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Friday, May 18, 2012

Part I: Wherein Pearl is Suckered by the Lure of Cash

I slept a full night for the first time since, well, who knows?  I've been very tired.  I told you that to tell you this:  I did not have a chance to write last night.

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 turn around to face her as I leave 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 use this now.

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

Nancy’s mouth falls open.

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

I smile 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 asks, “know how to drive a stick?”

“Yes, of course, I do.”

“What about drugs? You doing any drugs?”

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

“What about young men?” he asks.

“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 say. “What’s going on here?”

Kevin laughs. “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 am intrigued.

And then Kevin says something that cinches 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.


vanilla said...

Oh, Pearl. Always with the cliff-hangers.

Nessa Roo said...

Oh, come on, Pearl. You know you could have scraped up a couple of bucks for a young man or two...

Pearl said...

vanilla, :-) I think they get too long to read in one sitting. Plus I just want to see you again, you know? Me and you: we got somethin' special. :-D

Nessa, I'm a little broke, even now, but maybe you and I could go in on a couple? They're probably cheaper if you buy in bulk. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're sleeping .. and .. I love your dad. "Wanna make two bits?" That's what my dad and grandad called a quarter. Kids nowadays have no clue what two bits is.

Huntress said...

Holy cannoli. Apparently, we were separated at birth. Or, um. Well probably not since I waaay older.

Very familiar though.

Can't wait till tomorrow for the resssst of the story.

Pearl said...

Delores, I used to get excited to hear "two bits". Doesn't that sound like it should be TWO quarters? Because I still get excited about two quarters. :-)

Huntress, oh, I'm so glad! Do come back!!

Eva Gallant said...

I remember reading this the first time...although I don't remember the part about telling Nancy her daughters would be dropouts!!! That was priceless!

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

I hate being unemployed and unable to afford drugs.
Love this one.
Sleep well, my friend. :)

Pearl said...

Eva, sometimes another reading does a body good. :-)

Dawn, :-) Thought some folk might get a kick out of that! Thinking of taking a nap, now that I've rediscovered how to sleep... Mmmmm.

Anonymous said...

When I cry, it's always when I'm out of sight. I just wish I could have been so clever when I got fired. Waiting for part deux.

Pearl said...

Gene Pool Diva, every now and then, I am actually able to say the things I normally come up with in retrospect. :-)

esbboston said...

Remind me to always be nice to you from now on.

Pearl said...

esb, I thought you already were!!

Shelly said...

Why do the criminal background thing and the dentally challenged stuff so often go hand in hand? Is one a predictor of the other?

Pearl said...

Shelly, in a way, yes, I think they do. In these cases, it was the "something for nothing" kinds of guys. And why spend money on teeth when you can spend that money on beer?

terlee said...

A good night's sleep is better than a truck load of young guys--with or without their teeth.

Pearl said...

terlee, I'm gonna have to think about that one for a while. I can see it going either way. :-D

TexWisGirl said...

i sure wanna know if your 'predictions' for that woman's daughters came true! :)

Buttons said...

Somehow Pearl you always make the low times of your life sound so funny. I love that.
Looking forward to part 2.
I had some pretty weird jobs too and I was raised the same as you anything for a buck "hard work won't kill you". Yeah right.Oh yeah you should have stuck to the physic thing. :) B

Suzy said...

Your parting shot? Nothing short of inspired. Now I wish I had a job to get fired from so I could say similar things.

jenny_o said...

Sounds like Nancy got a taste of what she deserved. Sometimes you have to wonder how certain people made it to the positions of power they are in.

Hope you have restful sleeps from here on in.

Leenie said...

Never cross a psychic. She'll tell you what you fear. Sweet dreams and a long weekend, Pearl.

ipenka said...

Its as funny the second time around as I remember it was the first time.

Making money is actually something that I'm starting to think about seriously for the first time in my life.

Interesting how our family and the way we grow up affects our relationship with it in the future.

CarrieBoo said...

I'm really glad you said that to Nancy (she sounds "delightful") -- talk about creative thinking under duress.

Oh my... I have to see where this is going! :) Sweet dreams, sweet pea.

Belle said...

I really laughed at what you said to Nancy. You would have her wondering for years I would bet. They say everyone gets fired at least once in their life. My first hubby got fired New Year's Eve and I was pregnant. We had to move in with his parents! It was not pretty but we survived. Blessings on you.

Beth said...

“Does wearing gloves bother you?” is another question to be wary of. I once ended up working in a factory – sorting roses. Ouch. Even with gloves.
Love your sense of humour – your “psychic” departure and, “What about young men?” - “I can’t afford those either…” ;)

(thanks for the visit…)

Craver Vii said...

Did you know that Chuck Norris doesn't use a stunt double, except for scenes where he's supposed to cry? Yeah um... he never cries.

I've had those awkward experiences where a lump forms in the throat, and the eyes get watery, and I wonder, "What the heck is going on; this can't be happening!" It ain't fun.

Guess what? I got fired a week before Christmas, too. But in my case, that was from the worst job I ever had, and I enjoyed the next one, so it doesn't make as great a story.

Gigi said...

Your parting with Nancy was utter genius!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

Beth referenced this too, and I love it: “What about young men?” he asks.
“I can’t afford those either,” I said.

Shoot Pearl, $15/hr and/or two bits...? Both excite me, even today.

Let's hope you were right about Nancy's daughters, and that she's the designated babysitter.


The Elephant's Child said...

I love your treatment of Nancy. And really, really hope that you get some sleep and are OK. Many good wishes wending through the blogosphere your way.

kj said...

see nancy: what goes around comes around. You get to wring with worry which is even better than whatever the wreal reality will (w)be.

who says two bits anymore? tough men and cowgirls....

bad christmas. nice story, pearl :^)


wellfedfred said...

ooh, I do that kind of psychic reading also! To a very loud girl at next table in a restaurant where I really wanted to focus on the food: "Give me your hand... mmmm... oh. he really doesn't love you. I'm sorry."

Al Penwasser said...

Looking forward to Part II.
Wonder if he should have asked, "Do you speak Spanish?"

Susan Kane said...

Oh, I so don't like the way this is going....

middle child said...

Young men? $15 and hour cash? Ok. Count me in!!!!

River said...

On the surface Kiki's job description doesnt sound too bad, but I'll be tuning in eagerly for part two.

Brian Miller said...

ha. cash is good....nice curse you put on her too...i need to remember that next time i am fired you know...

Anonymous said...

Right now, I would work in what you considered the worst job you've ever had for half the amount you were paid.

Pat Tillett said...

I'm here from the future to read part one first! It was good and I can't wait to see if you get picked up in a police sweep, with the rest of the employees.

Cathy@ALIttleBitOff.net said...

Oh,Pearl! Are you psychic, too?! That's what got me out of jury duty once - told the judge I was psychic and knew the defendant hadn't done it. The judge ordered me out of his courtroom!