Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Income Family

Three years ago when the husband lost his teaching job it was horrible only because of the way he was dismissed. He had taken a chance and left a part time teaching job that he was good at and enjoyed (and had full benefits) to join the world of the full time high school teacher. The bigger paycheck was nice and we bought our first car that wasn't very used, only 3000 miles used, driven by a dead lady who only went to church. Having a car is crucial if you have a soccer playing child, which then was the apex of our son's soccer career. Plus I was driving 72 miles a day to a job in the hinterlands, so upgrading the car wasn't just for fun, it was a matter of safety. The 92 Buick just wasn't going to do well as it turned 100,000 miles old and it was getting cranky. But finances aren't the real story here, it's about lifestyle.

The year he spent in that job was pretty horrible. He hated most everything about it, and while it was not surprising that they didn't ask him to return the next year, they fired him in such a way that he wasn't allowed to get his old part time job back, the one he had done for seven years and was good at. He appealed through official channels and after a year they overturned whatever it is they have to overturn to allow him to work. The paperwork proving this took another year. And then in the third year he wasn't able to find a job. To be fair, he did work a little house painting and odd jobs, and he sold a couple of paintings too.

So now here we are, beginning of the school year, and lo and behold, they have opened a new adult ed learning center in Hell's Kitchen, and, starting on Monday, he is employed again. Five mornings of work, full benefits, not a paycheck a single person could live on, but he enters the world of the gainfully employed.

What I gain in extra disposable income I lose in lifestyle. For three years I had a wife who did all the cooking, lunch packing, grocery shopping, laundry, child care crap, moving the car from one side of the street to the other, light cleaning, making new shelves, plastering and painting, dumpster diving and going to the gym (you don't work you better look good doing it). My job is to go to work, pay the bills, read the magazines, watch tv and look cute enjoying the fruits of my labor. It was working out pretty well, at least for me.

So now everything is changed. I no longer have that crazy commute, Max no longer plays soccer out of town all weekend long, and my wife is going to turn back into my husband. He can continue doing most of his wifely duties since his job is only 3 hours a day (plus an hour for commuting and another hour of paperwork), but I think now I will probably have to cook a meal now and again. Making a pie once a year will no longer qualify as "helping around the house."

Photo caption: Labor Day is the premier day to scavenge garbage. All those NYU students throw away practically brand new furniture. The East Village is strewn, with shelves, beds, couches, chairs, lamps and all you need to furnish your home. That piece of wood is now a desktop. The box holds shit found on the street that nobody else wants either.

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