For the Record

“Every breath you take,
Every move you make,
Every bond you break,
Every step you take,
I’ll be watching you.”

~Police (Every Breath You Take)

Should I need a record or documentation somewhere down the road, here it is.

A piece of advice to anyone considering a job dealing with the public, be it as a grocery store cashier, a police officer, or a state office, do not work in the same town in which you live. Or if you take the job anyway, plan on moving when you leave the job.

People recognize me all the time from my last job. I can’t even walk the 1/2 mile to my new job without at least one wave or honk or something. Most times I just wave back even though I don’t have a clue who it was! I am proud of my new job, and when my former customers ask what happened to me, I haven’t thus far had any issue with telling them where I now work and sometimes my primary reason for leaving (more money).

So today, after my band rehearsal, I went to the grocery store before heading home. All grocery stores are crowded on Sunday afternoons, but a girl needs to eat! I was in the bread aisle, which was recently rearranged, so now I have trouble grabbing the loaf I usually buy, and wound up standing next to a former customer, lets call him Glenn (not his real name). I, and my former coworkers, decided long ago that Glenn was a strange creepy dude. I also know where he lives (around the corner from me, and yes, he knows where I live too), what he does for a living, his wife, and their pair of dachshunds. This is pretty much how the conversation went:

Me: “Hey Glenn”

Glenn: “Heyyyy. Haven’t seen you around in a while.”

Me: “Yeah, I don’t work for [insert old company name], anymore.”

Glenn: “Where are you working, now?”

Me: “[Insert new company name]. I really like it.”

I see we’ve created a bottleneck situation in the crowded aisle, so I find my bread, excuse myself, and head off down the next aisle. As I pause to open the refrigerator door for some butter, I realize he is rightthere with me, and he starts talking again:

Glenn: “Why’d you leave”

Me: shrugs, “Lots of reasons, better pay”

Glenn: “How much do you make?”

Me: “Ummm…”

Awkward pause. Do people really answer those sorts of questions? I can’t believe people ask those sorts of questions. How rude, although I guess I am partly at fault for mentioning money… lesson learned.

Glenn: “Ok, how much more do you make?”

Me: “I’d rather not discus that.” Time to change the subject. “I see that a new restaurant opened on [insert street he lives on].”

Glenn: “Yeah, and [another restaurant on same street] ripped out all the hedges for some new landscaping.”

Me: “That place has changed so much in the past ten years. I can’t even remember the last time I was in there.”

Glenn: Touches my arm – not a tap or a bump, but somewhere between a caress and a grab. “We should go out sometime.”

Me: Jumps a few steps backward. “I don’t think so.” I turn and walk quickly away. HELLO RED FLAGS!! Jackass is married and creepy and not my type in general. He follows me again and catches up the next time I slow down. He tries to apologize and “I didn’t mean anything”. Whatever.

I hear my name behind me, and see it’s one of the other people in my band. I strike up a conversation with him and we walk away. Around the corner I explained to him what he had just been so fortunate to interrupt. As I was checking out, my band mate was leaving too, and he walked past and asked if I was all right. I was by that point; I have no idea where Glenn went, but I hope he got the message. I’m a little freaked out.


I Suppose I Should Give an Update on that Other Thing

My dad’s cancer.

He went through a whole bunch of tests to figure out where it originated and if it existed elsewhere. The first tests came back negative for other sites and inconclusive for a diagnosis. Later tests showed possible activity in near-by lymph nodes. Then they did a biopsy on the lump they could feel, from which they determined that he has melanoma. The doctors have still been unable to find a primary site on the surface of the skin, which his doctors claim is a good thing. He went for a second oppinion (at Dana Farber in Boston) and both doctors/hospitals came back with the same course of action: surgery to cut out both the definitely cancerous lymph node and a few more in the same area for testing and as a preventative measure. Then he will be on a heavy course of drugs, administered intravenously every day for a month at the hospital, and then three times a week for a year at home. Meanwhile, my dad can now feel more than one lump in his armpit.

My own internet research….granted, I am not a doctor… indicates to me that the prognosis for melanoma in multiple lymph nodes isn’t great. My mother, on the other hand, who had a very small cancerous spot removed from her leg and has been declared “cured”, seems to think “melanoma is no big deal; look at me.” Um, mom, yours was very different. She may be in denial; I’m not sure.

My dad had surgery this morning, and I spoke with my mother on my lunch break. He was out of surgery, but not yet awake. The doctor had told my mother that there was a lot more damaged tissue in there to be cut out than he had anticipated, and the doctors had been afraid to cut much more out, without damaging the functionality of his arm. Sounds to me like they didn’t get it all. And it sounds aggressive. He needs to recover from surgery (a week maybe?) before they can start the drugs, but the drugs are only supposed to clean up a few remaining cells, not whole tumors. If the drugs don’t work, or his body can’t tolerate them, the doctors will put him on chemotherapy.

To me, this situation sounds worse every time I hear about it. My mother is worried about how he is going to work during the treatment (he plans on it) and how their boat is going to get put away for the winter (My brother will take care of it). I’m wondering if I should move back home and apply to grad school in Boston, as he asked me to do last winter, which seems like a tremendous sacrifice. How do I balance my life and my needs with the needs of a family that hasn’t always been supportive of me? A couple people (including my therapist) have said that this time should be used for me (possibly single-handedly) to repair the family bonds. But I’m convinced it can’t be one sided; somehow they need to accept who I am, because nobody could ever live up to the expectations they have set for me. And now I’m whining about me, which makes me sound selfish. Where is the middle ground?

Out of the Frying Pan and into… Another Frying Pan

Or, at least that was my dad’s opinion of my new job.

Yes, you may reread that sentence. Yes, I did say new job! I got the job!! They didn’t even have me go back for a second face-to-face interview or keep me in suspense for a week, as I was told would happen. They didn’t even offer me the part-time position. I start my shiny new full-time first-shift position on October 5. Or, at least that is when I start my month of training. I knew I had to be one of their top candidates.

It is not all rainbows and roses though. They offered less money than I was expecting. I believe this is because I was forced to reveal how much money I make at my soon-to-be-ex-job…and then they hacked some off the starting salary thinking that I would be willing to work for peanuts. “Peanuts” is still somewhat better than the “poppyseeds” I’ve been making. Is it enough to pay all of my bills without a second job on the side? I’ll let you know in January. I also don’t know if I’m going to love the work. It will be educational, but will it be tolerable, or will I get run down listening to people yell all day long? I’m not 100% certain that I am meant to work with people. I like working with my hands (although not when my hands are using toxic chemicals), in part because objects don’t talk back.

But at the very least I’m leaving my current frying pan.

So everybody sing with me!

“You better not try and stand in my way
As I’m walking out this door.
Take this job and shove it.
I ain’t working here no more!”

The Update

Phone interview went pretty well, I suppose. I made the cut this round, and I have a face-to-face interview with the recruiter and managers on Thursday (which I’ll have to leave work early for). There are lots and lots of applicants and a grand total of 11 full and part time positions. I think they want me to say ‘please give me a part-time position!’ but I didn’t. I said I was willing to be flexible, but that full time is definitely preferable.

If I get a part-time position, I will need to hang on to my current position (or my side job…but that’s supposed to end in the middle of October). 40 hours a week at current job plus 20 hours to attend the evening training classes for 4-6 weeks sounds like I’m going to be seriously miserable. And then what? Will I be able to get on the schedule at the new job for 40 hours a week, as they’ve sort of indicated or not? Will I need to juggle two jobs for even longer?

I was going to work on other job applications today. But I’m depressed and spent.

They Called!

I have a phone interview set up for Monday morning. Wish me luck! Yes, I know phone interviews are supposed to be bad, but this is for a call center position, so it definitely makes sense to examine my phone persona.

The man I spoke with said he has two full-time positions left to fill, and eight part-time. He said I would have a better shot at getting my foot in the door if I was willing to start part-time afternoons/evenings, but he also mentioned that after the initial training period, he imagines that if I wanted 40 hours a week, I would be able to have it. (As a side note, does that mean if I wanted 45 or 50 hours a week I could have that too?) I don’t want to settle; I just need to prove that I am one of his top two candidates. And, frankly, the company would be making a mistake by not having me working in the mornings anyway.

I’ve been researching the company, and I have a list of questions. I plan to speak slowly and clearly, and I know to sit up straight and smile. I will not be sipping tea or munching on cereal. I promise not to bad mouth my current or previous employer; I promise to shield my pessimism. I can interview just fine. This company would be lucky to get a hold of me.

As we waited on the sidewalk this morning for our supervisor to let us in the building, a coworker was telling me about how much she regrets leaving her job at a nearby physicians office. She thought she was burned out at that place, but now she appreciates what a good job it was. I told her I know of several openings in the hospital system in the county south of us, that she would be well qualified for. I gave her the web address of my preferred job listing site. I wouldn’t consider us friends, and I may apply for those openings too, but I don’t really consider her the competition. I have a college degree! I’m not from this place! I don’t plan to die here! Which is really why I should aim higher.

Another coworker has a huge crush on one of our customers and plans to slip him her number at some point in the near future, which brought up this whole discussion of ‘keeping your options open’. Never mind that I am more than three years into my existing relationship, my supervisor wants to set me up. Ugh. People come on! Let’s please not engage in extracurricular activities with our customers! We are not that kind of customer service business!


Good lord! In the past two days, I think I’ve checked my phone about 1000 times…then the battery died. And I’ve rushed right over to the library and the internet both days after work to check my emails. I haven’t had a response beyond an auto-reply thank you to the job I applied for.

When I went through this all last winter, I only received one reply of actual interest to the 100 jobs I applied for, so I don’t know why I’m so eager…and then so disappointed every time I check. But I really think I could do this job, and I know they are hiring lots of people. How long should I wait before I go bang on the door?

The job is related to investing, which is something that I am interested in. But then when I spoke with one of my advocates (I’m no longer using the bland word “references”) the other night he put seeds of doubt in my head. He thinks the job sounds too scripted, and that I require a different sort of outlet for my independent thoughts. He might be right. My mouth and my opinions certainly get me in trouble at my current job. I have difficulties acting as a yes-ma’am robot, which is what my assistant manager expects of me. I cannot please her! And I am so frustrated by being made to feel an incompetent fool at every turn. Is it too much to ask to make it through one day without her criticism?

No, I am not complaining. I’m keeping in touch with my motivations. We’re moving on.

I found several job listings today (one company, multiple openings) for a women’s advocacy group. What do you think? I’ve always been ‘one of the boys’, but these sound like positions for an opinionated person. Part of these applications include an essay on my views on domestic violence. Off to do some research.

One Step

The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.

Last night (August 31, 2009) I set a goal for myself: I will be employed somewhere else by the end of September, 2009, as my birthday present to myself. I am strong and intelligent, and someone out there will hire me because of that. I know I have something to offer this world, and it’s time to step up and prove it. I used to have higher expectations of myself. Why should I give those up, based on the opinions of people I don’t even like?

And by posting it here, I mean to stick to this journey of 30 days. You are all my witnesses to this journey.

Somehow last night, for a brief window of time, I was able to focus enough to hammer out a cover letter that I feel comfortable, confident, and happy about. Today, I sent that cover letter (and its accompaniments) to a company advertising for a job I know I can do. Consider this my second step. And it is just one foot in front of the other now.


There is a Chinese Proverb that states: "A bird does not sing because it has the answers. It sings because it has a song." This is my song. I don't pretend to have the answers.