I didn't work two paydays ago so I wasn't there when the paycheck fairy made her way around the newsroom. About six days had passed by the time I worked a weekday again, and when I returned, before I could even get to my desk, three people had asked, "Jamie, did you ever get your paycheck?!"
"Yes," I said. "I just picked it up."
The looks on their faces could have melted glass. Why would they care? It's my paycheck. I'm not going to rush out the door and run to the bank like a greedy little piggy the moment the envelope hits my desk, nor am I going to come in on a day off to pick it up unless it's necessary. Don't treat me like I'm unappreciative - believe me, I'm grateful. I need the $650.
Or the $1,300 a month.
You see, it's one thing when you deposit a two-week pay period check the day after you get it, but when circumstances force you, or when you're too lazy to do otherwise, to deposit two at once, things click. You see the $1,300 and BAM - you think about the other things you pay on a monthly basis:
- Credit card (about $500 - I buy everything using my credit card so this is gas, groceries, anything else my consumer-driven heart desires)
- Rent ($350)
- Car payment ($200)
- Student loans ($100)
- Electricity bill ($50)
- Car insurance ($50 -haven't started paying this yet, but I'd like my dad to stop having to)
- Internet ($40)
I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little freaked. Sure, it's possible, not desirable, to go without Internet at home. I did it for two years and lived, but that was when I had unlimited access to computers and Internet at school and work ...
I can put more things on power strips and turn the heat even lower (check and check). I can be more diligent on how much I'm spending on groceries by getting up early enough to go to Aldi's before work instead of my 3 a.m. trips to Wal-Mart after. I can make a bigger effort to go to the cheaper laundrymat (not the 24-hour one - notice a theme in my habits?). I'll limit how far I drive to get to the good trails. I just won't buy anything.
I have some savings - though not the three months' pay everyone suggests - and I have a dad who is in a position to help me if I get in a pinch. I'm thankful for both, but this is not the point. The point is that I'm disappointed that this is where I am. I'm poorer than I've ever been. I had hoped I'd get some financial relief after college, but things are even tighter now and I can't sigh. I need that air! I paid for it!
So here's what happened during my silent panic attack. I was at the laundrymat and after I emptied my quarter pouch, I hit my wallet where only pennies, nickels and dimes survive. OK, no biggie, just put a $20 bill in the change machine and you'll get to dry your clothes. Both dollar slots are taped over with duct tape, and underneath it says, "SORRY. OUT OF SERVICE"
It might as well have said, "FUCK YOU, LOSER. YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO DRY YOUR CLOTHES ANYWAY."
I gave it the finger. When my laundry was done, I stuffed all 50 pounds of it back into the bags and took it home, where I did the following.
The dog bed is an odd shape and has nowhere else to go but on the vent. (His bed was the only thing dry by bedtime. Dry AND warm, lucky bastard.)
Then the kitchen clothesline - a classic. I've done this before, but never a DOUBLE clothesline. (I'm saving about $5 and the planet, people. It's fucking worth it.)
Then the crazy kicked in. Ah ha! These tubes that used to form plastic shelves, which I need to deconstruct anyway! If I taped them together with the leftover packing tape ...
... they could form a bar! It fell twice. You could tell when it was about to go because the crinkling would increase.
Wings like rags or rags like wings. This one would catch the heat and swivel gently back and forth. Peaceful. Mocking.
After the packing tape/plastic tube fiasco crashed the second time, I remembered I had a Swiffer that might be able to support some weight. It did beautifully. (And dusted that spot.)