“the only thing certain is that nothing is certain”

To Do. Available. To Do. Available. To Do. Available.

I click on these buttons numerous times a minute, feeling like looney Alex from Fatal Attraction, sitting on the floor, flicking the light switch on and off. You know the scene: just before she slashes herself with the knife and tries to murder Michael Douglas. (Maybe I have the order wrong, but you get the idea.)

To Do. Available. To Do Available.

My great job, the one that was a steady 30 hours a week and paid a decent rate, in which work was plentiful at any time of the day or night, suddenly has gone dry. Because the company is shorthanded in the department that sends work to me and my colleagues, there is nothing ready for us to work on.

I quit a job to take this position. I rearranged the way I worked to take this position. For the past seven months, it was a steady job. Now there’s uncertainty of when or how much work will be available.

I’m a person who likes—thrives on, actually—certainty and security. Do not surprise me. Do not change plans last minute. Do not interrupt my way of life.

A few months ago, about five months into this job, I started watching my baby granddaughter four days a week, seven to eight hours a day. I continued working my job, as well. At first, it was a challenge. And that continued for a bit until I figured out a balance. Soon after, I was able to work my 30 hours as well as watch the baby 28 to 32 hours a week, trying at times to do both simultaneously.

I got into a groove, and, yes, that groove meant having to work several hours in the evenings and on weekends. But to help out my daughter and son-in-law and take care of the most adorable baby on the planet were worth working the extra hours on my “days off” with the baby.

Suddenly, a week ago today, in fact, the files of work I get paid to do were not posting on the platform as they had been. What was once a sea of files to choose from became a handful, and then none at all. I reached out to my (new) manager, who assured me he was aware of the situation and was trying to get information from the higher ups.

Just yesterday, he emailed me and my coworkers to say that more work is forthcoming, but there is no specific day when that will be nor how much work will be available when it does start coming in.

As someone who has spent the past 30 years in the uncertain world of freelancing, as well as taking additional part-time jobs, I was so pleased to finally find something that offered a flat number of hours and a paycheck that I could count on week in, week out. Having left a job I loved (although it paid less and offered fewer hours) to take this position was hard, but I knew I’d be helping with the baby and thought a remote job—even one that was double my number of hours—would work out better.

Me, in a cloud of uncertainty. (Getty images)

And it did. Until it didn’t.

Just like that the steady paycheck and the guaranteed hours each week have disappeared. Just like that my balance has been thrown off.

I’ll keep in touch with management and hope for a turnaround soon. I’ll even hunt down more work if I have to. But if straits become more dire, we may be eating rabbit stew for Christmas.

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