Monthly Archives: January 2011

Leaving the schmucks (AKA The longest post ever)

You may remember how on Friday I wrote a letter to my store’s owners about their ridiculous and disproportionate response to a single e-mail from a single customer who stated that her average customer service experience at the store was poor. I was upset that one owner’s  response was to call and loudly cuss out the former manager over the phone immediately upon receiving the e-mail before hanging up on her out of anger.

It got better.

The assistant manager, who is a master at wriggling around to avoid any blame for anything and simultaneously avoid doing any actual work, wrote a note on the printed e-mail (that we all had to read) saying that by looking at old receipts she had determined the customer had been shopping all on Friday mornings.

When the e-mail came in.

When I work.

Awesome.

Well, crap.

Of course, this is also when the biggest order of the week comes in, the one that takes 3 of us 6+ hours to unload and process, and so we are more likely to miss a customer than if we were all just standing at the register.

But still, I get it, customer service is key. Fine.

Sunday I get into work (my next day) and am told by the manager she will need to talk to me.

Cue dread in pit of stomach.

I am taken upstairs to a smelly room full of cats and told to sit down at a table across from the new manager. She pulls out the e-mail and Formal Employee Warning paperwork. She tells me that the entire staff on that morning is being disciplined, since the incidents occur when we work. She tells me that I should know that the customer is always the number one priority. That I should be sure I always greet them. That we will be going over customer service 201 soon, about how to say more than “Hi, can I help you?” to customers. She basically told me my entire customer service sucks because they have gotten this e-mail. She says that they often get complaining e-mails that they ignore (about all the locations and everyone, not aimed at me) because they are about one incident, but that the reason this one is being written up is because the customer indicates a pattern of behavior over several visits. She tells me that the Friday shift I work will be broken up, and we will no longer be allowed to work together. Then she asks me if I have anything to say.

At this point I am staring at her in shock, because I can’t believe that one e-mail from one customer is causing me to get a formal warning.

After all of the hard work I have put into greeting every customer, being friendly, helping customers with in-depth problems, making casual conversation at the register, etc, etc.

After all of the business I have sent them from my training.

After all of the pimping of their cats for adoption (something most people neglect because they resent the cats so much).

After all of the extra shifts I have taken, or hours I have worked, just to help everyone out (and because the owner was too lazy and distracted to come and hire the staff we needed to keep the store running).

After working so hard for them for so long for no respect and no benefits and very low pay.

One e-mail from one customer is all that matters.

Not the observations of my coworkers.

Not the common sincere gratitude from the customers I help.

Not my day-to-day performance.

This one e-mail overrules it all.

I say I was there when we got the e-mail. I thought we had done a good job thus far that  morning helping all the customers. I remember one lady who got really upset when I offered to carry her bag, saying she’d just make two trips. Other than that, I have no idea who it could have been. I say I really have nothing to say, because I feel we were doing the best we could.

She asks if there’s anything they can do to help me become more effective at customer service.

I boil inwardly. Outwardly I am composed and say that splitting the Friday shipment into two days (half the shipment will come Tuesday) is helpful. We all have to work very hard to get that order done by the time the former manager and I leave, because when we leave it is just the assistant manager and one other employee, and they have a hard time getting it all done (I didn’t even mention it was because the assistant manager is useless and doesn’t work).

She just looks at me like this is no excuse. Then she explains again that the customer is always most important.

Because after almost a year of working there and constant positive comments from customers, including many who remember me from previous trips and seek me out to thank me upon returning or chat with me, I am completely unaware that the customer is important.

And because I was making an excuse, not answer a question of what could be done to help with the only thing I could think of.

We talk a little more. I don’t remember what was said. I said nothing else of substance. I’m lost in shock at this point. I don’t even know what a Formal Employee Warning is. I’ve never gotten anything like one.

The manager pushes the paper towards me, the paper which states that an e-mail was received saying that customer service was poor, and that the Friday morning staff, who worked during the last visit of the customer, are being reported, including me. She stares at me, waiting for me to sign it.

I realize I have to check “I agree” or “I disagree.” I check “I agree” so they’ll just leave me alone. I don’t want to talk to them anymore. I sign it, numb. I push it back to the manager.

She then fills out what actions will be taken (something she should have done first so I could agree to it). While she is writing I shake my trance a bit and say:

“Wait. I have one more thing I would like to say regarding this incident.

I do not care how angry the store owner was upon receiving this e-mail, I find it unprofessional and disrespectful to call your employee and scream and cuss at them over the phone while calling them names so loudly that I could hear it standing next to them. It is not acceptable, and it does not help anything.”

The manager gives me a fish-eye and says, “What doesn’t it help?”

I stare at her in shock. This needs to be explained?

“You are writing up disciplinary action. You are holding additional training. You are splitting up our shift. If you believe the problem is serious enough, these are all things that could help make it better. Screaming and swearing at someone and calling them names is not going to help in any way.”

She stares at me with the dead-fish look a few long seconds, then says:

“Well, I don’t mean to defend her actions, because I don’t think…well…anyway…maybe not the way to handle it…” She gets ahold of herself and stops fudging around insulting the owner and says assuredly, “But come on, none of you are new employees, and this is all basic stuff.”

I think my mouth may have dropped open. She was defending this behavior? Now I was getting angry, and my calm control started to crack the slightest bit as I said heatedly:

“I am not saying she didn’t have a right to be angry. If she wanted to get mad and throw things and go down the hall and cuss us out to her husband, she had every right to do that. She could be angry. But that does not mean that she could call her employees, scream, yell, personally insult them, and swear at them before hanging up on them. That is not professional, it is not respectful, and it is not appropriate. I don’t care how justifiable her anger, that behavior is never appropriate.”

She eyed me a bit more.

“Well…do you want me to do anything about it?”

“No. There is nothing you can do. I just feel that it needed to be expressed.”

And that was the end of that. She had the paper, I left, sent up the assistant manager, and the two of them talked for about half an hour, leaving me alone on the floor (but still able to watch me out the window they were sitting right by).

And then I had to work with both of them for approximately 5 more hours. With no break. No time to process.

While they were upstairs I texted the other two on my shift and warned them we were all getting formal warnings. At least they wouldn’t be so blindsided.

I was so hurt and frustrated and angry and in shock and I had to completely bottle it up for the next 5 hours until I could go home.

Oh. And those 5 hours?

I was the one who greeted every customer who came through the door and asked if they needed help. And not to prove anything. I was trying to hold back because I was so upset I didn’t really want to deal with customers. But they wouldn’t do it!

Occasionally I would be off with a customer and the manager would have to greet. She would look up from her paperwork after they’d walked in and she hit a good stopping place, give a lukewarm, “Hi,” and look right back down. I don’t think she once asked someone if she could help them when they came in. Only after they’d been in the store awhile and she would hit a good stopping place with her paperwork and happened to be walking by. And this after she told me to say more than just, “Hi, can I help you?” to every single customer who came in. She didn’t even say that.

ARGH.

So that was awful and ridiculous.

If it had been a trend, if they had been getting lots of reports about customer service that would be one thing. This could be the last straw for them. But as far as I know, this is really the first real thing they’ve gotten about us and it. Certainly about any of the three of us specifically. And definitely the first I’ve heard of it.

You cannot punish specific employees for a single comment by a single customer that is about their general experience at the store. At most, this e-mail should have sparked a, “OK, guys, let’s work on this, we’re going to have some extra training, and let’s review what I want you to do with customers,” kind of thing.

But wait. It gets even better.

I went in today. And looked at the receipts they were using to determine that the customer “always came in on Friday mornings.”

Guess what?

Since June, in her last 8 visits, she has been in on Friday ONCE.

One time.

The time that prompted the e-mail, yes. But literally half the things in the e-mail couldn’t have been about our crew, because we know for a fact they weren’t occurring when she was in Friday (things like “there are often lots of things on the counter so I have to take my order to the other side” when we had nothing on the counter at that time of day, it was all still on the floor behind the counter. Also, guess who is notorious for filling the counters? Manager and assistant manager).

And every single other day she was in?

I don’t work.

So even if her visit Friday was sub-par (in her opinion):

1) We are no longer talking about a trend in my work. It is, at most, a single occurrence. Which you said you would not write up a disciplinary action on, and only were because this was a trend.

2) Far, far more than the Friday crew is responsible for her average experience. In fact, the Friday crew had 1/8 effect on it. Every.single.employee contributed to her overall experience at some point (and almost every single one was there to contribute more often than me).

3) Even if Friday was the straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted the e-mail, that in no way implies that Friday was the worst experience. As we all know, the final straw is a tiny one as often as it is a large one.

4) She did not, at all, once, in her letter imply in any way anything about her visit that day. Nothing was mentioned about that day being particularly bad. It was all about her average experience.

In short. There is no way it is justified for me to be written up. Unless every single other employee is also being written up. Including the manager and the assistant manager (who, for the record, is shown to have not only been present, but been the one to check this woman out twice.)

Also, whoever wrote that the receipts showed that she always came in Friday mornings? Is either a royal idiot or lied to avoid culpability. And that angers me.

I went this morning and changed my statement on the official form from “I agree” to “I disagree.” I very professioally said that the woman’s statement was about her average experience, not any specific occurrence, and I have only been present for 1/8 of her experiences in the last 7 months so do not agree this e-mail implicates me above others. Additionally, even if it did, one customer’s opinion is not enough to make a statement about my general customer service, which I do not agree is poor.

Thank god I have very tight control over what emotions I show and am able to write very professionally when needed.

Though when not needed, I may have joked I would burn the place down if I stayed much longer. TOTALLY kidding, authorities. I am a wuss. My idea of “getting even” is to quit without notice. Ooooh! I’m tough!

But I will admit, if it did burn down? I would totally go dance in the ashes.

I am quitting ASAP.

Cannot. Wait.

Glad I was already fed up with them before this whole incident so I had found another job by the time it occurred.

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Dear So & So…

I have some things to share. Let’s get into them.

Dear store owners,

Really, y’all? Really? Could you maybe, just maybe, once in awhile, give a teeny-tiny word of praise? I mean, come on, calling the former manager and, literally, cussing her out (before hanging up on her out of anger) because you got one e-mail from one customer that they didn’t like our service, and faxing over the e-mail and insisting everyone read it while calling the former manager names, is a wee bit over the top. And the things the customer complained about? Not getting greeted, or not getting greeted cheerily enough. Not having someone follow her around asking if she wanted help. And not offering to carry her bag of dog food to her car every time. Now hang on. When I am there almost every single customer gets greeted. I don’t care what’s going on, they’re greeted, warmly, when they’re walked in. The exception is if we’re all with a customer, in which case we just smile. Immediately after, if anyone is available, they are asked if they need help. If we can’t get them right away, we’ll ask them if they look like they’re looking for something. And you know what? Half the time, the customers get annoyed that we’re asking if they need help! And carrying bags to the car? I’m sorry, we’re checking out a bag of food every few minutes. If someone needed help getting it to the counter, we’ll offer to carry it to the car. If they look injured or unable to do it, we’ll ask. If they look perfectly healthy we assume they can do it! Know why? If we offer to do a simple physical task for the average person, they get offended!

So how ’bout this. What if, instead of calling and screaming at the former manager and going completely off your rocker, you calmly called the manager, or assistant manager (or even former manager, if you must) to discuss this. See if they had seen anything like this. Point it out to them. Maybe even throw in a, “I know you guys work hard there (which is why we have you do all of the big orders and send them to the other stores), but this came up so I want you to focus on it.” Ask them if there are any employees they think need to work on it.

Or here’s an idea. Get off your lazy ass and come up here yourself to see how things are going.

Because you know what? Customers have before TOLD us that they sent nice letters/e-mails about us to the owners.

And we have never. once. heard. from you that you received them. If the customers hadn’t told us, we wouldn’t have known. One kind e-mail? Nothing. One nasty e-mail? Extreme rudeness and abuse.

There is only so long a person can keep working hard when they are given no respect, or even acknowledgement for doing so, and yet are constantly yelled at for any slight misstep (or the misstep of someone else).

I am so. sick. of working for you.

Either get your ass up here and work to change things, hire managers that you trust and give them the power and freedom to be able to actually manage (rather than making all decisions go through you), or accept that the store may not be exactly how you want. But when you only come up once every few weeks for an hour or so, and take someone off the floor to go talk with them? You have no. idea how things work around here. So stfu.

Sincerely,

your disgruntled employee (if you can think of her, since she matters less than the damn cats)

*********************************************************************

Dear OB,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today and talk to me about what I can do to get ready for pregnancy. There were some med changes we needed to discuss, and I appreciate you meeting with me to do so, even though I’m not pregnant.

However, I’m sorry, but you have pretty much convinced me that I do not want to birth with you.

Maybe it was the way I felt guilty for taking your time (during an appointment I scheduled and paid for). How it felt like you had somewhere more important to be, and I almost lost the courage to ask you my questions. How you were paged by someone else, and told them you’d call them back in a minute once you got out of this patient room (less than 5 minutes after walking in). I did get good information out of you, but I only got to ask about half of the questions I wanted to, and even those were a push.

Maybe it was the way we were very much in a “because I said so” environment, with you saying things like “Go off of this.” End of story. And I was so rushed and trying to make sure I got all my questions in, I didn’t even think to ask, “Why?” No informing of risk or benefit, just “Do this, don’t do that.”

Maybe it was the way you had a woman in labor, but you weren’t with her. You were prescribing procedures over the phone…without being there. I have no idea how close this one was to birth, but I’m guessing you’ll just be racing over there once she is fully dilated and effaced and desperate to push, like you did last time I saw you. Which would make sense if she was down the hall…but she’s not.

Maybe it was how, when at the end I got up the courage to ask if your patients often had birth plans and how you felt about them, you gave the infamous, “Oh yeah, a lot of my patients have birth plans. But you know, if you’re rigid about it, you’ll be certain to have a c-section. It’s Murphy’s Law, that’s how it works. The women who have strict birth plans always end up with c-sections.” Which, roughly translated, means, “Oh sure, you can tell us what you want. And then when you’re in labor and have no power or option to change providers, we’ll tell you what we want. And be unsupportive of your preferences once we’ve stated ours. And then we’ll wait until you’re tired from labor and from fighting us and just give up, and whisk you into an “emergency” c-section at that point.” Saying a women who is rigid about her birth plan always ends up with a c-section just means that you don’t think it is possible to birth without interventions, because if you thought it was, there would be no reason to go against the birth plan and women would be able to be “rigid” and be successful at least sometimes. And really? Women go to midwives all the time with birth plans. Strict ones. I mean, heck, the no pain meds is strict just because there usually aren’t any at a birth center/home. And the vast, vast majority of those women get the birth they want…without a c-section. A midwife has no problem saying, “You need to go to a hospital now,” or, “I’m sorry, but the baby’s in distress, we need a c-section.” But they try everything else first. Because their goal is not to get you in, delivered, and out. Their goal is to help you get the birth you want if at all possible, but still to keep you safe and be realistic. I understand you have to be flexible, because you never know what will happen in your labor, in your birth, or even how you’ll feel at the time. But I think I’d rather a provider who views my birth plan as our goal, rather than my goal.

You have been a great GYN. I just don’t think I want an OB.

your kind-of patient

*********************************************************************

Dear tutoring center-

I am very excited to be working for you :-D I hope this leads to good things. And I’ve got to say, the e-mail checking on if I’d gotten things to work out timing-wise, saying that you’d be willing to move things if needed because you really want me as a tutor at your organization? Made me feel quite good. :-D

Hope I live up to your expectations! And I hope that my number of hours increase relatively rapidly, so I can leave the pet store.

your future employee

*********************************************************************

Dear agility-

Thanks so much for letting me swap classes. It is really quite awesome. And it let me take a teaching/tutoring job that I’m hoping will develop into something great.

Y’all rock.

Hope I don’t hold up the new class too much :P

your faithful student

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Singing with your hands

Tulpen at Bad Words, who is a fucking awesome momma to her Deaf son, recently put up a few super awesome videos. On of her Deaf son having his first phone conversation with a Deaf friend from school, and one of what I assume is an ASL student interpreting Cee Lo’s Fuck You (a great motivating song for getting out of bed in the morning on shitty days!) Go check her out and check them out!

In return, I felt the need to share some of my favorite ASL videos with her.

First, this masterpiece entitled “First of May.” I love not only how he managed to put it so nicely into ASL, quite difficult for music, but the background singers. (PS This is NSFW if you have speakers)

Second, this great rendition of Ice Ice Baby, which so nicely illustrates the differences between ASL and SEE signing.

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Holy CRAP!

I know, feminine title, right?

I don’t even care. Guess what just happened?

I’ve been getting sick of my pet store job and the complete lack of respect we are shown. And you all know I’ve been feeling purposeless and frustrated at the holding pattern my life is currently in because I won’t stop whining about it. So last night I started looking through the education job listings on Craigslist. I did this when I first quit my engineering job, but then I had no recent teaching experience so no one was interested. Since then I’ve tutored my friend’s daughter (and occaisionally her friend) and tutored online, so now I have something to put on a resume.

On Craigslist I found a great looking teaching/tutoring job only 10 minutes away. Part time working with either a group of junior high kids or HS kids one-on-one in math. I came to my computer, prepped my resume specially for it, wrote a cover letter, bit my lip, and sent it off, expecting that to be the end of it for at least a week or two. I put it out of my mind.

Until 19 minutes later, when I received a request for an interview tomorrow or the next day.

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

I need to go try on my old engineering clothes! Those are my professional ones…but I might have outgrown them a wee bit :-P Hope I can piece together an outfit!

Wish me luck!

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Babybabybabybabybabybaby…

Deep, deep in the throes of baby fever.

The hubby and I aren’t quite ready yet. But getting there.

And as we get closer, the desire only gets stronger.

It’s like when I am training a dog not to pull by throwing treats ahead of us and walking towards them only when the leash is slack. Most dogs figure out the game quickly, and will learn to keep their impulses in check as we start out…but as they get closer to that treat it gets harder…and when it’s so close they can almost taste it they almost invariably start pulling as hard as they can again.

I’m pulling as hard as I can on that leash, as my desire for a baby gets stronger and stronger the closer it comes.

I keep wanting to nest. But I don’t have a baby. I am not pregnant. I am not even trying to get pregnant. So I really can’t nest yet.

But I want to.

I keep looking at baby books and wanting to buy them. Ever heard of Sandra Boynton? I love her books! Especially Doggies, which I have totally read out-loud to my hubby in a book store before, with all the appropriate dog noises. We only got a lot of stares. Pshaw. I can’t wait to read that one to a child. (I may possibly have bought a few kids books at Goodwill already, all for older kids, but still!)

I want to start picking out baby clothes. Pieces. There are always clearances at the end of the season, and I want to get things! But have I mentioned I’m not even trying to get pregnant yet? I don’t know when this baby will be born. I can’t really start guessing what kinds of clothes he/she will need at what age. Though I guess everyone does need onesies, no matter what the season…(No, Eileen!)

I want to start making baby blankets. Or baby carriers, like the mei tai I made for my friend, or a ring sling. Making baby stuff is so much fun. But definitely costs money. And carriers are quick, so it’s not like it would help me eat up the time. Blankets are really..slow…so it doesn’t really make me feel like I’m doing much, either.

I have a habit of saving the prep work for something until the event at hand is actually formally occurring. I didn’t buy any lingerie until my hubby and I were formally engaged. I wouldn’t spend the night with my hubby until we were formally married. I wouldn’t buy any college stuff until I had been formally accepted to (and basically chosen) a college. And by saving this up, it makes it even more exciting and fun and wonderful when I do get to do it.

But on the other hand, I’ve been waiting for this for, what feels like, a lot longer. A lot longer of actively wanting, at least. And maybe starting to get ready would help me bide my time better. Help me feel like I was doing something for it, even if not trying to get pregnant.

I think my biggest fear is that I will get things, and get excited, and feel like I’m getting all prepared for my child…and then find out I have fertility issues. And it will be months or years of trying with no success, and all the things I bought just making it harder to accept. It sounds silly, but it’s holding me back.

Plus there’s the whole spending money issue :P I’m not sure what part of the budget “things for theoretical possible future baby” would come out of.

I don’t know. I try to keep myself busy. I try to find purpose in other ways. But at this point, I’m basically biding time in my current life with my current jobs until I am pregnant and can really throw myself into preparations. I don’t want to get too involved in anything new, because I’ll just want to give it up or cut it back when I have a new baby (at least temporarily).

So…I wait. I hang out in limbo. I try to come up with ways to meaningfully occupy my time. But I’m finding those ways are starting to annoy me, too. Like how Companions is doing phenomenal, and I keep having new private clients call me and my basic classes filling up weeks ahead of time (maybe time to open another one!). But I find myself getting annoyed at putting time into it. It’s not where I want to be right now. It’s not what I want to focus on. So it vaguely annoys me.

Or signing. I could totally, logically, throw myself into signing, learning ASL better, maybe taking classes, maybe studying and taking the first part of the certification test. Even when I was pregnant or had a baby I could totally keep that up part-time! But the thought is like an annoying fly I brush away. There’s a lot of detail work to do before I could really start that. And the thought of doing it is a niggling annoyance…so I passively avoid it.

I am not complaining. Life is good. I have a fabulous husband, a good life, lots of freedom, and my health keeps improving. Life is good.

But I am musing. Because I need to come up with another way to view things, so these next months (years?) are not interminable.

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GeekBaby

Y’all *may* have heard me talk about my crazy baby fever. And how it won’t go away. But I can’t act on it yet.

So I find other outlets. Like planning for the future.

And how I am going to outfit my baby entirely in ThinkGeek apparel.

First, though, I’ll be pregnant. So I’ll need maternity clothes.

Then, once the baby comes, he’ll need some outfits.

And baby makes 11…

The hubby and I are just the first draft…

I can have my very own science officer!

 

And then when he’s old enough to eat, look! A gyroscopic bowl! No spills!

 

Isn’t it all awesome? Unleash the inner nerd!

 

ThinkGeek did not in any way pay me or provide me with cool stuff for this post. They have no idea I am writing it. Which makes sense, since they have no idea I exist. I would happily write about them again, though, for free stuff *hint hint* But at this point, they are just providing me with stalling therapy for my lack-of-baby-ness.

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WTHW: Life Insurance Sucks

I just had my exam for getting life insurance. Because, you know, they have to know the odds of me offing myself or otherwise dying so they can lay their bets.

First off, WHAT THE HELL crazy examiner? It took you FOUR F*CKING TRIES to get the vein in my arm! And every! single! one! hurt!!! I have gotten blood draws every few months for the last many years bouncing between specialists trying to figure out WHAT THE HELL is wrong with me, and never once since 7 years ago when I was severely dehydrated from mono has anyone had to try more than once to find my vein. I’M AN EASY DRAW. Also, I don’t even dread the draws anymore because I barely feel them. But this hurt!!! I am not a baby about needles anymore, but OW! She left half an hour ago, and my arm is STILL throbbing and painful!

Also, you want to know a big no-no, examiner? Asking me what dysthymic disorder is and then saying, “Oh, I wonder if everyone has that! ’cause sometimes there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed and go to work!” WHAT THE HELL were you thinking?? Really? Someone has a diagnosed medical condition which severely effects every single day of their life, and you brush it off because you sometimes are lazy or feel crummy? Come on!

And finally, WHAT THE HELL is with your crazy religious conclusions? Twilight came up, and I asked if she had read it. She said no, and launched into a lengthy explanation that she didn’t because Stephanie Meyers was LDS and she’s Mormon, too, and she doesn’t understand why someone of their faith would write about vampires because there’s nothing “light” about vampires, unless they were doing it for money. (Because yes, when she created a whole new genre that didn’t exist yet and didn’t have any kind of teen following, she totally did it because she absolutely knew it would be a hit and she would make so much money from it. Somehow.) I couldn’t help myself, and I asked, “Light?” She said, “You know, lightening, spiritual, uplifting.” I gave her a fisheye. She went on to say, “There’s nothing lightening about vampires.” I tentatively offered, “Well, I think the books are more about overcoming your own personal demons and battles, and finding ways to be moral in the face of any challenges…” at which point she cut me off and said, “Yeah, my nieces told me they don’t drink human blood, only animal blood. I was like, what?? Besides, it doesn’t matter. In the Bible does it ever portray vampires as light? No. My point exactly.” At which point I let things go because you can’t argue with insanity and WHAT THE HELL crazy lady, when something is mentioned in the Bible one way does that mean we can view it or portray it or consider it in any other way again? So I guess stones are just for killing adulteresses, and menstrual cycles are not signs of fertility but something which makes us unworthy of being touched, and hey, come to think of it, in the Bible does it ever portray slavery as evil? No. My point exactly. Slavery, thus, can never be thought of as evil.

ARGH!!!

Glad that is over. And we’re buying the f*cking life insurance, because I don’t want to go through this again.

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Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life, What the Hell Wednesday

RTT: The one where I let others talk for me when I’m not babbling on myself

This week for RTT I’m linking to a bunch of awesome things I’ve come across in addition to my own current rambling randoms. This post could alternately be titled, “How many readers can I alienate by posting things that are controversial?” Promise I’m not trying to be controversial…I just find these things important and/or they were a part of my life and so I legitimately think of them. You have been warned…

I came up with the perfect analogy: A hospital birth is like a Catholic wedding. They have done it a million times, they have their strict rules on how things are done, and they’ll only allow you limited, pre-approved choices within their way to try to pretend they’re making it special for you (i.e. It will open with a prayer, which of these three do you want?).

But you’re really just a number, and a “good” mother/bride is one who goes along with their cookie-cutter process without requesting modifications, doing independent looking into how things are done elsewhere, or asking questions as to why things are the way they are.

If their type of birth/wedding is exactly what you want, then you’re good to go. But if you want anything different, even something that seems minor, you’ll fight for it the whole time up until the big day and then they may change things on you at the last minute, anyway.

I regretted my decision to have a Catholic wedding long before my big day, but for various reasons didn’t feel I could get out of it (and didn’t feel it was worth starting the hassle over). I’m glad I looked into my options for birth before getting pregnant, so I don’t feel trapped into a hospital birth! (PS If anyone ever wants to ask me what I’ve found in my now-extensive research into the area, always happy to share. I’m so glad someone opened my eyes to the possibility and increased safety of a midwife-assisted birth)

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Corey is amazing. She has written many posts that have touched me, but this one is especially close to my heart.

If you know anyone living with depression (and chances are good you do), read this.

I am scared of depression. Scared because it waits like some gray slithery dark thing around the periphery of my life, waits to suck me away, and sometimes I can feel it coming and I fight, fight, FIGHT it and I always wonder, is this the time it’s going to get me for good?

If you fight the horrible monster that is depression, read this.

This is a season. A really sucky one, perhaps, but just a season. And you are going to get through it, and you are going to be okay.

One day at a time. Or one hour. One minute. One second.

Keep swimming.

And if you can’t.. hang on. And keep breathing.

Finally, do you want to know what to say to someone fighting depression? It’s not, “Cheer up, you’ll be fine.” It’s not, “Look at these things to be happy about!” And it’s definitely not, “It’s OK, I get sad too, sometimes.” It’s this:

…I try to think of every possible thing I can [do] to let them know.. I see you. I love you. Keep fighting. Don’t let it win.

No matter how many times I read them, those last few sentences bring tears to my eyes. That’s what a depressed person wants and needs to hear. They are seen, they are not invisible. They are loved for exactly who they are. And that others recognize the battle they are fighting for their life, literally, and want them to win.

And finally, remember. Depression is NOT being sad. Depression fucks with your brain chemistry. A person with depression is as biologically off as a person with high blood pressure, or low thyroid function, or a heart arrhythmia. So no matter how many times you’ve told those things to a person when they’re up? They will NOT remember it when they’re down. Say it again. Show it again. As often as you can. It may be the difference between life and death. Or, less dramatically, living and surviving.

Seriously. Go read the whole post.

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OK, how about something fun? This is what I consider to be a pretty darn accurate conversation between a human and their dog.

Sneak preview:

Me, stomping back to the kitchen: OKAY. GIVE ME THE DAMNED SWEET POTATO.
Dog, looking up guiltily: What sweet potato?
Me: THE ONE IN YOUR MOUTH.
Dog: Oh, did you want this? I just, um. Found it. Lying here.

Yup. Sounds like a day in my house :-)

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I am now the very ashamed owner of a snuggie. But I am also the very warm owner of a snuggie!

I mean, come on, my dog doesn’t have one, so I figure I’m still good.

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I found a fabulous article titled “Why Can’t You Leave Religion Alone?” Unfortunately, it only seems to exist as a Facebook note, so hopefully you have an account. Here’s the gist, patched together by me:

Religion gets carte blanche to be as vocal as it wants, to knock on our doors and accost us in our homes, in our places of work, in our personal and professional lives.   Believers are charged with a life mission to preach, teach, disciple, shout it from the mountaintops and to “go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”  Religion…is everywhere. […] And religion is not satisfied with merely existing quietly in the homes and hearts of the faithful.

[…]

Throughout our history, those who raise a simple hand of protest against these advances have been portrayed as the real problem.  Religion has attempted to marginalize and defeat legitimate questions and concerns by indignantly portraying any resistors as misguided, immoral, rudderless, angry, miserable, lost and alone.

And when skepticism challenges wildly improbable (or impossible) stories found in the bible, the Qur’an and other holy books, the religious wail, “Why can’t you just leave us alone?”

The irony is thick.

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The hubby and I bought a Groupon to get our carpets cleaned. I am so f*cking excited. I am tired of my house smelling like pee. Time for a clean slate.

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Polygamy is a fascinating topic. Love reading about it. Will have to update y’all on the two most recent books I read/am reading. They’re written by two wives of the same man. So. Cool.

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I so know this look.

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You totally don’t want to read this if you’re male. It involves blood coming out of a woman’s hoo-hah. In a ridiculously hilarious fashion. We’ve all been there, ladies…if “there” is the big wide world when you miscounted your weeks and didn’t pack supplies. Have a laugh on me.

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There is nothing to make you resent (and start to hate) cats like working at the crazy @$$ cat rescue I work at. Not all of them. But definitely the favorites of the rescue people, who then put such strong restrictions on them they never get adopted.

About 8 months ago, three cats came back in who are all siblings. Of course, the crazy cat rescue proclaimed they were bonded, and refused to even consider separating them.

Fast forward 8 months. Not. One. Person has even requested an application for them…and since the crazy cat rescue rejects more applications than it accepts, and not every app requested is turned back in, they’ll need many apps before they can go home. But the assistant manager (who is also one of the three people who makes up the cat rescue) is in love with these cats. They’re her favorites. She spends all her time fawning over them. So of course she would never consider doing something that might upset them.

Even though we’ve all noticed they’re no longer anywhere near as bonded as they used to be when they first arrived and were terrified 24/7 and clinging to each other for security.

On Friday I was in, and noticed that Cat A had been locked out of her room at night for 3, possibly 4 nights in a row. So that’s 3-4 nights and much of the days that Cat A was away from her brother and sister. And Friday we didn’t catch her and put her back, so she spent almost 24 hours away from them. She knows where her room and her siblings are. She never once sought them out. Not. Once. No crying by anyone. They were all perfectly happy.

So I wrote a note, pointing this out, and saying maybe we could consider separating them since we have had tens of people interested in adopting one or even two of them and they don’t seem to mind being separated any more.

I received a note back from the assistant manager which said, basically, no chance in hell. Because of course they’re bonded.

But I refused to give up. And wrote back that I wasn’t saying they weren’t bonded, but that they might be OK being separated because the bond was no longer exclusive.

The new manager, one of the other two people working for the rescue, came back from vacation today and read our three notes.

I’m excited to see if I’m fired when I go back on Friday.

But everyone who doesn’t work for the rescue is so dang sick of these cats, who are constantly ruining merchendise and are impossible to catch and will never get out of here unless something changes. And the cats are so miserable, because really, there is zero stability in their lives and they can’t just relax. Plus, what’s the point of working in a rescue where cats don’t get rescued? It’s not fair to anyone for these cats to live the rest of their lives in the store. So I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and I had to do something. Writing a respectful note for the good of all (but the woman who would have to say goodbye to the cats if they were adopted) seemed not-crazy.

In summary:

1) I hope no one from my store reads this.

2) I hope I still have a job when I show up on Friday. And I hope I still have one on Sunday, when I work with the manager and assistant manager…and no one else.

3) This cat rescue has given me a vindictive pleasure in little things. Like this HILARIOUS conversation about a girl’s missing cat and the posters she wanted made for it. Giggling out loud. :-) Promise, you’ll like it even if you don’t work at a crazy cat rescue!

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I now own a Prius (more on that later). Does that mean I’m a hippie?

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Y’all are awesome. Thanks for the comments I received on my last post. They helped a lot.

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It’s still Tuesday by 1.6 hours. THAT MEANS THIS IS TOTALLY LEGITIMATE. Shut up.

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Filed under Life, Random Thoughts Tuesday

Still in the same rut

I have written before about feeling purposeless. I left my old job with no plan, just the knowledge that staying there was killing me (and that that trite saying was getting closer to reality all the time). My only goal was to get better, to move beyond simple surviving and try to learn to live again.

Things have improved.

But I’m left with no purpose. No meaning.

There is nothing in my life I can feel proud of right now.

My hubby likes to brag on me, saying I started a business in this economy which is successfully into its second year.

Which sounds great, until you realize that business is nowhere close to being able to support me, let alone us. And unless I am willing to give up all evenings with my hubby, it really never will. It is a little side thing, whatever money it brings in is nice, but it’s not much. And, as it is, it has nowhere to grow.

It’s also not utilizing a skill I’m proud of, because I just know what to do. Really. I went through a year-long program, which taught me very little. For the most part, I just do or suggest what is obvious to me. I have a way with dogs. I get them. And I go off of that. But it’s not something I am proud of. Not a skill I have developed and learned about. Really not a skill I can spend all kinds of time informing myself about and improving in. Not being arrogant and saying I have all the answers…just saying it’s all common sense to me, and for the past year there has been nothing I’ve come across in my looking and trying to educate myself that suggests anything other than training methods I won’t use but have thought of, or techniques I’d already come up with on my own. It’s not like an innate skill, like photography, that you go and learn about and nurture and learn to perfect. It’s a skill you have pretty much complete or you don’t, and short of going and interning with someone amazing for awhile (not feasible or necessary for the size of what I’m doing) there’s nothing to focus on to develop this skill.

So I don’t take pride in this business. I mean, a little. I do love sitting down with someone’s dog who I’ve just met and teaching them a new cue within a few minutes. But I’d love that with or without the business. I’m just good with dogs.

But in general, it doesn’t bring in money, it’s not a skill I’m proud of achieving (since it was never achieved, just innate), and it’s not something I can really spend a lot of time working on and developing to take pride in it.

Beyond that?

I’m a retail clerk at a pet store. I am embarrassed to tell people that, embarrassed to have people seeing me doing it. I know work is work, and if it was that this was what I wanted to do, or was enough for me, or we really needed the money and I was doing it to help tide us over and support the family, OK then, I could take pride in that. But it isn’t. It’s not contributing hardly anything to our family’s income, so no pride in that aspect. It’s not what I want to do. I have no power and no respect at this job. And it consists of doing only things a high school kid could do.

I tutor a little. But it’s very random income, since the girl I tutor is horribly inconsistent about when she wants me to come over. We started out with scheduled days, but she cancelled so many that I stopped, because I got frustrated scheduling around her and then having her cancel hours, or maybe a day, before we were supposed to meet. And somehow, again, tutoring is just…not something I’d be proud to say I do.

That’s what it comes down to for me. I want to have an answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?” that I’m proud of.

Because in our society, that question comes up

Every

Damn

DAY.

I was proud of being an engineer. I loved it. And I loved being able to introduce myself as such. I had worked hard at it, but was also innately good at it, and I took pride in my combination of skill and hard work.

But that is out. I may be extremely capable at the work, but I am not at the lifestyle.

So what else is there? What else is a combination of hard work and skill that I could be proud of, that I can do given my illnesses? I’m scared to try full-time work again. I’m scared of the deep, dark hole I fell down last time I tried that took me over 6 months to climb partially out of.

I just don’t know. I don’t.

Add to that that I have baby fever. I want a kid. Which means that I’m not going to go back to school for something and leave it soon after (if I could even come up with something to go to school for). But I’m also scared of the thought of having a kid.

What if I’m just doing it because I want purpose, and I think being a mom will give me that purpose?

And then what if the kid doesn’t, and now I’m stuck?

I don’t know. I’m so scared of things not working I’m too paralyzed to move in any direction. So I decide that’s stupid, and I need to shake it off, and try something. But then I can’t come up with anything that I can do from where I am now.

An engineering degree is useless for anything except engineering.

A math degree is useless period.

Which means I can basically be an engineer…or be a clerk or fast food server or other unskilled worker.

I’m OK with starting at the bottom, as long as I can work my way up.

But where I am now, there is nowhere to work to. There is no up to shoot for.

I just don’t know.

I’m so confused and lost.

I feel like I”m circling in the dark.

And I’m coming to hate myself more and more for it, because I have been stuck in the same.damn.place for months.

I don’t know where to start. But I need (need) to find somewhere.

ADDED: Should have just included this earlier, thought I wouldn’t but can’t get it out of the circling in my mind. Just have to add that part of what is swirling around in my brain is that there are things I can think of doing..but they all involve a big risk by me/us. Things involving more enterprises of my own, but that I could work on during daytime hours, possibly even in the space that I’d use for Companions. I had previously considered opening a doggie daycare in my space..but then one moved into my shopping complex, so if I was going to I’d have to move. I’ve contemplated opening a small animal rescue using space at Companions (not the main training space to house animals, but there’s always another room anywhere) and focusing on moving animals through quickly. Things like that. But they’re all big risks by us, investments of money to get started, I’d have to move to another place which would probably cost more and cut down on profit, etc. I’m scared to do it, especially since I don’t feel it’s my money to waste. I wish I could find an organization that is hiring that I could respect and that would respect me, and would also honor the hours I’m looking for. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to exist, at least around here. Blargh.

Thank you for reading the endless circling of my brain.

7 Comments

Filed under Invisible Illnesses, Life

Car advice PLEASE.

Soooooooo…I kinda broke my car.

I mean, only a little.

It happened when I drove it into another car. While we were both going at full speed.

You know, normal, everyday stuff.

*cough*

Everyone’s OK (thank god).

Except the poor cars.

Mine is dead.

Which means I need a new one.

So hey…first time I ever have to buy a new (used) car. I have NO IDEA how to weed things out, what to look for, things like that.

Our requirements:

-Good gas mileage, as it will become the hubby’s commuter when his car dies
-Able to comfortably seat 3 kids for short trips (just 2 rows of seats, but not too cramped) (I have not been holding out on you, I have no hidden children, just planning for the future so we aren’t forced to get rid of it as we have kids)
-Four doors
-Good storage capabilities (for example, I play cello, need to be able to haul it)
-Automatic transmission

If you haven’t noticed, virtually every 4-door car on the marketplace meets these requirements. So now I’m stuck. How do I narrow it down? Ideas? Advice? Thoughts?

I kind of like hatchbacks, but I feel like they have a bad rap. And I’m not sure why. I like how much space they have for hauling/moving things, since we have no truck or van. But I feel like there’s a negative vibe about them that makes me nervous. Anyone know why?

ANY thoughts or advice would be MUCH apreciated.

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Filed under Life