Saturday, May 26, 2012

Bird Fortress of Pooh?

So, these little birdies nested on my porch.  Tell that a wall of poop they are nestled in behind?  Icky!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Funny Twist

I mentioned before that my new employer, Mark, is a regular customer of my brother's (and previous employer's) shop.  Part of my duties include picking up and delivering products occasionally.  Well, the other day, I was asked to make a stop at my brother's shop.  I'm a professional, so I went.  But I really do not quite trust myself to come face to face with my sister-in-law (who fired me) yet.  I soothed myself by reasoning that she probably wouldn't be there anyway, since she never kept a tight schedule.  When I arrived, there were no employees to be seen, but three customers were waiting in the entrance.  All customer eyes seemed fixed on me with puzzled glances.  I thought the uneasiness was very odd, and so was the fact that three customers were abandoned.  I had worked there for a year and generally 2 or 3 staff members would huddle over each customer offering suggestions throughout the interaction.  Perhaps there was only one employee on staff just then, and they could've been retrieving something from the warehouse for one of the customers.  Perhaps they had gone through with some lay-offs they'd been entertaining.  Then I heard my sister-in-law's voice come from a nearby office.  She told the caller that my brother was present.  I stood there for a minute or two.  No one ever came to wait on anyone.  Then I noticed that the order for which I had been sent, was staged beside the door with an invoice attached.  I took it and left without ever having laid eyes on a single employee.  When I was there, I was the only employee who ever created invoices before the customer arrived.  I considered it good customer service, but no one ever agreed with me.  So, either someone finally acknowleged the wisdom of my method, or it was readied so that I would have no excuse to linger on their doorstep.  On the drive back, I figured that the reaction of the other customers suggested that my sister-in-law had cowardly exited the room to purposely avoid me.  In any case, I did not want to linger either so I was glad that it happened the way it did.

Just as I had returned to my new jobsite, the boss received a call from my sister-in-law.  He looked a little alarmed at me, but said only "ok then, we'll take care of that, no problem."  It was obvious that the conversation was about me and complaintive, so I said, "Did I forget something?  The shop was full of customers so I just picked up the items left for us.  The invoice is here too." 

Mark said, "No, no.  It was something else entirely."  I knew he was lying, but since his purpose was simply to keep peace, I didn't push the issue. 

Sadly, it is believably in character for her to avoid me, and then make waves by claiming I had avoided her.  Despite having my own hard feelings, I walked right through the front door of that shop, stood around for several minutes, so it can hardly be said that I avoided her.  It is also within character for her to fire me and then interfere with my relationship with my new boss.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Denied an Interview

I mentioned before, that I am keeping my second job (one morning per week) for the time being.  Several positions have opened up there.  Before Mark hired me, I had applied for a positon that I had held with that company before.  More correctly, I would often substitute into that position to cover vacations and such.  I should have been a natural choice, the best imaginable candidate, and I felt rather snubbed to have not even been selected for the interview process.  Especially was this so when I discovered that the position had been filled by a new employee who was ill-suited to the sales job for which she had been hired.  I was pleased to learn today that she had given notice that she would be leaving the company.  Someone suggested that I apply for the position again, or one of the other two openings.  I almost laughed.  At this point, since I am gainfully employed, they would have to approach me, and make a gooooood offer before I would even consider them.  As it is, when I find full-time employment, they will have a very difficult time replacing me on the day of the event, because I do a job that takes about a year to learn and is critical to the flow of the entire weekly event.  But, then it is a corporation with deep pockets, who can afford to fly someone in from the main office to cover and train a new matter how skilled you are, you're just a number to them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Challenges of the New Job

So, a little about my new job....  They have a great crew of salesmen and installers, but no one to manage inventory.  The methods they have in place just don't work.  There is a lot of redundance in the paperwork, and different departments track customer orders differently, so there is no cohesion.  One department is tracking orders by a PO number, another department is tracking orders by customer name, and another is tracking by invoice number.  This is really gumming up the works and wasting massive amounts of time--and everyone is overworked as it is.  In fact, they had lost an installer to fatigue just days before I was hired.  He has been replaced by a young kid named Jerry who has an excellent aptitude for the trade, but lacks experience.  I'm up to the challenge, and have already suggested some promising solutions.

I'm starting out as a part-time employee, but the boss, Mark, has already suggested that using me to my full potential will quickly require a full-time schedule.  (For, he intends me to redesign his website, and start experimenting with some internet sales, eventually.)  This part-time schedule has allowed me to keep my other job (one morning per week) for now. 

The work itself is very physically demanding, because I have to reorganize shelves of product, as well as receive incoming shipments.  Then there is the pecking order that has to be established--some quiet posturing and manuevering between coworkers (and it is a company who has never employed a woman before, in a manly sort of industry).  The worst part of a new job is the best part of a new job:  the EXCITEMENT!  I love having control of a project!  I love eating, breathing, and sleeping it!  But I'm exhausted physically and mentally.  I work all night in my sleep, only to rise and go to work!  Good thing Mark started me off part-time! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Out of Thin Air

The job hunt has been a little slow.  I hadn't quite gotten anxious about it yet, when the phone range one evening.  A regular patron of my brother's shop asked me to meet him the following morning to discuss a position with his company.  We arranged a time and place, and I hung up the phone.  My husband asked who the caller was.  I told him.  He asked, "what did he want?"  I said, "To offer me a job."  Then he asked, "Oh, really?  When did you apply?"  I was deeply satsified to answer, "I didn't!"  My husband couldn't completely help being impressed, though he tried. 

Apparently, I had made quite an impression on the man.  Upon discovering that I had lost my job, he immediately wanted me to work for him.  In the course of my interview, he revealed that he had asked my former employers for my home phone number.  A new position is actually being created for me. 

Come to think of it, my previous job came to me out of thin air too!  That doesn't exactly bode well.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grandma's Reaction

My sister arranged for all of the womenfolk to spend the day at Grandma's house.  Since most of us are currently unemployed, we appreciated the diversion.  We all took some crafting supplies and fiddled around with that for the better part of a day.

I arrived at Grandma's house before the rest and the first thing she said was, "So, how did you get the day off of work?"  She said it rather accusingly, so I assumed that mom had told her that I no longer worked for my brother and his wife.  So, I admitted it.  No one had told her, so she stared with her mouth open for a full minute.  I did not wish to upset her further, so I just said that no reason was given.  Then I suggested that the economy made down-sizing a goood option.  She kept reasoning out questions like:  well, no one else knows how to do your job, do they?  did they get rid of anyone else?  etc.  I just said, I don't know to all of them.  She served me a beverage and then concluded, "I've always thought that she [my sister-in-law] didn't want anything to do with our family.  She has just about got him [my brother] separated from us completely now." 

Funny that Grandma's reaction was similar to mine.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Margarita Theory

Well, my mother asked me to help her with an errand one day, and because I was available at a time I routinely would have been working, she realized that something was amiss.  There seemed to be no explanation to give her except to tell the truth--that I had been fired.  Mom was very shocked.  I told her word for word what my sister-in-law had said when she terminated me, and thought it best to leave it at that.  Mom wanted to march down to my brother's shop and demand further explanation, but said that she had another topic to discuss with him that was even more pressing.  What she told me was even more shocking than my news!

You see, my mother had been very free with her advice (crazy, off-the-chart nagging) regarding their potty training for her grandson.  He is approaching 4 years old and has refused to potty train.  Well, she stepped on my sister-in-law's toes pretty hard and hasn't been asked to babysit in ages.  She was recently laid off from her job until springtime, so she offered to keep the child anytime now that she had unlimited free time to spend with him.  Well, my sister-in-law's parents, both being retired, are his usual babysitters.  They generally care for him 2 days per week, so that his mother can be free to work in the shop.  However, they often lament that if they weren't tied down to him they could travel.  Many times, they have asked her to make other arrangements for his care, but since he doesn't get along well with other children and he isn't potty trained, "other arrangements" don't last long and he ends up with his maternal grandparents again.  Even under this pressure, my sister-in-law refuses to let my willing mother watch him. 

Well, about the time my brother announced that we might be facing a temporary lay off, he and his wife were planning a night out with her best friend (and employee) and her husband.  I overheard them reminding one another several times throughout the workday to call my mom.  Neither one of them wanted to make the call, so I asked my brother why they kept avoiding the issue.  He said, "Oh, we just want her to watch the boy while we go out to [this certain] restaurant."  I said, "That shouldn't be any big deal.  Mom would LOVE to watch him; I'm sure she'll say YES."  He said the problem wasn't with mom and wouldn't elaborate.  I remembered that my brother once said that they never ate at this restaurant (he didn't like the food), but sometimes went there for the margaritas.  I thought no more of it until mom explained how the rest of that evening had gone.

Even on very short notice, Mom was glad to babysit that evening.  She and my little nephew (her grandson) had a blast until his 8pm bedtime.  She watched TV until my brother came home at...1:00 in the morning!  My mom never stays up after 10pm, so I thought that was very inconsiderate.  I told mom so.  She said, "No, I wasn't concerned about that.  Your brother came home alone.  He said that they drank at the restaurant until it closed and then moved the party to the other couple's house for more drinks.  At 11pm, my brother suggested that they go home to relieve Mom.  His wife refused, so they stayed longer.  Finally, at 1am, my brother decided that he could not impose on Mom a moment longer and headed home.  His oldest daughter (about 14 years old) got out of bed when she heard him come in and asked, "Where is Mom?"  He looked defeated, shrugged, and said, "You know your mom."  She pursed her lips, rolled her eyes, and said, "Yeah, I know Mom."  My mom was puzzled, so my brother said, "They offered to bring her home when she's ready to leave."  Their daughter said, "I'm not holding my breath; she's not coming home tonight."  Mom knew it was uncomfortable for them, so she left without showing any concern. 

So, Mom suspects that she stumbled onto a big family secret about some alcoholism, or possibly worse.  Since our father was an alcoholic, we are all very sensitive on the issue and have a low tolerance for the abuse of alcohol.  Mom theorizes that this might have something to do with why I was fired.  If my sister-in-law thinks that my mother told me of that night's events, it would be very difficult for her to face me daily, for I would surely think less of an alcoholic sister-in-law.  And she could not plan their next booze binge in front of me as she had done previously.  And that might account for the "walking on eggshells" defense she gave for terminating my employment.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When the Family Finds Out

I have been avoiding phone calls. For one reason, I don’t care to be available to assist the staff to cover my former job assignment.  Since I was fired, I can’t justify helping a former coworker locate files for example.  I don’t want to explain these events to anyone in the family.  I feel that my brother and his wife should have the first opportunity to defend their actions.  I expect my mother to stop in at the shop in the week or so.  Then, they can break the dreadful news to her.  She, in turn, will denounce their actions among the family, and I will no doubt picture the victim of their heinous treatment when she distributes the news.  And the ears will be in my favor, however she tells it. 

This will injure my brother, but I don't see how I can or should protect him from it.  He ought to exercise some control over his household, especially as it affects his business.  His wife has set things in motion to undo all the success my brother has made of their company (and not just by letting me go), and who will guard them from the consequences?  Even as a beloved sister, I can rightly say, "that is not my job."

I've also wondered that if she felt stifled in my presence, then what will be said and done without me there as a restraint?  Odd.  I have never involved myself in any conflict of theirs, marital or otherwise (although they divulged much in my company).  I've actually jealously guarded their secrets.  Early on, I determined to behave as an employee, not as a big sister.  The cause of her fear can only stem from a guilty conscience.  I certainly never gave her cause to fear being exposed. 

In some ways, I suspect that my sister-in-law has purposely maneuvered events to alienate the last member of my brother's family.  Nearly everyone has expressed concern over my employment with them over the course of the last year.  They wonder how I can tolerate her.  I did tolerate her--with some difficulty.  I even wanted to like her, but then I was motivated by a paycheck.  I know that she has poisoned my mother's relationship with my brother to such a degree that she is nearly forbidden to see her grandson.  This she did over trifling offenses committed by my mother (complaints about the grandson's failure to potty train and his consumption of sugar).  My sister has such an aversion to the sister-in-law's competitive nature that she lost interest in them both soon after they were married.  With Grandpa dead, Grandma is easy enough to ignore.  With my dismissal, she may have successfully cut every family member out of their lives. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dreadful Dreams

I've been reeling from the shock of being fired.  I can't help but dwell on the topic.  After all, I am headless in all of my dreadful dreams, and I have a massive amount of idle time on my hands that comes with being unemployed. 

Perhaps I should go back to the part about being headless.  Yes, the dream I had the night I was fired was a dream where I had to wear a prosthetic head in public until my own grew back.  I blamed my sister-in-law for my headless state, but my mind did not expand on the idea.  In the course of the dream, I was applying make-up to the blank head and thinking that it was still ugly and I would be ashamed to leave the house wearing any head but my own.  It was very disturbing indeed!  In subsequent dreams, I have been part of a search party looking for the heads of dead family members which inexplicably disappeared in the middle of the night.  My sister and I comfort each other as the only survivors of the massacre.  When we are struck with dred that the murderer and head robber might return for us, I awake!

Perhaps my dreams are hyper-vivid because I don't allow myself to dwell freely on the termination of employment during the day. 

In the moments that I let myself examine the events leading up to my termination, I find myself asking many questions.  For instance, why didn't my sister-in-law choose to use their financial difficulties to explain it?  They were already threatening to lay off workers.  If they would have laid me off, then they could tell the family a sob story about how sorry they were to have to let me go.  They would have been the victims, and I would be collateral damage.  I think it noteworthy that my sister-in-law chose to stand toe-to-toe with me and fire me to my face all the while claiming that I am intimidating and unapproachable.  Perhaps she lacked the courage, until this manic episode.

The timing was very odd. Another coworker had just remarked how well everyone was getting along, and how smoothly things were running.  I had to agree.  Though I wasn't particularly happy with my sister-in-law, her mood seemed to be better than usual (characteristicly manic).  The day before my termination, my brother was even altering my workstation to accomodate my petite build.  The alterations would make it very difficult for any of the others to work there comfortably.  They had recently included me in a staff photograph that they're having published in a sales flyer.  I have 1000 new business cards with my name and contact information on them.  No, there really was no sign that they had planned something this drastic for long.  Something happened between 6pm one night and 1pm the next day.  I think I can properly disown any causality. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lying in Wait

I arrived to work today, to find my desk covered with items not belonging to me.  The pile was so high, that I could not reach my monitor.  A voice behind me says very seriously, "We need to talk."

I spun around and my sister-in-law said very calmly and deliberately, "I feel like I have to walk around on eggshells because I can't deal with you.  I find myself asking everyone else to do what I'd like you to do which isn't fair to anyone."

I asked, "What have I left undone that you asked me to do?" 

She explained, "Well, that is just it, I didn't ask you to do anything.  You're not approachable.  I should be comfortable around my own employees.  I'm sorry, but it just isn't working out."  With that, she handed me my final paycheck and asked for my key. 

I was completely shocked!  For a moment, I thought I would lunge at the throat beneath that smug expression.  Just then, my brother appeared in the doorway behind her with a mortified look of embarrassment mixed with empathy.  I poked around the desk for a few personal items which I loaded up into my bag.  My brother said that I could come back any time for forgotten items later remembered.  A moment later, I found her at her station and turned in my key.  She muttered something unintelligible, a syllable or two.  And, I left.  In Colorado, you can terminate employment for any reason, or for no reason.

I wanted to bring the house down with a fit of immense proportions, but my brother would suffer most.  Besides, she really did take the lion's portion of blame by admitting that she is intimidated by me.  And, if I treated my husband as she does, I wouldn't want his sister to be a daily witness to it either.  She ought to fear what a family member might relate about her behavior. 

And then there is the possibility that when her manic episode (I am sure she suffers from bi-polar disorder) is over, and she quits--which she frequently does--I might be asked back.  Remember, she fired me once before, but recanted within 10 minutes.  And she doesn't like to do actual work.  Yes, she likes to barge in and shout orders, but primarily, when she is at work, she is watching videos and socializing and encouraging the staff to do the same.  Everyone of us has been known to admit that nothing really gets done when she is there.  Of course, most of them enjoy the fact that her presence brings on a holiday of sorts.  I think that my brother and I were the only ones ever bothered by the lack of accomplishments on those particular work days. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Possible Lay Off

My brother announced to the staff that we may have to lay a couple of people off for a week or two.  Year end taxes nearly broke the bank.  There is plenty of work scheduled on the horizon, but after this payroll, there won't be any money left.  Everyone started brainstorming about debts we could collect and customers we could approach to increase our sales opportunities.  It was just the response he wanted to hear, and everyone left the meeting feeling rather hopeful.

Just then his wife arrived, collected the staff together, and began haughtily, "We have let you people slide for too long!  We're all going to have to buckle down--."  My brother quickly cut her off, saying that he had already addressed the staff on this matter.  She was disappointed because she had prepared quite a tirade.

I didn't care for the fact that her tone seemed to suggest that the fault lie with us, when she manages the money. 

Later, it slipped out that me and the new guy were the ones they intended to lay off, if it came to that.  I thought that somewhat odd, since my sister-in-law's skills are geared toward accounting.  Yet, somehow, the girl caring for the day to day accounting, buying, and billing (also her best friend) was in no danger of being affected by the lay off. 

I set to work with sales as my goal.  What did the boss's wife busy herself with?  She pulled everyone off of their projects to reorganize the warehouse, move furniture, change stations.  Clearly, she is less concerned about making money than she is setting things in order so she can manage without a staff! 

Anyway, enough monies could be collected from past due invoices to more than cover the rent and payroll.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Setback

My boss's wife pushed for several trademarked items to be listed on a certain online site where we were selling some merchandise.  I ignored her as long as I dared, but she insisted more adamantly.  And when I thought that my job was in jeopardy, I did as I was told.  Immediately, I received warnings from the site administration and the content was removed.  Her response was rather flippant, and she insisted that we push the issue and relist the items.  As a result, our storefront was shut down indefinitely.  This set back my department one whole year and set our online sales back to zero.

She had always thought another venue would be more profitable, though admittedly more expensive.  So, I began to build a second storefront on the new site.  Well, the cost was overwhelming, the results underwhelming (as I had predicted).  But I had started a third and forth store on some lesser known sites that began to see steady results, so I felt that my job was secure.

She commissioned a new employee to build a stand alone website, and work on that began.  I thought once of feeling threatened by this, but since the task was rather outside and above his skill level, it would take time.  Lots of time.  And they had ignored my warning that the site could not draw much traffic with the planned approach.  It has been several months now, but the stand alone website is scheduled to launch next Friday.

I don't know what this will mean for my future with the company.  I have only been consulted on the new project occasionally, which is odd since I am the Online Sales & Marketing member of the team.

Also, this week, all of my assigned tasks have been very menial.  For instance, a phone was placed at my work station.  I was told that the morning shift will share the responsibility of reception as always, but when my shift begins, that task will fall exclusively to me.  Hmmm.  Okay.  Also, from now on, it is my job to take out the trash and clean the warehouse every Friday.  This used to be a shared responsibility that was rotated.  I suppose, that since my department is struggling financially through no fault of my own, these tasks justify keeping me on to free up other members whose endeavors are currently bringing in more money. 

The day after being informed of these changes, I was busy with a customer and was carrying a heavy load from the rear of the warehouse where there are no phones.  The phone began to ring.  And ring.  And ring.  I looked around to find that all the eyes of the entire staff were fixed on me.  I made a dash to the phone, knowing full well that it was a test.  I was nearly to the phone when the new guy reluctantly picked it up.  I swiped it from him hastily, threw a look of displeasure to everyone, and said, "no, that is MY JOB!"

A few minutes later, my brother noticed that I had started to cry, but he dared not interfere.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Setting Aside Differences

In one of my most recent posts, I concluded that the job situation was doomed. I wasn't wrong, but a strange turn of events has kept me employed. The rocky relationship with the boss's wife (and sister-in-law) degraded to the point that I was almost certainly going to be fired. The next day, a young man (and mutual friend to the entire staff) was killed in a tragic car accident. My boss's wife immediately declared a truce, siting as her reason that life is too short to stay worked up about our petty differences. I agreed. We began to focus on the work. I was glad that we buried the hatchet, because only a week later, our Grandfather died. We were both grateful that we could deal with that free of resentment over the work tension. Since then, things have been fairly stable. Nothing like a series of unfortunate events to set you straight on what is truly important....