Category: work

I go there, they pay me.

“…shall I speak at this?” you bet your sweet bippy

Recently, a coworker made inappropriate remarks, and although he was sent packing, the rest of us had to endure a crash course in sensitivity. As we sat in the course, I marveled at the hypocrisy of it all: a worker bee gets called on the carpet (and rightly so, from the few details that were provided), and yet, the main manager at our location gets away with his repeated angry tantrums.

Said manager, who was leading the training(!), repeatedly insisted that we should speak up if we see incidents of harassment. An associate took the opportunity to casually approach the topic of angry outbursts, and the manager’s response was dismissive: “Well, yeah, some people do blow off steam…”  Later, the associate and I agreed that such verbal abuse should be as off-limits as physical violence.

Lest anyone should think that my coworkers and I are simply too sensitive, I understand that, whenever people spend time together, there will be disagreements and moments of lost temper. But, from where I sit, the manager’s overreactions are so far, so unnecessarily far beyond that. No matter how calm his co-conversationalist remains, he can be counted on to dissolve into a contempt-filled rage, and when such an onslaught is directed at me, I’m left feeling as if I’ve been utterly stomped on.

Having more than once been the target of the boss’s aggression, not long after the meeting, I realized there would never be a better chance to voice my feelings. I caught up with the manager. “Continuing the thoughts in our training, for the record, when someone yells at me, I *do* feel ‘humiliated’ and ‘disrespected.'” He asked if he ever made me feel that way, and I responded affirmatively. I added that I can accept correction, and I can accept criticism, but “just tell me. No need to shout.” It was a very civil exchange, and he said he appreciated me letting him know. I was proud of myself for speaking up, and I felt I had made peace with the situation.

The next day, the manager joked(?) that I had “given him a complex.” Well, if that means I brought some enlightenment, that’s a good thing, in my book — and long overdue. Reflecting on his apparent surprise at my reaction to his shouting, I’ve wondered whether I should share two more for-the-records: (1) I don’t know of anyone who responds well to such unbridled anger, and consequently (2) I can’t think of a single situation that would be made better by it. (I truly boggle that this has never come up in his twenty-plus years as a manager.)

As I said, I’m proud of myself for taking the opportunity to speak up. Has it changed anything? It’s hard to say. It’s not as if there was an ugly incident every day, or even every week. In any case, even if the anti-harassment emphasis was just a show for damage control, to learn that I really can speak up is empowering. Who knows, if there is another incident, maybe I’ll call it out…without waiting to be asked.

a year in review – 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
We opened our Christmas gifts on December 26. Also, I used “cloud” storage, although technically, I’ve done this for years with my email accounts.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2016, I said that I would try to “bloom where planted.” My success rate was maybe seventy percent.
For 2017, I made an effort late in 2016 to focus on the positive; I achieved that largely through getting lost in a favorite song, movie or TV show, probably because, when I look at my real world, I don’t see much worth focusing on. But, knowing that we see what we seek, I plan to look for something positive in my real life situations.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no… but we sure lost a lot of celebrities

5. Where did you travel?
one day trip, to tour the Rosenbaum House by Frank Lloyd Wright

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My biggest dream is still to own a home. If I can get closer to that in 2017, that would be awesome. (This year, I did have the slightest inkling toward a plan/direction; hopefully this is the start of “getting closer”!)

7. What date or event from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
my boss’s frequent tirades, including an episode that occurred one hour before our company Thanksgiving lunch

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
finishing a website project that I’ve been working on for over three years

9. What was your biggest failure?
being a basket case for months when yet another new ailment — arguably the most disturbing one so far — appeared

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Oh, yes! In addition to the aforementioned disturbing new ailment, the worst cold/sinus/crud (plague?) I’ve had in years that started last December lingered well into 2016.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
hired someone to clear our large, overgrown yard

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The yard workers’. They labored almost eleven hours in one day, even cleared up a big mess left by a previous worker. The yard looked amazing, and my faith in hiring people was restored.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
again this year, my boss’s, whose antics — I realized — often border on “bullying”

14. Where did most of your money go?
household expenses

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
my mother’s release from the hospital

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
probably “Smoke Break” by Carrie Underwood, because work was often *just* that bad

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? … I honestly can’t decide.
Older or wiser? both?
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
found some perspective

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
been selfish

20. Did your heart break?
yes, when my latest ailment felt like the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back

21. How did you spend Christmas?
Two days before, my mother’s routine doctor visit revealed that her heart was out of rhythm, and I took her to be admitted to the hospital. She was still there on Christmas, so the day was definitely not our traditional holiday. Fortunately, she was released the next day, and we had our celebration then.

22. How are you spending New Year’s Eve?
Working on these questions. Later, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. (At least, we’ll attempt to sleep, because the neighbors usually go overboard with fireworks.)

23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don’t watch any broadcast shows, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include two “newer” series: Chuck and Once Upon a Time.

24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
Bird’s Eye’s “Flavor Full – Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper Brussels Sprouts.” No longer can I say that I hate Brussels sprouts!

25. What was the best book you read?
Again this year, IIRC, I only read Christian periodicals. However, listening through the Bible on mp3, I’m almost finished with the Old Testament… and hearing it read is highly recommended, unless you have a degree in pronouncing long, Hebrew names. 😉

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I rediscovered The Sound of Madness by Shinedown.

27. What did you want and get?
job opportunities worth applying for

28. What did you want and not get?
a new job

29. What was your favorite film?
Captain America: Civil War

30. What did you do on your birthday?
My mother and I took a trip that I’ve talked about for years: visiting the Rosenbaum House, by Frank Lloyd Wright. Following the tour, we beat the lunch crowd at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina to enjoy the mahi mahi tacos (tacos). We stopped at the Florence Mall, where Bath and Body Works saved me some $$ by not having a single one of the fragranced lotions that I was looking for. Back home, I adjusted a few settings, and for the first time since a Windows 10 update that took two-and-a-half days(!!), I was able to use my computer again. In the evening, Mom and I watched the movie Home Fries.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if, while I’m having to be strong for everyone, someone could be strong for me

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Lazy. With all the stress at work, most of the time my attitude was, “Eh, who is there to impress??”

33. What kept you sane?
To see, perhaps as never before, some pieces falling into place, and to understand that even the bad things are playing their part. (As Garth Brooks sings, “I guess the Lord knows what He’s doin’ after all…”)

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Sebastian Stan as both the Winter Solder in the Captain America film series and as Jefferson on Once Upon a Time

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
The election. I cannot recall two candidates for whom I’ve been less inclined to vote. As small consolation, it was gratifying that the media was inescapably confronted by how out-of-touch and one-sided their reports have become.

36. Who did you miss?
Speedy, our cat, has been MIA for several weeks. 😦

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Brittney, the hairdresser, who asks questions instead of accepting my brief, general requests

38. What changed the most in your life this year?
I’ve got the shortest hair since first grade.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Just because you feel it doesn’t make it real. Feelings aren’t a satellite dish receiving signals of eternal truth. Feelings come from beliefs. Change the beliefs and the feelings change.” Eric Barker, observer dot com (This is a lesson I heard and believe… but I hope I’ve truly learned it.)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“If you opened my heart, you’d see I don’t have it all together.
If you took me apart, you’d see the worst of me wants to get better.
But You’re changing me, piece by piece
Into who You’re really callin’ me to be.”
~ “A Little Closer” by Group 1 Crew

those things I do, 2015 edition

Has it really been four years since I’ve written one of these? Hmm, I seem to recall passing thoughts of such a post each of the past three years, but more pressing to do’s got in the way. Truth be known, I probably wouldn’t have done this one had I not been on vacation from work this past week. Anyway! Here are some of the things occupying my time.

* enduring changing conditions at work. In January, the boss I’ve had for the 2.5 years at my current company retired. His former second-in-command took the reigns, and for several months, it was the nightmare I had feared. To say the least, the new boss is a micromanager, and his default state of impatiently oozing with sarcasm was only made worse by his promotion. I was to the point where I was regularly checking the job listings, because to think of staying indefinitely with that man in that highly negative environment was too much to bear. But I found out in September that our contract was only renewed until March of next year. Although the higher-ups express confidence that we’ll get another renewal, I’m not counting on that. In any case, I decided that – as things have calmed down a bit – I’ll at least try to make it through the end of this year. Can’t quit before I get all of my vacation and holidays, right? 😉

* mentally projecting myself elsewhere. From a recent letter to my friend Michele: “Thank you, thank you, thank! you! for the b-day graphic with Tom Hiddleston. If seeing the trailer for the movie you mentioned reminded me of him, the suggestion of running away to Bali with him has (happily!) planted him front and center in my thoughts. Plus it has been giving me much-needed mental escapes since I first saw the b-day graphic. Back at work on the second, I was so inspired that I did a Bali image search and changed my work computer background to support my daydreams. I imagine myself standing on that balcony, in that beautiful, exotic, romantic place. I’m looking out at the scenery; he’s standing behind me with his arms wrapped around me, and I feel so protected, and relieved that he’s taken me away from all the stress and bad mojo at work. :sighs dreamily:”

* chewing carefully. I’ve been having sporadic pain in one of my molars when I chew a certain way. During my dental cleaning earlier this month, I mentioned this pain, and in his inspection, the dentist spied a crack under the filling. Last week I went for a temporary crown, with plans to go back for the permanent in a couple of weeks.

* reading carefully and carefully considering my diet. I’m still dealing with the eye symptoms that started back in November of 2013. It (eye strain?) tends to flare up after long sessions of reading/computer time, and so I’ve continued pacing myself, taking breaks and cutting out “extra” reading. My side (gall bladder?) issues have also continued, but have also been pretty mild, and I like to think it’s because I’ve made a concerted effort to eat as nutritiously as possible… well, as is possible without spending a fortune of $$ or an excessive amount of time researching and planning exactly what “nutritious” means.

* making sure Aldi gives me the sale price. I’ve been going to the Aldi grocery store near work almost every week for well over a year. I’ve been loving their low prices, but recently I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in which the additional markdowns noted on the shelf don’t make it into the cash register. My response is to hold such items to the end of my order, and as the cashier reaches for it, I quiz, “Are these the ones that are (insert sale price here)??”

* desperately seeking new music. This time last year, the 80’s and 90’s music radio station that I’ve enjoyed for several years started to play Christmas music full time. Alas, when that ended, they changed their format to country music. My sister defaulted the living room radio back to the repeat-o-songs station we had previously, but their non-variety has irked me more than it did before. I guess, having heard some actual variety, I’m not ready to give it up. So I’ve been exploring other options. I’ve downloaded quite a bit of the free music Amazon has to offer, plus I discovered that we have a local jazz station. (Jazz is SO calming on my way into work. :big smile: )

* possibly closing in on a decent way to wear my hair. Years ago, I worked with a lady who shared that she would be going the next day to a hair appointment. With delight, she declared that she would then be “lookin’ decent.” That phrasing struck a chord with me: it sounded humble and yet attainable, although for me, the quest remains. But I refused to accept that the only styling option for my latest lackluster ‘do was a helmet-y mom bob, and I ventured to try some techniques that were brand new to me. And at least twice I have *loved* the results. Unfortunately, the aforementioned techniques involve a lot of dumb luck, and now the challenge has become replicating a love-able (read “decent”) look. Fortunately, I have a picture! I will call in professional help if I need to. And if my attempts in the mean time look a bit weird, I shrug happily that I like it better than my previous Bowl Head, and I put my hand on my hip, hold my head up, and carry on as if I meant for it to look this way. (For you Buffy fans, as a confidence-booster, I tell myself, “I wear the hair: it does not wear me.” XD )

* tried in vain to build a dream. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly on this blog, my long-time dream is to build my own home. Earlier this year, I took the first steps by talking to a builder and a bank, but I ran into a brick wall, and I’m sad to report that it wasn’t the one that I envision as a focal wall in the sitting area by the new kitchen. I was bummed out… devastated, actually … about it for quite a while, until I accepted that this simply wasn’t the right time. In retrospect, I realized that to continue the way it had been going would have meant settling. I definitely need to think more about what I want, and now I can do so more intelligently, with what I learned in this initial effort.

* waiting on people to do what they say they will. (Grr!) Before Memorial Day, we noticed that our roof was leaking by the chimney. A lot. (No doubt due to the fact that, while in the attic, you could look up next to the chimney and see daylight.) I contacted the roofer. Six to eight weeks later, a guy shows up and works on it. Still leaking! I texted the roofer again – as this seems to be the only way to get through to him – and he immediately responded with apologies… and then weeks went by with no word. I finally texted again. In early November, the guy finally came out again, and his patch job seemed to have worked… until my Mom just reported that she sees another leak. :pulls hair out:

* finally(!) getting back to website work. Much of my free time has been spent working on the new layout for my so-called personal site. I didn’t realize how much I had missed my website hobby, but I’m so glad to be back at it, even if I must do so gradually to avoid aggravating the eye issues mentioned earlier in this post. Actually, having to take my time on it has turned out to be a blessing, too, because it’s giving me a chance to consider my options for each step. Hopefully, if this continues, whenever I do finish it, I know it won’t be perfect, but I can feel as if the final project is complete, the result of a good effort.

Now, where did THAT come from?

Earlier this week, I was having lunch at my desk, as I often do. Boss #2 stopped by to contribute some work-related info (which is, of course, the downside in lunching at one’s desk), but as he turned to go, he spied my sandwich. He asked, “Is that ciabatta bread? Did you bake that?” Yes, it was ciabatta bread, but no, I definitely didn’t bake it… and even now, I’m curious as to what inspired that question. While I can cook, I’m far from being a culinary legend, and I consider bread-baking something done by unearthly people like Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart. In any event, I decided to take it as a compliment.

The day after the previous incident, I was at Wal-Mart (looking for more ciabatta bread for which I could take baking credit). A fellow customer gets my attention and queries, “Do you have any idea where I would find anchovy paste?” Something about the phrase “anchovy paste” really turns my stomach, but I rose above it and thought for a moment, trying to be helpful. “Might it be with the canned meats?” The lady responded that she hadn’t thought of that, and off she went. I was left to wrap my head around the fact that I – apparently – I look like someone familiar with disgustingly-named fish products.

Also this week, the water cooler at work would not dispense cold water, so I called our water-cooler-unit supplier. It would be the next day before the service guy could come out, but the office lady suggested that I “unplug it, wait an hour and plug it back in.” So… just so I’m understanding the situation here: I need to reboot the water cooler?! (FYI, I was desperate, so I tried it. Didn’t work.)

Last Sunday at church, everyone was meeting and greeting after the evening service. I stopped to shake hands with our newest deacon. After our hellos, he proceeds, “Now, your husband – does he go to church here?” I admit, that question took me so by surprise that I was completely at a loss for how to respond. Fortunately the pastor’s wife was one step away, and she informed the deacon that I don’t have a husband. Recovering, I agreed: nope, no husband. The deacon was all, “Oh, well, we’ll have to work on that,” and turned to speak to someone else. Was he embarrassed and trying to change the subject? I hope not. I don’t feel insulted; I just wonder what led him to think that I’m married, since he’s been attending church there for several years. I had recently posted a message at Facebook, welcoming my boyfriend to the site, and I tried to recall if that deacon was a friend there… but I don’t think he is, actually. :shrug:

Speaking of Jeff joining Facebook, it’s just another sentence in the story of a guy and a girl… in the age of social media. He joins FB back in April of 2011, finally tells me about it two years later, and then his dad sends me a friend request…? His dad’s a nice guy, and I don’t write anything at FB (or on-line, really, knowing that a FB friend with time on his hands could follow what I’ve posted there and wind up here :waves to FB friends:) that’s not fit for public viewing, so I accepted the request. But nagging thoughts emerged. “Did I take too long to respond to the request?” “Will he critique what I’ve written?” “What happens to our friendship status if Jeff and I break up??” Sigh. I’m not sure I’m cut out for the nuances of modern-day relationships…

In other news, I’m busy, busy, busy, as I keep finding things to do. Now that the growing season is here, yard chores constantly beckon, so I’ll have even less time for my fun computer hobbies. (:frowny face:) Plus, I’ve been trying to get organized around the house, because my severe case of “stuff-itis” is starting to stress me out. And at work, the projects keep piling up, so much so that I’m starting to identify strongly with one of my colleagues; she had accepted a position with more responsibility, and after being asked if she was starting to get caught up, she said with resignation, “I have the feeling I’ll never be caught up on anything ever again.” Sigh, again.

work wah wahs

After last week ended on such a high note at work – namely getting a compliment from one of the bosses on my performance in a meeting – this week started out in a deep pit, as an error that our team collectively overlooked came to light.

They told me clearly at the start of these projects, “XYZ is your part of the effort.” So I’ve been diligently working on the so-called My Part. Last week’s mistake was in the part of the project that was supposed to come to me already done. I’m not trying to make excuses… or maybe I am, a little bit. I feel so defensive about this because, somehow, it seems like everything that goes wrong is made to be my fault.

For example, when I asked a question earlier this week about some work that was passed on to me, the first thing the boss says is, “Well, so-and-so isn’t an expert in this.” Okay, A) neither am I (even close to being) an expert, and they’ve been doing it longer than I, and B) My question wasn’t intended to point out anyone’s “lack of expertise.” I was simply trying to learn what I’m supposed to do. See point A.

And on a teleconference yesterday, the boss said to me specifically, “Is there anything else we can do to help you… understand?” I felt like replying, “Am I somehow conveying that I DON’T understand?” Apparently the boss mistook my listening politely to the others rambling on as a sign that I was not following the conversation. (Note to self, next meeting say “AMEN!” whenever anyone else makes a point.) It seems like, while everyone else is supposed to be so much more experienced – just ask them! – when they make a mistake it gets excused. It also seems as if the advances I make, such as last week’s good meeting, are not as important as my general (and rampant, in their eyes) lack of knowledge.

Compounding my frustration on this is that, except for last week’s compliment and the occasional “good catch” after I bring up a point, I have no idea how my bosses think I’m doing. Despite my griping above, I really do like the work, at least most of the time. I’d like to ask for some feedback, but I’m afraid that if I try to bring up the points I just listed, it’ll sound like whining… which it pretty much is. Sigh.

Or should I say, “Wah”?

tripping

I’ve been home for a few weeks, so I’m a bit late in recapping my last two business trips, but … oh well! Work-wise, I feel like I’m slowly learning what I need to do, although the boss is still too busy or distracted (or maybe dismayed?) to offer much feedback at this point. :shrug: I carry on.

Anyway, trip “highlights”:

Trip #3 – (Small Town), Kentucky

  • Finally! A destination we could drive to! (Okay, technically we could drive to any of them, but perhaps a road trip from Alabama to Washington state isn’t the most efficient course of action, hmm?)
  • And since we did drive, I was able to take my biggest suitcase, in addition to not have to worry about how many fluid ounces of liquids I was packing.
  • It snowed six inches the first night we were there and though I’ve been to Nebraska in February, that six inches now ranks as the most snow I’ve seen in Real Life. (Yes, I know that’s not a whole lot. And I like it that way.)
  • Thankfully, the Street Department/Road People kept the roads in working order, so we didn’t miss any days of meetings.
  • Even More Thankfully, we were able to delay our first meetings each day by about an hour. An extra hour of sleep = woo hoo! Especially in my new arch-nemesis, the Eastern Time Zone. :glares in that direction:

Trip #4 – Tucson, Arizona

  • Staring down the multiple hours of the trip to our destination – which included a long car ride – I tried Dramamine before the second leg of our flight. And it worked! No travel sickness = woo hoo.
  • The first day of our meetings, in my efforts to find a copier, I was discovered by a decidedly unfriendly man who demanded to know what I was doing in “his” building. I promptly walked the man and his power trip down to the conference room to talk to the boss.
  • The 70-degree Arizona weather was very, very much appreciated, since it was still *cold* back home.
  • It was my first trip to the desert, and I really found the scenery beautiful. One evening I opted out of a social function and walked around the neighborhood near our hotel.
  • On the drive to the airport, someone commented and someone else agreed that the traveling life might be too tempting for young people… and I wondered if they could tell that I had found one of the guys we met with attractive. 😉

Pictures are posted will be posted as soon as I move the photo gallery away from the ad-infestation that is fotki.com.