It Begins

Once again I find myself at odds with a woman in power. She’s not even in a position of anything but minimal authority. But like so many women she apparently thinks she’s got something to prove.  Unfortunately, an older white guy presents her with an easy target. 

The older white guy in this case is me. Either I must look weak, or she figures with all the recent events, “the old guy won’t fight back because he’s white, male, and knows I’ll win.”


Here’s the crux of the issue. The rules at work say, “Document everything.” The time it takes to do this, in part due to some of the shittiest software I’ve ever seen, the complexities of proper reporting, and my admitted unfamiliarity with said software, plus a steep learning curve means that sometimes I may take 15 minutes or so collecting information or filling out the documents in the right way.  Sometimes longer, If I have to ask questions.

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That being said, I’m taking more calls every day, I’m documenting things better every day, and I’m getting better every day at doing all this.

I know I’m improving and I know this because Each day I’m more comfortable and not spending as much time figuring out the “usual” stuff.

The totally wacky stuff on the other hand takes a lot of time. Especially if you’ve got someone on the phone who is randomly talking about every thing they’ve ever had happen to them. It’s being recorded, and so you can be chastised for missing or not reporting things too.

Enter little miss twinkle twat…

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Who walks up to my work area and never bothers to introduce herself or even say hello…

“Can I help you????” said with a sneer or nasty edge, is not what someone says when they’re honestly interested in helping.

We all know it. The implied message is “YOU’RE NOT WORKING FAST ENOUGH” or “GOD! WHY IS THIS FOOL BOTHERING ME?”

And that means, that no matter how fast, or good you ever become… You’ll never be good enough.

My response was neutral, “Nope thanks, I was just documenting all the issues a call raised.”

OOOPPPSSS! Not the right answer. This is the problem men always have with the question “Does this dress make my ass look fat?

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In retrospect I probably should have said, “Yes, oh I’m so glad you’re here and thank you for your assistance I couldn’t have possibly done anything without your intervention.

But I’m kind of Harry Potter in that regard.

I shouldn’t tell lies.

Oppps, water under the bridge. 


The whole call / documentation process itself is somewhat problematic. Calls come in, problems are documented. If they’re not documented correctly, an oversight team sends the documentation back telling you what is wrong and to make corrections.

The problem is, this process is by necessity asynchronous. This means that by the time you’re being asked for corrections, days or weeks have gone by and now you have to research what was happening and try to recall why you did something the way you did.

Add to that, being saddled with a non-standard keyboard that you’re chasing all over the table and having to keep up answering phone calls and you’re always behind in everything and under stress.

My nature is to front load the process and do things ”Right” the first time. Apparently, that is not the philosophy of this “supervisor”

She’s also very new to the management scene. She’s not yet learned that whipping the slaves can be effective, but that whipping the slaves too hard, or often, inevitably leads to revolt.

Initially I assumed that all the new folks, (Like me) were under her scrutiny and being asked, “CAN I HELP YOU?”

As it turns out, apparently, I’m special.

Which ties back to my initial suspicion that she’s looking to make an example of someone and I’m the “Soft” target.

The first time, I wrote it all off to just her being concerned that I was taking too much time in the documentation process. Then IT relented and gave me a “Real” keyboard. Huzzah! I can freaking type again! So I’m accelerating and streamlining the way I do things and picking up helpful hints along the way.

The second time, I was surprised when I got the “CAN I HELP YOU?” because I was in fact working more efficiently and taking more calls. “Meh, whatever…”

She’d come over to my work area, from her work area on the far side of the building to ask her question. I was in the midst of documenting 12 issues from the last call, not including the actual corrective action.

The third time, she sent a higher level manager to check on me. OK Now, I’m pretty sure, we’ve got some kind of perceived issue… But no-one is being forthcoming about what that issue may be.

Yesterday, she was particularly nasty, while I was packing up to leave. I had one of those moments where you’re tired and I was checking around my desk area to make sure I wasn’t leaving something behind or undone and she happened to be speaking to one of her peers. I was standing there scanning my area and she interrupted her conversation to turn and look at me with what I can only describe as open hostility, “CAN I HELP YOU?”

“Uh, no… Just packing up to leave…” I answered very confused by her attitude.


When I was very young, I fought back, playing the same nasty political games, as my opponent. As I matured, I’ve tried ignoring situations like this, hoping they would go away. Later in my work life I tried more centrist positions between the two.

Where I played the political games, I won. Typically, I win, by using a scorched Earth policy. This is effective as hell but doesn’t win you many friends, and usually leaves you at the bottom of the list for promotion.

Where I tried to be “above it” I lost. In both cases I was completely miserable.

Trying more centrist positions, was just exhausting. Keeping track of all the bullshit and mounting moderate defenses takes a lot of time and thought. Time that I think is better spent doing the job I’m actually being paid to do. I know… What a fucking concept!

Memorial Day, had HR been in I’d have been in their office nipping this shit right in the bud.

Yesterday, I decided it was far more important for me to get the hell out of work and on my way home. I was tired and usually when I’m tired I tend to be a bit more direct than I would be otherwise. Folks sometimes have a problem with my “moderate” directness, I can guarantee there’d have been a major problem if I was completely unfiltered.

After being pissed off about the situation on Sunday and then pissed off again on Monday, I slept on it.

I’ve decided I’m going with a more centrist position. I think I’m going to talk to the higher level manager that she drew into this situation. I’m just going to bluntly ask what I’m doing wrong.

I’ll see if this situation is salvageable. If I get some guidance, I’ll implement what I’m told to do. If that helps, great, I suspect that it won’t, and am therefore going to begin looking for another place to be either within the company or, (more likely) outside the company.

However, I’ve also decided that if this crap continues…  I’m going to put the company’s “Zero Tolerance” policies to the test. 

If little miss annoying continues her passive aggressive harassment I’m going to file a complaint. Let’s see how Zero Tolerance works when the aggressor is a woman and the victim is a white male.

Should be interesting…

My instincts tell me that this will not end well, but I feel like I have no choice but to respond.

So twinkle twat, this old white boy ain’t gonna get fucked over AGAIN… Let’s fucking dance!

New Diggs!

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Well I’ve been up since 5am today. Grabbed a shower tossed stuff in the car, and high-tailed it to Escondido.

Where I accepted delivery of my furniture.

I really do like the “Shake & Bake” moving method!  If you’ve got the money or a need (Such as you’re leaving a household intact) This is the best way to go.

I’ve still got a lot of washing up to do, new plates, new pans, glasses etc.

No dishwasher. Ugh! But then again it’s just me most, if not all of the time.

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Not a bad little place. actually and it’s a lot more homey now that There’s furniture in the place. I need to get some plants, and / or little table arrangements to bring some visual interest to the place. But for two days work its not coming together too badly.

Not having assigned parking is gong to be a serious annoyance but perhaps not so much of one once I’m not carrying arm-fulls of stuff up the stairs and into the place.

So I’ve got a few things left on my list of stuff to buy. But once that’s finished I’m going to be pretty much good to be here for at least 14 months.

Can’t take any pictures of the bedroom right now because there’s no light and the furniture just arrived a little while ago.

Internet should be here next Sunday so for the week I’m on my phone’s hotspot.

Which means that my connectivity is likely to be in burst mode for the next week, however I’m going to be having so much new to deal with I’m figuring that I’m going to be intermittent anyway.

Fingers Crossed that this job thing works,  otherwise I’m so screwed I can’t even begin to describe the depths to which things go South.

Wish me luck I could use all the good JuJu you want to send my way.

When it comes to it…

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The move to San Diego is progressing better than expected. I’ve managed to put this whole thing together in less than 2 weeks. I’m convinced there’s been divine intervention, my luck is never this good and stuff in my life rarely works smoothly. I’m not looking the gift horse in the mouth. I’m saddling that baby up and riding it.

  • Apartment secured (And not a moment to spare.)
  • Power (established)
  • Furniture (being delivered)
  • Linens (using what I’ve got around the house here)
  • Internet (Coming online next Sunday)
  • New job (Starting Monday)
  • Bank Account (local to the area)

I’m still within budget but financially, it’s going to be tight for a while. I’ll be working any overtime I can get so that I can widen the margin between Income and outgo. The plan is to start pumping cash back into the mountain house, and continue making progress toward paying off the existing debts.

No matter how positive all of this sounds. 

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I can’t help but be somewhat depressed.  It’s raining and that’s not helping. I’m standing on a line. Behind me is what’s familiar and comfortable. Ahead of me is uncharted.  

I’ve lived in this meshuggina town for 24 years. While I’ve wanted to leave for a while, I wanted to leave as a family.  

That’s not happening. I’m only going to be two hours away, but it’s impractical to make that drive all much more than once a week.

I’m not going to be here for either dog, both of whom are getting up there in years. They know something is up, but they don’t know what. The other half is upset, everything about this house and the pups will fall on their shoulders and that’s bumming me out. 

There is no choice I have to get, and stay employed. Any income is better than no income. That knowledge is small comfort.  I’m a creature of habit and my habits are 24 years in-grained. 

On the plus side, I think I’m going to like the area I’m moving into. I’m trying to maintain a positive outlook, and look forward to the changes and the future.  I think a lot of this is first day of a new job jitters.

But nonetheless it’s taking a toll.

 

Change is in the air

Change

As of this morning I’ve got a new job.

Without going into all the details, I’m returning to the work-a-day world. This job is something I think I can get into, and it’s a foot in the door to a new industry.

The initial pay is a bit on the low side, but it’s a foot in the door.

I’m looking at it as my package of vacuum packed potatoes. If you haven’t seen The Martian you’re not going to have any idea what I’m talking about. So rent the movie or read the book.

Many changes are forthcoming not all of them easy, but then again when are big changes ever easy?

I’m going to be very busy over the next month or two, so blogs may be sporadic because there is a whole lot to do.

Frustrating Job Search

What I can say, is that the Job search sites and most of the headhunters that will contact you or that you’ll contact are pretty much useless. It turns out that the best way into a new position is still who you know, or who’s willing to give you a “heads-up” that positions within their company are available.

Who knows, I may end up writing a book about the insanity of the job search in America.  At the very least, as I have time I’ll likely post a series of blogs about my experience. Perhaps my experiences will save someone else some of the pain.

As always, your milage will vary.

Talk about taking it right down to the freakin wire! Less than 2k left in any of the accounts that translates to about 2 months or less. Of course, now all the calculations about burn rates go right the heck out the window. 

Moving

For the first time in 20 years or so I’m going to be working hourly. But I’ll have corporate insurance and various benefits. 

I’m also moving.

There is no way that a commute is possible.

So I’m going to be in a rental of some sort that will cost at least half of what the mortgage on this house is.

Yes, I’m keeping the house too, the other half needs to remain in this area.  I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to pull this rabbit out of the hat but I’m creative, driven, and I could afford to lose a few pounds too.

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The distance is only twenty miles further than I used to commute, but the freeway conditions make that completely out of the question. If it’s not construction, it’s accidents, or car chases. So I need to find living arrangements.

On the plus side, I’ll be able to work overtime, and still have time to make some new friends. 

The overtime means my base take home pay will probably be more than the amount a 40 hour work week would provide, and the new friends means that I’ll be socially stimulated which I desperately need.

People

There’s another upside, I won’t be spending a ton of money on gas, and auto maintenance monthly. As I think about it, it might be nice to have access to things like choices when it comes to internet and I won’t have to necessarily pay premium prices for repairs like plumbers and such.

I do pretty much ok alone, but I’ve become very lonely in recent years, and a loner in the process.  I look forward to a little more social interaction. Living where I’ve been living has been likened to living where Jesus lost his other sandal. It might be nice to live somewhere that I don’t have to pack summer and winter clothing for a day’s outing.

SSherpasadly, I still haven’t made it out of the Republic of Kalifornia. But at this point I’ll take what I can get.

The funniest part of all of this is that I was only in one interview for this position. That was a refreshing change. I’ve sat through interminable interviews with companies and (One was six full hours with various groups. Talk about fear of commitment!) even though I felt I’d answered their questions and been a good little boy, I didn’t get the position.

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As was said in House of Cards, “It’s so refreshing to work with someone who’ll throw a saddle on a gift horse rather than look it in the mouth.” 

I mean when I was talking with these other companies, I was talking about working really cheap!

So sunny San Diego, here I come.

More unintended consequences

I ran across an article talking about a bill that would require folks buying prepaid mobile devices A.K.A. “Burner phones” to register.

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As was pointed out in the article, “Burners” are used legitimately by reporters, investigators, and inside sources, for whom maintaining their anonymity is sometimes a matter of life and death.

Granted there are some criminal elements that use “Burners” for criminal activity. That’s what this proposed legislation is aimed at stopping. 

As I was reading the article a few things went through my mind.

Congress

These lawmakers are trying to demand that everyone purchasing and activating a phone be identified, and registered.

But, these same lawmakers will fight tooth and nail against a voter ID law, on the grounds that the poor can’t afford to have identification.

Yet, the primary market for cheap contract free “Burner” phones is the poor, and often the poorest of the poor, who use these phones as lifelines and methods for finding work. 

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Homeless people will sometimes have a “Burner” because they scraped together enough money to buy one, and until they use up its minutes the phone works. If they’re looking for work the phone is important even if they have no permanent address.

But if you force registration, doesn’t that exclude all of the homeless population, further disenfranchising them and forcing them further to the fringes of our society? 

Abused Woman

Then there are abused women for whom a “Burner” may be their only option, if they’re trying to escape their abuser. 

How about runaway children who might realize that a “Burner” would allow them to reach out and call their parents? They likely wouldn’t have a method to “Register” either.

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Bills like this, aimed at preventing the use of phones for trafficking, anti-terrorism, the drug war, or general criminality, tend to cause as much collateral damage as the very things the Bill is supposed to prevent.

The Representatives who come up with these ideas either never knew or have forgotten what it’s like to be on the lower end of the economic ladder.

They’re like the person I encountered on New Years Eve. They’ve led such charmed lives where nothing really bad happened to them that they can’t even conceive of a situation where they might not have easy access to their ID, or cash, or communication, or travel.

Try bankruptcy, or having your house burn down with your ID, wallet, cash and credit cards inside, for a taste of what it’s like to have nothing and to be excluded from the system. For giggles, leave you house some day without your wallet, that will give you a taste.

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These are the spoiled brats that scream bloody murder when they can’t use their cell phones after a natural disaster. When the power goes out they’re mad because they can’t buy gasoline for their generators, and their frozen dinners have thawed. God forbid they’ve planned for anything, or know how to siphon gas out of their cars.

Remember the chaos of the great Orange County blackout? The folks in Orange County were so horribly inconvenienced they thought their lives had ended. Meanwhile the homeless folks were laughing their asses off because they know what it’s like to live daily without “Essential Services”. Hell afterward there were hearings to blame the cell phone providers for not providing service during an “Emergency”. 

The Martian

In SCUBA there’s a saying. “No matter what else is happening, ask yourself, ‘am I breathing?’ If the answer is yes, then you can set about fixing whatever else is fucked up.

The movie The Martian was an awesome exploration of that concept. “I’m alive, now how do I stay that way?

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I guess since I’ve been looking at falling off the grid due to unemployment, and being a planner, perhaps these issues are more relevant to me.

Even now, my big pack downstairs is loaded with my tent and supplies in case of natural disaster, or me deciding it’s just time to walk away from a society that no longer has a place for me. And yes, there’s a “Burner” phone stashed in the pack too.

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It’s because of my experiences that I’ve come to believe we don’t need or want a bunch of lawyers, or wealthy people in government.

We need common people because they’re far more likely to bring practicality to government.  It’s why I’m a believer in term limits, campaign spending caps, and grass roots politics.

I’d rather have a welder in congress representing me than some asshole lawyer.

At least the welder, is more likely to have his constituents in mind while he’s sitting in congress. I’ll bet someone like that is also a lot more likely to be in his seat every day congress is in session because that’s his job.

If any of this is ringing a bell with you, take the time to call these elitist politicians out on their stupid ideas. Write to them and tell them they’re idiots and explain politely why you think so.

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I know I’m writing Jackie Speier (D-CA) to tell her my thoughts.

In San Diego …

I slugged my way down to San Diego, for a 30 minute Job interview. The trip took 3 1/4 hours. It’s only 120 miles. Sigh!

The interview went pretty well, I’m hoping that I’ll see some kind of an offer that I can take. I keep running the numbers, and it’s gonna be tight. This is only doable if they’re willing to pay me starting at the absolute upper end of the pay scale.

Perhaps there will be enough to keep all my finances from collapsing and if that’s the case I’m going to count my blessings. There will be damn little to spare.

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Long term this could be a break, allowing me to enter a growth field using my technology skills. I keep thinking of David in Prometheus “Big things have small beginnings.”

Of course any company hiring me would probably not end in such a disaster as the Prometheus mission.

I’m chilling it at a Starbucks, waiting for the traffic to abate… 

YEAH RIGHT! Like that ever happens anymore in Southern California.

I’ve decided that should I be offered a position, I’m moving down here. I can’t abide 2 and 3 hour commutes anymore. I have zero desire to piss my life away sitting on a damn freeway.

So that’s what’s happening, for those of you wanting an update.