Gibson-Nannies

Esteban describes the relationship between park staff

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Unformatted text preview: etween park staff and nannies in the following way, “They’re people we see every day in the park; we’re like a family.” Although Esteban made the comment metaphorically, for Alicia and Sebastián the description is literal. Alicia is Sebastián’s mother. Esteban encouraged Alicia’s son to apply at the park when a position became available. Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 287 The familiarity and friendly banter between park staff and nannies creates a light mood at the park and contributes to nannies’ sense that the park is their domain. For example, Esteban and nannies frequently joke with one another: Several nannies and I are walking through the park. Esteban comes out of the park maintenance area and says hello. As he walks towards us, Gaby says loudly, “Hail to the King of the Park, the boss of bosses!” Everyone laughs. Occasionally park employees join nannies in the weekly potluck. When Richard (a park employee) retired, Esteban scheduled Richard’s retirement party on a Wednesday and relied on Alicia to cook the meat for the festivities. In addition, around Father ’s Day I arrived at the park to a table full of Chinese take-out food. After Alicia instructed me to sit down, Esteban told me they were celebrating Father’s Day. Alma chimed in, “We’re celebrating Father ’s Day and the fact that Esteban didn’t leave the park.” (Alma was making reference to another job offer Esteban had gotten from the city but turned down). On Mother ’s Day, the gardeners reciprocated and grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the nannies and the children. A shared community life at the park is also visible when park employees overlook the minor rule infractions nannies or the children in their care commit. For example, although there are signs posted everywhere that children are not allowed to wade in the stream at the park, the park employees never say a word and often watch in amusement as children frolic in the water. Another day, Esteban cut a large white flower from the park grounds for Rosa after she asked for it. He told her to hide the flower because he did not want everyone thinking they could pull flowers from the flowerbeds. Nannies also rely on park employees for small favors that ordinary park patrons do not enjoy. For example, when Noah’s stroller broke, Catalina enlisted Danny, a young park gardener to repair it. Danny went to the park tool shed, found an appropriate sized screw, and fixed the stroller while simultaneously entertaining Noah by explaining what he was doing. In addition, park employees help nannies by warming food in their kitchen facilities. The community between park staff and nannies emerges because both groups are composed of Spanish-speaking Latinos that are “outsiders” in the affluent Los Angeles neighborhood in which they work. However, Latino status does not automatically confer membership into community life at the park. For example, nannies and park employees do not interact with Latino ga...
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