That is the phrase that pays, these days, for me.
A few days ago I got a call from a company that runs several newspapers. Would I be willing to work on a few stories while someone is out sick? Of course, I would.
Yesterday I reported to the office of the paper, where I discovered two things:
First, they don't want just a few stories. They want a full-time person.
Second, the woman I'm substituting for is gone because her brain cancer has returned.
Since I'm still job-hunting, a full-time slot which may last as little as three weeks or as long as two months or more is a perfect thing for me. I can add to my resume, learn a few things, and bring in some cash, all just a few minutes from home, in an interesting environment, without committing to anything permanent.
Because you know I have a few jobs for which I have applied which I would just LOVE to jump to. That one? Or that one? Or this one here? Yeah, I would be on that stuff like white on rice. So I am free to keep those options open, and that is good. It feels like a half-step to the real job I'll have, somewhere not too far down the road.
My office is about 10 minutes from the high school, and my work day starts at the same time as the oldest 3 Sons have to be there, so I can drop them off in the morning, earning them about 15 more minutes at home and a break from the rampant hooliganism of the school bus.
Of course, it is not really my office.
The cubicle is full of little decorative items, spare change, notes from articles she hasn't been able to finish, hand lotion, plaques honoring her efforts in the community, packets of oatmeal (she likes raisin & spice), and photographs of her sons.
I look past my computer monitor at those three boys and I say a quiet prayer for their mother, and for them. "Please, let her come back here. Let her heal. Let her have this job back, this life back, exactly the way she thought it would be. Those boys need their mom."
The work itself is fun. I'm already learning a lot of new stuff, and of course I am writing, which always makes me happy.
Everyone is pleasant, but about half the people I have met have wanted me, my boss, SOMEONE to reassure them that I am only temporary, that their friend will be fine soon and will be back in the office.
My cubicle shares a partial wall with the man in charge. When he gets a call about the woman whose desk I am using, I hear his side of it. Apparently when she had her brain surgery earlier this week, she had a stroke. I have never met her, and her rapid recovery puts me back outside the office, but...I can't help but wish she could catch a damn break.
My boss keeps mentioning that her health has been poor for quite some time, and of course he wants her back, and of course she needs to take care of herself, but if she decides not to return (nice sugar-coating, that) it would be good if I were available to stay on longer, or, you know, well, maybe permanently.
All I can think to say is, I'm happy to stay here until she is well, and then I will gladly give her back her office and move on to something else.
You can tell which people really love this woman, because they refuse to say she'll be gone 6 to 8 weeks. Three weeks, maybe. A month, at the most.
"No offense! No offense!" they say.
None taken. Really.