Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Cost of Living, Part III

strangely enough, life has led me in a slow, ponderous, eeyore-like circle until i am once again cashiering in a convenience store for slightly more than minimum wage.

(i rate slightly more than minimum wage because i've A) worked for this particular company before, and B) i've been working with cash registers and customers since before the register was automatic and before the scanner was commonplace. I am Officially OLD!)

some people consider this move undignified; after all, i have a college degree (BA - English) and approximately 12 years of cumulative office experience, i should therefore be sending out dozens of resumes and filling out tons of applications and fighting off the muddled hordes to capture that one job, that shining position that will ask me to do much and pay me less than i deserve as compensation, while simultaneously eating up my days and weekends until i only see my children for a couple of hours a day and my husband for even less... without health care... without vacation time... without sick days... because we all know that these are the things that have disappeared from the workplace, along with amy and jennifer from the secretarial pool and leon who used to do such a nice job of keeping the bathrooms clean...

went and got sarcastic on myself again. the fact of the matter is, i'm not so much of a snob that i would turn down a job just because it didn't meet my (or someone else's) lofty sense of desirability - at this point, money is money is money, and i need more but at least i've got some, and that's more than some people right now. we all know people and have heard of people who have spent 20 years with a company and no longer have that office job, the paid vacation, the sick days, the christmas bonuses, and the retirement package that got embezzled or eaten up by being laid off for two years (don't forget the cashout penalties), and who dream of having the same thing again and have literally sent out thousands of resumes and gone on dozens upon dozens of interviews, and who have to show for it a dwindling unemployment payment, houses in foreclosure, unpaid bills, and a horrifying weight of impending disaster crushing them down into oblivion. but do they go to the corner store and fill out an application?

no. they're office people. it's how they identify themselves. it is also, most likely because they didn't spend 20 years running various forms of cash registers and diddling around with things like stocking merchandise and talking to any and everybody who walked through the door about every subject under the sun. even when i wasn't working a register, i was talking to any and everybody; some skills should not be abandoned, and this is a world where no one talks to eachother. i can make a fencepost look positively intelligent. i know how to make the walls seem bright - and i can talk the paint off them, too. so i'm not stuck. i'm not shy. and i'm certainly not proud. stocking condoms in the medical aisle definitely removes any sense of aboveness, that's for darn sure.

so, here i am at $8.00/hour for about 38 hours a week. which started at 30 hours a week and has fluctuated slightly for the last couple months and may continue to do so. but at the present, by the time we get through all the maths and numbers, the after-tax number for the monthly average is somewhere around $1216.00, less necessities ($750.00/month rent; approx $200.00/month phone, internet, gas, electricity; approx $220.00/month non-grocery necessities (think: diapers, laundry)); leaving $46.00 per month, average, to cover whatever it is i know i'm forgetting but can't think of at the moment, plus shoes, school clothes, winter clothes, occasional treats, occasional bus fare (thank the gods i no longer need any form of transportation!), occasional library fines (from not having the occasional bus fare at just the right moment) and $4.00/week for lottery tickets (dreaming is a necessity), plus the money the bank likes to nibble out of my accounts just because they exist: free checking, my foot.

if you don't like my numbers, then YOU do the math.