Dead Presidents Still Illude Me

Tomorrow will be the four-week marker of my new job as CLO in Chengdu.  Today, being a State Department payday, clearly marked in red on the official work calendar taped to the dingy white wall next to my computer, was one that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. After quitting my teaching job May of 2011, I effectively took the entire next year off. (I like to consider it a dry-run at retirement. I give it an overall rating of 70/30. 70% of the time was fabulous. I read. I wrote. I traveled. 30% was frustrating. I hid from the maid. I ate too many doughnuts. I took one too many naps. Next time a shot at semi-retirement comes around, I’ll be set!) Granted, due to the timeline of teacher pay, where contracts run September to August, I got paid on the 25th of each month throughout the summer, but in essence, it has been a year since I have added anything to the Ross family coffers.  (I would like to say in that year I also didn’t deplete said coffers in any way, but between LASIK and flights to Idaho and a furiously fuchsia scooter, we all know that isn’t true!)

With this black hole of employment behind me, I have been eagerly awaiting my paycheck. (I have to admit that my excitement doesn’t quite reach the levels it did when I tore off the edges around the three-perforated sides of my first paycheck envelope, at the age of sixteen, that I got from good ol’ ShopKo, where I started working at the bargain rate of $5.25/hour.  At that point, seeing my name printed on the check was a new thrill. I quickly endorsed it and drove it over to our credit union, where I promptly deposited the parental requirement of one-half into my college savings account and signed on the dotted line for some cash from the remaining funds that would buy me wonders such as the cute new sandals I had been coveting at Payless and a Clay Walker CD to keep me company on the drive to work and back a few times a week.  These days, there is no envelope to carefully unfold and no dotted line to endorse. It will all directly in to an account on a different continent! It is definitely a bit anticlimactic.)

Enough of the walk down memory lane. It’s payday- remember?

A glimmer in my eye and my newly minted Employee Express password in hand accompanied me to my computer to this morning, where I was sure I would see the results of the last three hectic weeks.(Between taking on a new job at the height of the annual 4th of July mayhem, the sudden and unexpected loss of our GSO left me filling in a hole here and a hole there, helping out wherever I was able.)  I had already told Thad I was treating him to dinner at Pizza Hut (What?!? It is fancy in China!) as a celebration of the new source of income.

But alas, it was not to be.

Logging into the payment system revealed a sad (and poor) discovery- there will be no pay this week. Apparently, the State Department is a little slow when it comes to issuing first paychecks, taking several pay periods to get their accounts set up so that the green paper flows my way.

No pay=no Pizza Hut. (Not because Pizza Hut is out of our price range with just Thad’s income, but because I wanted it to be a special treat- *my* treat!)

But, I shall not despair.  Two weeks from now, rather than sitting at my adorable pink computer, in my newly rearranged office area, pondering the workings of the Department and wondering what that first paycheck will amount to, I will be ensconced in a booth on the second floor at the WanDa Guangchang Pizza Hut, sipping lukewarm lemon water, awaiting the arrival of my very own personal pan pizza. Maybe pepperoni? Maybe just cheese? Oh, the world will be my oyster. (I don’t believe oyster is a topping choice, but I am pretty sure there are a few other seafood options available for the native diner at a Chinese Pizza Hut.)

It will be worth the wait.

4 thoughts on “Dead Presidents Still Illude Me

  1. Hi Michelle, when I lived in Guangzhou, the highlight of going to the fancy Pizza Hut was watching people at the salad bar. Locals would ever-so-carefully pile neatly constructed towers of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and other salad goodies in an attempt to get as much salad on their plates as possible. It was, indeed, a sight to see. One guy even placed tomatos and cucmbers around the plate first as a foundation to hold more salad inside the red and green borders along the plate. That said, when you all go, you have to tell me whether Chengduren (Chengdu natives) are as intrigued with the salad bar as Guangzhouren (Guangzhou natives). 🙂


    • Rachel,

      It is the same here. The Pizza Hut at WanDa doesn’t have the big salad bar, but when we were here with Peace Corps, we used to be fascinated by the salad structures. I felt like I couldn’t even attempt a salad without going back to school and getting a graduate degree in architecture! I especially love when they make a nice solid outer layer and then fill the middle with the softer, more runny items. There is definitely planning necessary, unlike when I go and just throw random bits of this and that on my plate. 🙂


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