The title of today’s post refers not to the candy bar, which is unavailable in Canada (that’s okay: we have Mars) but to the fact that I finally have a pay cheque headed for my bank account at midnight.

Normally, getting paid isn’t that big a deal: it happens most months, after all. What? Just most months, you say? Unfortunately, my school board does funny things with my salary over the summer months. My annual salary gets chopped into a dozen pieces, which makes perfect sense. From September until June, the board sends one twelfth my way on the last banking day of the month.

At first, budgeting my life for a single cheque each month was tricky. I had always been paid twice a month, and for a few years while I toiled as a grocery store clerk, I was paid every Friday. Adjusting from a rather steady trickle of funds to an occasional sudden gush took some careful planning, and stretching my resources until the end of the month sometimes requires some fancy dancing, like taking the bottles in to the depot so I have a little extra grocery money, but I’ve made it work for the last six years.

Remember when I explained that I get one of the dozen pieces of my salary each month from September until June? It was two paragraphs ago. If you forgot (I did), I forgive you. It’s been a long, long week, after all. The problem is the summer. During the first week of June, the board deposits the last two chunks. This means that I essentially get paid for three months all at once. For a few weeks, I feel incredibly wealthy. All the fun stuff happens in the summer, including The Electrician’s birthday, and mine, as well as my mom’s and my brother’s, and my grandmother’s. That adds up to a heap of presents. Because I’m not working, I have time to go shopping, to eat lunch out, and to head out on a vacation if I’m no inclined. For a little while, it’s a rather carefree lifestyle. Then the reality that my seeming abundance has to last until the last day of September sets in.

September is a lean, lean month for all the teachers I know. We really don’t have much fun, or go out for fancy meals unless we’re dating someone who isn’t a teacher. When the students arrive in our classrooms toting their fundraising packets, offering popcorn for Scouts or chocolate almonds for hockey or fancy stationery for ballet, we shrug our shoulders and feel like terrible people. The well is dry, my friends.

Please understand that I’m not trying to whine about my salary. I have no issue with the amount I’m paid to teach: I just wish the powers that be would spread it out more judiciously.

Imagine yourself sitting down to breakfast. You have multigrain bread that’s beyond a little over toasted; it’s rather like stonehenge, but with more flax. On the table, you also have a jar of grape jelly, with enough left in the bottom to dress your toast up quite nicely. Now imagine, since you’re being such a good sport and playing along, that you grab your knife, scrape out the jelly, and plop in on your toast –wait, remember not to spread it evenly: spread it on too thickly in some places, so there are two or three bites left at the end that are bare and crunchy. It’s a practice that makes no sense, but it is what it is.

September is the dry corner of that stale toast. I am more than ready for a new jar of jelly.

copyright 2011:

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