Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Thoughts...

For those who were curious, Thanksgiving ended up being just fine. A tich awkward, but fine.

I have already signed up for some seminars for 2012. I have one per month so far. I figure that continuing education makes me more marketable and while I do not anticipate NEEDING to be marketable, the reality is that you should always be on your toes and ready to give your elevator speech. Still, I like it where I am and I would like to stay with a job for 3-5 years before I even think about moving on again. Of course, the clock is ticking as far as being an "older" employee and I know that my age will work against me more and more as the years pass. So, I am also hoping that some of the seminars I am taking will help me be a more marketable freelancer if it comes to that.

On the down side, I can pretty much rest assured that there will be no holiday bonus this year and that the 1st quarter of 2012 will be as stressful as the last quarter of 2011 is proving to be.

Still, I like what I do and I am still learning new things at work, so I can't complain!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Unexpected Holiday Dinner

You might not think that a holiday dinner has anything to do with the workplace. And in most cases, you would be correct, which is why the two of those things converging for me this year makes my Thanksgiving plans a bit surreal.

I was at work yesterday, entering deposits. The phone rang and it was the owner's wife. Not unusual, she calls sometimes. But today she didn't want to talk to him. She had called for me. She was calling to invite me to Thanksgiving dinner. At their house. I think I was too surprised to say much more than "ok"... as she rattled off directions to their home.

After I hung up the phone, I sat for a minute reflecting on what had just happened. In a minute's time I had gone from sitting home and probably having Chex Mix for my grand Thanksgiving Feast to being invited to the very posh home of one of the owners of the company I work for. I quickly realized that there was no way I could get a manicure or liposuction done on Thanksgiving and the panic set in. And although I had thought to ask what I could bring (and was told "nothing") I also realized that to go without a hostess gift would surely be a fatal faux pas.

Now, I was not born in a barn and am far from uncultured. I spent three years at boarding school with the sons and daughters of some of the world's elite families. But the last couple of decades of my life I've pretty much lived in urban settings that are, ummm, well let's just say "less than posh".

As tempting as it was to do something like bring a dessert, I figured that the other attendees of this meal are all going to be of the "you can never be too rich or too thin" mindset. I can't afford a $ 70 bottle of wine and have no idea if they are red wine or white wine drinkers. And I almost think bringing the wrong wine is as bad as not bringing a gift at all. I am sure that WHATEVER I bring, it will be likely stowed in the back of a cabinet somewhere or brought out to be served to a business associate that Mrs. Owner does not particularly care for.

Don't get me wrong, I LIKE Mr. Owner and I've only met Mrs. Owner a couple of times. Enough to know that I respect and admire her and that she and I are NOT in the same league from a socio-economic point of view and I am a little (ok, a LOT) intimidated by her.

Still, I will go to dinner and hope that I don't do anything stupid. And then I will come home and breathe a huge sigh of relief. And probably have a good, stiff drink.

Hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Anniversary

Nov. 1 was my one year anniversary where I work. Technically, I started as "just a temp" and my REAL anniversary is December 27th, but this way I get to celebrate twice, which is pretty awesome!

I still like the job and am still very happy to be working there. I'm still learning things, too. I figure that's a positive because it indicates that I am willing to keep my mind and options open.

One of my co-workers brought me a rose for my anniversary. I love getting flowers and almost never get them, so that was really cool.

This is a busy weekend. I'm not accomplishing everything I had hoped, but the weekend isn't over yet. Speaking of which, I should get back to work!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hang it up, Telemarketers!

I have to confess that in my younger days, I did work as a telemarketer very briefly. In spite of having a good phone voice, I wasn't very good at getting people to buy things that they didn't want to buy and so my career as a telemarketer was very short-lived. Even though I got paid per time I was able to finish my whole script, I was never pushy if someone said they weren't interested (probably part of the reason why I didn't last long in the job).

Where I work now, the telemarketers are relentless. Sometimes they will call EVERY DAY for a month at time and my boss doesn't want to talk to them so it's my job to screen them out and for the most part that's pretty easy because they either mispronounce his name or use the long form of his name when he uses the diminutive with anyone who knows him. But these folks can be VERY rude and I've had them cuss at me and really, if you want my boss to buy something from you and you cuss at me, it isn't going to happen. I don't care if you have a Platinum Deluxe Ball Buffer Pro that you're selling, if you cuss at me when I try to screen your call, your balls are going to be in the wringer, buddy.

The other thing that happens time and time again is that we get people who call for boss #1, make their pitch, get rejected, hang up and then seconds later, they call for boss # 2 and get rejected, hang up and then they want to talk to Office Manager... and yes, rejection AGAIN. One company has called twice a day each day this week and I try to be polite when they do this but eventually I get very firm with them, even when they don't want to hear it.

I can't believe that telemarketers actually sell enough to make their continued existence worthwhile, but apparently they do or I wouldn't have to put up with them calling the office every day. Some days I feel like answering the phone and saying "if you are selling something, we don't want it, please state your message at the tone and A GOOD DAY TO YOU!"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October already?

I can hardly believe that it is October already and that as of November 1, I will have a whole year in at my present job. I am still learning new things all the time and have got some tasks down really well, still working on completely mastering others. Given that this is an entirely new industry for me and focuses much more on skills that had been a smaller part of previous jobs, I think I'm doing pretty well.

I feel pretty fortunate to even have a job and even more fortunate to have a job I like. Sure, there are some days it gets frustrating but overall, I do enjoy my job. It's much harder for many people that I know to find work that they can even tolerate, let alone like.

Lots of big changes on the homefront lately, too. By and large, it's been pretty positive for me. I am managing to get things done that need to be done. On the down side, finances are tighter and I have a bigger workload now. Speaking of which, I need to get some dishes done.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fuzzy Focus

I've had a hard time focusing lately. I feel like I am being pulled in multiple directions and I'm just not sure how to get on track. There is so much going on in my life.... so much going on in my head. I just want (need) things to calm down.

I have a contract to negotiate soon. It's not related to my day job and it's something I do annually but I get really worked up about having to do it every year. I am just hoping that the negotiation goes smoothly, that I'm not going to have to make too many compromises and that I can just get it done and get on with my life.

I am also thinking that between now and the end of the year, I need to get myself a makeover (a new look and a new outlook) and maybe make some decisions about what I want to be when I grow up. I still like my job, but I don't feel invaluable and feel like it is my job to make myself invaluable. I have been taking in some seminars/classes to expand my skills & knowledge but I just feel like there is something else I need to/should be doing with my life.

I am also thinking of writing some bits here that may eventually get put together into a book. But I probably won't get to that until 2012, there are just too many other things going on.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No More Work Nemesis!

My work nemesis, Mr. Know-It-All, has left the company. I'm not sure when or if there will be a replacement hired. I wish I could say some magical "moment" happened before he left and that we came to some sort of understanding... that he wasn't really a blowhard and I am not the ditzy moron he believes me to be. Alas, no such understanding was reached and I doubt if our paths will cross again. Sayonara, Work Nemesis.

However, things have been hopping at work lately. There is a lot going on and the coming week will probably be quite a challenge. We have two people going on vacation and I am slated to take a class on Wednesday. I am looking forward to the class but know it will put extra strain on the bosslady and that's never a good thing. Tomorrow I will have to finish up some of the things I started on Friday and then commence the research I was told to do. It'll be a busy day tomorrow. Tuesday is usually the heaviest mail day. Wednesday I have class. Thursday I'll be making up for not working on Wednesday and Friday is check-writing day, which is always pretty busy. Then we're heading into Labor Day Weekend, which will mean three days off!

Still looking for ways to streamline things at work. There should be a "flow" to things by now and it just isn't quite there yet. So, for the next couple of weeks, that'll be my focus. Trying to get my shit together in a lot of areas of my life right now, might as well add work to the fray, right?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Illogical Logic Puzzle

This entry isn't about me or my work situation. It's about something a friend told me about.

Company R employs 4 transport workers. 2 of them have a special license which allows them to transport things that the other two cannot legally transport. ALL people with the special license, regardless of where they work in the nation have a cap on the number of hours per day that they may work. THIS IS FEDERALLY MANDATED.

Worker K is one of the special license people. K drove Route A and routinely finished within an 8 hour work day.

Worker C is the other special license person. He took over Route A and routinely finishes in 10 hours.

This job requires that each team member be on call for one week per month. The Route A driver used to be excluded from this requirement due to having a cap on the number of hours per day that special license people are allowed, by law, to work. This recently changed and now ALL workers are required to be on call for one week per month.

Worker K is the back-up for Worker C on on-call weeks (however, oddly, Worker C is not made to be Worker K's on-call backup). This means, the way the rotation is currently set up that Worker K is essentially on-call TWO weeks per month because Worker C regularly uses up all of his allotted work hours on "regular" calls, thereby forcing Worker K to cover his "on-call" calls.

Company R has decided that Worker C is "padding" his hours to get out of having to ever do "on-call" calls. This is likely true as it was established by Worker K that Route A could be completed in an 8 hour time frame and it takes Worker C 10 hours to complete that very same route... or, at least, it takes 10 hours on the weeks he is on-call.

Company R has decided that since it NEEDS to have 4 people in the on-call rotation and that Worker C is basically shirking his duty that both K and C need to be fired so they can hire people who will work on-call reliably.

But, the important thing to note here is that FEDERAL LAW mandates the cap on the hours special license people can work... so unless they hire people with the special license to work who are oblivious to the work hour cap, Company R will repeatedly be in violation of FEDERAL LAW by having their special license people work over the Federally Mandated hour cap.

It would SEEM that the LOGICAL answer is to hire someone whose sole duty is to take the "after hours" calls. Some weeks this would amount to a full-time position, other weeks it would not. Company R would likely not suffer a financial loss doing so, in fact, it would save them money by having to only pay REGULAR wages, not overtime wages.

Oh wait... THAT would MAKE SENSE and therefore, would NEVER happen. And I'm sure that the Men in Black would spirit away anyone crazy enough to propose it. Ahhh, bureaucracy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Productivity...sortve

This last week the Boss was out of the office. I got tons of work done. Unfortunately, the work I got done was 98% things that were things that the Boss usually takes care of, so I am another week behind. Which is bad enough but then there's the fact that the week before I was sick for two days so I am now about a week and a half behind. I am thinking that over the next couple of weeks, there may be some long days so I can catch up on things.

Yesterday, I was on track to get things done except that we have someone working on a special project and we could not get the work station that was set up for her to do the project to work the way that it was supposed to work and so she had to sit at my workstation. That made me a little miffed. Then the other Boss was trying to get the pen mouse working and couldn't so I futzed around with that for a while and couldn't get the damned thing to do what I wanted it to do which means I will be working on THAT next week (at the request of the Boss).

Not much else going on. The only other thing I could write about is the really, really strange restroom habits of some of the other women in the building I work in and I am pretty sure noone really wants to read that. But it's bizarre stuff, folks.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Project From Hell

So, Mr. Know-It-All handed me a project last week and it involves breaking MONTHLY data for the LAST THIRTY YEARS down into daily data. Why they can't just use the MONTHLY data is beyond me. So, I've been working on this project. Meanwhile, I have stuff I *NEED* to get done that isn't getting done and there is no light at the end of the tunnel with this project. Well, I suppose the light at the end of the tunnel is that it needs to be done by the end of tomorrow and I've got 7 of 30 years done so far.

It's tedious. It involves calculations. It CANNOT be automated. And it's making me LONG to do tasks that are really not my favorite things to do because at least I wouldn't be doing this TEDIOUS project.

I haven't had the performance review yet and you KNOW that I am not griping about that. I'll be perfectly happy if it NEVER happens.

Long weekend this weekend (I get Friday off) so I am hoping to be able to get some things done around the house. I need to get to the Post Office for sure. And need to contact the landlord again because non-working appliances are a pain in the posterior. And really, three weeks is a LONG time to be without one of your major appliances. (Fortunately, it's the one I am most able to devise a work-around for).

Tomorrow, I have things I must get done. Other than the Project from Hell. Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

In which I try to talk myself out of a panic...

I've never been particularly fond of performance reviews. I'll admit that even though I know I shouldn't, I take most criticism very personally and because I feel that my work is an extension of myself, it's hard for me to separate criticism of my work from criticism of me as a person. It's been two weeks since the 90 day probation period was up at work and I FINALLY mentioned it today and heard the words I'd been dreading "well, then... I guess it's time to sit down and have a review".

Oh crap....ohcrapohcrapohcrap! The panic has set in... I find myself reviewing everything I've done, wondering if I've done something wrong or bad or not right. I kick myself for saying anything. I worry that they're going to tell me that they really don't like me. I worry that the enjoyment of this job has just been me deluding myself. I worry that they don't think I am as competent as I believe myself to be. Basically, my mind is throwing at me every bit of criticism I've ever gotten in past reviews and it has my stomach in knots.

But then.... they let me sign up for a seminar today. That they're paying for. And it's in June. So, maybe they're not going to tell me I suck and should be scrubbing toilets with my toothbrush in the bus station bathroom.

If I were reviewing myself, I guess I'd cite that I can be unfocused sometimes. That maybe I should work harder on my accounting skills. That maybe I should try harder to solve problems myself. I'd probably pick on the fact that I can be chatty (which is funny, because I had a boss who chided me for not being friendly/chatty enough). Ok, so... what would I tell me I'm doing well? I'm, ummm, I'm tactful even when sometimes I don't want to be. I make good coffee. My desk is neat. Yeah, you see the problem there? Way too many negatives, way too lame positives. Which is why the panic comes washing over me.

So... I guess I get to sit and stew about this for a while. Maybe the boss will forget (I hope). Maybe I can work on my weaknesses and make improvement so by the time she remembers, I won't be such a hot mess.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Had to happen some time...

So, I had a lousy day at work today. Which, after about 4 months, isn't too bad. I mean, it usually takes under 3 weeks for the shit to hit the fan in some way, so I did pretty well this time. It wasn't something awful, I just did something stupid and got called on the carpet about it. I went to lunch, sat in the car and cried, listened to some loud music, ate a chili cheese dog (with mustard and onions) and then went back to work. The rest of the afternoon was frustrating because nothing worked the way I needed it to and, well, altogether, I am just going to chalk the whole thing up to " a case of the Mondays" and hope that tomorrow will be better.

It's frustrating because there was something that REALLY needed to get done last week and it's not even really started. I keep getting handed new "hot" tasks to do and I can't get the regular stuff that I am supposed to get done completed. And the bosslady is swamped with doing taxes and stuff so she doesn't have the time to help and there is the whole issue of my being there supposed to be HELP, not putting things back on the bosslady.

And if I didn't have a shitstorm of stuff going on in my personal life, I'd just work on stuff at home. And I suppose you could call "bullshit" on that because here I am blogging but after the day that I had today, I would be ineffective, at best, as far as getting anything done this evening.

I worry about stuff like today because the reality is that I am still "on probation" and I'm not stupid enough to think that I am irreplaceable. One call to the agency that they got me from and I could be out on my ass. Sure, I am now an "employee", but really, I know in today's economy "here today, gone tomorrow" is the harsh reality.

Tomorrow will be better, right?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Under the (icy) weather

I know I haven't posted in a while. First the weather was really awesome so I was enjoying it and then the ICE came and everything went to Hell (if, you know, Hell was a place of ICE and not FIRE) and I was too frozen to post anything plus I have been working from home which is simultaneously awesome and awkward because I love that I can do it but don't want to push my luck, ya know? I don't want them to decide that since they can get along without me in the office for a day or two that they can get along without me all together.

And I AM working at home. I am getting things accomplished and that's good but I have to admit that the mess in my apartment is pretty distracting and the fact that the fridge is RIGHT OVER THERE is a temptation but then today I pretty much sat at my desk for hours and hours and when I finally got up I was all locked up because even though I CAN get up and move, I get into a task and completely forget to get up and move and that's not a good thing.

So, after working hours tonight, I did do a little housekeeping and I need to work on the bit of the livingroom that I can see from the office (I never want to live somewhere without a room that I can use as a home office ever again. The whole idea of having a room that is the "office' is such a good idea that the thought of going back to having the computer in the livingroom and not in a separate space is pretty loathesome at this point. Which may means I am doomed to live in this apartment forever or at least until they raise the rent to the point of utter ridiculousness like they did back where I lived 4 years ago. There, I moved into a place and over the course of years the rent crept up and crept up but the property wasn't really improved or even really well maintained. I know that the current management company where I am is going to try to say that they have "improved" the property but new siding isn't cutting it... how about a laundry room that actually has working machines? How about an office that doesn't sent me delinquent notices when I have never, ever been delinquent? How about some SECURITY and a pool that's open for more than a couple of hours more than a couple of weeks a year? Oh yeah... and a toilet that doesn't run... And some actual weatherstripping so I am not paying to heat/cool the airspace outside of my apartment?

*AHEM*... sorry about that....

So, I have been busy while I haven't been here and I'll try to get back more often. Hope that the weather wherever you are isn't too awful. We will thaw soon, right?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weird Day

It was a weird day at work because I screwed something up but it was something there was no way I could have known how to do it right and no way I could have known it was wrong. It seemed ok to me, I had done it the way I'd done it last month (it's a monthly task) and had been told that I'd done it correctly last month (it was wrong last month, too... sigh...)

Corrections will have to be made and now I know how to do it right and there shouldn't be any issues going forward and it's not the part of my job that is my strong point so while I do feel bad that there will have to be corrections made, I am not beating myself up about it too much because, like I said, I had no way of knowing that what I was doing wasn't correct.

Still, I am a perfectionist and having to admit to clients that I screwed up won't be easy and it's not as if I can actually say to clients that I had no way of knowing it was wrong...

Once we get into second quarter, things should be better. And by then I'll have a better handle on things. At least, that's what I am hoping. I feel like my inbox is always overflowing and my out box doesn't see much completed work...

And I somehow managed to both receive and lose my copy of "The Art of War" today.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seating for Sixteen

Today's mission at work was to find a restaurant that could accommodate a party of 16 on a Saturday night. You would think that in a large metropolitan area, this would be easy and I would say to you "nay, nay dear reader"... Indeed, the metropolitan area is large but apparently a party of 16 is a humongous undertaking. Oddly enough, when I lived in a smallish rural area and had a group of 30 people to accommodate, there was no problem at all. SEVERAL venues didn't even blink at the request and there was no shoving me off on the "private dining" overlord who started talking about 3 course dinners with 3 choices... nope, 30 people were seated in a main dining area and ordered off of the regular menu. Sure, I DID call ahead and let them know the party would be coming but they didn't require a deposit or anything as the party of 16 did ($500 deposit... holy cats!)

I did finally find a restaurant that was suitably "upscale" that could work with a party of 16 on a Saturday night at 6PM. The deposit is holding the reservation. The cool part of this is that I am actually invited to this soiree and will get to go to a restaurant that I could not normally even DREAM of affording (which is no reflection on the salary I am paid, this is just one of those ultra-pricey venues).

So, I hope that the experience is a good one and that the server doesn't implode or something serving this HUGE party. You know, for a city that hosts huge conventions, I am a little stunned that a relatively small party of 16 seems to be such a huge undertaking.

I'll let you know how it goes after it's over (in a couple of weeks).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chasing Organization...

It always amazes me that I can be so organized at my job and my home can be so chaotic. I TRY to keep things organized at home but time and time again, things just spiral completely out of control. What's the most frustrating, though, is that I haven't quite been able to put my finger on what is so different at home that I can't seem to get a handle on things and keep them from being chaotic.

There are probably several factors that lead home to be chaos....

- No well-defined "work" space
- Not enough storage space
- No audits or overseers to make sure things are in order
- Trying to relax at home

And, I suppose that you could successfully argue that any/all of those things are just excuses. And you would, perhaps, be correct... at least to some extent.

So, I will be spending at least part of the weekend organizing the chaos that is my home/home life. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Long and Short of It...

It came up again today in conversation... should women over 30 cut their hair short? (The reasoning being that long hair is more a "young person" thing and as an older, more mature professional, long hair is just unseemly).

I've heard similar discussion about whether overweight women should keep their hair short (I'm a tich more vague as to what the actual reasoning is here...)

My own stance on this is that one of the few actual "perks" of being a grown up is that no one can dictate to you how you should wear your hair. If you're 40 and want to rock braids, more power to you. Fifty and want to die your hair neon green? As long as you won't get fired for it, what the hell? Does anyone remember Granny from the Tweety & Sylvester cartoons? Her hair was always in a bun. And you can't very well make a bun from short hair.

As long as it is clean and styled nicely, a "professional woman" should be allowed to have hair of any length she wants and not be considered less of a professional. Hell, most of the over 40 IT dudes I know have ponytails (we won't talk about their lack of hair on top of their heads).

Another nightmare for professional women is going gray... while gray hair allegedly makes men look "more distinguished" it can work against a woman. For the most part older women are generally viewed as less attractive and less productive than their younger colleagues. I've noticed in interviews that I am often the oldest person in the room by 15-20 years. I have noticed in "cattle call" type interview situations where a bunch of people show up for the interview equivalent of speed dating, that women who LOOK older (either evidenced by gray or salt-and-pepper hair or perhaps more than just a few facial wrinkles) always seem quickly eliminated. While it is certainly possible that they didn't have the qualifications, it is more likely that they weren't the "image" the employer was looking for (young, vital, perhaps "eye candy"?)

To sum up.. the colour and length of one's hair should be a matter of personal preference. We should be looking beyond what is on the outside and focusing on what skills people bring to the table. Which may be solely my opinion... and that's the long and the short of it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Year End = Busy

Despite what many people think, "tax time" begins way before April 15th. Especially when you own/work for a small business. At the end of the year, beginning of a new year, there are reconciliations to do, documents to gather and files to audit. All of which I am working on at my new job.

I have to say, the new job keeps me very busy. Which I like. It also makes me worn out by the end of the day and I have to say my housework hasn't been done in AGES because I am just way too exhausted by the workday.

Still, I enjoy the job, so I am not complaining. It's probably a good thing I'm not married because my husband would probably be pretty ticked off right about now... (then again, if he was married to me, he'd be used to cooking his own dinner and washing his own clothes so maybe it wouldn't be an issue... or maybe I'd find a man who thought maid service was a good idea (and if I were married, there would be no "servicing" of the maid by my husband!

But, I'm not married so there is no ticked off husband AND no maid service. Such is life in the world of MsCleanslate.

I suppose I should head to bed so I can be productive tomorrow. No rest for the wicked and all that!