Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Confessions of a Job Hopping Transplant


I always tell myself that I am going to write a book some day chronicling my adventures in the wonderful world of work. I know I'm on to something because whenever I tell stories about work or my co-workers, people stare at me wide-eyed and say, "No way...you have to be making that up." Over the years, I have gone with the canned response of "How could I possibly make something like (insert random ridiculous situation)?"

The jobs would be broken out into sections. The Cube Farm. The Bar. The Restaurant. The Mall. The Office would look like the ideal workplace by the time I was through. As I think about it, there maybe a book for each section. And of course there would be the section for the Boss in all of his or her forms, both good and dreadful.

Maybe once a week I will post a random story, something that would highlight the reasons I'm on the hunt for something new...or the winning powerball.

Reality Bites


There was a time that I was a manager for a clothing store that is in every mall across America. Which for the record, the pay was decent and the best health insurance I have ever had. With most clothing stores, you need to wear what is in the store. It makes perfect sense. You can't wear Levis if you don't sell them in the store. Corporate came in one day and decided that the location needed a general manager. To call the GM that was brought in bumbling would be offensive to bees. The number one priority for the GM was to make sure OMG THE BAFFROOM IS CLEAN! The fact that there was internal theft meant nothing. Overtime? Who cares. Well, I did because it was awesome the amount of extra cash I was getting, but for the company that was a major no no. Customers were never allowed to use the bathroom since there was one right outside of the store and that was one more place for the thieves to stuff clothing down their pants in private.

The GM came in to the store in the morning and was gone around 4. Monday through Friday and weekends off.  In the retail world, that is a fantastically unheard of schedule. It was like a unicorn playing in a rainbow. GM would post the schedule, with a row of boxes for each staff member listing where they were. If they were OFF, VAC, SICK, PER...you get the point. At that time, I had the joyous task of payroll. Hunting down people that forgot to clock in or out. Trying to figure out if someone took vacation, that sort of thing. I was working on the payroll for 3 stores, so I relied heavily on GM's painfully specific schedule.

GM had been out for a week on VAC as listed on our schedule. So, I dutifully completed payroll and went about my business. Until paychecks came out. I was home enjoying my day off when I received a call from GM. I was told that I was lucky I wasn't in the store because he was going to "punch me square in the head." It turns out GM didn't have any vacation time but had worked some deal with the District Manager. But of course, I didn't know that and now I was being screamed at and, this is even more ridiculous, GM wanted me to give my paycheck to him, to make up for it. The DM called me at home to tell me I had to call corporate and tell them that I made a mistake...that the GM was in the store and working for that week.

I called corporate all right. I called to tell them that I was about to get bopped on the head like little bunny foo foo. I left that position shortly after calling the corporate squealer line. Nothing changed and my brain was turning into marshmellow fluff.

I am still searching for the perfect job, or at least one that doesn't make me look over my shoulder to look out for getting smacked up side of my head. But if I find the winner powerball first, that would work too.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I left my skirt I don't know where

This is Indianapolis.

This is where I thought my lucky interview skirt was located. The perfect go to black skirt. Not too short. Not too long. Comfy yet perfectly stylish.

Sadly, it is not.

Now you may be asking yourself how is it that I don't know where my skirt is. Good question.


This is Toledo.

There was a period of time that I lived in Toledo.  I slowly started to move my things from my house in Indianapolis to Toledo. The plan was to live with my friend and her husband until I found an apartment and got settled. So there are/were bins of my stuff in their spare room, from months of weekend trips. But, that job didn't work out (the company lost their contract) so back to Indianapolis I went.  More weekends back and forth between Indianapolis and Toledo.

OK, so clothes in Indianapolis and clothes in Toledo.

But...


This is Cleveland.

I've also been slowly moving things from my house to my parent's house in Cleveland, otherwise known as the place that has a basement I do not want to live in. This was also going on between the Toledo trips. So on any given day, I am always missing *that* whatever.

This is North Royalton.

My friends from Toledo? They have moved to North Royalton. Mostly anyway. They still have some things in Toledo and the rest in North Royalton.

So...my favorite skirt may be sitting forgotten at the dry cleaner in Indianapolis. Or in a closet in Toledo. Or in a box in North Royalton. Or in a basement in Cleveland.


This is my reaction in not having any idea what to wear.  In case you were wondering.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Signs


Over the years I have become a believer in signs. Not the song, and certainly not the movie. I'm not overly religious nor do I necessarily believe in some divine plan. I like to think I have choices.

But...

Sometimes something will happen, someone will make a seemingly random comment that will later make perfect sense. Or maybe you tear out a magazine article only to find it months later, when you really need it. All like some blinking green arrow in the distance, not entirely sure it is really there, but maybe...

Maybe it is. Or maybe you need to take a nap.

I remember sitting in a sportsbook to watch the Kentucky Derby and this random guy sat next to me. We nodded at each other and got back to watching the races. After a few minutes he gets up to leave and as he takes the last swig of his beer he said, "You know, if I had to bet on one horse today, it would be Giacomo. Giacomo is the one. Bet on Giacomo." By the time I looked back to him, he was already gone. I had a choice. Do I assume that this was some sign, some clue and make the bet? Much to my irritation, I ignored him. Giacomo came in at 50-1. The second biggest upset in Derby history. It is a very safe assumption that words came out of my mouth that are completely inappropriate for my blog.

Was is a sign or a coincidence?

Several years ago, I had a trip planned to Ireland. Life was beginning to take some strange twists and turns and I should have stayed home. But, the trip was already planned and more importantly, paid for, so off I went. I further rationalized my trip by telling myself that I needed some time away. No one can reach me there. Very limited access to phone, email and internet, it was the peace and quiet I needed.

The weather was wet and dreary. Rain, snow, dark forboding clouds. It fit my mood.

Like every other tourist, I went to the Guinness Storehouse. It was my last day in Dublin and I had an enormous list of gifts to buy for people. Some were personal gifts and some were, "hey here is $20 get me something cool" gifts. I began wandering around the store, my arms filled with shirts, mouse pads, coasters, anything that had Guinness on it. A young man came behind me and in an Irish accent that was perfect for tv, he asked, "would you like some help?" I told him that I totally needed help and thanked him. His response was something that has stuck with me. He smiled and said, "Hope comes in unexpected places."

He helped me finish shopping and I stood in the long line and thought about what he said. What a strangely wonderful thing to say to someone. As I plopped my items on the counter I told the cashier that an extremely helpful young man assisted me and I wanted to thank him.  The woman looked at me, giving me that "I think you are slightly crazy and have no idea what you are talking about look" and asked me to repeat what I just said. I explained that there was a guy on the floor that was very helpful and I wanted someone to know. I pointed to the piles of Guinness logo emblazoned stuff and explained that he had worked with me to pick everything out.

The clerk looked at me and just said there were no salesmen on the floor. In fact, there were a few people working on the floor at that time, but they were all women.

I chuckled and told her I must have been mistaken, knowing full well I wasn't. I took my shopping bags out of the massive store and decided to take a walk. I walked past the Guinness sign that all the tourists stop by, wandering down the cobblestone street. I ended up on the far side of the brewery and in the middle of the massive brick wall, out of sight of the visitors and guests, was the phrase "Stone upon stone upon fallen stone" in blue paint.

Stopping by to get a famous pint of the black stuff and a t-shirt evolved into a thoughtful introspective afternoon. Was anything that day a sign, or just some guy with a little extra time and a little extra paint?


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Phil Dawson Fan Club



When I was in college and through my career in higher education, I was obsessed with the whole "Life's Little Instruction Book" phase. Little nuggets of wisdom that made you go "duh" or "hey, that is a great idea." Students used to fight over who would have the privilege of posting a quote for the week on my board. They would scour my quote books, trying to find the perfect one.

"Don't rain on other people's parades."

"Don't ever watch hot dogs or sausage being made" was always a popular one.

There was one about rooting for your team to win and not for the other team to lose. A nice little lesson on good sportsmanship. That one got me into a little trouble with Star Jones. Yes, *that* Star Jones.  Star was on The View barking about Reggie Miller and how her beloved Knicks were going to kill him and how she wanted him to lose. And not just lose the game. Star wanted Reggie and the Pacers to explode in a splintering fiery ball of doom.

For some reason I had visions of a higher moral authority and I sent Star an email that merely stated that she should root for her team to win, not for the Pacers to lose. I think her response was something on the order of "Suck it."

My other favorite quote was about starting a fan club for the catcher of your local baseball team.  Every now and then I would think about how much fun it would be to get a group of friends and make huge signs and posters for the catcher of the Zips baseball team.  Maybe even get t-shirts made. It made me think about how every player is important. Each may not get the glory or headlines, but you certainly can't play baseball without a catcher. The same as you can't play football without a kicker.

I love to watch Phil Dawson, because he is a given. He goes in and does his job. He is the clutch player. The game is on the line and they send him in to make a career long kick. Phil just shrugs his shoulders and does it.

I met Phil at Training Camp a few years ago and he was a genuinely friendly and gracious guy. I was trying to fight my way to get his autograph with kids shouting at him "Hey! Who are you?" and when I made it to the rope line I asked "Hey Phil, would you please sign my football?"

Phil's response? He laughed. I think I was the only one in earshot that even knew who he was.

So, this season, I will proudly wear my Phil Dawson jersey, holding my own little fan club meeting to cheer the kicker on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Get It Yourself


I tend to eat out a lot. As a single girl, it's much easier to go out then to make a meal for myself that I'll end up eating the rest of the week.  I have also been a server/bartender/catering/restaurant manager so I understand that the person that is bringing me my food is making a little more than 2 bucks an hour. I also know that any money they make has to be shared with the bartenders, food runners, and bussers. So, I *get* it. I tip well because I know I am paying someone to wait on me. To refill my diet coke. To get me ketchup. It is a pretty simple deal. You say hello to me, refill my drinks, get my food. Not a hard concept. But, it is hard to do well. Not everyone can be a server. Let's face it, people are jerks. There are people that come in to torment servers. Or there are those people that have lost all control over the rest of their life so there is the server to belittle.


Every server has had the Superman/Clark Kent experience. When Superman put on his glasses he became Clark Kent, and no one was the wiser. Glasses on, Clark Kent. Server apron on, server. Glasses off, Superman. Apron off, Cleveland Chick. I have seen coworkers, board members, major donors, people that know me well, all of a sudden not recognize me with my server apron on. There was a great documentary, American Waitress, that really struck a chord with me. The movie follows several waitresses in New Mexico. One of the women was an artist that was starting to see some success with her paintings. With emotion in her voice, she shared a story about a couple that belittled her in the restaurant that she worked in. The man was rude and condescending to her admonishing her for her wine pouring skills. Some time passes as the same couple walk into a showing for her paintings. Her heart started to race, feeling the paranoia rise that these people were now invading her private life. It turns out that this couple, the same ones that ridiculed her for pouring too much wine in a glass, were huge fans of her work. They didn't recognize her at all. In fact they came in and bought her art work.

Lately, I have run into a spat of bad service. And bad service is one of my greatest pet peeves. It is right up there with spiders. 

So, yes, people can be horrible and rude. But being a server isn't for everyone. It goes beyond just taking down an order. You need the skills of a master organizer, the humor of a comedian and the memory of my mom. You have to be a mind reader and a therapist. And of course, you need to be able to suck up.

If you can't take the heat, order take out.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Josh Cribbs


 

Josh Cribbs turns me into a little fan girl. And I'm not the only one.

Being a Cleveland fan is tough. Being a Browns fan is heartburn inducing. For the past 10 years or so I have lived in Indianapolis. Peyton Manning country. Superbowl Champions. I work at Lucas Oil Stadium on Colts game day, proudly wearing my Browns winter hat. Walking on the field level, winding through the cement tunnels, I had to deal with new media of all types, from the locals to the NFL network guys. Each giving me the business for my team. My response?

WOOF!

Yes, I barked at the NFL Network. I barked at the local news media. After a couple of seasons, they look for me now to update me on the Browns score as we stand outside the Colts locker room.

Every Sunday, I toss on my Browns jersey and sit in a sports bar, usually the only Browns fan in the place. In the early years, I was usually stuck in some corner, one tiny screen with the Browns in a sea of big screen high def televisions.

There have been a few moments when the bar will all turn to me...the Browns v. Ravens game a few years back with the amazing Phil Dawson kick. It was nice to have people root for me. But more importantly cheer for the Browns. 

And then there is Josh Cribbs. 

In the last few years, there has been more drama than Erica Kane and all her children with the Browns. Whether it was bad attitudes, staph infections or losing records, it's been tough.  There were two players you could count on...Phil Dawson the kicker and Josh Cribbs the all around. 

This guy from Kent State that went undrafted set a franchise record his first year as a kick returner. Last year I went to Cleveland to a Monsters game because Josh was going to be there signing autographs. He was the nicest guy. He took the time to sign autographs for longer than he was expected to and was fantastic with fans with picture taking. 

In the recent era of Cleveland players leaving town - running away and never looking back, Josh has stayed. After the dramatic decision of LeWhoShallNotBeNamed, it is refreshing to see a Cleveland athlete that loves the city and loves the fans. An athlete that understands the connection the city has to the team and to him.

 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Twitter Fail

I love Twitter. I admit it.

Twitter is a great way to have lots of conversations with lots of people. I follow, or am "friends" with a wide variety of people and companies. Some people only want to talk about sports, or tell jokes. Some want to share recipes or their company.

As with any technology, there are "experts" that have dissected every angle of Twitter. They have discovered the best things to tweet, how to get more followers and even the best time to tweet, or send out your message for the best response.

There is a group of social media experts that will tell you that you should send your message out several times a day, with the idea that not everyone is on at the same time. I personally hate that idea because I end up seeing the same person saying the same thing over and over. It makes me nuts.

And then the most horrifying thing happened.

I was at a winery with some friends and I wanted to share it with my followers. It was a beautiful afternoon, and it was a great time. I took a picture showing this tasty rhubarb wine and the vineyard in the background. We hung out there for awhile, and then went on to an engagement party. When I was at the winery, the reception was terrible and I couldn't log in to Twitter. By the time we made it back to the house, my phone was dead, and I figured it was just going to be a Twitter-free afternoon.

When I arrive home that evening I logged on and noticed I had a lot of messages. A LOT. I looked at my page and somehow Twitter had posted the same tweets somewhere around 30 times. I was horribly embarrassed.

In the Twitter world of high speed drive by conversations, I ended up losing about a dozen "friends" because of the glitch.  Maybe Twitter picked up that I was at the winery and it had a few too many glasses of vino. 


Thursday, August 5, 2010

The horror known as the dentist's office



To say I am not a fan of going to the dentist is the best example of an understatement that there is. In fact, to be brutally honest, I hate it.

My animosity towards the dental profession goes back to childhood, where most adult crippling situations occur. I had a dentist, that I will call Dr. Evil for lack of a wittier name. He was mean and rough and likely should have retired years before I met him. 

I remember his office like it was yesterday, even though I was a little kid. My last visit there was with my dad.  I'm not sure why my dad took me, as Dr. visits usually fell into mom territory. I remember my dad being aggravated with me because I was whining and begging not to go. Like many things with kids, my parents didn't grasp how much I truly disliked this man - that it just wasn't a kid not wanting to go to the Dr. 

Anyway, I remember fighting every step of the way into the office. I actually stuck my arms and legs out, grasping the door frame for dear life. I think a nurse even tugged off my shoe trying to get me through the door. Dr. Evil was not amused. I remember him huffing at me as the nurse tossed me into the chair. His exact words to me were, "When I'm done with you, you will have something to cry about." 

I blasted out of that chair, crawling through the legs of a nurse, under a desk and back into the waiting room. I was screeching like a howler monkey at my dad, hiding behind him. Once I told my dad what had happened, he sat me in the chair and said, "I'll be back." 

I remember hearing commotion and then my dad coming out and taking me out for ice cream and putt putt. 

That was the start of my dental drama. I had one dentist that tried to drill my tooth without Novocaine. I had another that wanted to pull a wisdom tooth...when I didn't have a wisdom tooth in yet. Thankfully, I have a good dentist now, but still, I would much rather cheer for Pittsburgh than go to the dentist. 

Well...maybe not cheer for Pittsburgh...