Real shit

The shit got real today. No surprise. Half expected it. But surprising how much it affects you.

Every morning we get an email from the CEO. He updates us about the actions taken responding to COVID-19, including arrangements for working from home, as well as general business. This morning it came a bit later than usual, and this time included a video.

The big announcement was that from next week the business would be standing people down, to be reviewed May 22. Some would be stood down for the entirety of that period, and others a partial stand-down. They guaranteed that every employee is paid a minimum of $1,500 a fortnight, regardless of whether the business qualifies for the wages subsidy (which it should).

You’d have to be blind Freddie not to see this coming, but it’s surprising how many people were oblivious of it. I would explain to them, that to pay your salary we need to get sales in, and if we’re not getting sales, then there’s nothing to pay your salary with. It’s mathematics.

I had a clearer view than many perhaps, because the work I’ve been doing the last few weeks exposed me to the channels we make sales through, and I could see the raw numbers. But that wasn’t a surprise – who’s going to spend money they don’t have to in times as uncertain as these? I could build the platform, but driving traffic to it was something beyond our control.

Another email came through a little after that inviting me to a meeting with my manager and team leader. As soon as I saw that I knew what it was about.

Turns out I’m one of the luckier ones. I’ve had my working week cut to four days at this stage. I have to accept that because I understand it. And I know there are others who’ve been stood down altogether or have had more drastic reductions.

My fear is that come May 22 that will change, and almost certainly for the worse. Infections are levelling out, and it’s looking more promising now than a fortnight ago, but it’s going to take a while until we get back to normal. I don’t think anything much will change in the next five weeks and, chances are, I would expect my time will be cut back further.

Let’s worry about that when the time comes, if and when. In the meantime, I have to adjust to living on 80% of my regular salary. It’s more than you think when you do the sums. When you’re living on slim margins, as I have been for a long time, it’s a fair chunk. The major issue will be my rent, and I’ve already emailed my landlord. I’ll struggle to pay the rent on this income – any bigger cut and it’s game over.

I’ll sit down and do my budget over the weekend. I’ll lower costs where I can. Staying home, neither travelling or socialising, will save a bit, but the other side of that is that other expenses, such as utilities, will go up. I’m well prepared in many ways. I have plenty of food in the house, including for Rigby. I’m up to date with other things. It’s the debt I carry, and the rent, that worries me.

What’s surprised is that though this came as no surprise, it’s hit me pretty hard. For a while, I felt unmotivated, which is unlike me. Beyond that, there’s that slightly sick feeling in your stomach. I’ve been pondering this.

I think it’s reminded me how vulnerable I am, and I guess in that there’s echoes of what I experienced before. It’s not front of mind but it lurks in the background.

The other thing is frustration that this happens just as I felt as if I was getting ahead – in fact, about now, I would’ve got my promotion and pay rise. Not to be and that’s life, but I’m reminded of how wearying the journey has been.

As always, I must remember to be thankful for what I’ve got and not fearful of what I’ve lost. There are thousands of others facing harder times than me right now. I still have a job, and income, and a future somewhere down the track.

Tomorrow is a new day.

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