Tag Archives: Back To Work

Middle Class Monday: Mr. Brickie’s First Day Back

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Today’s Middle Class Monday is really special. We were in the middle class and then, five months ago, Mr. Brickie fell off a ladder and shattered his wrist and *poof* we were out of the middle class just like that. Today marks the day we’re back!

When a poor person gets injured they may have been working for cash or under the table. They may not get workman’s comp. They may not have a way to support themselves when they are hurt. Even if they do, they may not have a way to get to physical therapy and post-op surgery appointments. There are so many ways a situation can go wrong.

Because we are (barely? almost?) middle class we have a reliable car that got Mr. Brickie to all his appointments. Because we have a phone plan we were able to put all those appointments into Google Calendar and get reminders. Because he is part of a union he knew he would have a job to go back to. So much support was in place for him it felt like Disney’s version of a work injury. I fully expected bluebirds at some point.

Last but certainly not least his workman’s comp payment (70% of gross earnings) was enough to live on because he made a living wage to begin with. If he was making minimum wage those payments would have been about $185/wk. Certainly not enough to live on even considering our rent is paid through November.

It’s just another way being poor is so much more difficult. I wish people would see other people and think, “Wow, you’ve done a lot to get where you are.” Even if where they are isn’t someplace the looker would choose to be, you know?

Now it’s time to change the subject to Mr. Brickie’s first day!

Last night was awful for both of us. We didn’t sleep well, the cats were anxious, the kids even had trouble falling asleep. Everyone was so nervous about his first day back to work.

He went to practice at the training center last week, so he knows he can still rock it out. His trainers were really happy with his performance.

It’s like the first day of school. You know the place, you’ve been there before, you know the people, but you’re still nervous. He’s very lucky to be going back to the same company (the same job, even!) because they are looking forward to having him back and will understand if he has to ice his wrist on lunch or whatever.

Also, he’s already set up with direct deposit so I hope that sails smoothly next week.

I’m not sure there is a way to adequately express how relieved I am we are back on track with the five-year plan. I mean, it’s altered and set back five months but it’s still the same plan since we made the decision to stop fighting the losing battle to keep the house in Illinois.

Overall, it’s been better than I could have imagined. The school district is better for my kids here, I’m closer to people I know and trust here, I’ve made and lost friends here but I’m still coming out at a net positive so I’m doing great there, too. As soon as he gets that first paycheck from working next week, I’ll be able to replenish the emergency fund and then start paying down credit cards.

We have about $1,000 more in credit card debt now than we did when he got injured five months ago. It could be worse. It could be better. I did get that $5,000 windfall but spent it mostly on my daughter’s contact lenses and the rent savings account.

September is an “extra check” month, too. Not having any bills to spend the check on will give us about $462 and that is almost halfway toward filling the emergency fund back up.

I hope he’s having a good first day back. I’ll be home and worried, waiting for him. I mean, I have errands to run today but I’m going to spend a couple hours after the kids leave for school sitting silently on the couch contemplating my life changing back into something I am familiar with.

I Think It’s Okay Now (Work and Hope)

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This morning started out really rough.

The phone rings and I find myself being pulled from dreams of sand and fire and so much violence. It is a relief but my mind barely registers the moments of peace before it switches to practical mode. “Who was that?” I ask my still mostly sleeping husband.

It was the president of the union.

“Why didn’t you answer it?” I ask, even though I know the answer as plan as the pillow on my cheek. “I was asleep.” He says in a tone not unlike one my daughter will use when she is a teen. The defensive whine cuts through the air and I am angry. Angry because I feel like if it were me waiting for a call my brain would be kind enough to wake me up faster, somehow better than his brain did for him.

I go from dreams of war to armchair quarterbacking the unconscious choices of my husband’s brain in less than a minute. Some might call that talent, but I think you and I both know it was a failure. If he had answered the phone groggy it would have made him seem like a slacker. It was 8am and bricklayers are already working, usually by 7:30am at the latest. You should be awake and chipper by 8am.

If only my “just woke up” brain was on board with being a little bit understanding. I mutter to him that he needs to get his feet on the floor and do jumping jacks or something to wake his brain up so he can call back as soon as possible. He looks at me like I’m insane. My natural reaction, of course, is to swing my feet onto the floor and begin making huffing noises as if his behavior just has me at my wit’s end.

Sometimes I’m not super mature. I want to be. I try to be. Mornings are not a good time for me unless I have structure. I do love structured mornings. It’s why I liked when the kids were in school so much. I would wake up a half hour before everyone, have coffee and toast, relax, and then wake them up when it was time. I was awake and smiling. Mornings were bliss.

Now it’s a madhouse.

I find out during the get coffee portion of the morning someone else had called him and left a voicemail while we were both still sound asleep. It was the project manager for the company he worked for last year in the very beginning. It’s a reputable company but one my husband would not say was his first choice in companies due to being moved around a lot last year and not getting a lot of “wall time” as an apprentice.

He didn’t miss a beat, however, and called back right after calling the president. He got voicemail and made an executive decision to drive to the company’s headquarters and see if they needed him to fill out new paperwork for the new year. About halfway to his destination he got a call back. Mr. Brickie informed the project manager that yes he was looking for work but he has training M-Th next week so wouldn’t be available to work until Friday. (This is a known thing in the bricklaying industry and does not reflect badly on Mr. Brickie. Employers understand the training thing, thank goodness.) The project manager said, “No problem. Give me a call Wednesday or Thursday and I’ll give you an address to go to on Friday.”

Did you hear that?

Did you?

My husband will be back to bricklaying next Friday! It would be sooner but he has training. (Training threw a wrench into our lives last year, too. It’s part of the process, I guess.) He’s back.

We’re back.

I’ll have to do some savings calculations and see how little we can live on.

I’ll be able to blog about something other than hope gastanks running on fumes and feeling pathetic every time I say, “Any week now.”

Really, I can’t even tell you how happy I am to know I’ll be able to get back to the nitty gritty of saving and budgeting, which is what I always wanted this blog to be about. Sure there will be some other stuff, but I’ve felt so adrift with my main goal on hold for so long.

I don’t think I will feel a true sense of relief until next Friday when he actually works a full day, but it doesn’t even matter. I just texted him to call and see if our direct deposit information is with the right bank.

There are things I can do to feel part of the process now. Direct deposit forms. Lunch planning. Hydration planning. Getting him out from under my feet so I can organize the house some more.

So many things I’ve been looking forward to. I’m so happy, even though I know until he steps foot on the job site I should be cautious with my feelings, I just can’t help it.

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