It started when the company I had worked for for twenty-two years went bankrupt. I suddenly found myself looking for work in an almost non-existent job market in an economy that sucked. When I finally did find something it was at less than half of what I had making before.
I ran through a lot of our savings before I found the new job and while things were not necessarily desperate, money was tight. My wife Kirsten and I sat down, reviewed our finances, and since the kids were grown up and gone we decided that she should go to work. We knew that as a high school drop out who had done nothing except be a stay at home mom and housewife she wasn't going to land much in the way of a job, but we were at the point that anything at all coming in would help.
Surprisingly enough Kirsten found a job on her first day out looking. She had been checking into an ad for a file clerk when she walked past a restaurant that had a "Help Wanted" sign in the window. She had gone inside, asked about what they were looking for, had talked to the owner and had been hired as a waitress.
The base pay wasn't much, but she had been assured that the tip income (providing she gave good service) was real good. What I didn't like about it is that she would be working the afternoon shift, three to eleven-thirty with a half-hour meal period. I didn't like it, but we were where we needed the extra cash and who knew how long it might have taken her to find something else?
She was supposed to start the next day, spend three days on day shift in training and then move to swings. She came home at the end of her second day in training and gave me the rest of the bad news. Her days off were going to be Wednesday and Thursday. We were hardly going to see each other and there didn't seem to be any way that we would be able to do anything together. The days she would be off I wouldn't get home until almost seven and I'd need to be in bed by eleven because I needed to be up by six-thirty to go to work. On Saturday and Sunday we would have the mornings and that would be it.
Even as bad as we needed the extra money that her job would provide I was starting to have some serious doubts about her keeping the job. We talked it over and decided to let her go ahead for a month or two until we had paid off a few outstanding bills and then she could quit and find something else.
Except that it didn't work out that way. Six months later Kirsten was still working at the restaurant. The money she was making in tips was just too good to walk away from and a lot of it was cash. Tips that were put on credit cards she didn't get until she got her paycheck on Friday, but she was averaging sixty bucks a day in cash that she was able to bring home right away. The bills we were behind on slowly disappeared and we were able to pay off one of our credit cards, but outside of that most everything else sucked.
We didn't spend any time together and our love life was in the toilet. Kirsten had never liked sex in the morning and even though our circumstances had changed her preferences had not. As a result sex on Saturday and Sunday was out. Since I didn't have to work weekends I began waiting up for her on Friday nights, but that didn't get us anywhere either.
"Honey, not tonight. I've been on my feet all day and I'm beat. All I want is a quick shower to wash the cigarette stink off me and then to fall into bed and crash. That left her nights off, Wednesday and Thursday, but what with headaches, "I don't feel good" and "Sorry baby, but it is my time of the month" I was lucky to get laid once every two weeks.
The lack of a sex life was making me irritable which led to arguments over a lot of petty little things which in turn led to a chilly atmosphere around the house. Still, the way things were going money wise Kirsten would be able to quit in another five or six months and then things could get back to normal, or at least near normal.
Even though I had a job and was working steady I wasn't making the money that I had made at my old job and I wanted to get back to the comfort level that the money from my old job had provided. Every week I would mail out a handful of resumes in the hopes of finding something better than what I had. I got quite a few responses, but almost all were from 'start ups' that wanted some one with my expertise and experience who would work cheap "And grow with the company" — work for near nothing now and make big bucks when "We hit it big." That isn't what I was looking for so I turned them all down and kept looking.
One day about three months after Kirsten went to work I got a response to one of my resumes and I went in for an interview and got the job. It was a Friday and so I decided to swing by the restaurant, give Kirsten the good news and make arrangements to go and celebrate when she got off work.
I'd been to the restaurant a time or two during the day just to see what kind of place it was, but I'd never been there when Kirsten was working. I had no great desire to go there for one thing and for another Kirsten had told me that management frowned on family coming in when an employee was working. I thought that a little odd for a restaurant, but I knew a lot of bars that had married barmaids and cocktail waitresses had that policy so I thought nothing of it.
Since I had never been in there when Kirsten was working no one knew me. I didn't see Kirsten when I sat down and when twenty minutes later I still hadn't seen her I asked my waitress where she was.
"Kirsten? She doesn't work on Fridays. She has Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off."
.... There is more of this story ...