Fiction Fix

Fiction Fix: One Simple Act of Kindness

“Look,” Melissa ran a hand over her damp brow and swallowed back a growing lump of desperation, “I don’t want to beg, but honestly, you’re my last chance at this point. If you don’t hire me, I’ll be reduced to …” she rapidly blinked tears from her eyes, “I’ll have to,” she continued with a firmer tone, “file for government assistance.”

She resisted the urge to shudder. She had always been fiercely independent and had always taken great pride in the fact that she had never once asked for help, even when she was homeless and living out of her car shortly after high school graduation. Her parents had tried to help her but she had refused, wanting to make it on her own. And after several long years of being hungry and dead tired, she had finally made it – she was a successful Real Estate agent.

Life had been great, she had been on top of her game … until the market crashed and suddenly, she couldn’t give her houses away or find a lender that would actually lend anyone any money.

She had earned her Real Estate license shortly after she kicked Timothy out of the door. Of course, the economy took a nosedive shortly thereafter and since she was one of the last to be hired, she was one of the first to be fired.

It was bad timing. The story of her life, actually.

“But,” the woman squirmed uncomfortably in her chair while looking back down at her resume, “you made so much money at your previous job. I’m afraid there is no way I could offer you anything even remotely close to the same figure …”

Melissa leaned forward, sensing the woman’s reluctance to turn her away. “That’s okay. I’m willing to take anything you can offer me. I …” she cleared her throat before continuing, “I have two children at home.” She shrugged lightly and appealed to her, woman-to-woman, mother-to-mother, “I don’t really have a choice. You understand, don’t you?”

She felt bad for playing the mother card, but she was beyond caring about nursing her pride at this point – her children were hungry, the mortgage was due and if she skipped one more car payment, they would likely take it away from her. She had been in difficult situations before; she would dig her way out of this one, too.

The woman smiled and Melissa allowed herself to relax, but only a little. She was making headway, but she wasn’t in the clear yet.

“Well,” the woman hedged and Melissa tensed right back up again. “You don’t really have any managerial experience.”

“Actually, I do,” she responded back with a smile. “Well, indirectly,” she hurriedly continued as she noted the woman’s brows arch. “I’m very used to dealing with people, all sorts of people. And I’m very good at reading people. I can sell them something before they even realize they want it.”

The woman chuckled and nodded her agreement. “I’m sure you can. You’ve sold me, that’s for sure.”

Melissa sat up straight and looked the woman in the eye. “Does this mean …?”

The interviewer stood up and Melissa followed her lead by also standing.

“Alright, Ms. Snodgrass, we’ll give you a shot.”

“Oh, thank you, Mrs. Tindle. You won’t be sorry, I guarantee it.” She firmly clasped the woman’s hand and placed her other hand on top of the woman’s wrist to show her gratitude. “When do you want me to start?”

“Can you come in tomorrow? I know it’s short notice …”

Melissa held up a hand. “Done. I’m at your disposal.”

Mrs. Tindle nodded her satisfaction and pushed a fat manila envelope across the desk top. “Here is your paperwork. I’ll need you to return these to me when you come in tomorrow. I’m afraid I can only offer you $25,000 to begin with.”

Melissa could feel her grateful smile freezing at the corners upon hearing the amount, but she pushed her disappointment to the back of her mind. That was a whole $30,000 dollars less than she had been making at her previous job. She did a quick mental calculation, it would be very difficult to make ends meet, especially at first, but she would make it work.

She had to. What choice did she have?

****

“If everyone who worked for me was like you, I could retire.”

Melissa smiled before placing her pen down and glancing over her shoulder to look at her boss. She could feel a slow, pleased blush filling her pale cheeks.

“Well, thanks,” she chuckled.

“I’m serious,” Ruth Tindle took the chair at the end of the counter and stretched out her legs. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all of your hard work, Melissa. Hiring you was the best decision I ever made.”

With her face now burning brightly, she held up a hand and pretended to check a quick fact on her sheet so she wouldn’t start tearing up. She didn’t know what was wrong with her these days – every little thing made her cry.

“I’m just grateful for the job, Ruth. You’ve saved my family.”

It was Ruth’s turn to wave a flippant hand. “You’re smart. You would have figured something out. I’m not …” she paused for long seconds and Melissa looked over at her. Ruth wet her lips before continuing. “I just wish I could pay you more. You’re worth so much more than the peanuts I pay you now.”

Melissa also wished she could get paid more. Her life was so stressful now. She had to cut out so many luxuries and though she didn’t really mind for herself, it killed her to have to say no to the children all the time. She had never been one to spoil her children to begin with, but now, she found she couldn’t even afford to take them out for ice cream any more. Money was simply too tight. Every last cent she made went to her house payment. If something didn’t happen soon, she would be forced to sell their home and move to a different part of town. She had listed her car in the paper just that morning, perhaps that would buy her a bit more time. She would be relying on public transportation for a while.

Melissa placed a hand over her nervous stomach and pasted a brave smile on her face. “At least I have a job. There are so many more people I know who are still looking.”

“True,” Ruth agreed sadly.

The phone rang and both women jumped before giving self-depreciating chuckles.

“I’ll get it,” Ruth said and reached for the receiver.

Melissa nodded and returned her attention back to her paperwork. She heard her boss speaking, but she wasn’t really paying attention. She was concentrating on whether they would have enough food to make a fresh meal that night, or if they would need to eat leftovers, again.

“Uh, Melissa?”

“Yes?” She pushed the food worry from her mind and turned her attention back to the job at hand.

“It’s for you.”

“Oh?”

“It’s the school.”

Continue reading “Fiction Fix: One Simple Act of Kindness”

Tuesday Stuff

Being Cavalier About It

See GD’s new car?

Blake's New Car

It’s a 1999 Chevy Cavalier and as you can see, the body is in pretty good shape. It runs pretty good – Kevin drove it to work today and said it did really well on the highway. It needs to be aligned and the back defroster doesn’t work (we can worry about that in the Fall) but other than that, it seems to be pretty solid.

After we picked it up last night, the guys ran it through a car wash, so the exterior looks pretty good, but it’s filthy on the inside. I’m going to give it a good inside washing later this week. The interior smells a bit like smoke and GD says he LIKES the smell – Hhmm … a little worried about that. 🙂 But I’m sure it’s nothing that a little Febreeze can’t fix.

Posing with Pa-pa

My father-in-law dropped by to pick up some tax forms that Kevin worked up for him and he left some high-duty car wax with us, so Kevin and GD are going to give it a good wax job this weekend. Kevin also showed GD how to check the oil and other things concerning the motor last night.

The previous owners replaced the brake drums in the back, but didn’t paint them, so they are rusted and nasty looking right now, the guys are also going to paint those this weekend, too.

GD and I took it for a short drive.

Excited to Take it Out for First Time

He was excited to drive it and he drove MUCH better this go-around. He was a lot more confident and his turning was much smoother this time around. I was amazed at the change in his attitude. He was fired up. And this car really seems to suit him – he loves it.

He’s been bitten by the driving bug.

God help us.

It has a moonroof. Here he is gloating at me because I just told him I was jealous.

Gloating through Moonroof

And I am. The stinker.

We teased him quite a bit about the moonroof.

“Think how romantic that will be when you’re on a date and you guys can sit back and admire the stars while holding hands.”

*snicker* We love teasing him about girls because he gets so embarrassed.

We do wish we had asked a few more questions initially though. For instance, we should have asked to take a look at the title so we could get the VIN number and look up the vehicle’s history on Carfax. (You may have to pay a small fee in order to see the full report on Carfax, but if you’re serious about buying the car, it’s a good idea to invest that money and take a look.)

After we got home and started looking at the title, we noticed two things:

— there’s an odometer discrepancy and
— there are beneficiaries

We put in the vehicle identification number at Carfax and it appears there’s an odometer discrepancy. The mileage is not it’s true mileage – and right now, it’s showing about 95,000 miles. This discrepancy could be one of two reasons: either it’s been tampered with, or it’s a vehicle with a 5 digit odometer and can’t accurately track mileage over 99,999.

So … we don’t really know. We’re hoping the mileage is not ACTUALLY 195,000 miles, but it’s sort of too late – we paid cash for the car, it’s our problem now.

But we’re not overly worried. It’s a Chevy, and Cavaliers are pretty common which means we shouldn’t have any problem getting parts for it and they should be fairly cheap to buy (this is always a factor whenever we buy a car – foreign cars are great, but if they break down, just HOW much is it going to cost in parts and labor? For example: one of my nephews used to drive a Jetta, which gave him problems all the time. And it cost him an insane amount of money to get it fixed each time. He finally traded it in because it was such a money pit).

Kevin is also pretty good with cars and in fact, enjoys working on them, so it’s likely he’ll be able to do most of any work that needs to be done on it.

Still though, it’s disappointing that the previous owners didn’t bring the odometer discrepancy to our attention. We certainly would, and will, when it comes time to sell this car. (I just hope it doesn’t hinder us from selling it). But ultimately, it’s our fault for not checking into things a bit more thoroughly before handing over the money and signing the Bill of Sale.

Though both sellers on the title signed off the title, there are some beneficiaries. I’m hoping this just means she put the car in her children’s names or something and doesn’t mean they have to sign the title. I don’t think it’ll be a problem, but again, we should have saved our star-struck enthusiasm for after we bought the car and asked a few more questions before proceeding with the transaction.

Learn from our mistakes, people.

Save for these little hiccups, we’re happy with the car and we certainly didn’t expect it to be perfect – it’s 10-years old, after all. We’ll deal with any problems that come up.

Now GD has plenty of time to get used to his car before taking his driver’s test. The procedures have changed since I was a teenager. He has to practice a minimum of six months and have logged in at least 40 hours of drive time (yes, we’re keeping a log). This INCLUDES 10 hours of night driving – I’m NOT looking forward to that. But that will be the last thing we attempt so he’ll be pretty confident by then.

I hope.

He can only have a licensed driver, over 21, in the car with him. This means little brother can not ride with him. GD wanted MK to ride along last night, but I said no, it wasn’t allowed and I didn’t want him to be distracted by MK. (Not to mention, he’s just not ready to have passengers yet, anyway).

So, six months from his permit issue date is September 25th. This means he should have his Intermediate license before his 17th birthday.

(I know this is probably boring for some of you, but just wait, driving becomes a BIG DEAL later. Especially with your first!)

After he passes his driver’s test, then he’ll receive an Intermediate license. This just means he can drive, but there are restrictions.

Such as:

— During the first six months, he can’t have more than one passenger, under 19-years old and who is not a member of the immediate family.

No problem with that. In fact, we’ve already told him that he is not allowed to have ANY passengers in the car with him until he’s had one solid year of driving experience under his belt.

— He can’t drive alone between 1:00 and 5:00 in the morning unless it’s to and from a school activity, a job, or an emergency.

No worries there. He shouldn’t be out at that time of night, anyway.

Then, when he turns 21 18, all he has to do is take another vision test and he can apply for a full license.

I’m really glad to see there are steps and restrictions on our young drivers, nowadays. It doesn’t seem like it was nearly this stringent when I was a kid and honestly, it needs to be. I sometimes think kids under 18 are too young to drive to begin with. But I suppose it depends on the kid.

The plan, as of now, is not to let him drive to school after he gets his license. We have a couple of reasons for that:

1. His high school is land-locked. So this means, not only is there a lot of traffic when coming and going to school, but that there isn’t a lot of room to maneuver: it’s like threading a needle sometimes and it’s nerve-wracking for me, I can’t imagine how GD would handle it.

And to top it off, his peers take risks and show off in front of each other so we’ve witnessed quite a few fender benders in just the two years he’s been going there. GD sees all of this and has told me he has no desire to drive in the middle of that. He might change his mind later, as he matures, and when that happens, we’ll re-evaluate the pros and cons of driving himself to school.

2. I don’t want to give him the opportunity to skip school. I’m not saying GD would ever do that, but it would be tempting. I should know, because I got myself into trouble, several times, for skipping school when I started driving. This way, I know he’s there and I don’t have to worry about him.

I wish ya’ll could have seen the way GD acted last night. He walked straighter, his shoulders were back, his head was held high and he just talked … differently. He took an active interest in his car and actually looked interested in what his dad was telling him about the car. We’ve turned a corner in GD’s life – he’s not a boy anymore, he’s a man.

And he’s embracing a man’s responsibility.

I’m suddenly finding it hard to breathe.

heads-or-tails-large

Heads or Tails is hosted by Barb a.k.a. Skittles. Thanks Barb!

This week’s prompt: Heads – See