DEAR ABBY: Please print this as a warning to other teenagers.
A couple from church asked me to baby-sit their three kids from 7:30 until 11 p.m. last weekend. My problems began when they didn't pick me up until 9.
When they didn't return at the time they had promised, I began to worry. When they finally showed up at 1 a.m., they dropped a measly $6 in my hand. Then the husband drove me home. He reeked of booze and swerved all over the road. It was the most terrifying ride of my life. I was shaking all over by the time we arrived.
The next day my dad called the police and told them the man had driven me home drunk. They said that if he had called the previous night, they'd have gone over and taken a Breathalyzer test, but they could do nothing after the fact.
My mom then called the woman, who swore her husband hadn't been drunk. When Mom asked her for my going rate ($3 an hour, plus double time after midnight, which would have been $15 or $19.50, if you count the time I was booked for), the woman hung up on her.
Some important lessons I learned that night:
1. Agree on the wage beforehand.
2. If the driver appears drunk (or stoned), call your parent, a friend or a taxi even if it costs you your wages to get home. NEVER get into a car with someone you think is impaired just to be polite.
3. Don't automatically trust someone because you go to the same church. Always get references and baby-sit only for people you know well. -- WISER NOW IN CANADA
DEAR WISER NOW: That's excellent advice, and I hope my younger readers will take it to heart. Watching children is a heavy responsibility that requires maturity and judgment. It should be planned so that it's fun, fair and safe for everyone concerned.