Posts Tagged 'Money'

The New Job Started Today

It’s not having what you want
It’s wanting what you’ve got

~Sheryl Crow (Soak Up the Sun)

My primary method of applying to jobs has been through online applications. Most of them disappeared into the computer and never generated a response. Eventually, I tried something different and tried going directly to HR at the places I knew were hiring. Most of these people said, ‘nice to meet you, but you’ll need to fill out the online application’.

Of all the applications I filled out, only one generated a response, and it was one I wasn’t particularly excited about. I had my interview at the office in the town north of here for the part-time position (afternoons only – as if that could possibly work in conjunction with any other part-time job) which I had applied for. The manager who interviewed me also said we should discuss the supervisory position because of my previous managerial experience (in a completely unrelated industry). He got my hopes up, then took it back because I don’t have previous experience in this industry. Well, duh, but he was looking at my resume when he said it the first time.

The interview went well, and as I was leaving, the manager introduced me to everyone else in the office, as though it was assumed that I would be getting the job. I spent the next several days frantically trying to follow up on all my other applications in attempt to find something better. It didn’t work. I was torn: should I say yes, and although perhaps unethical, keep quietly looking for something? Should I say no, on the basis that I have over five months left before my unemployment benefits run out, and I’m sure I could find work in May when tourist season starts?

The manager was so impressed with my interview that he decided to offer me an unadvertised full-time position in the office around the corner from where I live. Work’s, work, right? I took the job.

On the positive side, this job gets me in the door into the office world, which is part of the reason none of my other applications generated interest. It also gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The company (a large international organization which will remain unnamed) offers benefits including health/dental/life insurance, more than two weeks annual vacation, a 401K plan, and tuition reimbursement for related education (business courses). Supposedly there is also room for quick advancements for anyone eager enough.

On the negative side we have two issues. First, everyone I talk to thinks I will be bored out of my friggin’ mind. I’ve been trying to put that thought aside, but it has really been drilled in there now. Second, the pay (to put it nicely) sucks.

The weekly pay amounts to just slightly more than an unemployment check (or just over half my old salary). I cannot pay for rent, bills, and food on what this company is paying me, never mind an appropriate wardrobe. But work’s work, right? I’m still hanging on to the side work I’m doing for my friend, and that may generate additional similar projects. I expect to be working at least sixty hours a week for the foreseeable future. That’s why I don’t really have time to discuss this.

I’m irritated and insulted. I have 10 years of customer service experience. I have a degree from an internationally acclaimed university. At bear minimum, I should be making $12 an hour. Have the last 10 years of my life meant nothing? I could have had this job at this pay as a high school dropout. Of the seven other people I now work with, not one has a higher degree, and six work at least two jobs to make ends meet. And I’m really fucking sick of hearing about how it’s all because of the “economy”. OK?

Yep, it Happened. I Got Axed

Add my name to the looong list of the unemployed.

I’m in absolute shock right now, and although I’m still shaking, the tears have mostly subsided. I’ve also been through a brief period of anger, but I know I still have more of that inside of me. I hope I can channel that into something productive…begining tomorrow. For tonight, I choose to wallow.

How did it happen? I just don’t understand.

Yes, the company’s workload has been slowing down; many of us saw the need for changes, but me? The company has now laid of 8 employees, or 13% of the labor force. I cannot believeĀ  that I was in the bottom 13% of the company; I am a valuable employee!

I get nervous about everything in life, so I’d been worried about this for a long time, including back last fall when the company was hiring new people (btw, they are all still employed). For months, I heard reassurances that my job was not in jeapordy. And why should it be? After all, I consistantly had some of the best employee reviews in the whole company – above expectations across the board.

I was given a promotion a few weeks ago, after layoff round number 1. The company selected me to tackle that job and was willing to spend money to get me up to speed. I thought I was doing pretty well! What a blindside.

I’m not the only one, though. The Operations Manager also got cut. I’ve never felt that I had a particularly close relationship with him, but he is my number one ally now. And I feel he was mistreated in this instance, too.

The Assistant Operations Manager (who I’ve known for years, as a friend, before we worked there) will be promoted, and her first order of business was to lay people off. That selfish bitch looked down her uppity nose and handled it very badly. Our friendship will never be repaired. She called me into the office in a “oh, by the way” sort of manner and then BAM! I tried to negotiate. I tried to understand. The company decided to cut altogether the position I was promoted to. I was laid off in favor of keeping the “lifers”, even though I’ve been there three plus years (which is longer than her) and some people have only been there three plus months. I held myself together for a while and manged to get a week’s severance pay (I was initially only offered today and tomorrow). I was also told not to expect pay for the two weeks vacation time I have. This decision was later reversed when someone suggested it was illegal to withhold earned vacation pay.

I did cry in the office, though. I lost it when I thought about my boyfriend, who (thankfully, still) works for the same company. What scares me most is the thought of losing him. We’re so accustomed to seeing each other every day. He doesn’t really like being around me when I’m super stressed out. And what if I have to move to get a job? Financially I’ll survive, but I’ll never forgive them if I lose M.

I promise regular updates. Please promise me your love and support.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Turkey Day. The start of the season of holidays. The non-religous holiday where we get to indulge in at least one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony – if not others (greed? rage? or is that just my family?). The day dieters can’t bear to think about.

The day to celebrate the harvest. The day to celebrate having plenty. How unusual in this year of recession. But according to our folk lore, the first Thanksgiving would have been held under similar circumstances. The settlers did not have a successful first harvest and the Native Americans shared their feast. The Native Americans, who were also pushed off their land and saw their populations decimated due to diseases brought by the settlers helped their neighbors in their time of need.

Perhaps we should take a lesson: love thy neighbor, help thy neighbor, even as he tries to kill you. They say tall fences make good neighbors, but remember, no man is an island. We are all interconnected, and we must stand together, perhaps now more than ever, to overcome this current economic crisis. Be thankful for the love and support of your friends, neighbors, and global community. And remember to pay it forward.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I’m Scared

I thought my job was reasonably secure. “We have work.” “We’re not overstaffed.” “You are not about to lose your job.” Although I’m currently still employed, the managers were either lying or delusional.

Every other company that does what we do, in this state and probably down the whole eastern seaboard, has already laid people off. As of two weeks ago, that tally also included my brother. For whatever reason, we held out a little bit longer.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday (how nice of the managers to wait until the week beginning of the holiday season!), my department of nine was called into the office for a meeting. Annual clients have cut down on the number of requests for the year. Our competitors are trying to steal away our clients. We are overstaffed. It is likely that we will not all still be employed by the spring. The people who keep their jobs will be the ones who produce high quality work in shorter-than-average times, which will keep the clients’ bills down.

I was, and still am, shaking. How many people are going to go? My quality and productivity are probably somewhere in the middle of the nine; I’m nearly certain I wouldn’t be among the first two or three to go. I’ve also recently taken on some other challenges within the company and completed them successfully, proving that I am a versatile and adaptable employee.

I also don’t want to work for this company forever. Nobody ever believed I’d stay a year, much less three! Maybe I can take this news as a push to find something else, although I don’t care for fear as a motivator.

So I’ve done a little searching online tonight and got to feeling a bit depressed. There aren’t a whole lot of jobs in my area, good, mediocre, or otherwise. This is not entirely due to the global economic troubles, but that sure doesn’t help. I’m willing to commute; the state capital is about an hour away, but there aren’t many jobs there either. I’m not willing to move.

I’d like to work in alternative energy. With my science background, I think this could be a good fit, and I see this as an industry poised to take off during my working life. I’ve been told that Maine is already on the leading edge, but I suspect this is mostly due to power generation off of small scale dams, not the newest technologies. I believe the state government will be a good place to find new jobs in the energy sector. But unfortunately, Maine state government is under a total hiring freeze, effective a month ago through the foreseeable future, as Maine deals with continued budget problems while the economy continues to fall apart.

Yeah, I’m scared.

Support My Local Economy

Buy a lobster.

Prices on lobster have plummeted in the last few weeks, due to a staggering economy and an increasing reluctance to spend money on “luxury items”. The wholesale price that the lobstermen receive is now $2-something a pound. It was $5 or $6 for most of the summer and hasn’t been below $4 in at least 5 years. The local chain grocery store is currently selling lobster for $5 /pound. Is that really a luxury as compared to say, chicken?

Fall typically yields the highest catches, but most lobstermen are calling it quits for the year. Add to this the fact that high fuel costs kept profit margins slim during the summer, and we now have a lot of broke fishermen.

Lobstering is an important industry in Maine, both as a source of income and as a source of state pride. We have one of the best regulated fisheries in the entire world, resulting in an ever-increasing population of lobster out there. Maine specifies a minimum size (as is typical elsewhere) but also sets a maximum size restriction (atypical of other fishermen in the Gulf of Maine) to protect the “breeders” who will build the next generations. A lobster of legal size is usually between 7 and 10 years of age.

So please do your part and eat a real Maine lobster.

Thanks.

How Much?

How much money is too much to throw at our hobbies and addictions? Is a hobby any better for us than an addiction? And what it the defining distinction between the two? I know plenty of people who consider their frequent binge drinking a hobby and others who consider their time engrossed in a novel to be an addiction.

How do we pull the plug on wasteful spending for our hobbies and addictions? Perhaps it is all wasteful spending. Hobbies and addictions shouldn’t be items or activities necessary for survival, even if our cravings tell us otherwise.

This post is really about a toy. A toy some would consider a hobby, but at times, really agitates me. I’m not sure if I should continue to throw away my hard earned money to prop it up any longer.

My saxophone is broken; it quit on me in the middle of a performance this afternoon, and I absolutely cannot figure out what is wrong with it. It has needed an overhaul for some time now, so I guess today pushed it over the edge. The last overhaul was when I purchased it about five years ago. Since then, I haven’t always treated it kindly, including many months it spent on board a boat. The corks have mostly all disintegrated and fallen off. The body has an unusual patina, more commonly known as rust. I can’t judge the pads, but a repairman would probably just add them to the work order.

Granted, my sax wasn’t in particularly good condition when I bought it. It is old and lived a hard life before I got my hands on it. It has “the look” and character, and at the time, it was all I could afford, although I knew it wasn’t even worth what I forked over. A complete overhaul would cost more than I think the instrument is worth.

I should buy a new (to me) saxophone. If budget wasn’t a concern, I would probably hunt down a well-maintained, un-dented version of what I have, because I have a strange love affair with old saxes. A perfect pre-1950 King Zephyr tenor is worth $2500 to $3000. They are also hard to find; the best places to look are pawn shops in big cities with musical flavor like New York, New Orleans, and Montreal. At the other end of the spectrum, I could afford a shiny brand new student-level model (read: poorly constructed) for a few hundred dollars, but….yuck. Although I know people who’ve done it, I would never buy a used sax on Ebay, because I prefer to test them first.

Purchasing a new sax of any age or quality has not been in my foreseeable future’s budget. I bought a road bike a few months ago, and boyfriend and I are talking about a vacation this winter to somewhere without snow. I suppose I’ll call the repair shop tomorrow and see if they aren’t too busy with back-to-school issues. My band has upcoming performances on Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Monday, so I’ll be borrowing another band member’s backup. It hasn’t been a happy afternoon.

Look!

See that? Isn’t it pretty? And it’s mine, ALL MINE!!! Woo-Hoo!! The bike is a 2008 Trek 1.2 WSD, Trek’s entry level designed-for-a-female road bike. Yep, a real road bike, with skinny smooth tires and curlicue handlebars.

I’ve never had a road bike before, but I’ve wanted one for so long. I kept putting off purchasing one, because they are so expensive (yes, way more so than a mountain bike or a hybrid), but although I complained about the price, I was never closer to actually getting one. I finally realized that, in my head, I may never be able to justify the price, and if I really wanted one, I should just go get it and figure out how to pay for it later. So I did! And by the way, where is that economic stimulus payment already?

I’ve already been out on it a couple times, and I will go out today to, providing the rain holds off…I’m still a little afraid of those tiny tires! It feels so light and smooth and nearly effortless, compared with my old piece of junk hybrid. And because I bought it from a bike shop (as opposed to, say, Wally-World) there were experts to help me find the right fit. I tried a couple sizes and brands, and I could really notice a difference in the geometry. I get free adjustments and tune-ups for a year, and all the components have been tweaked to fit me.

I’m panning to use this bike to train for my big triathlon debut…you know…someday. And I’m planning to ride it to work. The trip is about seven miles, one way, but it has one big huge hill, that I don’t yet know if I can do. I plan to find that out this weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be riding to work on Monday! I have two coworkers who also live in this town and are talking about riding to work throughout the summer, so that should be fun, and we’ll help keep each other motivated. I’m going to have some killer legs and a smokin’ behind (oh, yeah, I bought the shorts, too), and I won’t be buying so much gas for the station wagon.

I’m so excited!! See you on the road!