Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bob, Bond & A Breakup

My crotchety Navy brother, Bob, is threatening to spend Thanksgiving alone with Guinevere.  My mother’s fiancé, John, asked about Guinevere’s identity, and Mums responded that her distinguishing characteristic was her ability to lick her own posterior.  John concluded that she was either a contortionist with peculiar personal hygiene habits or a cat.  Guinevere is, in fact, a formerly porcine feline, whose sole interest in my brother is as a potential provider of table scraps.  Whereas there are other cats who simply like to hang out, and come running for ear rubs alone, Guin is a purely selfish and superficial furry beast, whose god is her stomach.  She is not actually Bob’s cat—she belongs to his roommate—so in other words, were he to remain in Charleston with this gluttonous and narcissistic little animal, he wouldn’t even be spending the holiday with a “related” pet.  I called him to tell him he ought to come down to Augusta so that we could watch the new James Bond movie together. Everyone I’ve talked to who has seen it has liked it, and I’d rather go with someone than watch it alone.

I feel a bit like I’m breaking up with a long-time boyfriend!  I told my estate sale boss the other night that I was considering a full-time job offer from the Potomac couple, the Lollards, whose library I inventoried this past year.  She was surprised and somewhat hurt, though I had respectfully told her several times over the last eight months that I couldn’t continue to work indefinitely at the penurious wage she pays me—in fact, she may not realize that the only reason I was able to continue at the estate sale job for this long at all was because of the book cataloging gig, which paid well enough that I was able to break even for much of the year (until the latest round of health insurance premiums and federal taxes came due).  Still, I certainly wasn’t able to save anything, and my charitable contributions are at their lowest in years.  Breaking up is hard to do: there’s stuff at my house, and in my car, that belongs to the estate sale company, and items of mine in her van and at her house, mixed in with the paraphernalia of other consignors.  Leaving that job is like undergoing a divorce.  A relatively amicable one, but it’s still difficult to sort through the piles of “yours” and “mine”.  I don’t think she truly understands how essential I have been to the smooth conduct of the business over the last three years, and won’t until I’ve separated myself from the work—I can’t say I am going off the payroll, because that’s not ever been set up—all of us on the team are still treated as contractors, and paid by occasional check.  I do want the best for her and the company, and so it has been frustrating to see advice about establishing a payroll system, raising wages and providing health benefits essentially ignored, as has been my counsel to use a computer program to inventory sold items, rather than hand-writing lists at checkout. 
It’s all very well and good to sing the praises of extra-cubical jobs, where you aren’t stuck in an office all day, but are doing something interesting and different week to week.  But I need some predictability in my income, not to mention a considerably higher, honest-to-goodness living wage.  A girl’s gotta eat.  A single girl who is homing in on age 40 needs to think about saving for retirement, too.  I also have longed for employment which uses my intellectual skills, which have gotten pretty rusty since graduate school.  And I need to have regular hours, in conditions where physical injuries aren’t commonplace.  The research and writing job (a sesquicentennial history of the Lollard family) seems to promise to meet many of these wants and needs.  I told Mr. Lollard that I would like to have a trial period, to see if he and I got along in our one-on-one work, before I began full-time, and he agreed to this.  We’re supposed to meet Monday.  Full-time employment could start in January if all goes well.

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