XIX. Must Love Peanuts

I picked two crisp jalapeños off our jalapeño plant in the pot on the front porch tonight. I cut them up and put them in the quesadillas I made for dinner, which I served with refried beans and the remaining quarter of the refrigerated cantaloupe I had cut the other day.

I once worked at a Southern California company that employed in our office a Japanese staff from Tokyo. A pretty, young non-Japanese coworker pulled the long strip of glue out of a magazine that some ad was stuck to and walked down the hall to our Japanese office. She had stuck the strip of glue under her nose, so that it dangled down below her chin. She stood at the office door and called to the sweet, young Japanese girl, “Look, look!”

That’s how Emma looked tonight. The freshly picked jalapeños made her nose run. She was eating her quesadilla with snot dripping down into it. I quickly gave her the napkin at hand, telling her to wipe her nose. She took forever to open the napkin and get it adjusted just right while meanwhile a lengthening strip of snot dripped down into her Mexican dinner.

We got that cleaned up. I continued to eat my dinner (well, look, I’ve kind of gotten used these episodes) and then looked over to see how Emma was fairing. Her nose wasn’t running, she had eaten some more and her left hand was comfortably resting in the remains of her sour cream-slathered quesadilla.

Jalapeños aside, I know you are waiting to hear how the state Attendant Care Services program worked out for us. I have held off telling you because I wanted it to be a cliffhanger so you’d keep coming back to find out. (Heh-heh).

Emma has become an employer. We were accepted into the program. Now we have to get her an EIN number, and I, holding her power of attorney, wield license to hire and fire employees. Would that it were that simple with everything.

The rep from the fiscal administrating agency, a nonprofit, asked me if Emma had had an EIN number before. Not anytime over the past century, that I could recollect.

The state provides the funds and this agency administers them. After a long afternoon meeting at our sweltering dining room table – this was Thursday, July 21, when the temperature was 102 outside, with the sun beating on our house and I wondering if our three window air conditioners were actually working – with the funds administration agency rep together with Geri, our Hospice social worker, and Tess, our Hospice nurse, whom I asked to be present, I signed an inch-thick stack of papers. We learned that the agency sets up a bank account and I, as agent of Emma, the employer, fax in time sheets, write out the paychecks, deduct the taxes from them, and pay quarterly taxes, just like any small business person. I can hire anyone I want, they don’t have to be certified – just undergo a criminal background check –, for as many hours up to 30 per week as I want, seven days a week. If an aide I hire doesn’t show up, I can employ myself and pay myself. It’s a sensible program, one designed by somebody holding public office who actually is in touch with reality, to keep patients out of nursing homes and thus save the taxpayers money, while simultaneously providing jobs and help, respite and sanity for the caregiver.

Now here’s the catch. You were waiting, weren’t you? It pays $9.75 an hour, before taxes and without benefits. So the persons I hire must love peanuts.

That’s it in a nutshell. I have some prospective employees in mind, and the agency provides referrals. I’ll fill you in on how it works out for us as we progress.

–Samantha, July 25, 2011

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