Friday, January 18, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

And the job woes continue...

BIG sigh...

Most of y'all know that I started at my medical interpreting job back in November after bouncing between jobs a bit over the past year and a half or so. I was totally stoked about this job...the pay was considerably higher than what I had been receiving at previous jobs, even though I only get paid for the hours I actually spend interpreting. I would be using my Spanish skills while helping those that really need it. I would be able to choose my hours, so I could work as much or as little as I liked (and I was assured that doing this full time was not only possible, but encouraged). I could take random days off (unpaid, of course) if Grace was sick or to go on vacation. It sounded like this was going to be a perfect job--pays well, flexible, rewarding and all that happy stuff. I could hardly believe it.

I should have learned a very important lesson by this point in my life. If something looks and sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Things started out well with this interpreting gig. I was indeed working full time (or darn close to it) and was earning more than I ever have in the past. I was given a large list of appointments each day that I could select from, and I picked the appointments that fit best into my day while generally packing as many into the 8am-5pm slot as I possibly could. And, naturally, I was really, truly enjoying my work. Helping people who need it and who are, for the most part, extremely grateful for the help is extremely gratifying to me. Things continued like this for a good month or so.

Then, out of the clear blue sky (and right before Christmas), I got a call from our payroll person at the office, asking me what my agreed-upon pay rate was. I gave her the info (while feeling a little concerned that she didn't have this written down somewhere) and she told me that the pay rate I was quoted by the manager was wrong. In fact, I was getting paid FIVE DOLLARS AN HOUR more than I was supposed to be, so they were going to have to knock my pay rate down to where it should have been all along.

Huh? Can you just DO that? I never signed an official contract or anything, so I suppose anything goes, right? Despite this snafu, I was still quite optimistic about the job. Theoretically, my earnings would still be higher than they have been in the past, as long as the workload kept up.

But the workload hasn't kept up. Since New Year's, things have slowed down drastically. In fact, there have been four days in the past two weeks in which I did not have one single appointment. For the life of me, I can't figure out why things have gotten so slow so suddenly. It's not like there has been a miracle drug introduced into the market that eliminates all illnesses in Spanish-speaking people. Health care isn't like other fields...there isn't a "slow period". People are always sick. So, what the hell?

It's gotten to the point now where my finances are stretched to the max. I need to keep Grace in day care full time because, lately, I don't know if I will have appointments or not on any given day. The office sometimes calls me the night before with the next day's appointments, and sometimes they call me the same day. The problem is, other than not allowing me to plan my days, if I don't end up working at all for a whole day, I just paid for a whole day of day care without making a cent. And day care ain't cheap...we pay $700 a month, and our center is on the lower end of the cost scale. And then there's gas, groceries, and other essentials to buy. And there's all of the other unexpected stuff that pops up when there is a young child in your life.

So, here I am again, weighing my job options. Interpreting jobs here in Milwaukee are actually less abundant than one would think, unless one wants to work second or third shift or on the weekends. I could probably be a stay-at-home mom, but then again I don't want to put all of the earning pressure on Aaron, especially since we just paid for a wedding in Florida and are planning a reception in April. And, Grace LOVES being in day care. I don't want to take that from her. I could go back into recruiting, but that seems like it would be a step backwards. All that I do know for sure is that things can't continue as they are. The financial strain is too great.

Of course, there are a couple of careers that I would really LOVE to pursue, but I would have to go back to school to be able to do any of them. That's not really an option right now, since Aaron and I want to have another baby in the near future and for us, that takes a higher priority than me continuing my education. And, yes, I know that plenty of women go to college while pregnant or with little ones, but I guess I don't want to have all of that stuff happening at once if I don't have to.

I might just have to settle, for the time being, with doing something I don't necessarily love but that is at least bringing money into the household. I probably shouldn't put that as a career objective on my resume.