Musings of an Anxious Hourly Employee

By: Erin Rose Hennessy

“We don’t need you today.”

For those hourly workers, nothing like those words to grow a sense of dread, a pit in your stomach. For whatever reason – not enough clients, not enough work, not enough events – you are not needed that day.

Which means, you don’t get paid that day.

During the coronavirus pandemic, many hourly workers, including myself, are not getting paid as they are used to. I’ve even taked with some salaried employees, people whose jobs are supposed to be basically guaranteed pay – that their hours are being cut and they’re getting less take-home pay.

Not getting paid means I have to start deciding which little luxuries go first. No more impulse buying at the grocery store. No more organic foods. Currently, the closest/safest grocery store for me to visit is our neighborhood market. I love this market and will continue to give them my business as long as I possibly can. The downside? Soy milk is $5/carton. I kid you not. So, I’ve started limiting my soy milk intake. Do you like coffee? What if someone told you the world’s coffee production had officially ended and there was no more coffee? That’s what reducing my soy milk intake feels like to me. Isn’t that ridiculous? That the safest and best place for me to get groceries as an hourly paid employee is a very expensive market?

My concern is what if my hours continue to be cut for a longer period of time? “Apply for unemployment”. I hear you say. Yeah, my asthma medication is $100/month. With insurance. That’s not including any backup medications I may need if, oh, say my allergies act up. Or I get a really bad cold. Or, and let’s hope not – I get coronavirus. Sure unemployment will help, but it’s not going to cover all my neccessary costs to live.

Netflix would probably have to go. I would fight to keep internet service as long as I could because where are we these days without internet access? I definitely would not be able to afford to go to yoga anymore. Which is crazy because I only went to two (!) classes before we were all told to socially distance ourselves.

This was supposed to be my year, I told myself back in January. I’ll lose weight, eat healthy, go to yoga class, meet new people…

I made plans and coronavirus laughed. But we’re stronger than that.

I’ve started signing off my text messages with friends and family with the Supergirl icon. Mostly because I’ve been watching a lot of Supergirl on Netflix lately, but also to remind them and me to keep fighting, keep moving forward, and keep doing what we can do to push past this.

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