Saturday, January 26, 2013


The more time that passes since my college graduation in 2007 and my ability to find full-time work, the more despondent I feel. I wonder sometimes if I should stop trying to find a full-time teaching job, just try to find something, anything, that's ful-time that would also have benefits. Fortunately, my degree is in English, and not education, so potential employment is limited to education. But I'm also incredibly lucky that since for more than three years now, I have, in fact, been teaching, in my own classroom, first as an adjunct at Lehigh Carbon Community College, then at Utah Valley University, and now at Salt Lake Community College. During the time I didn't adjunct, I was a substitute teacher throughout Jordan School District, getting paid a decent wage because of my certification in secondary education.


At a stop light my way to my volunteer assignment yesterday, I passed a middle-aged gentleman who was holding a cardboard sign on which a message was written that he had been laid off, had two children, and was desperate. I couldn't read the rest of the message - I was two lanes over - but the general feelings of discontent and irritation I have been feeling recently disappeared, and I felt horrible. "DESPERATE" kept jumping out at me.

Ed and I are by no means wealthy, but we are in no danger of losing our house, since we own it free and clear. Same with our two cars. I have no student loan debt. Despite a rather bumpy financial beginning to our marriage, things have evened out; we have no debt, aside from rotating the usual monthly-accrued credit card debt that we tend to pay off, if not completely every month, than nearly so. I'm not in a position, at least currently, where we're desperate for me to get a full-time job because we fear losing the house, or making the decision between eating, putting gas in the car so we could get to work, or paying the mortgage. (This was an actual thing we faced.)

Yet I get to do work I thoroughly enjoy, as does Ed. We'll never be rich. We'll be comfortable, but neither of us has careers that will make us wealthy. That's so much more than okay, though: I have a career that will allow us to provide at least part-time care to whatever children we're able to have; Ed has a career that offers us excellent health insurance and the ability to fly wherever we want for free. That puts us ahead of a lot of people. And I'm not interested in competing lifestyles. I just want our life to be comfortable and happy.

I have begun to make a habit of keeping cash in my wallet (usually because I feel stupid putting a soda on a credit card), but also because if I'm in a position to help someone in this kind of position, I give what I can. I had maybe $3 in my wallet yesterday because I kept forgetting to hit up the ATM, and I couldn't decide whether it would be better whether to give the gentleman the remnants of my wallet, or just keep going. Eventually the light turned green; the decision was made for me.

So I continue with a conscious decision to keep a little something extra in my wallet, to look for ways to help people who need it. It will never be enough, because it can never be enough, but I can look for ways to ease someone else's pain. I don't like to see desperation.

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