Saturday, March 27, 2010

Accidentally Becoming Employed

by Chris McGinty

So Wednesday night I was sitting around actively not employed. Since quitting my job in December 2009 I had not so much as put in an application. I was uninterested in doing anything that wasn’t self employed. My dad was subsidizing my living with a $200 a week allowance, and for those of you who think that’s a lot, I was paying my bills with that too. Then my phone rang. It was my boss from my last security guard job. He not only saw the public access show, but needed guards bad enough to realize that I was a good worker and the whole issue with me having a goatee (not his issue by the way) was just silly.

He asked me to come back to work. And I said yes. Oops.

At various points I would think that maybe a part time pizza delivery job would be nice just to have time to listen to audio books. Or that a guard job might be nice if I could be promised a post where I didn’t deal with people excessively, and had some time on the clock to sit up all night doing whatever it is that I sit up all night doing anyway. While I did think that a little extra money might be nice, it was my lowest priority in these thoughts. Over the years I’ve been training myself to live on less and less money. While it doesn’t have me on the road to a lavish retirement, it has given me a freedom that I don’t think many people will ever understand.

Now that I will have a paycheck coming in, because I did accept the post my old boss was offering, I still plan to simply live off $200 a week (including my bills.) I figure that if I was planning on doing that for the whole year anyway, I still can, right? I can save the rest and put it toward something worthwhile later.

And as far as that lavish retirement; it won’t really matter if I keep slamming my truck into 18-wheelers. Yeah, I’m going to have to hold out part of my $200 a week to pay for the $500 deductible to get my truck fixed. If I was at all superstitious I would have taken it as a sign that taking the job was a bad idea, cos I wouldn’t have been on the road avoiding being hit by another car, and tearing out my headlight with the back end of an 18-wheeler if I wasn’t going to my guard job.

I have a different view of jobs than most folks. I think it started years ago when I was married the first time. Having just moved down from Tulsa, Oklahoma, I had no job. My father-in-law was unemployed as well, and complaining about how hard it was to find a job. Meanwhile, I set out one day with a list of jobs from the newspaper and a list of temporary agencies, and was working by the end of the week. I told him how easy it was for me, and he said that he couldn’t live off of what temp services paid. Maybe being only 19 years old I was delusional, but I asked him if it wasn’t better to have $275 coming in rather than nothing (keeping in mind that this was 1992, so that wasn’t so bad compared to minimum wage, which at 40 hours was $170 a week.) For some reason this was wrong, and he explained to me that, “I ain’t working at no Burger King.” I told Adam about this later, and told him that I was perplexed, because I wasn’t suggesting that he work at Burger King. Azle, Texas at the time didn’t have a Burger King that I knew of, so I was suggesting that he work at McDonald’s. Ok, I’ll be serious.

What I was suggesting was getting a slightly higher paying temp job while he was looking. I know that for my part that the $275 a week got my family out of the in-law’s house and into our own apartment. Once we were in the apartment, I got my first pizza delivery job. Yep. You heard me. While the rest of the world was having trouble finding jobs, I had two. And it’s been like that for me my whole life.

If there is a flaw in what I’m saying it’s that I’ve never had a job that pays me well beyond my need, but that’s only because I’ve never really tried. I’ve never used my days off, from my other jobs to pound the pavement looking for a high paying gig. I’ve also never been unemployed longer than a week unless it was by choice.

This is, in fact, the second time that I’ve been sitting around trying not to be employed, only to have a previous employer call me up and say, “I’m hurting for people, will you come to work.”

I was listening to all the reports of unemployment, and I was watching more and more people apply for pizza delivery jobs and get turned away because our schedule was filled. When I quit the guard job I realized that I had been taking up two job slots when there were people needing work. I also realized that if our society wasn’t so dependant on two incomes that it wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but that’s a rant for another time. Then when I quit the delivery job I realized that I wouldn’t be stimulating the economy, but I was no longer taking up jobs that other people needed more than me.

Except that that they didn’t, did they? Except that I wasn’t, was I? If I have an employer calling me pleading with me to “start tomorrow” and there is still an unemployment rate, then there are a lot of folks out there that “ain’t working at no Burger King” and still complaining that there are no jobs.

I’m not going to feel guilty because in this economy I was handed a job when others “can’t find” jobs, cos I bet you that if I wanted to be flippant about it I could leave out Monday morning and get hired at a minimum of five jobs by the end of the week. They might not be great jobs, probably fast food, which I’ve never worked if you don’t count pizza, but the point is there is work out there.

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