Everyone loves those, but so few have found out how to earn it without (apparently) selling your soul to the Corporate Devil and praying to the Deity that is your boss. Everyone I had spoken to seem to hate what they do, and it’s always the same conversations at dinner appointments. The arguments, the wrangling with the bosses over a fifty-dollar pay raise each year, and the office politics.
It was all too much.
I wanted more money NOW, and not (hopefully, probably, maybe, if I’m lucky) by the end of the year.
My first big idea to earn extra money was to work at a coffee place after office hours. I remembered marching into my Vice President’s office and told him of my intent.
“Mid-life crisis,” I had mumbled. He laughed but gave his approval anyway.
And so I became a part-time barista. Apparently, I was so good they wanted to promote me after four months. Then again, I’m a thirty-something-year-old woman hustling amongst a bunch of teenagers working for pocket money. It wasn’t necessarily the proudest moment in my life, but it’s something.
Plus, I was to be paid a whole extra dollar on top of my $6 per hour wage. Yes! Achievement unlocked!
It was all fun and games until I pulled a back muscle trying to hoist a garbage bag full of food waste over a gigantic rubbish chute. I remembered being at a basement saturated with the smell of damp and decay, feeling a whole bunch of hurt as the muscles twisted and cramped. It took a quarter of my take-home pay to get my back sorted.
“Well, that’s money well spent,” I grumbled, and promptly quit my job. It was a shame, really. I loved making coffee. More importantly, I learned that if you hate your job and if it hurts you emotionally, physically or mentally: LEAVE. No one’s forcing you to stay. You owe yourself that much. I know I have myself to thank when I told my VP and CEO, my time with the company was over. I still remember them fondly, though. The CEO, especially, was a wonderful human being. My mum thinks he’s devastatingly handsome, and I suppose mums are always right.
In any case, I quitted my corporate job a few months later and began working remotely for a media company. Same salary, same perks. Mum accompanied me to the interview during Chinese New Year in 2015. She thought my boss was devastatingly handsome too. I may need to have a word with her about her tastes in men who are to be my bosses, but again, I think, she wasn’t wrong.
In any case, the job scope itself was similar– except I knew I was given the gift of time (I didn’t have to commute), no complaining colleagues, and an enforced isolation. Naturally, with that comes boredom, and I started to look for ways to earn extra money again.
It was then that I found Angela. I met her online, and like all business hook-ups, there was a measure of excitement and a thrill at the pits of my stomach when I found she was looking for freelance writers.
“How much do you charge for 12 articles a month?” she asked.
I thought about my previous job making coffee, and said, “Five hundred dollars?”
“Five hundred?” she said, sounded almost indignant.
“Is it too much?” I asked, fretting a little.
“No, can I pay you $1,200 instead? We’re behind schedule, so we’ll pay you $2,400 for both June and July. So that’s 24 articles in total, to be submitted within the month. Is this okay?”
“Yes, that’s perfectly fine.”
And it was. It really, really was.
-- Written by Sheha Sidek
Angela Cai & Sheha Sidek