Trouble in Paradise

All is not well. Last Sunday I found out that one of the Estonians would be quitting his job with the book company. He will still deliver the books he has sold in September like the other guys, but he wasn’t making enough money to break even and pay for plane fare and living expenses (he already has his return ticket home since that’s a requirement of the visa). Instead he decided to take a regular job for the rest of the summer to pay his bills.

He talked to me a little about it on Monday. He wanted a job where he could work 14 hours a day. I told him there weren’t many jobs like that and tried to explain the whole concept of overtime. But I said he might be able to find multiple jobs and get those kind of hours. Though this is a good time to find work as students return to school, he has a lot of challenges. First, he’s only going to be here for another six weeks or so. Second, his conversational English is the worst of the three and he’s very shy (part of the reason he didn’t do well as a salesman). I suggested he do yardwork and go door-to-door asking people if he could do odd jobs around the house. I thought he could make a lot of money doing that, get paid in cash, and work as many hours as he wants. But he doesn’t have any equipment or any way to travel other than bike (he did say the other guys would let him borrow the van during the day; not that he has a license, so he’s studying for the test now). He didn’t seem interested in yardwork.

One day I came home and he had highlighted some jobs in Creative Loafing that he was thinking about following up on. The first was one promising a lot of money for stuffing envelopes at home. I told him that was no good. Another ad promised government jobs. I said he couldn’t do that because he wouldn’t be here long enough (I didn’t mention that the people placing the ad weren’t even part of the government). I dug out Sunday’s AJC classifieds and told him to use them instead of Creative Loafing’s.

He tried to get a job at the local Kroger and they told him to come in Tuesday. He went in that day thinking they would put him to work immediately, but they didn’t have a job for him and said the manager wouldn’t be able to talk to him until Thursday.

He tried a McDonald’s and they told him they were looking to hire someone but they didn’t have any applications. They suggested he go to another McDonald’s and get an application from them. When he got to that one and asked for an application they told him they weren’t hiring. He said he didn’t care, he just wanted an application. They said they wouldn’t give him one. So he can’t even get a job at McDonald’s (don’t bother checking the internet for an application, Susan already tried it when I told her about this).

I suggested he go to strip malls and just go store to store to see if they needed anyone. I don’t know if he did this or not. Then I suggested he try a temp agency, but Norrell (where I worked about 14 years ago) has changed its name and it appears the new company may be out of business because he went there and nobody was there. Meanwhile every day that goes by is a day he’s not any closer to breaking even.

Now that he’s out of the book-selling cult, he’s been sleeping in and watching TV. He really likes the Dish Network Personal Video Recorder I have that pauses live television and shows you the name of the shows on screen. He says his mom would really like it. But it makes the other two guys kind of mad that he’s taking it easy while they are still working hard. I told them that it’s not like he’s making any money and that’s what all of this is about. Still, today is Sunday and they wouldn’t let him go to the get-together with the other Estonians. Apparently it was an administrative day where they were doing some of their final paperwork before the books arrive, but it seems a shame he couldn’t go.

After spending several days unable to find work, I suggested yardwork to him again. He had never done any yardwork so I said he could practice on my yard for free and he could borrow my equipment to work on other people’s yards. I showed him how to clean gutters which I thought would be pretty marketable, but my ladder is too short for most houses. I wasn’t sure what he thought about working on a roof. Next I showed him how to start the mower and gave him some tips on my technique, honed during my 25 years of mowing experience. I found myself telling him quite often “Now this isn’t what I do, but if you’re getting paid you need to do this . . .” Yesterday I showed him how to use a string trimmer and showed him some other things he could work on like clearing all the overgrowth and silt from the curb in front of my house. Then I took the dogs to Stone Mountain. When I came back he had really gone to town on the curb, but in those 4 hours he still wasn’t finished. He doesn’t work real fast, but I agreed to pay him for what he had done so at least he is making some money.

This morning after he got left behind by the others he asked if he could do some more work so I have him clearing out a pine island which is now just a thicket. He seems to be doing pretty well with that, but I’m going to tell him he needs to go line up some other work for the rest of the week.

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3 thoughts on “Trouble in Paradise

  1. A twist of fate that belongs in an epic tale. I do not like where this is heading. Has a Grapes of Wrath kind of feel. Or maybe like when Luke Skywalker came back to find the stormtroopers had killed his uncle and aunt.

  2. Ted, I hope your Estonian has started working at Kroger and is getting plenty of hours to keep him away from your house and making some money. You have certainly tried to help him. You’re a good dad. I always knew you would be.



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