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Vancouver Rental Opportunity of the Week: Become an Unpaid Servant for a North Shore Grandma

It's a tough world out there for property owners in one of Metro Vancouver's most expensive suburbs. Why not give one a break by working seven days a week as a live-in caregiver, for free?

What is it? A "homestay" for a highly educated bilingual slave-person.
Where is it? The North Shore, natural habitat of grannies, property tycoons.
How much are they asking? Your life and free will, seven days a week.

You can't fault Vancouver for feeling a bit of existential malaise this week. We already knew we're living in the most expensive city in the country. Now we find out our combined earnings last year didn't add up to what the city's single family homes raked in just by sitting on valuable dirt. The do-nothing houses actually made $6 billion more.

It's enough to make a broke millennial wonder: what's the point of earning a wage anyway? Why bother going to work when this freakshow real estate market is just going to drown us all in debt and despair some day, probably soon?

Enter one enterprising baby boomer who I guess sees our generation's depressing prospects as a charming business opportunity. This person doesn't have time to care for his own mother, but also doesn't feel up to paying for said care. I think it's reasonably safe to assume this is exactly how one ambitious Craigslist ad came to exist; the post invites a young "unattached" person to become an unpaid live-in babysitter for his aging French-speaking mom. He won't charge you rent for the privilege.

True, Craigslist posters have flirted with indentured servitude before. You can't go two weeks without seeing someone try to wrangle a measurement-specific sex partner with the promise of cheap/free rent. But this one stands out in its creative recasting of the rental/homestay relationship. It says to young people: no sweat if your participation in capitalism isn't panning out, full-on serfdom is always an option.

The ad is bold in its ask for commitment and credentials—there's cooking dinner Monday through Friday and further availability required on weekends. "Ensure all medications are taken... Ensure there are appropriate groceries... Take care of garbage and recycling... cleaning/housekeeping... drive and/or escort to doctor's appointments, hair appointments... arrange social things." Just a couple extra house chores, really. (Like the kind of things a good son or daughter would do for their aging mum, but who's judging.) The post could go further to sell more of its unique perks. Free unlimited access to a sewing machine. Perfect if you can't afford evening plans. A little bit racist OK, etc.

Despite repeated mention that it is not a job offer, the ad then gets specific about certification. For one, you need language skills in both French and English, and applicants should have a nursing degree, social worker diploma, health care assistant certificate, "or equivalent experience or competence."

With all the talk of grandma-related responsibilities, it says surprisingly little about the home itself. There are no images beyond a granny stock photo and passing mention of a balcony, fireplace and nearby beach.

It all makes me wonder how this grandma really feels about this. Might she harbour some resentment for the humans she gave birth to, who are now contracting out her medical assistance on a website that also facilitates casual encounters? (Speaking of, the ad inexplicably mentions visits from a mysterious "weekend companion," but you can bet living with grandma will surely put an end to your own sexual exploits.)

Still, I can't blame young Vancouverites for wanting to get out of the wage-earning rat race, for considering servitude in exchange for not paying rent. This ad is a reminder that no matter how long you stay in school, how many tips you earn, how much data you type into spreadsheets, chances are you'll still be at the mercy of whichever rich asshole owns the dirt under your feet.

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