Tag Archives: work

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?

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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!”.

Wait, is it February already?

The name of the store has been obscured so I don't bring it into disrepute.

I bet you’re thinking this is YET ANOTHER post about resolutions – well, no it isn’t. Last Friday I ambled into work and was told to expect a parade of folks coming in that afternoon for the annual Spring Hiring Fair. I was to welcome them graciously to the store and ask them to take a seat in the Seasonal Department. I agreed and then started to frown. There was something familiar about the Annual Spring Hiring Fair, now what was it? Oh yes, that was where I came to get MY job….last year.

I very nearly had to go and take a seat in the Seasonal Department myself. A year. A whole year. I’ve been standing by the door and saying “Hello.” to complete strangers for a year.* This was not the plan.

Well, I say that, but what exactly WAS the plan? I know that the playwriting job was not sufficient for the mortgage people, so me having a ‘proper’ job with payslips and all made a big difference there, even if the wages didn’t. I know that it was important for me to feel that I was DOING something to help out with the financial situation, and there didn’t seem to be any reliable ways to increase my writing income. Mrs Dim had the notion that it would be good for me to get out and meet people, and yes, I can now say I have some friends at work, people who I’m glad to see and interested to talk to. So that’s all good then.

That hasn’t stopped me from thrashing my brain trying to figure out the brilliant play, movie or TV idea that will launch me out of regular work and back into full-time writing. I’ve been more consistent with my blogging, as Kristen Lamb recommends, improving my web platform to support my status. It’s a growing business still, but it grows slowly, as we add titles to the TLC canon, as Steve adds new corporate jobs to our repertoire, as we look at other revenue streams. Growth is good, and if I can’t increase the rate of growth, then I’m going to have to accept that I’ll still be wearing my apron and smiling for strangers for some time to come yet. But part of me worries that I’ll be stood there when the Christmas carols are playing again, that I’ll be shivering as the February winds gust through the door with the customers, that I’m envious of the March sunshine outside as I count the minutes until the shift ends. That doesn’t sound like job satisfaction to me.

So do me a favour: If you read this, leave a comment to encourage me. Like “STOP WHINING TRASLER!”

 

 

 

*Ok, after a year, not all of them are complete strangers. And sometimes I say “Good morning!” or “Good afternoon!” and occasionally “Huh? Oh, uh…Fnh..urgh…” when they catch me by surprise. It’s not a precise science.

Work V Childcare : which is harder?

She ain't heavy...she's my daughter....

She ain't heavy...she's my daughter....

For those who don’t know, when my first daughter was born, I gave up work to look after her while Mrs Dim carried on defending the country through advanced filing and HR systems. Prior to becoming a Househusband, I had worked in a variety of jobs. I’d worked at a TV studio, a Solicitor’s office, a pub, a hotel (or, if you prefer, an hotel), an off-licence and finally for the Civil Service (That’s GOVERNMENT work, folks…) So I’d worked shifts, I’d worked nine-to-five, I’d had in-trays and drip trays, I’d been on call and offline, I’d been management, team player and independent worker. I like to think I have a broad experience of working environments.

Then I tried to do the domestic thing and, predictably, I was lousy at it. I had never really run my own house before and got dreadfully behind with the minor things like food and cleaning. I was bang up to date with the internet surfing, but that didn’t help as much as you might think. Slowly, very slowly, and with many shouts and yells and ‘discussions’ I formulated a system to achieve domestic harmony. This can be abbreviated thusly:

Do all the housework before it mounts so high it can topple and kill you.

My house was still not, say, as nice as Nigella Lawson’s, but there was food on a regular basis, the floors were clean enough to walk on without sticking and the laundry would eventually be put away after it was dry. As a bonus, I managed to keep Eldest Weasel fed, clean and healthy, as well as entertained, even when the other two weasels arrived. Before that happened, however, I was already taking on paid writing work, fitting it in between domestic duties and the various marriage maintainence tasks like conversations and evenings out.

Talk about a desk job...work from home...

Talk about a desk job...work from home...

One of the topics of conversation that I noticed was often aired was the comparison between the effort of working (ie, what the man did during the day) versus the stress of childcare/domestic duties (ie what the woman did) I got into trouble by disagreeing with the majority and saying that I found staying home with the kids to be the easier option. People were offended, I discovered. It didn’t matter that I was basing my opinion on accumulated evidence (I have worked, and I have looked after kids: Work was harder.) I was saying something unpopular. Now, please unclench your teeth and read the following statement carefully:

I am not belittling the enormous amount of work necessary to raise even one child and run the average household. It is immense.

I truly believe that running a house is a herculean task, and adding kids into the equation makes it harder by an exponential amount. If you want to bring in the option of being a single Mum, then I will raise my hands and back away. That is effort I could not even contemplate. But look, you can only base your assumptions on your own experience. I can’t say “Climbing Everest is easy – you just keep climbing until you run out of Up”. It might make sense to me, but I have no frame of reference for mountain climbing in the Himalayas, so I would clearly be talking out of my…well, I’d probably be wrong. So, from my own experience, bringing up three Weasels, even moving every two years, even trying to maintain a writing career, even while emigrating to another continent, that’s STILL THE PREFERABLE OPTION FOR ME THAN GOING OUT TO WORK. I’m not saying this because I’m a man, or because I’m a Virgo, or because I was born in Sunderland. I’m saying it because, on the balance of the evidence available to me, that’s how it is.

But I can appreciate that women often feel they are being done down because they are, ultimately, the only ones who can actually have the baby. There’s no real way around that, if you’re determined to hand down your favourite genes, as it were. You want a baby, it’s gonna take nine months, cost you a fair bit of work time and it doesn’t do you any favours on your career path. I would bet that the percentages regarding who gives up work when the baby arrives still show women are most often left…er…holding the baby. But what makes me mad are articles like this one:

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/family-parenting/why-men-can-shirk-housework-blog-3-the-telegraph.html

I’m going to come right out and say I didn’t read it. Never followed the link. So why did I include it? Because the headline was used on the frontpage of my internet home page. I saw it when I first logged on this morning and it serves only one purpose – to aggravate people. Whatever the actual substance of this article, however genuine the scientific study at it’s heart, this piece has been written and published to make women angry, some men hurt and the few remaining lager-swilling, armchair-hogging wife-beating monosyllabic footie-snorting morons cheer drunkenly.

Men can be good at domestic tasks. We really can be. We need to get organised about it, and it doesn’t help if the routine changes unexpectedly. I can run the washing machine, the dishwasher and the dryer. I can hoover the whole house. I can even clean floors and toilets. I need a timetable to make sure I get ’em all done (or a sarcastic comment about the state of the floors) but I can do them. I don’t plead exhaustion after a hard day’s greeting at The World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailers to get out of doing the ironing. So, could the media stop perpetuating this myth that there are women’s jobs in the home and men get to read the papers? Could you folks out there stop believing them? Can people accept that “Househusband” does not mean a man in a pinny, for crying out loud? And can we agree that arguing about whether childcare or office work is harder only matters if you’re doing both?

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.

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.