March 12 - December 31, 2017
March 12, 2017
» "...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.
August 6, 2017
» not so much "Plan B" as it is "Plan 50 20"
Recapping key happenings that led up to my new job:
- In late 2016, with our contract expiration in sight, my employer began urging us to explore other options. This -- along with a strong desire to part ways with my manager [see previous entry] -- propelled me from casually glancing at the "help wanteds" to actually updating my résumé and applying.
- I haven't counted, but I guess-timate that I applied to an average of one opportunity every week, over a span of five months.
- With the bulk of my company's work set to be completed by summer 2017, in late April I was cut to part-time status, to be in the office only three days per week.
- The week after I was made part-time was the first of four in which I had interviews. Those companies all suggested that we meet on my days off... although they didn't know I was free on those days. And since I was interviewing on my days off, I didn't have to use any vacation time, or burden my current employer with last-minute call outs.
- The first company I talked to -- I'll call them "ABC" -- seemed like the ideal fit: I had good rapport with my two interviewers (who would also be my supervisors), and the work they described was almost identical to what I'd been doing for the past five years.
- I was applying for positions that I deemed "a good fit," and from the multiple responses I received, I guess I chose well. After the interviews, I was convinced that any of those jobs would've been fine, even though none struck me as a clear, "This is IT!" Plus, there were a few disconnects in which the person setting up the interview and I evidently got off on the wrong foot. For example, one human resources agent asked me to call and let her know when I had emailed my application, but when I did a few hours later, her tone was distant, as if I was being pushy. (For doing what she asked! GRR!!)
- Throughout my search, I seriously considered changing career paths. I was drawn to a recurring ad for help at the library, but it was a minimum wage position in addition to being a long drive from where I live. Plus, I preferred to build on the experience I had, instead of starting back completely at "square zero."
- Meanwhile at my current job, the good supervisor announced that he would be leaving in mid-May. I fretted, wondering what other positive, reasonable, well-spoken manager would be available to give me a reference.
- I took the other rejections in stride because I was counting on a job offer from ABC; when they sent word that they'd chosen someone else, I could see my last hope fading away. I pity-partied that apparently I require an opportunity with absolutely no competition.
- At the beginning of my job search, I started writing a list of my (many!) duties with instructions for my coworkers on doing them in my absence. I worked on it sporadically due to interruptions, not to mention frustrations about the ever-growing list, and how best to present it. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that it was something I needed to do, to "do right" by the company and leave them with that information. In the fifth week of my part-time status, I put forth a concentrated effort and completed a serious first draft.
- The next day, ABC called again about a job opening I hadn't seen: maintaining an archive (a.k.a. "library") of technical documents. One of my previous interviewers thought of me and wanted to discuss it. What job seeker could resist such an invitation? Of course, I agreed to meet.
- The day of the interview, I began my traditional preparation, in which I describe how my experience meets their requirements. But as I looked at the job description they sent me, I could see why no one was applying; despite the job title, the duties they outlined were so technical that I didn't even know where to start. In fact, I almost called and cancelled, convinced that I wasn't the one for them. But I didn't. I mean, we had already spoken, so surely they didn't think I secretly had computer engineering skills, or something...? (And, heck, as I tweeted, "A long shot is better than no shot!")
- Also, the day of the interview, I was late! Which is *so* not me. I'm generally very early for everything -- except when it's got life-changing implications. :slapsforehead: When I arrived, my previous interviewer came out to glare at me. I feebly apologized, and he graciously offered that he thought traffic was bad. I briefly agreed, we moved on, and no more was said about it.
- On the bright side, there was almost nowhere for the interview to go but up. And up it went -- way up! The second interviewer was super-nice, and he shared that my previous interviewer "was impressed" with me. (I thought, "Um, so impressed that you didn't hire me before?" But I immediately countered that with, "No worries -- this job is better!") My meager preparation added a key point or two to my answers. The interviewers even proposed that they could train me on what I didn't know: I had wanted to suggest that, but I didn't know if *they* would buy it!
- The next day -- May 26 -- ABC called and offered me the job. I accepted and we agreed I would start in two weeks.
A series of fortunate events? Sure, some people would say it's all just coincidence. (Some people would say the same if a warehouse full of airplane parts exploded and produced a perfectly functioning airplane. ;-) I can attest that some of those "events" felt decidedly less than fortunate while I was in them, and I admit I slipped into despair, more than once. But I'm thankful that, looking back, I'm able to see the pieces come together, and I'm posting about it here to be a much-needed reminder for me to look for the big picture... or should I say, the big plan.
November 10, 2017
» all roads lead to spoilerville
A public service announcement re: spoilers...
After abandoning broadcast television in favor of re-watching DVDs of beloved shows from the past, spoilers became a non-issue for many years.
When I began to want variety and branched out to DVDs of series I hadn't seen, I found myself in uncharted territory. My previous experience following a new show on the Internet involved waiting after each airing for some industrious fan to write and post recaps, reviews, etc. Now, extensive episode guides are already available online... and I need them more than ever, because I usually watch with my family, and we tend to miss critical exposition because one of us is talking.
The big disadvantage -- as you may have guessed from the theme of this entry -- is spoilers. Of course, I know to avoid common sources, such as summaries and commentary for episodes I haven't seen. But I've found spoilers lurking where I never suspected...
December 31, 2017
» a year in review - 2017
1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
been classified as "IT support," changed careers with no time gap between, climbed more stairs than ever before, found myself in the vicinity of a possible active shooter situation -- thankfully a false alarm, memorized the list of books of the Old Testament, occupied an office (i.e. cubicle) not on the ground floor, participated in a digital interview, removed a lizard from indoors, saw a show at the new Cineplanet theater, used predictive text, watched a snake travel from limb to limb five feet off the ground, witnessed NASA's Super-Guppy in flight
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
For 2017, I planned "to look for something positive in my real life situations." I did that... but not nearly enough. I repeatedly lost sight of the positive altogether.
For 2018, inspired by Psalm 119:37, my goal is to seek out and spend more time on what "adds value" to my life.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
yes, several family friends :*(
5. Where did you travel?
only to local cities that I've visited before
6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
my own home
7. What date or event from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 21, the day of the "Great American Eclipse." How can I forget it when I often hear songs from the eclipse playlist?
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The duties at my new job are very straightforward and there's plenty to be done, and so I am the most productive I've been at any job for years.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I spent much way too much time in a "bad headspace," almost certainly triggered by overthinking.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
only mild recurrences of existing ailments
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased several storage and decorative pieces, with the best (arguably) being a chest of drawers.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
the people who hired me!
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
sadly, my own, with recurring bouts of a mood so changeable I felt a kinship with Dr. Jekyll... and sometimes Mr. Hyde
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
the answer to a long-time prayer request
16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
"Reverse" by Greg Sykes. Also, "Sometimes He Comes In The Clouds" by Steven Curtis Chapman, particularly the line "Sometimes our faith can only grow when we can't see..."
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
Happier or sadder? happier, because although #9 and #13 weighed me down, #33 and #39 lifted me up, up, up!
Older or wiser? wiser... at least in the sense of #33
Thinner or fatter? about the same
Richer or poorer? about the same
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
20. Did your heart break?
Yes. But, then again, it seems I had *some* sort of emotional reaction to nearly everything this year!(!!)
21. How did you spend Christmas?
My mom, sister and I opened our gifts around nine-thirty, after I set up our twenty-year-old, low-frills video camera. I took pictures of our unwrapped gifts, and we cleaned up. We had a light, early lunch and headed over to spend the afternoon on a lovely visit with my cousin and his family. Back home, we enjoyed Christmas music on the radio.
22. How are you spending New Year's Eve?
After breakfast -- and brunch ;) -- I went to church. After lunch, I finished these questions and posted them on-line. Since evening service has been cancelled, the fam and I will probably watch DVDs, and then ring the new year in as we typically do: sleeping. We're hopeful that today's arctic blast will thwart the neighbors' usual sleep-delaying holiday fireworks.
23. What was your favorite TV program?
I still don't watch any current programs, opting instead for DVDs. This year, I expanded my collection to include a series I'd never seen: The Nanny. I also rediscovered a fave from years past: Murder, She Wrote.
24. What were your greatest food discoveries?
French toast made with wheat French bread from the Walmart bakery. Plus, at long last, I identified what I consider the "classic" spices for soup: mustard seed, celery seed, and onion powder.
25. What was the best book you read?
Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young is what comes to mind of the ones I started to work my way through
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
WDZK, a new radio station whose country music mix from back when -- and WAY back when -- introduced me to my new theme song (ha!), "Walk Me Down the Middle" by The Band Perry
27. What did you want and get?
a new employer, and a shorter commute
28. What did you want and not get?
I didn't get the answers I was looking for to my Big Questions... but I got the ones I needed, which is even better!
29. What was your favorite film?
I saw two films in the theatre -- Lego Batman, Thor: Ragnarok -- and liked them both, although neither earned a place on my "favorites" list.
30. What did you do on your birthday?
I attended the morning service at church. Since I was pressed for time, lunch was one of my favorite frozen meals: Lean Cuisine's Butternut Squash Ravioli. I purchased some MP3s of CCM and put away the items I'd bought previously, after taking the requisite photo of my "gifts." I returned to church, where my fellow choir members sang the happy birthday song to me during practice. After the evening service, I went to pay my respects at the funeral home.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
if the work I'm paid to do was less routine... and felt more meaningful
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
My new place of employment is a slightly more formal office -- no more wearing jeans every day -- and so I modified my wardrobe accordingly.
33. What kept you sane?
At exactly the right moment, God opened my eyes to something pivotal that I've been missing.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
A character from a TV show: John Casey from Chuck. Also, earlier this year, I was reminded that I adore John Waite's voice, and for weeks, I scoured YouTube for songs of his I hadn't heard.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
My state's special election made national headlines with its antics. :facepalm: After so much badness, we *all* lost, as far as I'm concerned.
36. Who did you miss?
Sean and Jessica from my old job, and, from my current job, my boss, who has been on sick leave since August
37. Who was the best new person you met?
the seven people in the department I joined
38. What changed the most in your life this year?
Change abounded for me in 2017. Accepting a new job (naturally) included adjustments -- new responsibilities, office, co-workers, daily routine, etc. Elsewhere in my personal life, there's the "pivotal" development mentioned above. (See #33... with my apologies for being so cryptic, for now.) In the community, our thirty-year-old Madison Square Mall was demolished.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
When you find yourself mentally and emotionally in the strangest place ever, you can mope about how you "don't even recognize" your life, or you can learn to be thankful to God for the clean slate, a desperately-needed "reset."
40. A quote that sums up your year:
"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)
N A V I G A T E
F O O T · N O T E D
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