I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia back in June, after going through my own personal hell thanks to a horribly herniated disc, a procedure gone wrong, and subsequent back surgery. The diagnosis came as a surprise, especially because I had always looked at fibro as one of those diagnoses that was used when all else failed. I thought of it as something people faked in order to get pain pills. I never took it seriously until it slapped me in the face.
I’ve only typed a paragraph so far, and already my back is on fire and my arms feel like they were smashed with a hammer. Last night, I couldn’t sleep no matter what I did. Saturday night, I only got an hour of sleep, even though I was so exhausted, I could barely move. I’ve had weeks where every single day, I have a migraine or a cluster headache. I can’t vacuum the house without taking breaks, and there are far too many times when taking a shower either requires a pep talk or just doesn’t happen because I don’t have the energy.
The pain is ridiculous. It started in my ankle, and was in the leg that experienced pain when I herniated my disc and had sciatica, so I thought it was related to that. The pain spread up my leg, into my hip, and then over my entire body in the space of a week. I tried explaining it to my specialist, but they kept insisting that it was simply inflammation in my back that was pressing on the nerve and causing the pain. No matter how many times I said that the pain was different and that it was spreading, they didn’t change their minds and treated it as if it was either a reherniation or a simple swelling issue.
I eventually got in with a doctor who listened, and she ran tests and determined that it was indeed fibro. There were tests to rule things out and tests to confirm her diagnosis. On top of that, I found out that I was once again anemic. Thankfully, my awesome husband went out the very next day to grab me some iron supplements to take and get it under control. It’s not quite there yet, but I hope it’ll get there.
I’m taking fun medications for my fibro. Cymbalta is one, imitrex is another. I have a fun muscle relaxer that sometimes relieves the pain and sometimes has no effect at all. The medications don’t even get rid of the issues, they just fix things so that it’s not bothering me 24/7. I get small breaks where I feel fine, but taking advantage of those breaks to be productive means that the activity takes a toll on my body and I end up right back where I started when I’m done.
I usually love staying up late with my husband on Friday and Saturday nights, but last Friday, I couldn’t keep my eyes open once 8pm hit and I went to sleep as soon as it was possible to do so. I then woke up shortly after my husband went to sleep because my hands were tingling, my jaw hurt, and my legs felt as if I had just run a marathon. I can’t remember the last time I had a normal night of sleep, and it’s wearing on me.
My skin is overly sensitive, I get nauseous and throw up, I’m often confused and don’t hear or understand people when they are speaking to me, I’m constantly worried, and I feel totally useless. I haven’t been able to work, and AETNA (disability insurance through my company) denied my claim because the claim manager decided to completely overlook the diagnosis and treated my case as if my only issue was ankle pain. While it is in the appeal stages, I am not getting paid a dime.
My husband set up a GoFundMe, and we’ve raised a little over $700 at the time of this posting. It has helped, and I’m so grateful, but we’re still in a scary hole. My son’s birthday is coming up and I can’t buy him presents or take him out. My phone was nearly shut off because the bill was so late. We now have a second car payment because one of our cars died and we had no other option. Things are a mess.
I’m afraid and I feel alone, even though my husband has been doing everything he can and then some to support me. I feel guilty for not working, even knowing I physically can’t cut it. I feel like a liar sometimes; there are a lot of people who assume that fibro is a BS diagnosis or a made up disease; I was one of those people at one point. This is a scary time in my life. I need to get this thing under control, but trying to figure out how is quite possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
I am still recovering from one of the worst weekends I have ever had. I had to hit Walmart on Friday after work to get drinks, breakfast, dog treats, and a couple of books for my child in order to prepare for 8+ hours in the car on Saturday. My mother-in-law is moving to Ohio, right down the street from her mom, so she’ll be able to take care of her in her golden years. When I stopped by my mom-in-law’s house, she was frantic. There were boxes everywhere, her moving truck was partially loaded with even more boxes, furniture was upended and leaning against walls, and she looked as if she hadn’t slept in days. She gave me some food to take home, as she unplugged her fridge to take it with her and couldn’t keep the cold items. I ran home to drop off our groceries and ended up coming right back to help load the truck. My husband, coming off of a 50 hour work week, came straight from work to help load the truck. We spent about two hours there until we ran out of room to put things.
My mom-in-law’s friend J came to help, and by help I mean she stood around watching. At one point J rinsed off a bunch of cups and threw the wet glassware into a large garbage bag. At another point, she was dragging a wet rag across the counters over and over again. To call her useless would be a compliment. Her husband L arrived eventually to help my husband with the fridge and other large items. My son ate some leftover pizza while we worked, packed, and got rained on. When we were finally finished, I took off to grab some Chinese food and my husband and boy went home to see to the dog and get into comfortable clothes. After eating, we went about getting as much ready as possible for the road trip the next day and went to sleep around 10:30pm.
Saturday morning, my alarm sounded at 4:30am. My husband was already in the shower, so I got up and got our dog’s food ready. We all had breakfast, picking from the goodies I purchased the day before, in order to cut down on the number of stops we’d have to make between home and mom-in-law’s new house. I also packed my son’s lunch bag with a ton of goodies and had quite a few drinks and snacks for myself and the husband. We arrived at mom-in-law’s at 6am, only to see J and L still loading things up. After some groggy hellos, we hit the road at 6:30am.
At 8am, after making some great time, my mom-in-law calls my husband to say that they are going to stop at Steak N Shake for a sit-down breakfast. This is ridiculous. I’ve been on many trips with my mom-in-law to Ohio and when we stop for food, we do it via drive-thru before leaving our hometown. No doubt in my mind, J has talked her into halting our entire trip to go eat. I decided to go in with them because my boy wanted a milkshake, and my husband waited with our dog by the car. We were there for 30 minutes, 28 of which I spent being horribly embarrassed because the adults I was with decided to treat our poor waitress like complete shit. “What kind of restaurant doesn’t have biscuits?!?” (the truck was delayed) “OUR Steak N Shake doesn’t treat their customers like this.” “Should have expected this kind of bad service in Ohio.” “Why isn’t there butter on my toast? Who doesn’t butter their toast??” (there was plenty of butter). This went on the whole time, and our waitress was not only very pleasant, she was quick and efficient and did a fantastic job. I left all the $1s I had on the table as a way to make up for everyone acting like an ass. I wish I could have left more.
After breakfast, we let everyone else go ahead and popped by a gas station for coffee and to cool down. Since the moving truck can’t go very fast, we were able to catch up to everyone after about 30 minutes. Finally, after what felt like forever, we were parked and ready to begin unloading. We were expecting to arrive and find my sister-in-law and her husband, three guys from the local church, and my husband’s cousin and her husband. We arrived to find my husband’s grandmother and some random old lady whose name was not worth learning. I’ll call her Waste Of Space. The moving truck finally gets backed into the driveway and we get to work.
My husband, my mom-in-law, and myself are the only people worth a damn when it comes to unloading this truck. J is doing a whole lot of standing around, making jokes about how she doesn’t have to move the fridge or any heavy furniture, and making me wonder why the hell she bothered coming in the first place. Waste Of Space insists on not only standing right at the end of the moving truck ramp in everyone’s way, but reading boxes to me as if I’m an illiterate fool who doesn’t understand how to move a box from point A and place it in spot B. When she’s not blocking the ramp, she’s busy standing on the basement stairs, holding our her scrawny arms to “help” while people are already navigating down the stairway. I find myself secretly hoping she has narcolepsy and passes out somewhere.
The stress of the move finally gets to my mom-in-law and she starts getting snippy. Totally understandable when you’re dealing with people moving your life out of a truck and into your new home, but it rubbed my husband the wrong way and he let her know. Mom-in-law overreacted about us moving boxes because she failed to communicate that the boxes were now meant to go to a second garage. He didn’t yell, didn’t scream or cuss, just got snippy right back. That was it. Typical mother and adult child interaction, tame by most standards. J apparently thought it was the worst thing ever, so she texted my sister-in-law “Jamie and your mom are already into it. Didn’t take long!” Little did her brilliant mind realize that she replied to a mass text. I got that text, and so did my husband.
Once he saw that, he went over to the second garage where boxes were now being unloaded, walked in and said “Who sent this text?” J, with a smirk on her face, said that it was her. My husband, acting a lot calmer than I probably would have, was in the process of calling out this woman for her immature behavior when L chimed in from the truck, saying “you don’t talk to my wife like that! Asshole!” At that point, my husband laughed and announced that we were leaving. I followed behind, fighting the urge to get in L’s face as he yelled insults at my husband from the safety of the moving truck. Idiot.
I don’t know what kind of friend J is meant to be to my mom-in-law, or what kind of friend L is to her either, but no friends of mine are going to talk trash about my kid and remain my friend. My husband assured his mother that he wasn’t mad at her, but also wasn’t going to hang around and be disrespected by some idiots (my word, not his). He told her that she needs new friends. And with that, we began the four-hour drive back home. We were only there for 90 minutes before people started acting like idiots. Total waste of a Saturday, but at least we were able to unload the beds and most of the furniture. The mystery church guys and my sister and brother-in-law could handle the rest, if they ever decided to show up. We were done.
On Sunday, my husband received a text from his mom saying that J was sorry. Maybe I’m petty, but I don’t think anyone should have to accept a second-hand apology. Be an adult. If you’re sorry, be direct with the person you offended. Otherwise, don’t say anything at all. She wasn’t sorry. L wasn’t sorry. I should have known what kind of people they were when I saw how they treated that poor waitress. I’m glad to be rid of them, and I’m making sure that my son is never around my mom-in-law if J or L also plan on being around.
To top off our kick-ass Saturday, our washing machine crapped out on Sunday. It flooded our kitchen, which was a delight to clean up. The dryer is also acting up. And no, we don’t have extra cash lying around to replace it because of so many other things we have going on right now. We had soaking wet towels everywhere. The plan to borrow my mom-in-law’s washer and dryer failed because she decided to randomly come home early. A candle got knocked over, getting wax all over the carpet, bookshelf, collectibles, TV, and my husband’s hair. I’m amazed that nothing caught fire. And to top it off, I don’t get Columbus day off like everyone else in my house, so I was up way too damn early again, in the office, dealing with new temp staff that are too stupid to really exist. Plus I got stuck in the rain during a fire drill at work and was wet all day long. I’m mentally and physically drained. I quit.
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?
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.
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.
Do you ever get to a point in your day where you feel like giving up on the world? I hit that point pretty early on today. The kid being perfect for my husband but ignoring every word I had to say didn’t give me the greatest start to my day. Annoying my husband by having to repeat myself to the child over and over didn’t help either, so I left feeling pretty crummy. After dropping the boy at daycare, I was almost t-boned by a Mustang who was paying zero attention to the world around him and total attention to whatever was in his hand (I’m assuming a phone, but it was dark). This happens quite frequently around daycare; people from all directions all either assume they have the right of way over everyone else or simply pay no mind to any car or pedestrian that may be in their path. If my husband and I weren’t accustomed to it (which we shouldn’t have to be), I suspect we would have been in an accident or two by now.
After getting the hell away from that Mustang, I ended up stuck behind a white car that not only insisted on going 25 miles below the speed limit, but insisted on trying to brake check me every 100 feet or so. When I reached a point in the road where I could pass the car, it swerved over to straddle the middle line, leaving me no room to pass. Lucky for me, the car turned onto a different road after a few minutes and spared me the annoyance of being stuck for too long. When I lived in Connecticut, cars that wished to drive slower than the speed limit would always pull over to let cars pass. It happened less frequently in Georgia, but still enough to keep my hope alive that people do care about others around them. Now? I can’t remember ever having this happen unless you count the occasional farmer that pulls his massive equipment off of the road to let cars pass. No one cares who they slow down and everyone seems to get incredibly offended if you dare try to pass them.
On the flipside, yesterday it was my husband and I that were too slow. In the morning, we were politely passed by a car that felt we weren’t accelerating quickly enough after passing through a four way stop. In the afternoon, we were passed by a thoughtless dickhole that was seemingly offended by our decision to go the speed limit on a country road. The car passed us and quickly cut back in front of our car. This bugs me to no end. I can almost excuse it if the person you’re passing is driving like a moron and you want to silently tell them to get it together. But the car that passed us had no valid reason to be annoyed and no urgency to get back over, as there were no other cars coming. The guy/girl just wanted to be an ass. Whoever you are, I hope you end up in a ditch.
When I arrived at work this morning, I had to change parking spaces because of the moronic way people choose to park in our giant lot. I then had to weave through security while three middle-aged women with backpacks on wheels decided that they were handicapped in some way, skipped the line, and went through the handicap accessible entrance. This bugs me just as much as when people steal handicap parking spaces. The handicap doors and line is not for lazy, entitled people. It’s for the guy in my building with no arms, the lady with one leg, the people in wheelchairs, and those on crutches. If the blind guy that works here can go through the regular line, you suitcase toting folk can do so as well. Fat and/or tired is not a handicap.
The whole abuse of the handicap line definitely bothers me more than it has any right to, but I don’t think it’s okay for people to skip the regular line and breeze through the automatic doors simply because they think that the extra 20lbs on their body gives them the right to do so. There have been times when the security guard checking badges will tell these people to use the regular line, but for the most part he doesn’t have the time or the patience to do so, so the lazy crowd takes full advantage. What gets me is the feeling of entitlement that these people have. Newsflash: you aren’t entitled to special treatment. You’re not special. I’m not special. Quit acting as if the world owes you something.
I swear, if not for Twitter and being able to vent here, I would go postal and snap at people in public. I’m exhausted with the incredibly rude acts I see on a daily basis. People don’t care anymore about anything that isn’t in their tiny little circle. I’m not saying I should be important to whoever I happen to be around, but I would appreciate being treated like a human being and not as if I’m a gnat that won’t quit buzzing around their head. I’d love for people not to block the entry way to the restroom and then act as if I’M the problem for trying to navigate to a stall without having to hug the gross wall as I pass by. I’d love for my cashier to say “hello” and make eye contact instead of ignoring me completely as they continue a conversation with a fellow coworker about things no one needs to hear said out loud.
I’ve noticed that people seem to think that you either have to kiss everyone’s ass or you have to only look out for yourself. They see no middle ground. Unfortunately, that middle ground is where it’s at. You CAN look out for your best interests and still manage not to be an intolerable asshat to everyone around you. You CAN take care of yourself and your family without ticking off everyone around you. Being a dickhole takes the same amount of effort as slapping a smile on your face and holding open a door for the person behind you. Make an effort. My sanity depends on it.
I’ve been quite absent from the blogging world as of late. With Christmas just 20 days away, our office Christmas party that I’ve been planning just 24 hours away, and the various stresses of having my pay screwed up, I’ve been purposely avoiding posting anything because it would be nothing but complaints. Thankfully though, the whiners in my office have mostly quieted down, my husband has done wonders in reducing my silly holiday stress, and our DVR is finally down to a single digit count of recordings.
Anyone who says the holidays aren’t stressful is either rich and content with being alone, or a dirty liar. My husband’s extended family in Ohio hosts a Christmas get-together annually, which was one of the things that was getting to me and keeping me from even logging in to this page. We live furthest away from his grandmother’s house (where it is always held, except for one year when grandma made a reluctant exception to accommodate my sister-in-law and her newborn), so we have to get up incredibly early to make the four hour drive, getting there earlier than anyone else since my mother-in-law has to help cook, and then we have to try to leave at a decent time to drive the four hours back and let our poor dog out so he can get some relief and some food. Last year, we were sick, which was a blessing in disguise because we didn’t go. That year, it was decided that rather than just buying gifts like normal, the adults would draw a name and buy up to $50 worth of something for that one person. As far as the kids, everyone buys for all of them.
I hate this idea. My husband and I ended up with his uncle (who we see once a year or less) and his sister (which we see much more often, plus we’ll see on Christmas anyway). My mother-in-law just recently tried to give my husband a stack of gifts for grandma so we could wrap them and pretend they were from us. Why…. I’m not quite sure, since I got the impression that drawing names was her idea because of her limited income. Let me be clear; I am an adult and I’m not trying to suck every last dime out of an elderly woman so I have a stack of goodies to unwrap. I will gladly give up the Yankee candle that she usually gets for me and just be happy with a card and a hug. I don’t want to be limited to buying gifts just for one person when I’d love to get something for my husband’s younger cousin and when I found something perfect for his aunt. It’s silly and it’s not what a family Christmas should be like.
Another reason for the name drawing idea is due to the fact that my husband’s younger cousin (who was just married last year and who isn’t rolling in dough like her sister and my sister-in-law) was unable to afford gifts for anyone but the kids for our 2011 Christmas. This angered someone who didn’t get a gift, which spawned this awful name drawing idea. In all honesty, I didn’t even notice that she hadn’t gotten me a gift until it was brought up that someone was cranky. I saw the gift she got for my son, thought it was adorable, and hoped she liked what I got for her and her husband (then boyfriend). I was just happy to see her and to see everyone mostly getting along.
Christmas isn’t meant to be about how many gifts you can squeeze out of family members or tallying up how much person X spent on person Y. The whole point is to spend some quality time together and to have fun. By putting emphasis on who gets what for who, the fun and the joy is taken out of the day and we’re left with something that isn’t worth an eight hour round trip drive. My husband has told my mother-in-law that we won’t be going once again this year. I’ll be sending a bag of gifts for the kids and for my uncle and sister-in-law, but I’m doing it out of obligation and not out of want. That isn’t what Christmas should be.
My husband pulled me out of the funk I was in over this Christmas by telling me to quit worrying about people who I see once every 365 days, who I barely know, and who likely won’t care one way or the other if I’m there or not. He got me focused back on my family HERE and making sure that WE have a fantastic holiday. Does that sound selfish? Absolutely, but it’s not meant to. I’m an atheist, so I’m unmoved by the prayer and bible readings that my aunt has every Ohio Christmas before food and gifts. I don’t celebrate the day to honor a deity, I celebrate to be with family and to put smiles on the faces of my loved ones. I don’t celebrate as a way to appease every single person who I associate with, I celebrate to show my love to people who appreciate it fully. I want my husband and son to have the best Christmas in history and I want to make my mother-in-law smile with some gifts from the heart.
I’m finally not ashamed to say that I am currently guilt free about skipping Christmas in Ohio. I’m looking forward to spending the day at home with my husband and kid and dog rather than spending 8 hours in the car, all of us complaining on the drive up and complaining even more about everyone’s behavior on the drive back. I’m glad my poor pup won’t be alone in the house for 12+ hours and that my kid won’t be cranky and miserable, longing for his bed. I’m happy to be focusing my attention on the people who make me a priority in life and who are a priority in mine. Mostly, I’m happy to be in a place where I don’t feel as though I have an obligation to please everybody. I’ll never be able to make everyone happy, so why not spend time on people I KNOW I can make happy rather than people who are barely in my life at all?
Last month, my office friend C asked me to help her on the party planning committee so we could nail down a location and start fundraising efforts in the hopes of getting our party fully funded so employees could show up and not worry about paying anything out of pocket on the day of the party. My other office friend M joined as well, along with a handful of others and our Master Sergeant. The first meeting went well; I came prepared with ten possible locations and C came with about five of her own. Between she and I, we were able to narrow it down to a few, eventually settling on Longhorn. I was shooting for Dave and Busters myself, but with an office that has a lot of people who don’t care about arcade games, it sadly did not fly.
With the location good to go, we were able to calculate the cost per person with tax and gratuity factored in. If 50 people attend, we would be looking at over $1000 to get everyone fed. It honestly seemed like a near impossible task. We conducted a loose change contest where four teams would fill buckets with pocket change each week. We held a silent auction and informed teams that the amount their item(s) went for would count towards the loose change contest. We held theme days (mainly so Soldiers could be out of uniform for a day) that required participants to pay $5 to be counted. We had a Halloween decorations contest, with an entry fee of $5 and votes for 50 cents. We had planned on much more, but after four weeks, it is completely unnecessary and I have just ended the loose change contest.
The first week of the loose change contest netted us almost $500. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that 60 people can come up with that much in just loose change in a week. Not only were people going to the bank to buy rolls of coins, but they held raffles, bake sales, and paid lunches to raise money for their buckets. This week, one team turned in nearly $400 from a paid lunch they held to raise money. The Halloween contest, which I didn’t think would raise more than $60 or $70 ended up bringing in $150 off of just one person out of the seven who were being judged. The silent auction was a bit out of control as well, with dinner with my favorite soldier selling for $102. People have lost their minds.
I have funding for 52 people in an envelope. M has a ton of cash in another envelope from our silent auction. I have yet another envelope set aside that could pay for an extra 30 people, plus a stack of ones from our Theme Days that has not yet been counted into our grand total. I should be very impressed with everyone’s efforts and thankful that we were able to get our party paid for so quickly and seemingly effortlessly. However, I’m not impressed. M and I were on a team for the loose change and the theme days (we are dead last in the loose change contest, by the way), but we both dropped off the team after being called cheaters one too many times. We received bullying emails, demanding that we change the contest to let everyone know the details instead of do a surprise announcement at the party as initially planned. Otherwise, we had an unfair team advantage and weren’t allowing anyone else to “build a strategy.”
This was meant to be a fun and spirited contest. Instead, it turned into a nasty competition where anything goes. Selling bagels and cake is not “loose change.” Dropping $80 in nickels into the bucket after a trip to the bank is not “loose change.” Spending $500 on fried chicken, multiple sides and cheesecake in order to raise money for your bucket is not “loose change.” Me being on the party planning committee and also being on a team is not an unfair advantage, as everyone had a chance to be on it and no one wanted to be bothered. This silly contest got taken to a dark place and I have grown to hate it.
The Halloween contest also got way out of hand. We initially had six participants, but one was added late with a single pumpkin he placed in his cube as a joke. Voting was slow and normally paced the first day, but on day three things went insane. MJ had her family come down and buy $35 in votes. I had people handing me $10s and $20s to buy 50 cent votes so that K could win. In retaliation, I had D give me $30 to vote for the single pumpkin guy. This went back and forth all day and over half of Halloween. One minute before voting wrapped, one of K’s friends rushed over to give me $40 to vote for K. The areas that actually looked great and had spectacular decorations barely got any votes because everyone was too busy worrying about the nonsense with K and the tiny pumpkin. They sucked the fun out of the whole thing.
We’ve held silent auctions before, numerous times, for various fundraising reasons. They always go the same way. Bids are put on paper by the item with bidding lasting around a week and ending at noon on a Friday. Most of the time, the high bidders are lingering around to see if they win or not. Winners are notified via email by the auction organizer if they were not present. A thank you email with the total raised is sent out later. That’s that. This time, people demanded to be given a list of who won what, what the item sold for, and who donated each item. M was totally overwhelmed by this, plus the people hanging around her desk trying to get information that is really none of their business; why does the whole office need to know that I paid $30 for a basket?
To top it off, MJ decided to drop off the committee because she thinks C, M and I are being “too secretive” about things. Yes, I am secretive about the loose change totals because we agreed to announce the winner at the party. I am the only person who knows the totals and I had to keep it that way because MJ decided to tell EVERYONE the first week totals after we cashed the change in, which could have killed what we were trying to do. I am also the only one who knows the theme day totals (again, something to announce at the party) and the grand total. Our Master Sergeant wants me to keep that to myself for now, and I’m not arguing.
People got crazy over a few dumb competitions. Now they’re getting crazy because we have enough money to fund the party for employees and some spouses, purchase door prizes and team prizes, and fully fund our summer event. They don’t think that it’s fair to use some of the funding for our next event. They want to decide where the money goes and how much of it goes there. They consider it THEIR money, even though it was either donated or used to purchase something in the auction or food sales. They didn’t want to do any of the actual legwork that was left to C, M and I, but now they want to butt in, bitch and complain, and have control because they bought a wine basket at the silent auction and cookies at a bake sale.
Here’s the thing… I can’t exactly give people their money back because I don’t know how much was put in for loose change, some of that went towards buying items, the silent auction went towards buying items, and the theme day money is how our Branch Chief justifies allowing Soldiers to be out of uniform. I can’t take someone’s word for it that they threw $50 in the bucket and give that back because they want to complain now. Donations were made, items were purchased, and because people went crazy, we went way over our goal very quickly. Our Branch Chief is over the moon about this. I want to be myself, but all I hear is complaining.
What would you do in my situation? C, M and I have done all of the legwork, our Master Sergeant is taking care of things like authorizing contractors to consider the party an off-site work day and not take leave, and our Branch Chief got us the final approval to have the party in the planned location. The other committee members have either dropped out or been useless, with the exception of Z who helped come up with some helpful ideas. I was one of a few who were tasked to do this and now I wish I never agreed to it. One of my coworkers said to me today that “no one ever wants to do the work, they just want to receive the benefits. Our Master Sergeant said that the whole point of a committee was to have a few make the decisions for the whole. Where do you stand?