Monday, February 12, 2007

Jobs I didn't like--Part 3

Due to my husband's strange schedules, I didn't have a job for about five years. I had to give up some things, including my car. And I couldn't drive his truck either. If I wanted to go anywhere, I had to wait for him to drive me.

So then he starts teasing me about getting a job. Now this was very annoying, because I couldn't get a job without a car, and it was his idea for me to give up the car and not work. But, I tried to figure out a place that I could work that wasn't too different from his schedule so that he could drive me to work. And I'd try to figure out how much money I could make if I got hired at such and such place. So then he'd tell me that wasn't worth the effort, that he didn't want to drive me around and so forth.

So, I won't be getting a job, and you can quit bugging me about it.

But he proceeded to point out every stupid job that there was, whether they were hiring or not. So we were in the library one day, and he's telling me I can be a security guard for the library. No thank you.

But, a library clerk heard us talking, and said that they needed a clerk. Now, library clerk was a job that I would have wanted if my husband had a normal schedule and I had a car. But he didn't and I didn't, so that probably wasn't going to work out. But my husband told me to try anyway.

Working at the library is still a government job, and it is a bit of a hassle. You can't just ask for an application, you have to apply through the city, talk to people who have no idea what the job is about, and all sorts of stuff like that. So, I went to apply, and they gave me the wrong application. And I was pretty sure that I had the wrong application, but they told me that was the only job that the library was hiring for. Fine. I filled out the application, and then I went back to the library. The job I wanted had just been filled, so that was why I was given the application for page instead of for clerk. And they really didn't even need a page at the moment, but they would keep the application. Fine.

Well, I went into that thinking that it wasn't going to work out anyway. But for a while I had my hopes up, so it was disappointing. After a couple of weeks, I forgot about it.

And then someone called and asked if I wanted to be a page, temporarily. So I thought, sure, I can be a page until a clerk position opens up. My mom helped me get a car. The page job paid a third less than the clerk, and it didn't come with any benefits, so it wasn't worth getting a car for that, but since I thought this put me in line for the next clerk position, I got the car and took the job.

It was not at the branch I had applied to, it was the one in downtown Fort Worth, and that sucked, but not as much as downtown Dallas. I almost had to forget the whole thing, because everyone who gets a job with the city has to take a drug test. Fine. But that was the first time I'd done that, and I didn't bring my driver's license, cause I wasn't driving again yet. So I had to wait twenty minutes for my husband to go back and find my ID. And I'm sitting there with the almost bursting bladder, and I am just about to say forget it. I really wish I had.

The guy who hired me was a doll. He was very mellow, sort of like Mr. Rogers, except that every once in a while he'd try to tell a dirty joke or something. But, it turned out that someone else was in charge of the department. I did not like this woman one little bit. Some people respect her doing her job, other people like her as a friend, but I don't think that anyone tries to do both. Some managers have actual brains, while some just have rule books. She had a rule book. She was afraid that we were being spied on, that someone would come in with a hidden camera and we'd be on the evening news and our budget for the next year would be cut. We couldn't just go and do something and then sit down for a bit when we were done. We always had to stand up and look busy. The only reason we were allowed to sit down was to stamp due date cards, so we would actually fight over who got to do that chore. We could not sit down at any other time except for during break, and break had to be taken in the break room, not sitting at a desk where you could talk to someone.

So if I had known that woman came with the job, I would have turned it down to begin with. But, I thought that I would only have it until they needed clerks at a branch, and they were going to open a new branch soon and would need several clerks. If I could just smile at this woman for a few more months, it should be okay.

So, I waited for the job openings to be posted, and I went to apply for the job, and I went back later to find out what tests that I would need to take, did I need to practice my typing, and stuff like that. And I was told that I wasn't going to be called in for tests, because my application had already been turned down. So this woman told me that I'd have to be a page for a least another year before I'd be considered for a clerk job; you can't just get promoted like that. But before I came here they were thinking of hiring me as a clerk with no library experience, but now that I'm here and have some I have to wait another year. I don't think so. I actually cried about it. Anyway, I waited until the job was posted again while she was on vacation, hoping that maybe it was something that with her gone it might slip past someone else's desk who did not have this insane idea that I had to stay there a year before I did anything else, but no luck. So, I saved up enough money to be out of work for a couple of months to look for another job, and I gave two weeks notice. If I have to wait another year before I can apply for the job again, at least I won't waste that year in her company.

I even said that I would be a page at a branch rather than work with her anymore. This upset some office people for a bit. First they tell me I can't transfer without this woman's permission, so I quit, and then they get mad because now they have to do my paperwork all from scratch, because I quit. Whatever.

Turns out I didn't stay around long enough to see about being a page at a branch. I went on an interview, but then my husband got a job where he was out of town most of the time, so I decided to go with him instead.

I actually worked with him for a few months, but I'm not allowed to discuss that. Let's just say that his boss would pretend to be all concerned about your problems, but really she was just a greedy bitch.

A year and a half later, my husband finally quit that job, and I got a job at a technical school. They called it a bookstore, but it was more like a convenience store. Now I really liked that place. I worked from about 8:30am to 12:30 pm, Monday through Friday. I made friends with many of the students. People would come in with a high grade on some test they'd worried about and all but hug me. Mostly, I saw a lot of them in the breaks between classes, and the rest of the time I sat around reading a book or something like that.

There was this bad thing about the job. We did actually sell a few books, and that was where the students got their textbooks at the beginning of the semester. So I was in charge of those too. And a box of books is very heavy, and I had trouble deal with that. And even worse than the books were these big boxes of paper. The students all had to have this special paper that you couldn't just go to Walmarts and buy, so we had tons of the stuff. When we got a new shipment of paper, it usually took me two or even three days to deal with it. Once, I hurt my should picking up a box of books.

As much as I liked those people, I don't think that I could do that again.

At the same time as I had the bookstore job, I was also supposed to work at Six Flags through a temp agency. It was sort of like being a booster, except that when they didn't have enough of the cheap boosters to do the work, they called a temp place. So I not only got a paycheck, but I got a free Six Flags ticket everyday that I worked.

Which only turned out to be one or two days. I was supposed to work all of spring break, cause school was out and they didn't need me at the bookstore. Fine. So I worked at Six Flags for a day or two, and then it started raining a bit. Not bad or a long time or anything, but it just looked grey and probably people didn't want to go to the park just in case it would rain later. So they told most of us that they didn't need us for the rest of the week, cause business was slow. After that, I kept getting called for shifts I already said I couldn't work. I could work the morning shift on Saturday, or maybe Sunday, but I really didn't want to work Sunday cause I needed at least one day of. Monday through Friday I could work an afternoon shift that started at about 2pm. No evening shifts, cause I already got up early that morning to work at the bookstore. And they rarely got what I was saying at all. No matter how many people I talked to, no matter what I put on the availability sheet, I'd get asked to work too late or when I had to be at the bookstore. Then, on the rare times that they got it right and I was scheduled to work, they would call at the last minute and cancel. If you called them at the last minute to cancel, you'd get fired. But if you told your friends you couldn't do something cause you had to work, and then after you're friends made other plans that did not include you, they would tell you they didn't need you that weekend. So I quit leaving Saturdays open for them. Call me on Friday, and if I just happen to have nothing to do, I'll think about it. But don't call me on Monday, tell me I have a job, and then change your mind on Friday unless you're at least giving me a free ticket to make up for the inconvenience.

Anyway, after almost two years at this bookstore job that I really loved, I had to quit and take a traveling sales job with my husband. I was led to believe that if I didn't do that, he would be let go, and they would hire a couple to replace him. I really did not want anything to do with these people, but we needed the money, and my husband really liked this job, so I went with him.

This was probably the only job that I ever had that would have paid the bills all by itself. But I hated being in sales, and I did not enjoy the travel that much either. I thought it was rather dangerous, and the schedule could have been better. And I hated driving around in a strange place late at night looking for a motel. Sometimes, I wondered if the people who wrote the schedule had ever even looked at a map.

My husband was a portrait photographer, and he takes pictures for church directories and club directories and yearbooks. And after he would take the picture for the directory, he would take a few more pictures, and then I would show them the pictures on a computer and try to get them to buy extra portraits. But I hated the way the job made me feel as a person. To get the best sales, you almost have to trick people into buying stuff. A good salesperson would convince them that they had to buy the portraits with the deluxe finish and the frames. Or talk people to death until they buy stuff. Or convince them that they're really getting a good deal because of the "sale" price, when no one at the company has ever sold anything at the "regular" price.

I just don't like to do anything that makes me feel like I'm cheating someone. But, after several months at it, I started to get really annoyed at people who did not buy lots of pictures. I really knew it wasn't their fault, that most of them were tricked until getting their picture taken in the first place. But I needed to get paid, and I began to wonder how all these people didn't know what was going on, and if they didn't want to buy any pictures couldn't they just stay away so it didn't cost me money when my daily average dropped.

Another really bad thing about this job was they did not give you any kind of break. You did not have a scheduled lunch break, dinner break, or coffee break or anything. Sometimes you didn't have a lot of costumers, or sometimes someone didn't show, but there was no scheduled break. You supposedly didn't need a lunch break because you supposedly only worked six hours. That was six hours you were scheduled to take or sell pictures. There was also about an hour of set up time most days, and an hour of take down time most days, and you were supposed to be there a half hour early everyday. Plus, there was two hours travel time most days. So, on an average day we would leave a motel about 10am, drive for a hour, try to find the place, hope that some one was there to let you in, then either set up and then go to lunch for an hour or go to lunch for an hour and then set up, work the schedule, take down the equipment, drive an hour back to the motel or to a different motel, and usually be done for the day at 10pm. So much for only working six hours. That was usually eight and a half hours plus two hours travel time, with only about half an hour in the schedule that we allow ourselves to run errands, but we only have that if we don't get lost.

The first year I hoped that they had done all of this stuff by mistake. That maybe they hadn't done the math and really didn't know any better. But I was ready to quit if things did not improve, and I wrote them a letter explaining about not getting to eat and getting lost after dark in strange places and all of that. And they said that they understood and they would look into it. And I wanted to be sure, cause I was leaving if things did not improve, and while we were in town they could have my equipment back. But I was assured that everything was fine.

Three weeks later, we are driving around in the middle of nowhere Texas at midnight, trying to find a motel room. So, I plan to leave. If I don't see the schedule upfront and approve it, I am not going on the assignment.

So we get home, and I get a schedule for someplace in Nebraska. And one of the places is like four hundred miles away from everything else. According to the schedule, I have to give up my only day off and drive to this place on Sunday, and then work there on Monday, and then somehow be back on Tuesday to work somewhere else. So I guess we were supposed to drive all night to get there. No thank you.

So I called the office and explained that they had made a mistake and would have to take this one town off the schedule entirely, or maybe move it to the beginning or the end of the schedule so we would have the extra driving time. And I was told that they couldn't do that and they were tired of my complaining and that some other couple was happy to see all the places they were sent, while all I could do was complain. If I wanted to keep complaining, they would get someone else.

Fine, get someone else. That wouldn't change the laws of physics. To work this schedule, someone would have to give up their only day off and then drive most of the night to make it to the next place on time. I told you I would not work for you anymore if you did this sort of thing again. Goodbye.

Then my husband came home, and I told him what happened, and that I didn't know if they were replacing us both or if they were just getting a different salesperson to work with him. So he called them back and supposedly they looked at the schedule and saw the problem and it had been fixed. And if we both wanted to work we could still go to Nebraska. Fine. But I was planning for that to be my last assignment. I had wanted to go see some stuff in Wyoming and South Dakota, and I figured that was the closest I was going to get to it. So, we'd work in Nebraska, and then take a side trip on the way home. The next job wasn't scheduled for more than a month after that, so I figured I'd have time to get a new job and still give two weeks notice before then. I just did not trust them to do anything reasonable.

We got to Nebraska, and the schedule had not been changed at all. So I showed the schedule to a few people in Nebraska, asked them if they thought it could be done, and was told that place was on the other side of the state and it was too long of a drive. Someone in a position to talk some sense into someone called the office and suggested that that town be rescheduled at the end. My boss called an complained that I had embarrassed them at the office. I embarrassed them? How about all the times that we were "late" when we were scheduled to be somewhere when they knew it was physically impossible. But, I agreed to work at this town in two or three weeks, cause it was a bit closer to some tourist thing that I wanted to do.

In the mean time, even though my husband has heard me say I do not plan to work for these people after Nebraska is done, he calls everyday to see if anything has been added to the schedule. He doesn't want to be out of work for a whole month. They add some stuff, and then they add some more stuff, and finally they add too much stuff. Even if I agree to keep working for them, the schedule is now so tight that not only do we not have time to go home, but since we've agreed to go to this town that's four hundred miles away from everything else, it leaves us traveling four hundred miles in the wrong direction just before we are supposed to go someplace in Indiana. Even I agree to do it, even if we give up our day off, we won't make it there in a reasonable amount of time.

So, I say no, and my husband agrees to do it. I have to walk to gas station and call and tell them that he lied and I did not change my mind and I have not even agreed to take this assignment much less give up my day off or anything like that.

Maybe we can come to an agreement if they totally cancel the town that's four hundred miles away from everything else. The schedule there seems pretty empty anyway.

No, they can't do that. Fine. Call me if you change your mind. I figured it would be easier for me to get home by myself from Omaha or Council Bluffs, so I have no intention of going 400 miles away. I make phone calls and find out about buses and airport schedules and all of that.

It has finely occurred to my husband that I am seriously not going to take the next assignment and that I really am quitting. So, he says he'll quit to. I'd rather he did not do that. He's become part of the problem, and I really don't want to me stuck in a motel room with him for the rest of the day, much less have to be stuck in a car for two days with him acting like that. I want to go home, by myself, while you work for a month or so in another state and I have some time to myself to think.

Well, I would have missed a lot of cool tourist stuff if I had done that, but I think in the long run I would have been better off. He kept saying that he was going to quit, but if he was, why didn't he call the office and tell them. It's not fair to do that to someone, even the idiots at the office.

Anyway, neither of us quit that time. He promised that he would not do anything stupid like drive in the middle of the night or drive when he was too tired from already working and stuff like that. And we wouldn't have a day off that week, but it would probably be okay after that. And if we were late to something because they didn't write a reasonable schedule, too bad for them. And I stopped skipping meals. If they didn't want to schedule a break, they'd just have to lose some sales while the customers watched me eat.

We did some really cool tourist stuff later, but the point of having a job is making money not doing tourist stuff. And they kept doing things that cost us money. And I was tired of being on the road.

Then there was the whole 9-11 thing. We were supposed to take pictures of people at a school on a military base. Our first day of work at that place was September 10th. It wasn't a great day, but we got all of our equipment set up, and we were supposed to be able to leave it there in the same place for about a month. And I really liked the building and the way everything was set up and the parking and all of that. And there were places to have lunch on the base, and our motel was right across the street. And I guess the military people notice things like there is no scheduled dinner break, because we suddenly got one, at least for that month. I was pretty happy with the situation. I didn't know how long I'd stay after it was over, but this was as good as it was going to get with this company.

And then the next day our country was attacked. If you did not have actual military business on the base, you were not allowed in. If you were supposed to be allowed in, you had to wait in line for hours while someone with a dog searched your vehicle.

The idiots at the office thought we were still supposed to work that day, because no one had called to cancel their appointment.

Do you think maybe when your country has just been attacked that the people on the military base might have other priorities than cancelling an appointment that anyone with half a brain should know is cancelled anyway because they aren't letting people like us on the base? They didn't officially give us the day off until about 1pm. The next day they did the same thing. They didn't officially give us the rest of the week off until Thursday.

The idiots at the office were complaining to us that they had to pay our expensives for a whole week when we only worked one day. They wanted us to drive all of the way home and then drive all the way back after it was confirmed that we would be allowed on the base the next week.

I don't think so. How about we either stay here the rest of the week and then go home if they want to cancel the assignment, or we go home now and you get someone else to cover the rest of the assignment cause I am not going to drive all day Thursday and Friday to go home and then turn around and drive another two days to get back here. And it's not like it would really save you a lot of money. Having us stay here might cost you a couple of extra nights at the motel, but having people drive back and forth just wastes time and gas. But they never were good at math, so they complained about it anyway.

The next week we were allowed to go back to work, but we had to move all of the equipment from the nice building to a place that was having stuff torn out of it so it could be remodeled the next year. Half of the building already had people working in it, and they didn't like to share. The "how many people does it take to change a lightbulb" joke became "how many Majors does it take to secure a restroom?" The people on the other side of the building would lock everything up at five, including all of the restrooms, even though we had to work there until at least nine.

We quit eating lunch on the base. It was too much of a hassle to get through that line more than once. So we drove into town and ate lunch there. I slipped in a Burger King parking lot and cracked my arm pretty good. I missed most of a week of work after that.

The last few days the office got all kinds of complaints about us. We were really rushed. We were told we must be packed up and ready to leave by a certain time or else. The road we were using was going to be blocked by these giant concrete barriers. So, we got everyone out on time, whether they liked it or not. Don't like your pictures? I don't care. Not going to buy anything? I still don't care. Do you call this customer service? Hmmm??? I know I'm not going to make any commisions, so I 'm working a couple of days for less than minimum wage, with a cracked arm, and I'm trying to get at least one shot of everyone so that they don't get demerits, and if I'm so much as fifteen minutes late my car and equipment will be stuck here for weeks, and so far I have managed to not turn anyone away and have not told anyone to f*** off or anything like that. So, yes, under the circumstances, I do call this customer service, and in fact, this is really good customer service, and can you please move it along so the guys behind you don't get reprimanded for not getting their pictures in the yearbook???

We went to California for a few weeks. The first week we were in a motel right across the street from Disneyland. We went a couple of days early and did tourist stuff. It was nice to do tourist stuff, especially when there were so few other tourists. But again, the point of having a job is to make money, and people weren't buying that much. People were scared. People thought that they should stay home, or at least save their money for something more important. I get that. I really do. But I'm not sure the idiots at the office got it.

So, I started writing a letter. I'm on to all this stuff that the office does that costs us money. Maybe they'd never had it spelled out for them before. Maybe they were really that dumb. Maybe they didn't know. But the nonsense was going to stop, one way or another.

Before I was done writing, they sent us a letter. Again, they were complaining about the expense money. Really, this people cannot do simple math. If this is how much money that you spent on us, don't you know that you'd have to spend the same amount of money on another couple? And if you don't find another couple, don't you realize that you'd spend almost twice that much hiring two single people?

And do you seriously think that I cost you money during 9-11? Do you know how much it cost me to stay? Do you have a clue? Have you even looked at my money saving suggestions?

I started answering the letter, point by point, and I got to like page ten before I said the hell with it. I didn't want the job anyway. I had told them that I would have to quit like eleven months ago. Let them find someone else to work with my husband, let them spend double the expense money. I don't care. I'm going to rest a bit, enjoy the holidays, and then see about getting another job or maybe going back to college, which was what I meant to do two or three years ago before I was coersed into working for these people.

Except that my husband decides that if they don't want me that he'll just quit too.

That's just great. He can't threaten to quit if they don't start listening to me when we were on the road and it might have done us some good. But now he's quitting. So we're both out of work at the same time and have no insurance or anything. But, he just gave me this look, and there was no talking sense to him. He really did not understand what I was upset about. Fine. Whatever. I've got to figure out my own stuff. You don't want to work for them if I can't tag along, then go get another job.

A few months later, he says that I cost him the best job that he ever had. And he says that to me after I begged him not to quit. Whatever. And that is still what he thinks, that I cost him this great job, the same job that he wouldn't even have had because they would have fired him after the first couple of months if I didn't give up what I wanted to do to tag along. Whatever.

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