posted Wed, 20 Dec 2006
When you are making only $7 an hour after taxes, you look at every discretionary purchase with a very careful eye. A movie – is it really worth almost an hour of putting away clothes that someone has left on the dressing room floor? That chocolate bar – worth half an hour of folding sweaters? A pretzel at the mall stand – worth 25 minutes of putting clothes back on hangers and trying to wrestle them back into the jam-packed sale rack?
I didn’t think this way when I was making zero dollars an hour and spending my savings as if they were water, but there you are.
I decided the other day when I finished my last diet Coke in the pack that I did not need to invest 38 minutes in a new case. That’s just too much wasted. That money could be better spent on dried pinto beans. Four dollars buys about six pounds – whatever – you do the math – of beans, which is a lot of food.
My plan worked great for one day.
Then I had to work late after three days of working long days. So I broke down and spent 65 cents on one soda from the coke machine in the break room – and that’s way more expensive than buying them in bulk. But I thought that was just a one-time lapse. I didn’t need caffeine. Really, I didn’t.
But yesterday, I had hardly any sleep. I worked late the night before and didn’t get home until midnight. Had a hard time sleeping. Then, even though I did not have to be at work until 1:00 so had not set an alarm and was going to sleep gloriously late, my alarm went off. Yes. It was not turned on, but it still went off. At 6:40 a.m. Thank you very much, mechanical glitch.
I turned it off and went back to sleep.
Ten minutes later, the sixth car alarm I have heard in seven years in Memphis in my neighborhood started blaring. Went on for about five minutes before thank God the police or some concerned citizen intervened and the car was saved from certain destruction.
I fell back asleep.
An hour later, with still not enough sleep, the travel alarm clock I had thrown in my lunch bag to take to work to take on my lunch break (no clocks in the mall) went off. The alarm must have been knocked on by my bag of apple quarters. The high-pitched, annoying sound came through my kitchen cabinets, basement steps and bedroom wall to reach me. That’s when I gave up.
Last night, I had to work until midnight. I left for work early just so I could stop for a case of diet Coke. I’m going to need it. It’s a necessary expense.