Moral Issue or Everyday Occurence?

April 2, 2009 6:00 am

Jamie and I had a glorious night out last week when our old babysitter was available for the night. This rarely happens since we don’t like to bother our current babysitter (who I’d trust with my kid’s lives but is married with a life of her own) at night since it’s time she could be spending with her husband. We put both kids to bed before we left so the sitter basically got paid to watch TV and keep the couch warm. I went over the “what to do if the kids wake up” instructions and casually turned off my laptop as I was talking to the sitter. I closed the lid and slid it back on the counter out of reach.

We headed to the casino to lose a small fortune and lost it rather quickly. I always manage to lose on the slots but it never stops me from going back. I’m a huge dork that gets pleasure from pushing a button OVER and OVER as my money dwindles away. Yes, I may have a teensy gambling problem but we only go once or twice a year so it’s not too crippling on our bank account. Having kids has actually slowed down our gambling hobby since we used to go to Vegas and Atlantic City on yearly gambling junkets.

The next day, I was putzing around on the laptop when I decided to login to Facebook. I only remember that I actually have a Facebook account about once a month and rarely check it. (Before you ask, I’m sorry but NO, I will not friend you on Facebook since that would mean that my real and blogging worlds would collide and we can’t have that). When I went to login, there was a strange email address in the username field. I was baffled, it wasn’t any of the super secret aliases that Jamie or I use and we’re the only two people who use the laptop. I googled the address and it came up to my babysitter’s Facebook page. She had used my laptop that night while she was watching the kids.

I was pretty livid that she took it upon herself to use my laptop without asking. We’ve never had a conversation about it but I physically powered it down, closed it and slid it across the counter in front of the girl. Isn’t that a sign for “not for you to use”? Plus, she deliberately closed it and put it back in the exact same spot when she was done with it so I wouldn’t know she had even used it.

Jamie is on the other side of this argument. It may be that he doesn’t want to lose a potential babysitter but he thinks that using someone’s laptop is no different than watching their TV. That a computer/laptop is just another standard thing that people use when they visit. To me, having someone use my laptop without permission is like a violation of my trust. My laptop contains confidential information, stored passwords and the like. Plus, my blog is one of my stored homepage tabs so now my sitter is probably reading my secret blog. I actually clear my homepage before my family comes over in case they want to use the laptop. Talk about neurotic. I might feel bad if the sitter reads this post but she shouldn’t have used my computer without asking.

The few people I’ve asked all implied that I should have specifically told her NOT to touch my computer. I don’t understand why she would think she could in the first place so it’s a moot point. So here’s my conundrum: Should I have been pissed off? Should I rehire this girl? She seems like a nice enough girl but the part where she was sneaky about using the laptop doesn’t sit right with me. If she lied about that, who’s to say she didn’t lie about something even more important, like my children’s care? I would have felt more comfortable if she had told me something like “I got bored with the TV so I used the computer for awhile, I hope you don’t mind.” Yes, I probably would have minded but I would have given permission and have been appreciative that she was honest with me. Hopefully this will be water under the bridge the next time we need a date night but it’s been a week already and I’m still not over it. What’s your take on the subject?

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30 Comments

  1. Beth
    on
    1

    First!

    Bottom line: you want your babysitter spending time with the kids and that’s hard to do while spending time on a computer (as we all know). If you like her enough, just tell her how you feel about computer use and how you thought it was right to use after being closed.

    Beths last blog post..The Man Upstairs Plays a Cruel April Fool’s Joke

  2. K
    on
    2

    If you use her again, I would put the laptop totally out of sight. I think a computer is different from a TV.

    (I also do not like my real life world and blog world to touch.)

  3. Peggy
    on
    3

    Hmmmm….that’s a tough one.
    I’d probably be pissed off too but maybe you should have asked her “not” to use your laptop? But then she probably totally would have anyway b/c, ya know, curiousity killed the cat?

    I’d have her back (it’s a BABYSITTER yo!) and hide my laptop! Momma needs her slot machines every once in a while yes? 🙂

    Incidentally, my favorite slot machine is Risque Business…the stripper one…ya ever play that one? My 2nd favorite is Pirates Booty and 3rd…Mr. Cashman…what? I don’t have a slight gambling problem either!?! WHAT?

    Peggys last blog post..Wordless Wednesday

  4. jen
    on
    4

    ooo. sticky situation.
    i have to say, putting the laptop away in front of her was probably indication that you didn’t want her to use it. and her using it and putting it back without saying anything was indication that she knew she SHOULDN’T have used it.
    that said.
    i don’t think you should have to explicitly say DON’T use it. i think if you are allowing someone into your home and you give them the option of watching tv or whatnot … they should also receive permission to USE something. or HAVE something. or DO something. while working for you.
    i think it was more of an error on her part. but i also think that she probably has no idea how detrimental of an error that could have been.
    i don’t think it means don’t hire her again … i would friend her on facebook and maybe she would get the hint. and then next time … i would have the computer completely put away.

    jens last blog post..random thoughts.

  5. WickedStepMom
    on
    5

    Put a password on it. Make sure that your admin account has a password too. If you like, create a guest account for family members. But, honestly, lock that sucker down and rehire her. No offense to non-technical people of the world, but she probably doesn’t even know how to gain access to someone else’s bank account. Casey, you should know, users know only how to do what they have been taught and nothing more.

    I’d be ticked too.. but that is because they would have had to hack into my laptop in order to use it.

    WickedStepMoms last blog post..Stop singing in my FACE!!

  6. Nicole
    on
    6

    Ya, I would have been pissed ESPECIALLY since you shut it down in front of her. However, I would still use her if you think that, other than this episode, she is a good sitter – and it sounds like you do. Obviously, I would tell her the next time around to not touch the computer. Should be common sense but I guess not for some people.

    Nicoles last blog post..Wordful Wednesday: Coming Full Circle

  7. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)
    on
    7

    That is a tough one…I’m really anal about my laptop, too – I even have it password protected so neither Princess Nagger nor my hubby can get onto my laptop and mess things up. Hubby has a propensity of clicking on oddball links and whatnot, so he’s had to reformat his computer more times than I can count… 😉 I stay off his laptop and he stays off mine…and if any guests need to use a computer while they’re here, they use the Princess Nagger’s computer because there’s nothing important to mess up… 😉

    If you feel strongly about it, the next time you talk to her, ask her outright if she was on your laptop – you already know the answer, but it gives her the opportunity to ‘come clean’. If she denies it, then you do have a problem. If she admits it, gently explain that it’s off limits.

    If you don’t want to confront her and make things awkward between you (since right now it’s only awkward from your side because you know) you could password protect your laptop so she can’t log on at all, or you could password protect and create a generic ‘guest’ log on that she could use that doesn’t allow her access to any part of your saved files, documents, etc.

    I read the post to hubby just now – his immediate reaction (probably like Jaimie) is do you know for sure that she was trying to ‘hide’ using your laptop, or was she just putting it back where she found it? Did she ‘cover her tracks’ on anything else, or did she simply put things back where they were? 🙂

    Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)s last blog post..Thousand Words Thursday

  8. Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)
    on
    8

    HAHAHA! I just submitted my comment then saw that WickedStepMom pretty much said the same thing…only much shorter! (grin!!)

    Stacy (the Random Cool Chick)s last blog post..Thousand Words Thursday

  9. cat
    on
    9

    i would never use someone’s computer without asking, it’s an invasion of privacy. period. and it’s not like a tv b/c there is personal information stored on everone’s computer, page history, photos, email, passwords… the only info you can get from a tv is what the person records on their dvr. not the same thing at all.

    cats last blog post..HOLY SHIT GODZILLA!

  10. feener
    on
    10

    my sitter brings her laptop with games for the girls to play…..that is the kind of sitter you want. when the girls are sleeping she does her schoolwork.

    feeners last blog post..Are you as rude as me ?

  11. Sprite's Keeper
    on
    11

    In this case, your computer is like your diary. Do you want someone opening your diary because they needed a piece of paper? Even though you gave her the indication that she was not to use your laptop, she didn’t get it. Next time, let her know the laptop is off limits, or tell her the main computer (if you have it) is free for her to log on. Definitely password protect (Ooh, I sound like a geek!) and it probably won’t happen again. Oh, and to get her back? Find a way to loop one of the kids’ annoying videos and tell her the tv is broken and stuck on that. See how smart she is..

    Sprite’s Keepers last blog post..Does the FCC have blog sanctions?

  12. Jennifer
    on
    12

    I would not be happy that she used my laptop either, but I’m in my mid-thirties and wonder if things might be different with younger people, if they are so used to have 24/7 online availability that using the computer didn’t seem like a big deal to her at all.
    (And maybe she thought she was being polite, rather than sneaky, by putting it back where you had it?)
    Either way, I don’t think it shows such a lack of judgment that I wouldn’t hire her again. Especially since your kids were asleep while she was using it. I would just either password protect it, or not leave it out the next time I hired her. (Babysitters are hard to come by!)

    Jennifers last blog post..TWD #13 Coconut Butter Thins

  13. steenky bee
    on
    13

    From what you’ve said, it sounds like you’re equally as bothered by her using the computer as you are about her being secretive about it. Hmmmm. I think she should have asked permission first. I’m sure you left her your phone number. She should have at least told you about it. I wouldn’t not hire her again, but I’d password protect everything before you go. Then you know what I’d do? I’d hack into her Facebook page and mess her sh*t up.

    steenky bees last blog post..Testosterone in the House!!! (With a Shot of Estrogen)

  14. HeatherPride
    on
    14

    Oh, Casey. You know I love you. But you know you are a bit on the neurotic side. After all, you do tend to obsess over stuff like community dip containers and other people’s cooties. I tend to be pretty open with my stuff and don’t mind sharing and I kind of assume other people are going to be like me. I bet your baby-sitter probably feels the same way. She probably would be so embarrassed if she knew she stepped on your toes inadvertently. I agree with you that she should have called you to ask if it was ok, but I would say that if you do decide to bring it up with her, handle it delicately. Because if I did something like that and someone confronted me about it I would probably cry.

    HeatherPrides last blog post..Fat Girls Club, Week Three: Food on a Budget

  15. Wendy
    on
    15

    It’s done now. Only remember next time to be specific with your instructions. *the TV remote is there, movies are over here, please don’t use the laptop, blah blah*

    Things we don’t realize we should have done. Now we know. Feeling violated doesn’t need to be ignored: preparedness for the future.

    Wendys last blog post..Seattle Spring Day

  16. jenni
    on
    16

    As you well know, I am a fellow neurotic and it would have pissed me off as well, but I would have been okay if she’d just said something. It seems like she was being sneaky and that is what I don’t like.

    jennis last blog post..Decisions

  17. Robin
    on
    17

    Is she a teenager? I am guessing it didn’t even occur to her not to use it. Just because she’s young and everything. And she may have just put it back in its place, not to be devious but to be careful with your things.
    I agree that you should tell her next time that you’re not comfortable with her using the home computer and stash it away someplace. That’s totally fair since your personal information is on it.

    Robins last blog post..Wordful Wednesday

  18. ck
    on
    18

    Was she being sneaky? Or was she just being responsible and putting it back the way she found it?

    I think I’d hire her back.

    But first I’d add a password to my laptop and hide it one of my drawers under the clothes.

    (I can’t help it. I err on the side of passive-aggressive…)

    cks last blog post..about your nanny

  19. Pseudo
    on
    19

    Teens these days think nothing of hopping on anyone’s computer. I’m with you, would not want her there. But I think you need to tell her if you ask her again to bring her own laptop.

    Pseudos last blog post..Red Wagon Philosophies: Part Three (AKA The Final Chapter, I Think…)

  20. Michelle
    on
    20

    Um… no. I would not hire her again. I would also password protect my laptop to avoid any problems with future sitters.
    I did have a sitter who came with her own laptop (since Peanut was already asleep) and we gave her access to our network so that she could login and go online, but she didn’t have access to any of our stuff.
    I would also feel uncomfortable if I found out a babysitter had been in my room, using the phone or something. There are some things that are just private that you should ask about before you use. Your laptop is one of those things.

    Michelles last blog post..TABAY: More Real By The Week

  21. Cape Cod Gal
    on
    21

    I feel that personal comptuers and especially laptops are off limits unless you get permission first. Computers have lots of personal information on them and it’s a privacy issue. I was mad with my husband for using mine without asking. Nowadays it’s almost like borrowing someone elses underwear. My laptop is password protected and no one, not even my husband knows the code.

    Cape Cod Gals last blog post..No Foolin’ & Owing Debbie

  22. Lin
    on
    22

    I have teen kids and they just don’t get “hints” like shutting it and putting it on the counter. They’re almost comatose to things like that and really wouldn’t get that they shouldn’t go on it. Computers to them are like TV’s to us–they are a natural part of life and they use them all the time, so they don’t get the privacy thing.

    Hire her again, but just ask her not to use the computer, or just put it out of sight. Maybe disconnect the Wifi or something. I think most kids are good if you explain what you want or don’t want. If she does it again, then don’t rehire her.

    Lins last blog post..

  23. anymommy
    on
    23

    I think I have to agree with the others that aren’t sure if she was being sneaky, or just putting things back like she found them. She could have cleared her email/websearches too. We lean more towards the computers are like TV side with our sitter.

    I’d probably give her the benefit of the doubt this time and put it away completely, or mention that no one is permitted to use it, if you decide to have her come again.

    Then again, I’m desperate for good sitters 😉

    anymommys last blog post..Cribbage

  24. Keely
    on
    24

    Desktop = sure.

    Laptop = no, sorry. Especially if you saw me power it down and close it.

    Mostly, ASK FIRST.

    Keelys last blog post..Zombie Roundup

  25. Becky
    on
    25

    I definitely get your discomfort. A computer is not like the TV. And she should have asked. I’m seconding the suggestion to add a password, and I’d hire her back and next time say something like, “I’d rather you didn’t use my computer–it’s got a lot of work stuff on there (or something.”

    Beckys last blog post..Which Shoes? Help, Quickly!

  26. Zip n Tizzy
    on
    26

    I can see both sides of this… I would completely feel the same as you because I don’t want anyone using my computer while I’m out, but I agree with everyone who said it was a generational thing. Computers, cell phones etc. are such a part of young peoples lives I think they really have replaced t.v. for most of them, and they’ve grown up with them being everywhere in the public domain.
    I’m with Jamie and the other husband that it didn’t occur to her that it would be a problem, probably just thought you were putting it where it belonged, and was thoughtful enough to put it where she thought you wanted it to be after using it.
    Like everyone else, I’d say password protect, or keep it out of sight, and if you feel comfortable doing so, casually tell her it’s off limits. If that’s too awkward hide it well. My guess is she was oblivious to the fact that it would make you uncomfortable.

  27. cyndi
    on
    27

    It’s all been said, I just want to hear how it goes – I personally wouldn’t go to passwording efforts if that’s not how you roll 😉 Thanx for posting; it was interesting to read everyone’s opinions/experiences…relic that I am!

    cyndis last blog post..Workin’ on a love letter

  28. cara
    on
    28

    I don’t have anything relavent to add. It’s all been said. I’m just curious as to what you’ve decided to do.

    caras last blog post..Newsey news

  29. BeautifulWreck
    on
    29

    I would hire her back.

    You did not tell her not to use your laptop. Yes, she used it without asking, but like your husband I don’t think her use of the computer is that much different than watching the TV.

    This is also where the responsibility falls on you. You need to be clear on your instructions. If you do not want someone on your laptop, then say so, and to safeguard others from using it you should password protect it from someone gaining access to it should they be tempted to turn it on and use it.

    Our laptops and desktops have different users and are assigned different passwords. When we have sitters or family, they are allowed to use a particular user and given that password when accessing the computer. This keeps them from reading or searching for my personal stuff without me coming across as rude and stingy.

    And also, like someone else mentioned. Maybe she put the computer back where she found it etc. because she felt that was the right thing to do, not an attempt to be sneaky and deceptive. I think you should take this as a lesson learned and give the girl the benefit of the doubt.

    BeautifulWrecks last blog post..25 Things My Readers Probably Do Not Know About Me

  30. Katie
    on
    30

    It’s not the laptop using that gets to me, it’s the fact that she closed it down and put it exactly in the same spot, could be kind of sneaky? Or maybe she was just trying to be respectful and keep the laptop the way you had it? I don’t know.

    Either way, if you like her, I would assume that she was bored, so she used your laptop, and then put it back the way you had it so as to be nice.

    Katies last blog post..No more King Arthur books for Connor

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