At the time when the Iranian Revolution begins, Firoozeh is an adolescent. She’s old enough to understand that her family is going through money troubles, and she’s worried that she won’t be able to pay for college, so she decides to find babysitting jobs. After several low-paying stints, Firoozeh interviews to babysit for a wealthy French family. The family offers her five dollars an hour, and she’s thrilled.
Firoozeh needs to work hard to pay her way through college, since her father has lost a lot of money after being fired from his job. (At the time, it would seem, five dollars an hour was a great wage for a teenager.)
Firoozeh begins babysitting for the French family, but quickly discovers why they pay her so well—their eight-year-old child refuses to eat or sleep. After one night of trying to get the child to eat, Firoozeh decides that the babysitting gig is more trouble than it’s worth. Later, she takes housesitting jobs, which just require her to water plants. Once, she enters her clients family’s house and hears music playing—sure that there’s a burglar inside, she runs out and doesn’t water the houseplants for the rest of the family’s vacation. Later, she learns that she heard a clock radio, not a burglar.
Firoozeh tries to earn money as a housesitter and a babysitter, but she runs into various problems. While these problems undoubtedly caused her a lot of frustration at the time, in retrospect she depicts them humorously.
Later on, Firoozeh takes another housesitting job, taking care of a family’s cats. She follows directions perfectly, but notices that the cats won’t stop meowing. When the family returns, the mother is furious: Firoozeh was supposed to leave the patio door open, and as a result the cats haven’t gotten any exercise for a week. Her next gig involves scrubbing the silverware in a wealthy family’s house. She finishes her duties very quickly, and as a result she’s only paid eight dollars.
Firoozeh continues to run into trouble while housesitting for other families. Sometimes, her problems stem from her inability to do what’s expected of her (even though the family seems not to have told her about opening the patio door), and sometimes they stem from her doing her job too well, and too quickly.
Firoozeh works at a movie theater, selling food. She found the job disgusting—especially the sight of people eating hot dogs and ordering Tab, a popular diet soda of the era. Kazem is sorry that Firoozeh has to work so hard, and feels bad that he can’t give her more college money. Around this time, Firoozeh begins writing more. She writes many scholarships essays about “my life and my dreams and my goals.” She concludes, “And the funds just flowed in.”
This is one of the few passages in which Firoozeh makes fun of American crassness, perfectly represented by the disgusting foods many Americans eat. However, Firoozeh also becomes a good writer as a result of her need for scholarship money—therefore, the silver lining of her family’s financial hardships was that they helped her develop her entertaining, humorous voice.