Humor Non-Fiction posted March 3, 2013

This work has reached the exceptional level
Money Woes Make A Girl Think Outside The Box

Different Ways To Make A Buck

by wordsfromsue

I've had my share of misconceptions. One shattered by reality this past year has been that by my fifties, I'd have it all together and life would be pretty sweet. I thought I'd remain healthy with no extra effort and that I'd magically pay off my debt without breaking a sweat. THWOCK! My head made the most sickly, suctioning noise when I finally pulled it out of my butt.

An unwelcome onslaught of medical bills proved to be the pin getting pulled from the financial grenade. Life blew up in my face and I did what any sensible person does, I took a cruise down the river Denial. Eventually denial gave way and I couldn't keep afloat anymore. I skipped paying bill A to put a drop in the bucket of debt courtesy of TriHealth. The next month, I'd skip bill B and C, but pay A, because those pesky disconnect notices printed on blood-red paper were so unfriendly. I began to feel rather unsavory. If the water department followed through with its threat to disconnect, I imagined smelling unsavory would be just around the corner.

Something had to give, beside my ever-tightening clothes. Eating my way through this crisis wasn't helping. Sugar hangovers were making this normally kind girl behave like a pit bull with its testicles caught in a bear trap. Mr. Twinkie could sure talk sweet to me when he whispered my name, but man, was I a grouch after I'd bit the poor guy's head off and scarfed down his golden deliciousness. Then Hostess went bankrupt and I couldn't even get my jones on for Twinkie Boy anymore. I met his evil twin - Little Debbie's Cloud Cakes- and I have holed up in shadowy rooms a time or two with them, but lusting after Little Debbie just sounds creepy.

I didn't drink or drug, and doing the Twinkie or Little Debbie was getting me nowhere. Working my full time job wasn't enough. I had to get busy and find a way to make more cash. What were my options? I'm a civilian employee for the police department. I could cross prostitution and drug dealing off my list of possible income. I didn't fancy my coworkers frisking me for weapons (well, one or two could take a frisk!) before slapping the silver bracelets on me. Breaking and entering probably wouldn't happen. I can hardly climb out of bed some days, couldn't see me climbing through someone's bedroom window. Knowing my luck, I'd get stuck mid-climb. There'd come my coworkers again, calling the Fire Department to bring a ladder and unhitch me. I heard a rhyme running through my mind, 'Silver bracelet... on my wrists, cross burglary... off my list.'

No, better to stay on the right side of the law. I thought of things I'd done in the past to make ends meet. Donating plasma (though why they call it donating when you get paid for it confuses me), mystery shopping (I'm great at that), consumer research studies pay pretty well, taste tester, and helping my son with his newspaper route.

A short time later, I'm busier than a one-armed paper hanger at a wallpaper convention. Plasma brings in a little over two hundred dollars a month; not bad for kicking back and watching movies while the funky stuff gets extracted from my arm. It's been eye opening, noticing the difference in the population rolling up their sleeve to make ends meet. Back in the day, I saw mostly young people. Now: all ages in jeans, hoodies, business suits, dresses... Some folks are out of work. Some, like me, put in their forty hours; between inflation and no raise in years, I can't make my paycheck perform magic. Houdini left the building a long time ago.

In the past, I made extra money being a mystery shopper. Individual shops don't tend to pay much, strategically scheduling shops close to each other on the same day or evening could net a decent amount of money. The shops themselves were fun. I worked at restaurants, phone stores, supermarkets, gas stations, book shops, banks, movie theatres, department and discount stores, etc. I learned a lot, imagined myself as an actress playing an ever-changing role, and used my writing talent to submit quality reports to the companies I subcontracted for. The most annoying drawback, for me, was the length of time required to complete the photo downloads and online reports. After shopping for two years, I retired from the scene.

Movie shops were always my favorites. I enjoyed them so much, I would've paid THEM to do them, but fortunately, they pay me! I've started accepting theatre work again. It appeals to the investigative side of my nature and my love of films. A few weeks ago, I accepted a standee installation assignment. I have zero skills in this area, but my teenage son does this sort of thing for pleasure. Showing him the instructions for the eight foot by nine foot display, he shrugged and said, "No problem." I'm glad one of us could decipher the gibberish. We arrived at the theatre and with amazement, I watched my son put seemingly endless bits of materials together into a gorgeous standee, with Morgan Freeman front and center. We had to get Morgan just right!

The evening caused a few moments of serious silliness. I wasn't capable of much except punching out bits and circles, folding multitudes of hard flaps, and lining things up. Thinking it would be easier to work down on my hands and knees, I got down on all fours and promptly remembered that my knees didn't like that AT ALL. Attempting to get up, my pathetic state of fitness reminded me, "Ain't gonna happen." I didn't know what to do. Trying this way and that to get up, I just couldn't. I panicked, afraid of the theatre employees coming upon this middle aged woman having an anxiety attack. I started crawling around the floor dragging my knuckles and knees, looking for a hard surface to grab onto. At this point, I remembered my mother naming me after a chimpanzee and thought about how things come full circle: named after a monkey, crawling around like one.

My son turned around and gazed at me in a horrified fashion, wanting to know what I was doing. He came to help me up, and the next few seconds looked like a scene from The Three Stooges. As he pulled, my body pulled back and he started to fall straight down on top of me. I yelled, "NO!", and a scene flashed through my mind of movie patrons coming upon us, recording the chaos with their phone cameras and headlines appearing the next day, "Mother and son caught in unnatural position at local theatre. Kentucky police to investigate."

At that point, I wanted to a) sink into the floor, b) vaporize, c) cry, and d) wet my pants. Something about all the excitement made my bladder want to party. Nearly in tears, I whispered, "Please... get... me... up." We finally did, I walked into the ladies' room with as much dignity as I could muster and shed a few tears. I was simply overwhelmed. Gathering my wits, I went back to work and the manager came by to admire Kevin's work. We took photos for our report and during the drive home, laughed ourselves silly about it all and commented this was one for the memory book. Indeed!

Another money opportunity fell into my lap a few weeks ago. I was paid a ridiculously grand sum to give my observations on twenty different servings of cat food. Being a mom to three cats now, I felt well qualified. In the end, it didn't matter how much we cat moms loved our felines. We all went home with queasy stomachs after sniffing so many samples, poking and prodding them for the quality questions. Besides the cash, our cats each got a bag of goodies. Truly a win win for all.

I'm glad to say that we're slowly getting out of the deep financial hole we created. Maybe this is a note to some of you who think your work sucks. Just remember Sue crawling around on all fours like a blind, confused simian and it might make you feel a little better about your job!


The photo is of my son Kevin after we completed the standee.

Part of the reason I wrote this is that I tend to feel like a failure quite often for not measuring up to the rest of the human race. I imagine every other soul on the planet has it way more together than me. To not have my financial act together caused my pride serious embarrassment. In the end, I'm the only one I have to sleep with and look in the mirror at (well, I do sleep with my husband and assorted cats,) so I suppose it doesn't matter how anyone else is doing. I told a friend at church that I was so embarrassed about selling plasma that I thought I'd rather admit to being a prostitute. Wow, that's some tripped out thinking.

Maybe I'll have it all together by the time I'm pushing up daisies at the cemetery.

Yeah, right!
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