Elephant in the Room


“Shrinking forests and a law enacted three years ago that prohibits the export of raw timber have saddled Myanmar with an elephant unemployment crisis. Hundreds of elephants have been thrown out of work, and many are not handling it well…. Elephants have been known to display a sense of purpose in their work, experts say, and the loss of a job can be demoralizing.”
The New York Times, January 30, 2016

To: Jeremy Blachman

Re: Yesterday

I know you probably don’t want to hear from me, but I felt I needed to apologize for yesterday’s incident. I’m sure that when I first responded to your advertisement seeking a part-time nanny for your son, you did not expect that I was an elephant. And so when I showed up yesterday for the interview, it is understandable that you were shocked and surprised, and did not let me in. Even though I showed up fifteen minutes early for our appointment.

It was unprofessional for me to react the way I did, and I take full responsibility for the one hundred and twenty-five pounds of dung you may have noticed on your front steps after I left. I regret to say that was my doing, and I feel terrible if you’ve blamed someone else for it. My digestion is naturally upset when I’m nervous or upset — and the situation was all the more upsetting because I’d missed the chance to tell you that I believe I would be an excellent caretaker for your son.

I wanted to more fully explain my qualifications in this note and hope that you will still consider me for the job. I will not apologize for being an elephant. But I now realize should have stated it up front in my initial e-mail rather than blindsiding you. In my enthusiasm over the opportunity, I simply overlooked your likely surprise — a fact that in hindsight seems, well, as plain as the nose on my face!

Indeed, I am confident that being an elephant is a strength for the advertised position, not a liability. My excellent working memory will ensure that I know where your son’s predators are at all times, and the strength and precision-control of my trunk will enable me to grab him at a moment’s notice and remove him from danger. My tremendous sense of smell will also keep me on top of all necessary diaper changes, plus my trunk can quickly and gently spray clean your son’s most sensitive regions. They say toddlers can be cruel to new babysitters, but I have a thick skin. Over an inch thick, in fact.

I lost a previous child care position because of my request for bottled water, which, due to my needed intake of 200 liters per day, grew unsustainable. In consideration of the expense, I will settle for tap or access to a relatively crocodile-free watering hole. I will also bring my own food, but I do need refrigerator and/or shelf space for 500 daily pounds of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. As long as you label your family’s food, I will do my best not to eat it.

I suspect your second floor may not be strong enough to support my weight, so I would ask that you move your son’s crib to the main level. I would also request paid holidays and a few emergency days — my wife will be pregnant for the next 22 months, so I assume something last-minute may come up. I can find a replacement if so. A lot of us are out of work.

Contrary to media portrayals, I am not interested in being paid in peanuts. I do not like peanuts.

I eagerly await hearing from you regarding whether I might be able to come back for another interview. I assure you, I will be the best elephant nanny possible to your son. I can be reached via e(lephant)-mail, or just put a banana on your porch and I will find you. My top-notch sense of smell, remember.

Thank you for your consideration,

Horton D. Babar


Jeremy Blachman is the author of Anonymous Lawyer and the upcoming novel The Curve (written with Cameron Stracher), a satire about the world’s worst law school.