We've been hearing about "the economy" for a long time now, and it is visible in so many ways. At the school where I'm employed, the staff is receiving a one percent pay increase for the coming year and we're grateful for that because we know that some other independent schools have no increase at all. In fact, I know of a school where employees were "asked to take" a decrease in salary.
Joe's work started to fall off a year ago, and is only just now starting to show some signs of recovery. Like everyone else, we've had to think hard before spending money. We certainly would not have gone on our March cruise had it not already been booked and paid for. A blogger friend has taken an additional job; I've inferred that it is because her husband is "between positions." When I asked a woman I know about her summer vacation plans, she said that they were not going away this year. "Philip isn't working right now," she said.
Yesterday I stopped at my favorite local grocery store to pick up some odds and ends for dinner. All three cash registers were open, and being in a bit of a hurry to get home, I got into the shortest line and quickly realized why there was no one else in it. Ahead of me was a young father with three little ones in tow. On the counter were piles of quarters, dimes, and nickels sorted out; there was a mixed heap and the cashier was counting out another dollar or two (or three) from it, trying to avoid the pennies. The small stash of groceries was further down on the counter; nothing was going into the bag until it was clear that there was enough cash to cover the purchases. The cashier seemed frustrated; she wasn't used to having to count that much change.
"I'm sorry," the man said to me. And all at once my impatience vanished. "Take your time," I told him. He counted, she counted, and I waited, silently hoping that nothing would have to be returned to the shelf. It took a while, but I really didn't care anymore.
At the end, all of the groceries went into the bags, and there was enough left over to add a Cow Tale for each of the kids.