Lord knows there've been times back in the day when I've been a lot more broke than I am now or have been in the last decade or so. But I've never felt more poor than I do right now.
The preceding pair of sentences was scheduled to bat leadoff in an episode of These American Servers™ that I've been wanting to present to y'all for several weeks now. For some reason I like that paragraph so I'm keeping it in the lineup. It was true when I first thought of it but now, not so much. I guess it's because I'm working more now and making enough to at least half-ass climb out of my self-perceived poverty.
A natural disaster took out one of my workplaces about 18 months ago. I managed to get by for a good while but should've gone out and gotten another night gig way sooner than I did ("The Secret Shame of Joe Sixtop," December, 2010). Ultimately, I don't have anyone other than myself to blame for what happened to me, but the new PM job I got back in July should at least be credited with an assist.
Back in June of this year I finally depleted all my meager savings. For a variety of reasons, picking up more dinner shifts at the restaurant I work at during the day was becoming increasingly difficult and since I really hate nights there, as an option I'm not sure it beats homelessness. So I went and got another night job. I realize that I'm very blessed to have been hired at the first place I went to with an application ("I Am Joe's Job Search," July, 2011).
They promised to never schedule me earlier than Four PM, in deference to the AM job, but I'd have to train during the day. My awesome GM at the lunch gig, Brenda B, agreed to cover me that week, no problem. I was to get minimum wage for the training but I'd harvest no tips from anywhere for a week. Whatever cheese I had on hand was going to have to last me seven days.
I was real careful with the cashish, and I didn't run out of gas or go hungry or anything like that. At some point during the whole ordeal, I can't recall exactly when, I borrowed $100 (since paid back) from my kindly sibling in order to keep the lights on. I never had to resort to consuming Purina® Cat Chow™, since the Always Save® brand is nearly as good, and much cheaper.
I got through training just fine. During my last follow shift when I took care of all the tables while my trainer observed, I waited on an NBA bench player who was real cool. He left us $30 on a $63 tab ( I bet he wishes he had that back now!), none of which I got to keep. That's fair, but "OUCH!" right then for my broke ass. I passed all the tests and was validated to get out on the floor.
Plus, I got back to my day job, getting tips again. I don't make all that much there and got small, shitty stations my first week or so at the new place. It'd be close but I'd get my training check and be able to pay August's rent, no problem.
Except I didn't get a training check. I netted $279 the last time I'd trained at a new job, back in 2007. I was anticipating at least about $200 this time, but I got zip. The other guy who trained when I did told me he got a couple hundred bucks. All I got was one of those withholding statements that proclaims, "THIS IS NOT A CHECK," that I've usually only received when I was making mad tips.
I perused the FICA information like it was a good Maeve Binchy novel. You know how you can fill out your IRS I-9 form so that they take all your $2.13 an hour out as taxes? I know some servers who do that, in order to pay off a tax debt or to get a fat-ass refund, but I most emphatically DID NOT authorize any of that. I needed that money. I was counting on it. Someone at the corporate office had made a mistake.
Yep, I was financially fucked allright.