Friday, March 02, 2007

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS

So my tax accountant is off working his magic, and I got to go to Trader Joe's, which is right around the corner from his office. Whenever I go see Ted, it reminds me that part of getting older and more established, as well as more prosperous, is acquiring all of these people who do things for you and who need to be paid. People who work for me currently include:

Esme, a housecleaner, whose residency status, I suspect, means that I cannot ever run for office without fear that I will be uncovered as a federal felon. That is if the press doesn't get to my brief career as a petty marijuana dealer first. Or my teenage years as an adulterer. Or my current status as a lesbian.

Ted, the accountant, who is a former IRS agent and exactly the person you would want to go into an audit with: confident, peppy, adds large sums in his head. Favorite phrase of mine, said when looking at a borderline deduction: "Hey -- its not a red flag!"

Esther the dog sitter, a student at Oligarch's divinity school who recently asked me to bring with me, upon my return from Big City, a cake that she had ordered for herself from a bakery she had read about in Big City's paper of record. You might think this was burdensome to me as an employer, but one of my friends has a dogsitter who has had a variety of run-ins with the law (which my friend, instead of firing her, has mentored her through, including posting bail at one point), so I consider myself fortunate in having a dogsitter whose needs are so slight.

A financial advisor, Steven. Favorite phrase: when dealing with the fairly paltry sums of money I earn in comparison to his other clients (like my mother) he characterizes the sums I send him as "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick."

J-J, a neighborhood teenager who shows up faithfully whenever it snows to shovel all available surfaces for twenty dollars. I would give him more, but it generally takes him about ten minutes, and I think $2.00 a minute is a good wage. If he has other activities like this he does in the summer, he will go far. I have never had to call him -- which is good because I have no idea where he lives or what his number is. Or what his last name is.

Grant, whose number I do have, and who I call when I need to have ladder work done or Heavy Stuff carried. Grant actually is a former felon, which I only know because he normally works for my friend Nat, who hires only felons through a special program run by the state that allows him to more or less exploit them in exchange for them acquiring a work history and various skills associated with the construction trade.

Betty the dogwalker, who takes Sailor for long strolls when we are only gone for the day, but not for the night, and whose pleasant, glassy expression and flat affect makes her appear to be a person very heavily drugged with something that is prescribed by a physician. Dog walking seems to be Betty's calling for this reason, and this reason alone, since as far as I can tell she is actually indifferent to dogs as anything but things that get walked and picked up after.

Who knew, back in the mid-1980's, when I was a graduate student, grubbing under the couch for pizza change when my stipend check was running out at the end of the month, that I would end up commanding all this labor?

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A note: I have altered the comments function so that anonymous comments are now permitted. I seem to be getting 75-100 readers a day, which astonishes even me and I am beginning to be curious about who you are. Anyway, continue to lurk if you wish to, but it is now possible to comment without giving even a pseudonym. I might even take to answering regularly someday, like responsible bloggers do. And thanks to Dr. Z. yesterday for the helpful comment on "denigrate." I am plotting my strategy for next week's class even as you read these words.

6 comments:

Sisyphus said...

70-100 readers a day?? I am astonished. And happy for you! And not a lurker, but maybe posting this will inspire 74 more comments. Cheers!

Lesboprof said...

Hey, how do you know how many readers you have? I am consistently surprised at the comments from different readers, but I have no idea of how many folks are reading.

anthony grafton said...

Congratulations on those numbers! Eminently deserved.

And thanks for revealing that you have someone who helps with money and investments. I've known too many young academics who were happy to enlist under the old banner, "Scholar doesn't rhyme with dollar," and didn't think about the money they and those dear to them would need over the years. The fact is, even academics have to buy big-ticket items, have to care for dependents, will have to pay for their own care as retirement stretches out more and more . . .

A great scholar I know is said to start work with each new grad student by explaining how to create and manage a portfolio, with the aim of gaining financial independence by mid-career. I wouldn't do this: anyone who took my advice on these matters would be insane, since I am the descendant of an ancient line of Luftmenschen. But getting real about money is something teachers owe students, and you have.

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