Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jobs, Work, and Paychecks

After months of stress and worry over delinquent tenants, they are gone and I'm now preparing to rent our place out again. Friends have commiserated and many have claimed how they are so glad they never bought 'that rental place' they wanted for fear of having a similar problem with the tenants. I'm always amused. We bought this property years ago to live in with the intention of eventually renting it out and having an income for when we retire. We aren't big real estate tycoons, just homeowners that bought an extra piece of property to rent out. This is the first eviction in thirteen years of renting it. Not that bad when you think of it.

It is a job though. Being a landlord of a single property isn't a full time job, heck, most of the time it isn't a job at all. But when the tenants weren't paying it went back to being my full time job. I needed to do the research on how to evict a delinquent tenant. In addition, I made regular trips to the property to make sure they were still in residence and hadn't left the place open to vagrants, and I needed to communicate what was happening with the neighbors and the condo association. Now that it is empty, my job shifts to one of repair, cleaning, painting, and numerous other tasks. I'm back to traveling the fifteen miles there every day as I work on the place.

Of course, there's no paycheck involved, at least not until the property is rented out again. So when we tell people a rental property is another job they don't seem to take us seriously. I'm really quite surprised because many of those skeptical looks come from stay-at-home moms who would be the first to say what they do is a job. And it is. Again there is no paycheck though.

There are websites out there that will give people an estimate of what their time is really worth. I think it was ABC that had an article that claimed SAHM (Stay-at-home moms) are worth about 130K a year, or that would be their salary in a real work world. I'm not too certain of that though. Sure, there are moms, and dads, that work their butts off all day for kids and the household and PTAs and other asundry duties, but there are plenty who don't, and of those that do many don't have the educations or experience that would warrant a six figure income. Still, the jobs are worth something. But what? And is it a monetary figure?

Does everything have to have a monetary value to be of worth? I personally don't think so, but then, I'm not getting a paycheck either, so I may be biased.

Still, "job" is an appropriate term for my work as a landlord and it certainly entails the level of commitment and dedication that most people associate with jobs. There are tasks that need to be outlined and assigned, phone calls that need to be made, and a schedule needs to be set. I have become a Project Manager. That's a popular term in the work world and fits here as well. Certain tasks need to be done by certain people, and some have to be done before others. A timeline needs to be created. I do that, too, so Project Manager seems to fit.

Now, all of this is really irrelevant in my day to day life. I have work to do, I do it, it gets done, or I put it off and do it later. Whether I'm a SAHM who's painting my rental condo or a Project Manager overseeing and working on a property doesn't really matter at the end of the day, unless I decide to get a real job. Then I need to make a resume. No employer really cares that I know how clean and stain a deck, prime & paint a house, or even if I know how to shuttle three kids to all their commitments., unless the job I'm applying for directly involves one of those tasks. I'm not likely to choose a job like that though. There's a reason we only have one rental property. I'm not a complete sadist.

I've volunteered as well. Many of those tasks were specifically labeled 'jobs', but no one ever questioned the term. So why is being a landlord any less of a job? Or being a SAHM? Or an aspiring writer? What about the work of family members that are caring for a invalid or elderly loved one? Why can't all these things be accepted as legitimate 'jobs'?

I certainly think of them as such, even if they never see a paycheck.

I wouldn't mind a paycheck for what I do, but I chose to stay home for many reasons, none of them had anything to do with money. We made the decision that was right for us at the time and has remained the right choice up to now, but every now and then I re-evlauate. Should I go back to a 'real' job? It's a little more prominent in my mind now since we are out several months rent and there are other issues as well, but when I look to creating a resume I find it's not an easy task for someone who's been self-employed or non-working for the last decade. Then I go back to writing query letters.

Writing is and has been essential to me since I was a child. I believe I can write well and I believe I can become a published author, but it isn't a terribly lucrative field immediately unless you hit the lottery like J.K. Rowling. But then, I don't write for the income, I write because I have to. If I don't, I get depressed and nasty. It's a job, too. And for now, one without a paycheck.


Charles Gramlich said...

Writing certainly isn't a very lucrative job. To that I can attest. Sigh. I once thought I'd be able to bring in a little extra income but I've generally seen that if it were just money I could do better spending those hours on other things related to my professional career.

BernardL said...

I'm with you. If everything we do has to be calculated, we'd become automatons walking around with a taxicab price ticker in our heads. :) If I rated my time writing per hour compared to what I make in my auto shop I'd never type another word.

Virginia Lady said...

Indeed, Charles, indeed.

And we would all suffer for that, Bernard. I love your stories.

writtenwyrdd said...

Yep, some things are done for love, including parenting. Or they should be. Can you call someone a 'hack' parent like you would call an unengaged writer a 'hack'? I wonder...

At any rate, our society values the allmighty dollar. I had a teacher tell me once (she taught crafts in her house) that donating time was not appreciated so she always charged for courses. Otherwise people tended to blow her off, show up late, etc. But a sliding scale payment with a minimum set seemed to bring the sense that the class was 'real' or something.

Virginia Lady said...

I've met a couple of 'hack' parents unfortunately, WW. Kind of a shame that people can't appreciate the free things in life. Thanks for stopping by.