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Monday, September 12, 2011

So What Do You Say You and I Get Together After Work? Part I of II

For your amusement and possible re-living -- DuWayne?  Are you out there? -- I bring to you a subject on which I am something of an expert: the many ways in which to make a buck.

In two parts.

Enjoy. (And if you enjoyed, tell your friends.)

I was raised to believe in the power of the paycheck.

My father fought to instill this in me at an early age; and whether it was the fact that I was his favorite (my theory) or the fact that my brother and sister were much faster at getting on a bike the minute work threatened to rear its large sweaty head (their theory), I tended to be the only one my father approached any time the opportunity to make money did rear its large, sweaty head.

“Hey, Pearl! How’d you like to make two bits?”

My first discovery in the world of work? Contrary to the sound of it, two bits was not two of anything but rather a single, lousy quarter.

And so the ground floor of servitude was laid; and from that time forward, I was employed.

That is, until I was 32 – when everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, including being fired.

The week before Christmas.

During my performance review.

I was confused and tearful. Nothing my boss had written in my review sounded anything like me or my work habits. How had I failed? How was I not a model employee?

Nancy, the smug, ostentatiously wealthy woman seated comfortably behind my walking papers, shook her head in a mock display of concern. “I’m sorry,” she said, smiling. “We could put you on a performance plan, but you’d just burn anyway.”

A week before Christmas.

During my performance review.

I was given a box and escorted out of the building. Nancy followed.

I turned around to face her as I left the building. She had been astounded, just two months ago at the company Halloween party, by my intuition and ability to tell her things about herself, had even offered to introduce me as a psychic to her friends.

I used this now.

“I’ll never see you again,” I said ominously. “But I can tell you this: neither of your daughters will graduate high school on time.”

Nancy’s mouth fell open.

I continued. “One will drop out in the 11th grade. The other will leave in the middle of her senior year to have a baby.”

I smiled at her. “You will be terribly embarrassed and will not tell your parents.”

Sure, it was childish, but the look on her face kept me from crying as I drove out of the parking lot.

It did not keep me from crying on the freeway.

The end of December, all of January, these are the worst times to be unemployed; and as January slipped into February, I started to worry.

And then I got a call from my brother.

My brother owned, at the time, a hardwood floor company: installations, patches, refinishing. Did I, he wanted to know, have a valid driver’s license?

Don’t do it! my brain screamed. Don’t do it!

"Of course I do," I said. "Why?"

And so began the worst job of my life.

When someone asks you a question like “do you have a driver’s license”, what this means is that you are soon to find yourself in the company of people for whom the answer to this question is “no”.

“Do you,” Kevin asked, “know how to drive a stick?”

“Yes, of course, I do.”

“What about drugs? You doing any drugs?”

“I’m unemployed,” I told him curtly. “I can’t afford drugs.”

“What about young men?” he asked.

“I can’t afford those either,” I said.

“No, I mean are you okay with working with men? Men who may have criminal backgrounds, sudden meetings with their public defenders, men with various interesting dental problems?”

“OK, Kiki,” I said. “What’s going on here?”

Kevin laughed. “I’ve got the majority of my workers in the workhouse right now. They can leave for work but we have to pick them up. I got other business, so I need you to drive them to the job sites, maybe do some work, and drive them back.”

I was intrigued.

And then Kevin said something that cinched the deal.

“I’ll pay you $15 an hour. Cash.”


Come back tomorrow for Part II, wherein we find ourselves on the receiving end of a contact high and learn a valuable life lesson.

46 comments:

the walking man said...

Start tomorrow with the fate of the witches daughters. Nothing wrong with hanging out with few convicts. I do it every day in my 'hood.

Leenie said...

Nothing like the smell of money to make a person go totally against their instincts.

Russ said...

Damn, $15/hr cash ain't bad.

I've had one of those blindside firings too. Sucks. At least I was sitting down so I couldn't faint. (Did that in the doctor's office once.)

Turned out to be one of the best things to happen to me. Saved a friendship (never work for a friend) and got me to a better job.

Pearl said...

the walking man, now you have me thinking!!

Leenie, when the going gets broke, the broke get going. :-)

Pearl said...

Russ, it was, frankly, a perfectly awful day, but it eventually led to a job I absolutely loved.

Simply Suthern said...

I have relatives that do flooring. Seems you have to have or at risk of having a criminal to intall flooring products correctly. At least they tell you it is correct an you dont argue.

Glen said...

You so need to research that womena and find out what happened with her kids... :-)

Pearl said...

Simply, I think that's true for almost all of the, um, construction arts. :-) Floors, taping/mudding, roofs (rooves?), cement work: 80% of them are high...

Glen, absolutely true: her resume came across my desk four years later. Having helped her with it and KNOWING how seriously she had padded her involvement with the Special Olympics, I considered calling her and reminding about the numer of outright lies on it but instead tossed it into the garbage...

Shelly said...

What an appropriate pay back for that mean woman who laid you off right before Christmas. She was a true Scrooge!

Esther Montgomery said...

Pearl! How rotten! How can you stop there when I want to know what happened next?

Pearl said...

Shelly, honestly, it was horrible. A week before Christmas. Have I said that?! To be unemployed, particularly in Minnesota, the tail end of December means in all practicality that you will be unemployed for January as well. It truly is a given. It was the only time in my life (so far, knock on wood) that I was on unemployment...

Esther, :-) The full story was almost five times as long as my standard post. I just couldn't do it to ya. But the rest is slated for tomorrow!

Esther Montgomery said...

P.S. Are you planning to put your lert book available on Kindle?

vanilla said...

I, too, learned about the "two bits" thing the hard way.

That performance review bites.

Pearl said...

Esther, I'd like to. Do you have any experience with that??

vanilla, I know! Was there ever "a bit"?! And to date, that performance review wasone of the most dramatic examples of "completely unfair" that I've ever encountered. It was uncalled-for and still confusing, although I came to find out several years later that the reason I was let go was because Nancy and her friend (also in the office) just didn't like me. Plain and simple.

Esther Montgomery said...

Pearl, I'm looking into it. I've bought three Kindle books by fellow bloggers and am wondering about publishing that way myself. I'm also thinking of making my blog available on Kindle. (Yours would 'fit' there even better than mine because it has no pictures - pictures don't look so good in Kindle grey!)

Oh - and re. your suggestion in the post about joining the orchestra - let me know when you're coming to England!

Esther

Diane said...

I have a driver's license. $15 dollars an hour beats what I'm making writing . . .

Pearl said...

Ooh, Esther, let me know what you find out! I do think it's time I "branch out".

Diane, $15/hour is more than a lot of people make and actually uncomfortably close to what I make now, 15 years later! Still, when someone offers you that kind of money, you have to ask yourself: just what am I in for?

Audubon Ron said...

Didn't I read this story already. I'm sure I read this story. Uh-oh, maybe I'm psychic.

Eva Gallant said...

I remember this.....

Suldog said...

How dare you leave me hanging like this on the first day I visit your blog in months?

I suppose if I had been faithful, it might have been different. OK, I'll take my punishment. I'll wait patiently for the conclusion.

(Great Part One, btw.)

Pearl said...

Ron/Eva: I wrote this a while back for an online publication. I have tightened it up some, but there you have it. :-) (That whole practicing the clarinet thing is taking up all my time! I had to do something!)

Suldog! Hey! Glad you're back. Now you have to come back tomorrow! :-)

Ondine said...

Your psychic bit was great, I find it inspiring that you stepped up for yourself in such a difficult moment. Your dignity is safe!

R. Jacob said...

I am thinking...what would I do for $15.00 hour cash? A better question would be what I wouldn't do! That list would be very short.

Pearl said...

Ondine, thank you. The gift of gab was from my father. :-)

R. Jacob, and it was much needed!

fishducky said...

Yes--put it on Kindle! Let me know when I can order it!!

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

I want to know if you were right about her kids.

SkippyMom said...

Thanks for stopping by today. I honestly think I found Crystal through your blog. [I am a lurker] But wanted to say thanks.

And I will be back. I NEED to know how this ends up. You just described quite a few jobs I have had in my lifetime. giggle.

ipenka said...

Wow...both the process and the timing sucks.

On the bright side, your psychic potential may never have been discovered if not for that lady?

Pearl said...

fishducky, I'm going to look into it!!

Delores, I remember her last name. :-) Maybe I should do a little investigating...

SkippyMom, a lurker! :-) I love it. Have wondered who the lurkers were. Glad to meet you. And glad you'll be back!

ipenka, the whole place sucked, in retrospect. :-) Still. Fired? During a performance review? Who does that? At any rate, I can now say it was them, not me; but at the time, I was pretty dejected about the whole thing.

Crystal Pistol said...

Oh Pearl. Your rapier wit just makes my moody Monday.

You have always struck me as a spiritual person. Not surprised folks assume you have psychic abilities.

That woman got her just desserts. I'll bet she stressed for years about your predictions. :) it just warms my heart.

Happy Frog and I said...

Another superb post, looking forward to the next instalment. I got made redundant the first time a month after I bought my first house. It was awful and I couldn't stop crying all the way home. I then got made redundant six months later from the next job I had taken. I was starting to feel pretty jinxed but so far I've been okay since then.

The Jules said...

Was this an ambulance service, because it sounds worryingly familiar?

Pearl said...

Crystal, I can only hope. :-)

Happy Frog, oh, how awful. Yes, I know that crying-all-the-way home thing. I can only imagine what the people next to me in traffic thought...

Jules, somehow, working for an ambulance service sounds far more exciting than "office manager"...

Douglas said...

I have never been unexpectedly fired from any job. Each time was entirely expected.

Sioux said...

"Interesting dental problems?" This sounds too good to be true. It sounds like it was a job AND a pool of delectable hunks to date.

who said...

If you have any unpaid fines, make sure you take care of them otherwise you might find out at a very inopportune time your license has been suspended.

Do you know what drivers have to do when they get pulled over and the officer informs them they are driving with a suspended license?

lime said...

nancy was just cold as ice. sheesh. glad you had a couple of words that stopped her in her tracks.

life lesson sounds like it must have been a doozy....

Vapid Vixen said...

Isn't it awesome to see people feigning sympathy while smiling? If you're going to make some lame insincere comment, at least have the decency to fake it properly with a frown.

Bodacious Boomer said...

I love your retort to the shrew. It was fabulous. I'm totally impressed.

jenny_o said...

Looking forward to part two. I envy you your ability to say something, especially something scathing and appropriate, at just the right time!

Pat said...

I'm full of foreboding but - as ever - admire your gutsy approach.

That Baldy Fella said...

Unfortunately, I can now no longer answer the question about the driving licence with a "no" and still be honest. This could land me in trouble at some point...

Andrea said...

Cash...
criminals!
Cash...

Yep, I'll take some cash!

Sarah Has Moxie said...

I heart you Pearl. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Cash. That's the key word.

Steadfast Ahoy! said...

I'm wondering if your crystal ball comments made Miss Manners there regret firing you, or more glad she did? You are hilarious!!
Rosemary