My employer is doing a little belt-tightening. At some of our locations, people are being permanently laid off. In Portland, at the location I work for, rather than letting people go, each of us has been asked/told to reduce the number of hours we work. That way we all suffer a little, but everyone gets to keep his or her job. For now, at least.

I volunteered to be first, so beginning next week (Tuesday, February 10th to be exact), I will be getting off work two hours earlier than normal. (When my turn comes around again in a few weeks, it will then be all five days of the week, not just four.) Then the following week, it will be someone else’s turn, and the week after that, someone else’s. Then back to me again.

So on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this coming week, I will have two extra hours at the end of each day. Two whole hours to do something that I ordinarily wouldn’t have the time to do at that time.

In an effort to take some of the sting out of this, to try and put a bit of a positive spin on it, to try and avoid dwelling on the fact that I really can’t affford to have 20% of my pay taken away every third week, I have begun to accumulate a list of things to do with that two hours to take my mind off the situation. Things to do that won’t cost any money.

I call this list my Free Time List, aka my “FTL”.

Some of the things on my FTL are fun, or at least pleasant, such as writing, learning to play my 1962 Gretsch New Yorker acoustic guitar, or walking around the neighborhood with my camera taking photos of my neighbors and/or their kids, their pets, their things, the trees, the feral cats, the creek, etc.

Some things on my FTL are not so fun. Examples include cleaning my condo, finishing painting my bathroom, and turning in my empty beer cans for the deposit.

As zero hour approaches, I have just under a dozen things on my FTL, some of which I probably will give a shot and some which I’m fairly sure I won’t.

What all of the items on my FTL have in common is, doing them won’t const me any money. My budget is going to be strained enough by losing 10 hours of pay every three weeks, I don’t need to run around going to movies or buying books, CD’s or DVD’s, despite the fact that ordinarily I would support doing any of those activities.

This is where YOU, my FRIENDS, come in. I’d like YOUR help finding more activities to add to my FTL. It sounds pretty dorky, I agree. Perhaps even lame. That’s okay. I won’t tell anyone if you won’t. Won’t you pllease take a minute and send me an email with your suggestion(s)?

I’m not a rich man so I can’t promise you anything other than my gratitude and my sincere “thanks” for your help. If you’d like said help publicly aknowledged, let me know and I’ll gladly thank you here and on my MySpace page, first name only.

If you would rather die before having anyone know you took part in something this lame, just tell me and my lips will be sealed.

If you don’t tell me either way, I will assume you want a first-name only (“My thanks to Patrick R. for this wonderful suggestion!”) acknowledgement.

There are only two rules:

a) Your suggestion must not cost me any money (“Drive to the beach and watch the sun set over the ocean” certainly is appealing, and sounds free, but it really isn’t. Someone has to pay for the gas to get there and back, and what about dinner?); and

b) Your suggestion must be legal in Portland, Oregon USA.

Please send your suggestion(s) to saturdaynightjazz at yahoo dot com. I’m sure you know how to make that work, right? If not, drop me a line and I’ll gladly explain it to you. 😉

Thanks for being a friend!


PS: A word of clarification. “My employer” is not KMHD. Saturday Night Jazz is a volunteer gig I do for no pay. My paying day job is the one I; referring to in this post.

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