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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.

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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.

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.

This Is Taxing

It has finally happened; I’ve been forced to file an extension instead of filing my taxes online and on time like I have been since I turned 18.  I didn’t do it because I was missing documentation, nor did I do it because I couldn’t scrounge up the cash to pay what I owe.  I did it because this lovely state of mine has been screwing up my taxes ever since I moved here from Georgia.  I’ve worked for three different companies since moving here (my second job has been the same position and office, but through different contracting companies) and no matter who handles my pay or who I submit my paperwork to, my state always tells me that I have failed to pay a single dime to the state and therefore owe quite a large sum of cash.

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The idea that I haven’t paid anything to the state always comes to light after I file my taxes and pay the $100 or so I still owe to the state.  I’ll get a notice in the mail in the form of a tax warrant stating that I owe a ridiculous amount and that I must pay it as soon as possible.  I’ll send in my W2, proof of payment after filing, and whatever else I can think of.  It usually takes two or three tries, but eventually they manage to look at my W2 and see that I have in fact paid my state tax.  Job done, I move on.  It’s become part of my routine and I didn’t think much of it until this February when all hell broke loose and a hold was placed on my bank account.

It’s been nearly two months since it happened and I’m still cleaning up the mess.  I’ve finally gotten to the point where I’m at least told I don’t owe anything, but until I have that in writing and in my hand, I’ve been advised to hold off on filing my state tax.  I have to hold tight for a while and put my trust in the people who suspended my license for not paying a traffic ticket for failure to yield AFTER I paid said ticket on time.  I have to remain calm while offices who have consistently let me down work to probably let me down again.  It’s driving me absolutely crazy.

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I’ve considered getting someone to do my taxes for me, but the problem isn’t in how I’m filing them.  The problem is that regardless of the fact that I report the tax I have paid to the state, the state will not recognize those payments and tells me I owe an entire year of tax and then some.  I’ve changed my deductions, worked with my employers to see if it’s something on their end, but nothing solves whatever issue I’m having.  No one from my state has told me what the issue is either.  And the year I was meant to get a refund of around $70?  Didn’t see a dime of that.  In all honesty, I think the only way I can solve this issue is to move out of this state and go somewhere that isn’t trying to screw with me for giggles.

In all seriousness, I write this in the hopes that someone out there can throw a bit of knowledge my way.  For some further background information, I currently work in one county, live in another, and my employer is based in another state.  Prior to my current job though, I worked and lived in the same county, where my employer was based, and still had the same issues.  I’ve tried claiming more deductions, then less deductions, and nothing changes.  I am married but file separately.  Now, here’s where you come in.  Have you heard of this happening before?  Do you have any advice at all on what I can do to fix this and prevent it from occurring again?  Should I just live off the grid and stop paying taxes altogether?

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Please leave any help you can in the comments section, so both I and anyone who comes around can benefit from your words of wisdom.  If you have a similar story to share, please do so, as I’d love to know that I’m not alone!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to do some research on the benefits of closing my bank account and keeping all my money in a mattress.  They can’t get to it there…

Two Little Words

I’m very big on manners.  I was always taught to say please and thank you, call adults by their last name unless otherwise instructed, and to be polite to people regardless of their own attitudes and demeanor.  In the workplace, my need to be polite is magnified, as I have to deal with my coworkers in a friendly manner as well as deal with whoever may come in the office or call with an issue or concern.  It can be challenging, especially when people yell at me over the phone about things that are out of my control, but I make due and just make fun of them later in private or take a walk around the building to cool down.  It does take more effort to be nice at times, but I think it’s worth the effort.

I received an email this morning from one of my coworkers that just rubbed me the wrong way.  We have had a new person handling all time card entries for our civilians and this new person has been making mistake after mistake.  His paychecks are a mess, as well as everyone else’s, so he wanted to get copies of his time cards for the entire month of December in order to try to get his issues fixed.  I don’t mind getting these to people at all, but the way he asked just bothered me.  It wasn’t “can you get this for me,” it was “Need a copy of what I submitted.”  No “thanks” at the end, no “please” anywhere, nothing remotely polite.  Just “need a copy” with the expectation that I’d get right on it.

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I sat on the request for as long as I could, which was about an hour since I can’t stand to have things unfinished.  I sent the information along to him, expecting some sort of response.  Nada.  I know he’s here because he’s been sending me memo requests all day, along with follow-up emails fifteen minutes later to see if they have been forwarded to our branch chief.  If you can do all that, sir, the least you can do is type THANKS in a reply email and make me feel like I didn’t just waste my time pulling up documents that you should have already had and emailing them along to you.

An employee’s daily duties don’t warrant constant thank you’s, but it is nice to give them a nod in appreciation now and then if they are helping you out.  Everyone loves a compliment and it can work to increase productivity and lighten the mood.  When an employee does something that goes outside the scope of their duties however, especially when it’s in response to a request for help from you, you owe them a please when asking and a thank you when the task is complete.  It doesn’t matter how big or small the ask is, it needs to be presented politely and rewarded with a bit of gratitude.  It doesn’t even have to be sincere as long as it is said in some form or another.  Expecting heaps of praise after helping a coworker file some papers is silly, but you are well within your rights to expect and receive a thank you.

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Part of the reasoning behind the lack of thank you’s is that certain people feel that they are above other people, therefore they can make demands rather than requests and expect them to be fulfilled without another word.  Perhaps they have seniority over you, maybe they’re the head of their department down the hall, or they just might see themselves as more valuable than you.  Whatever the reasoning, this view of “I matter more than you” can cause people to forget basic manners and turn requests into demands.  Working your way into a position of power is something to be proud of, no doubt, but it won’t kill you to throw a thank you to the person who empties your trash every once in a while.  It’s not about doing it because you have to, it’s about doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

Another reason is that we’re simply used to rude people.  I’ve had more doors slam in my face than held open for me, I get bumped into more than I hear “excuse me,” and I get flicked off by drivers who cut me off in traffic.  It’s not surprising that we forget our manners in the workplace after dealing with rude people in virtually every other area of our lives.  It’s even forgivable in a way for someone who has dealt with angry customers for eight hours to then be a bit snippy with their coworkers.  That all said, it’s still the wrong path to go down.  Your coworkers shouldn’t be made to feel like they’re beneath you or as if they don’t matter just because you’re having a crummy day.

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As I was typing this, two emails came in for me, both requests to set up a total of eight teleconferences.  The request was as follows:  “I am trying schedule a teleconference.  [Dates, times]”  That’s it.  Broken English and all.  Honestly, I don’t need to get a bucketload of “pleases” to process something, but I at least would like it phrased “Can you schedule these for me?”  The one person in my office who requests the most and who is also busy as all hell always throws me a please and a thank you for handing her conferences.  Getting these two emails from my coworker just bummed me out.  I was planning on ending this on a positive note but now I’m left feeling as if there is zero hope of things ever getting any better.

At the very least, I urge you to take a minute and think about how you interact with people.  Do you say “get me ___” or do you say “can I get ____?”  Do you say thank you or do you remain silent, assuming a thank you was implied?  Are you generous with compliments and words of thanks or do you think it’s undeserved when people are “just” doing their job?  Are you happy with what you get from others or do you feel that you deserved a word of thanks after going out of your way to assist a coworker or supervisor?  Do you think that all of us can maybe do a little better than we’re doing now?  Will you make an effort?

The Homemaking Life

I recently read an article about how mothers are not able to work due to the high cost of daycare.  The article quotes a third grade teacher named Andrea Hayken, who made $45,000 a year as a third grade teacher as saying that a licensed daycare for her four-year-old son would have cost $2,000 a month, eating up nearly half of her before-tax income.  Since her husband, an attorney, made more than she, it was decided that she would quit her job and remain at home with her child.  Another woman, Sunah Hwang, made $48,000 a year but brought home about $30,000 after taxes, health insurance and retirement contributions.  She stated that daycare costs for one child would have cost $12,000 a year.  She said that “it wasn’t worth $18,000 for us to let somebody else raise our son,” since her income would only be the $18,000 after tax and childcare expenses were paid.  Both women chose to become a stay at home parent and give up the extra income as a way to save money in the long run.

Going into this article, I expected it to say that women are staying at home because daycare would eat their paycheck and it wouldn’t be worth it.  I expected to hear stories of women earning less than a thousand dollars a month; after daycare and gassing up the car or taking public transport, there would be no money left over.  Instead, I get stories of women who would still be taking home more than half of their taxed income after daycare expenses but decided to throw their careers in the trash because they think it doesn’t make sense financially.  Their husbands are now stuck as the primary breadwinner; Mrs. Hwang stated that her husband has had to get a part time job in order to cover expenses since she quit her job.

I have absolutely nothing against stay at home parents, be it the mom or the dad, that decide they want to dedicate their time to caring for their child as opposed to having a daycare facility handle that responsibility during the work week.  It’s an ideal situation to have your child in your care as much as possible and not have to trust strangers.  If you’re working the breakfast and lunch shift at a local fast food drive-thru, I can definitely see you quitting your job to stay home with your new baby, as that money isn’t substantial and daycare costs would definitely eat up most of your paycheck.  If you have a career and your daycare costs aren’t even half of what you take home, on the other hand, you can’t use the money excuse as a reason to quit your job.  It makes no sense; these women were bringing home a good amount of money that could have been a huge help towards the various bills for their home, medical care, groceries, and other expenses while still being very able to afford the daycare expenses.  These women have no right whatsoever to claim that they CAN NOT work due to high daycare expenses because it’s simply not true given their salaries.

I also have to wonder about the daycare facilities these women are choosing.  While in Georgia, the most expensive tuition I had for my child during his toddler years was $875 per month at Goddard.  In Indiana, the price ranged from $700 to $800 a month, depending on his age and the days attended during the month.  Right now, my son is in a fully licensed daycare being cared for by people with bachelor’s degrees in the child care field and I pay $165 weekly for his care.  Where in the hell is Mrs. Hayken taking her four year old that costs two grand a month?!??  I’m not saying it’s wrong to be picky, but no daycare facility should cost two grand a month.  You can find wonderful care in a licensed facility for half that price at the very least without sacrificing quality or safety.  If she can’t afford to pay $2,000 a month for daycare, she needs to find a cheaper facility.

My main problem with the referenced article is that I feel that these women are using money as an excuse to justify their decision to become a stay at home parent.  Staying at home with the kid or kids is nothing to be ashamed of and can feel like more work than most full time jobs.  If you want to quit your job to stay home with the little ones, just say that!  Don’t blame the high daycare costs when you were making more than enough money to afford it AND justify keeping your job with the income you have left after daycare tuition.  Don’t compare yourself to people out there who honestly can’t afford it because it would cost more per month than they even make.  Do you have any idea how many people out there would LOVE to have $18,000 coming to them per year after paying for their kid to receive childcare while they work?  Consider yourself lucky to make the money you do, and if you decide to quit your job, don’t you dare blame it on money because that’s obviously not your problem.

Employing The Unemployable

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter, a friend of a friend actually who I speak to on occasion, lost her job recently.  She had always tweeted about various job frustrations, as we all do, but it seemed clear that she wasn’t appreciated or acknowledged for the work she did.  On January 20th, after 4 years of employment, she was told how awesome she was and was let go from the company.  A few days after being fired, she sent a letter to her former employer expressing her true feelings about being let go.  Since then, she’s been scrambling to get her resume out there and to work with the unemployment office so she isn’t in trouble financially while looking for work.  Her time line has unfortunately been filled with frustrated comments on dealing with the unemployment office while waiting for the phone to ring and an interview to be offered.

Simply put, there are too many people who are currently in this situation.  At the health clinic I was employed at before coming to the National Guard, people were fired at the drop of a hat.  Our office manager was let go because they had to make cut backs and she was the most disposable and unnecessary employee there, even though she was also a loyal person who had been there for nearly five years.  The entire office went day to day with a fear in the back of their mind that our time was up and we would be greeted by the COO and told to gather our belongings.  Some of the newly unemployed deserved to be removed from their positions, but sadly many are let go because it makes financial sense to the company to do so.  Other times it’s petty personal issues; higher management just doesn’t like one of their subordinates and searches for any reason in existence to get them fired.  I was let go from a cashier position because the head cashier didn’t appreciate the fact that I did my job better than she did.  Shit happens to good people for bad reasons.

Meanwhile, as good people go without work, great jobs are filled with people who are, to put it nicely, less than deserving of them.  I work with a woman, I’ll call her Sandra, who has been passed around the office from job to job as her supervisor struggles to find work that she can actually manage not to be horrible at.  Every time she is set to be reprimanded for something, she magically comes up with a doctor’s note demanding three days of bed rest and manages to side step the conversation entirely.  She is the queen of excuses when it comes to doing any actual work while she is in the office and I honestly don’t see why she hasn’t been fired at least three dozen times already.  My husband works with a man, Coffee Guy, who spends the majority of his work day doing errands over the phone for his wife, taking care of personal issues on the phone, and socializing with people who probably don’t want to speak to him.  90% of the time I see him, he is doing something completely unrelated to his job.  These are the people who should be unemployed, not those who are willing to bust their ass and get their job done in the most efficient and accurate possible way.

I would love the ability to get rid of the dead weight in my office and throughout this country, replacing those unwilling to do their job with those people out there who can and will do it, but haven’t been offered the opportunity.  If we could strip away the red tape, outdated or unrealistic job requirements, personal vendettas, and popularity contests, this problem would probably sort itself out.  I had an employer who hired people as a temporary employee on a strictly trial basis to allow them 6 months to prove themselves as worthy of the position and to protect the company in the event that the employee turned out to be a waste of space.  I’ve worked for a couple of places that understand people can’t claim extensive experience in an area if no one gives them the chance, and I’m grateful for the chances I’ve been given.  Having had to hire and fire people in the past, I understand how hard both processes can be but I also know that if both are done properly from the beginning, you cut down on the frequency you need to do them.

I’m wishing my Twitter friend the best of luck and I hope she is close to finding employment and escaping the rut her former employer put her in.  I’m curious to know, have you been unjustly let go from a job before?  Was it difficult to find new work?  I’ve been rather blessed and have never gone for longer than two weeks without a job, but I’m also the type of person to jump on waiting tables during those interim periods between jobs with 9-5 hours.  I’ve expressed my views on collecting unemployment in a previous blog, but I’m also curious to hear your thoughts.  And finally, do you work with (or have you) someone who doesn’t deserve to be employed?  Share horror stories!

The Unemployed Working Population

On a glorious afternoon last week when my mother-in-law picked our boy up from school, my husband and I took a detour on the way home to grab dinner and do a bit of Christmas shopping.  I had a delicious Spicy Southwest Chicken Griller from McAlister’swith some creamy potato salad and perfectly brewed tea; I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!  After ensuring our bellies were content, we headed back out into the mini-disaster that is holiday traffic.  As we were leaving the parking lot, I spotted this bumper sticker on a van:

Here’s the kicker:  none of her children were buckled up, one was upside down, and I’m not sure if there were three or five of them back there because it was hard to count with all the flailing, tiny limbs and the toys and balloons being batted back and forth throughout the back of the van.  To call it unsafe would be too kind.  To call this mother irresponsible would be greatly downplaying her lack of attention to her children who would be in great danger in the event of an accident or even a sudden stop or a sharp turn.  This mother’s full time job was less of the great mom she proclaimed to be and more of an oblivious woman too caught up in her conversation with her passenger to pay the slightest bit of attention to the fragile bodies in the back of her vehicle, children totally at her mercy who have zero control over the quality of their caregiver.  I suppose maybe she thought she was on her lunch hour and free from her motherly duties for a few more minutes.

I’m a mom with a full-time job but contrary to what that bumper sticker proclaims and many women believe, being a parent is not a valid claim as my full-time job.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to say that parenting isn’t hard work and isn’t challenging and demanding because it definitely is.  It’s time consuming and often thankless, rewarding at times and frustrating at others.  But it’s no more a job than my marriage or this blog.  By definition a job is many things; a piece of work done as part of the routine of one’s occupation or for an agreed price, a post of full or part-time employment, or an obligation such as being on time or being present for a meeting.

Part of successfully holding a job includes handling people and things you have become responsible for, and I feel this is where the confusion comes in. Children are a responsibility, a rather large one with numerous demands and little time off.  Taking on this responsibility, however, is not equal to taking on the jobs of housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, computer operator, facilities manager, van driver, psychologist, laundry machine operator, janitor and chief executive officer as this website claims.  Anyone holding one of these jobs, now or in the past, should feel greatly insulted by this site trivializing their professions this way.

Becoming a parent is a choice we make because we decided to start a family for personal reasons, be it wanting to know the joy of having a child or just for the tax break.  Being employed is a choice we make because it means the difference between living comfortably and living under a bridge in a box or in our mom’s basement.  The two are separate and unequal in nearly every way and comparisons need to stop being drawn between them by stay-at-home parents feeling inadequate about their station in life.  A homebound parent doesn’t deserve a salary for caring for the kids and tending to the housework because as challenging as that work may be, it’s what you sign up for when you decide to have kids and desire to be a responsible and productive person.

As far as importance, being an outstanding parent is just as, if not more important than being an outstanding employee or boss.  It’s tough as nails but is often looked at as a cakewalk or a choice for people too lazy for a job outside the home.  People like the van-lady give great moms a bad name with their less than satisfactory mothering accompanied by their entitled attitude and need to be acknowledged as just as important as the spouse/partner who gets the paycheck.  If you are a great parent and a great wife/husband/partner who cares for the home and your family, there should be no need to seek out the approval and recognition of the rest of the world.  You shouldn’t need to compare yourself to a doctor or an executive and you shouldn’t demand a stay-at-home salary from the paid spouse if you’re handling your business, caring for your family, and finding happiness in your life’s duties and tasks.  The minute you feel the need to slap on a bumper sticker justifying your choice to stay home with the kids or the minute you begin coming up with fancy names for being a stay-at-home parent is the minute you need to reevaluate your life, step outside your front door, and find something else you can contribute to that will fill the void you’re attempting to mask with mom-salaries and homemaker titles.

Sunshine After The Rain

I am a chronic worrier.  Just a few days ago, I was stressed over the parent-teacher conference with my son’s kindergarten teacher because it was my first one and I didn’t know what to expect or if he was doing well.  Nearly every morning I worry about whether or not we’ll get to work on time.  I get a bit panicky over trying to find enough time in the day to get things done.  And always, without fail, I stress about money.

I’ve never had trouble finding and holding onto a job, but I have generally always had issues with having enough cash to fund what I needed and pay for things I wanted.  When I moved away from Georgia to marry my husband, I was afraid it would take me a while to find work.  Luckily, I scored an interview in about a week and a half and was working about three weeks after my arrival.  The job was great; I started out at $16 an hour and was promised a raise in 19 days provided my performance was up to par.  I got that raise and then another when I had my annual review.  I could get all the overtime I wanted, at least for the first two years.  Business slowed and my two year review and raise were both put on hold.  Out of frustration over that and other factors, I quit.

After a brief stint selling Kirby vacuums, I landed my current job making a bit more than I was when I left my previous employer.  Unfortunately, this job gets boring.  Very boring.  I began doubting whether or not I made the right call leaving my old position.  A few months after I started work here, my husband and I were going to Kroger and we passed by my old office.  There was a For Lease sign in the window.  Not long after, the office was cleaned out and the sign was down.  They had moved the office to a much smaller location, about 1/5th the size, right down the road.  A coworker of mine here said he visited the new office and they had let more than half the staff go because there was no room for everything they used to do.  It definitely left me feeling justified in my decision to leave them behind.

Like I said earlier, this job is boring.  I enjoy a challenge and I love having my work day filled with as much as possible.  A position opened up in my office that would definitely keep me busy all day so I applied.  The interview was stressful and my stomach was in knots the entire day and for a couple days afterward.  I didn’t get the job.  This put me into a whole new cycle of worrying about wasting my time and intelligence in this position, more months of dealing with not-Paula Deen and her hateful attitude, and resulted in me putting myself in a very foul mood for a few days.  I didn’t NEED the job so there was no valid reason for me to feel like garbage, but it’s how I’m wired unfortunately.

Shortly afterward, I got a call from my employer who works out of Virginia.  His company lost the contract for my position and I would no longer be their employee.  The company that ended up winning the contract just happened to be the same one I had interviewed for.  The real kicker was the salary.  Same job, same function, same duties, not even close to the same pay.  I felt like I hit the lottery with this one.  I’m not rich or anything, but I have nothing to complain about.  My old company also paid out my remaining vacation time to me on the first of this month; I had thought I used it all so it was a pleasant surprise logging into my online banking app on my phone and seeing a new chunk of cash.

There’s always going to be something to worry or complain about, but I think I’m beginning to see that its existence doesn’t always need my acknowledgement.

Jobs We Should All Do Once

Waiting Tables / Serving / Bartending

The fiction:  People tend to think this job is easy.  Come to my table, take my order, bring me food and keep my drink full.  Sure, there’s a lot of running around but overall it’s not a challenge as long as you have stamina and an energy drink handy.  The server is as fault for the restaurant temperature being too cold or hot, their steak being overcooked, or even the loud table they got stuck next to.  If I don’t like mushrooms and I failed to read that in the item description, it’s the server’s fault and they had better replace my meal fast.  It’s also the server’s responsibility to ensure my bar drinks and food get to me as quick as possible.

The fact:  Your waiter has to learn the entire menu and memorize ingredients, as people have special requests or dietary restrictions.  They deal with extremely difficult guests and messy children.  They have to have great timing, especially if they get two tables sitting down at once; it takes time to properly greet a table and get their drink order written and delivered.  They are often called away from their current task (you) to run food out to a table that isn’t theirs.  They are in charge of preparing some of your food, generally salads and soups, but also have expediting duties at certain hours.  They are at the mercy of the cook; how fast your food is prepared is not under their control and them yelling at the chef only results in your food being delayed even longer.  It’s the same with the bartender, who has their own customers along with making drinks for the entire restaurant.  They also work long shifts with little to no breaks until their section is closed.  Working this job makes you appreciate a great waiter or waitress even more and shows you little things you can do to make your server’s life a bit easier, such as asking for all condiments at one time or not letting your kid tear open all the sugars.

Retail / Dressing Room

The fiction:  This is a job generally reserved for retirees and high school students.  It’s a laid back job that allows you a bit of downtime when customers are scarce.  The downside is the cleaning and straightening, but it’s a little like organizing your closet, just on a larger scale.  The employees always tend to either be a little too helpful or nowhere to be seen.  They must think everyone is a thief the way they watch customers.  The sales associate is at fault if my item rings up incorrectly.  I don’t understand why some businesses won’t let me keep the hangers, I think I’m entitled to get them with my purchase.  I also better get a discount if there’s a makeup smudge or deodorant stain on the shirt I’m purchasing.

The fact:  Retail is a job with a lot of work and stress for a little bit of pay.  The dressing room can become a pigsty in minutes and often it’s on the shoulders of one person to police it and keep it clean, as well as organize all the leave-behinds for restocking.  Many stores have a speech that associates must recite to a new customer entering the store and many are told to just stay visible without being bothersome.  Loss prevention is also important and thieves come in many shapes and colors.  Some businesses require that the associate memorize the sales because they are not set to automatically ring up at the sale price.  Hangers cost money and store policy doesn’t always allow for them to be given away.  The associate must straighten every hanger to ensure all are parallel and must organize shelves; you can imagine how long this lasts when customers are browsing and children are exploring.  Many stores have also suspended discounts for “damaged” goods because there are awful people who will damage or stain an item themselves in order to get some money off.  Working this job allows you to see the challenge that goes into making a store shoppable and pleasant for you, resulting in you hopefully becoming a more considerate customer.

Door-To-Door Sales

The fiction:  This is the most annoying type of person out there!  They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO!  If I wanted whatever they’re trying to sell me, wouldn’t I have gone to them?  They have no respect for my privacy.  They shouldn’t be allowed to go knocking on doors, bothering people.

The fact:  This is the most annoying type of person out there!  They bother me at dinnertime, they’re pushy as all hell, and they don’t understand the word NO!  Unfortunately, that’s their job.  This type of work is easy to get into and therefore attractive to people seeking work; it’s often advertised as a “fast track to management.”  Door-to-door salespeople work on commission and your hospitality is their paycheck; if you’re not signing a check, they aren’t getting paid a cent.  Companies like AT&T have turned to door-to-door sales as a cheap way to get a hold of their customers to upgrade their packages, paying the salesperson a few dollars only if the customer upgrades.  Working this kind of job stinks, but it makes you more appreciative of your current job and every other kind of work out there, as well as shows you the benefits of putting a “No Soliciting” sticker on your door.

Call Center / Customer Service

The fiction:  These so-called helpful people are anything but.  They always say the same thing:  “I care about your problem, I’m happy to help, blah blah blah.”  It’s frustrating to wait so long to get through to someone only to get the person who is condescending/unhelpful/foreign/whose system is down/etc.  I’m calling you so you can fix my problem because that’s what you’re paid to do.  Don’t put me on hold and don’t transfer me.  Resolve my issue!  How hard is your job?


The fact:  They probably don’t care too much about you personally because they’ve already talked to dozens upon dozens of people like you, been cussed at and called an idiot, and had their eardrums blown out by loud yellers and hang-ups.  They generally have a script to follow which includes a lot of “I’m happy to help” and other variations of it.  They are the people who deal with the repercussions when a business or another individual screws up.  Sometimes they have to transfer you or rush you off the phone because they are often required to take a certain number of calls during their shift; if they talk to you for an hour, they are putting themselves behind.  Working this job will help you keep your anger in check next time your cable is out and you decide to go off on the poor girl who happened to answer your call rather than be angry at the storm that knocked things loose.

Janitorial

The fiction: Sure, it’s a dirty job, but it’s not challenging.  They clean up, which is something we all do at home (unless we’re a trash bag away from starring on Hoarders).  It’s all right if I make a bit of a mess because it’s their job to clean up, after all, and it’s not like anyone tries to make MY job any easier.  They need to work harder anyway, have you seen the bathroom lately??  Besides, how difficult can it be to empty a few trash cans and sweep up?

The fact:  Do you have any idea how messy and disgusting people are, especially when they know that they don’t have to clean up their own mess?  Have you ever stood ankle-deep in sewer water, trying to unclog a toilet filled with someone else’s mess, then had to mop it all up, all the while listening to angry women complain that they can’t use the stall?  Dealt with the frustration of cleaning a glass door only to have someone walk through the minute you’re finished and put their hand print on the glass?  People also tend to treat janitors worse than the trash they are emptying.  Working this job will make you think twice about dumping your half full coffee cup in the trash can or dumping a wad of paper towels in the toilet.

Nurse / Receptionist / Anyone But The Doctor

The fiction:  They never seem to know where my doctor is or why he’s running behind today.  Every time I ask, I get the same few excuses about an emergency patient or some procedure that ran over.  They tell me to come early, but they never manage to get me on time; such bad organizational skills.  I don’t get why I need to give them my insurance card every single time either, or why they make me fill out my address every visit even after I told them it’s the same.  It’s like they’re on a mission to slow me down and make me miss work.

The fact:  Their job is to provide assistance so the doctor can get through their patients as quickly as possible.  These patients are generally always overbooked; the overbooking compensates for cancellations without the practice losing money on that particular day, so when no one cancels or you have emergency walk-ins, the whole process gets behind.  Sometimes they are forced to lie; “emergency patient” sounds better than “your doctor ate too much Taco Bell and is locked in the bathroom.”  Your information is requested each visit because honestly, you can’t be trusted to remember whether or not your insurance card or bits of personal information have changed since your last visit, especially if it’s been over a year ago.  Working this job will make you realize that the nurse/receptionist has zero control over practice policy, what the doctor does and how fast they move, and definitely deserves a little slack.

Feel free to let me know which ones I’ve missed and why they qualify as a job everyone should work at least once. 

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