Jack and sue christmas

They were doing better, but still battling to get ahead of costs. The issue always somehow manages to be money. Being unemployed or semi employed is never straightforward, and at this point it seemed impossibly complex.

Jack, to his disgust, was now being told by his welfare agency that he was earning nearly enough to be off his unemployment benefits. That was technically true, based on the income requirements, but Jack felt he was being penalized for working his guts out, even so.

He was getting reduced benefits, based on what sort of figures, he was never too sure, and it always seemed to involve him winding up with less money. Sue, who knew how hard Jack was working, was more worried he was overworking.

Christmas, their first without a steady income and the suburban cocoon, was looming upon them. Although their daughter was socked in with presents coming from all directions, they weren't sure what to give anyone else. All they knew for sure was that they would have a hard time trying to give much more than Christmas cards.

Their various unemployed friends were another consideration. Quite a few of them had been very helpful, and very supportive, in the really tough times, and they were feeling guilty about not repaying the favor somehow.

Christmas presents for unemployed people are much more appreciated than some might realize. Unemployment is a desert, an empty space, lacking all the basic comforts. Christmas can make it tougher, a reminder when people really don't need to be reminded. Christmas wishes for unemployed always include some peace of mind.

They were sitting around discussing this problem. They'd just got to the point of deciding it was impossible to do much about the situation when the phone rang, a friend of one of Jack's clients. Apparently the client's friend needed some urgent work done, and a lot of it. His accountant had gone broke, and his paperwork, to put it mildly, was a mess and a half, so could Jack come over and at least have a look, and see what he could do?

Jack went straight over, and found himself in a retailer's back office, which looked like a paper recycling plant. It was actually up to the top of the computer desk, in some places. These were the shopkeeper's accounts and invoices, going back for months. They'd been retrieved from the accountant's office. It was November, and the accounts went back to January.

With a sigh, Jack rang Sue, and the two of them spent the next three days just sorting through the basic paperwork, organizing it, and setting up a spreadsheet for the retailer. The retailer, who was now feeling less like a trapped animal, had meanwhile realized that he'd just hired someone to do an incredible amount of work. It was likely to be expensive work, too, and he really didn't know if he could pay for it.

Bravely, the retailer asked Jack and Sue what they would charge for all this work. Jack gave the standard hourly fee, and the retailer wilted a bit when he heard it. He probably couldn't afford it, he explained.

That wasn't the problem for Jack and Sue that it was for the retailer.

They said they could give him time to pay, etc, no problem, after all Christmas was coming… They were sitting in the shop drinking coffee, after hours, and Sue happened to ask the retailer what he was doing for Christmas. The retailer looked a bit surprised, and said that being a gift shop, he'd be flat out. His Christmas stock had just arrived, and was in the garage.

Neither Jack or Sue had actually ever seen the shop front. They'd come directly into the back office, from the lane. They'd been too busy to do much more than set up the accounts, and hadn't got on to the inventory yet.

Jack and Sue looked at each other as they both had the same thought at the same time. How would it be, they asked, if he helped them out with a problem…?

They figured out a deal using spare stock, ex-inventory, mainly, so the retailer didn't have to actually pay them any money, which he said was the nicest Christmas gift anyone could possibly have given him. He insisted they have some Christmas lights.

The retailer had a huge range of gifts, and it took Jack and Sue two trips to get everything back home.

So it was that the retailer, and all Jack and Sue's friends, had a big Christmas party, with presents for everyone.