Let Me Help You Out With That (For A Small Fee)
by Nicole Freire
We all know the economy is shrinking and failing and throwing the world's largest tantrum ever and we have no money. The "I am almost broke" or "I do not have enough money" game is just as much fun as the "I'm so busy" game. What I mean is, we are all busy and we are all going broke. Also, my computer still sucks.
But I've been rethinking my usual "I'm so broke" strategy, which is to wish fervently that I will win the lottery. My strategy fails because while I want to win the lottery, I do not, in fact, actually buy a ticket. You can see the problem.
So my new strategy is to come up with big money making ideas and pitch them to you.
Uh, but I'm the one making the money, just so you know. You're more of a sounding board. Or if you like one of the ideas and want to give me money, go for it.
Money Making Idea Number One: I wait in line at Ross Dress For Less for you.
Do you see those sad people in the picture? They are trapped in one of those weird Disneyland type lines. The ones that snake back and forth, so that you have the illusion of movement but never actually move very much. And of course it's Ross, so by the time you have hacked your way through the overgrown jungle of aisles and aisles crammed full of stuff you are exhausted. And now you must wait in this endless line and your brain is fried and all you can think to yourself is "What fresh hell is this?"
Let me help you out with that. You give me your cart or armload full of stuff, some form of payment, and you can leave and go sit in the car. It'll take a while, so if you want to grab a smoothie or check out hamsters at Petco, you can do that too.
Money Making Idea Number Two: I come to your house at 5:30 am.
Did you ever make a New Year's resolution that involved you getting up at 5:30 or some other equally horrible early morning time to exercise? And didn't you feel bad because you discovered that staying in your warm bed was much more pleasant than getting up early to walk or jog?
Let me help you out with that. I am not a personal trainer but I will show up at your house at any hour before 7:00 am and knock on your door until you get out of bed and let me in. Then I'll help you put on your jacket and we'll go out walking or jogging. Actually, my knee won't let me jog, so we'll be walking. But briskly! And I'll encourage you to pump your arms up and down. Then I'll tell you that you look like you've lost weight. If you want to chat, I'll listen to you talk to me about your dreams and I won't look bored at all. If you just want to walk silently, that's ok with me too. For an additional fee, I'll not only show up at your door early in the morning, but I'll bring you coffee in one of those high tech travel mugs. Or hot chocolate, because I like hot chocolate too. Then we can talk about how I made it using nonfat milk and how chocolate has antioxidants and can lower your blood pressure.
Money Making Idea Number Three: I play nurse when you have a hangover.
Yeah, stop thinking kinky thoughts. This is a necessary service and not only will you love me for it; you will also pay me for it.
Let me help you out with that. You drank too much last night and now you feel horrible. Maybe you even want to throw up. This is ok; it's part of my service. I'll bring you a stockpot or whatever large pot you have in your kitchen to throw up into and a cool washcloth to put on your forehead or the back of your neck. I'll murmur comforting and soothing words while you retch. I won't think you're a horrible person. While you recover from vomiting, I'll bring you some Tylenol and a little glass of Gatorade (you choose the flavor) and make you take tiny sips while I tell you that no, of course you didn't do anything dumb last night. In fact, everyone else was much more drunk than you were and nobody will remember anything. Then you'll take a nap. When you wake up, I'm going to help you out to the couch and get you a nice soft blanket and a pillow for your aching head. The lights will be low, because if it's too bright it will make your head hurt. We'll watch "Law and Order" all afternoon and I'll feed you spoonfuls of chicken soup, changing the cool washcloth when it gets just a little bit warm.
Money Making Idea Number Four: I buy you stamps and I return your videos to Blockbuster.
Let me help you out with that. Nobody ever has enough stamps on hand. Sure, you always mean to stop and get some, but you don't want to add another errand to your list. And now it's your grandmother's birthday and while you remembered to get her a card, you have no stamps and you need to mail it right now so your grandmother will love you even more. Just page me and I'll bring some by.
Everybody knows that you can use Netflix to send back your movies with no late fees, but let's say that you find yourself in Blockbuster on a Saturday afternoon anyway because you want to see "Iron Man" tonight, and your Netflix queue is full of "Lost" episodes. But it's just a two day rental! And you know that you'll leave the movie on top of your television all week long and then Blockbuster will call and leave you voicemail messages and you'll keep forgetting to return it. Just page me on Sunday morning and I'll drive over and get your movie and take it back to Blockbuster.
Money Making Idea Number Five: I take your baby on a plane.
This is one of my most expensive items, but it's so good that you'll consider paying me extra and in cash. You have to travel on an airplane with your infant/baby/toddler/child. Let me help you out with that. You buy me a plane ticket and I pretend to be the child's mother. I will walk up and down the aisle of the plane with your child while he or she cries loudly. I will crouch on the ground at the back of the plane to change your baby's diaper and fend off dirty looks from other passengers. I will ask the person sitting in the bulkhead seat if they wouldn't mind swapping seats with me because the diaper bag I'm carrying is so big and your child has figured out how to unbuckle the seatbelt and refuses to sit down. I will bring you earplugs and I will provide your child with stickers, crayons, a little dinosaur that waddles back and forth when you wind it up, and Oreo cookies. Now you can lie back and relax in your seat for the duration of the flight. And when the person next to you complains about the crying baby, you can say to them, "Oh, I know! I can't stand being on a plane with children! Can't they just drive instead?" You might also want to consider traveling on a separate flight altogether. That way, I have to carry your child (and car seat and the stroller) all the way to the baggage claim area and try to keep him or her from climbing up onto the baggage carousel and hurting his or herself. Heck, for a tiny additional sum, I'll ride the bus with your child out to the rental car place, because you've signed up with the service that is the farthest away from the terminal as you can get.
Obviously, I can't detail all of my money making ideas here in column. I'm sure Ed has other copy to format and dog of the week photos to go through. But here's a brief list of some others.
MMI No. 6. I go to the bakery, buy you a donut and bring it to you around 3:00 pm, just as your afternoon blood sugar is dropping at an alarming rate.
MMI No. 7. I drive to the Habit, buy you two orders of onion rings and bring them to your house. That way, you won't have to publicly display your disgusting habit of pulling the onion out of the ring, dropping it onto the table and only eating the fried part.
MMI No. 8. I take your car to Jiffy Lube for an oil change on a weekend afternoon when they'll be really busy and the wait is over an hour. This is a fairly inexpensive one, as you only have to provide me with two magazines along with my usual fee. I will read "People" magazine and "The New Yorker."
MMI No. 9. I take you to Dargan's for Quiz Night. Not only will I be your designated driver, I will give you all the correct answers to the trivia questions so you can win.
MMI No. 10. I go watch the action/chick flick/costume drama/horror movie that no one else wants to see but you. I'll even sneak in a box of Red Vines so you don't have to overpay at the concession stand. And yes, we can watch all of the credits.
Rates for all MMI services are negotiable and are determined by criteria that only I have and won't share with you. If you have a need that I haven't identified here already, please feel free to leave it in the comments. Cash is always welcome, as are tips. I will also consider bartering for other services and/or a new couch because our old one isn't squishy anymore.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.