Jessica sat quietly with nothing to do that night at work. Soon she began to wonder, “Between work and sleep, how much of my life do I actually get to live?” She tried doing some complicated calculations in her head, multiplying how long she had worked here, by the number of hours per week, dividing that by 24 hours a day…no that’s not right.

She gave up and grabbed scratch paper. After scribbling unintelligibly for awhile she tossed the paper to the side in disgust. Once she closed her eyes and took a deep breath she realized that she worked one half of the average day, and should sleep another third. She sighed as she realized how easy that actually was. It was just more evidence of how tired she was.
The hotel had been understaffed for awhile now and she had been working twelve hours every day for more than a month while her boss tried to find people to hire. That would be bad enough, but she was working the night shift. For a long time she had heard it said that people who work nights need more sleep. Until this job, she had just thought they were lazier. Now she knew that she had heard correctly. Turns out those weekends that people fought so hard for actually make a huge difference.
Her basic calculation told her that she got less than one sixth of her life to herself. But really she spent most of it trying to get that fabled 8 hours of sleep she could not seem to get. There was no telling how long she would be working these hours. The city was not very large, and with the turnover at her current place of employment she doubted there was very many people who had already not been driven away from it or been told to avoid it. Meanwhile Jessica desperately needed work, and had no time to look for somewhere else at the moment.
Jessica looked at her watch to see if it was time for her to do anything for her job so she would not fall asleep. It wasn’t. In this frame of mind she sat, tired and bored, dreaming of some enjoyable way to make enough money to survive.

Jessica looked around the house for inspiration, was there something she could make and sell? Maybe something she could do that others couldn’t–or wouldn’t? To add to the challenge, if people were anything like her, people were buying little more than bare necessities in this economy. Jessica was becoming disheartened, maybe she would just have to work forever, she certainly would never be able to retire on her paycheck. Suddenly something caught her eye. Hiding in a corner was a crumpled up piece of paper. As she unfolded it, she discovered the most expensive piece of paper she would ever own – one that she was still trying to pay off – her college degree. Granted, it hadn’t done her a bit of good yet. But what was it doing here, tossed aside like a piece of garbage? Who would do such a thing?
Jessica had done everything right; she had graduated high school with high marks, went to a respectable university, and graduated with honors. She created a very impressive resume and began to look for jobs in her field, and found that no one was hiring. And that was before the economy crashed. Now here she was, working at a minimum wage job. She was grateful for the overtime that let her catch up on the bills that she couldn’t afford to pay last month. She had just found a roommate to help cover costs, but it hardly seemed to make a difference.

Suddenly Jessica was shaken awake. She had fallen asleep behind the desk. Maurice, who comes in to run the breakfast was already here. Jessica got to her feet and thanked him, only to have him hurry off. Just as her brain was forming the thought, “Well that was rude,” she realized that she had not set up breakfast at all, and guests could start coming down to eat any minute. She quickly followed Maurice to help him do her job.

Chapter 2 – Dreams of Freedom

Table of Contents

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