$11,000 A Year Doesn't Go As Far As You Probably Think

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Vol 35 Issue 42

'Very Special' Constitutional Amendment To Take On Alcoholism

WASHINGTON, DC—At 8 p.m. EST next Monday, C-SPAN will air "an important episode no family will want to miss," in which Congress is expected to pass a "very special" constitutional amendment dealing with the touchy issue of alcoholism. The amendment—inspired by the true story of a promising young hockey player whose dreams of a pro career died when his weekend partying spun out of control—will show the shattering effect alcohol has on drinkers and their loved ones, and will end with a toll-free number where victims can get help. "We're used to having a lot of fun with our amendments," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). "But once in a while, an issue touches us so deeply, we decide to draft an amendment with a message." If passed, the amendment will be available on video in time for the holiday season.

Neglect Of Wife, Children Results In Promotion

NEWARK, NJ—Six years of familial neglect netted longtime Prudential Insurance employee Walt Arness a major promotion to national vice-president of accounting Monday. "Well done, Walt," Prudential CEO Art Ryan said. "For six years, while other employees were busy getting out of work early to see their kids' soccer games and spending Saturdays with their wives, you were tirelessly dedicating yourself to this company. And for that, you will be handsomely rewarded." As part of his new job, Arness will spend 25 weeks a year on the road, supervising accounting operations in Prudential offices across the U.S.

King Ralph Fails To Become Hip Retro Reference

NEW YORK—According to trendwatchers and pop-culture analysts, the 1991 John Goodman comedy King Ralph has failed to emerge as a humorous retro reference. "Despite the lameness and strong kitsch potential of this film, King Ralph is not being sarcastically referenced by wisecracking 18- to 29-year-olds," said Zeitgeist magazine editor Adam D'Amico. "No one is saying things like, 'That guy who owns Sony must be richer than King Ralph,' or, 'Did you hear about Zach's new job? He totally got himself King Ralphed."

Orrin Hatch Mistakenly Left Dangling In Bondage-Fetish Dungeon

WASHINGTON, DC–U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) declined to answer reporters' questions Monday after a congressional aide discovered him naked and dangling from a ceiling-mounted leather restraining harness in a D.C.-area bondage-fetish dungeon. "Sen. Hatch didn't show up for work, so I went looking for him at an address I saw written down on a scrap of paper on his desk," Hatch aide Alex Gordon said. "Through a massive oak door, I could hear a desperate voice pleading for a 'Mistress Domina' to come back and release him. When I opened the door, I saw the senator, looking exhausted and wearing only a dog collar and nipple clamps." Hatch was brought to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and third-degree wax burns to his scrotal sac.

Child Unimpressed With Aurora Borealis After Whole Day Of Tekken 3

INTERNATIONAL FALLS, MN—A wide-eyed gaze of childlike wonderment over the incomprehensible majesty of creation was not elicited Monday, when 7-year-old Kenny Meier, son of local high-school science teacher Stan Meier, was unmoved by the Aurora Borealis after spending an estimated 12 hours playing Tekken 3.

Banning ATM Fees

On Nov. 2, voters in San Francisco and Santa Monica approved ordinances banning banks from charging ATM fees to non-customers. In response, several banks in the cities blocked non-customers from using their cash machines. What do you think?
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$11,000 A Year Doesn't Go As Far As You Probably Think

When people hear I make $11,000 a year, they're usually pretty surprised. And I can't say I blame them. It's a handsome salary to command. But sometimes I think they have the wrong impression, imagining me living some sort of extravagant lifestyle. Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but $11,000 a year simply doesn't go as far as you probably think.

Now, make no mistake: I'm comfortable. Working 35 hours a week washing dishes at Olive Garden, my expenses are met, and I get a heck of a lot of perks. But, no, my friends, it's not all limousines and champagne. You'd be amazed how fast that kind of money goes.

To illustrate what I'm saying, let's break down the $11,000. That's $915 a month. Right off the bat, my rent and utilities take $350 out. I realize I could live someplace a little cheaper, like the boarding house or the Y, but I work hard, and I choose to reward myself with a nice efficiency. So already we're down to $575.

Now, I can't very well walk from my apartment to the Olive Garden on Plaza Parkway, so I gotta lay out more scratch for transportation. My monthly bus pass costs $30, so now we're down to $545.

You blue-collar types may not realize it, but working in the field that I do, I am required to present an attractive and professional appearance at all times. That's not just my preference; it's on the employee-conduct sheet I was given when I first got hired. I must wear a nice white shirt and clean black pants every shift. Between the regular wear and tear and the occasional accident, I can spend up to $10 a month at the laundromat. I'm not kidding! Takes dough to make dough, the old saying goes.

Now, believe it or not, rich guys gotta eat, too. And, the sad fact is, Shurfine macaroni and cheese ain't free. So that's a good $26 down the hopper each month for food, more if there's a holiday and I decide to treat myself to some primo Kraft stuff. That, I admit, is one of the dandier perks of wealth: If I feel like it, I can buy some premium-brand macaroni and cheese, and the money will be there. But I have to work for it, you know: My life isn't just lounging around and sipping daiquiris by the pool, if I had a pool!

So the small amount of money left over at the end of the month either goes into savings or toward my Visa debt, and that, sorry to say, is the reality. I don't have a big, Uncle Scrooge vault of gold coins I swim around in. It's actually a very sober life of maintaining my standard of living through scrupulous saving and, yes, cost-cutting.

Nope, I'm not ashamed to say it: I cut costs. Like this one time, at Olive Garden, a whole pan of chicken filets had to be thrown away because Jorge sneezed near them, so Tina, the manager, told me to pitch 'em and sterilize the pan. But I was smart and wrapped them in Saran Wrap, keeping them in my coat pocket until I punched out. So for the next two weeks, I got free chicken filets for breakfast and dinner! (I have lunch free at Olive Garden.) How's that for savings?!

So, though I'm very well off, I'm not exactly running around like some Mr. Moneybags, tossing big handfuls of silver dollars into the air. But in just two months, I'm up for performance review, and I could get as much as a 45-cent raise. Yup, forty-five big ones! If that happens, I'll still be the same old Tony I was before, but who knows what sort of luxuries I'll be able to splurge on. I could get some plastic chairs, a bread-toasting machine, or maybe even basic cable!

Not that I'll forget the little people. All of my old friends will be welcome to come over to enjoy my majestic 40-channel lineup. (Though I'll have to ask them to take off their shoes before entering, so they don't track street dirt on my priceless throw rug, a Feazell family heirloom my dad threw out when he was redecorating his office.) After all, if it weren't for the little people--like Patrick, who told me that Olive Garden was hiring, and Kevin, who drove me out there on his way to his mother's--I would not be in this privileged position today. You can't ever forget your roots, even if you remember them through the sapphire haze of a Corningware plastic tumbler brimming with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

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