Kay's Key Notes

Quips, Tips and Wry Observations by Kay Frances
Funny Motivational Speaker and Stress Management Goddess

Mother, Can You Spare a Dime? NO!

Looking back on my childhood, I now see that we were firmly ensconced in the middle class. But it didn’t feel that way; it felt like we were dirt poor with as tight-fisted as my parents were with the money. Oh sure, we got all of our needs met, but very few of our wants. It wasn’t like prison where we only got “3 hots and a cot” but it was close. The rare exception to this was birthdays and Christmas, but even then, they found a way to sneak in some of our needs. “Oh, look! SOCKS. Thanks, Santa!” I would swoon sarcastically.
My birthday was in July, so it was a long time in between opportunities to get anything but the bare necessities. So, I learned early on that if I wanted what I considered to be basic needs (candy, pop, comic books and the secret decoder rings that were advertised in the comic books), then I was going to have to go to work.
Since it wasn’t exactly legal for an 8-year-old to enter the workforce, I had to get creative. One of my “non-essential” birthday gifts was a potholder loom and a bag of about 45,000 loops. You needed that many because roughly 99% of them were faulty. So, I fired up my potholder factory and began cranking them out. When I had a sizable inventory, I hit the streets and peddled them door-to-door for 25 cents each. I did surprisingly well with this scheme and quickly made the connection between money and freedom. My days of begging mom and dad for scraps of change were over. Once I wore out the neighborhood and people started refusing to open the door when they saw me coming, I knew I was going to have to switch gears.
My older brother had a paper route and I asked if I could be his “assistant.” Since the Sunday papers were particularly unwieldy and he couldn’t ride his bike, he said that I could help him that day. He got me up at some ridiculously inhumane hour of the morning and we set out in the coldest, snowiest day I could remember. I was so miserable and remembered that we hadn’t negotiated the terms of my contract. When I asked him about it, he said I would get a “percentage.” What did that even mean? After about two houses, I told him “I quit!” and hurried back to my warm bed.
My parents continued this “poor” charade all the way through college. So, I was always doing something to earn money. I picked raspberries, babysat and eventually got old enough to enter the workforce.
And, I never left.
Most of my friends are retired, but I’ve worked for so long, I’m not sure how to stop. But, if the opportunities dry up, I can always dust off the old potholder loom. I have a whole different set of neighbors to pester. After all, that candy isn’t going to buy itself.