There was this moment of communication with my boss today that I don’t know how to process.

There’s this breast cancer awareness bicycle ride in September. She created a team for the bookstore, and since I’m learning to ride, I joined the team and pledged the least amount of miles.

Everyone who signs up also pledges to raise $250. (There’s a caveat that if you attend three of their FUNdraising parties and don’t meet your total you can ride anyway).

She’s asked me twice now if I’ve gotten any donations.

I haven’t. I don’t know anyone with money.

Plus, it’s slow at the store in the summer so I have fewer hours than when we have conferences. And the other woman I work for is out of town two weeks in July so I’m kind of concerned about how I’m going to make things work next month.

I kind of have my budget down to a science. I can’t afford to work that many (like 20) fewer hours in a month. I have some leads on housecleaning or sewing jobs, but I don’t know yet if that’s going to work out. So I feel like if I were going to ask my friends for money, it would be money for *me* and not this ride, because I really am not trying to pull money from my savings next month to get by.

And I don’t get it.

She knows how much she pays me. She writes my paychecks. She knows that my job with her is the bulk of the money I make in a month. She knows I live in Hyde Park. She lives in Austin, too, so she has to know what rent is like.

Her partner supports her, but I can’t believe she’s *that* out of the loop.

And she tried to tell me, “When you go out to dinner with your friends, ask them for $5.” I tried to tell her I don’t do that, but she didn’t believe me. I really don’t. I did go out for coffee Sunday after work, but that’s only because me and a friend are trying to start a queer women’s group locally and a coffee shop is the best place to do it. I can’t really afford that, but it’s once a month and we’re both trying to start this group to make more friends in town.

But I don’t know how to say to her, “You know how much you pay me.” Or how to explain that if I do go out to dinner with a friend, they’re buying. How rude is it to then say, “Oh, and do you have $5 for this bike ride I’m doing?”

At my old job, I was what a friend called “working class.” I had enough money for bills, a little for savings, and enough to go out on occasion. If a friend needed a loan, I could spot them. Not anymore. Now I keep dipping to the bottom of the savings cushion in my checking account between paychecks. (It’s an idea I got from my parents. You put X amount of money in your checking account but don’t figure it in when you balance your checkbook. That way, when your checkbook says $0, you still have money and won’t overdraw. And yes, I still balance a checkbook.)

Now I’m just poor. If I didn’t volunteer with a local farm once a month to get a CSA of vegetables free, I’m not sure what I’d be eating, but it wouldn’t be healthy. I also know of a local co-op that gets food Trader Joe’s was just going to toss out, so that’s how I’m eating vegetables the next few weeks.

I’m not sure how my boss doesn’t realize that this is the situation I’m in, and it feels really crappy and embarrassing to have to spell it out. I know the store isn’t doing so hot either, and she can’t afford to pay me more. And I did choose this job. It’s just… she was surprised that my other gig is as regular of a thing as it was, and now she doesn’t understand why I’m not pounding the streets for this charity ride. Both are for the same reason – I’m trying to make ends meet.

I’d rather focus on how I’m paying my bills in July and actually getting to the point where I can go on a regular training ride. It’s not like I’m not planning to do ANY fundraising, but I’d rather know I have my own stuff squared away before I start asking my friends to donate to this cause. Because it’s not like I have that many friends to begin with, and most of them are already helping me out financially as an individual.

Maybe I shouldn’t have signed up for this thing to begin with.

And I’m not trying to make her raise $500 instead of $250, either. Worst case scenario, I just won’t ride. And I’m planning to go to those FUNdraising parties anyway, so if I can’t make it to the $250 goal, I might be able to ride anyway.

But it’s just hard to worry about raising money for charity when I don’t have enough money for myself. And it sucks. I wish I did. But I just don’t know what kind of bubble she lives in where you can assume your friends have money.

I just know I don’t live there.

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