A little under 2 years ago, I moved out of my little studio apartment in Oakland, Pittsburgh, PA into the extra bedroom in my friend’s house – she was one of my best friend from high school’s ex-girlfriend. It wasn’t meant to be long term and worked out perfectly. The price was great and I wasn’t on the lease, so I could leave whenever I wanted to – i.e. whenever I secured a job other than my temp position.
Very few of my friends have had roommates they stuck with throughout their years at college and even after. Everyone, or almost everyone, has had that roommate. You know, they aren’t a real person – they are a character.
I’ve had a few. One was from West Virginia (not at all surprising), but we’ll get into her later.
Thus begins a series of posts about my roommate for those … colorful… 6 months.
[I just found word documents in my zip drive from then with blog post ideas/drafts and now that I’ve had time to mull them over and really think about the occurrences, I can hopefully them them into quality posts.]
I’m going to start off not with her description, but with a short conversation I had with her one summer day:
Things you should know before reading:
All of my thoughts at the time will appear in this color.
I named her Sally. I don’t know any Sallys so she will be my first.
Her dogs name is now Dog. I don’t think dog comes into this story at all, but now you know that she has a dog. More on the dog later.
Her Best dude friend’s name is now Kirk.
Setting: Our living room when I get home from running after work.
Sally: *Sigh* I have worked so much since I started at this place. (This was after her second day at work at a day care)
Me: Oh? That stinks I guess?
Sally: Yeah! It’s insane. You heard me telling Kirk that there is no way I would work here if I was on salary right? It’s crazy, we work a lot!
Me: Yeah, that is nice. I hated being on salary.
I noticed that you were gone a long time today.
(My second co-op company had me on salary. It was actually kind of nice only because I really wasn’t there as much as they thought I would be…and they didn’t care).
Sally: Yeah I got back after 7. I was gone for 10 hours!!
Me: Wow. That is long. How far away is it?
Sally: oh, it’s a 40-45 minute drive.
Doing math – 10 – ~2 = 8.
Me: oh. So you didn’t actually work 10 hours today?
Sally: No, I worked 8. It’s crazy! I have worked 16 hours so far this week! (More math in my head: 16 hours, you started yesterday so 16/2. Oh no. Alert the press. You worked two 8 hours days in a row. Also.. why would you think you would be on salary when you’re working a 40 hour work week essentially?)
Ok, so here is a little about Sally. She just turned 25. She majored in Special Education and had some other odd minors and maybe another major? I don’t know, but she graduated in 5 ½ years, instead of 4. Nothing at all wrong with that, I myself took an extra semester.
But let’s just say that she is older and should have been accustomed to regular work hours. So my thoughts were, wait… you’re 25 and you have never, not once worked a job where you had to physically be there 40 hours a week?
I’m not completely sure what reaction she wanted to get out of me. OK, that is a lie. I do know. She wanted me to ooo and ahh and tell her “wow that is so much! I can’t believe you have to work so hard and actually work 8 hour days! That is insane.”. She didn’t get it out of me. I think she was disappointed. Wouldn’t be the first time that she wanted such a reaction from me and I didn’t live up to her expectations.
I know that I’ve had a relatively easy working life as far as I was concerned and knowing what lengths others go to as far as working. My own mother was balancing going back to school full time while working as a nurse full time at not one, but two hospitals. IS there really that much time in a week? No. She used magic. I’m convinced.
I myself started working 9 hour days (with a 20 minute paid lunch) before I graduated high school. Along with that, I worked a second job usually around 20 hours a week. Townville is a really boring place. I have had far longer days than 10 hours at my first co-op at the environmental engineering company. None of which I complained about because it was awesome and partly because I was way too exhausted from a 12-18 hr days outside in 90+ degree weather (PA humid weather, none of this California weather), in pants, long sleeves, a hard hat, steal toed boots, no bathroom, no “lunch” break. I really did enjoy it. My respect for field techs and anyone working outside in the heat increased 10 fold if not more.
But back to the conversation.
Sally: It’s ridiculous. I have to be there for 9 hours a day.
More math. Wait I thought you said you were just gone for 10 hours from the time you left until you got back? Whatever.
Sally: Yes. This is the first time my lunch break hasn’t been paid. And It HAS to be an hour.
Me: Really? Oh that stinks I guess. (Well.. that makes sense. Your job this summer was at a summer camp. You ate with the kids. Your lunch was paid because you worked during lunch. I don’t get paid for lunch. I only get paid if I eat lunch at my desk and um… work. So I’m not actually taking a lunch break. Why do you think that they would pay you if you physically LEAVE the building and take a lunch break? Whatever)
Sally: Yeah.. It’s really frustrating.
Did that just happen?