Tag Archives: parents

Work-Life Balance and the Single Person

I’m starting to see what a lot of other single people, perhaps, already have learned–other people don’t think single people deserve work-life balance.

Now, I haven’t had anyone say this to me in person. But I have approached my current job a little bit differently than I have approached other jobs. I have indirectly let it be known that I am not one of those workers of whom you can just take advantage–that’s my friend Clara. I’m not worried about being the perfect employee or losing my job. I let people know that when the clock hits that time at the end of the workday, I’m gone.

Recently, a lot of changes have been made at my job. Essentially, everything I liked about my job is either now gone or likely will be very soon. The only thing that is still in the “very soon” category is a change being made to what time I have to be at work in the mornings and what time I get to leave in the afternoons. Nobody has told me that is about to change, but I’m not stupid. My job duties have completely changed, and the people I work with are totally different people.

They have me training with this guy, whom, I can tell, doesn’t seem to understand what my hours are at work. He’s the kind of guy who is very into his job, very dedicated. I’m not like that, especially not now that my employers have f*cked my job all up with these changes. Plus, I’m a contract employee and he’s not…so why should I be dedicated when my employer is not dedicated to me? You think this is true for every job. You also think it’s true that changes occur at every job. But neither of these things in a regular job is like how they are in a contract position. There is absolutely no stability in a contract job in any sense, no regularity or uniformity–you do whatever they want whenever, regardless of what you’re told in the beginning about the position or what you’re told while working the position. Contract jobs might as well never have job titles, at least not in IT, because the title won’t apply for long (if ever). And then to top it off, most contract jobs eventually end, usually in a year or less. Now that I understand this about how employers yank their contractors here, there and yonder with no regard for them, I will not be taking contract IT jobs ever again.

Given all of this, it should be of little surprise that I care little about what the company’s needs are, what their customers’ needs are. I will probably be getting tossed out of the company after my contract is up, regardless of how well I do, and I wouldn’t necessarily like to have my contract renewed there anyway. I plan to move to another city/state, and that has been my plan for a while and I am applying for jobs in those places…even have one interview lined up. So, I care about putting in my 8 hours and then getting the hell out of there. And even with a permanent position, frankly, I’d be the same way and have been the same way.

Every day this week, I’ve had to let this guy who is training me know that I get off work at X time, because he talks as if I’m going to still be around after that time or like I have time to stick around a little later and do XYZ. I flatout told this guy, “My supervisor said my hours are still the same, so until they say different I’m out at [X] time.” This afternoon, one of the other guys I now work with, this creepy guy, assumed I would still be around late, and my trainer heard me tell him what time I leave. Immediately, my trainer was like, “You’re ready to go home, aren’t you? Do you have kids you’re taking trick-or-treating tonight?” because it’s Halloween in the US.

Look, I know what that question really was–trying to find out if I have kids and is that the reason why I am adamant about leaving work at a certain time. Because having kids is the only legitimate reason for running away from your job, don’t you know. Especially if you’re a woman. My friend Clara lets people know she can’t stay late because of her son all the time or she’s leaving early because of her son, and people accept that. But with me, people are wanting to know why I “have” to leave at X time.

Three things:

1) Halloween is a fake holiday. It’s one of the most pointless days I’ve ever known. I especially can’t stand how there are grown adults who “celebrate” Halloween; they need to grow the f*ck up. Nobody should pay any attention to it, in my opinion, so it’d never have a thing to do with why I’m leaving work.

2) There’s so much wrong with thinking only parents have a legitimate reason to run off from work, including the fact that they probably are actually the main ones who need the damn money if they’re going to see any overtime pay from staying late. The average single person just has bills. Parents have bills and expensive-@ss kids. Yet parents are actually the main ones always trying to leave work early or on time. This guy at my job basically has a newborn, and ever since he had that kid he has never again worked a full day not called Monday (our busiest day) on the job. Yet he says he doesn’t have enough money. He’s an hourly contractor…hmm, he’s leaving after 4-5 hours of work…wonder why he’s not making anything.

He and I need to swap hours. Working 4-5 hours most days is my kind of schitt. They should have put someone like him in my new position (and they could have, but didn’t–wonder why?), where they’re talking about working overtime (which I loathe) and Saturdays (which is just sacrilegious and damn-near something to walk out the door over, especially if you love college football more than anything, as I do). Plus, let’s be real–who is more hands-on with babies and kids, moms or dads? What the hell does he need to be at home all the time for? All he’s going to do is say, “Here, hon, the baby is crying” or “Here, hon, the baby needs to be changed,” hand the kid to the mother and then go sit down in front of the TV or the computer. Sorry, men–I have had this kind of convo with dads before, and you guys just have no idea how little dads help with or do for their kids compared to the kids’ mother.

Ironically, the exact reasons why I don’t have kids are because I don’t want to have to care for anyone–financially or in any other way–and because I want a life and because I want my life to be about me. That includes work–I don’t want a life that is about work. This is where “work-life balance” comes in. Everyone I know who looks on the bright side when it comes to working overtime is a parent–usually, a man–and it’s always about the money.

My observation about women has been that women who have kids tend to know on some level that their life is not theirs anymore, it’s not about them–so they don’t even think that way. They think in terms of what their kids (or husband) need, what’s best for their kids. Kids need things that cost money, however much time you’d rather spend with them. My observation about men is that the vast majority of men care more about making money than the vast majority of women do, for a variety of reasons–probably the three biggest are status, attracting women and what they were taught about being a man growing up. As a single female, I have totally different concerns, concerns that really don’t involve making money. These different concerns leave me trying to figure out how to explain to the moms, dads and single men I know why I value my free time far more than I value the extra money I’ll get by working on Saturday (the extra money being something I don’t value at all). Yet all of them will be home on Saturday or enjoying some activity outside the home and outside of work.

3) Why do I “have” to leave at X time? Because that’s what time I’m scheduled to leave. And I have every right to leave at that time. Whether or not I have kids is immaterial.

One more point before I go–not too long ago, I was reading an article online where the author wondered why people speak of “work-life balance.” Is working really so bad and do people hate their jobs so much that they need to categorically separate it from the rest of their life, the author wondered. At that point, I wondered where in the hell this author has been her entire working life. Seriously, she must be part of the lucky 10-15% of people who loves their job. Ever notice how it’s always writers with real writing jobs, always entertainers who have officially “made it,” always people who work in the media, always people who make big bucks who love their jobs? Gee, I wonder why. No wonder they can’t relate. I know they didn’t start at the top, but the point is they’re there now and now they don’t “get it.”

Pay me a ridiculous amount to dish sports on ESPN three hours a day, and see how much I love my job. Pay me to write ridiculous articles about how I can no longer relate to mere commoners who need work-life balance because I make enough money to actually pay bills and eat as a writer as opposed to having to write on the side like 90% of writers do (myself included). Or how about those ridiculous articles about “do what you love for a living”? You do know that the average person “loves” things that either don’t pay, don’t pay enough to make a living or require expensive schooling only to be shut out of jobs because that person has never had a job in that industry, right? Oh, I forget–you no longer relate to the mere commoner because you’ve got the rare cushy, enjoyable writing job that actually pays bills.

Over the past week, I’ve confirmed that, yes, work and life have to be separated for most people, including myself. I am largely in that category where what I’d love to do generally doesn’t pay enough to make a living (writing and/or technical repair). I would agree with people who say to find a job you can tolerate, but that’s easier said than done. So, my best solution is to find a job I can actually do for the most amount of money I can get, because if I’m going to hate every job I get at some point then I might as well focus on the money. It’s not easy, because caring about money isn’t my nature. But I made more money at my last job, and the positives to that were now I have surpassed my initial savings goal and am on to my next savings goal (which I am close to meeting)…and I have still been able to buy everything I want (except a Mercedes), take trips everywhere I’ve wanted to go and enjoy myself outside of work. Although I hated my last job, it created a pretty decent work-life balance and I never had to work late or on Saturdays.

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Sharing Your Space

When I posted a while back that I am close to ending this blog (or moving it, but most likely ending it), this was one of the last posts I wanted to do. I am just now getting to it.

When I went to Chicago almost 2 months ago to visit my sister, we talked about some of the problems her youngest child is having with his siblings. I am also the youngest child in my family, and her youngest child and I are remarkably similar. I don’t think it’s necessarily a birth-order thing since, although I am the youngest child, I have more characteristics of someone who is an only child and I do usually feel as if I’m (and wish I were) an only child (except, for as everyone points out, I’m “spoiled”…and, to me, an only child ought to be spoiled, too).

Anyways, my sister’s youngest child shares a room with his sister, which I think is stupid because they are both a little too old to be sharing a room and not be the same sex. However, my family’s weird logic was to give the oldest child, a boy, his own room because he’s the oldest. The girl is a pre-teen and is developing her own life, so she kicks her little brother out of the room all the time and neither of his siblings want to spend time with him. He has made the basement kind of his own room because he doesn’t really have anywhere to go.

My sister also described how he gets bossed around and how his siblings get mad at him when he won’t do what they want. I tried to remind my sister that she did the same thing to me, but she was completely shocked and has no recollection of this. My sister and I also shared a room for quite a bit of my life growing up. I don’t particularly remember getting kicked out of the room, although I’m sure I did on some occasions. But I do remember making the living room my own room.

I’m starting to really realize that not liking people and not wanting to be around other people much is weird to most people for whatever reason and that most people feel a need to socialize. And I can point to several different reasons why I don’t like most people and prefer being left alone. But I realized after that Chicago trip that one of the reasons I don’t like being around people is because my parents made me share a room with my sister for years, making being alone pretty challenging. For years, I was robbed of my own space to enjoy as I wanted to without dealing with anyone else and robbed of my own privacy. When I finally got my own room, I loved it. I always knew I was going to college–and going away to college–and the one thing I dreaded about going away to college way in advance was having to share a room. And today, I would say that was hands-down the worst thing about college–having a roommate every year (except senior year when I finally got a room in a single-room dorm). Way worse than exams, even Chemistry exams. I vowed to never share a room again, and when I went to Michigan for law school I had my own room all three years.

And those experiences with roommates and my sister are part of the reason I live with my parents. When you’re single, it’s hard to afford to live by yourself. Most people you see either have roommates or are married or live with a boyfriend/girlfriend–they don’t live alone unless they have a pretty good job (which I don’t). Being that I am nowhere near marriage or dating, the options really do come down to living with family or living with roommates. Plfff. Parents all day, and I don’t care how old I am or what other people think about it. I get my own room and don’t have to deal with some idiot to whom I’m not even related and all their selfish nonsense.

See, I know from experience that when you share space with someone there is sacrificing to be done–and usually one person sacrifices more than the other. And that person is usually me. When you share a room with an older sibling, you have no power and no rights when it comes to the room or what happens in it. If you’re sharing with an older girl, you’re going to sleep when they get ready to. You’re sitting there listening to every dumb phone conversation. You’re listening to whatever music she wants to listen to, and you’re watching whatever dumb TV show she wants to watch. And this is not even mentioning how you’re treated, which is never good, as my nephew is learning. That’s why the living room became my room, and I would have slept there if I had been allowed to.

College is not altogether different. Most people–though not I–seem to believe in fully making themselves at home wherever they go, regardless of who is around. So, I had roommates who played music whenever they got ready to, gave our dorm room phone number to every Tom, Dick and Harriett until I just wanted to throw the phone out the window and who wanted to watch ABC soap operas when I wanted to watch CBS soap operas. The worst part? These chicks would have friends over whenever they felt like it, including friends sleeping over from their home state. Bitch, I don’t even want you here; what makes you think your friends can come over whenever you please?

I’ve kind of wondered since college if it would ever really be possible for me to live with a romantic partner and be happy. I’m really not sure if I could. It’s hard to believe, but it has been over 10 years since I last shared space with someone who is not actually a blood relation to me, and I am not any closer to wanting to share space or having to consider anyone else in what I do when or having to deal with someone else who needs to make our space uniquely theirs in their own way. Plus, my romantic relationships are always, again, skewed towards what the other person wants or needs (gee, I wonder why), which ultimately makes me unhappy, pissed and resentful. I think living with someone would turn out much like it always has, then.

So, I have advice for parents who have several kids or people who plan to have kids: make sure you have enough money for a house with enough rooms for each kid to have his/her own room, and if you don’t just keep your damn legs closed. Sharing a room is torture for at least one of the kids. It was so bad that I try to forget I even have siblings now and would have to get a place big enough for my wife to have her own room if I ever got married. 😉

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Manic Monday

Yesterday I gave notice at work, but I gave it to the agency that placed me since they’re technically my employer. Immediately–like the minute I emailed them my notice–they started calling and emailing me. I mean, I happened to glance at my cell phone, and saw my recruiter’s name and number on the screen while I was in the middle of something. It’s just ridiculous how they always try to call me. I answer phones for a living all day for a corporation, and they know this–they placed me in the position. Why on earth do they think I can just take their calls on my personal cell phone whenever they feel like it?

So, when I didn’t answer, my recruiter emailed me the next minute asking me to call him. Then the other recruiter emailed me asking me to call him. Then my recruiter emailed me again, asking where I got a job. Then he tried to call my co-worker New Tech, who didn’t answer but told me they were calling him. These recruiters have a habit of contacting one of their other placed employees whom they know works near the one they’re trying to reach when they can’t get a response from the one they’re trying to reach–they’ve contacted me before trying to reach both Lazy Tech and New Tech. So, we knew they were probably calling New Tech to find out where I was or if I could call them.

New Tech and I were just dying laughing at the whole thing. I knew the agency didn’t expect me to find a job that quickly, or at all. It was just last Monday when they told me they’d spoken to my supervisor and he wouldn’t let me go back to the position I liked at the company. I told them I would find something else, then. I know they didn’t believe it. In fact, they scheduled a follow-up discussion for next Monday. Turns out next Monday I’ll be at my new job. I know they couldn’t believe it and that they’d want to know just how on earth I was able to get another job that fast. That’s why it was especially funny to New Tech and me when they emailed asking where I got a job.

By the time I called these guys one of them had told my supervisor. My supervisor still hasn’t said anything to me about it, the @sshole. He acts like nothing is happening. But New Tech told me he saw one of the recruiters today in the lobby. I told him they are probably talking about hiring someone to replace me on tech support, which wouldn’t even be necessary if the kid they brought in a couple of weeks ago had just been placed on tech support to begin with.

Obviously, my recruiter did ask me all kinds of questions about where I was going, how I found the job, etc. Even about how much it pays.

I got a bit of a surprise, though, because he sounded irritated last week when I reiterated I wanted to leave the company where he placed me…

He told me, “I don’t blame you one bit.” The way he said it, too…with emphasis, hit the “one bit” part pretty clear.

He knows that situation with my supervisor doing everything he could to keep Lazy Tech and nothing to accommodate me was bullschitt. For the record, my recruiter is Asian. I have found that Asians don’t usually side with black people when it comes to anything with racial undertones or even racially overt things, but he’s Filipino and Filipinos tend to be a little bit more…racially aware and black-friendly. New Tech and I also talked about how they would have gotten rid of a black person who acted like Lazy Tech did without all of that bending over backwards to prevent it…in part because my mother asked me if I had warned him, basically. Like I wrote before, I can definitely see New Tech’s inadequacies getting more exposed without my being there to pick up after him, and he’s African. They’re not going to put up with some of the issues he has for too long. If he can’t find another job fast enough, I see him getting fired eventually.

And with it being official that I’m out the door, New Tech has really started trying to step up finding another job…to the point where over the last two days he has just come across as desperate to me. Now he’s wanting to get out of IT altogether, saying it’s not his passion. He was talking about wanting to move into IT management. He is not management material, I can tell you that. Sure, plenty of managers suck–mine does–but there’s a difference between being a bad manager and just not having a manager’s personality. My manager is the type of guy you disrespect behind his back; New Tech is the type of guy you’d disrespect to his face. I would be the same way, I think–I know I am not “leader” material.

Today, New Tech actually took off work early to go interview with an insurance company. Um. All you’re going to do at an insurance company is sell insurance. Probably won’t get paid if you don’t, either. That’s the kind of job I looked at way back when I first got out of school and wasn’t hearing schitt back from employers and was desperate, so I know what those “interviews” are like. He has a wife and kids–you need something very stable in that situation, something with a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck guaranteed.

He also sits at work and looks at our company’s internal job postings on a regular basis, only now he is looking in the customer service department. Customer service? While there’s a CS component to working many IT jobs, CS is at least a step down from doing anything in IT, or at least the positions he might qualify for would be. And with the more entry-level jobs, which I’m sure is all he could really get, you’re going to get paid like it’s at least a step down. Maybe he thinks those jobs would be easier to get or something, but I can tell from speaking to him that he has unrealistic ideas about how much he’d get paid.

Still, Belinda is a CS supervisor at our company…so I smiled (thinking about her tends to bring a smile to my face or make me nervous) and suggested he talk to her about the job openings they have. Dude, I cannot imagine having to report to Belinda (although I’d probably love going to work all of a sudden). But New Tech seriously went looking for her so that he could talk to her about it.

By the way…the Belinda thing. I realize that now that I’m leaving my job, in a sense I have nothing to lose by approaching Belinda. Knowing this is my last week and that I probably won’t see her again unless an effort is made to do so, I’m a little bit torn. But I’m just not ready for several reasons, not just because I feel I still need to move on more from everything that happened with my “ex.” Also, given that Belinda is never alone–today I saw her with, like, four or five other people–I wouldn’t even know how to approach her. Plus, I have never approached a woman before, at least not out of the blue. I always get approached.

And speaking of the “ex,” I thought she no longer read my blog but maybe she does, because I haven’t seen her on Yahoo! since I wrote about seeing her online and how it made me feel. I don’t know, I just thought it was interesting that she no longer shows up after that. I know there are ways to kind of find out if she still reads my blog–I work in IT, after all–but I’m not interested enough to see if she’s still following me. I just assumed she wasn’t because 95% of the time I feel like she doesn’t give a schitt about me, so why read my blog (intriguing topic, too–inspired me to do a little Google search; still not sure what the answer is)? Why would anyone read this, haha? I have actual friends who won’t even read this stuff! Plus, I’ve been through worrying about who sees what I write, and I am past that now. My blog is my friend.

Bottom line–Belinda is someone I’d love to get to know if given the opportunity, but now is just not a good time. Really, I should be coming home and continuing my studies on programming (I’ve gotten really lazy since my class ended–which I aced, by the way, and only missed two questions out of about 40 on the final exam!!!), not checking sports articles on Yahoo! (easier said than done since I am all about the majority of sports now and have even added the Tennis Channel to my obsessive sports channel surfing, what, with the French Open having ended a couple of weeks ago and now Wimbledon is on) or blogging or going out on dates. I should be figuring out how long I’m going to be with my parents vs moving out…and, to me, moving out is all about moving to another city/state, which would also complicate dating anyone where I am now. I’ve really been looking at what’s out there in Austin, TX, San Francisco, CA and Ann Arbor, MI–the latter because that’s where I’d love to be, the former two because those are more so IT hotbeds. Right now, career needs to come first, as it has for the past year+, so I can stop being quite as big a loser. 😉

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They Thought I Was Bluffing, But They Were Wrong

So, I officially got offered the job I was contacted by another employment agency about. I took off work at my current job today to take care of all the business that needs to be taken care of with this employment agency that contacted me.

A lot has happened with this situation that I haven’t blogged about, so I’m going to bring it up now.

A couple of weeks ago, I was taken out to lunch by my recruiter at the employment agency that placed me where I work now. I was wondering just how much he’d be willing to tell me about the circumstances/details surrounding Lazy Tech finally getting fired. For people who don’t read my blog regularly, Lazy Tech is this lazy white guy whom I met at my previous job, as we worked together there. He quit that job when he got offered a position at the company where I work now, and as he was on his way out he gave me his contact info and told me to contact him so he can hook me up with the agency that helped him. I was hesitant to trust him because he was lazy and full of schitt at my previous job, too, but I ultimately emailed him and he basically got me my current job.

As time went on Lazy Tech started falling more and more into his old ways at my current job–he was lazy and he was an ass to the company’s employees who called tech support for help. Of course, people started complaining about him to our supervisor. My supervisor eventually moved me off tech support, more or less, as he had mentioned several times he might do, even in my job interview with him. This left LT on tech support basically by himself, and that’s when tech support kind of fell apart because of his laziness, his attitude problems, his essentially refusing to answer the phones when he didn’t feel like it, etc. But our supervisor still didn’t fire LT–he instead decided to switch me and LT around so that LT was doing the relatively stress-free, easier job I’d come to like and I was back on tech support. In other words, our supervisor indirectly said, “Okay, you don’t want to do tech support? I’ll take you off tech support and give you a much better job.” I was pissed, LT knew I was pissed, the guy who was training me at the position I’d been moved to was unhappy because he didn’t want to work with LT, and other people were looking at the situation just wondering what the hell our supervisor was doing. He was bending over backwards to help LT when LT didn’t deserve it, and I was getting fucked in the process.

We basically have to keep track of how much work we do and how many hours it takes us. One week, late in a Thursday afternoon when our time reports were emailed out, LT had only 16 hours of work. We work 40 hours a week. Next thing I knew, LT was fired.

My recruiter told me everything. He wasn’t like, “You know, it’s confidential…” and more professional about it, the way I think he should have been. We spent a very good chunk of our lunch date talking about LT. I know that LT is still jobless. And I know that he might still be at our company if it weren’t for the fact that my supervisor’s supervisor had something to say when he finally found out about all the issues with LT. When my super’s super found out, he was basically like, “Why is LT still here?” Um…exactly.

Eventually, the conversation turned to how I felt about my job, because I had spoken to my recruiter months ago telling him basically that I can’t stand tech support. We had pretty much agreed I’d give it 6 months. Now it has been over 6 months. Over the last couple of weeks I have spoken with my recruiter and another recruiter at that company, and I let both of them know that if I can’t go back to the position I was doing where I was a lot happier at work that I would be leaving. When I told my co-worker, New Tech, that, he was like, “You gave them an ultimatum? That’s cool!” and laughed (and to be perfectly honest, I talk freely at work about trying to leave because I don’t care and because I know they need me–it’s not the other way around). I was like, “No…” It wasn’t an ultimatum; I simply let them know what the deal was, and I wasn’t asking them to get me back in that position. I had already told my supervisor I would be interested that, and my supervisor basically made a comment about how I’d started getting great reviews on tech support but he’d consider it. My recruiter told me they had hired someone new and that this new kid only wants to do tech support, so he thought they might be bringing the new kid in for that.

The new kid finally came and, sure enough, they did some shuffling around that did not include my being put back in the position I liked. The same day the new kid arrived, I called my recruiter and said, “Okay, time to talk about other jobs.” They were surprised the new kid wasn’t put on tech support, but they figured it was probably because my supervisor didn’t want two relatively new people on tech support (erm, when LT and I were hired, we were both new people on tech support). One of the recruiters came out to my job and spoke with me, and I was just very straightforward with him about being ready to leave. He said he would talk to my supervisor, which, again, I didn’t ask them to do this. Again, I was speaking very freely about this, where other people could hear the conversation, and I wasn’t holding back punches. I made two things very clear to this recruiter–1) I can find another job if I want one, and 2) one way or another I was not working tech support anymore, i.e. my supervisor was either going to have me in my preferred job or not at all.

#2 is not something a lot of people can say at their jobs and get away with it, but I can. This employment agency is always telling me how everyone at my company loves me. Plus, tech support was garbage before I got there, it was garbage when LT was working it by himself. People contact me directly. They don’t even want to go through tech support, and I have to clean up after New Tech every single day. People get him for issues and he doesn’t resolve them, and then they come looking for me. A few days ago, I had someone call me on my direct line and tell me she went searching for my direct line so she could ask me to help another worker at her company whom New Tech didn’t help. Last week, I had someone email me directly and tell me how when I help her with a particular issue everything works perfectly but when New Tech does it it’s “a mess.”

“New Tech” is not all that new anymore, people–dude has been there over 3 months now. His performance is deteriorating, not getting better (which makes more work for me), and I know why–he hates tech support, too. With the average person, the more he/she hates a job the worse his/her job performance gets because the person stops even trying. That’s what LT’s problem was, aside from just being lazy, and now New Tech is going down that same path. I’m not that way because I hate the thought of people saying/doing the kinds of things behind my back that they’re doing with New Tech. I don’t want people saying anybody else is better than I am at anything. New Tech is too trifling to care, kind of like LT. And because of that, I know exactly what will happen when I leave this company–tech support is going back to schitt, no one will be there to pick up after New Tech and he eventually is going to get fired, too.

I love living with my parents. I wouldn’t be able to tell all these companies–in a nice way–to fuck off when they fuck me over without my parents, although they hate that I do it. My parents are not emotionally supportive and never have been–that’s why one of my sisters has issues. They criticize everything. My happiness has never been the point, except when it comes to them buying material things–they’ll buy me whatever, always have, but other than that? Career-wise, they couldn’t care less whether or not I’m happy. In line with having no issues buying material things, it’s all about money with them. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that to say this: for a change, they are on my side with my decision to leave this company. Honestly, I don’t think they would be if they didn’t view this as a racial issue this time because LT is white and my supervisor tried hard to help him and took a better job away from my black ass to give it to his lazy ass…and then when I say I don’t want to do tech support and would prefer the better job my supervisor won’t budge. I’m not saying it is or isn’t racial–I know employers fuck good employees all the time, all kinds of good employees.

And of course, my supervisor didn’t budge, even after the recruiters talked to him. And then the recruiters conference-called me and asked me again where I stand, as if I hadn’t made it clear to them. When I told them I could find another job if I wanted to, I meant it. I had told the recruiter who came to see me that other people might have trouble finding jobs, but I don’t. They didn’t seem to believe me. They first told me they’re having trouble placing their clients right now because nothing is out there, and then after I reiterated during the conference call that I am out of this company my recruiter seemed kind of irritated. He basically started talking as if it was going to be impossible to find me a job, especially the kind of job I want, and like I was being unrealistic. This was on Monday. I got the official job offer Thursday/yesterday, and it’s exactly what I’m looking for–and I didn’t need him to find it, either, just as I told them I wouldn’t.

So, next week at work is going to be a lot of fun. I’m just going to sit and laugh at these people’s reactions when they all find out I’m done. I have a pretty good feeling the recruiters didn’t let my supervisor know that I would be looking to leave if I didn’t get placed back in my non-tech support position, probably because they didn’t seem to believe me when I told them I could find something with or without their help. So, this schitt is going to be hilarious, especially when he realizes that, regardless, he was going to have two “new” people working tech support–only now his best employee is going to be gone completely instead of benefiting him in a different way. Plus, I still would have been helping with tech support some, and they have a guy whose job it is to help the tech support employees when they need it. All my supervisor needs/needed to do is make that employee do his job (which he doesn’t really do), and then New Tech would be better off, the new kid would be fine and I could work the job I want at this company.

I feel a little sorry for all the people I help who specifically look for me to help them, because they’re just going to be fucked up. I also must admit that I’m sorry I won’t see Belinda again after I leave. But what can I say? Employers just don’t know how to value/treat/hold on to their best employees.

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Why I Needed A Day Off, And Why It Didn’t Go Well

Note: Thought I’d published this a long time ago, but, of course, WP decided to act silly that night. Written Jan.28, published Feb. 6

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that if my lazy co-worker was going to constantly come up with excuses to take off work or leave work early, then I was going to do the same thing.

So I took a day off this past week, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. The past week was horrible at work, as I think the previous week was, as well. Instead of it feeling like my new job is getting easier, it actually seems like it’s getting tougher. And that’s taking me to a point where my patience runs thin.

To top off the crappy week, my supervisor called a meeting that seemed an awful lot like one of those “you’re doing a good job, but…” and then insert a laundry list to the contrary. Two things in particular pissed me off…maybe three things:

1) He’d already sent an email about this “mistake” we’d all made earlier in the week, and then he brought it up again in the meeting. According to him, he’d asked us to give him some information over email and none of us followed instructions. He kind of lectured us about this, twice. Now, in my opinion, if none of us followed instructions, then maybe he needs to question how clear the instructions were instead of automatically saying we didn’t pay attention to his email. I’m still not sure what he’s saying we didn’t do. But just as if an entire class full of students is failing then that means the teacher needs to look in the mirror…just sayin’.

2) He told Lazy Tech and I that we still go to other techs for help too much. LT has been working there for about four months, and I have been there for two months. I don’t perceive LT as going to other techs that much, so I feel like this was really directed at me because I do ask a lot of questions. Now, I had been told by both LT and that geeky tech who thinks he’s cool that I should ask questions instead of just doing things and doing them wrong.

Frankly, going to other techs a lot two months into the job wouldn’t be necessary if they’d actually train new hires. And this was my problem with my last employer, but there are far more things to learn/know at this place. It’s not a matter of knowing things about computers; it’s that they have their own programs that employees use, I haven’t heard of half of them and don’t know enough about most of them at this point to help employees with the questions they ask. Having me come in and get thrown into the job on day 2 with the “training” being running after people to ask them questions is not training. And if that’s how you’re going to play it, then you can’t say, “You’re going to others for help too much.” It’s completely ridiculous, and it takes longer to learn information that way. The geek who was supposed to train me told me it takes six months to really feel comfortable with that position, and another tech told me it takes a year to really get a grasp of all the stuff you need to know to do that job. So, this just makes me feel like my supervisor is either unaware of what my position is like or he has unrealistic expectations even after knowing what it’s like.

3) He gave LT and I the “we’re a team” speech. And I’m not sure of all the reasons why. He mentioned that other techs who worked there before us communicated more with each other about the work. LT is not going to do anything like that because he’s lazy. If he’s going to do anything, he’s going to do it fast and then move on. He’s not going to spend time discussing unless it’s necessary. And then when I try to talk to him about things, he doesn’t really listen or respond because he’s too busy on Facebook. He leaves emails for me to do while I’m already busy, with the excuse that it’s stuff I need to learn, while he’s on Facebook…and then he’ll IM me telling me not to ignore those emails or wondering why I haven’t done them yet when he could have answered them an hour ago.

That geeky tech kind of pissed me off earlier in the week, too, because he basically told me I should have done more to help someone instead of sending a tech to her cubicle. And I was in the middle of a whole lot of stuff, some of it I didn’t know how to do, with LT sitting at his desk having fun on his laptop. So I just let his geeky ass know, “Hey, I’ve got all this schitt on my plate while LT is over here on his laptop.”

I very much suspect that this got back to my supervisor and that this is part of the reason we got that “team” bullschitt laid on us. It’s not going to make any difference. But another reason I think the geek told him about that is because our supervisor also announced that we can’t use our laptops at work anymore. And that’s good and bad. The “team” speech is not going to affect LT, but I wonder if he’ll do more work now that he won’t have his laptop. Part of me just feels like taking away laptops doesn’t matter if you’re not going to tell people they can’t have their cell phones out, as well. Cell phones nowadays do almost everything laptops do.

Plus, if I know LT as well as I think I do, all this means is he’s going to be up and away from his cubicle running his mouth more often. I was thinking about it the other day, too, and he might think the way he runs his mouth with everyone makes them like him…but it doesn’t. Everyone at our last job disliked him because they knew he was lazy and unfriendly with customers. I was surprised when even the guy who trained me said he never liked LT, saying that he always seemed annoying. I think the same thing is starting to happen at our new job. He does act semi-needy with other guys.

So the next time my recruiter from the agency that placed me in this job asks me how it’s going, I’m thinking of just being a little more honest with him. I don’t want to tell him over lunch because I think he’s always going to invite LT to lunch, as well. And LT is happy with this job because of the money. There were things I didn’t like about the job all along, but I also understood I had to get to a point where I learned much of what I needed to know, regardless of not liking the method they use for me to learn these things. But now I’m feeling like, because of how the past couple of weeks have been and then that meeting with my supervisor, that I’m not getting the understanding or support I need, considering what they’ve thrown me into. I have never gotten the impression that I was supposed to be fluid in doing this position after two months, as cited earlier in this post. One thing I can say for my last employer is they were understanding about how difficult the position was, given that they don’t really train people on everything upfront.

I had told the recruiter upfront that this is not the kind of position I’d prefer, so now I can kind of be like, “Yeah, this, this and this are the reasons why I said that,” i.e. the lack of training you receive and how that affects you the whole time you work a position being paramount. And, of course, although the people I support are generally more tolerable than at my last job, I still would rather not have a job where I communicate with people all day long and get a few assholes every day and/or annoying “regulars” who always have the most difficult issues in the world.

Going in a bit of a different direction…

So, yeah, I needed a day off…really, more than a day off. And I might be getting another one off sooner than expected. Here’s the story:

My mother has been bugging asking me to go see a doctor. She’s always looking at my neck and saying it looks bigger on one side than the other. This has been going on for longer than I care to admit, and she has been accusing me of being one of those people who “won’t go to the doctor until it’s too late.” That’s not really true, although I probably am one of those people who has his/her priorities a bit out of order. As my father pointed out, I would gladly take off work to go to Michigan and see a football or basketball game, or even just to hang out around campus. But when they talk about stuff like making a doctor’s appointment, I say I don’t want to take off work–which is true. If I weren’t working or still worked nights, I’d have no issue with going to the doctor.

Well, to get them off my back–because my father has started joining in on this with my mother–since I wanted desperately to take a day off work, I decided to coordinate it with a doctor’s appointment. My mother has been worried that I have a thyroid problem. She has one, and so does her sister. I do have other symptoms consistent with a thyroid issue, to be honest, and when I was sick back in 2010 (yes, I know) with another issue I had a surgeon poke around my neck and ask me if anyone ever talked to me about my thyroid. She did this after she took my heart rate and found it to be abnormally fast. I made the “mistake” of telling my mother this, which she, of course, used constantly to support her position that I needed to have my thyroid checked.

So, I finally went to a doctor. And I haven’t been until now because I really didn’t think anything was wrong. When I feel my neck, it just feels like extra skin. It doesn’t hurt, there are no lumps or nodules…nothing, but it’s bigger on one side. I do have an asymmetrical body and issues with weight fluctuation, so that’s all I thought of it.

The doctor was awesome, but he kind of did as my mother does, i.e. stared at my neck a lot while I spoke to him. So eventually, he examined it. And he told me he would take blood from me and he’d test my thyroid, liver and kidneys (my liver was part of my problem in 2010…told him about that, as well as that cancer runs in my family and he wanted to know what kind). He left the room and came back eventually. I thought I was about to have a blood sample taken, but he gave me sheets of paper. Basically, I gathered from what he said that he suspects I do not have a thyroid problem; he thinks it could be something else. He agreed with my mother that my neck doesn’t look right, and he suggested that I see a specialist. That’s what the papers were for–they were names and addresses of specialists.

After that, I waited quite a while and then had a blood sample taken by a nurse who was from Michigan and, seeing my Michigan shirt, talked to me about the state, my alma mater, Ann Arbor and her family. When she was done, I looked around and, gosh, it’s like they took enough of my blood to supply half the hospital I stayed in back in 2010. I was fine for a couple of hours, and then I wanted to do nothing but fall on my face. They took a lot of blood.

Still waiting on the results, but I figure either way I’ll need to see a doctor again soon. With this doctor agreeing with my mother that my neck is not normal, plus wanting to run tests on my liver and kidneys and wanting me to see a specialist…now I have a feeling that something is actually wrong. With both my mother and my aunt taking thyroid medication, I know that’s not too big of a deal, relatively speaking. It’s easily treatable if it’s an under-active thyroid. But with the doctor telling me, “There are other things in the neck” and seeming to think my thyroid is okay, I don’t know what to expect. It’s to the point where I’d rather the test results tell me my thyroid is under-active.

Plus, I may or may not have mentioned this here before, but I have always “known” that I would get cancer. Whether or not it’s now, that is just something that has always been matter-of-fact to me. I can’t explain it, but I know how I’m going to die. I’ve known since I was a kid.

You see the name of my blog. So, I’m not worried about dying, per se. I just now have a feeling that something is wrong. I might find out it’s nothing, or it might be easily treatable. I’m guessing I should hear what these tests turned up, if anything, tomorrow or Tuesday.

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Living With Your Parents As An Adult

So, I’ve gotta tell you the truth…

I really like living with my parents.

Two years ago this wasn’t true. It wasn’t that I didn’t like living with them. It was more so that I didn’t like the location. But I also took living with them for granted, i.e. how easy life is when you live at home. I went to Chicago to live with my sister, and living in a place like Chicago with my sister changed all that. Sure, I’d still like to move back to Michigan. But I’d like to take my parents with me (they don’t want to move somewhere cold and snowy like that, even though they do like Ann Arbor, where I used to live. True enough, older people don’t move to Michigan from the South–other way around).

I’m now wondering why living with mom and dad as an adult is stigmatized, especially if you’re single (if you’re married, I do think a couple needs its own place). I know that people view it, especially with men, as a sign that someone can’t take care of him/herself, lacks ambition, is unsuccessful and things along those lines.

Let me give you another perspective:

I’ve worked at my new job for almost exactly a month now. I’ve been spending money like crazy since I started this job (not all has been on myself–I have bought my mother so many things I can’t even remember, including a $200 watch she wanted). I think it’s a mental thing, just knowing that I make more money now–more than I actually need. I can afford to live on my own and still pay my student loans now. I absolutely do not want to move out. Admittedly, that I can spend money like crazy and still check my bank account and see a nice amount saved in it because I don’t pay rent anywhere, don’t have bills and that kind of thing? Very much keeping me at home. I will not be moving out any time soon, even though I can now take care of myself.

Am I successful? Well, you decide. I am now settled in one of the two fields I most wanted to be in, which is a field in which I have no educational background and no certificates when there are other people coming out of 4-year programs trying to break in and/or getting all these certs, hoping they’ll help. I make good money for my job description and for where I live. And this is the case, having only worked in this field for about a year and a half. I work at one of the best companies in the area, where I have been told several times that I’m doing a good job. And I get all kinds of things as incentive to keep me where I’m working–a $50 gift card for Christmas, a new bag (which is really nice and something I actually needed), bonuses every six months, free lunches on random days by the company and being taken to lunches I don’t have to pay for wherever I want to go every six weeks by the employment agency that placed me. Oh, and I can pretty much take off work whenever I want. I will still complain about work-related issues, but this other stuff? I don’t know anyone else who has it this good, in terms of their career and the big picture.

Ambition? I’ve already told people that I don’t want to have this job forever and likely don’t even want to remain at the same company. I will be surprised if I am still doing the same thing two years from now, and I have a better job now than I had before and certainly couldn’t have imagined having a job with this company a year ago.

So why will I continue living at home with my parents?

Um…I like my parents?

Living with my parents just works well for all three of us. We have a good relationship, and I think that’s one big difference as to why a lot of people my age couldn’t handle living with their parents. The only rules my parents have are things they know they don’t need to articulate to someone like me. Schitt, my sister had way more ridiculous, restricting garbage rules going on at her house…and even more things that should be rules but just aren’t with my parents (like doing housework).

Other people would feel as if living with their parents limits their freedom. Schitt, I don’t do anything here, and I would hardly do anything if I lived by myself. I’m a sports addict. I come home from work and plop right down in front of the TV to watch games. I play a little music, some video games, eat and sleep. That’s just me. Best part, though, is when I watch games, I usually have someone to watch games with. We spend Saturdays September through mid-January watching college football. We watch the NFL playoffs. We watch college basketball March Madness, and we watch Michigan play.

People want to get away from their parents. I follow my parents around, especially my mother. My mother is probably my best friend. We talk about all kinds of things. If I’m bored, I look for my mother. If I don’t see her in the rooms she’s normally hanging out in at home, I look for her. Sometimes my parents tell me to go away because I’m following them too much.

More reasons–and these are probably the biggest reasons why I don’t understand people who aren’t close to their parents or who seem to value friendship more…and, to a certain extent, why I don’t understand people who put their boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse first…

My parents are retirement age, which means…although their mortality was always an eventuality, as it is with all of us, theirs seems far more near. I think about that a lot. My sisters are nowhere near as close to my parents as I am, and I know that’s bad for me in the sense that I can see myself having far more difficulty with the passing of my parents in the end. I’m always with them, so it’s going to be hard to not be with them. But somehow, thinking about the fact that I don’t know how many more years I have with my parents makes me not want to leave home even more.

I studied philosophy in college–it was one of my minors. Just one of the “useless” fields to which I was attracted, along with English (minor) and psychology (major). Well, one of the “useless” things I learned while taking a hybrid philosophy/English class is the more you know the less happy you are. I have confirmed this throughout my life since learning of this idea in college. The downside to being an intelligent person is sometimes I know things I wish I didn’t know. I fear that I have “figured out” that there is no greater, true-er, real-er, enduring love than what a parent has for his/her child–and that includes the love between a husband and wife (or wife and wife or husband and husband). I know it’s not the same thing, but I still think that once my parents are gone no one earth can or will ever love me as much as they do. Besides, a lot of what matters most about love is the same thing. If you have good parents, you can say and do things that make them mad, sad, disappointed, let down–whatever–but there are just lines your parents would never cross, and they would never give up on you. But your spouse totally would. In fact, usually they do (more so with respect to crossing lines with what they say/do in response, but also–though less so–with giving up on you).

“Understanding” that is…not a good feeling/thought, especially when you think about how this can result in your ending up all alone. But it’s also, to me, a reason why your parents should be on a pedestal–not some guy or girl you met out in the world who is physically attractive and meets a laundry list of stuff you like in a person. And certainly not your “friends.” Most of my “friends” don’t actually give two schitts about me (and I’m starting to sound like Lazy Tech now–he’s all “how many fucks do you think I give? Zero!”), I don’t think, and I can’t at all say that about my parents. It’s kind of funny how people will move out of their parents’ house to share a place with someone who doesn’t give a damn about them, at least it is to me. No thanks–I’d rather stay with my parents.

The funny thing, really, is I’m pretty sure I met someone who thinks a lot like I do about parents…and it partially kept us from having a relationship. I’m pretty sure she has that “parents before random hot person from the street” mentality. She probably thinks I hate her sometimes, but if there’s absolutely anything I’ve never faulted her for and have always understood it’s this. I’m not sure in how many situations I should ever have come before her parents, but knowing and liking each other for less than a year? In that case, the answer is never. So, I salute her for being one of the few people in the US who “gets” it…and, of course, she “gets” it because her family is not American, and…however offensive this may sound, I often think non-American families are just about the only ones that adequately value/honor parents and grandparents. People from non-American families are also the only ones who have ever really told me it’s okay to live with mom and dad in your 30s.

So, I suppose I will move out someday, but I haven’t the foggiest clue when that might be. I still miss Michigan, still think about living there again and still want to move back there. But wanting to move back there? The desire is not quite what it used to be.

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Follow Your Passion…But Which One?

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at work reading blogs, and there was this one post about giving up a passion and asking readers if they’d ever done that. I remember writing that I had–I’d given up a career in the music industry. But I also wrote that I believe that everyone has more than one passion.

Here we are a few weeks later, and I am faced with the truth of that very statement.

I love technology…always have. And I was starting to feel that I’m finally making progress in terms of really making a career in IT. But this was a tough week at work. One day was so bad that I didn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the day after work. I basically locked myself in my room, and that was the kind of thing I used to do maybe once a week on average at the last place I worked because I’d get off work so angry. I don’t want that to start happening with this job.

I used that evening to just think about what the real problem was, because it wasn’t really the bad day, per se. And then the next day I discussed it with my mother. Now, my mother is interesting–she is always giving advice when you don’t want it. But if you ask her, she is utterly unhelpful. She’s suddenly all “whatever you think is best,” and when I’m asking is the one time I don’t want to hear that. So, I told her this before I told her the issue, which is, more or less, what I’ve been telling you on this blog for a while now.

I basically told her that the job is not tech enough for me, and I don’t see myself being able to learn the kinds of things I wanted to or thought I would learn when I accepted the job. I mentioned that job at Michigan that I saw available a couple of weeks ago–the one I wanted to be able to maybe apply for a year from now–and I said that with the way my current job is if I did apply for that job at Michigan next year I wouldn’t even be able to do that job unless I came home from work every day and just learned stuff on my own (which I really should be doing anyway, but I’d get the Michigan job because they’d assume my current job taught me the things I’d need to learn to do their job…and I do think jobs should prepare you to move up/on, even if indirectly). So, basically, I’m not developing many new skills, and the ones I have are not being used and probably would waste away to some degree in this position.

My mother agreed with this. She said that when I first told her what I was doing, it sounded like receptionist work. Well, exactly. That’s my issue. She asked about opportunities for advancement (basically, what is a way for me to do more technical work there), and I told her the only thing I’d be able to do is study and learn about servers on my own and then I’d be able to get one of those positions there. However, I have never been interested in working on servers, although I already know a little bit–it was one of the things I was asked about in my job interview, and the guy who asked me about it responded that what I know is “90% of what they do.” (“They” are the guys who work on the servers, not people who do my job.) I’ve only ever been interested in repair/building computers, networking and programming, and I’m already trying to learn about networking and programming. I don’t want/need to add servers to the list.

The funny thing is when the guy said what I know is 90% of what they do…I haven’t seen that that’s totally accurate, but I have definitely seen that a lot of calls we get are server-related issues, which means I hand a lot of calls off to the server guys, i.e. I’m not doing a lot of tech work. Again, I feel like I take calls for other people all day (as well as all the crap from angry clients who think I am responsible for causing/fixing problems when, in actuality, it’s either nothing to do with my company or it’s the techs who actually do handle the problems). Other people at my job are fine with this, and maybe that’s why some of them have had the same job for almost a decade. I can’t imagine having a position that is more entry level for almost 10 years, and a lot of the tech geeks on tech geek forums tend to agree with me…they think, really, you shouldn’t have those jobs for more than a year or two if you truly have what it takes in IT.

Anyway, I must have been due a miracle, because I actually managed to get some advice from my mother–find another job.

And then bam. Same day and everything. I was surfing the internet, and I saw an ad for a sports writer position.

See, for the past few years, sports have been my other passion outside of technology. Back in 2007, I started a fan blog on espn.com, and I also wrote a bit at Bleacher Report. It was just for fun, and I didn’t get paid. I didn’t write at Bleacher Report for that long, but I kept blogging at espn.com–maybe because I am on that site every single day. I didn’t think anyone read that blog; I thought it was just for me. But, apparently, ESPN hired some community editors or something to pay attention to the blogs and kind of showcase some of the better stuff from the fan community.

Suddenly, I’m getting comments and notices from the community editors. “We featured your post [name of the post] in [blah blah blah]” and “On [blah blah blah date at blah blah blah time] your post will be featured on the front page of espn.com” (the latter I completely missed, by the way, because I was too busy watching bowl games and writing blog posts to put on another site). Then ESPN started the whole SportsNation thing with a TV show by that name, and now their blogging section is called SportsNation. So, I started getting messages saying they featured whatever post in their SportsNation section. And then another fan blogger there started a group for the best bloggers at espn.com and he sent me an invite. So, I used the attention and audience I was getting over there to link to pieces I was writing for other sites, and for a few years I basically had two jobs. Sports blogging wasn’t really paying that much, so I always had to keep another job. I remember telling someone that it’d be awesome if I had a position that allowed me to travel and go to a bunch of games during the college football season. I’d cover football, and that would be my actual job.

The last time I submitted a football post, it was January, the end of bowl season. I still had some more pieces I’d written that I wanted to submit, but I never did. In the last piece I posted, I wrote about the bowl games. But I also wrote that I was done. With espn.com in particular, I was sick of their horrible web infrastructure, which sometimes made it difficult to format posts or even just to post. But in terms of sports writing in particular, I was kind of tired of juggling it with another job and also tired of not just being a fan. I couldn’t watch games without thinking about what I’d write and deadlines, and it’d totally take my weekends, which meant I never had a day off work during the fall and some of the winter.

So, when I said I was done, I was. I hadn’t thought about writing anything since then. When I wrote a post here about my dream job, I didn’t think about sports writing, although I did say that one of my dream jobs would be to work in Michigan’s athletic department. Truthfully, I could have expanded that to just saying working in sports, although I’d love to work at Michigan. But I have never really actively pursued sports as my career, and I’ve thought about that a lot more in recent years. I used to play basketball when I was younger, and when it really would have mattered in terms of opening career opportunities for me I wasn’t interested, i.e. high school and college. A few years ago, I started thinking about what if I had taken basketball more seriously and played college basketball. I’m short and not that tough, so I probably never would have played in the WNBA. But it still could have opened a lot of doors, and I probably wouldn’t find things such as working in Michigan’s athletic department or being Michigan’s women’s basketball coach to be unrealistic.

In short, I guess I found working in technology to be more realistic than working in sports. Until a few days ago.

I was looking at the job ad, and it was almost everything I wanted. I’d become an actual member of the media. I’d get press credentials. I’d get to go to games. I’d get paid. I’d get to write pretty much every day.

The problems?

I’d get paid regardless, but I’d get paid more the more traffic I generated. That means that, at least initially, I probably would still have to work another job. Come the end of August, this would be a problem…because the end of August is when college football starts back up. Because my current job doesn’t require much from me, it’d be easy to sit at work, keep up with football and write as much as I need to during the summer. But in the fall, how could I do all of that and go to games? I know my local airport. Even if I wanted to attempt this crazy schedule, I know I would not always be able to get flights out on Friday evening and make it to a game on Saturday, then get back home on Sunday and write. At some point, I would not be able to keep both of these jobs, and it’s unlikely I’d find another job that would allow me the flexibility I’d need.

The other big issue is I’d probably have to just cover Michigan. I’d rather not just cover Michigan. What I’ve really wanted is my own column to just wax on and on about whatever in college football. Now, I don’t mean that I should just be able to not pay dues and walk into a company and be the featured columnist. I just mean I’d ideally be one of many columnists rather than being confined to one team. I’d love to be at a Michigan game every weekend, but it’d be incredible to go to different places and not be limited in what I write given that I love the entire sport and not just one team.

Given these two things, I debated whether or not I should even apply. But I finally did because I’m curious. There’s no guarantee that anything will come of it, but if it does I’m still not sure what to do. I hesitated to even write this post because I don’t want to jinx anything. I guess it’s no big deal and might even be a good thing if I don’t get the position. But honestly, usually when I apply for a sports writing job, I get the job. There has only been one time so far when I haven’t gotten a position, and, ironically, that was the one time a woman was doing the hiring. I used to worry when I submitted applications and writing samples to men that being a woman would hurt me, but it never did.

So, now that I’ve told you I almost always get the position, I probably won’t. 😉

We’ll see.

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Yes, I’m A Woman. No, I Don’t Cook. So?

Bleh. It should have been my first sign that today was going to amount to a bag of crap.

So, I’m sitting at work very early, so sleepy…willing my Emergen-C drink to kick in (which I now officially believe doesn’t work). I had my unlucky shirt on, which I deemed as such after having a couple of royally bad days at my previous job the first couple of times I wore it. As the car I was in approached the street where I work, I mentally said to myself, “I hope I didn’t make a mistake wearing this shirt.” I’m not particularly superstitious, plus I “know” it’s ridiculous to attribute bad days to a shirt.

I made a mistake wearing that shirt.

So many things happened today, but there’s only one I want to share with you because it brings out the philosopher in me. This is the very first thing that got under my skin.

So, Chatty Cathy rolls up and starts talking to me about Mother’s Day. And she asks me if I’m going to cook for my mother. To me, sleepiness is very similar to being drunk in terms of how it affects the brain. So, my reaction was at least a bit uninhibited. I am repulsed by the idea of me cooking, so I’m pretty sure I turned my face up. And being that I was too tired to speak any louder, I kind of muttered something like, “I don’t cook.” And I am almost positive I said it in a way that came out as snobbish or disgusted. I assure you, it was meant more in disgust than in snobbery. I cannot assure you that’s not how it was taken.

In response, CC goes something like, “Uh oh. She’s one of those.” And she says this to the only female I actually work with–you know, the chick I don’t particularly care for and who, it seems like, doesn’t particularly care for me.

Now, if I were blacker than I am, I would have busted out with, “What the fuck does that mean?”

People, I’m sorry (no, not really)–I’m repulsed by the idea of cooking, okay? I mean, for me. If you want to cook or if you feel that cooking is a necessity for you because you don’t want to pay to eat out all the time, you have kids or you just believe that you should cook for your husband or that everyone should cook, that’s you. It’s okay. But for me, it’s just one of those things. I can’t really articulate it. I think, for me, there’s just something about stuff like cooking and cleaning that symbolizes being at the absolute bottom of the rung…which makes asking me if I cook damn-near offensive.

There are a lot of people who would never work in fast food because that seems to symbolize the bottom of the rung. In fact, there are a lot of people out there right now who need a job, and most of them who say they can’t get a job are not being honest. They probably could get a job either ringing up fast food customers or mopping some floors, but they wouldn’t dare think of it. Now, I have recently seen a few people who actually are saying, “Dude, what the hell? I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s!” But they are probably in the minority of unemployed people who have actually tried to get a job at McD’s. A lot of us just won’t even go there, regardless of how bad things have gotten, because it’s perceived as too demeaning and menial. Not putting ’em down–right there with them (and for people who need these jobs, will work these jobs and do work these jobs–do what you have to do). I just seem to, on pure reflex, take that attitude beyond work and into my personal life, for some reason.

This doesn’t mean I never cook or clean. I prefer not doing these things for myself, but I will every now and then. But since I am not married and don’t have kids, I have rarely seen a real need to cook. Since I live with my parents right now, I don’t do any grocery shopping. But when I lived alone, my grocery shopping consisted entirely of food that either did not need to be prepared or could be prepared via microwave. You can so get away with this nowadays, and, for the most part, I never wanted for anything. When I lived by myself, I was buying and eating things like vegetable medleys, yogurt, cereal (for the whole grain, fiber and other benefits that some cereals offer), cheese, oatmeal, tuna. I microwaved stuff like mac and cheese, pizza and chili. Way back when I was a freshman in college and had to figure out how to eat in the dorms, I would make sandwiches and even microwave stuff like spaghetti. You might not be able to make elaborate, home-cooked meals, but you can eat a lot of the stuff that people think necessitates cooking skills. Best of all, it’s quick.

Do I refuse to cook–and let me make it clear that I do refuse to cook–based on some feminist principle? I thought so, until I realized that example about how so many people who need jobs won’t even take fast food or cleaning jobs. Yes, I’m a woman. But a lot of people won’t cook or clean for a living on principle, pride or whatever you want to call it. Of course, there are those people who justify it by saying those jobs don’t pay enough or they’re too educated, but is that really the very base of what they’re saying? I’d think that would only be so for people who won’t take any job that doesn’t pay enough or for which they’re over-educated. But most people are not like this, especially in regards to being over-educated.

To me, the feminist issue is not much different (but there are differences) from the issue that both men and women have with working in fast food or cleaning–the belief that some people have that those who are less than, and only those people, are “supposed to” cook and clean. As I said, other people only see this in relation to work. I happen to see it this way beyond work and only towards myself. And much more so with cooking than with cleaning, for some reason. If there is anything feminist about it for me, it’s the assumption and irritation that people ask me about cooking only because I’m a woman.

I understand exactly how most other people view cooking. They think it’s a normal part of life. Although I grew up seeing both of my parents cook, and then my sisters, I just seem to have internalized the way society seems to view cooking in relation to a career over how people view it domestically. And maybe this is because there’s not very much that is domestic about me. I have always been more career-focused, and I have spent most of my life doing things just because of what they might do for my career. I know one can be a chef or caterer, but I think even those careers get reactions that are only a little bit better than telling people you’re a musician or an actor when no one has ever heard of you and you don’t yet have any hits…or deals.

Okay, well, maybe I was wrong–maybe I can articulate it.

Look, I did a cursory internet search regarding people’s views on women who don’t cook, and I ran into one post where someone seems to view women who say they don’t cook as being proud about it. I am neither proud nor ashamed. I just know myself. I know I have status-based issues with the idea of me cooking and that when I do cook I suck as a cook. It’s not my thing, and when something is clearly not my thing it makes me not want to do it all the more because sucking at schitt hurts my perfectionistic self-esteem. It’s yet another thing that “confirms” to me that I should not ever have kids, and it is yet another thing that makes me feel relieved that I’m a lesbian and don’t have to deal with a guy thinking like a guy on this issue.

And I know this about you–you’re better off not asking me anything about cooking.

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Employers Might Be Winning Now, But That Will Change

Since my job has so much down time, I realized I had to find ways to deal with it so that I won’t spend hours there torturing myself by looking at the time every 2 minutes. I really do not want to get accustomed to doing very little on the job, because I know I won’t be at this place for years and years. And I don’t want to get used to sitting at work, surfing the internet. But this is pretty much what is happening–I’m using the internet to pass the time in between calls.

I love sports–particularly football (American) and basketball–but there’s only so much sports news, articles and opinions I can take. So, I have started reading blogs. Today, I found this one post that instantly gave me a blog topic. I have read so many articles and blog posts online that show a vast difference between the way employers and the people who do their dirty work–managers, supervisors and the like–think and the way employees think. This is even more true when you get down to new-school workers, i.e. people who are recent graduates entering the workforce or only in the workforce full time for a few years at best.

The link above is yet another ridiculous piece that seems to be coming from the point of view of the enemy. It is a more narrow version of things I’ve read, as the primary example is about some dumb kid who thought not having soy milk was a serious issue, leading to a post that many perceive to be about employees having issues with perks. I really don’t care about perks, for the most part. I certainly miss having water coolers at work, which I had at my last job but don’t have at my new job. My new job has sodas, but you have to pay for them. That would be fine (except the paying part) because I love soda, but I have gotten into the habit of not drinking soda unless I can also have water to kind of offset/balance out having soda and/or to wash the sugary taste away. It’s kind of ridiculous to me that they have soda and not soda and water, but, then again, this is the South and as a region we haven’t at all reached the point that the rest of the US seems to be getting to in terms of seeing anything wrong with sitting around drinking sugar all day. Obviously, I hadn’t planned to say anything to anybody about this.

I also don’t particularly care about benefits, either, but I also don’t have children. This is something that I see as perfectly reasonable to worry about and maybe even expect if you are married with kids. I know that all my life I had been led to believe that jobs pretty much were supposed to offer benefits, and my parents act as if a job not offering benefits should be a dealbreaker.

My issue with pieces like this is the section of the post in which the author goes into “more blunders by new employees.” This section reminded me of my last job. Do you know how I left my last job? I quit. If it weren’t for my parents, I would have quit months before I did, and I would have quit without another job lined up. But I got fed up to the point where I stopped saying to myself and fellow co-workers who also hated working there that I need to get another job…and got another job. I got the call from my current employer on a Thursday afternoon as I was leaving work, and I walked into work the very next day, quit and didn’t return.

Here’s the rundown using that blog post:

Constant Overtime

I didn’t work constant overtime. We had peak seasons when we knew we’d have to work 12+ hours a day, maybe 10 hours on Friday if we were lucky. The job was advertised this way, so that was fine. The ad basically said we’d work 12 hours/day during peak times and then work around 8 hours/day otherwise. To me, if you’re told from the get-go that you will work a lot of overtime and you take the job, then you can’t complain. It looked good to me because, relatively speaking, my pay already was decent for where I live and overtime really was going to make it good.

What I came to have a problem with is the back and forth between overtime and barely getting 30 hours–peak time or not–plus never knowing what time I’d get off work and the start time changing sporadically. None of this was expected. The overtime was advertised as something similar to, “You’ll work from 5:45am to 5:45pm.” This is not what was going on. Except for one short-lived experiment, there was never a time through my entire employment there when I knew exactly when I’d get off work. Plus, we’d start work at 5:30am for a while and then they’d inform us on Friday, “From now on, your start time will be 6:30.” And then maybe a couple of months later, “From now on, your start time will be 6am.”

Exceptionally Late/Weekend Overtime

Long story short, the answer was no. They didn’t require us to do these things, but we could and they would ask. Uh…no. Especially during football season. Whasamattawitu? Ubettagonesumwhere!

Understanding Your Job (or Not)

Your job is what you are asked to do by your boss. This could include learning new software or assuming duties that not part of your original job description. While this can be frustrating, it is not uncommon.  What can be frustrating is that you are now evaluated on new skills which you may not be your strength. If you realize that you are not able to handle the new demands of the company including new skill sets but also perhaps mandatory overtime or required business travel, update your resume and seek employment elsewhere. 

What’s the point of job ads describing positions and duties, then, especially since most employers don’t say up front that the description might change or isn’t all-inclusive? Does it make sense that employers can lure you in by telling you that you’ll be doing ABC and then you end up either having to do XYZ or quit? Why, then, can’t we send in resumes with a degree from Harvard and CEO experience at a fortune 500, then show up at work and inform the employer, “Oh, I actually didn’t finish college, and I’ve only worked in fast food joints until now–deal with it”? Why does the fit have to be right for the employer but not for the employee?

When I had my job completely changed at my last place of employment, I tolerated that job for my parents before I exploded two months later and told my manager and supervisor that I would quit if I wasn’t going to be doing what I accepted a job with them to do. Although I got my way and my supervisor all but begged me not to quit, I was just completely done with that place (for more reasons than just what’s mentioned here) and nothing could have changed that. I had an entire week off before I started my new job, and that was the happiest I’d been in a long time.

Why Employers With This Mindset Will Lose

For one thing, as I said, there’s a difference between someone coming into a situation knowing what’s up and then whining, and coming into a situation having been told one thing and then everything’s changing. Telling someone, “If you don’t like it, get another job”–that’s not the answer, especially if you’re misleading everyone or thinking you have the right to change things whenever you want. An employer might think most people are going to deal with it, but, whether the economy gets better or not, this is going to cause quite a bit of turnover. Who does turnover hurt? On top of that, the employees who stay who thought they were getting certain hours and that turns out to not be true…well, they’re going to be unhappy employees. Unhappy employees make crappy employees more often than not. So, what this employer has is employees leaving and employees staying but unhappy and unmotivated. Again, who is really hurt?

This is exactly what my last job was like. I didn’t know anyone who liked working there, and when I quit it had reached the point where a lot of people were either leaving or applying for other jobs. And the majority of people leaving were the really good employees. But the enemy was always either whining about us, whining about the work production and standards, or trying to figure out how to motivate us. They couldn’t figure out the relationship. Also, the two things the majority of us wanted–better work-life balance and more money–were, according to them, the two things they couldn’t give us. They felt there was no way they could give us a more normal work schedule or even the 5:45-5:45 many of us were told when we were first hired–we had to stay until the work was done. I mainly wanted to be able to know what time I’d get off work on a regular basis. I’ve got that at my new job.

Young workers nowadays don’t put up with crap, either. Personality-wise, I’m a little more of a cross between old-school workers and new-school workers. But I know that new-school workers not wanting to deal with overtime, changing job duties, jobs that don’t make them happy and many other issues is not always about a sense of entitlement. New schoolers just don’t have as much of a reason to stick with a job they don’t care for, unlike old schoolers. A lot of young people today are not getting married and having kids in their 20s, like me. And many of us can live with our parents, like me. The only reason I need a job is because of student loans–and, frankly, my parents would pay those, too. Although I owe a ridiculous amount in student loans, the fact that this is my only concern allows me the flexibility to look at jobs that pay a lot of money but carry a lot of stress or would make me miserable and take a pass. I did that with practicing law, although that was also at least somewhat about not being able to get a job in that field. I think had I gotten a job in that back in 2008, I would not be practicing today anyway because I would have hated it and would have seen no reason to keep putting up with something I hate.

My parents always take my tax information to their preparer and have my taxes done for me. They told me that the preparer looked at the amount of money I made from my last job and commented that I make good money (which is only good money relative to the kinds of people who live in my area). But I took a job making less money than I made there in order to get away from the stressful, maddening environment. And the money I make is enough. Each month, I can basically take one paycheck and pay student loans, then take the other one and buy a geek gadget with plenty of money left over. Being happy matters more to new schoolers than money or anything else does.

I also didn’t even make it to a full year at my last job. In fact, I’ve only stayed at one full-time job for more than a year–a year and two months.

This is the new normal, which is another reason why employers are only hurting themselves if they approach employees with an “if you don’t like it, quit” attitude.  New schoolers will quit. They’ll work two months and quit. In fact, they’ll work one day and quit. If I were more like a new schooler, I’d have quit this new job by now because it’s boring, some of the clients are jackasses, I don’t like feeling like a receptionist when I am supposed to be a tech geek, it’s not exactly what I expected and I’d rather work part time–oooh, five whole reasons to quit. And this is becoming so normal that many employers are fine if you’ve only worked somewhere for a year or two before interviewing with them. That would look bad back in the day, but not so much anymore.

The thing is we’re going to get to the point where new schoolers outnumber every other type of employee. This culture of leaving jobs if they don’t like a good bit of what’s going on there will continue to take over. That’s going to mean that if employers want more retention–especially of the best employees, whom I recently read are the most likely to leave jobs when unhappy–better long-term workers and to spend less money on hiring/training newbies, they’re going to have to get down from that power-trip throne they’ve been on since this latest recession officially began.

Employers are going to have to start caring that employees want a life away from their jobs and want to be happy at their jobs when they’re at work…or else their precious bottom lines will suffer.

 

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America’s Most Ignorant

I have never wanted kids. I just have never had a fondness for them. That’s not to say I hate kids, but kids feel as if they can completely be themselves around me because I am not parental or authoritative in my demeanor, i.e. kids behave badly around me. I guess that might be a reason why kids have always liked me, and I guess that’s why people in my family always had to give kids some version of a “Ren really is an adult, so you need to treat her like one” speech. So, because I have older sisters who have done the typical married-with-children thing, I have been fighting kids off with an invisible bat since I was about 13 or 14. Kids think I am fun and funny, and I always have stuff that they like. So, I can’t figure out how to get them to leave me alone.

Don’t worry–I’m never having kids. I know I have no business with any! Too many people don’t know that about themselves, though.

One of the reasons I don’t want kids is because it’s too much work and too much responsibility for me. I look at my sisters, and I just cannot imagine living the kind of lives they live. I don’t mean that in an insulting way. But if I were given two choices–to live the life I currently live or to be married with kids–I’d choose the life that I currently whine about on this blog, i.e. the life where I have all these expensive degrees that I don’t/can’t use, owe all this money, live at home with my parents in a city I don’t like and work a job where I’m bored and make peanuts. The way the majority of adult women live simply isn’t for me, that’s all. And I’ve realized it’s not even just about kids–I think I generally have anxiety when it comes to responsibility, at least in terms of tasks (and yes, I am the “baby” in my family). This is why I don’t run my own business, why I tend not to take initiative with things and why I tend to only want raises and not promotions.

Unfortunately, because I am related to one of the many people in the world who didn’t seem to understand that she had no business having kids–and her excuse for a husband likewise seemed not to understand this about himself–I am now in the position to have a hand in some kid being my responsibility.

I don’t know if I can articulate how uncomfortable responsibility makes me in a lot of cases. At work, it’s usually a scared sort of flipping out; at home, it’s usually an angry sort of flipping out. When I used to babysit, it would be more of a scared flipping out, though. So, imagine how I feel when I’m given other people’s responsibilities.

See, one of my nieces has moved in with my parents and me. Really, she was kicked out of her house. In most ways, she’s a normal teenager. So, she didn’t really do anything all that unusual to warrant being kicked out of the house. Her mother (my sister) and her stepfather are just, very frankly, fucked in the head, that’s all. My father has very little to do with my sister because of this, and I have very little to do with her because of this. My other sister doesn’t live in our city, so that kind of solves having anything to do with her. My mother is the only person who hasn’t known how to let go, but I think that’s changing, especially after this stuff with my niece being kicked out for no real reason.

My family is not at all full of geniuses. But my parents have worked as educators, and my closest aunt and uncle work as educators. I’m the best-educated person in my family on paper, having attended–what I call–an Ivy-Like university and a Public Ivy university, as well as earning a law degree. So, I never thought I’d be related to someone whom most people would consider dumb.

People, I’m not a politically correct person–my niece is dumb. I’ve known this for a long time, but now that she lives with me…wow.

My father still teaches at a college, even though he’s technically retired, so he is not shocked by my niece. No one in my family really seems to be shocked by it, except for me. My father sees it all the time–very dumb people who somehow make it through high school and into college. “Dumb” means they can’t read, the way they text and write on Facebook is the way they write school papers and school presentations, they cannot speak standard English or speak with any semblance of good diction/enunciation, they can’t think critically and they don’t know school basics. Obviously, I knew that my niece speaks like crap and writes like crap, but I didn’t know she couldn’t read or that she is learning absolutely nothing at school but is somehow passing on to the next grade most years (not every year, though). She’s either a sophomore in high school or a junior in high school…really can’t tell because she has failed a couple of classes.

I now know that she can’t read because one of the ways in which I’ve grudgingly become responsible for her, being known as the most intelligent person in the family, is by having to come home from work and “help” her with her homework. I was not asked to do this. This has been forced on me. And you have to understand something–you’re talking about an average Joe expected to do something that really can’t be done by an average Joe. That is, my niece, having gotten as far as she has and being as bad off as she is academically, is way beyond just typical help with homework that you’d give a kid or teenager. The girl…can’t…read.  She is in Spanish 2 and she gets all this Spanish homework, but she doesn’t…know…any…Spanish. Of course, no one else in my family knows any Spanish, except for me and my sister who doesn’t even live around here.

She needs professional help at this point. Honestly, she needed professional help years ago. Of course, no one wanted to pay for this professional help years ago when my parents knew she needed it, and no one wants to pay for it now. Money is not an issue for my parents. But these are people who have no problem with heading to the casino 2 or 3 times a week to throw away at least $100 each time, and they say, “It’s not my responsibility.” So, somehow, that makes it mine?

And it’s not, but I’d still pay to send my niece to Sylvan if I could afford it and if she could get to/from Sylvan (which, I can’t help with either of those things). I would much rather do that than spend 9+ hours away from home at work/in traffic and then be expected to come home and do some teenager’s homework. Because with someone this far gone, you can’t “help” them with their work–someone else either basically has to do it or it won’t get done. And doing my niece’s homework has been my parents’ answer for so long that now there is no hope that she can just sit down and do it herself. If she can’t read, she can’t do her homework. My parents just want her to pass. They are not necessarily concerned with her learning or developing the skills she’s lacking.

I don’t know if you think I’m selfish or not. But 1) I do not believe in doing other people’s work–and I am referring both to my niece’s homework and to the fact that my sister is the one who is supposed to have this burden; 2)  I don’t have kids and never will have kids in part because I do not want the kind of life where I have to spend all day at work and then come home and deal with kids, kids’ homework and all that stuff; 3) I don’t like drama, and years of drama related to my sister truly makes me wish she and her entire family would disappear because I’m tired of all of that. Furthermore, my niece is not that different from her mother. They are both the type of people whom, every time you turn around, it’s something. I don’t want to deal with that.

If these things make me selfish, then I’m selfish and smart at the same time…because I’m not one of those dumb parents who actually has kids they don’t want to come home and deal with and, thus, won’t come home and deal with.

See, it’s not my niece’s fault that she’s dumb. And America’s most ignorant is not just all these dumb kids who are in high school and college and who will someday take this nation down to even lower depths than we’re currently experiencing. A pretty good percentage of America’s ignorant people are today’s parents (and today’s school administrators/teachers).

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