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Archive for October, 2007

The Forum takes the lead

October 30th, 2007 at 02:27 am

I haven't really talked about work much lately: the Guild consumes so much of my time, I barely have a moment to think. But I still have bills to pay, and to make that happen, I go to the Forum. Not so much at the Souk anymore - it just doesn't pay enough for full time, and the although the pay isn't high at the Forum, it does give dental, so it's an easy call.

My job there is of the low-level type, so I have very little status. I think that's a good thing: as a body, the Senate has an unforgiving eye, and staying low to the ground keeps me from their attention.

However, even the most lowly water carrier must show some evidence of work, inititative, and good execution of duties, and this must be submitted, in triplicate, to the Senate scribes.

And because of this requirement, I was summoned to their chambers and asked to give an account of myself: my strengths, weaknesses and plans to improve my failings.

I thought that an alarm clock, an IV drip of espresso and a bullet train could help...but I don't think the Senate is known for their humor in these cases. In fact, they strongly suggested that I do some cross-training: it's better for them to have a Jester with some skills besides juggling and joke telling.

So it has been decided that I will spend some time with the Forum Scribes, learning the arts of language, commerce and illuminaton. This is something I think may be very helpful for me: I know people that use these skills as their only employment.

I enjoy the Forum, and don't wish to leave, but it would be very nice to have some knowledge that I could do for pay in and out of the Forum. My hope was do switch my moonlighting efforts from the Souk to my own endeavors, but I didn't have the skills to do so. Perhaps I can change that, and switch my side title from "Wench" to "Freelancer". I'd never be able to do it full time (the hope being that I might one day work for the Guild,) but it might be more lucrative than mucking stalls.

Wake up calls

October 28th, 2007 at 05:25 am

It's been awhile, I know it. :P

In any case, my buddy Rufus and I were discussing a friend's recent downturn of luck. This friend (Chris) is really struggling: recent job loss and high moving expenses. He's got a little side job right now, but it doesn't cover all f his bills, and Rufus has been helping him out: helping make a budget and spotting some cash here and there.

I don't know Chris very well, really only through Rufus, so when R was setting up C's budget, I stepped in it and tried to give some advice. The typical stuff: can he cut this expense, does he really need that expense, can he contact this creditor, can he get a roommate, has he looked over there for work. Both guys were nice about my meddling (meaning, they didn't tell me to stuff a sock in it,) but my suggestions weren't able to be done.

Later, Rufus filled me in on Chris's backstory. Specifically, that Chris's troubles were pretty far reaching: high debt (student loan and credit cards), crazy interest rates, overdraft fees, poor health (and uninsured), and now living in a sketchy area and the car had just broken down. The current situation was an emergency that had reached the chronic state.

Rufus and I talked about how easy it was to slip from stability to insolvency, and my anxiety was increasing with every word he said. The thing was that Chris had no money in savings, was operating in the red even before the job loss and the move, and had no concept of budgeting. So he'd been walking on the tightwire without a safety net, and it felt like I was staring out the window at a man plummeting to earth. Chris himself is a wreck: in a bad place emotionally, which makes the whole job thing even harder.

The thing is that, with a few minor changes, Chris could have at least had a safety net. Rufus made a preliminary budget (before the job loss) which showed the fat in Chris's budget. Which meant that Chris had been spending that amount (and not realizing it) before the budget was made. After it was pointed out to him, he didn't want to change it: he said it was just a few luxuries here and there. Say 100.00/month. But it adds up: you can save it, or bleed it away, but it adds up.

Rufus was saying that he (R) had been lucky: he'd managed to put away a little $$, so if things went sour, he'd be ok for a while. And he has a skill set that's really flexible -- he can go anywhere for work, and find it.

The entire conversation scared me, because I know I've been more like Chris than like Rufus. Thoughtless spending, not planning, no real program for eliminating my debt, and my skill set is not at all adaptable. There are more guild members than guild work. And since the guild has been giving me aid, and the extra $$ has lulled me into a false sense of security.

Right now things are good for me. But I can't plan that it's a permanent case. I don't want to have to worry that I've been out of work for months, and that if it weren't for my friends, I'd be on the street.

I know that I'm neither organized nor disciplined, as a rule. I'm just really not. But I know it's not an excuse, and that I haven't made it easy for myself to do the "right" thing. A little preparation/planning and observation of my weaknesses (like the online billpay) would make the good choices a lot easier to do than the bad ones.

I don't want to be like Chris.

This is a long post, sorry.