Monday, July 3, 2017

Our First Paycheck

I. The Garden Blooms

Red Bear clutches my first paycheck >

She says she was worried that I wasn't earning any money, but THIS IS NOT TRUE:
the Little Animals have no concept of money. 

But they do sometimes  pick up things from you.

Turns out I was a little worried and am not only loving my job per se, but loving getting a paycheck--even for the princely sum of $172.81 for my first days.

I've signed up for automatic deposit now, but I might change it back because it's so nice, psychologically, to get a piece of paper money every two weeks. The publisher had paid me for the fandom ms. in 3 installments over 9 months, so I always felt I was writing for free yet under stricture---NOT a happy arrangement, and while I'm now glad I wrote it (something I was doubting, during the editing process), I am relieved I won't write for them, ever again. 

I'm feeling like writing for myself, for the first time in a long time.
The bit I wrote last week, Salvage, was interesting---words are such sensitive instruments, aren't they?---because several people who read it implied to me that the customers who'd turned the store over were bad, which I hadn't meant to imply; 
I was trying to get at the ecosystem of thrift, but--duh--I clearly had invited judgment:
I'd called them a "herd" who "trampled" through the store.

So I went back and changed it:
"[The shoppers] had turned the store over, like creatures who aerate garden soil, leaving in their wake inside-out jeans on top of racks…"

II. Resentment Management

You know I struggle with resentment, but not toward everyone, all the time--mostly toward people in power who use it unwisely (so, OK, that can be a lot of people, a lot of times, if I'm paying attention--to keep it down, I've stopped reading the NYT daily).

[Though I do want to point you to the excellent essay by wrestling fan Andrea G., "On the Folly of Trump's Wrestling GIF".]
The shoppers don't usually trigger resentment--I usually feel fellow feeling, they are like me.

I had gotten way out of whack with resentment at SP thrift store, so much so I'd flown out of there in a rage.
I look back and see the management & board were enragingly dysfunctional---the store closed one year later, partly due to that (they had to move but couldn't get it together to do so)--but I had also handled myself badly.
(Sometimes walking away is the best policy,  so I don't regret that, but I still regret the angry way I did it.)

Anyway, I have a policy for myself at the new thrift job:
For my first three months, just Watch and Observe.
And reserve my judgment.
I am going to practice being a neutral observer, like an embedded reporter. This store is run by an international corporation, and while it's a nonprofit with a benevolent mission, I can see already it runs like a for-profit store: workers are treated as cogs, for instance; the CEO, someone told me, makes a 7-figure salary. I'm not even looking this up at this point because I don't want to focus on that--and also, unlike with a local board whose members you know, there's nothing much I can do about it--this sense of "don't even bother" also helps keep resentment down.

I'm focusing on what I personally care about: 
the people in front of me, the stuff, and how the two connect––
for instance, two regular shoppers buy things to send back to their home countries---one buys shoes, specifically, to send to Cameroon; 

another buys all sorts of things to send to Liberia. 
They both save up stuff until they have enough to fill a shipping container---and then they pay $5-6,000 to ship it. 

There are lots of Liberians here in town--which is why I chose Liberia as the country I would visit (don't hold me to that though). 

"How's Liberia doing?" I asked this shopper, and she told me they're having presidential elections in November, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf having served her limit of twelve years.
"Are there any good candidates?" I asked.

"We'll have to see," she said, ". . . like here," and we laughed.

I wasn't going to write so much this morning--my hands are sore from carrying too much at once, stocking the shelves. It's like resentment: to some extent, you can limit it by controlling how much you take on.

Carrying ten heavy beer steins, one finger wrapped around each handle, is not good self-management. The little finger on my left hand feels sprained. 
Luckily I have two days off, to rest it.
So--off I go to cash my paycheck!


deanna said...

Your job has helped me remember how it can be with work: something interesting and enjoyable, just challenging enough, can support the things we're "serious" about. My nonprofit group job was that way, and I wish my quirky little office hadn't closed.

Enjoy spending your wad!

Anonymous said...

Little Red Bear looks very happy with you. Yes it is hard to take , a charity with a CEO on a massive salary. We have started to look up CEOs salaries before making donations. Words are powerful and can hurt or motivate. I see looking back that you didn't know the word scrum, being a rugby term. It is used here to describe a rush of people pushing each other to get an object they want. Think Black Friday!That's a scrum. And the mess left behind. Volunteering is such a different world. I think organisations take their volunteers too much for granted and forget we are not employees. In my experience volunteer commitees can be the worst, not on the shop floor so to speak doing the day to day interaction but sitting in a back room organising us! Enjoy spending that hard earned cash.

Fresca said...

DEANNA: Yes, I like how you put that--"little" jobs can support things we seriously care about. May it happen again for you!

CATHY: Red Bear says thank you, she is happy!
I was relieved to look up the GW in my state (not the international corp.) and see it gets a high rating for putting $ toward programs---
the local CEO does make a lot ($240,000/year!), but it's still less than half a percent of their earnings, which is considered acceptable.

I suppose they see it as a competitive with other business leaders?

Thanks for describing the slang meaning of "scrum" (outside rugby)---I don't know what young people would say,
but I would say, "It was a mob scene!"