Saturday, May 9, 2009

Drillbit Taylor

I'm going to spend most of next year in a semi-employed sort of status. I'll be away for training for entire chunks at a time at such scenic locales as Huachuca City, AZ and Fayetteville, NC, and then back-and-forth on weekends to and from not-so-exotic locales like Reading and Milford, MA.

So I'll be fully engaged and paid for all the times that I'm busy, which is to say not completely employed, but I'll be way too busy doing all of that to even think about going out and starting an entirely new career, especially when I factor in the key "not going to be in this country for most of 2011" detail. On top of all that, there's the Everest-sized challenge ahead of trying to get a 2/2 qualifying score in Pashto, Dari, or, ideally, both.

Existing savings and the accession bonus will help, as will the currently-rebounding stock market. However, the mortgage and condo fee still loom each month, and the savings might be nice to have around as a protection against usurious credit card interest rates when those things you don't budget for, like auto repairs and leaks in the plumbing set you back when you're least ready.

So herein lies the challenge that I've been posing to anyone and everyone I've spoken to in the last few weeks:

If you were in a situation where you needed a job to supplement your income that would: a) maximize your schedule flexibility to the point where you could pretty much dictate when you'd work, b) let you walk away at any time, for any reason, and c) gave you the free time you'd need to spend reading and studying the stuff you needed to prepare you for a coming deployment, what would you do?

A lot of people have thrown out some great ideas. Working as a third-shift security guard at a bank, school, or other institution would definitely give me (c), but would not necessarily allow for (a) or (b), so might not be doable. Ad-hoc work as a limo driver would meet conditions (a) and (b), but would definitely not allow for (c). Temp work would run into the same problem. So would everything else from tutoring at an after-school center to sorting boxes for UPS -- yes, they're jobs that would help with bills, but the per-hour wage isn't *worth* more than time that would allow for endless Rosetta Stone drill repetitions or histories of the tribes of the Panjshir Valley.

At the end of the day, the only thing I keep coming back to is substitute teaching. There's always a demand for competent subs, esp. when you consider how many schools there are here and in the surrounding towns. The pay isn't amazing, but it would quite easily pay most of my bills, and mitigate the damage done to existing savings. It doesn't require any commitment beyond the day-to-day "Yes, I'm available" on the phone in the morning. It could easily be walked away from if I get picked up for ADSW (that's Active Duty for Special Work). It definitely meets condition (c) because during free periods, video periods, and anytime after the last bell it leaves plenty of time in the day-to-day schedule.

So much like the forgettable Owen Wilson film about the substitute from the Army (no, wait, that Drillbit Taylor character was actually neither, and perhaps I should've headlined with a strained 'submarines to substitute' pun), it looks like subbing might be the best intersection of schedule flexibility, during-the-day downtime, and enough pocket change to help out with the necessities.

Plus, you never know, it might be a chance to influence a young mind or two. Expectations for subs are usually quite low, so just by getting in there, leaning back on some of my student-teaching experience, and filling in competently for teachers might lead to situations where I can actually *teach*, even if just for short blips of time.

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