On the Verge…

2:43 Friday Afternoon

Everyone in the shop is gone except for the two of us in the Art Department and the boss. I think one of gals might still be at the front counter, but I’m not sure. Everyone’s skeedaddled, ready to start the four-day weekend.

I just found out about the four-day weekend about an hour ago. No one had told me. I’m not happy about it, either. I don’t WANT a four-day weekend… This is gonna suck, and I’m gonna tell you why.

The bosses have decided that the print shop will be closed Monday for Christmas Eve and Tuesday for Christmas Day. The first problem is that they only pay for ONE day of holiday, so we just lose out on the other day’s pay. Normally I would just make the time up the following weekend, but the bosses have decreed that working on Saturdays shall not be standard operating procedure, so I have to ask permission to come in to work on a Saturday, and I’m not optimistic about them agreeing to it.

The second problem is that while we can only work three days next week we have five days’ worth of work to do, so next week is going to be frantic indeed. I anticipate working some long hours. No overtime pay, though, because we only get paid overtime if we work over 40 hours in a week. So if I work three thirteen-hour days in a row I’ll still be under 40 hours for the week and therefore ineligible for overtime. The bosses, however, have no qualms about asking us to work right up to that 40-hour line, then sending us home almost to the minute before we get any overtime.

It’s a petty thing, but it irks me.

I appreciate the fact that they DO pay us for holidays, and that they DO allow us time off work… I just wish they weren’t so pesky about it. They think they’re doing us a favor by letting us have an extra day off, but in reality it just causes us financial stress and increases our workload for a week afterwards…

Ah well. In the meantime, here I sit, not doing much.

2:53 Friday Afternoon

I still have two full hours before I can start on my long weekend. Two hours, and nothing much to do. Every job is being put off until next Wednesday. The pressmen are gone, so I can’t ask them for the information I need to make plates for the few jobs sitting on my desk. So I’m surrounded by work I can’t do, watching a clock tick, waiting until next week so I can be pressured to get it ALL done at once — because by Wednesday all these jobs will have “RUSH” stamped all over them and I’ll have angry customers calling me, wondering why we missed the deadline…

In the meantime, here I sit, not doing much.

2:58 Friday Afternoon

I was fortunate enough to get a couple contracts for some web design work through my little freelance company. I have enough information to get a good start on them this weekend. I’m looking forward to a couple good productive days and getting some work done. I also need to update my own personal web site, and pay some serious attention to the Legion Rider site.

In the meantime, here I sit, not doing much.

3:01 Friday Afternoon

My buddy here in the Art Department just started snoring. I beaned him upside the head with a paper clip to wake him up before the boss noticed… Anyway…

Yesterday after work my beloved Viennese Snowflower Dagmar and I trekked from Sioux City to neighboring berg Le Mars to help with the American Legion Riders’ Children’s Christmas Party. The American Legion post there usually hosts the Children’s Christmas Party, but this year they asked the ALR to help out. Dagmar was in a sour mood from some problems at work, so the 45-minute ride to Le Mars was spent in one big rant. (Dagmar rarely rants, and when she does, she does it well, and the rant is well-deserved.) “I can’t believe dis happened,” she said. “My emotions are bruised, und I’m tired. I vant to go home.”

Once in Le Mars, we stopped by my brother’s house to pick up the nephew and niece to take them to the party. As I put the car in park, Dagmar said, for about the fiftieth time, “I don’t know vy I’m going to dis party. All I vant to do is go home und pull my blanket over mein head. Dis day has really sucked.”

That’s when my brother’s door opened and two small becoated children ran out to our car. “Hello Aunt Dagmar! Uncle Chris!” Dagmar and I busied ourselves getting the children safely in the back seat, then drove the six blocks to the Legion Hall where the party was to be held. Zip, zoom, there we were.

I set my coat down and said hello to a friend of mine, then turned around to see Dagmar, smiling from ear to ear, surrounded by about fifteen children, holding someone’s baby, explaining to the assorted tots why she talks funny (“I’m not from around dese parts”). She played “Duck, Duck, Goose” with the children, and “Simon Says,” and they sang songs…

We all ate hamburgers and fries, Mrs. Santa read some stories to the children, Santa came and gave out gifts, Dagmar and the children played some more. “I’m so happy ve came here!” she said. “I’m havink a good time!”

But… Oh geeze, where’s the nephew? I’ve lost him! Gaaahhh… A quick but frantic search found the eight-year-old had wandered off to the bar and was staring intently at a picture on the wall. His gaze never wavered as I asked him what he was doing. “I’m looking at the picture,” he said. “What does it mean?”

Oh gosh. How to explain this to an eight-year-old? He was looking at “Reflections” by Lee Teter.

“Well, you remember when we first got here you asked me why this building was built?” I asked. He nodded and answered, “You said it was built for soldiers, that this is a place old soldiers can come and talk.”

“Yes. Well, about forty years ago there was a war in a place a long ways away. When the war was over, people decided that they wanted to remember all the soldiers that died in the war, so they built a big wall in Washington DC, and they carved all the soldiers’ names on the wall.”

“That’s the wall?” my nephew asked, pointing to the picture. “Those are the names of the soldiers that died?”

“Yes,” I said. “There are a lot of names, aren’t there?”

“That man looks sad,” he said. “Is he crying?”

“Well, he was probably in that war,” I said. “He’s probably looking at his friend’s name, remembering his friends who died…”

“Oh.” There was a pause. “Those men are his friends, aren’t they. He can’t see them because they died, but they want him to not be so sad.”

By this time I was getting kinda teary-eyed and didn’t really trust my voice, so I didn’t answer. I just wandered off to the nearest table and sat down. My nephew took his eyes off the print, found an empty bar stool, dragged it from the bar over to the picture, and sat on the bar stool for another five or ten minutes, studying the print. He sat there, silent, staring at the print, surrounded by a roomful of veterans, until his mother came in to pick him up. I’m not sure what he learned, but I’m sure he learned something…

It was an interesting day.

3:36 Friday Afternoon

One hour and twenty-four minutes left.

3:47 Friday Afternoon

Oops, I must have dozed off. I just got beaned in the ear with a paper clip.

If you’re reading this on Facebook, you can see the original blog at www.radloffs.net, click on “Blog.”

6 thoughts on “On the Verge…

  1. The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch:

    I worked for a company that closed for the week of Christmas and we only got paid for 1 day. They too thought they were doing us a favor.

    I love the story about your young charge and the photo.

    Dagmar and I have a lot in common in not wishing to leave the comforter and having squealing children force a change of heart.

  2. Leonesse

    If there is a baby in the room, I will find it and be holding it within the half hour.

    I love the story about your nephew. Let’s hope they all learn something before life hardens them. Apparently Mr. Bush didn’t.

  3. pistols at dawn

    I, too, remember these sorts of jobs and the massive crimp in my finances as a result. Ultimately, it’s what led me to never be that worried about a job, since they were never that worried about me.

  4. Virginia

    Time off is worth whatever it costs to me..but those catch-up times that follow are a pain.

    I too have had to just hang around doing nothing (surfing the net, jounaling and just being there filling my chair…) Nt good.

    Time off and/or autonomy motivates me. Money does not… Spooo, for me, an effective manager says, finish this project and then you can go home…If I am at wok, I want to work…otherwise, leeeet me go home. I do not take lunch most days and just work straight through.

    Nice tale about the nephew…thanks for sharing. And try to just enjoy the time off and do not allow yurself to become bitter and angry…

    Happy Holidays!

    Aunt V.
    Smelling the Scent of the Chistmas Bird as I tap Away

  5. Chris

    Boy, I could enjoy the time off a lot more if I weren’t so worried about how to cover the mortgage… I’m not bitter or angry (though I used to be! For a while there that’s the only mode I operated in — bitter and angry.), I’m just a bit stressed is all.

    The problem with “time off” is that there really IS no such thing. If I’m not at work, all that means is that I have to find some other way to make money that day, and that often takes more than eight hours. (Example — I’ve been up since five this morning working on a web site. I’ll be at it until after midnight I’m sure.) Make no mistake, I enjoy freelancing from home MUCH more than I enjoy working at the shop, but the income is so sporadic and undependable that the stress sometimes isn’t worth it.

    We’re not poor by any means — we have food, a warm house, and I can poop indoors — and I don’t take any of that for granted. But golly, I sure wish we weren’t so close to the line. One missed payment and we’re in a world of hurt… We have ways we could cut back if need be, but we’re hoping not to have to do that.

    It didn’t used to be this way. Not many years ago I could get by with the occasional 32-hour work week, but times have changed. I’m grateful to get a paycheck, but I’m just sayin’…

    Tomorrow we go to the farm for Christmas! I’m all excited to see the family again! Pictures at 11…

  6. Virginia

    Been there – worried about cash and driving cars that are not safe…I am not sure when, but I figured out that the worrying makes it worse – the focus on it, allowing it to dominate me ruined my life.

    Now, when I am tempted to believe that God does not provide, I saya prayer of gratitude for every good thing I can think of in my life (A panhandler hit me up when I had just spent my last 25 cents…had to laugh…but I digress). Suddenly, unexpected doors opat I need is there…stuff falls together…we really are like the birds and the poppies of the field (Biblical reference)so sing and bloom. Yeah, it is not easy to put aside our fears, but we each deal with our own demons and if we let those demons ruin our lives, we really lose…Whew…I gues I have an opinion huh! 😎 I am off my latest soapbox. Thanks for opening up a dialog! Lookin’ forward to the photos of the Radloff Rendezvoux! 😎 Aunt V.
    (Livng in pricey Santa Fe on $900 a month as an AmeriCorps*VISTA)


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