Thursday, February 23, 2012

Working 9 To 5

More like working 5 to 9! 

One thing that I can say with complete confidence is that my debt has never been a reflection of my work ethic.  In addition to teaching, I have worked a second job every year since 2003.  I generally enjoy working, and take pride in what I do.

In 2003, as my debt started escalating, I recognized the need for an additional job to make ends meet.  This was one of my first “a-ha” moments about becoming an adult.  I had always assumed that if I did everything “right” (“right” = go to college, graduate, get my Masters degree, secure a teaching job), then my life would fall into place.

I quickly realized that a) taking the “right” path didn’t guarantee anything, and b) it was going to be impossible to sustain the same quality of life that I grew up with.

2nd Job #1
My inaugural foray into secondary jobs was in the form of an after-school private tutor position.  I worked with elementary-aged kids, focusing on reading and writing skills.  It wasn’t so bad, but it did make me a bit sleepy. 

For me, the 3-5:00pm time frame is when I most feel like taking a nap.  So if I’m not engaged in something semi-active during those hours, I’m a goner.  One might assume that tutoring kids would be considered “semi-active,” but a large part of my tutoring sessions involved listening to 2nd graders read aloud.  Without fail, I’d find my eyes slowly closing to the melodic sounds of The Magic Treehouse series.

Suddenly, I’d jerk awake, immensely concerned about what I’d missed with our main characters, Jack and Annie.  I’d glance nervously at the page…and sigh with relief to see that the reader had moved ahead exactly one paragraph since my nap.  This exemplifies why this student needed tutoring in the first place. 

I enjoy helping kids learn; although I confess I much prefer working with older kids.  High school kids laugh when I use phrases like “chillax” or “livin’ the dream.”  They think I'm a real hoot when I say "cut it out" in my Uncle Joey voice or when I tell them that my rap name is Kate Dogg.  2nd graders just think I’m strange.

2nd Job #2
In 2006-07, I upped the ante.  I tried working a really lame job.  In addition to teaching 8th graders (which is surprisingly not the “really lame job” I’m referencing), I took a second job at Pizza Time.  I thought this would prove my pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps ability.  Four times a week I delivered pizzas from 4-10:00 pm. 
You can really sense my passion for pizza.
To this day, I cannot comprehend what possessed me to pull into the Pizza Time parking lot, introduce myself to the manager, and fill out an application. It was like a trifecta of everything I suck at: driving, directions, and math.

Working for Pizza Time has provided me with enough party tricks to entertain any crowd; however, it did not provide me much relief from my debt. I secretly thought that eventually I’d deliver a pizza to some multi-millionaire who would notice my charm and social aptitude. He would say, “What’s a talented and beautiful girl like you doing hauling around hot bags of pineapple pizza? I’ve got a perfect job for you. You could work as the PR manager for my publishing/fashion/celebrity gossip/crayon-naming company! I could only start you at about $500,000 a year – but there’s also commission and overtime.”

Inexplicably, this never happened.  I did, however, deliver pizza to a naked hooker who paid me with dollar bills that she collected off her bed.  For real.

2nd Job #3
In 2008-09, I worked after school at a doctor’s office.  Most of my work was secretarial in nature: filing paperwork, photocopying medical records, calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments.  Compared to my previous gig at Pizza Time, working at the doctor’s office was dreamy!  The only downside was that there were no tips (I had averaged about $50 in tips every night at P.T.). 

My favorite part was calling the patients, leaving messages on their voice mails.  I had mastered the smooth, radio-DJ voice.  “Good afternoon. I’m calling from Dr. ______’s office.  I just wanted to confirm your appointment this Wednesday, October 12, at 3:00.  We look forward to seeing you soon.  Have a great day.”

I tried to smile as I made these calls because it added an extra cheesy quality to my voice.  Try talking to yourself while smiling - you'll see what I mean. 

The only time my façade was shattered was when patients actually answered their phones.  Suddenly, I’d find myself stumbling all over my well-rehearsed lines.  Patients would ask me questions I was ill-prepared for, like “Do I need to give myself an enema before I get to the office?  Or should I wait and administer the enema there?”    

Although I was happy to discuss changing an appointment time from 11:30 to 11:45, I was not comfortable dispensing information about poop practices.  There would be a long pause, while I covered the receiver and frantically asked the other secretaries what to say.

2nd Job #4
I am currently on my 4th second job, which I’ve been working since fall of 2009.  My school district offers online credit retrieval, and I facilitate the after-school program.  Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I can say with absolute certainty that it is, by far, the best 2nd job I’ve had. 

I like that that I don’t have to leave my building for my 2nd job.  Instead, I just walk downstairs and get started.  Struggling learners have always been my specialty.  If they’re in credit retrieval, it means that they are at risk of not graduating.  I enjoy nagging motivating these students to get back on track.

When I first started this blog, I mentioned that making more money (through my second jobs) hasn’t helped with paying off my debt.  Instead, I find myself spending all the extra money I earn.

I can’t eliminate my second job yet; I need that money to break even each month.  But I’ve also realized that I need to change my spending habits more than anything else.  Breaking even isn’t going to cut it – I need to get ahead.  This is why my Stopping Spree is so important.

I will do whatever it takes to clean up my finances.  You’ll never catch me skipping credit card payments or considering bankruptcy.  Nope – I got myself into this mess, and I am bound and determined to get myself out of it!


  1. naked hooker = EPIC job story.

    1. @ Carly - I know, right? And to be honest, that story is just one of many from my Pizza Time vault. I could literally write an entire book about my one year there!