Friday, January 21, 2011

Paydays Are Like Chocolate

I started working for a company a few weeks ago - after the desolate wasteland of my unemployment, I was ready to try new challenges, learn new skills, access new information and ensure all my TPS reports were filed, with cover sheets, in triplicate, on the appropriate desk. I was also ready to earn a paycheck, because girlfriends, my back account was empty. I felt like those cartoons that depict the concept of "poor" with moths coming out of my wallet.

There's nothing quite like the rush of payday, though, right? I've finally been around long enough to get some cash monies (okay, one automatic deposit), and all of the sudden, the day seems brighter. I can afford things like groceries! Granola bars, you silky bitches: I'm going to take you home and eat you. I can also afford things like new tights, and some work clothes, because I've been rotating the same five skirts for the past couple weeks and I think people are starting to notice. Maybe that's why nobody wants to eat lunch with me. Regardless, the feeling of, "hey, my time is worth actual money to other people" is very gratifying.

Back when I was a wee teenager and wore ridiculous JNCO pants along with my boss-mandated collared shirts to my job at the beachfront french fry stand, I used to get paid in fat wads of cash. It was like being a baby tycoon, especially since I was fourteen and basically a noodle when it came to income. What expenses do fourteen year olds have? I bought magazines and went to the Bulk Barn, where I bought gummi worms and disgusting lipgloss from Wal-Mart. Like, seriously. And I also saved for university: despite having a boatload of savings and a chunk of cash left over from my child modeling days, I managed to rack up twenty grand in bills from the venerable University of Toronto. But I loved getting paid in cash, since it was so immediate. There was no going to the bank, or mandatory five-day waiting periods while my cheques cleared. It was just there, ready to be spent.

After every famine there's a feast. I spent a long time in Winners last night, wandering the aisles, searching for work-appropriate garb I don't also want to burn. ( Quick questions: why is so much of that stuff made from that one cheap-feeling material? You know the one - H&M makes all their pants from it - but it feels like used plastic bags have been melted and woven together to create something that wants desperately to be considered a fabric, but is more akin to an allergic reaction.) I netted some metallic jazz-shoe flats and a vaguely nautical sweater; sadly, the sequined leopard-print hot pants weren't in the budget, even at fifteen bucks. If they're still there in a couple weeks, I might pick 'em up. I desperately hope they are, because although I fear them, I also love them.

Because that's the beauty of payday: it gives you freedom. My boyfriend likes to remind me that jobs aren't really designed to be laff riots with 100% freedom and continuous happiness - they are, he says, called "work" for a reason. Which is true. But, while jobs are designed for people to sell their time to their employers, work needs to do something for you as well - be it personal growth, or professional advancement, or even just the influx of money every so often. And money allows you to do other things: plan vacations, buy silly hotpants, go dancing, even just be free from worrying about how you're going to pay for your food and rent. In the future, when I build up a little bit of savings and am not running so much on fumes - even though I got paid, my months of unemployment have left things a little tight, and the squeeze is on for at least another six weeks - I'll be able to luxuriate in having disposable income. For now, I'm just grateful I'm not broke any more. Being broke makes a girl feel broken.

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