The up-sides of the down-sides

construction worker with ratchet on a steel beamIt’s been a wild couple of days. I had to work overtime twice in two days, which meant I was up from 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning till 3 a.m. yesterday, and I was working intensely for most of that time. We had a big project we had to get done, and we were missing two people on the team, since they had previously scheduled vacation and the big project’s schedule got changed to the worst possible dates.

Oh, well. We just had to deal with it.

And deal with it, I did.

I got 90 minutes of sleep between the two marathon testing sessions, and that was it. Half the time, I felt like I was dead on my feet, and my brain was mush. I was doubled over in pain, part of the time, because of eating the wrong stuff to keep my energy up, which led to digestive problems.

I have to be honest – it was pretty rough. But I got through it. And I ended up lasting longer than just about everybody else, which is typical. One of the upsides of dealing with fatigue and confusion and pain all the time, is that when things get really rough, all across the board, I can  — and usually will — persevere. I can stick it out and still perform. Because I’ve had plenty of practice. I know how to do it, because I do it, every single day, pretty much.

I’m usually tired, usually brain-fogged, usually struggling a bit at something or another. That’s pretty much the cards in the hand I’ve been dealt, because even if I weren’t dealing with TBI issues, I’d still be pushing myself — always harder, always farther, always faster. That’s just how I am. I’m not all that competitive against others. I’m mainly competitive against myself, and I always want to see how much better I can be, how much I can improve.

That’s just how I’m built.

So, of course, I’m going to experience these kinds of stresses and strains, these challenges, these difficulties. And when I’m called upon to kick in and contribute, I’ll do that to the max. To the utmost. I’m not going to hold back. It can be a problem, of course, because I can push myself too hard and overextend myself, but I’m aware of that risk, so I do something about it.

Bottom line, all the difficulties I’ve been up against, over the course of my life have strengthened and sharpened and honed me to this point. And even if I’m not as sharp and strong and honed as I’d ideally like to be, I’m still able to persevere, to hang in there. To stick it out and really do my best, no matter what.

That’s a huge up-side, for me and everyone around me.

And it makes the down-sides manageable.

It’s all part of it.

Onward.

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A second bowl of cereal and another break before the next work stint

I just finished my 2nd (of 3) extended work session.

I look outside — oh, it snowed… and then it rained. I hadn’t even noticed. I was buried so deep in my work that I didn’t even notice the snow falling.

Well, in all fairness, it was dark outside for most of the time.

Yesterday was pretty intense. I worked from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m., went to bed for a little bit, then got up at 2:30 to work from 3:00 till just a little bit ago. I got a break, this last time, because it was only 5 hours, instead of the 9 hours like yesterday.

Be thankful for small favors.

Another small favor is that it’s cold and damp outside, so there’s no great rush to go anywhere. I do have to run an errand later, before I get on my last work session later this afternoon. But for now, it’s time to kick back, have another bowl of cereal, drink some water, and read a book until I go back to bed to rest some more.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Once again, I remember why I tend to favor contract work

abstract checklist with Xes beside the lines
A list of all the things I like about my job, right now — not a lot.

When I take contracts to work, instead of doing the permanent full-time thing, I have some actual control over my destiny. I also get compensated fairly for what I do, and I don’t have this blurred line of “exempt” status, which ropes me into working overtime and never being properly compensated for my work.

I can’t even count the number of times when I was “perm” that I pulled out all the stops to fix stuff other people had broken, really put myself through hell, and expected that my contribution would be recognized. But no. They just treated all the work like it was a normal thing for people to do, and they moved on. The promotions never came. The special consideration never came. Not even a bonus, for my over-and-above-the-call-of-duty work.

So, why bother? Seriously. I can make more money contracting, and since I don’t have any kids to put through college and my spouse is covered by their own insurance, I’m not bound to a permanent job for the benefits. I need the money more. And I need my freedom. The permanent full-time thing is a scam that works in the favor of employers, not the minions.

They can have it. They can keep it.

It’s time to break out of this annoying little mythology about “job security” and get on with making some serious coin. Yes, I need to pay for my own insurance. But if I land the right work, I can totally cover it. And I’ll be free to come and go as I please.

I looked at my savings over the weekend. By the end of this week, I actually will have four months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. Sweet. That means I have some leeway — not to quit work entirely, but to take a little time off between assignments. And also pursue some of my own interests on the side.

Please – please – please – let me get laid off this week AND get a severance package. So I can get on with my life. Contracting. Making the big bucks. And not roped into a life of indentured servitude, stuck with the spoiled fruits of other people’s screw-ups.

I’m really sick of this sh*t.

Did the math. Yes, we can afford another car

Math is not my strong suit, but this situation looks pretty good.

The numbers are in, and it’s looking pretty good. So far. Based on all the work I’ve done over the past year or so, I can actually afford to buy a decent used car outright. I found one yesterday that looks promising. Granted, it’s not top of the line, but it’s looking solid, and I’ll be going to look at it later today. Here’s hoping it will check out okay, so I can just buy it and get on with my life.

I’m also hoping the salesman I talked to yesterday can cut me a break on the price, if I write him a check. It will save us all time and money, instead of dragging us through all the paperwork and hassle of financing. It works out for him in a way – maybe he’ll sweeten the price a bit for the equivalent of cash.

Heck, I could even give him cash, if he liked. Run to the bank. Get some large bills. Hand him a sack full of Franklins.

That could work.

If I buy the car outright, then I won’t have to carry comprehensive coverage for it — I can get what I need, without insuring it for the financing company’s sake. What they don’t tell you about financing and leasing new cars, is that you have to carry pretty robust coverage for the vehicle, until it’s paid for. Then you can adjust the coverage you have and save yourself some money.

By paying for the car in full, it saves us from a monthly payment, which is good. It’s also nice to own the car outright — which is why I don’t think I’ll ever buy a new car — unless I’m independently wealthy. Heck, even then I don’t think I could justify it. I don’t need a new car smell. I just need reliable wheels to get me to and from.

So, there goes my safety net — my three months of living expenses. On the one hand, it might make more sense to finance just a little bit of the car, so we still have a bit of a safety net. On the other hand, it will be nice to not have to hassle with yet more complexity.

Then again, I expect to be getting a tax refund, and the insurance company will be cutting me a check for the totaled vehicle (not sure how much that will be yet, but I’m hoping it’s more than a fistfull of dollars). So, there will be more money coming in. And I’m working a lot of hours, which means overtime. Time and a half is pretty sweet.

Well, anyway, it’s time to get ready for work. Get myself in gear. Go out and take care of business. And be done with this crap, so I can get back to my regular life.

Amen.

Onward.