Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blessed or Beaten? Part 1

I'm not sure how to begin this post, in spite of the fact that I've written it in my head at least a hundred times. As I wrote recently, we've been going through a very stressful time - especially as it relates to work (and by extension, money). The last couple of months have felt like we're the stars in some real-life melodrama - but without the huge TV audiences or the big paycheck. Have I mentioned that I don't enjoy melodrama?

Champs was laid off from his second-shift job (we'll call the company AL) in early February, just three weeks after finally qualifying for medical benefits. He began working in the employed-today-and-unemployed-again-tomorrow world of temporary work and collecting unemployment when he was off assignments. 32 Days after being laid off, Champs was called back to AL because they had fired 3 workers. He had no choice but to go back to his old job at AL, even though he hated it and it meant that once again he wouldn't see Sweet Girl. On top of it, because AL called him back on the 32nd day, they would not reinstate his benefits - and we fought them for four days over the issue. It was frustrating that they would make him work another 90 days to qualify for benefits when he had already worked four months for them and completed one round of qualification. Not only that, but when he was laid off, he was an auditor. They brought him back as a forklift driver. Needless to say, all this was very upsetting for Champs - and his wife.

One week after returning to the traitor's employ, Champs hurt his shoulder at work. Thankfully, it was a mild injury, but without any insurance, we are now at the mercy of workman's comp to pay the hospital bill. Interestingly enough, that was the last day Champs worked for them.

Around the time he was called back, he got a call from a company (we'll call it HH)to he had applied months ago asking him to come in for an interview, which he did a couple of days before he hurt himself. The hiring manager liked Champs, but ran into consistent problems trying to get references and background checks from AL. Through the process, the manager assured Champs that he planned to offer him the job - once he got everything he needed from AL.

After Champs hurt his shoulder, he was off work to recuperate for three days. During that time, he sat down and discussed the situation with me. Because he felt certain to the get the new job and because he hated AL with every. fiber. of. his. being, he proposed to quit that job. With my heart in my throat (and a promise from Champs that I could punch him hard, twice, if he didn't get the HH job) I agreed. He called in and explained that he wouldn't be back.

It took 5 more days for Champs' new manager to get what he needed and give Champs an offer - an offer that is about $6.60 less per hour than he used to earn in Minneapolis. On April 4, Champs started his new job. It doesn't pay great, but it is so much better. Champs likes the work and the people. Also on the plus side, this is the first time in our last seven years of marriage that Champs is working a first shift job with no over-the-road travel. Having him home every night is amazing. Also, even though he doesn't get paid much, the benefits and room for advancement are good at HH.

That's Champs' story. Mine will be next. Stop back for chapter two of "The Old and the Dutiful" (or maybe "The Stung and the Reckless").

Monday, April 9, 2007

Yawn, stretch... Good morning.

Have you ever awoken from a dream that was so real you can still smell and taste it, but so convoluted that you struggle to explain it? The kind of dream that leaves you feeling as though you haven't slept at all and haunts you all day long?

You have? Good.

Because that is the best way for me to explain why I've been gone for so long. Our lives the last month have been like an intense dream - or a really bad soap opera. And, by the way, I hate soap operas. One of my failings is that when I get stressed and frustrated, I tend to withdraw. So I haven't been reading blogs or writing in mine. Even poor Geekwif has had to subsist with only phone calls and text messages from me this last month. Yes, I know - I am a wimp.

We're coming out of it, though, step by step, and some good things are happening for our family. I will write soon; I just have to determine the best way to synopsize our experiences without missing the important things or adding so much I bore you all to tears.

Rest assured, we are well... dazed, but well.