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Category Archives: Work

The Customer Is Always…

My first job was at Chick Fil-A when I turned 16.  From there, I worked retail at Belk and Shoe Carnival, and had a stint at an Outlet Mall.  I have waited tables and bartended at Chili’s, Applebee’s, Shoney’s, IHOP and more, and worked sales at a wholesale and retail warehouse.  I’ve managed customers for a landscaping company and handled patients at a chiropractic practice.  At this moment, I work for a massive drug development company in a position that requires absolutely no customer service work, and I love it more than words can express.

I’m grateful to currently be in a position where I don’t have to worry about the whole “customer is always right” philosophy.  If someone screws up, I tell them to fix it.  If someone is rude to me, I don’t have to put up with it.  When I’m put in front of a client, I’m not the one who has to answer to them, so it’s not a stressful environment with me feeling like I have to pop my customer service voice on and play nice.  There’s a mutual respect rather than one or both of us feeling an obligation to fake it.

Just because I’m out of the field doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have to slap on a smile only to have some customer tell me it’s not good enough.  Or yelled at because of a store policy I have no control over, a long cook time on a Friday night, the temperature being too hot/cold, the credit card declining, or one of countless other complaints.  Or touched without invitation or permission.  Or told I should be fired over something that has nothing to do with me.  The customer is “always right” and they know it.

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I don’t understand why customers feel that they have ownership over those in the service field.  Yes, they are here to help you.  No, they are not your slaves.  It’s unbelievable to see people take the “I’m always right because I’m a paying customer” idea to the extreme, at the expense of whatever poor hourly employee happens to be standing in front of them.  On the tame end, you have people who refuse to say please, snapping their fingers to get an employee’s attention and refusing to make eye contact or speak to them like they would an equal.  On the other side of the spectrum, it’s terrifying.

I’ve had people try to hand me dirty diapers and sanitary products (excuse being that the receptacle in the women’s room was full. Gross).  I had a kid piss everywhere inside a store and the mother look at me, say “she can clean it up,” and walk away.  I’ve had things thrown at me.  I’ve been called all sorts of names.  I dealt with a customer who would tip his server $100 in order to get extra “services” later.  I’ve been cussed at because I didn’t give a customer my phone number.  I’ve had customers demand I be fired on the spot for following store policy.  I’ve been stiffed on tips after running my ass off for people.  I’ve been called racial slurs, a slut, and an idiot.  I once had someone try to follow me home.  And my experiences aren’t even the worst of what happens.

Your cashier at Target is a person, not a punching bag.  But once someone becomes the customer, the employee turns into a being that is less than human, one made to absorb a verbal beating (and sometimes a physical one) and smile as they take it.  It is the most illogical thing, but people do it consistently and do it with confidence.  The customer brain directs a person to think they have a right and an obligation to treat service workers as rodents.  Less than rodents.  Like rodent shit.

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I don’t give a damn if the lady at the drive-thru doesn’t smile so widely at you, you can see every one of her teeth.  Leave her be.  I don’t care if you disagree with store policy, it’s not the doing of your cashier so shut up about it.  Quit trying to scam your way into free meals or store credit with your whining and bullshit.  Stop making the life of retail and food service so incredibly difficult for the people busting tail to make your experience a good one.  Just because someone’s job is to serve you doesn’t mean that your job becomes being a right twat, hell bent on making their life miserable.  Retail and food service isn’t as easy as most people think; dealing with assholes all day takes its toll.  Be the one person who decides to keep their trashy attitude to themselves and don’t follow the entitled herd.  Retail people are people too.  Don’t forget that.

 

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All Work And No Blogging

Back when I worked for the National Guard Finance office, I spent a healthy amount of time writing about the various people I observed and the events that took place.  Tubberpottimus, the bane of my very existence, was a frequently covered topic, as it was either write about her or go absolutely insane.  Now that I’m out of there and settled into my new position, I find myself wanting to write about so many things but being 100% unable to do so.

We have very strict policies in my office.  Cell phone usage is strictly prohibited except in break rooms or outside.  This includes talking, texting, or even taking it out to check the time.  Training materials, notebooks, and anything else with company information on it or written in it cannot leave the property.  Unless you have a photo pass, like I do, you cannot take pictures or record videos.  Even with my badge, I cannot take a photo on site and post it to Twitter; it has to be a photo for on-site company use.

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The days of forwarding my husband funny emails I receive are over.  If someone decorates my desk for my birthday, you won’t see it.  And as much as I want to share some of the insane things that happen here sometimes, I have to keep my mouth shut.  It drives me absolutely insane.  I love sharing crazy stories from the office, and we have more than enough here on a daily basis.  But because I love this job, there is zero workaround, so you guys are going to have to miss out on a lot of WTF moments.

At the end of the day, I’m just glad to have a job that I love.  It feels like it’s been forever and a day since I was able to say that and mean it.  I work somewhere that changes lives.  I support and help run an office that is bringing amazing things to the world.  And I don’t answer phones, deal with customers, greet clients or visitors, or file a single thing.  As far as having to keep my mouth shut… who knows, maybe I’ll write a book.

What You’re Worth

I got my first job when I was 16 years old, working the fry station at Chick Fil-A.  After a week of grease burns and sore fingers, I was put on the front register.  One week after that, I got moved to drive-thru, which I often ran alone.  Within a month I received a raise, which wasn’t much to talk about.  At barely over minimum wage, I wasn’t exactly overflowing my bank account every two weeks.

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I’m 33 now, with very brief period of unemployment between Chick Fil-A and now, thanks to moves, a kid, college, and unexpected life events.  During those years, I’ve seen a lot and learned a lot.  My three years working at Shoe Carnival was where I learned the most about customer service and employee relations.  My time at Health 1st was where I learned to be a leader.  But wherever I’ve worked, regardless of the business type, there were always three very distinct types of people around me.

The first is one I unfortunately see a lot; the employee who comes to work simply for the paycheck.  They may make $15 an hour, but they put in an effort that isn’t even deserving of minimum wage.  More often than not, you can find them taking a smoke break, texting friends, or wandering around instead of doing their job.  If it’s not getting half-assed, it’s not getting done at all.  These are people who take no pride in their job, regardless of how important or trivial it may be.  This attitude and work ethic succeeds in getting you absolutely nowhere.

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The second type is also very common; the employee who earns their paycheck to the penny.  They’re reliable, efficient, and get the job done.  They aren’t habitually late, absent, or away from their assigned area.  Most employers I’ve had fit into this category, and about half of the employees I’ve worked closely with do as well.  It’s a good place to be, especially when working in a team environment where the success of one determines the success of all.  I feel confident knowing that the people I work with are putting in a solid day before clocking out and heading home.

If you fit into this category yourself, that’s fine, but simply striving to earn your paycheck can cause issues.  If you’re entering into a company, making $12 an hour, and all you do is put in $12 an hour’s worth of effort, how can you expect to ever advance?  If you feel that you’re underpaid, which is common in retail and fast food establishments, does that mean your effort decreases because you feel undervalued?  Not looking past the paycheck towards bigger and better things is a huge hindrance.  Even if you don’t see yourself with your current company for the long haul, extra effort can go a long way into giving you a glowing reference when you finally get a new job.

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The final type is one I strive to be and hope to become more consistently; the employee who works towards the salary desired, not the salary earned.  This is the person who goes in and does a million dollar job nearly every day.  People are fond of saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.  Why not also work for the job you want?  A suit and tie alone isn’t going to move someone up the ladder; they must have the work history and drive to back it up.

Right now, I am lucky enough to be in a place where I can work towards a salary I want, not the one I have.  When I started work here in late August, I was making $13 an hour.  It was barely enough money to get me by week to week, but I busted my tail and am now making considerably more than that, having moved from temp status to full-time employee in record time (average times are generally a year or longer).  Now that I’m getting paid more, I have noticed that I’ve automatically pushed myself to work even harder.

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I’m by no means the hardest working person in the building, but I never leave this place wondering if I did enough, regretting not finishing certain things, or feeling as if I slacked off.  My counterpart here is the same way; the two of us are forever busy and never standing still.  Whatever the position, whatever the goal, it makes so much sense to suck it up and give it your all.  I can choose to be annoyed by my workload or I can choose to enjoy it and tackle it with passion.

It shouldn’t matter if you’re in a job that you consider a career or if you’re in one that is simply a pit stop along the road to your dreams.  A little bit more effort goes a long way.  The obvious benefits to your employment aside, it does wonders for your self-esteem and self-worth.  Is anyone really proud of themselves for trolling Facebook all day on company time?  Bragging about getting paid to do nothing sounds foolish.  It IS foolish.  There is room for fun in every job, but it doesn’t have to come at the expense of your quality of work.  It’s all about deciding what kind of person you want to be.  A ten buck an hour guy your whole life, or someone worth twice their weight in gold?

Boom

So much has happened over the past few months.  In August, I lost my job working as a contractor for the Army National Guard, thanks to some shady behavior by a bitter coworker.  No more riding to work with my husband, no more cushy job that I was grossly overpaid for, and no more paycheck.  I’m not ashamed to say that I completely panicked.  My husband and I had just put down quite a bit of money to get a home built, and this was a serious blow.  It took nearly a month for me to find a new job, and when I did, I had to settle for almost half of what I had been making.  But at least I had a job.

unemployment-job-work-110414The nice thing about my new job was that it was only a couple of miles from our apartment, plus the hours allowed me the perfect amount of time to drop our boy off at school.  The downside was that I was stuck driving my mom-in-law’s Suzuki, which was on its last leg.  The thing hates the cold, won’t run if it’s a drop under half a tank of gas, and rattles if you go over 40 mph.  But it ran.  So I worked, collected my meager check, tried to get used to not having PTO or paid holidays, and drove my husband crazy.  We emptied out our savings, went crazy selling things at yard sales, and somehow were able to pay our overpriced rent, plus finish saving up for our down payment on our home, which was getting built quicker than we imagined.

On October 27th, we closed on our new home, and it was a fantastic feeling.  Moving only a couple of miles down the road should have made it easy, but even with five days to complete the move and get out of our apartment, we cut it close.  It might have been easier if we had been open with what we were doing, but we decided to keep things under wraps until the house was officially ours.  The weekend after we were settled in, we had a wedding to attend, and the weekend after, a baby shower.  I was exhausted, but happy to be in our new home and able to spend time with people I don’t nearly see often enough.

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Things were going well, but trying to get used to a smaller paycheck wasn’t easy.  Things got worse when it began getting cold outside and the Suzuki decided that it was fun to take ten minutes to start whenever it was 30 degrees or below.  It was time to get a new car.  That I couldn’t afford.  We found someone who could work with me and would accept the Suzuki as a trade-in, but I still had to come up with cash to put down, plus deal with a higher monthly payment than I was happy with.  But it was either this or nothing.  Without picture perfect credit, I wouldn’t get a monthly payment I could live with.  So I signed the papers and got a “new” car.  The next day, the Suzuki caught fire, so I felt slightly better about my decision to upgrade.

As a contingent worker for my company, I am not afforded the same benefits and perks as our full time employees.  The fact that this place is fantastic definitely helps, but the pay just won’t work for the long term.  Goes without saying, I did a virtual backflip when my boss asked me if I was interested in going full time.  I did a few more after she told me that my interview went well and they wanted to make me an offer.  I about passed out when she told me the salary offer.  As of January 5th, I will be a full time employee with benefits and a beautiful paycheck, and I could not be happier.

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My husband always says things have a way of working out.  They always work out for us, and he reminds me of that fact quite a bit.  I lost my job.  My car caught fire.  But I got into a new car loan that works to build my credit; the company specializes in doing just that.  I got a new job that I absolutely love and that is close to home.  My husband and I finally got a house that we adore.  And, thankfully, I got an offer for full time employment that solves my financial issues.  It doesn’t come in time to have a normal Christmas, but we’re working around it and hitting the casino instead (our boy is with his grandparents, thanks to a court order, so he will miss our first Christmas in the house).  Things have been hectic as all hell, but I’m so grateful that they are coming together beautifully.  I have everything I need to have the best Christmas ever.  My husband, my pup dog, my boy returning home soon, a beautiful house, a car that isn’t on fire, and a kick ass job that will come with amazing pay in 2015.  I’m a lucky lady.

Dumb Phones

My company has a very strict policy regarding cell phone usage.  During my orientation, we were all warned that using our phones during training can and will result in immediate termination.  Once out of training, every employee must follow very strict rules regarding cell phone usage.  Other than the designated break rooms, the cafeteria, and outside of the building, cell phone use is prohibited.  You can’t text while getting coffee or using the microwave; you have to get your food and/or drink and go to a designated break room before pulling out your phone.  You can’t throw a post on Facebook while walking through the hallways; any spot but the designated spots are strictly off limits.  Because of this, my phone is shut down before I leave for work and doesn’t get turned back on until I’m in my car and ready to drive home.

The cell phone policy is an easy one, thanks to the countless signs posted around the office.  We have them above the microwaves and coffee machines, on the bathroom door and on every stall, and in other rooms where people could try to go for privacy.  Supervisors give strict instructions that the phones are not to be seen or heard unless in one of the specific zones.  You would think it’s an easy policy to follow, but I’ve already seen more than one person lose their job because they’d rather text than pay attention and take notes during training.  To be honest, part of me wants to be sympathetic, as I had 4 hours of training and was frustrated and bored; they have two weeks.  But the bigger part of me wants to slap them upside the head for being so stupid.  Can’t you survive for two hours at a time without a phone?  Can’t it wait until you go on break?

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People get desperate though without that little device always available to use at their leisure.  As a result, the bathroom is a major hotspot for cell phone use during regular breaks or “emergency” restroom breaks.  Call me crazy, but I never find myself in a situation that requires me to be on the john and on the phone at the same time.  One or the other can wait.  As far as hiding places go, a bathroom stall is a last resort in my book; I don’t want to have a conversation in a place where people do their business.  But here?  People literally multitask, talking in between… well, you get the gist of it.  It’s absolutely disgusting.

The amount of dependence we have on these little electronic devices is staggeringly high.  When people are at the point to where they would rather go hide out in a cobweb infested abandoned part of campus than just wait until their break to text a friend, it’s a problem.  When people are willing to risk their jobs because they absolutely cannot live without Twitter, it’s a problem.  This job forced me to go from having my phone always within reach to having it 100% out of sight and out of mind, and it drove me nuts for about a week until I realized how much better off I was without it.  I let my email pile up, I get behind on tweets, and I’m cool with it.

Being without a phone, and seeing how people around me refuse to go without, has made me realize how much I was missing by having my eyes glued to that tiny screen so often.  What is the point in walking around like a zombie all the time?  Is it really THAT important to see who said what on Facebook?  Do we really have to document every moment with a selfie or some overly filtered fancy Instagram shot?  And please, someone explain to me, what can be so important to make bathroom time become a group activity so you can have a conversation with your mom?  Just chill.  Unplug.  I’m always glad to turn my phone back on when I leave the office for the day, but I’m equally as glad to turn the damn thing off and not deal with it for the eight and a half hours I’m supposed to be working.  It didn’t kill me, and it sure as hell won’t kill you.

Moving Along

I was hit with a low blow today.  Scratch that.  I was hit with a fucking mack truck.  My heart felt as if it was going to leap out of my chest and dance across my desk.  My hands were sweaty and my skin clammy.  My appetite was nowhere to be seen and I was ready to sell my soul for a soothing shot of whiskey or tequila.

I’ve been very absent from the world of blogging lately due to my inability to properly handle stressful situations without becoming a useless, shaking blob of jelly.  I’m angry and I don’t know where to direct my rage and how to keep it from burning down the world around me.  I want to scream and cry and throw things until they break.  I want to confront the reason for my distress and beat it into the ground.  Yet here I sit, doing nothing.

As badly as I wanted to fly off the handle earlier today, I held it in and removed myself from the situation as quickly as I knew how.  I’ve shed a few tears, but have kept myself from falling into a full out sob.  Nothing is broken (yet).  I’m trying to fix it, but I feel like I should know why it happened in the first place, and that is one question that will never get a good answer.

I’m glad I didn’t see the smirk and sarcastic wave earlier today from the wrecking ball that destroyed my world today.  My situation would have been irreparable if I had seen that, as I have no doubt that someone would have gotten their teeth punched into the back of their skull.  At some points, I’m so amazed by what happened that I can’t even be angry.  But of course I can.  I am angry.  Justifiably so.  But anger won’t solve any problems.  I have to go forward.  I have to move on.  And a month from now, maybe a year from now, you damn well better believe I’ll be laughing in your stupid, smirky face, you intolerable bastard.

Thanks Obama

I am going to have to try my best to be vague in order to protect the privacy of certain individuals, so bear with me.  I am a government contractor, which often leaves me waiting until the last minute to find out if my contract has been extended and I still have a job.  I’m not faulting my contracting company, as this is just the way it’s done.  To their credit, I have never been out of work due to last minute renewals not going through as planned.  Not everyone in my building is as lucky though; contracts end all the time and some without much warning.  Last week, one was forced to put their employees on furlough “until further notice” because the funding was not approved and they have no way to pay their employees until it is.

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Naturally, the affected employees were upset, and they had every right to be.  One took to Facebook almost immediately to voice her disappointment.  Her comment got feedback as you would expect, but one person (I’ll name him Bob) went slightly overboard.  Bob was also affected by the furlough and was apparently more upset than anyone could have imagined.  His comments were not only inappropriate, they were threatening towards important people in the United States.  Word got back to his supervisor about what was said, because it’s Facebook and you can’t say anything on there without the whole world finding out.  I heard rumors that the FBI and the Secret Service were both notified and looking for Bob.  I heard for sure that both of his supervisors suggested he be dismissed immediately, as employees that say what he said should not be employees for the government.  The whole thing is a mess.

Apparently, Bob went to the hospital shortly after stirring things up with his comments.  The general opinion is that he did this in order to explain the comments away as some sort of temporary insanity.  That opinion is just that, and he could be genuinely sick for all I know.  From the feedback I’ve heard and the remarks from those involved, it’s not looking as though it will matter what frame of mind he was in when he said what he did.  Regardless of intent, he made threats.  I highly doubt Bob would have gone through with anything, but one look at the front page of any news website or paper will tell you that we’re no longer allowed to go easy on people and give them the benefit of the doubt.  Too many psychos in the world are causing irreparable damage for anything to be ignored at this point.

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What did surprise me though, which may reveal my naivety, is that Bob is very likely without a job now because of a Facebook post.  I recently made a comment on Twitter that sometimes I’d like to throw people out of windows when they get on my nerves.  I will go through life without throwing a single living thing out of a window though; it’s normal for us to turn to social media when stressed in order to vent.  If my comment was about throwing my boss out of a window, would that be a threat?  Would I lose my job?  It’s a strange thing to think about, but offhand remarks about harming others are taken much more seriously now that we know that people exist that will be more than happy to follow through with a vengeance.  If I posted about throwing my boss out a window, and then I did so, the first thing people would cry out is “why wasn’t anything done to her when she made those threats??!?”

Bob behaved like an idiot and unfortunately he and his family are currently paying the price.  People are going to say awful things about he and his wife as they try to navigate through this mess.  It’s unfair and could have easily been prevented had he just watched what he said or simply said it in the privacy of his home rather than a public website.  Freedom of speech only goes so far.  There are things you just can’t say.  I can say Obama Sucks until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t say I’m going to track him down and do something awful without suffering some sort of consequence.  I might know that I’m not being serious, but how is anyone else to know unless they check me out?  I’m curious to know what you think.  Where do we draw the line with critiques on our government and officials?  What is okay to say and what is crossing the line?  How should we decide what is a serious threat and what is just someone blowing off steam?

Maturity Is…

While I was awkwardly navigating my way through my preteen and teenage years, I encountered my fair share of mean girls and then some.  I can still remember the day when I realized that girls were a cutthroat bunch.  My friend and neighbor, Mary, was having a party and I was invited along with nearly every other person in the neighborhood.  A few days before the party, I got a phone call from Mary.  She kept asking me what I thought of the new girl, Kelly.  I would say that I thought she was nice, Mary would push me to say something else, until I eventually agreed with Mary that Kelly might not be the nicest person ever.  All of a sudden, Mary revealed that she was Kelly.  She HAD to trick me because she KNEW I didn’t really like her!  I cried for a while, skipped the party, and dropped most of my female friends in favor of male friends.

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It was a childish thing to do, but my 11 or 12-year-old mind thought it was the worst thing that could have ever happened.  As I made my way through middle and high school, I was shown time and again that Kelly’s little trick was miles away from the worst thing I could expect to see or experience.  I was lucky enough to find a good group of friends who kept the backstabbing and shady behavior to a minimum, but the things I witnesses females to do each other was nothing short of disgusting.  High school was horrible, and college was only slightly better because it was so easy to avoid certain people and cliques.  I always felt confident though that leaving school behind would also mean that the cutthroat behavior would be left behind as well.

Call me naive if you will, but I assumed that truly becoming an adult would also mean that females would stop being so terrible to each other over tiny things, and often over nothing at all.  Little did I know that it seems to get worse with age.  I lost quite a few male friends (and by friends, I don’t mean “we used to date,” I mean strictly friends) because their significant others couldn’t handle them being friends with a somewhat attractive female, even though I wasn’t single, wasn’t flirting, and wasn’t any sort of threat.  I’ve been harassed at work by female authority figures who disliked me for reasons I’m still unsure of, but were clearly unrelated to my stellar job performance.  And recently, I’ve been dealing with a woman twenty years my senior stand around my desk and take thinly veiled shots at me over some he-said-she-said BS that has nothing to do with her at all.

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I’ve been free of Tubberpottimus for nearly a year and had hoped that the nonsense in the office would end with her retirement.  Silly me.  When one miserable sod leaves, there is always another to take her place.  A female that will act hateful towards another, later patting themselves on the back as they brag about how many notches they took their target down.  Smile at the wrong guy and you’ll be called a slut.  Say the wrong thing and you’ll be called a liar.  Forget the slightest detail and you’ll be called incompetent.  Hell, you can do everything right and still become a target just because some woman doesn’t approve of you in general.  Women will hate each other simply over wardrobe choices and hairstyles.

I am beyond tired of this behavior, especially when it comes from women who are much older than me and should have long outgrown the need to act like petty children.  I can’t stand coming to work and having to deal with a sad middle-aged woman who has nothing better to do than spout off with “oh, better be quiet; don’t want any rumors to start” literally every single time she is anywhere near me.  We’re all free to like and dislike who we please, but is it really necessary to be hateful and difficult, especially in schools and workplaces where we’re all somewhat held captive together for eight hours?

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My dream is to fully escape this mean girl world.  Work in a place where some chick isn’t trying to get me fired because I refuse to gossip with her or because I’m getting more attention than she.  Go to the store and not be glared at by someone who assumes I’m looking at her man when I’m merely trying to find the cereal.  Stop hearing the word slut thrown at any female who dares post a Facebook photo of herself at the beach.  I want to be able to have faith in my gender instead of swearing off female friends every couple of years because I simply can’t cope with the nonsense.

I am lucky enough to know some amazing women, but they are unfortunately the minority in a bitch-eat-bitch world where rules are out the window and it’s every broad for herself.  Last I heard, the Kelly from my youth was busy being a godawful person to everyone she came across, but even people who start as early as her can change.  Stop looking at all other women as competition.  Stop the jealousy.  Calm the hell down and quit being hateful.  These females who constantly target others are miserable people at their core, and it’s sad for them, but also sad for us who have to deal with their drama.  Everyone needs to take a deep breath and ask themselves if all this hate, all the plotting, and all the gossip is truly worth it.  Breathe in… breathe out… and ask yourself if your day is actually best spent on whether or not your coworker’s skirt is one inch too short for the office.

 

Knocking In

Prior to getting hired on as a contractor for the National Guard Finance office, I sold Kirby vacuums door to door.  For about a month, I was an independent dealer of these high-priced multi-purpose machines, working to make enough commission off of each sale to make it worth my time.  I did not work directly for the Kirby company; the company I worked for was run by a gentleman whose family had been in the business for years.  Each sale one of his dealers made was cash in his pocket, and he was always quick to tell us that he was once in our shoes, and with hard work we could one day be in his.  With the chance to make $500 per sale, and time to make up to three sales per day, this job seemed pretty sweet for an interim gig.

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Obviously I was not making upwards of $1500 per day selling these things, otherwise I sure as hell would not be working here when I could make over $300,000 annually slinging vacuums.  But with the promise of that type of incoming cash, it’s easy to see how people can get sucked into these things and end up losing themselves to it.  Hell, I consider myself to be pretty intelligent and even I was fooled at the start.  Let me explain.  I heard about the company via a classified ad looking for “Dealer representatives. Typical job functions include but not limited to scheduling to meet with potential customers, product demonstrations, negotiation, order processing, record keeping, product delivery, customer service.”  Easy stuff, right?  It also highlighted the ease of advancement, so I applied and scored an interview almost immediately.

The interview should have been a red flag that sent me running.  I was part of a group of about 20.  We handed in our resume and a short questionnaire to a man who addressed us all together.  He told us how exciting this job was, how we were basically guaranteed to earn at least $1000 a week, if not much more, and how we would be paid $1500 for the first month even if we didn’t make a single sale, so long as we showed up every day to work.  None of us were spoken to individually, so I feel odd even calling this an interview.  I received a call back to come for training the very next day and I assume that everyone else in my group that had half a brain was called back as well.

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I had two days of training, which I would be paid for provided I finished out the entire four weeks and did not miss a day.  Oh, and had at least three appointments per day where I did a full demonstration of what a Kirby vacuum can do that was verified by my team lead.  And worked every Saturday, since that counted as part of the full work week.  And did I mention that my start time was 10am and I could potentially still be in the field until 11 at night?  A couple of those very important details were somehow left out when I started.  But no matter because in a month, I could be able to run my own team if I played my cards right!

Each morning at this company, we started out with a high energy meeting.  People who made sales would go to the front of the room, state how they had “knocked in” to the home, relate what they did to make the sale, and sometimes brag about how they sold the unit without any discounts.  I won’t lie; it was exciting to watch and even more exciting to be able to go to the front and tell your own story.  I was wowed by some of the dealers who sold the units for full price and who made enough sales monthly to qualify for some of the perks the company offered; vacations, expensive prizes such as snow mobiles, all sorts of award certificates, and quick promotions.

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It’s such bull.  Any and all companies like this are bull.  Our team lead would drop us in neighborhoods where we would go door to door, knocking and offering people a free room of carpet cleaning.  Often, we were encouraged to lie and tell them that we got paid simply to do the demo (we did not) and we just wanted to show off the Kirby.  Other times we were told to lie about a new store opening (there was no new store anywhere) and say that we wanted to spread the news to our new neighbors by offering free carpet cleaning.  No lie was too big, so long as it got us in the door.  Once the homeowner agreed to let us in, either the dealer (me) or our team lead would run back to the van to retrieve one of the large Kirby boxes.  We’d quickly bring it inside and start unpacking it while engaging the homeowner in small talk about their beautiful home, the weather, or anything else unrelated to the giant vacuum we were unpacking.

My team lead was incredible at this.  Often, the homeowner would try to protest to me unpacking and setting up the vacuum, but he would distract them with conversation until I was done and ready to go.  He’d then leave with a few encouraging words and I’d be alone in some stranger’s house.  I would then go through all the Kirby’s attachments, showing the homeowner how filthy their home was by removing the filter pads after every vacuum sweep and laying that pad on their floor.  Those pads, covered in dirt and who knows what else, were to lay on the floor until my team lead returned in order to prove that I had done a full demonstration.  It was gross and no one was happy about it.

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Oh, and did I mention that we also had special black filter pads?  Those were made specifically for mattresses.  Part of our demo involved going into the homeowner’s bedroom and cleaning their mattress, using the black pads to show dust mites and other nasty mattress critters.  As you can imagine, people didn’t like strangers in their bedroom.  I always asked permission, and when I was obviously turned down at some homes, was instructed to simply pick up the Kirby, say “where is the bedroom,” and just start walking until I found it.  No permission needed.  It was so insulting and invasive, but that was what was required of me.  The final portion of the demo involved finally hooking up the shampooer and giving the homeowner the promised carpet cleaning.  While I was doing this, my team lead was heading back to the house to negotiate the sale (since I was new, this was on him, but I would be required to do it later on).

My first sale was to a woman who could not afford it.  The asking price was $2200, but my team lead gave it to her for $999, which she had to finance.  The sale price meant that my team lead would make a small profit, the company would make a larger profit, and I would make nothing but would at least have a sale on my record.  Out of all the people I sold to, I feel confident in saying that only one of those families could afford it.  Out of all the people I sold to, I feel confident in saying that only one of those families actually needed it; the rest were fine with the vacuum and/or shampooer they already had.  I ripped people off and I’m pretty damn ashamed of it.

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During my time at Kirby, I barely saw my family.  After paying for gas to drive back and forth, I was up only $100 after a month due to tiny profits after everyone took their cut.  My knees ached from all the time I spent on them (hold the jokes) while doing demos.  I was unable to get my $1500 because it is impossible to do three demos each day, seeing as how people work and generally don’t want to let a stranger into their house, no matter what they have to offer.  Even if I had been able to complete it and get that $1500, it would have equaled out to about $3 per hour for the time I put in.  It seemed too good to be true at the get go and I should have been smarter about it and run for the hills as soon as I found out that the job was nothing more than door to door sales.

Sure, some dealers get lucky and end up with their own office, like the company I worked for.  But they are only one out of a hundred, or more, that get lucky and make it work.  I was only there for a month and I saw dozens of people come and go.  My team changed almost every day due to people dropping off after coming to their senses.  The company made crazy profit off of us dealers, as we were paid pennies while they raked in the real cash.  I was a rarity in the place; a female dealer who was actually really good at making sales.  Had I been willing to sacrifice time with my family, I could have gone far.  I could have had my own team and taught others to lie to homeowners in order to make a sale.  I could have made some crazy cash.

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No amount of money is worth it though.  I barely saw my child and my husband during that month, and they both were very unhappy about my absence.  I have no doubt that I put some people in debt after giving them an overpriced vacuum with payments they couldn’t afford.  I caused a few arguments between couples by forcing a sale down their throat.  I lied my ass off so I could invade people’s homes and take their money.  I was horrible to everyone.  I wish I had done my research after that very first day of Kirby training.  I wish someone had warned me.  But at least I got out after just a month before any damage was done to my family and myself.

Never again will I put myself in a situation where I am basically working for free or working for the promise of pay.  Never again will I trust a company simply because it seems fun and because they constantly present me with success stories from people “just like me.”  I’d love to be able to warn others away from places like this, but it’s really one of those live and learn things.  It might work for some of you and that’s not something I can determine.  But for 99% of us, jobs like this should be avoided like the plague.  We are nothing to these companies but free labor; expendable profit on legs.  Customers are nothing to these companies but open wallets.  If that sounds appealing to you, have at it.  For those of us who have a heart and still have morals, it’s not a place we should ever be.

It’s Not That Hard

For almost four years now, I’ve been responsible for handling time cards for a handful of people in my office.  I collect their leave slips, their tracked overtime forms, and their travel compensation requests.  I check their claimed time against the reports and our attendance report prior to getting all their paperwork signed by our Branch Chief and submitted to D.C.  I do this every two weeks, and in the nearly four years that I’ve been completing this task, I’ve only made one mistake which was 50% the fault of the employee submitting paperwork (he forgot a few things, so his leave was a bit screwy for one pay period).  It’s a glamorous job, I know.

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Due to some issues in the states we assist, which are insanely boring and zero fun to discuss, we have a few people who travel for weeks at a time all over the country.  Their absence means that they either have to submit their time card to me while on the road or get it to me before they depart.  Easy, right?  The first time around, half of them completely forgot about it and had to scramble to fax everything over to me by the cut off time.  I’d like to tell you that particular problem has worked itself out, but they still forget on a regular basis, and I’m currently still chasing down one time card submission from an angry guy twenty feet away from me that’s been ignoring my requests.  It boggles my mind; when my time card is due, it’s signed and submitted first thing in the morning.  I want to get paid on time and paid properly.

Lately, our traveling employees have been trying to be good about submitting their time cards early so I have them on file and ready to go when they are due.  Unfortunately, this has also proven to be an incredible challenge.  Because many of them work late hours and are still hanging around when I’m gone for the day, I’m not always at my desk when they get ready to turn in their paperwork.  Most just leave it on my keyboard or in my chair, but some are less cautious to let papers with their social security number just lie around.  Sometimes they give it to my boss (who often loses it, as his office is a crazy black hole filled with random papers and empty coffee cups).  Other times they leave it with whoever also happens to be in the office, giving an unsuspecting person a responsibility they likely do not want.

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My solution for the crowd that submitted paperwork when I was away and wasn’t comfortable leaving it out was to simply scan and email the documents to me.  Every part of my office has a scanner that takes the document straight to a convenient folder on the shared drive.  It takes me about five minutes to scan and email all 13 of the time cards I currently process, and that includes time waiting on Outlook to catch up and time spent naming the documents before scanning.  To me, this was the best solution in keeping time cards secure while still ensuring I received them.  But sadly this has proven to be impossible for one special person.  She acts as if I haven’t requested she do this three times in the past (four counting today) and continues to needlessly make my life difficult and jeopardize her own pay by not ensuring that accurate information has been received.

Putting the paperwork together for each time card is very easy and takes only a few moments; I do it for my boss every two weeks.  None of our employees are new to the process and confused about how things work.  And I don’t care who you are, no one is too busy to take two minutes and complete a couple forms to make sure they get their paycheck on time and in full.  My special case constantly waits until the last possible second to submit her paperwork, meaning that she often drops by after 4pm on Fridays when I’m already gone.  This is the fourth time she has made her time card an issue by submitting it late, giving it to the wrong person (who thankfully is one of the good ones around here and kept it safe), and ignoring my requests that would ensure I received everything I needed on time.

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Most of these people are old enough to be my parent, have worked here for years, and are competent enough to hold their position successfully.  They have homes, bills, and other adult responsibilities.  They manage to feed themselves while at work every day and always sprint down to the main office when we have a pitch-in or free donuts.  And still, EVERY time and without fail, I am chasing half of them down up until the last second to get their time card paperwork so they can get paid.  If they fail, I must submit either a basic card for them (80 hours straight pay, no overtime or comp time recorded) or I must submit a card with only the leave I am able to track from their leave slips, if any.  This obviously leads to errors in pay that can sometimes take a month to fix.  My job is complete so long as each employee has a time card, so my insistence on timeliness and accuracy is solely for their benefit.

I’ve begun to be a tad less understanding with these folk when it comes to their inability to follow simple directions.  I hate to come off as bitchy, but being nice isn’t working so a more direct approach is much needed. The feedback I’ve received from my special case’s supervisor is positive, but who knows if she’ll actually have it sink in or if I’ll just be frustrated once again two weeks from now.  As much as I’d love to quit playing babysitter to these people, I can’t help but go out of my way to help, as I know how pay issues can really screw a person up.  Keeping my fingers crossed that one of these days, they act like they care about their paychecks as much as I do.

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