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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Part One: When You're Desperate for Work


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.

18 comments:

joeh said...

Best screwing with an asshole's mind EVER!!

I understand why sometimes companies have to let people go and it is often around the holidays, but why do they have to lie and make it sound like you are not a capable employee and leave you all frigged up and paranoid?

Just say, "I'm sorry, but we are no longer in a financial position to pay for your considerable talents."

I'm guessing part 2 will not disappoint.

Timothy Hecht said...

I was "downsized" on Dec. 13th 2011 and again from a different job on Nov. 14th 2012.

Being unemployed on Christmas really, really, really sucks. Don't try it.

I felt nervous at my new job on Friday because Monday was Labor day and I was worried about possibly being let go. Not logical. Makes no sense but, those are the emotional scares left behind from the past 2 years.

I just pray that I will have a job this year at Christmas.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
i had the best come-back on such a dismissal - called a lawyer and two letters later got a substantial payout. The best thing that #$%& of a job did for me!!!

It still wasn't a pleasant experience and it took three months for the next one to manifest, but at least the rent was paid.

Am dying to hear what kind a crew you meet up with...&*> YAM xx

Sioux said...

Pearl-I thiiink I remember this story, but as always, your reposts are just as good the second time around (unlike a bean burrito rearing its head for an encore performance).

Lowandslow said...

Wow, what a great zinger to Nancy. Kudos. I think firing someone at Christmas is horrible. Couldn't it have waited until early jauuary? Sheesh!

Looking forward to Part II.

S

jenny_o said...

Sounds like Nancy had a bit of the sadist in her. I think your parting gift to her was an inspired piece of thinking! Did you ever hear how her daughters turned out?!

Indigo Roth said...

Yeah, what jenny_o said!

sage said...

Wow, that's terrible. How are you in the prophecy department?

Daisy said...

I can't imagine why anyone would fire you after your father's excellent training, and your many talents. That company obviously wasn't very smart.

Delores said...

But I need to know....DID disaster fall upon her girls?????

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Wait, you're a psychic? That's a whole career path right there, my friend. Sure, your people used to get burned at the stake and yeah, that hurt like a bitch, I'm sure, but psychics are mainstream now. Psychics are trending. They have their own reality show. And you....willingly agreed to drive around criminals and refinish floors? I'm beginning to see why your cats are in charge at your house. I don't see this as an opportunity they would have over looked. And I agree with Delores. Details, we need details:-)

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Wait, you're a psychic? That's a whole career path right there, my friend. Sure, your people used to get burned at the stake and yeah, that hurt like a bitch, I'm sure, but psychics are mainstream now. Psychics are trending. They have their own reality show. And you....willingly agreed to drive around criminals and refinish floors? I'm beginning to see why your cats are in charge at your house. I don't see this as an opportunity they would have over looked. And I agree with Delores. Details, we need details:-)

Elephant's Child said...

I love, love, love your parting gift to Nancy. Inspired. Only a cat could have done better. And not all cats...

Linda O'Connell said...

nancy got what she deserved. I hope you did, too.

River said...

I suspect your boss was jealous of your good works and had to fire you so he/she didn't look bad. Slacker bosses don't like to be shown up. I like what you said to Nancy.

Mitchell is Moving said...

Uh oh... I look forward to Part 2.

Your fortune-telling made me smile. I had a boss who put me "on notice" because I cancelled a client dinner (just a free meal for the idiot client, not a meeting) because I couldn't get back in time; my mother was in an ICU and appeared to be dying. I was a senior manager. My boss, the GM and Sr. VP, was an idiot (obviously). I was finally able to quit a year later. Oh, how I wish I had been as clever as you. (She was removed three months after I left, but that wasn't as satisfying for me.)

Anyway, this isn't supposed to be all about me. It's supposed to be all about you driving in cars with thugs. Can't wait for more.

the walking man said...

So what did the oldest one name her kid and how did the younger one do in rehab?

Jo-Anne Meadows said...

Ok your parting words to Nancy were priceless.........now I also have to come back tomorrow to find out more about this terrible job of yours.