This spring I replaced all the lightbulbs in my apartment -I only have five, total- with compact fluorescents that I inherited from my late cousin. I also started unplugging my unused kitchen appliances, put my TV/audio/guitar gear on switchable power strips and began turning my computer off every evening.
My power bill, which was always in the $40 range (I have air-conditioning but don't use it), has, over the last few months, dropped to just under $30, a savings of at least 25% a month.
Something has to work, since I sure don't.
This morning we had an 8:30 meeting at the office. As a temp, most of what is said at these meetings goes over my head...this was no exception.
"Fiscal year", "merger and acquisition", "re-structuring" , "program changes", a lot of acronyms were tossed around...I didn't understand much of it although the generalities were familiar; as a career temp-worker, I have heard these terms used in almost every office I've ever worked in.
Then the Big Boss got to the part about the main computer system being taken down and overhauled- he apologized to the staff for the short notice, but next week there would be very little work to do- if you have time off accumulated, he suggested, next week would be a good time to take it.
Busy work would be found for those employees who otherwise had no assignments due to having no network.
Uh oh, I thought.
A few minutes after the meeting adjourned, my boss called me into a much smaller meeting. The only other person present was Francis, the other temp who works in our department.
Uh oh, I thought.
We were told that our services would not be required during the next week or two because the work we normally do would be done by "real" employees who would be given our tasks as their "busy work". With luck, we will resume working after a week or so, but for now we have nothing.
Francis has been working here-as a temporary- for well over a year and has vacation time saved up with her agency, so she was pretty happy.
Myself, I have nothing saved. No vacation time, no money, no plans, nothing. I'm not quite as happy as Francis. For me, next week will bring the last payday until...whenever. I will have enough to make rent, but that's it.
I heard a Census stat last night that something like 15-35% of homeowners spend half or more of their income on mortgage payments. Obviously, that's not a sustainable financial model, as the wave of foreclosures has shown- what never seems to get mentioned is that rents have gone up at least as much as mortgages- it takes me two weeks of work at my current wage to buy four weeks of shelter and that doesn't include utilities, food, gas etc...if I had kids, I'd be unable to provide for them at all...luckily, I don't have children.
Sometimes I get freelance audio work and that helps a lot, but most of my jobs have been gobbled up by eager young dudes willing to work for free-or very little- just so they can hang out with bands. I can sit home alone in an empty room and hang out with a band, so that holds no particular thrill for me ,but seeing these upstarts taking food off my table makes me want to go Teamster on some young punk ass.
Tomorrow may or may not be my last day at this job. I hope they call me back. If they don't, I hope I get officially "laid-off" soon, because I can't apply for unemployment until I lose my job- a one-week cessation is not enough to apply for benefits.
Thing is, I've been looking steadily for work the entire time I've been here. I've had a few interviews and call-backs, but nothing came of them. As most of you know, it's much easier to find work if you have work, and I still haven't found a "real" job even though I am working full-time. It's a terrible, terrible economy, easily the worst in my lifetime and this isn't exactly the best time to suddenly lose one's job. I've been making a few bucks selling my personal possesions -mostly books and video games, the extra guitar stuff got sold years ago- but I'm almost out of good things to sell. I found a box of books in the trash a few days ago and I'm glad I swallowed my pride and grabbed them, because a couple are priced at $10-20 on Amazon, so maybe I can dump them on-line...and next week I'll have lots of time to dig through other people's trash, looking for things to sell.
I hope that Scotty, the wino with Teret's Syndrome who lives in the alley behind my house and has de facto dibs on the "can and bottle trade", doesn't mind if I take the books and electronics...it's hard to tell how Scotty feels about things because he can't help but say "fuck you" every third word or so- for Scotty, saying "fuck" is a symptom of his disease, not an epithet or insult.
For me, saying "fuck" is a way of life.