Attitude, Ahoy!

Wow, getting back into the swing of things–in this case a full-time job–is difficult after so many years of part-time work. On top of that, the last time I had full-time work I was working out of my home, so there was a certain amount of freedom there. Now, I’m at the workplace Monday through Friday, eight hours a day. And frankly, the job is not much of a challenge.

However, I’m at a point in my life where good benefits are just as important as the job itself, and I have good benefits. For example, I get three weeks of vacation next year, not to mention two floating holidays. That’s on top of the 3.33 days of vacation I’ll have earned by the end of December. I’m not comfortable taking those vacation days before my 90 days is up, which will put me smack dab in the middle of December. Instead, I’m carrying them over to the third week in January.

AdobeStock_158786624We get MLK day off, which of course is a Monday. My birthday is the very next day, so I’m planning on taking that entire week off and celebrating or crying, whichever mood strikes me at the time. Actually, I’ll probably spend the week housecleaning and maybe clearing out some of my spare bedroom–a.k.a. the junk room. All that extra stuff weighs heavily on me. Ideally I’d like to get down to just enough stuff to fill a one-bedroom apartment, but that’s a ways off. Still, it’s good to have a goal.

Back to the benefits. The one big drawback is the High Deductible. Fifteen hundred dollars, and that includes prescriptions. That’s a big chunk of change and the out-of-pocket goes even higher, another fifteen hundred. That’s a high percentage of my annual salary, so knock wood and lift up my prayers that I’m never burdened with hefty medical bills.

Still, I’m grateful for the work, as dull as it is, and I’m certainly grateful for the benefits, imperfect as they are. Three paid weeks of vacation is a big deal for me. So, as the song says, I’m going to accentuate the positive.


Image Credits: hands © stock.adobe.com; smile © S_Chatcharin – stock.adobe.com

Keep the Beasts Away

As a senior in college, my journalism classes were peppered with visits from real-life reporters.

One of them was a top crime reporter from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, whose name I’ve long forgotten. He showed up for our 9:00 class with rumpled hair, wrinkled shirt and unshaven face, holding a cup of coffee and looking too sleepy to be nervous. We weren’t shy about asking him questions, but it was when we allowed him to talk freely about his career that the most interesting information poured forth.

An earlier reporting job had been for the major daily paper in Chicago, where he worked the overnight shift. Most of the time he covered accidents and drunken brawls; if he was lucky, someone with some degree of fame was involved. One night, while playing cards with a colleague, he heard a call come over the police scanner. A woman had reported a foul odor emanating from her next-door neighbor’s home.

This kind of report was common and rarely went anywhere, but the two men figured since nothing else was going on, they might as well see what was up. Not expecting anything serious, they were intrigued by the growing number of emergency vehicles surrounding the house in question. Police weren’t talking and had roped off any access to the premises, so the reporters checked in on the neighbor who’d made the call.

A kind woman who’d lived in the same home for decades, she poured them some coffee and began talking about the man next door. Pleasant and polite, she said, but there was one strange thing. Young men, boys, really, would show up at his place on a regular basis. She’d seen plenty of them going in, but none ever came out.

That caught the attention of these reporters. They called their editor, and continued to investigate this increasingly harrowing story.

They broke the news to the world about John Wayne Gacy.

For those of you who don’t know, Gacy was one of the most notorious American serial killers of the 20th century.  Convicted in 1980 of the rape and murder of 33 young men he’d lured to his home and buried in the crawl space, he eventually was put to death by lethal injection.

The point of sharing his experience with a wide-eyed audience of journalism students was to remind us you never knew when or in what form opportunity would present itself. This horrifying story catapulted the career of these two reporters. Always seeking  information the hordes of other reporters missed, they helped fill out the tale of a gruesome tragedy.

They weren’t voyeurs, nor were the opportunists playing on the despair of others. This crime changed them in ways they were reluctant to discuss. As reporters, however, they called upon their training, formal and informal, to relay the full story. Much of what they reported is long forgotten, but a significant portion of it informed the world of the danger that could lurk in their neighborhood. If one boy heeded the lesson from their reports and saved himself from degradation and death, their work yielded the desired results.

Doctors prepare for the disaster they pray never happens; schools practice for the terror they never want to see. In our own way, preparing ourselves personally and professionally for the darkest parts of our society helps make our lives and the lives of those we care about safer.

No, we can’t live with a fatalistic attitude, nor can we worry ceaselessly about unseen events. We prepare, and go on with the joys and expectations of our lives. No better preparation can be made than that of cultivating a compassionate and caring heart, one that is grieved by tragedy but never hardened.

May you never face the worst of man or nature, and for those who do or will, may God carry you through it. And may all of us do what we can to keep the beasts away.


Image Credit:  ©Algol — stock.adobe.com

 

A Blogger’s Worst Nightmare (or one of them)

Oh my…it’s happened…my computer has died. I’m creating my first post on my smart phone (a little bit scary since I don’t see all the same buttons, bells and whistles, plus there’s that darn autocorrect — and what happens when the phone rings?). So now I’m scrambling to find the money for a new computer and cursing the universe because that money should be going into savings or toward a new sofa.

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All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put my computer back together again. © Fotolia

Life isn’t fair sometimes.

I got this job house-sitting not long ago, and it paid well. I was thrilled. I needed some dental work, and when you need dental work, you need it. It was a little disappointing the money couldn’t have been used for something more fun, but c’est la vie. I refused to be grateful and resentful at the same time. (It did take me a remarkably long time to make that dental appointment, though.)

However, now I’m stuck realizing lightning doesn’t strike twice, nor do I want it to. I had to move my cats with me for the house-sitting, and I can’t do that to them again. So getting a new computer may take some time.

But that’s life, I guess. (I’m saying that a lot, aren’t I?) I’m not happy about it, but I can’t waste time whining. Because right now I have to figure out how to get images on this post. And a caption with the image so it makes sense. If it isn’t one thing…