Should I be a monkey for their peanuts?

Being a lady of leisure (i.e. unemployed) is a double-edged sword. On the upside, you can sleep in ’til 9am on a weekday, have breakfast in bed while watching ‘The Wright Stuff’, visit the gym during the day when it’s less crowded and sit and write posts for your blog when the mood takes you. The downside involves living on your savings, feeling forced to be accountable for every minute of your day so that people know you actually get out of bed, fruitless job hunting and boredom. Oh and the admittedly fair assumption that you have to do all the cleaning / tidying / washing because you have so much time on your hands – yes I do have time and yes, I do hate cleaning (good job I wasn’t born in the 1950’s I tell you!)

My last job at an events company was an initial six month temporary contract which turned into 10 months with the offer of a permanent contract. Although it was a scary thought being out of work, I turned it down because they were moving offices to Central London. As a Northern girl who has only ever driven to work over the last 18 years, there is no way I am joining in with all that crowded commuter palaver and consciously adding extra hours to my work day! So, 10 weeks after leaving, I receive an email asking if I can help out at one of their events this week as they are so short-staffed. “Of course I would” I think to myself, I’ll get the chance to see old friends and colleagues as well as earn five days cash. I re-read the email and notice that the offer of covering my food and travel expenses are no problem along with a little something extra if the budget can stretch to it… Hmm, so they expect me to work for peanuts because they once paid my salary?

I ring the lovely girl who emailed and say I will consider it once I find out the daily rate – I remember from my own show that outsiders were paid £100 a day and I am willing to get over my train phobia for that. She tells me she will ring back once she knows. 20 minutes later, she tells me its £30 a day plus expenses and I say I will get back to her. A quick bit of mental totting up:

Leave house in car: 8.30am     Catch 3 tubes: arrive 10.30-11am      

Catch 3 tubes and a car ride home: arrive 10pm


£30 a day

Not too difficult to work out that minimum wage is a luxury compared to this. It’s an insult, not an offer and just confirms my decision to leave the company was the best one I could have made. Before the management buyout, money was spent like water (especially on alcohol) because nobody cared who footed the bill. Everything has changed now the MD has his own and other investors money at stake, all the pennies have to be accounted for even if it means there are not enough people to run the events efficiently! I emailed the lovely girl back, the budget isn’t her decision and I could tell she felt bad for having to offer such an embarrassing sum. I decline in a polite way and wondered if any future references would be affected from this moment onwards…

Its been 12 weeks since I finished work with no money coming in. I don’t want to claim benefits because I’m sure my next job is just waiting for me round the corner. Do you think I should have taken this job to start off my Christmas fund or, do you think I was right to refuse?


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