Tag Archives: job

The strange satisfaction of loving my job

I kept this in my pocket when I was a greeter at Home Depot, because people didn't believe I was employed to stand at the door and say hello.

I kept this in my pocket when I was a greeter at Home Depot, because people didn’t believe I was employed to stand at the door and say hello.

I have what is known as a “portfolio career”. Which is to say, I’ve never done the same job twice, or any job for a decent length of time. The most recent changes in my employment have taken place while I’ve been blogging, so you may be familiar with my regular struggle to hang onto, or find, a job that pays me to be there.

The reason I want to mention my library job again is that I have been there for a year. I’ve been there a year, and it doesn’t feel like it. The time has flown by, and I’ve managed to move from Auxiliary to a Part Time position. In my last job, I hadn’t been there for a year before the company folded. In the job before that, vertical movement was almost impossible.

On Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) I brought in my Mandalorian Helmet for the check in desk.

On Star Wars Day (May the Fourth) I brought in my Mandalorian Helmet for the check in desk.

We’re quick to notice when work is unpleasant. We moan about Monday rolling around again, about feeling tired, or sick, or getting a stress headache in the traffic. But we’re not so quick to notice when work is great. Hearing I’d been at the library for a year was a surprise, as was meeting the new group of Auxiliaries who had been hired because MY group had all moved up to new positions. I’m not the new guy anymore! Look how long I’ve been here, and I STILL love it!

Yes, the library even has books you never knew you needed...

Yes, the library even has books you never knew you needed…

So I’m looking forward to the next year at the library flying past like this one has, because everyone knows that time flies when you’re having fun.

Sometimes we need to point out the obvious...

Sometimes we need to point out the obvious…

And sometimes we support the unusual - Why shouldn't Llamas and Alpacas have the chance to be Managers?

And sometimes we support the unusual – Why shouldn’t Llamas and Alpacas have the chance to be Managers?

Advertisements

I don’t have to love this, to do this, right?

The two-day job workshops concentrated on bringing out the aspects of past jobs that were most enjoyable. What did you achieve in this role? Which skills did you most enjoy using? What did you enjoy most about this position, this company, this manager?

The intent is clear: create Frankenstein’s job for yourself, by assembling the best bits of past roles and aiming for the Uberjob, your perfect employment partner.

Which is lovely, and I can see that working for some of my fellow would-be-workers as we leap from our slowly sinking ship. They, after all, have transferable skills, or qualifications. I’m a little lacking in both, it has to be said, but the real problem is larger.

I’m looking for part-time work, because my priority has to be Weasel Welfare. I have to get them to school, and I have to be there to pick them up again. They also enjoy some after school activities, and it would be sad if they couldn’t continue with their skating or swimming lessons because I had to keep chipping pennies from the workface.

So, I’ve done the exercises, analysing what I liked and disliked about my employment history, and I’ve come to the startling conclusion that my ideal job would be working from home as a writer. Duh. Except, as I have proved over the last decade, that doesn’t bring in enough income to pay for food and electricity and the other little necessities of life. Working at what you love is a good philosophy, and I see the point, I really do, but it doesn’t always apply.

When I went to the workshops, I was hoping they would analyse my skills and point me towards a job I was suitable for but hadn’t previously considered. I was hoping they would FIND ME WORK. Instead I have access to their marvellous jobsearch engine that searches all the other jobsearch engines I was already using, and I’m doing the same old searches to find the same old jobs I don’t want and can’t do.

Before I came to work at this company, I had a job I didn’t particularly like. It involved standing up for the whole shift, and answering the same questions over and over. The people were nice, the company had a healthy regard for its employees, and the social setup was pretty good. But I didn’t like the job itself. The same could be broadly said to be true of this job. The actual nitty gritty of the work is dull – I’m a proofreader, what do you expect? It’s NOT exciting work. But I was good at it, and I did it with enthusiasm and determination. When I am at work, I do the job, and I do it to the best of my ability. I don’t think you have to love your job to do it well. When I worked as the Manager of the allowances section, I was checking formulae and signing forms. I had to check through a rulebook eight inches thick to determine whether people were permitted certain expenses or not. It’s hard to get excited about that kind of work, but it was my JOB, so I did it and I like to think I did it well.

I’m looking for a new job, and I don’t expect to find one that will make me sing and dance as I jump out of bed each morning. I’ll settle for a nice working environment, for the chance to have a coffee on hand and the ability to use the washrooms when I need them, not when I’m scheduled a break. Other than those requirements, (and a regular schedule that doesn’t involve weekends) I’m pretty much open. Any suggestions?

With only minutes to spare…

Og, Dim, Og!

It’s another one of those days, where I’m trying to remain calm and cool, but also be prepared for an interview. This is for a job that came up quite suddenly, and would be a mite more convenient than my current employment (It doesn’t involve shift work, is only nine ’til one, has a desk and a chair….Plus it’s just around the corner from the weasels’ school.)

So, I’m sorry. I’d like to wax lyrical about the joys of living in BC, or the many challenges and excitements of being a playwright, but today I’m just sitting in the corner, re-reading my resume and the job spec, rehearsing my lines so I don’t sound trite or corny.

 

Wherever you are in the world, whatever time you’re reading this, please cross your fingers for me. Or, if you’re alone and you think no one can hear you, feel free to shout ‘Og, Dim, og!”.

Haven’t we been here before?

Just have to take the next step....

It doesn’t seem that long ago that every post I published was about my frustration with the jobhunting misery. First it was resistance to the idea of going out to get a ‘real’ job at all, something I have resisted since going freelance all those years ago. I really, really didn’t want to, and that was all there was to it, no clever arguments, no belief that my writing income would suddenly triple, no great Business Plan to grow that income….I just didn’t want to.

Go ahead, picture me slumped in a corner with my thumb in my mouth. I know how childish I was being. Really I do. After all, Mrs Dim told me.

After the fit of pique had passed, I got stuck into looking for work and the second gloom descended. Finding work was difficult and for several reasons.

First, the economy was not good. Remember the banking collapse and global financial EEEK!? Guess when I was looking for a job?

Second, I hadn’t had a real nine-to-five job since Eldest Weasel was born. I had precisely two people I could call on for references, and they were both connected with my writing. They couldn’t comment on my ability to get into the office on time, dress myself, or talk on the phone coherently.

Third, everyone else I had worked for had either gone out of business, moved on from my last point of contact or, in one case, burned to the ground. That doesn’t inspire confidence in a future employer.

Fourth and lastly, I needed a job that still allowed me to get the Weasels to school and back, at 8.45 and 2.50 every day. So, work hours of 9.15 to 2.30, if I don’t have far to travel.

And honestly, the childish thing crept back into it. Thanks to my portfolio career to date, there is a long, long list of jobs that I never want to do again. I found the one I want to do, I’m doing it, I love it, but sadly, writing plays does not earn enough money to buy essentials like clothes, food and Wii games.

I’m sure there are jobs that fit the hours. Other Mums (and face it, that’s what we’re talking about here: employing a Mum) get jobs and still get their kids to school. But search as I might, I couldn’t find a job I was qualified for that fell within the insanely restrictive parameters.

Finally at Mrs Dim’s suggestion I went along to the hiring session held at the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer and lucked out. A job I could do, at hours that suited, for some money. Within driving distance and time allowance. SUCCESS!

It’s not a fulfilling job. It’s challenging enough, trying to remember the location of forty thousand products, trying to placate angry customers who just want a dozen electrical or plumbing questions asked and they can’t speak to the electrical or plumbing guy because there are ten people already talking at him. It’s hard staying on your feet in pretty much the same spot for four hours at a time. But it’s a job.

But this week we had to admit something else. Since June I’ve only had one complete weekend off. I’ve booked holiday here and there, but I have worked almost every weekend since I started work and Mrs Dim is beginning to unravel. She works long hours at her job, which is far, far more demanding than mine, and then she has to spend her whole weekend wrangling weasels alone, and then go back to work Monday morning. Plus, when do WE get to spend time together? We don’t count slumping on the same sofa at nine thirty in the evening spending time together, by the way. On Wednesday we both fell asleep in the middle of whatever we were trying to watch.

So I’m jobhunting again, off in pursuit of the magical job which will only require me to work weekdays, 9-3, preferably closer to home, something clerical, at least $12 an hour, no heavy lifting. And if possible, something that leaves me enough energy to keep on writing, reviewing and appraising scripts in the evenings.

And while we’re wishing, Middle Weasel would like her own Millenium Falcon….

Post Apocolympic….

Oh, Canada!

Well, come on, it IS our national sport....

Yesterday was big deal for Canadians. It was the big rematch of the Winter Games, the Gold Medal Hockey tussle between the US and Canada. It seemed to be the only topic of conversation for a lot of people. I caught the beginning of the game before I had to leave for work, and the Canadians were ahead by two goals to one when I left. I made it into work to find the TV on in the Break Room and folks glued to it. I had to be down on the shop floor, so I wandered away. Somewhere there was a radio piping commentary of the match into the shop, but Hockey Commentary is a mystery to me, since the game moves so fast and I didn’t know which players were on which team (shocking, I know, but give me a chance, we’ve only been here a year!) Still, co-workers were always passing by and happy to give news of the progress of the game.
“The Americans equalised, just seconds to go!” Big groan from everyone nearby. Then a few minutes after that the tannoy squawked into life:
“What did I tell you, Andy? Canada WIN! 3-2” Cheers from all around the store, customers and workers alike. Almost immediately the place began to fill up. The place had been almost deserted during play, but now the game was done people flocked in. Almost all of them were grinning. The first few were eager either to tell me the result of the match, or find it out from me. We had folks wearing flags, with maple leaf face paint, Canada jackets, T-shirts, hats… One lady said she’d been in CostCo when the match was won and the place went mad. I couldn’t work out why CostCo in particular, but then I remembered they have a huge display of big-screen TVs. Where better to watch the match?
I was sorry to miss the closing ceremony, but got home to find Mrs Dim had recorded it for me. I had been surprised by how brilliant the opening ceremony had been, and regretted not recording that, so I’m looking forward to watching this one later.
People are starting to wonder what we’re all going to do now the Olympics have happened. Are we going to go into a post-apocolympic slump? But that’s not really fair. In a few days, on March 12th we get the Paralympics, and if you thought the struggle of the athletes in the regular games was inspiring, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I shall be watching the opening ceremony (and recording it) because Eldest Weasel is one of the schoolchildren who’ll be singing with Nikki Yanovsky, and I spent a good deal of today wrestling with the ticketing system to try and get a ticket for Mrs Dim to attend in person. No joy so far, but I think it’s churlish to complain about something like that when the events themselves will feature people who have overcome far more. I will not be defeated by beaureacracy…though the spelling may give me pause.

So Week Two of Work has begun, and it’s going well. The times are fitting in nicely with Educating Weasels and Mrs Dim’s schedule, and I’m getting enough writing done to feel like I’m not writing to support my new career in retail. (Oh, my new play! It’s going SO WELL. Of course, I’ve had to halve the length and revise my grand plans, but it’s GOING SO WELL! Don’t tell anyone, though. It’s easily startled.) I still don’t have my schedule for the week after next, so I don’t know if my shifts will line up with my elephants and allow me to go on holiday. Now we’re into March time is moving even faster. There’s only a handful of days before Spring Break, only a few more to the holiday and once we’re back from that it’s packing and moving. Tomorrow I’ll pile into the redirection business again. Seems weird, trying to remember what it’s like to be unpacking boxes – this house has been sorted for a while now. We even stopped changing the pictures around, so maybe we got those right at last. Must be time to move.

Ok, I got a job….Now what?

Me, with a real Olympic torch

A real Olympic torch, a real author....

So, that went well. Interview number three, that is. I actually got to feel like a genuine, caring parent, because I made sure Moose got walked before the school run and drove the Weasels to school so I could read to Tiniest Weasel in “Parent Reading Time”. Having rushed through “The Cat in the Hat” (I love the classics) I leapt back in the car and made it to the prospective employment zone in time to meet the Store Manager.

Now, as a point of policy (and not to bore people beyond belief) I’m not going to write about the people or the place where I work unless A: They give me explicit permission to do so or B: It becomes clear that no one there knows or cares about this blog. Since B seems to be the prevailing attitude of the entire world, you may get to hear about it all anyway. But not today.

One of the things I love about being in Canada is the National Pride. Folks love being Canadian. You see it in the advertisements, the fact that the McDonalds arches have a Maple Leaf in the middle, and you can’t miss it right now anywhere in BC. Vancouver is hosting the Winter Olympic games and you can’t move for people in Canada tops, hats, scarves or Olympic mittens. The cars are all festooned with snapping Canada flags, and flags drape the houses, fill the windows, are in every aisle of your favourite Home Improvement Retailer…

It so happens that a couple of our favourite television programmes are on a channel called CTV, and they just happen to be the channel that is screening the principal Olympic coverage. Naturally, their adverts have been saturated with Olympic imagery in the last few weeks, but it’s not just “Watch CTV for the Olympics”, it’s almost all “Support Team Canada” and “Go Canada Go!”. They did a brilliant series of introductions to Canadian Olympians, which made me think – how many members of the British Olympic team could you name? The only one I could really remember was the snotty fourteen year old kid in the posh diving competition*, who blew it at the last minute. What was his name? Exactly. But now we hear about different Canadian Olympians every day. they’re in the papers, on posters in the bus stops, everywhere. I watched the theme song to the Winter Games “I believe”, sung by Nikki Yanovsky and found it very moving. I think I’ve mentioned before, Canadian Pride is a very interesting and non-threatening thing. It’s not about being better than everyone else, not about putting anyone down because they’re NOT Canadian, it’s celebrating the fact that WE ARE Canadian, eh? There are some dreadful commercials by the food suppliers President’s Choice, saying how they supplied some of the food the Canadian Olympians have eaten, and it ends with this “So if they win gold, we’ll take a little of the credit…But not much. After all, we ARE Canadian.”

So tonight, I won’t be celebrating getting a job. Yes,  I’m pleased, it’s a relief and the start of a new phase of life (again!). I’ve noticed how much more I’ve got done in the last few days when I thought I was losing all the time I’ve had at my disposal since we arrived, and I hope I can maintain that momentum when the pace really does pick up. But tonight we’re gathering together as a family and watching the opening ceremony, with popcorn, hot dogs and probably ice cream too. It feels like there’s a great big party here in our adopted hometown and whether there’s any snow up those mountains or not, the world is looking at Vancouver and it would be churlish not to smile and wave. Well, it would be un-Canadian.

*I realise that this may not be the correct name for the event.

Hello, my name is Dim….

I was trying to remember earlier today if I’ve ever been called for a second interview for anything. I don’t think I have. My first few jobs were pretty much cut and dried in the first interview. One job I got seems a tremendous fluke now – the interviewer asked me where I saw myself in five years time. I said I wanted to be a novelist. Probably not the answer they were hoping for from someone interviewing for a post in their photocopy and archives room. Still, I held the job for nearly two years. The trouble is, you’ll have to take my word for that, since I don’t actually have a very good work record.

My first job was at the TVS (Television South) studios in Southampton. I worked there as Receptionist for the Programmes Department, and also delivered mail to and from the Programmes Dept. and the studios. Just as my year’s contract came to an end (and I was hoping to transfer to become assistant to the Assistant Floor Manager in the Studio) TVS lost their ITV franchise. The company split up and I was looking for work again. I spent time working in an off-licence (liquor store for you North Americans) but that was seasonal work. I found a job in a Solicitor’s office (the above-mentioned photocopy and archive clerk job). I stayed there for two years before going back to college for a year. Sadly, the office went on to electronic staff records in the late ’90s and my record was not one of those transferred. So, no reference from TVS, no reference from the solicitors. I spent a happy year at Portsmouth College of Art and Design, came out with a useless bit of paper and had to get another job. I took a temporary position as bar manager/receptionist at The Bell Hotel in Alresford. It lasted for two more years, during which time I got married. When I found myself a “proper” job with the Civil Service, I resigned from The Bell. I went away for the weekend, with a week’s time still to work, and when I came home I found the place had burned down. No reference from The Bell, then. Working for the Civil Service (joke: How many people work in the Civil Service? About half of them!) was great, since it meant I could be close to Mrs Dim as she guarded the peace-loving nations of the world from aggressive types, but Civil Servants work with the military, who are posted in and out of jobs, and by the time I gave up work to look after Eldest Weasel (then just a tiny weasel herself) I had already lost track of my first couple of bosses. Within a year, there was no hope of a personal reference from the Civil Service.

But please don’t think I stopped working just because I was now a full-time Weasel Wrangler. Oh no, I became a writer, and then an Editor. I edited the magazine of the RAF Families organisation, Airwaves. At first the magazine was called Corridors, but we changed the name when everyone finally agreed it was stupid. We changed it to “Airwaves”. Inspired or what? I took on more on behalf of the organisation, becoming an Airwaves Representative and Regional Manager. I went to meetings and wrote reports. Once I even went to the House of Lords and interviewed a Baroness. Oh yes. Can you guess what happens next? Well, there was a thing. All of a sudden all Airwaves Reps were told to stop doing anything. STOP! Someone hadn’t done something, or had done something they shouldn’t, and now there were legal ramifications of some awful extent, and the upshot was that Airwaves – the whole organisation – ceased to be. Shazam! Just like that. There is now the RAF Families Federation, but it’s run by a whole new group of people, none of whom know me. No reference from Airwaves.

Which pretty much brings me up to date. I joined the marvellous TLC Creative, working with Steve and David to Write the wrongs of society…heh heh heh! And I began doing some work for Lazy Bee Scripts, reading and reporting on script submissions. Both those businesses, I’m happy to say, are still around. Two references for me at least, and they must carry some weight because this Friday I shall be returning to the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer for a record THIRD interview, this time (I am assured) merely a formality, meeting the Store Manager. I’m sure you’re agog now. What position have I applied for that needs such a rigorous screening, so many searching interviews? Well, I’m going to be a Greeter. I will be standing by the door as you gracious folks enter the hallowed halls, and I’ll be happy to direct you to the aisle of your choice. Or choose one for you, if you’re up for a magical mystery tour of home hardware.

Hope to see you there.