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Marisa Mackle: Job offer sparks major confusion

I am looking for Miss Right. And it's not easy. Like most working mothers, I'm fairly obsessed with childcare.

Currently the search is on for our third au-pair. Gary is two and we've had two great live-in minders already. I was hoping to strike third time lucky but I have to say it seems a bit trickier this time around. There is no shortage of applications for the job, of course. If anything, I am worn out reading through all the CVs. But I am amazed at the amount of candidates who don't read ads properly. I quite clearly stress that I am looking for a female. So why do I get so many applications from males?

One man rang the other day. I sighed when I heard his voice. After all, it was the third man to phone in the space of a few hours. It didn't help that it was Valentine's Day either.

"I'm phoning about the ad," he said.

"I see," I answered. I was about to tell him that I was only looking for females when he abruptly asked, "What age are you?"

Well, I thought, that was a bit cheeky of him. What business was it of his anyway?

I paused, not knowing what to say.

"Are you still there?" he continued. "Where are you from? When can you move in? Do you like children?"

"Listen here," I said firmly. "I'm from Dublin and I love children but I'm not looking to move in with anybody. I've my own house and I'm looking for somebody to mind my son."

"Oh. I see. So you don't want to move in then?"

"No thanks. I don't think you read my ad properly."

"You mean, you're looking for an au-pair too? Okay, sorry about that."

"No worries. Good luck with your search."

I've held a few interviews. One girl came armed with a list of questions. What was the time off? How much was the pay? Did she have wireless broadband in her room? She didn't even ask my son's name. Clearly, she had no interest in children whatsoever.

Finally a friendly Irish voice answered my ad. The girl was well-spoken and I was very impressed with her childcare experience. I offered her the job and she arrived two days later at my door with her suitcase. I showed her to her room and then asked her if she'd like a cup of tea. She said she couldn't as she had to go out.

"Go out where?" I asked, astonished.

"I have an interview," she said. "I have job interviews in Dublin all week so I thought I'd stay here and then I'll let you know at the end of the week which job I decide to take."

I wondered if she was joking, but her face was deadly serious. I couldn't remember anything in my ad about running a free hotel. I told her that it wasn't possible for her to stay with me unless she was working.

"Oh. Well, there must have been a misunderstanding," she said, looking baffled.

A misunderstanding? Ah come on!