Coffee heat rising

Side Job: Episode 2

At last! The eightieth paper is sent back to its author.

Never again will I take on 80 writing students as a side job! Particularly not online, where collecting their papers takes as much as a minute apiece and sending the things back takes as long.

No joke: I measured it. By the time you’ve gone pointedy-clickety-pointedy-clickety- pointedy-clickety-type type type type-pointedy-clickety-pointedy-clickety-pointedy-clickety to upload and send a paper to a student through BlackBoard (GDU’s online course software), you’ve spent between 40 and 60 mind-numbing seconds. So it takes almost a mind-numbing hour just to return one section’s papers.

If I hadn’t wrenched my leg, I would have had to take this week as vacation time to read the 80 papers that showered down on my head last weekend. It’s taken a good 50 hours to plod through the stuff. So the time off for the injury was a nice (in the classic sense) confluence: my boss feels sorry for me and I use time I would have had to take off anyway to read papers with my foot up. It’s occupied the entire week. I worked until 1:00 a.m. this morning, then carried my computer to the Renovation House to meet a worker and thence to the doctor’s office, and finally home again to finish grading papers, forming 15 carefully crafted groups, entering grades in Excel and online, issuing instructions, writing and posting announcements, figuring out how to make the group discussion boards work for student members, and on and on.

Well, the worst is now over: the rest of the coursework will be turned in as group papers. So, instead of 80 papers at a time, I’ll have 15 to read.

Some of these people are amazing: a Korean kid with a long string of writing awards in Asia and fresh from an internship to die for; a Chinese student who did not learn English until after high school and already writes more intelligibly than certain native speakers of our recent acquaintance; and the usual run of blue-collar kids, men, and women bootstrapping themselves into the middle class. Let’s hope they all make it.

So, here’s the PF question:

When is a side job worth it? How much extra work are you willing to take on to obtain a second stream of income, and how large does that income stream have to be to justify taking on another job?

In my case, the 14 grand GDU is paying for me to teach the equivalent of four writing sections (a full-time courseload) works out to about $860 net a paycheck. Every penny of it is going in to the Renovation Loan savings fund.

But with an adequate (not great) salary coming in from my real job, I wonder if this extra work is worthwhile. I’m setting aside $250 a month out of my regular pay for the Renovation Loan savings fund, and meanwhile I’m snowballing down the principal by about $100 to $160 a month. It certainly does accelerate the goal of accumulating enough liquid cash to pay off the loan in one swell foop, if need be. But I wonder if there’s any hurry. Since the monthly payment is not onerous, what’s the hurry to collect enough cash to pay off that loan? Should I really be beating myself up for this?

If I lost my job and the only income I had were Social Security and the proceeds from investments, I would need the teaching income to live. I can’t make ends meet on much less than I’m earning, and if I collected Social Security now, it would come to less than a third of my present income. But not having lost my job…

What say you? When is working two jobs worth the effort?