It would have made a great Tim Horton’s commercial, if anyone would believe it!

A group of us, about eight in all, have come from just about every walk of life to think about what it’s like to juggle several jobs to make one income. The work of the 90’s and beyond. Juggling. Contingent Worker. Whatever phrase you use, this new phenomenon of work demands skills that most of us have yet to develop.

So... I’ve been serving on this committee to look at the kinds of skills job juggling people need.

But that’s not the important part of this story. It’s just that each of us on our own would likely never come in contact with each other... Charly from the Ministry of Education and Training; Liz from Simcoe County Ontarioworks; Jane from the Career Centre; Kory from his own web design company; Eric from the Board of Education; Victor from a workers union; Miriam who’s the brainchild behind all this; and me.

So, we gathered early one morning to go over some resumes because we were hiring a project director to give life to this idea. And, each of us arrived with a coffee. Most of us arrived with coffee in a red paperboard cup with yellow arrows and a Jimmy pictured on it. You know what I mean... It’s roll-up-the-rim season.

We’re deep in discussion about the kinds of questions we would ask our interviewees, how best to make each person comfortable, what we thought were the most important attributes for the project leader to have.

At one point in the meeting, each of us got up to have a break, with one going off for more coffee, another to get a glass of water, another to do some photocopying. When we came back to our seminar table, you can just imagine what ensued. Jane had cleaned up! She’d thrown out at least five of the red and yellow cups, unfurled, pristine, with just a crescent of coffee stain in their bottoms.

“Jane!” we cried in unison. “I hadn’t rolled up my rim!” “Nor I!” “Me neither!” “Sheesh!” The comments were as varied as the people, but they all meant the same thing. Jane was apologetic and one by one we let her off the hook. “Oh, it’s okay. I’ve only won a muffin.” “I haven’t won anything.” “I won something each of the first eight cups I bought and then nothing.” “It’s okay, Jane.”

We settled back down to continue. And then one little voice... “Of course, if that’s the cup with the Jimmy on it, I’ll be sad because I’m driving nothing but nuts & bolts and duct tape.” Up went five heads, nodding in sympathy.

Jane looked up. There was Liz, peering over the top half of her bifocals. And Charly, who looked uncertainly at the whole group of us. And Eric whose soft voice belies his strength of conviction.

Our fearless leader lept to action and disappeared down the hall out into the corridors of one of Barrie’s indoor malls.

The rest is left only to imagination... she did manage to scrape up six unrolled fully rimmed receptacles which she brandished at each of us as she came back into the meeting room. Her humble nature is seconded only the humiliation heaped upon her as she scraped away.

Liz peeked again over the bifocals. “Play again.”

“No thanks,” said Jane. “I’ve played enough.”

Thanks, Jane.

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