December 29, 2001

The General Manager walked around The Dirt Company office yesterday afternoon handing out long slim envelopes to everyone, like the Lord of the Manor passing out Christmas sovereigns to the help. "Happy Holidays," he said, beaming, and he handed me my envelope.

Inside: my Christmas bonus.

Or -- more accurately -- the dead check representing my Christmas bonus. Since I'm signed up for automatic deposit, I'd technically received my bonus at midnight the night before. (And you'd better believe I was shivering in front of the computer at 5:27 a.m. Friday morning, verifying that the bonus had landed in my checking account, as promised).

I thanked him and tucked the envelope into my purse. "The bonuses have been bigger in previous years," the General Manager said, almost apologetically. "Things were a little different this year."

"Hey," I said. "Usually I get a jar of spaghetti sauce."

He thought I was kidding, I'm sure. But it's true. This is the first *real* Christmas bonus I've ever received, in my twenty-something years of administrative assitude. I've received cookies and coffee mugs ... fruit baskets and frozen turkeys ... grocery store coupons and gift bags of Ultra Snooty Napa Valley Spaghetti Sauce. (Although last year "Franz" gave the senior administrative staff members a Macy's gift certificate, which you may recall I used to buy a wristwatch.) But this is the first monetary Christmas bonus I've ever gotten.

And I don't mind telling you that I'm pretty darned happy about it.

David was excited, too, and he immediately started yammering on and on about mutual funds and utility stocks. He views unexpected financial windfalls like this as an opportunity to save for our future. *I* of course, went in another direction entirely. I opened that envelope on Friday morning and looked at the numbers on the dead check -- it amounted to roughly half of one of my regular paychecks -- and I said:

There's my digital camera.

Santa was extraordinarily kind to the Ю僱êrvØ¡/SecraTerri household this year -- especially that very naughty (and generous) young Santa who lives in TicTac -- but the one Christmas dream Santa wasn't able to fulfill this year was Secra's new camera.  But that was OK: Santa knows that a camera is one of those things that Secra, in her infinite and annoying pickiness, would sort of prefer to choose for herself, like underwear, or husbands, and he stuck to nice *safe* presents, like fuzzy socks and Simon & Garfunkel CDs.

So now that I had this unexpected lump of money sitting in my checking account, what was it going to be: doing the smart, responsible thing? Or blowing the wad on a groovy new toy?

What a delicious dilemma.

Eventually I ended up splitting the difference ... and the Christmas bonus. I wrote a big check to my broker last night while David looked on, beaming.  And then I went online and placed an order for my camera. I had to scale back my expectations a bit -- I didn't order the Ultra Super Deluxe *We Do All The Work (So You Won't Have To)* model I had my eye on originally -- but it's a decent little *beginner* camera and it will get the job done. (As long as my refrigerator magnets wind up on the Internet, I'll be happy.) There's still a little money left over, too. I can chip away at the holiday credit card debt a bit, maybe. Maybe replace my laptop battery finally, or swap out our crappy broken phone for something that actually works. Maybe pick up a Dummies book on digital photography, so I can at least pretend to know what I'm doing.

Or maybe I'll just buy myself a jar of Ultra Snooty Napa Valley Spaghetti Sauce.

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wish i had the digital camera TODAY:
we're heading out for lunch with carolyn & bear, two of our
favorite pals from the old boom room who are visiting from out of town.
[guess i'll have to bring the stoopid POLAROID instead.]