• 11Feb

    A few years ago, Living Wage (here’s Austin’s) was all the rage; at least it was in my sociopolitical circles. I considered it worthy to hope for, but quite unlikely to ever materialize.

    Today, I was smacked in the face with why it’s so damn important.

    Real Life Example #1

    I’ve been job hunting. Ideally, I want a part-time job in our neighborhood–or near Emil’s work, or easily accessible via CapMetro. Ideally, the hours would match up pretty closely to Emil’s. I don’t much care what I’d be doing, and I’ll work for peanuts. We live near a bunch of retail, so the schedule is the usual hitch in the giddy up.

    Yesterday, I applied for a call center job–terrible, I know. Today, I tested, interviewed, and got the job. It’s a pretty crappy salary for call center work, but it’s mostly resetting users passwords. It’s $10 an hour, but I’d end up making $3.90. Yes, three dollars and ninety cents. I declined the job, eventhough I had–with hope driving me–done all the paperwork.

    • Income tax: [$2.50 per hour] right off the bat.
    • A good CapMetro pass: $96.25/mo. [$0.60/hr]
    • Spend an extra 3 hours each day getting to/from the job. [a $3 per hour hit to the salary]
      • Leave the house at 5:15am to be sitting, logged in, headphones on, and read to work by 6:45. Sit for 15 minutes unpaid until I can clock in. It seems they are sticklers for this 15 minutes they don’t pay employees for.
      • On a good day, get home at 6:45pm or get to our closest train station at 6:09 and have Emil pick me up.
      • Stay past 5pm anytime it gets busy because they take calls until 7pm. Miss the good bus on a regular basis and spend 1.5 hours getting home. That’s just riding time. That doesn’t count the times I’d miss the bus by 5 minutes and wait 35 for the next one.
      • It’s not even very far from Emil’s work, but 7am starts and open-ended evenings means we can never carpool.

    So, before I even get there and do any training or work, I figure I’ll make $3.90 an hour. But wait! There’s more!

    • If you can believe what you read on the Internet, I could routinely get 3-hour blocks off during my work day. That’s just enough time to go home and back if the buses sync up perfectly. No, of course I wouldn’t be working during those 3 hours, but what am I going to do? Even if I could leave, every option costs money. So, a 9-hour workday that would normally have an hour for lunch is suddenly an 11-hour one. It’s not like I can take another job during those random mid-day breaks.
    • Also, employees pay for their headsets, their paperwork, IDs. It all comes out of the first paycheck.
    • I’d probably need some new clothes and/or a new bag or two; there are always a few little things. Also, the center reportedly has two temps: scalding and “do you want to build a snowman?”.

    Before doing the math, this sounds like a pretty good job for someone in need. All that is really needed is a GED; the training is part of the gig. $10 an hour is a bit higher than minimum wage. It’s not fast food or hard labor or working in bad weather. The employees that were coming and going really did come in all shapes/sizes/colors and from all walks of life. (In fact, there might be a little too much leniency in the dress code: Hooker Barbie with her custom Meth Mouth was a bit much.)

    It is imperative that companies pay enough for the employee to cover the expenses of going to the job. After all, how many bills can I pay if my net is $3.90? Granted, I don’t need to factor for 2 adults since Emil has a job, but shouldn’t every job be good enough to do that in case one partner gets laid off? Worse, what is a single mom supposed to do?

    Real Life Example #2

    Another one that gets me is the $8/hr part time gigs where you’ll be running errands, so “reliable transportation” is a requirement of the job. Let’s do that math.

    • Car – $200/mo (really cheap)
    • Insurance – $150/mo (assuming older than 25 since no one younger would have this rate)
    • Rent – $800 (Austin not-great apartment) [or, share a $1200 apartment for $600
    • Food – $300
    • Other stuff “everyone” has that isn’t even included: student loans, pets, annual fees like car registration/inspection, cable/Netflix, water/electricity.
    • Total – $1250-1450 / Gross Income – $640 (*if* you get all 20 hours every week).

    Even if you have two part-time jobs at more than minimum wage, you can’t even cover the very basics.

    Real Life Example #3

    I see this all the time. The job description will include some/all of the following.

    • Must be available to work 7am-11pm, seven days a week.
    • You will get two days off a week, but they will never be the same two days and they will never be together. Oh, and we say you’ll get some Saturdays off, but we’re lying; you’ll work every Saturday.
    • You will get your schedule for each 1-2 week pay period a few days before that pay period begins.

    (Find a pattern here: you can have NO life of any kind…because you have to be ready/able to work like a doctor who is on call to the ER.)

    • You will have 7+ bosses.
    • You must perform miracles.
    • “enthusiastic” “fast-paced environment” – those are all code for “we’re going to run you ragged, not just when things are hella busy but all the damn time”
    • “customer pleaser” “self-starter” and even “trainer/training” “admissions” – code for sales
    • “start up” “to turn full-time very soon”- you’ll make no money, the company won’t ever be able to take you full time, and then they’ll lay you off right before they go out of business

    In sum, searching for a simple part-time job is a giant headache. Next time you hear someone use one of those “get a job” lines, please remember and remind them, it’s not easy. Maybe it is for them, but they are incredibly lucky and as rare as unicorn.

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  • 21Jun

    Our week in DFW was full of fun (well, for one of us, at least.)

    Sunday-drive up. We got a late start, but got there just fine. The hotel next to Emil’s class building was really nice. The only thing we missed was a mini-fridge.

    Monday-While Emil had his first day of class, complete with his first night of studying, I spent the afternoon and evening with JJ & Becky and their kids. What fun we had with games, and supper, and trains, and more.

    Tuesday-While Emil took his first test, I spent the day with Leanne. She was on vacation before her new job started. We had a great day making Challah and prepping for Friday services and the meal that would follow.

    Wednesday-While Emil studied for the 2nd test, I spent the day with Sue and Bero at their home in Weatherford. We worked on her blog, traded Photoshop tricks, and picked gargantuan veggies from her garden. Vine-ripened tomatoes! Yum!

    Thursday-While Emil took his 2nd test, I had no plans other than some editing to catch up on. I was a pretty disappointed in my food and WiFi choices for the day. If Las colinas is going to be such a corporate park—and with the construction of the Irving Convention Center complete with a light rail—they need to get with the times.

    Friday-While Emil studied for his third test, I buzzed over to Fort Worth to hang with Jordan. I edited photos while she worked the UP desk at her real estate office. Then, we went to lunch and then spent the afternoon co-working before she had to leave to meet clients and I had to leave to get back to Leanne’s. I met Leanne at her Synagogue and attended services with her. She then welcomed me and several friends into her home for a proper meal for Shabbaz complete with blessings of the bread and wine and washing of our hands. It was a wonderful experience; I checked something off my bucket list.

    Saturday-Emil’s last day of class and final test. I spent a good deal of time editing, but also carved out some time for myself at the pool.

    Sunday-We slept in, had a yummy brunch, and made our way back home. Purrrrl seems to have zen’ed all week; she was bothered that our home arrival interrupted her nap. Thanks to our friend Cathy for checking in on Purrrrrl and Turtleor.

  • 01Jun

    Well, today is Emil’s first day of work. I made us a sausage and eggs breakfast so he could eat well for his first day. It was cool this morning, so we had a lovely breakfast on the balcony.

    He planned for 45 minutes of driving, but it only took ~20. (yay @bennrosales and @laniar for helping us find the right place to living and for knowing how long it would take. We planned extra time for insurance.) So, he can tweak his leave time by a few minutes once this week for the school year and again next week after Austin ISD schools are through for the year.

    I did quite a few things around the house and spent a large chunk of time changing more addresses. With owning a small business, changing the mailing address is almost as time-consuming as changing my name when we got married! When I needed a creative outlet from that monotony, I worked on As You Wish’s new logo. It’s not finished, of course, but I have GOT to order Austin business cards, so I brought it to a stopping point. It meets most of my criteria: (simple/elegant/edgy, color yet easily convertable to b/w, and watermarkable) and misses some elements (a “picture/icon/image” and the website). Feedback is welcome.

    As You Wish photography in Austin, Texas

    I took care of some errands and hit the gym (I think I might have mentioned the 11,000 sq ft gym at our complex…? It’s the largest private gym in all of Austin.) and had a healthy lunch and a nice afternoon break…..at which I met not only an employee of Apple, but also a recruiter. Austin’s Apple campus is closer to our apartment than front office. The recruiter I met is not only interested in seeing my resume for potential moonlighting work while I expand As You Wish into the Austin branch, but also about to get engaged!

    I haven’t had such a productive day in a long time. Well, that’s not true, moving day is productive, but it’s not fun-productive, even with the help of @roybragg and Sandra and two of their kids.

    So, I’m leaving, now to meet @emil285 for a quick/light dinner and then to a Board Game Tweetup with @bennrosales, @laniar, @conniereece and several other Austinites who Tweet.

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  • 14Mar

    My co-worker, Anup, ordered some lenses and mounts for one of our systems. He spent about $100 at ThorLabs, Inc.

    When the box arrived, it was much larger than necessary. Inside, he found a box about the size of a kids’ shoe box full of treats and goodies: twizzlers, cheezits, peanuts, power bars, etc. The red box has an image of a green monster/lizzard/dinosaur eating a hotdog and says “Lab Snacks: A Treat For Humans“.

    What a clever and smart marketing technique. The box has the ThorLabs logo on all sides and has been sitting on a table in the middle of our office all week. Everyone has talked about it.


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  • 10Jan

    The best Aggie jokes are the ones the Aggies play on themselves.

    Just hours after we learned that our new President, Dr. Murano is removing the the VP for Communications (Steve Moore), today’s edition of the Aggie Hotline comes out with a giant typo: “Aggoe”!