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Hanging on by a thread

What a friggin’ week. I just got home from my cleaning stint. The owner was there, wrapping up a phone call, when I came in after 5 pm. Before he left, he mentioned that the manager “salvaged my job.”  Apparently, they are merging offices/services with the company next door, and when the subject of housekeeping came up, the manager said they were happy with the cleaning service they’d recently hired (i.e. me), so the other company said that was perfectly fine and agreed to keep me on. But I guess that means the woman who cleans their offices will be out of a job (doesn’t exactly sound like they fought for her though). Although, I’m sure that the fact I only charge $40 per cleaning may have been a consideration as well.

I took the opportunity to tell him that I would still love to come back and do office work if they needed it (thru the temp agency), or even just a few hours here or there on a weekend or nights as a contractor if something came up. He said I’m at the top of his list (along with my fellow former temp co-worker Carla, whom I adore) and will definitely keep me in mind should another big project fall on their plate.

Although it’s not fun to go from office job straight to a cleaning gig on a Friday night, I find that once I get there I rather enjoy it. I especially love seeing the sunset through the kitchen window as I noodle around.  When I’m finished, I have an immense sense of satisfaction. I’m still rather proud of myself for “creating” this job.

In other part time job news, I was asked to skip coming in Thursday and Friday at the non-profit, but I’m going in tomorrow after 12:30. I have no idea how long I’ll be there, but I’m hoping for at least 4 hours of work (which would push my total to 10, which after taxes, should net me around $100).  Prior to that, I have plans to head to the recycling center to drop off aluminum and steel cans, plus various pieces of scrap metal I’ve collected over the last couple months. I’m hoping to get at least $5, which I know doesn’t sound like much, but considering I have only $5 in my bank account at the moment, it will be a big help.

My gas tank is hovering on empty and I used up most of my spare change ($3.13) to buy a small bag of dog food for Buddy on the way home tonight. I knew I was getting low, but thought I had about a cup left for him for today. I poured out the contents of the last bag which amounted to about 4 kibbles and a bunch of kibble dust. Oops. So, I ripped up some tortillas for him to nibble on while I was at work.  Luckily, he normally doesn’t eat much during the daytime, so I wasn’t terribly worried. He was happy to see me open a fresh bag o’ kibbles tonight though and munched heartily after his walk.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention that I’ve been switched to a new project at work as of yesterday afternoon. Now, I’m actually USING A COMPUTER, and working on matching up scanned documents with their respective member accounts. Pretty easy work, plus I have my own cube now, bordered by an infrequently used hallway with windows. This means not only can I glance out for a nice view every now and again, but people aren’t always walking by my desk.  My supervisor (Lance) is very nice, doesn’t bug me (he only checked on me once today), and is several cubes away. I come and go as I please for coffee, breaks or whatnot. Of course, I make sure to keep my breaks within the alloted time frame and such, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have someone monitoring my every move. Additionally, he told me that I could listen to music or whatever, so after he trained me on the system yesterday, I decided to see if I was able to get access to my favorite radio station (the cool oldies one) online. I’d been told by my former co-worker that internet access was very restricted (didn’t matter since I never wound up using a PC in that office anyway), so I was expecting to be blocked. But, I was able to surf to it with no problems, except for the fact that Flash wasn’t updated. I installed a new version, but it still didn’t work. I was hopeful that perhaps it might work after firing it up this morning, and it did!  So happy I had my headphones in my tote bag. I know it’s a small thing, but being able to listen to great music (at whatever volume I want) without disturbing anyone or dealing with radio static is such a huge bonus for me. And now that I have my own little space, with more tolerable work, I’m much happier.

Of course, the one big problem that remains is how low my pay is. I am going to call my agency rep on Monday and see if she can talk to them and score me an extra buck more an hour (at least) since I’ve switched to a different project using a “higher” skill set. However, since the little misunderstanding between those two a few weeks ago, I don’t have a lot of faith this will go over well. I’m sure this place will argue it’s still a job in the $8 range and blah blah. Then again, I plan to tell my agency to tell them (if they disagree) that I simply cannot work a long-term (or temp to perm) assignment for $8/hour. A few weeks or so is one thing, which is what I was originally told it would be. So we’ll see how that all goes down. All I can do is ask.

And as far as goals reached, I managed to pay off the $58 to the cash advance place yesterday. Nothing else can really happen until I get paid next Tuesday. In the meantime, I’ll just try to scrape up a few dollars to get me by. Depending on how tomorrow goes, I might set up more appointments for folks from Craigslist to come by on Sunday (if anyone is still interested/available). Otherwise, I’ll try to scatter some appointments throughout the week nights.

Alright, that’s enough outta me for tonight. I’m hitting the sack early again, like I did last night. Wish me sweet dreams!

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Booya!

I realize I am using the phrase “booya” much too much lately, but BOOYA, I don’t care.  Today was day one of working two jobs back-to-back and I’m feeling exhaustingly satisfied with my efforts.  The admin contract work I did tonight went well, after a slight hiccup because they forgot to ensure I had a temp ID and password to unlock my Windows desktop when I arrived.  I noodled around prepping docs for data entry while my supervisor tracked down the IT dude on his cell phone. He was able to access the system from his home office and get me up and running.

Compared to the mindnumbing crapfest of work I do during the day, this job is a little piece of heaven.  I enjoyed it in the past, but I’m really loving it now.  I was able to snag the same cube I worked in before (off in a nice quiet corner), and I made sure to bring in my headphones so I could listen to my favorite online radio station (“Cool Oldies”).  Took about 5 minutes for me to shake the cobwebs and recall all the little steps involved in entering this data, but once I got back into the swing of things, I was happily flying along, mouthing the words to my favorite oldies.

I was especially delighted to discover that my supervisor and I had the same rate of pay in mind, so I’ll be getting $12 an hour (pre-tax) as hoped. Yay! She’s going to put me on their payroll temporarily to save us both headaches. However, I discovered that payroll for the end of this month is already in process, which meant I wouldn’t get my paycheck until March 15th. Uh-oh.

When she asked “Willl that be ok with you?” I used the opportunity to ask if there was any way I could be paid any sooner. She replied she could talk to corporate and they could work out some type of manual paycheck advance next week, so from what I understand, the check should be cut on the Friday the 5th and I should receive it in the mail Saturday or Monday.  I certainly don’t want to cause them any payroll hassles this early in the game, but I also had no clue I’d have to wait over 2.5 weeks for my first paycheck either. The way I see, it never hurts to ask.  With any luck, the plan will go smoothly with the corporate office, and this money will be the key to paying off my remaining electricity bill.

I sometimes have to stand back and marvel at the amazing sense of timing in my financial matters as of late. The week before last, I was clueless as to how I was going to scrap up enough for rent, after shelling out all that money to play catch-up with the IRS.  So then what happened?  I went to work last Monday, feeling fine, and wound up feeling feverish, sore and headachey by lunchtime. I knew something was terribly wrong, but I tried to push on through. By 1:30 I gave up, talked to the boss (who was very understanding), stopped at the store for Nyquil and a few foodie nibs, got home and dove into bed, which is pretty much where I stayed for the next four days. I missed nearly an entire week of work, a $200 blow to my budget. $200 I had already “spent” in my head for upcoming bills, and even with that paycheck figured into things, I was still unsure how I’d manage to pay rent.

While I was curled up in bed all those days, suffering through something that felt like the flu, with an ice pick migraine to boot, I desperately tried not to think about my finances.  I haven’t been that sick in ages. Something was bound to catch up with me eventually. All I focused on was resting and getting better for the upcoming week. And, trying to avoid a $50 trip to the doctor, which I couldn’t afford, for meds I couldn’t afford, even if they were $4 generics from Kroger.

By Friday I seemed to turn a corner, when the fever broke and the migraine finally dissipated. I’d had the same feeling early on Wednesday, only to go downhill hours later, so I was very leery about being too excited I was on the mend. But this time, they didn’t come back.  I felt well enough (after a few more naps) to do my normal Friday nightly office cleaning, but I was nervous I was pushing myself. I could’ve easily called the client and delayed it till the weekend, but I didn’t want it hanging over my head. Plus, I didn’t want to start in with “hey, I know I said I’d be in Friday nights, but I’ve been sick and I’ll just show up over the weekend if that’s ok” crap only three weeks into this gig.  So I took it slow and tried not to over-exert myself (though I think my breaking out into a sweat — I think my temp was still a bit high — helped rid me of extra toxins).  I wrapped up in a little over an hour.  Little headed and groggy afterwards, but I took it easy over the weekend and felt better each day.

So (getting back to my original point regarding timing), I was dealt a big hit when this illness knocked me on my ass, but then this contract work comes precisely when I needed it the most!  I had planned on calling them anyway on Monday to find out the status of upcoming projects (could’ve easily been another month or so till they needed me), but to have a voicemail waiting for ME when I got home, I couldn’t believe it! Then to not only get the pay I was hoping for, but to wrangle a paycheck advance too?

Additionally, something I’ll touch on much more later, are my sales on Craigslist. I’d reposted an “Indoor Yard Sale” ad the weekend before I got sick, and had to turn everyone who emailed me from Monday on with “Sorry, I’m sick — will be in touch soon.”  (Fortunately, I managed to sell nearly $75 worth of items on Sunday though).  I was trying to scrape together funds over my recovery weekend to buy some groceries and gas for the coming week, when out of the blue, a gal who was considering buying my air purifier a week before contacted me again, asking if it was still available and if so, she was ready to pick it up for the price I was offering. No haggling, no nothing. She showed up exactly on time, had a quick look, seemed satisfied and handed me $50 in cold hard cash. Goddamn. That is the BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD. Well, besides hugs and puppy dogs and stuff. And sex. And the taste of ice cream on a hot day, or chili on a cold day. Etc. [Insert your best feeling in the world HERE]

But I digress…

Oddly, the day before perfect Craigslist customer landed on my doorstep with a wad o’ money, another gal who’d been going back and forth with me for over a week (while I was in a sick haze) about the same damn air purifier, finally wrote me this long ass story about how they really needed one without replaceable filters because they smoke and the companies make their money by forcing  people to replace filters and yadda fuckin’ yadda she’s not interested but thanks anyway. FINE. Not replying back would’ve sufficed. I know that bitch would’ve tried to haggle on the price anyway.

Another life lesson:  There’s a reason some shit doesn’t pan out. Sometimes it’s obvious very quickly, other times you’ll find out later, and many times, you’ll never know. Regardless, accept it and move ON.

This is how I choose to think about days when I’ve called in sick when I wasn’t really sick, or could’ve managed to get through a day, but simply didn’t feel like it (UNLIKE last week, might I add):  I think that when you can’t drag yourself out of bed or just can’t face the world, you have to listen to that feeling. There’s laziness, and there’s…hesitation. Something’s off.  Perhaps my not going into work saved my life, or someone else’s. I avoided a terrible car wreck, a speeding ticket I couldn’t afford, getting the flu from a co-worker or food poisoning from the cafeteria, a train collision, 9/11, running over someone’s dog, on and on.

You have to listen to your gut even when it doesn’t seem to make a bit of sense at the time. There are so many things you pick up on without realizing it.

Wow, how did I end up talking about this?  Perhaps I’m feeling some bad heebies over something?  I guess I always tend to think good things are balanced out by bad things and vice versa. Now that I’ve had a bit of good luck this week I’m thinking the tide will turn again?

Damn squirrely tide.

I’m off for the night, I think. Please wish me good heebies. I need them. In return, good heebies to YOU!

As it stands now

So, let’s just dive right into the meat and potatoes, shall we?

At present, I am working 35 hours a week at a temp job that pays $8 an hour, which is only 75 cents above federal minimum wage.

I’m 39 years old, with a college education, and over 20 years of work experience.

Ouch.

Advantages of this particular temp gig:

  • At least I’m working
  • Short commute (approx. 3 miles each way)
  • No standing required
  • No stress
  • Close parking to building
  • Free, decent tasting coffee
  • Work day begins at 9, can leave as late as 8:52 am and still make it on time
  • Can leave precisely at 5 pm

Disadvantages of this particular temp gig:

  • Did I mention it pays $8 an hour?  After taxes, it works out to $6.93 an hour. Sweet Jesus.
  • I spend all day removing staples from membership packets and taping receipts to pieces of paper. No, I’m not kidding.
  • Breaks are unpaid and yours truly is a smoker (shuddup)
  • One hour lunch, which is way more time than I need, and makes it a 7 hour day, so I’m missing out on 5 hours of pay I desperately need in a week (Note: In order to work around the unpaid breaks/longer lunch than I need situation, I have adjusted my schedule to either one 15 minute morning break, a 30 minute lunch, and one 15 minute afternoon break…or four 15 minute breaks throughout the day, depending on what kind of mood I’m in). I’d talk to my supervisor about this, but…
  • The work atmosphere is a bit strange, with over-the-top security (more on that later)
  • Odd miscommunication issues between this company and my temp agency landed me into one very awkward conversation with my supervisor. I am still not sure they have sorted things out yet, but I’m sure the next awkward conversation will confirm this (just have a feeling). Again, more on this later.
  • My co-worker is…oh, how do I say this nicely?  “A hick drone” is the only phrase that comes to mind.
  • (Notice how I’m using longer sentences to describe the negative parts of this job?)
  • I have no idea when this gig will be done

I don’t want to get too sidetracked yapping about this job at the moment, but suffice to say, I’d like to get the hell out of there as soon as possible. Until something else better comes along, I’m stuck.

Now, in addition to temping, on Friday nights, I clean an office (very close to where I live) for $40 per cleaning (roughly 1.5 hours light work). An average month with four Fridays garners $160, paid in advance. I basically created this job out of thin air and desperation, which I’ll elaborate more on later. So far I have done 3 cleanings and so far, so good.

And, as I happily discovered today, the administrative contract work I was hoping to get was greenlit, and I’ll be putting in 10-15 extra hours this week at night (Tues through Thursday, possibly Friday as well), at a pay rate to be determined. Recently I temped for these folks for about a month, making $9 an hour (which means the agency was probably charging them $13 or more), so I’m hoping to get a rate of at least $12. It’s a non-profit, and the work is fairly easy data entry, so I don’t want to push it too much. I’ll have to play it by ear and see how the conversation goes. Most of all, I loved working for these folks, and I’m thrilled they called me. With any luck, more projects will follow.

My goals for the next 2 weeks are as follows:

  1. Pay off short-term loan of $50 to cash advance place (total with interest due is $58.82) by Thursday 2/25. No problem on this one. I’ve got the dough.
  2. Come up with rent money ($730) by March 5 (last possible date to pay without incurring $50 late fee). I think I’ve figured out how I can manage this…
  3. Scrape up past due amount ($164.42) on February electricity bill to avoid disconnection. I was able to push out the “final” date from today to March 5. The same day rent is due!  WHEE!  This one is gonna be the real bitch, BUT, with the contract work I landed, I might be able to swing it.
  4. Find a way to pay the IRS my $75 monthly installment sometime after I get 2 & 3 taken care of (it’s already overdue by a few days). I just coughed up $225 two weeks ago for missing several months in a row, so I hate the fact I’m behind once again. More on my issues with IRS later…
  5. Mail in my check for $24 to the water company, which is nearly 2 weeks overdue.

There’s so much more I want to add to this post to flesh out my situation (and how I wound up here), but it’s getting late and I’ve got a long week ahead of me.  Time to bunky down, peeps. Catch ya on the flip side.