A New Year Ahead of Me

My company has a one-page newsletter that comes out weekly. It specializes in announcements of company sponsored events, factoid filler, and reminders of company policy. It also features an employee each week, giving a picture and short bio of the person. The employees featured are a good cross section of the company, which has always surprised and pleased me. They don’t just feature management. They feature line workers, office staff, maintenance people and cafeteria workers. More than once I’ve seen a picture in the newsletter and thought to myself, “Oh! So that’s who that is.”

So I’m not sure why I was somewhat taken aback Wednesday when I found a “Dear Fellow Employee” note in my in box, telling me I’d been randomly selected to be featured in a future edition. I’m supposed to tell them family information, what I did before coming to this place, what I do at the company, hobbies and interests, and additional information. I feel awkward about this, and they do give the option of not participating. But it’s a wonderful chance to get the word out about organ donation awareness, and so I’m going to see if I can’t slant my responses towards that and maybe do some good with this.

I don’t know whether to mention the Socialist or not. I work for a very conservative company, and while it’s common knowledge among my immediate coworkers that we’re living together, I don’t know how it would be taken by the company at large. At the same time, he is family now, so far as I’m concerned, and I want to mention him. I’ll probably leave it to him to decide if he wants me to include him or not.


I had another surprise Wednesday as well. I received a second letter from human resources, on company letterhead, that informed me of the following:

To: Salamander

From: Chairman, Benevolent Committee

Date: December 30, 2003

Dear Sal:

We wish you comfort during your time of need. I am pleased to inform you that one of our employees have donated vacation time to help you during this difficult time. One of the characteristics which separate our company from other companies is the caring attitude displayed by our employees. I know they also extend their well wishes and prayers to you.

The following employee has donated time:

C.H. – 2 vacation days

This time totaling two days has been entered for your time missed on Monday and Tuesday of last week.

Once again, we wish you the best during this difficult time.


Chairman, Benevolent Committee

That donation represents over $400, and covers the two days I would have been docked for that I missed when I was ill last week. I was in the main office with a handful of others when I read the letter. I left quickly, without saying a word, and barely made it to the bathroom in time before I started to cry. The relief of having that additional, unexpected income after resigning myself to having virtually no pay this week was overwhelming.

I’m not broke. I’ve got a fair amount of money tied up in retirement funds that I can withdraw with a penalty if things get too bad. But my savings is virtually gone, and I’m doing only a little better than living paycheck to paycheck. I’d always been used to having a comfortable buffer in the bank, and the idea of losing that has had me upset for months now. The hoped for reimbursement for out-of-pocket medical expenses has not come through yet, and may not come through at all. Those costs represent perhaps two thousand dollars so far, and continue to climb at about $150 per month. Considering that, if I didn’t have insurance, those costs would be in the thousands per month, I again consider myself fortunate.

Disability income did not come close to my regular pay though, so the months that my costs were greatest I had the lowest income. It’s going to take me years to recover from this financially, and it’s been that realization that has had me on the near side of despondent.


But it’s a new year. I have vacation time and personal days again. By my calculations, I’ll need four visits to the hospital this year for follow-up, four visits to Dr. Liver, three visits to my family doctor, four visits to the dentist. That’s fifteen days of missed time. If I can combine some of those, or make them morning visits and then work late, I won’t have to use up all my vacation time for them. I have a total of two weeks vacation, plus four personal days. With some careful planning, I shouldn’t need any unpaid days off this year.

If I’m careful, and frugal, I can rebuild my savings again. There’s very little I need at the moment. What I’m going to have to do is set up a formal budget for myself though – something I’ve never had to do before. It’s a little daunting, but I think I can pull this off. If I’m careful, I should be able to save one full weekly paycheck each month, and two in five-week months. I just need to stick by this, and not make exceptions for things I really don’t need right now. Impulse purchases have always been big with me, and I could always afford to do it before. That has to end now.


I miss The Socialist terribly, and look forward to his return, hopefully within a week. I don’t want to seem whiney or needy about it. I’m fine on my own, and I certainly wanted him to go to California and take his time while he was there so he could see everything and do everything he wanted to. But I’m running out of steam on my little projects around the apartment, and talking to the cats is starting turn from a cute affectation to borderline sociopathic abnormality. I forced myself to choose which of two movies I wanted to watch first yesterday afternoon, since the Warrior Princess kept choosing the one I wouldn’t have chosen, and then wouldn’t hang around to watch it. I saw both “Bend It Like Beckham” and “Adaptation” yesterday, and then settled in to watch the remainder of the Monk marathon on USA. I’m looking forward to spending time with another human being again.

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  1. I had forgotten about the Monk marathon yesterday. Instead I spent my day in "Seventh Heaven" heaven. It was nice as the boys like to watch it with me. Of course they watch it because they think Lucy is a babe… but at least we were all watching together!

    It is so cool about the donated vacation time. Things like that renew my faith in people.


  2. What an awesome thing to do, donate vacation days.

    I bet the Socialist is missing you pretty badly too.

    And lastly, ty for the very nice comment you left. I agree with you and see it better now that I am over having my feelings hurt. 🙂

    If I haven’t already, Happy New Year.

    (I’m way behind on diaries and have been skipping around and can’t remember…)

  3. What a wonderful surprise that was! Plus you get the chance to promote organ donation in the newsletter. I am so glad to read that nice things are going your way.

  4. I think that is so terrific of your co-worker to help out like that with vacation time. Even though as you say you are not broke, it is something that will help you out and keep you moving forward. It is heartwarming that people think of other people in that way, you just don’t see that kind of thing happening enough.

  5. Wow… that’ really great.

    "talking to the cats is starting turn from a cute affectation to borderline sociopathic abnormality"

    That made me laugh out loud… because i can relate.

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