Being a permalancer is kind of like being an intern, but worse. None of my post-college employment opportunities has offered me benefits. No insurance. No 401(k). No moving assistance. No compensation for work-related expenses.* No such thing as a free lunch (or dinner, as Wink used to enjoy every Wednesday night).
But one thing my internships had going for them was I was paid by stipend. I could take a day off here and there to recuperate if I was physically sick or to return to the Great State of Minnesota if I was homesick.
Now I’m paid by the hour, and since I’m not the beneficiary of those glorious luxuries called Sick Days, if I’m near death and stay home I’m SOL. An evil pestilence took residence in my sinuses at the beginning of the last pay period, resulting in me having to take two days off of work… and I probably should have taken at least one more.
Those two missed days resulted in a $150 cut in my paycheck.
I’ve always thought it was kind of weird to get paid for not working, but the last time I had an hourly job (Duluth Omnimax Theatre circa 2004) I was able to switch or pick up shifts to make up hours. That’s pretty near impossible here. I could offer to work on the weekends, but it’s nowhere near as flexible as your average wage slave job. They already have weekend staff working on set schedules.
After a brief recovery at the end of last week, yesterday I picked up a hacking cough out of nowhere. This morning that cough has coupled with body aches to make me completely miserable. But instead of taking the day off to recuperate and thus reducing both the amount of time I’m sick and the likelihood that I’ll infect others in my work environment, I have to work to make bank.
*Unless I’m driving somewhere for an assignment. Then my new job gives me 32 cents a mile or something. But I don’t get reimbursed for parking fees, nor did I get a reduced transit plan when trains were my transport mode of choice, something I’ve realized many other employers at big-girl jobs provide.