Tag Archives: employment

From the “Vicarious Traveling” Travelogue

15 Jul

blog imag swedish fish

Friends went to Sweden which means that parts of me also went to Sweden (my mind as well as my inner tall, blonde, multilingual, weirdfish-eating self).

My favorite part of the trip was returning home and attempting to incorporate the concept of “fika” into my life.  “Fika” is a daily Swedish coffee break except coffee is not required and it often lasts for over an hour.  It is time spent socializing, unwinding and having a not insubstantial nosh.  A sort of high tea but with lots more umlauts.  A respite, but with dried fish included- like surströmming or tatami I washi.  (Thank YOU Wikipedia!)

Imagine if employers in the US authorized an afternoon break with food and friends and World Cup bonding and such.  They would be just like the unauthorized breaks we take in the morning now, except those can sometimes feel edgy as people really seem to want coffee with the half and half that was right in the breakroom refrigerator as of 5PM yesterday.

Then imagine a job where folks stand around the water cooler while holding ceramic mugs talking about non work-related things like reality tv, sports or standardized testing and know that I would no longer be working there by now (assuming that I passed the background check).  I like people but I hate prolonged small talk.  Who am I kidding?  I hate chit-chat of any duration.  Even if it means avoiding work.

I do appreciate the spirit of fika though, as I believe that we all need to individually reassess and relax a little during the middle of the day or possibly earlier in the day or most of the day, even.  Some would call that being “underemployed” but I’m going to go with dreamer/fika.

When I told Spouse that we would begin fika-ing ourselves silly during the middle of the day while The Boy was at school, he may have misunderstood.

Next day, he showed up for our first fika bearing gifts of champagne, chocolate and a Lyle Lovett CD (don’t ask).

And when I busted out the knäckebröd and lärtsoppa och pannkakor, he didn’t say much either which is everything you could want in a fika.

With lingonberries on the side.

Why I (Presently) Don’t Work Full Time

20 Sep

the capn

I wrote such a stellar resume and cover letter in response to a recent job listing that any prospective employer would feel foolish for even considering anyone else for this position.  And you know I mean it because I used lots of italics.

All active verbs and adjectives were prodded into action: I excel and complete things at both a high level and at a granular one.  I am not only an expert, I am also adroit, proficient and highly-skilled.  I use words like “proficient” and “adroit.”  I am a team player who enjoys working alone (especially if the uniforms are off the rack).  I am self-motivated yet capable of spacing out in front of a box of Cap’n Crunch while contemplating the contraction “Cap’n.”  I know what a contraction is, damn it, and I’m pretty certain that “Cap’n” is a fine one.

I am the greatest ________ who ever lived and I am willing to work for only a fraction of my worth.

So what’s stopping them from hiring me?  (PS: do I really want to work for a company who doesn’t have their uniforms tailored?)

Toner.

Toner is what’s preventing me from fulfilling, nay, exceeding my potential by getting hired, being promoted (more than once) and taking over the company.  Toner.

Toner and The Boy.  (Which really does sound like a bad TV-cop show.)

The Boy, who, for who knows how long, has covered the walls of his room with downloaded pictures of Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Vergara and Tina Fey.  (I really should go in there occasionally.  If only to retrieve all the cutlery that he has also been stashing under the bed for who knows how long.)  It’s a teen version of “binders of women” on those walls- without the creepiness.

And I understand where he’s coming from: the shiny hair, the bangs, the curves and the general loveliness.  (Although he says that in Tina Fey’s case she represents smart and quick-witted women everywhere.)

It’s just that for as long as The Boy has been printing, he has also been putting empty toner cartridges in the place where full cartridges used to be.  And you know I’m mad because, again, italics.

(Side note: should you get an interview and decide that you no longer want the job, say, because the morning commute is eastbound and the early sun can damage fine skin, do what others have done: during the interview, drop random words into your answers then flee leaving the employers feeling, what I like to call, “dazzled and confused.”  Beginners will often start by referencing more popular words like “the Google,” “the Netflix” or “Sanford and the Son” while more seasoned interviewees know that the fun lies in making references that only your friends will understand.  Phrases like: “the Dufresnes study, as presented by Mr. Hedberg, puts forth that humans have limited patience.”  Or, “Robert Lee has been instrumental in introducing Asian philosophies to today’s workforce.”  The less they get, the more they will insist that the office cannot run without you.  That’s my theory.)

So, to answer your question, Spouse, The Boy is the reason I don’t have the perfect job today.  He used up all my toner and now I’ve lost all my mojo.

“Missing Her Mojo:” How one mother’s search for employment leads to an entire bedroom makeover.  (On Lifetime this Fall.)

Back to School

12 Sep

back to school

Here’s why I hate the first day of school:

First: I am not known for being quick.  To move.  To judge, well, who’s to say?  (Actually, I am.)

I revel in all things slow (side note: future NPR show- “All Things Slow”?)  Friends have been known to doze as I search for the exact word whilst in conversation (for example, “whilst”) while others have consumed an entire meal before I have properly plated my green beans opposite my cranberry sauce (Spouse, Thanksgiving 2008).

It takes about a week once school ends for me to fully develop my summertime groove- from switching bed linen to a higher, more luxurious  thread count, to picking berries to add to my morning beet smoothie (side note: future morning music show about ska-influenced music titled “Beat Smoothie”?) and then imagine, if you can, how disruptive deconstructing that groove can be.  You see now how the first day of school is overwhelming, at best, and, at worst, a total Weepfest (September, 2011).

Secondly: the paperwork.  Every year it’s the same.  Science lab rules, gym class rules, homeroom rules.  Where are the Stevie Ray Vaughn Rules rules?  Doctor’s information, emergency contact (where you ferret out true friends and then saddle them with caring for your sick child because the school cannot reach you at any of the contact numbers you provided- oops, did I leave off a digit?) plus an improved code of conduct- NEW for 2013-2014!  The “I will not wear sleepwear to school rule!”  (PS: I didn’t even know that wearing pajamas had been an option.  Oh, the Lifetouch pictures we could have had- complete with airbrushed option and crooked hair.)

Third: lunch.  The Boy has watched enough Food Network to now believe that only fresh basil and hand-hewned croutons are acceptable in a salad.  Who hews?  Of course, a PB&J is fine if you’re rushed (hello, it’s me) as long as the bread is stone ground whole wheat, preferably cold-climate grown.

Fourth: the clutter.  The constant jumble of socks and shoes and backpacks and lunchboxes.  And books and binders and paper and such.  All in front of the kitchen door.  You know, the door that we must fly out of right now if we are to make it “on time.”

Finally, about the quest to arrive “on time.”  I put quotation marks around “on time” because while “time” is more of a “concept” to me, previous employers have adopted a more literal definition of “time” and the “wasting” thereof plus the need to “show up on” it.  But, hey, we’re all different and both schools and workplaces benefit when tolerance is practiced.  Besides, who am I to judge?  Oh, right.  I’m the unemployed one.

Let’s not even discuss the switch to Standard Time where, from November to March, I am 59 minutes late for everything.  Oh sure, I eventually make up a few minutes here and there- mostly at doctor’s appointments because physicians have even broader definitions of “time,” “schedule,” and “appointment” than I do, but it’s not the same.

Plus the reason I am at the doctor’s office is due to some nasty germ that The Boy brought home from school anyway.

Then, from my scratchy-sheeted sick-bed, I will begin counting down the days until summer vacation again.

259 from today.

*I really needed soy milk and paper towels.

2 May

I am not one to take out my frustrations on a person who is just doing their job.

After all, I once worked as a UPS package handler (for two days.)

Of course, having achieved a certain level of self-awareness, I now know that I prefer spending the day standing and lifting heavy things to sitting at a desk and then going to the gym where I pay money to stand and lift heavy things.

Plus when I did work for UPS, I conserved precious brain energy for use during off hours which resulted in such a surplus I should have at least written a movie treatment and a children’s book series (“Why Mommy Drinks,” “Why Mommy Cries,” etc.) instead of spending hours hanging with friends contemplating the corn dog (which came first?), Tinky Winky (the only gay Teletubbie, really?) and The Smiths (great band but so sad).  Also- I had paid vacation and health benefits.  Those were good days.  Both of them.

So, obviously, I have no issue with working for a living.  It’s just that, if you happen to be a Food King cashier, why not rule the Food King Kingdom by becoming Emperor of All Things?  And by “Emperor of All Things” I mean stop asking me the names of all the weird fruits and vegetables I buy and just do your job.

New policy: if you don’t know what the produce is and you ask me, instead of looking it up or learning it, I’m going to tell you that it’s the cheapest fruit in the store until your front-end manager freaks out and banishes you to clearing jams at the Coin Star machine (so many germs!)

From now on, all unrecognized produce is a Granny Smith apple (on sale this week for $1.29/lb.).  A pear that is so fragile it comes wrapped in cushion like a museum artifact?  If you ask me, I will say it’s a Granny Smith in pajamas.  Tomatillos?   Granny Smiths still in their husk.  And persimmons?  Why, they’re how Granny Smiths look before they turn green and lose their leaves.  Everyone knows that.

So listen up Food Kings- I have been where you are.  Accept your current employment situation, pass your produce test and move on.

I often shop while conserving brain energy and your constant badgering is a drain on my limited supply.

Although that does help explain why I came home with one doughnut (thank you for not asking me “how many?”) and a plant.*

We’re Gonna Need a Better Back-Up Plan

18 Apr

I bought a mega millions ticket.

You know things are tight if I buy a lottery ticket, singular.  Finances may be dire but that doesn’t make me a fool.  One lottery ticket is fine; it’s a tiny dream- like wishing on one star for 161 million other stars to align.  A bundle of lottery tickets is a desperation move and if I were going to take that route, I would buy myself a $100 dollar pair of Skechers Shape Up Toning Shoes and develop a Plan B that features my improved bottom and pays me money for it (or have the Kardashians beaten me to it?)

Plan C includes consulting the Feng Shui book then cleaning all the windows in the house.  According Feng Shui, money cannot find its way into your home if the windows are dirty.  On the plus side, neither can Jehovah’s Witnesses- all you have to do is duck below the grime and whisper.

But I’m not worried- I’m too busy being what my workforce counselor calls “proactive.”  “Pro” from the Latin indicating “favoring”  and “activ” from an infomercial meaning “acne control.”  My employment counselor has great skin.

Besides, there are always scratch-offs which, as of today, equate to $500 A Week LESS for Life (for me).  I swear, as soon as the boy turns 18, I’m buying the “For Life” lottery tickets for him, The Prince of Longevity.

I call that Plan W.  As in “What becomes of Grown Ups with English Degrees?”

More untapped career choices

31 Jan

Here’s what happens when you’ve been unemployed for a while: the “dream job” that you often fantasized about while AT WORK becomes significant as your six-week review with the “employment solutions counselor” is here and you must have something to show for your time besides a renewed appreciation for the character “Lucky” as voiced by Tom Petty on “King of the Hill.”  (Side note: Tom Petty is a native Floridian.)

 

So, to my employment counselor I offer:

Second to Naan: a lunch truck that serves, stuffed or topped, freshly baked naan.  You may ask how successful an Indian lunch truck could  be here in Venisonland but that, I feel, is a question more for a counselor with “solutions” in her title than it is for me.  I’m too busy thinking.

Thinking: so obvious yet it appears on my soon to be released “List of Endangered Things.”  I could do this for any number of employers.

Batter Up: a food truck that will deep fry ANYTHING.  From baby shoes to engagement rings as well as the classics: Oreos, apple pies and sticks of butter.  Located in Cooperstown, NY, this service caters to visitors to the Baseball Hall of Fame and is aptly named.

The Truth Booth: a cardboard washing machine box that sets up anywhere (parties, reunions, etc.) to afford privacy.  For a fee, you may bring an individual into the booth whereupon I will tell them what you cannot.  Specializing in: “that hairstyle makes you look like you’re 100” and “your son (daughter) is smoking the (your) pot,” we also create custom rhyming verse like:

“Your spouse is a louse/get him out of the house./Yeah and the other day in the kitchen?/I saw a mouse.  You need to clean, girl.”

or even Haiku:

 

dry, dusty cooking

eternal sands of marriage

ketchup is my friend.

 

And from my employment counselor I request:

a part-time, sit down (in one of those vertebrae-aligning kneeling chairs and not a cushy wheely chair) but not too much sitting (as a visit to WebMD indicates that Spinal Stenosis can be aggravated by sitting), number- crunching (but not crazy big theoretical numbers with all kinds of commas and decimals), well-paying position with a mediumsmall-large company and a window.  For my ferret.

 

I suppose we may have to meet in the middle on this.

Meet in the Middle: a lunch truck that prepares selections from the middle of other restaurant menus and deep fries them.  For a fee.  Comes with a side of truth.

Got a minute?

17 Nov

A former boss once sent a memo stating that, among other things, and so on, projections, graphs, etc., we need to “air on the side of caution,” and, in addition, more stuff, so on and so forth and, third quarter words, more words, etc. and once, during a power point presentation, she ended with a final slide that read: “Wallah!”

As in, there you have it!

As in voila.

Now, she was my boss and I didn’t care because I can be a happy little cog when in worker mode but I am a happier, more productive, cog when I am not simmering over a misspelled word so I let it go.

Still, even the most content queen of worker bees, can take only so much before telling the emperor that she has no writing skills.

I ignored the misuse of ensure vs. insure and even agreed with her that the CEO would certainly find an “amenicable” fix for disgruntled middle management.  Then she crossed the line: she sent an email indicating that the amount of time employees spent on “personnel” matters had become “disconcerning.”

So on Friday, just before 5:00, I stopped in her office with a “What are your plans for the weekend and do you think that we should hire a proofreader before you mess up so horribly that our stock value plummets?” on my lips when she opened with “Got a minute?”

Always a bad sign, the “got a minute?” at 5:00 on a Friday.  The only thing worse is the “quick minute.”  The “quick minute” means that your desk is being cleared out and Edwardo from security will be walking you to your car.

Instead, she asked me to read over the letter of resignation she had prepared as she had accepted a promotion and would be leaving our department.  Yes, she was moving “onward and upward” without ever knowing that it’s possible to move onward or upward independently.  (Like vim and vigor.  While you rarely see vim on its own, I can shake a martini using only vigor.  Just an observation.)

And so the emperor left.  We had a nice party, there was cake and punch and best wishes, et al.

I did not get the emperor a farewell gift but I distributed her farewell letter, as requested, without reading it first.  It was difficult, but it was what she wanted.  In the letter she explained that while she “would miss us, [she] is excited to pursue this opportunity in the South where the people are more gentile.”

Note: I did not get her a gift.  That does not mean that I didn’t give her a gift.

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