The Perils of Louella:
Chapter 198: Louella Adds
It All Up
LOUELLA surveyed her class. No longer surly and obnoxious, they were looking at her as she imagined hungry baby birds looked at their mother. I might be exhausted, but I think Im getting to them! Louella exulted as she distributed photocopies shed paid for at Kinkos.
Today were going to do a little budgeting.
Budget? blurted Reggie. You mean, like where money goes?
Right! Now take a look at the sheet you just got. See where it says hourly wage?
How much do you expect to earn per hour at your first job out of high school? In todays dollars?
No, no! said Louella. I dont earn much more than that.
No way! said Sandra. I thought youd be rich, what with your clothes and Coach purse and all.
Not me! said Louella. But were talking about you guys, okay? Lets say you get $6 an hour. Fill that in. They scribbled. And how many hours a week would you be working?
Lenny raised his hand. I know! I know! Forty-five!
Not quite, said Louella. Thats a little more than most people work. Yes, James?
Aint it forty?
Louella nodded. Write that in, she instructed, and now multiply forty by six.
Some of the kids looked confused; others chewed on their pencils. Come on, guys! Its just simple multiplication! You can do it! How much is four times six?
Twenty-four? asked Tamarra.
Right! Good! And if you multiply forty times six, you end up with 10 times more--and how much is ten times twenty-four?
I got it! Two hundred and forty!
Right, Damon! Do you all see how he got that? Some of the nods were uncertain. Louella did the problem on the chalk board.
Okay, and now how many weeks are in a year?
It took a while to arrive at fifty-two. Now multiply fifty-two times two hundred and forty, she challenged.
I cant do that! cried Jacklin. Man, you be dumb! retorted Kevin, who usually outpaced the others because he was a transfer student from Massachusetts.
Okay, Kevin, do it on the board, but explain what youre doing every step of the way. He gave a little power salute as he took the chalk and worked the problem. So thats it? he asked. A lousy $12,480 a year?
Right, said Louella, and thats before they take out the taxes and social security and medicare. She had them subtract 22 percent.
There was a lot of groaning and pain before the class arrived at the answer: $9,635. Oh, man! Thats plain awful! groaned Kevin.
Well, youre just starting out, reminded Louella. But could you live on your own with this money? Support a baby? Remember, at minimum wage you probably wouldnt get health benefits.
Slowly the kids shook their heads. Not a chance, said Jacklin. You cant live on that! Youd need two jobs!
The bell rang. Tomorrow well figure out how much its going to really cost you to live on your own, said Louella. And youre going to be shocked, let me tell you.
- TO BE CONTINUED -
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This story was published on June 28, 2000.