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Friday, July 7, 2000

"I don't want to spoil your Friday afternoon," the Boss told me when he called me at four o'clock. That's when I learned that he intended to spoil my Friday afternoon.

It's not as if I had big plans. I was headed to the post office when he called, and I was going to drop by Mom's and then do some grocery shopping. Very little shopping, actually, since I haven't had a paycheck for almost two weeks, but running out of bread is a crisis around here.

He was working on a proposal that he wanted me to type. He'd promised it by today because the homeowners' association was meeting over the weekend to discuss it. "I'm working as fast as I can," he said. "I don't think it would look good if I faxed it to them hand-written." Ooooh, guilt trip. Very effective, especially when we need the work so desperately.

So I ran off to the post office and came straight back, then waited half an hour for the first two pages to dribble out of the fax machine. Typed them up, faxed them back, waited for more.

We went back and forth like this until six thirty, and by then I was no longer interested in shopping. I was hungry enough to eat whatever scraps I could find in the fridge. The limpest leftovers can seem like gourmet delicacies when it's been six hours since lunch.

Sometimes, even the good news is bad. I've been stewing over the company's cash flow problems. We have receivables that will cover all our bills, but nothing we expect to have in hand for at least a week. My family left for two weeks on the houseboat at Shasta Lake today. I'd been hoping to join them, but that hope has been slipping away. I knew I couldn't leave without making sure I paid all the company bills that would be due before I got back. Hard to do that with no money, though.

The Boss sent a check earlier this week to cover some bills, then promptly told me to use it to write a check to the one supplier who's been bugging him the most. Well, if they're smart enough to call him instead of me, they deserve the money, I guess. They figured out that he's a big wimp about confrontations with creditors, and he makes promises that I have to keep.

So I told him to send me more money, and he said he would, but it still wasn't going to be enough, especially with a huge payroll tax deposit coming due next Friday. Then today he told me he's borrowing enough from his ex-wife to cover the bills until we get paid. That's the good news.

But she's in San Diego and won't be back until Wednesday or Thursday. That's the bad news. And I'm not convinced she'll be lending us enough to keep up with the accounts and pay me, too. It's going to be hard to leave on vacation with no cash, even if I have a stash of paychecks just waiting for the funds to cover them.

This money stuff just eats at me. When we have it, everything runs smoothly. When we don't, nothing goes right. People call me and ask when they can be paid. The Boss leaves it to me to tell his son that we have to hold his paycheck. Due dates come and go, and I have to make decisions about how to allocate the few dollars in the account. Sometimes I make the wrong decisions.

I should be used to this, but it's happening at such a bad time now. I get depressed when my life is so full of uncertainty. I hate not knowing. I hate not knowing if I'll be able to pay the company bills, and I hate not knowing if I'll be able to pay my personal bills. I get depressed when my sister and my nephews are out of town and I don't know when I'll see them. I can feel it in my stomach and in my head. I need to be in control. I need to know that everything's going to be all right.

Usually I do know. This time seems different, if only because I'm trying to do too many things at once, in too short a time span. It could all turn around quickly; I realize that. But if I go away wondering what I've forgotten and worrying about what I'll be coming back to, I might as well not go at all.

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