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Most every fine writer (fiction, essays…etc.) I know has a ‘real’ job, the one that pays the rent, the bills, puts the kids through college. Even most ‘bestselling’ authors rarely make enough to support a family. Sorry for the bad news, but it’s a fact. If an author writes full time (and lives a middle-class family lifestyle), they are either financially supported by their ‘real’ job, a partner/spouse, a trust fund or inheritance. Very few [and mostly single] authors are self-supporting through their fine writing alone.
List ten current authors off the top of your head, and they are probably self-supporting. Now, list a hundred contemporary authors, living, working authors you know by name. Most of us can probably only name the first ten, if that. And those are the writers making enough money to put their kids through college. With the tens of thousands of authors out there, good authors, writing great reads, why is that?
Had some yard work done that required cutting concrete. My gardener gave me a quote of $150 to do the job. I accepted his bid as fair and equitable and we agreed on last Sunday for him to do the work.
He arrived promptly 8:30 Sunday morning and began cutting our concrete patio. He used a small electric saw with a 4” blade, which I thought odd, since the last guy I’d seen cut concrete had a major power saw that had to be held with both hands and came with a water supply to keep the blade cool.
Gardener struggled to cut a mere 20” of concrete for over 5 hours. He left once, to buy new blades for his little saw. He did not take a lunch break. In fact, he took no breaks at all.
Ninty-four degrees at mid-day when I brought him some ice water. Sweat dripped down his face and cut brown lines in the concrete chalk covering his skin. He gave me a crooked-tooth grin of thanks, took a long drink then wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. “Caliente!” (Hot!)
I nodded agreement and pointed to his little saw. Pequeño (Small), I said, closing the gap between thumb and forefinger. Why so small? Harder to cut the concrete. I spoke in English, as my Spanish sucks, but he got it.
He laughed. You’re right. Yes! Si! Demasiado pequeño (too small). Herramienta incorrecta (wrong tool). He picked up his tiny cutter. Muy caro! Expensive! $100 for herramienta. $35 for blades. Ay, yi yi!
I’m paying him $150 for the job. He’d just spent over that buying equipment to do the work. I was mind boggled. I assumed he had all he needed to do the job when he gave me his bid. He went back to work and I went inside and got the receipt from the equipment rental place I’d visited the previous week. Only $24.99 to rent a jigsaw for 24 hours! At the time I rented the jigsaw, I inquired about renting a concrete cutter. $59.00 for 24 hours. Why hadn’t my gardener just rented the right equipment? He could have got the job done in half an hour and actually made money.
I took the receipt outside and showed it him. Do you know of this place? Just down the road?
He took the receipt and studied the logo at the top of the paper. His expression brightened. Si! Yes! Alquiler de equipos Rentals. Rents. Yes?
Yes! Concrete saw is $59.00 bucks for the day. Taken you 30 minutes to do the job. Why didn’t you rent a saw? Using hand signals and body gestures I somehow communicated.
Ah. No. No rent. Can’t. No license. No seguro (insurance). Not legal here.
Four years running our gardener’s been coming and he is the best gardener I’ve ever had. More than a gardener, he fixes our watering system, landscapes, trims trees, sets fences. He comes every Tuesday around 9:00am, rain or shine, and is on time, every time. He always smiles and waves when we cross paths. He is a stellar model of a dedicated hard worker for our children, and the community at large.
Yet, he can not get a Green Card.
Talked to an old friend yesterday. We hadn’t spoken for almost 2 yrs. No particular reason. Life took over and we lost touch. The last time we spoke he told me his wife had quit her job as a restaurant manager and was very happy to be home, fixing up their house, shopping, cooking, doing things she never had time to do when working. Two years later, she is still at home. The house is now fixed up. There are no children, and she has no other responsibilities. When I asked my friend what his wife does with her days, he told me she enjoys working out, watching TV, and she plays a lot of Angry Birds.
My mother-in-law lost her husband of 53 yrs a couple years back, a year after they closed the small business they had together for almost as long. With no business to maintain, no kids to care for, and only sparse time with grown grandchildren, I assumed she’d would find her niche in volunteering, perhaps invest time into her community, teach literacy at her local library or maybe the hospice her husband spent most of his last days in. I don’t like sick people, she told me upon inquiry. And she has no interest in teaching, anyone, anything, she insisted, clearly annoyed at my suggestions. I’ve worked my whole life. It’s my turn to do what I want. What does she do all day? Plays Solitaire, or goes to plays and movies with friends and family, when they’re available, which isn’t often. Most elderly folks she knows are helping their kids with the grandkids, or volunteering.
On the phone with my old friend, I intimated his wife was wasting her life. A talented professional, she has too much to give to waste time with Angry Birds, I insisted. But my friend disagreed. She enjoys her days now, no longer under constant pressure to preform, he informed me. She’s allowed to relax, after working most of her life. She’s 45 yrs old, I countered. And has been relaxing for almost 4 yrs now. So? He was perturbed by my observation. They don’t need her income. He makes enough to support them both, so no harm, right?
Hawk wanted the rabbit to present to a mate. Megan wanted her husband Mitch to wait and talk to her instead of going to work. Neither got what they wanted, but both Hawk and Megan learned a valuable life lesson…
New one, short story, 9pgs. Complete on Scribd: