Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Good Cry is Healthy... An Ugly One? That's a Different Story

I can’t remember the last time I ugly-cried. Before tonight, that is. 

So here’s what happened... 

I ALWAYS take side streets home from work on the weekends. It’s just easier than dealing with the idiots who are in town who are either drinking and driving or just plain don’t know where they're going and cause a ruckus on our already crowded freeways. Tonight, however, I got off earlier than expected and at the last minute, decided to hop on the freeway before the crazies got out of the clubs and bars to join me. 

As I approached the part of the freeway that typically slows down a little with those merging from the north end of The Strip, I see brake lights. Nothing crazy, nothing I’m not used to. So I slow down.. and slow down.. and slow down.. and SHIT!! Complete stop out of nowhere! I slam on my brakes just in time to hear the SUV in front of me hit the Camaro in front of him. I hold on tight and brace myself just in time to stop short, maybe even just barely kissing the bumper of the car in front. Before I can be relieved, a big black SUV slams me from behind, pushing me hard into the car I thought I had just missed. 

Well, fuck. 

The four of us pull over and I get out of my car to see that my front left side bumper, hood and headlight are bashed in. The couple in the car in front of me get out of their car to also check damage. All of a sudden, I hear the first car, the Camaro, step on the gas and flee the scene. Before I realize what’s happening, I look behind me to see the black SUV has barely pulled over, and is now pulling back into traffic, taking off as well. I don’t even see a license plate because of the glare of lights from the slow freeway traffic. I put my hands up in the air like "what the fuck?" but forget nobody gives a shit about responsibility these days. And sure enough, when I check my rear bumper, the damage is so minimal that I know the SUV couldn’t have had much themselves, if any. Hence the takeoff. Because who wants to deal with insurance and grown up stuff, right?

The couple in front of me ask if I’m okay (thoughtful at least, considering my obvious pregnancy) and then check their car for damage. I have given them a few scuffs on their bumper. They say they have no damage on the front, wish me good luck and take off. 

I mean, you’re fucking kidding me right. This whole thing happened in a matter of three minutes. 

So there I am, at 10:30pm on a Saturday night, standing with my almost eight month pregnant ass on the side of the 15 freeway, left alone with easily thousands of dollars of damage to my car and not one person in the world with a fuck to give. And, of course, since the damage is in the front, and all witnesses have fled, guess who gets to take the blame all by their onesies. 

Oh Life, you and your “fuck yous” certainly stand alone. 

So, okay, let’s look at the bright side. I’m okay, baby is okay, car is drivable. In fact, I drove straight to my dad’s house so he could look at it and when he opened the hood to make sure it still opened and closed okay, the dent in my headlight popped out, making it look at least a little less shitty. The accident could’ve been worse and I don’t even want to think about what would’ve happened if I were injured. So yes, I’m grateful for that. 

But you know, it’s like Life knows that money is causing stress and heartache in my world right now and just wants to make sure I know that it can always get more stressful and more heartache-y. 

Shit is about to get real and honest right now and it is NOT going to go over well with some of my loved ones but at the moment, I’m feeling pretty on my own anyway so fuck it, what good is this blog if it doesn’t occasionally ruffle some feathers?

There are good and not so good things about being a server who is having a baby. Let’s start with the good. This baby is costing me about $300 to have because of my Union competitive health insurance I receive for working in a restaurant on The Strip. Not only that, but I only have to average 25 hours a week in order to get said benefits from my job. 25 hours. And that’s about all I work. I also make the same amount of money working those 25 hours a week that I did when I worked 40-60 hours a week at previous "big girl" jobs as a hotel sales manager and restaurant manager. And again, my benefits now are better. 

I work in a restaurant with, like, a hundred servers. Which means if I don’t feel like working, I can release my shift and it’ll most likely get picked up by someone else. If not, I can also call out, as we have Stand By servers every day, every shift. If I want to take time off, I request it in advance. And I get it. Every time. I don’t work football Sundays. I don’t work when the Broncos play on Mondays or Thursdays. I need more money this week? I pick up a shift. Nothing available? I go into work and “shark” a shift, which means I come ready to work and ask one of many willing servers if they want to go home early and then take over their section (I’ve literally only sharked once, but the point is, I always can). 

Basically, my job is the closest thing I have to being a Stay At Home Mom once Xander arrives. 

The bad part about my job as it relates to being pregnant is that I don’t get paid maternity leave. They do cover my insurance hours for up to 12 weeks which is cool, but no money comes in while I’m on leave. 

I started a savings box about a year or so ago. Johnny and I were talking about how nice it would be to go visit his family in Maui. Back in 2009, when my friend Cory and I decided to go to England, I thought I’d never be able to afford it. But I was super committed and diligently put away twenty bucks a shift for the six months before our trip. By the time we were flying out, I had managed to save over $2,000 without having trouble covering any of my other financial obligations. Awesome, right? So I figured we could do the same. 

We had about the same amount of time, maybe even a few more months, before we were thinking about vacation so I came up with $5 each per shift in the box. All we really needed to cover was the flight so I figured that would be cake. 

After a couple of months, I got tired of reminding Johnny to put money in the box and just sort of gave up. I mean, if he wasn’t serious about going, I certainly wasn’t going to fund it. So the savings box went ignored for a while. 

All of a sudden, SURPRISE! Positive pregnancy test. 

Knowing I wouldn’t get paid for time off but wanting to try and take as much of that 12 weeks as I could, I turned our Maui box into a Xander box. We both agreed we would just pump as much money as we could to cover my expenses for the time off so that I could get as much time as possible with our new little man. 

It went well for a little while. 

Long story short, as I was continuously pumping five, ten and twenty dollar bills into the box, Johnny was secretly taking them out, using them to cover his portion of the rent for the last two months that he couldn’t afford because of excessive purchasing of alcohol and cigarettes - both of which he agreed to quit (cigs) and massively cut down on (booze). 

Needless to say, life in my house - especially in regards to money - has been tense. 

As he scrambles to repay me so that I don’t ACTUALLY kill him in his sleep, I sadly realize that with only me contributing to the box, I can barely take off one month when little man arrives. 

Now, here is what Johnny doesn’t know. Until now, of course. Watching his spending, drinking and smoking habits over the last two years, and understanding his lack of responsibility with grown up financial obligations, I decided it wouldn’t be very smart to put my trust in his ability to save money. So for the last six months, I’ve been stashing money myself, thankfully in an actual savings account and not a wooden box in our bedroom. 

Do you know how easy it is to save money when you aren’t blowing it on vices like drinking, gambling and smoking? It really makes me wish that men could carry babies so that they would be forced to make the kinds of changes we do and not just wait until they have living, breathing proof in their arms at which time then, and only then, do they think maybe I should’ve saved that extra FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS from their shift last night. 

However, I digress... 

Besides the $600-$700 I managed to save in the savings box (in which I’m waiting for a substantial portion to be repaid), I also put away just under $1,100 in my savings account in just a matter of a few months, assuring a whole month of expenses were covered during my leave. $1,100!! Impressive, right? 

Ready for the punchline? My collision deductible in the case of a car accident is $1,000. 

It was a very, very ugly cry. 

Everything is going to be fine, because it always is. But I’ll never really understand why things have to go so awry before they straighten themselves out again. And why I always have to be on my toes, knowing that when push comes to shove, the only person that truly has my back is me. Personal responsibility is not only exhausting, it’s quite unrewarding at times. No wonder there are so many victims out there. 

And, as I realize I’m starting to sound like a victim myself (and that this is my longest blog in a while), I’ll wrap it up with this: I am safe, Xander is safe, a car is just a car, money is just money and at the end of the day, I still have it better than many. 

If it’s not too much to ask though, I sure would love some good news tomorrow.