Lowest bidder, or a very bitter monologue

by Janie Jones

I did not go into science with the expectation of becoming rich, however, I thought a highly skilled education would at least make me eligible for jobs with salaries sufficient enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about wasting a teaspoon of ketchup.

Apparently, a BS in cell and molecular biology and a BA in biochemistry is only worth $3 more per hour than working the night shift at the local McDonald’s.

Being sick to death of mouse model research, I decided that a year and a half post baccalaureate job experience was sufficient time to begin looking elsewhere.  I applied for a job in a substance addiction study.  The job was full time and required a bachelor’s degree in science or psychology.  Duties would include recruiting human participants, informing them of their rights as study subjects, taking blood and tissue samples and interviewing them regularly for progress through the study.  There would also be data accession and record keeping duties.

I received an email asking to schedule a preliminary phone meeting to discuss the position and eagerly accepted.  The interviewer outlined the job duties and, as if being timed, quickly spit out the starting salary and rushed on, “So we would like to know if you are still interested in the position.”

I mentioned I was, however, the starting salary was well below my current rate of pay, so I would hope there was room to negotiate.  I was well qualified for the position having at least 1 year or more experience with every requirement except venipuncture on humans.

She commented that she was not involved in salary negotiations and could not make any comments on the possibility of bargaining for a higher wage.  I mentioned that I would definitely accept an offer if they were willing to come up on the salary.  She said that they were assembling a pool of applicants that they were interested in interviewing and if I made the cut I’d hear more from them soon.

Apparently they wanted to low ball their salary budget and battle it out for good employees with McDonald’s night shift instead of paying for a well qualified, hard working and experienced employee.  They re-posted the position a week later.

If I could actually stay awake past 9pm, at this point I would seriously consider McDonalds.  At least there I wouldn’t have to poke and dissect mice.  Poor innocent little mice.  At least the Gen Pop are so stupid I wouldn’t feel sorry for them if I “accidentally” slipped an obnoxious customer a little listeria.

I am seriously frustrated.  How the hell does anyone make ends meet these days?  My internet bill just went up $20 a month.  From 49 to 69 dollars.  I am not getting any new benefits.  As far as I know they haven’t upgraded anything.  So, in my book, a $20 increase seems a bit steep and uncalled for.

Oh, and my property taxes went up this year too.  The county, in all it’s wisdom, whoops I meant greed, just decided that everything across the board was going to be worth more.  My house, which no one even came around to assess jumped in “value” buy $12K.  Now it would be nice if that meant the sale price I could realistically get would jump that much, but those of us who live in the real world know that’s not going to happen.

I might, just might, be lucky enough to get a 2% raise this year.  The civil service committee, or whatever it’s called, determines each year what an appropriate raise level is, but then the individual departments get to assess what their budgets can bear and their employees deserve.  It’s arbitrary and has absolutely nothing to do with merit.  So the boob who never shows up to work or botches everything and is carried by others gets the same raise as everyone else.  Because you know, Equality, man!  Everyone should be treated the same.

Right, and the way everyone should be treated is like a pauper.

I’m beginning to feel like we need to go pitch a boat load of tea into the harbor of some government and human resource offices.

If something doesn’t change soon, well, I don’ t know what will happen.  But I’m telling you, I have always felt that if I worked hard I’d get somewhere.  I don’t have unrealistic hopes, I don’t want to live some high end lifestyle.  I just want to be able to go buy new clothes or shoes when I need them, I’m not even talking high end clothing labels or Monolo Blahniks or who every the haute shoe designer is these days.   I want to go to the grocery store and not worry if I have money for everything on my list and still be able to buy the organic stuff that isn’t pumped with pesticides and genetically manipulated.  I want to be able to finish remodeling my home and put in a little garden.  And, here’s a real crazy dream:  I would like to have the ability to put a little money aside after all the bills are paid.  I do not see how this is asking too much.

But, despite every sacrifice and all the hard work, apparently I still have no skills any employer actually wants to pay a comfortable living wage for.  And, to add insult to injury, by the time taxes, mandatory retirement money and insurance is taken off my paycheck, I lose about 30%.  Then they take more away from me after payroll taxes for the “privilege” of owning a house, a car, buying furniture, buying cleaning supplies, buying gas, even my utilities are taxed!  I very seldom travel these days because the taxes on hotels, restaurants and other transportation fees scare me.  About the only thing I buy that I don’t get taxed for is food, clothing and some medical expenses.  And, I know from other places I’ve lived that a lot of states even charge those items.

So, I’m asking an extremely rhetorical question here.  Where the fuck does all that tax money go?

I don’t live a bad life, but there is always this pressure that there’s just not quite enough money.  If something breaks or wears out with my house or car, I’m screwed.  If there’s an emergency, I’m screwed.  I cringe when my daughter doesn’t finish the milk in her cereal bowl; hard earned money spent on milk dumped down the drain.  I chastise myself for buying all that veg and forgetting to make salads before it goes rotten, or get frustrated when the Spud eats half of her dinner and “saves” the rest only to go moldy in the back of the fridge because she’d rather eat ramen than reheat quality food.  I had some friends over for brunch last weekend and one of them dumped about half a bottle of ketchup on his eggs and hashbrowns, ate two bites and the rest went in the trash.  It is absolutely painful to work so hard and watch the pennies add up so slowly then get spent and wasted in a heartbeat.  I think I will throttle the next septuagenarian who says, “I deserve a discount, after all, I live on a fixed income.”  Like I can just will money into my bank account because I’m not retired yet.

I have a tiny little bit of money I managed to save after buying my house, but I don’t make enough to add to it, much less replenish it if I spend it, so, I’m stuck.  It’s an emergency fund I live in fear of spending.  Despite going back to school for an education, I am no better off than I was before, possibly worse, because now I owe all kinds of student loan debt.  So, barring a miracle, I will live with the stress of balancing on the brink of financial disaster until I die.  There is little hope for a comfortable retirement, as I don’t even live a particularly comfortable life of employment.

I am beginning to understand the multi-generational welfare abusers.  Why bother working hard when you are never, ever going to get anywhere.

Well, that’s communism and socialism for you.  Make everyone equal so no one goes without.

Yup.  No one goes without being miserable.

 

 

 

2 Comments to “Lowest bidder, or a very bitter monologue”

  1. This is very depressing and I’m feeling stressed out on your behalf. The truth is that the majority of people are only two paychecks away from disaster.

    My own survival plan was a modest three parter: 1. keep my children fed, clothed and insured until they launched as adults 2. hang onto my house until the mortgage gets paid off and 3. die before my money runs out. I accomplished the first 2 and I get closer to the 3rd every day.

    • Yesterday was particularly bad because it was my monthly budget review and bill paying day. I laugh when budgeting gurus suggest skipping daily lattes at Starbucks and packing your lunch instead of eating out at work. I already do those things. I only spent $60 all last month on food not from the grocery store (fast food for me and the spud once a week as a treat). I do most of my cooking from scratch, so I don’t buy a lot of convenience items from the grocery store, so suggestions to skip TV dinners and shop the “exterior” are not useful, as I already do those too. I’ve been poor all my life, I know the tricks.

      *Sigh* I am serious when I say I don’t feel I live an extravagant life, but apparently I have to find a way to make more cutbacks. I do not want to live on credit. I ended up living that lifestyle with my ex, and that’s a road I never want to travel again. But it is scary hard to avoid when you can’t find a good enough paying job to cover the essentials after you pay Uncle Sam and his state and county cousins.

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