Friday, March 19, 2010

The other job

1999 was a bad year for the mortgage loan industry. Back then, I worked as a mail clerk for a mortgage loan company, and by the end of the year the cutbacks had reached the point where they had to let me go. I was unemployed for several months until a temp agency was able to get me a job as an accounting clerk at a small manufacturing plant in Warwick, Rhode Island. I had no experience whatsoever in accounting, so I had to pick it up on the fly, as well as learning my way around SouthWare, the company's accounting software.

History repeated itself; the company fell on hard times, and in August 2001 they had to let me go. But now I had something invaluable: I had experience as an accounting clerk. In November 2004 it was this accounting clerk experience that allowed me to escape from Wal-Mart and find work as night auditor at a moderately posh Newport hotel.

But hard times are never far away in post-Reagan America, and in the last six months my wife has suffered the loss of half of her income. Unless something was done, we wouldn't have enough money to keep up our mortgage payments, and we would join the millions who have lost their homes. So I started looking for a part-time second job. I went to, posted a resume, and asked for daily updates. This turned out to be a mistake, because none of the jobs listed were suitable, and when I tried to delete my resume and end the daily updates, I found out that I couldn't. I was forced to divert the daily updates into my spam filter, and they still appear there every day. I won't be going back to any more.

I also started looking on Craigslist, and it was there that I found that a small manufacturing plant in Providence was looking for an accounting clerk, especially one who was familiar with SouthWare accounting software. It was six hours a day, four days a week, and the work schedule meshed well with my work schedule at the hotel. I emailed to indicate my interest, and in due course I was contacted and invited in for an interview.

I learned that the previous accounting clerk had gone on temporary disability insurance, and that she might or might not be returning to the job at the end of February. That was fine with me; even if the job proved to be temporary, the extra income would be a big help. I started work there the next day. When the end of February came around, I learned that my predecessor would not, in fact, be coming back, and that I was now a permanent employee. I've been working there for exactly two months today. So now I have two jobs, and I owe both of them to my experience working as an accounting clerk ten years ago. In retrospect, that job proved to be a lot more imporant than it seemed at the time.

Between the two jobs, I now work sixty-four hours a week, and I have a seventy-mile round trip commute to Providence four times a week. Free time is pretty much a thing of the past, and the only reason I've got time to write this blog post is that it's the off-season at the hotel, and I can post from the computer here. On the plus side, our money problems are easing, and it looks as though we won't be losing the house after all.

Can I keep this up? If it becomes too wearing, I'm hopeful that I can switch to four nights a week at the hotel, allowing me the luxury of a mere fifty-six hour work week. I'll have to see how it goes.

UPDATE 1/15/12: As recorded elsewhere in this blog, we did in fact lose the house. By September 2010 it became clear to my wife that she was going to lose the other half of her income, and would not be able to find a new job. Her last paycheck would come in May 2011, and sometime during that summer we would have to pack up and move. I quit my accounting clerk job that May, spent the summer packing, and by happy chance was able to transfer from the hotel in Newport to one in Pittsburgh, where I am now.


Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

It's crazy, JP, people are either working two jobs, or no job.

I remember back when there was a forty-hour work week, and money was pretty good. That was when a simple BJ in the Oval Office was portrayed as an apocalyptic event.


Unknown said...

I'm so proud of you the way you always step up and take care of things. I have one comment stay in touch with your friends before a year and a half goes by ... I have to learn all your news on a blog??? I am so devastated but it looks like you got it under control. You the man!