Travelling Friend, Almost

by Danny Zawacki

A few weeks back, I was excited for Lyuda. She messaged me to let me know that a family living in Chicago had contacted her about an au pair job.

For those of you who don’t know, an au pair is typically a young woman who lives in a home and raises the children. For some reason, my mind considers this something different from a nanny. Oftentimes, it seems, they’re from different countries.

Lyuda had three years of being exposed to Americans in full force because we made her our friend. I’m guessing at least half the time we did things that made no sense to her, based on the culture she grew up in just like her culture didn’t make sense to us half the time. She put up with us because that’s what friends do, and we were relentless in wanting to be friends.

Lyuda also had never been far from home. To us Americans, this seemed a bit unusual considering we all were living 5000 miles from home. We all wanted her to come see the world with us. We all extended personal invitations for her to come visit us.

So when I heard that she had a chance to come visit for an extended period and at very little cost to her, I was ecstatic. I was even happier to hear that she’d be a short drive away from me in Wisconsin, even closer if I moved to the Chicago area as I’ve hoped to do. I dreamed of showing her pizza. Of driving her around and showing her the countryside. I dreamed of driving her around to show her the relatively smooth roads. I dreamed that she’d finally start to understand the 50% of the things I’m guessing she never figured out, but rolled with regardless.

But then those dreams were shattered. It was a scam. The profile on the online au pair site had been taken down because it was flagged. Lyuda wasn’t coming to Chicago and it made me sad inside.

I was sad because I wouldn’t get to see my friend in the way I had imagined (though she still promises she’ll take us up on our invitations some day). However, I was more sad that there are people on the internet who are trying to scam people who just want to see the world. People who want to get away from home for a bit, maybe forever. They want to scam people before they can have a chance to live elsewhere and realize that home is where they were meant to be.

Why, Internet, must you be so horrible at times. I’ve seen your good side but why must you show your bad side? Your bad side reminds me of worse things, like human trafficking and I know you’re above that. I know you can be better. But you aren’t. You insist on being good, bad, and ugly. And you’re the reason my friend has to think twice before accepting an offer to see her friends.