Hungry Birds

This post is about getting paid, eating, feeding.

I've been broke more times than I can count. I've had feasts from a 5 dollar bill: potatoes, carrots, beats, apples, nuts.

Grocery list, check.

How could I take food for granted? How could I take a 5 dollar bill for granted? A dollar, for that matter? Even a nickel (ever feasted on a peanut?)

I've learned a hell of a lot about money, largely by earning it and losing it. Working harder than I thought I ought to, but doing so from a place of love for my work. I'm willing to invest my time, to sacrifice days for work. It's back breaking. It's heart aching. Yet I go through these motions for the vision I have of my work: to grow a house-hold name in the fine arts 'Allan Turton', a name worth investing in.

Getting paid, mind you, hasn't been easy. Since I finished school (and turned down my med school admittance), I began working in the automotive trades. I swept floors alongside very practical people: people often without high school degrees, sometimes without even immigration papers ;)

Point is, I worked with people who knew how to work; people who knew the value of a dollar. I worked for businessmen who owned their own business; people who 'started from the bottom', in the automotive industry, mind you, yet busy-savvy people none-the-less. There I was with my thousand dollar education, taking money and labour for granted. Working for larger business, I was used to the attitude that showing up to work and 'making an effort' was enough to get paid minimum wage. For a large franchise with money to burn, that may be the case. For a small business that wasn't so. You may be 'working', but is that work leading towards growth in the business? Are you working 'effectively'?

I worked for cash largely, for many employers (yes, I kept track of all this income for my friend the tax man). I remember one employer, I managed his detailing shop. I really felt I was running his business, more on that another time. I remember feeling I had put in more work than I was getting paid for. Yet, I put myself in that position to be taken advantage of, and taken advantage of I was. I remember having put in my notice (2 weeks, what a courtesy!). The last week of business was slow, the company was low earning, and, when pay time came, I was refused a thousand dollars which I felt was owed to me.

The money never came. I got so worked up about it, so did my former employer. The issue stood, how could he pay me if he was making no money to pay with? Keep in mind that we're dealing with people whose bank accounts are empty, as a general rule. They make money and spend it as quickly as it comes in. Very little insurance in that way of living, yet I lived through it an am grateful to be on the other side of it. I learned to let go of that money I felt I was owed, to let go of the business and move forward with my lessons in financing.

I've since loaned money to people and not seen a dollar come back. I've been caught up in projects and been paid far less and had work far more. Most recently, I loaned an acquaintance six dollars (the entirety of my wealth at the time). He said he'd pay me back that eveneing when he got home. Well, he never showed, that night or all day the following day, or the day following. Thank God for rice, which was my diet all through this period. When he finally showed up days later he puts $5.80 on the table without so much a saying thank you for the cash or sorry for being late. I go up to look at the cash (he mistook a nickel for a quarter, hence the 80 cents). I call him out on the short payment and he tosses a quarter up (leaving the nickel). I grab the nickel and knock on his door. "This belongs to you" I say,

"dude, I don't need that" he says; as if he were too good for a nickel. Do you know what you can buy for a nickel!? Well he sure needed the money a few days before. I flipped the coin in the air and at him through his door. He closed it without a word and I walked away. Oh what I wish I had said to him then. His credit is shot.

While I don't mind loaning money to people, I've learned to be straight with people who I lend to, to develop personal credit, starting small and working larger. There is no assurance with this cash world; the deal isn't complete until the 'money is in the bank'. What I have I work for, and when I 'have not' I know enough to speak up to get what I need.

Just remember when you have that extra cash, remember how it felt to have nothing. Remember when a literal peanut was as rich as a Thanksgiving feast.

It's all in perspective, lets move along.

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