I am very fortunate to work for such a good company (or nonprofit, I should say). I’ve had a wide array of jobs already, from kids’ party hostess, to auto loan specialist, to, now, fundraising. I’ve worked for small, community banks and internationally renowned not-for-profits. And not all of them have been good.
My last job was pretty miserable. By the time I left, my position had the responsibilities of three full-time positions, and I was getting paid less than the call center down the road paid people just to have a high school diploma and make phone calls (I have a bachelor’s and was handling nearly all of the organizations sensitive, financial data). That alone was depressing, but what really got to me was the complete lack of morale. I’d go so far as to say that there was “anti-morale” at that workplace. Never a word of praise from the boss when you did something well (except to herself, when she took credit for your work), but she always had a disparaging comment ready, or something passive aggressive to say. It was like Chinese water torture, in that it was the kind of passive vitriol that ate away at you over months. I was one of the few employees who actually resigned from my position and trained my replacement– most of my coworkers stormed out in frustration one day when they just couldn’t take it anymore.
My former officemate was one of those people. I couldn’t blame her when she left–if anything, I envied her ability to leave. You see, I didn’t stay out of some sense of pride or work ethic, even if I like to pretend that’s why. I stayed because, like most people in the world, I’m a slave to money. If I don’t work, I don’t eat, I don’t have a place to live, etc., so my only option was to land another job before quitting that one. But my former officemate? Well, she has a husband.
Now, you probably see where I’m going with this, and no– I’m not making some outrageous claim that couples have it easier, financially or otherwise. Money sucks for 99% of us, singles and coupled peoples alike. And, generally speaking, doubling one’s income also tends to double one’s outgoing funds, too. I really do not think there’s any “easy” when it comes to money, but being in a couple does change your financial situation (hopefully for the better!).
Take the case of my officemate. She was able to leave a horrible job where she was treated poorly without notice because she had a second income to fall back on– namely, her husband’s income. Fortunately she found a new job relatively quickly, but her initially ability to quit without worrying about how she was going to pay her bills in the weeks immediately following is nothing short of a luxury, in my opinion. In the same line of thought, if she had suddenly been laid off, or if her husband was, they have the other to fall back on.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot today. Today my employer was served a writ of garnishment for my wages. It’s a very long story, involving some extremely old debt, but the state laws where I live gives me very few options: Allow my wages to be garnished until the judgement is fulfilled, or file for bankruptcy. Neither of these are particularly stellar options, and I’ve gone through a mental laundry list of possible outcomes, most of which I hope are hyperbolic, including losing my car, my apartment, having to ask a friend to take in my cats while I find someplace to live… needless to say, I’m probably giving myself an ulcer just thinking about it.
But you know what keeps popping into my head? Not “gee, I wish I understood legal jargon better” or “For the love of God, why did I agree to have a judgement leveled against me?” (answer: because my lawyer
is was a moron). No…. what I keep thinking is, “This would be so much less scary if I had a partner.”
Isn’t that odd? I guess I should be thinking of ways to protect what little assets I have, but it’s clear to me that we’re passed that point. Now I just wish I had somebody to make it all a little more tenable. Not just someone to split the rent with (but GOD would that help!), not just to have someone reassure me that if I can’t afford groceries for the next six months, we’ll still make it work (I’m really hoping the food bank doesn’t tell me I make too much money), but so that at the end of a day like today, I have more than half a bottle of cheap wine to come home to. That at the end of a day like today, I have someone who’ll wrap their arms around me and remind me that if all else fails, we still have each other.
Instead, I have four days to figure out how to protect my wages, or figure out how I’m going to live on 70% of my salary without losing my car, getting evicted, or starving. Oh, and Netflix. I have Netflix. But now even that seems like a grossly unnecessary expense, even if I do primarily use Netflix to fill my apartment with the sounds of human voices so I don’t feel so lonely. At least loneliness is free.