The Sarfati’s

My biggest teaching horror story comes courtesy of this awful, crazy woman I worked for named Lynda Sarfati. A total fucking nightmare.

Let me preface this by saying I hate the 16th. I find it to be a terribly crass area, and pretty much refuse to work for people there because they’re usually cheap, and if they had any real money, they would live in the 7th or 8th. They exploit Filipinos for slave labor, and it’s unlike the rest of Paris. I had never seen the French Filipino modern slave labor trade before I came to the 16th. These women live two or more in a chambre de bon, and have like 3 jobs where they are paid pennies to work from 6am to 11pm. It’s an area rife with human rights violations that I had never experienced in any other part of Paris . 

And the problem with fake rich people is that they are usually the worst to work for. They always ask for more than they can afford. They make ridiculous demands. They’re cheap. I had been working for families who were actually rich. People living in hotel particulars in the 7th, and now I had to slum it because it was March, all the jobs were taken, and I had spent the last few months being blissfully wealthy enough to not have to work, so I didn’t. 

When I met this lady she seemed nice. She told a lot of lies about how she was brought up in America, and her family had a very “American” mindset, blah, blah, blah. It was a load of rubbish.

I accepted the job because it was 27 hours a week, which was just enough, while not being a lot. At first I was tasked with shadowing their departing nanny. When I met the soon to be ex-nanny she made a lot of ominous warnings about the family. She never outright said what was wrong, but alluded to it a lot. “Lynda is weird”, “be careful about your pay, she tries to cheat you”, “make sure you ALWAYS leave at 7p, she will try to take advantage of you”, etc, etc. She seemed to be happy about leaving the job. In fact she wasn’t even leaving Paris, she just lied so she could get out of the job (would have been nice to know).  

Only later did I realize why. 

There is this myth that French people are perfect, and their parenting is excellent. I’m sure you can find the many books about doing things the “French” way. Well working for this family dispelled all of that. 

When I say this environment was toxic, it’s an understatement. Imagine working in a place where the mother is yelling 24/7 and hits her children daily. I have video of it that’s how freaked out I was by it. I was afraid something would happen, and I’d have to explain something so one day when things were out of control I recorded it for my own sake. 

In fact one day the oddest thing happened. She started yelling my name from her bedroom. I went in and she had her son pinned down on the floor. They were wrestling each other. He had been crying, and he was like a wild animal, grunting, and unable to do anything but fight his way away from her. She kept telling me to hold him down. I was freaked out. Why would I put my hands on this child? They were really going at each other. I wanted no part of it. Turns out she had been trying to force him to put astringent on his face, and he refused so she tried to fight him?

Maybe I was naive. I had worked for a wonderful woman, who never raised her voice, who was aware of psychology, and how to raise your children in a very specific, non-damaging way. When I got to this job I was horrified. The daily screaming matches were like nothing I had experienced before. 

Her “disabled, autistic son” as she tells anyone who will listen, is so prone to her physical outbursts that I remember once having a conversation with them. She raised her hand for some reason, we were just having a normal conversation, no yelling, and he put his arms over his face as natural instinct. Do you know how many times someone has to go through physical abuse to instinctually defend themselves like that? I once saw her daughter do it too. 

Everyday I got a headache from the screaming. I’m pretty sure I have some form of PTSD. I used to cover my ears and try to get away from it by going to rooms as far away as possible because it was so grating. Truly a toxic environment. I won’t even get into the Munchausen syndrome by proxy with which she raises her kids under. 

And the pay thing. My god. The last nanny wasn’t kidding. This lady paid me weekly. It was 351€ a week. And at least once a month she somehow “forgot” how much she paid me.  She’d short my pay, she’d argue about it, once she even tried to convince me that I wasn’t paid what I was actually paid. Mind you I had been working for her for 6 months at this point. 

She tried to tell me she never paid more than 12€ (a lie). The nanny before was paid more. The nanny before that was paid 15€ after she threatened to leave them for another family who was offering more money.

But according to Lynda they paid this nanny out of the kindness of her heart because her boyfriend was physically abusing her and threatening her with guns. Seriously she told everyone this poor girl’s story. I got tired of hearing it. It wasn’t her story to brag about. I had actually taken a pay cut to work for this cheap ass family.

Probably the funniest thing I learned while working there was this lie she told me when I was hired. Once a month she would bring it up. She said the nanny they had before was with them for two years and they were so close her children were in the nanny’s wedding, but she left to join her “rapper” boyfriend on tour. Come to find out by the children that they have actually had 18 nannies in 10 years. And this nanny that was so close and so loved them? She did not leave them to join her boyfriend “on tour”, she left for a family that was willing to pay her more money. 

When you work in any country that has a basic standard of living you are entitled to a lunch break. In Paris every family I have worked for has either provided me with a cooked meal, or provided me with food to eat. Even as a tutor. Even if I’m just working one or two hours during a mealtime. Worst case scenario they provided me with an extra stipend to cover my lunch cost if I had to bring my own. It’s just normal practice. 

This lady actually made it a point once when I didn’t have a lunch with me one day. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to touch anything, and could have sworn it had been offered. I’m not rude and don’t just help myself. On this day I ate some leftovers from the children’s lunch. I was reprimanded and told that under no circumstances was I ever to touch any of their food. I had to bring my own food, and if it wasn’t kosher, I couldn’t have it in their house. I used to tell people this story and they are always blown away that someone could be so stingy. But I mean I guess when you force your kids to eat leftovers until there’s nothing left (even food that was cooked more than 3 days before), your cheap ass will do anything to save a penny. I’m American, we throw our left over food in the trash so we’re not that grubby. 

Once she threw a fit because I unknowingly used her “kosher forks” on Chinese food (chicken). I respect the faith of the Jewish families I work for. I would never intentionally go against their religion. I was never told there were special dishes, and if you’re going to blow up on someone, have the decency to let it be known beforehand. I don’t read minds.

This lady was just a cheap, greedy bitch who had no place hiring people she couldn’t afford, and her presumed eating disorder caused her to physically recoil in the presence of anyone eating actual food (for real she only ate bags of chips and chocolate bars. Weird af). She would give me the most evil, disgusted looks if she ever saw me eat. I have worked for a lot of families (like 50) so I think I can say that is not French custom. Generosity was not in her lexicon. Which is how I knew she never spent any time in America, much less “West Virginia” or wherever she claimed to spend her childhoods. 

Apparently her husband is some guy named Arnaud Sarfati who is the CEO of a company called La Française. Judging by their tiny, itty bitty badly placed apartment, and their inability to pay people, much less pay to feed their own children, I’m guessing the company is not doing well. 

Once the housekeeper couldn’t afford to buy the children food because Lynda refused to give her more than 80€ a week to shop with. She then complained because the housekeeper could only feed them slices of white bread and she couldn’t understand why there wasn’t more child friendly snacks in the house. You won’t pay to feed your own kids but then want to get mad at someone because you refuse to pay the cost to feed your kids? 

The previous nanny had tried to warn me that working for her was a nightmare. But clearly her vague illusions did not prepare me. I couldn’t understand it until I was in it. 

This lady couldn’t remember anything. She was always sleeping (even the children were like “my mommy sleeps a lot”). She would constantly blame you for her own mistakes. And trying to deal with her was like drawing blood from a stone. Mostly she just sat in her “office” for hours at a time, doing who the fuck knows because she didn’t have a job. She just kind of bumbled around the house with her greasy, brassy, terrible dye job hair and days old mascara stained eyes, yelling at her kids (but alternating between being Mommy Dearest), and not actually raising a finger to do ANYTHING. Literally nothing. She ordered the housekeeper, a poor, underpaid Filipino woman, to do everything. It was bizarre. I don’t know how anyone goes through life never doing a single thing for themselves.

If her children couldn’t be picked up from school, instead of driving her car the 5 minutes to get them, she’d waste an hour calling the after school pickup and making him come up with Uber alternatives. I remember once I was over an hour late to get her children because she made me wait while she contacted the driver who was out of town in Asia because his grandfather had died. He had to deal with her calls and order an Uber for me. When that Uber didn’t show, he had to try again. All of this time wasted, and his grieving interrupted, because she couldn’t take the elevator down to the garage, and get in her car. I guess because the Sarkozy’s ordered G7 everyday she felt she had to show up everyone else at the school. Who knows. 

The worst part was when she finally fired me. At that point I had been avoiding her like the plague. I liked the children, I liked the housekeeper, we all had fun together when she wasn’t around, the enivrement was actually really pleasant, but anytime she was in the same room I would find somewhere else to be. I couldn’t stand her.

Long story short, it was two days before Christmas vacation was about to start. She told me Thursday would be my last day because Friday her children had after school plans. She made some excuse about how her whole family would be moving into one bedroom while construction started on their home, and there was no need to have so many people in such a small space. Come to find out minutes later that she had posted an ad on GreatAupair about her “positive American mindset” family looking for a new nanny. 

When I confronted her she tried to tell me she was letting me go because I wouldn’t stay past 7pm. I reminded her she doesn’t pay me extra to work past my hours, but she said “none of the other nanny’s complained”. She also tried to tell me she didn’t owe me any notice. 

Come to find out that actually she owes me a month of pay for dismissing me without proper notice. I had to start a lawsuit against her. Go to the Saisir Prud’Hommes if this ever happens to you. I didn’t have a contract. I was paid in cash. I never received payslips. She didn’t pay any taxes (impôts). But they can still help. 

Despite this lady doing everything illegal under the sun, I now have to take her to court because she has ignored my lawyer. When I sent her a mise en demure she really tried to come back at me with the most heinous lies, accusing me of showing her daughters porn and threatening violence to her son. I had to go to the police and ask for a dépôt en plainte for thé defamatory claims she was making, All because she didn’t want to be held accountable for her illegal activities. When I say this bitch is crazy, she’s certifiably insane. The therapist she visits is clearly not doing their job. The fight continues.

If you’re an American (or Anglo but she mostly targets Americans), and run across some batshit crazy named Lynda Sarfati, who’s address is listed in the 16th, run the other way. She posts on GreatAupair (who refused to take her ad down), Craigslist, and Facebook. 

Teaching English to children really is a toss up. You might get a great family, and you might have the best experience. I had a great family for over 3 years who I miss everyday. They were the nicest people, they were extremely generous, and I loved their children. They valued me and my role as a teacher. There was effective and clear communication, trust, but most of all I got on with them extremely well. I felt like a member of their family and going to work everyday was a joy. I wish they could have given me more than 15 hours of work a week because I would have stayed with them for years. 

But most of these people are just looking for cheap labor. People who are not willing to pay your worth are usually the worst to work for. What does it say about parents who cheap out on the care of their children? Case in point. 

Pursuant to the the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution this blog reflects the author’s opinions and recollections of experiences. Opinions aren’t stated as fact. No falsities have been included. No statements wherein were made with actual malice, negligently, or with reckless disregard. Statements made wherein can be substantiated in absolute defense if asked to do so in a court of law.