"

Lu Chenchen murmured yes.

"Lakeview," Granny Xu repeated under her breath with a gentle sigh. "So far away."

Lu Chenchen buried her head without responding to her words.

"Oh, right, there's another thing I need to trouble you with," Granny Xu said as she took out her own phone and handed it to her, "My granddaughter called and said her studies are so busy now, and she has extracurricular classes on weekends, so she won't be able to come get the money anymore. She asked me to transfer it to her mom's Alipay account. Us two old folks don't know how to use that high tech stuff, so could you please help me transfer the money to her?"

After a brief pause, Granny Xu continued, "And while you're at it, why don't I go ahead and settle up your wages too. You're a good girl, but now you're working so far away, Boss Chen said it takes four hours just to make the trip back and forth, it's not cost effective and too tiring. Me and my old man thought it over, and...we won't make it difficult for you anymore. When there's a chance in the future, we'll hire you back."

What Granny Xu had struggled to say outright before finally deciding to take the initiative and say herself, left Lu Chenchen with complex emotions. She wanted to politely decline in a performative way, but in the end felt too pretentious even to herself with such affectations.

After helping Granny Xu transfer the money to her former daughter-in-law and collecting her own wages, Lu Chenchen left the extra 100 yuan Granny had insisted on giving her under her teacup as she bid the elderly couple farewell.

Grandpa Xu packed four steamed buns in a stainless steel lunchbox and forced it into Lu Chenchen's hands, saying that she had made them steamed buns so many times, so for this last time, she should treat herself too.

He deliberately shook the lunchbox in front of her and told her that when she could come back and help them again, to remember to return the lunchbox.

With the lunchbox on her back, Lu Chenchen walked downstairs. Suddenly, as if sensing something, she turned and looked up, and sure enough, the elderly couple were seeing her off from their balcony cluttered with odds and ends and hanging laundry. In that shared glance, all three were startled for a moment, then smiled and waved goodbye.