Miles Away

A few summers ago my husband took me and our itty bitties to the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. He knew how much I loved and still love waterfalls and he found this gorgeous serene place that had a couple different waterfalls and swimming areas. It was picturesque, so beautiful and calm. We had food and drinks with us so we ended up staying for hours, just swimming and enjoying some family time away from society. Don’t get me wrong there were others enjoying the waterfalls as well, but it wasn’t densely populated. This place was very remote. Away from all civilizations, no cell phone connection, in fact the nearest hospital was hundreds of miles away….the kind of place where if something bad were to happen we would be fucked. When we finally decided to go home, we noticed there was a couple standing around on the one way unpaved road. It appeared as if they were having some car trouble and their car was blocking our only way out. My husband decided to stop and see if they needed some help. When he got off, he was not prepared for what he was going to see next. A pickup truck had been driven down an embankment by an intoxicated driver.  He had 4 young adult passengers with him. Two of the four passengers, a guy and a girl, had already crawled up into safety, as well as the driver, but the other two were still stuck inside the truck. The windshield had been shattered and there was a lot of front edge damage. Luckily, the truck was stumped by a tree trunk which kept it from rolling deeper into the embankment and God knows what else! I ran out of our truck and left my children in it, to see if I could help, when I noticed that one of the passengers that was stuck, was climbing up onto the road. It was another girl. She was delirious and I didn’t blame her. Blood everywhere, glass stuck in different parts of her body and just crying from everything that she had been through. Thankfully they were all breathing and mobile, but we were Miles AND Miles away from civilization! What could we do??? There wasn’t any phone service for us to call 911. All of a sudden the driver of the wrecked truck yelled, “Take them to the hospital! Take them! I’m okay and I will help my friend get out, he’s okay.” Quickly, the Male passenger and my husband helped the two girls into our truck. Our two boys moved to the far back seat of our Chevy Suburban to make room for them. I grabbed our 10 month old babygirl from her carseat and hopped in the front seat with her. We took off like a bat out of hell!

70mph with a truck full of strangers blood oozing all over seats, glass pieces falling off their bodies onto our rugs. As my husband is driving, I’m talking to them to keep them awake just in case they had a concussion. I’m asking questions about what their plans had been for the day, where they were from. We were scared, but they were terrified. They were so afraid that they couldn’t even tell us the truth about how the accident happened because they feared that we would tell the cops. The only thing we were worried about was getting them to the hospital on time. I remember having to remind them of that over and over again. I also remember them thanking us over and over again. As I’m carrying on the conversations, I also kept checking my cellphone for service so that I could finally call 911. It was the longest and most stressful hour and half drive we’d had ever been on! Our kids were in disbelief the whole time but surprisingly calm. Then I started to see black lines…. escalating, bars were starting to come up on my cellphone screen.  It was time to call for help. About 15 minutes later we see ambulances and emergency vehicles speeding in our opposite direction. Everyone knew where they were headed. Seeing this shifted a blanket of tranquility and hope over us. Some how at that moment we felt that everything was going to be okay. Our Suburban started to slow down and so did my heart. I could see the hospital. We had made it. We helped unload the victims and briefed the medical staff on our journey and what had brought us to that point. We also exchanged contact information with the victims in case they needed anything else from us, and just like that a lifetime connection had been made.

We actually never heard from them again. However, I was able to find out a few days later, via the local newspaper, that they had survived and were released from the hospital the same day. Till this day, everytime we wipe down our leather seats, we recall how we spent the day after the incident cleaning up the blood and glass from our Suburban. We think about the victims, the waterfalls, and ask ourselves if we will ever forget about the day that we traveled miles and miles to the Ozarks.

Hopeless?

Things have really taken a turn for the worse. How long does it take to find a new job? Yes, Jamie is now settling for a job. At this point any money is better than no money. Tomorrow makes 2 months since Jamie has been on the prowl and nothing. She gave her resume a makeover several times, has taken online assessments to show off her skills, spending relentless hours on indeed and other job sites, and she’s done a few interviews, but I don’t know. She must be doing something wrong and worst of all, Jamie has never had a problem finding work. It’s difficult for her to admit failure and ask for advice. On the other hand, it looks like she may be in the final grievance stage; acceptance. Finally accepting defeat and IIWII (it is what it is). OR is Jaime just giving up?

Jamie decided to check in with a friend “Lailani”, previous co worker from the same organization. Even though she hasn’t lost her job YET, she fears that she may be losing her dignity instead. See after Jamie was let go, they decided they needed to dump some of the workload on someone else. Unfortunately, Lailani was next up in seniority and they decided to take advantage of it. However, it was only a disadvantage to Lailani. She was demoted, but given more responsibilities at the same time!!! WTF. How does that make any sense? It didn’t make any sense to her either, but she needs the money. Yes, she’s still with them, at least until she finds another job. She’s a better woman than me and many of us out there, she’s always been. One of the reasons why Jamie hired her in the first place, but she’s not dumb either. Lailani says, “If it gets ugly I will leave them in a heartbeat”, and we don’t blame her. Jamie feels somewhat responsible for the position that Lailani is in right now. She would always motivate her to go the extra mile and do more for less, because she was confident that the rewards would come later on and that it would all be worth it. Now Jamie’s gone and Lailani is still there. Which one is worse? It’s hard to tell, but they’re both examples of tyranny just from different perspectives. They are both victims of poor non-profit management and they are both paying the price for someone else’s blunders.

Jamie and her family are currently in economic troubled straits and have made the decision to start over elsewhere. By the end of the year they will be living in another state. As for Lailani, she has a few possibilities lined up. As long as she plays her cards right she will be okay.

Coincidentally, as we were working on this piece 😀 Jamie received a call from a weird number and she didn’t answer it. Then they called again, but this time she answered. And good thing she did, because it was a very promising work opportunity LOL. I’m laughing because that’s how life works out sometimes. Just when you decide to throw in the towel, a glimpse of hope shines through and it completely changes your day. Doesn’t it?

5 Stages of Self-Serve Coffee

I am one of those people that likes to go the corner coffee shops or the popular food mart/gas stations with the self-serve coffee stands that have about 10 different choices or flavors of coffee to choose from. 9 out of 10 times I will use the self-serve station because I am an unpredictable prick or in other words I have a hard time making a decision when presented with so many choices. It all starts when you enter through the food mart /gas station door…which side of the counter should I use? Do I go left or right? What cup size will I get today? How strong of a coffee do I need today? Do I want any flavors? Will I use creamer? half and half? milk? Then comes the most difficult decision of them all…..how sweet do I want my coffee today? Why is it that at this point, you start to feel like your every move is being looked at? We begin to ponder if someone is watching us? Are they checking to see if I am making healthy conscious choices? Are they judging me? All these questions running through my/our minds as we decide the sweetness level of our morning Cup of Joe. So what if I need to pour about 30 seconds worth of sugar or about 10 packets of sugar so that I can enjoy my coffee! That’s not a lot. Look at the girl wearing the green shirt on the other side of the counter, she just used about 15 packets of sugar. She’s the one with the problem. You don’t know me! Its not like I do this every morning. (Laughing) It’s almost like going through the 5 stages of grief and loss; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. At the final stage, you just accept and give in and decide to cut yourself off too soon from the sugar. Your coffee ends up tasting like black water, and you tell yourself, “I will just fix it at home”. I don’t need this type of negativity in my life, not in the morning when I am trying to get my coffee so that I can finally finish waking-up.

Self-serve stations…..turning something as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee into a moment of turmoil and despair.

J.O.B–Just Over Broke

Hey everyone! It’s been a month now since Jamie was laid off and on the new job hunt. Let me tell you that it has been a roller-coaster of emotions and decision making. Not too many soon to be 40 year old’s are spending their time worrying about their careers. Jamie should be professionally settled and enjoying happy hours and slime-making crafts with her kids. And while she’s a little thankful for all the new free time she has now, after a month you begin to question yourself and what is wrong with me?? You look over your resume a thousand times, tweak it, apply to jobs that are not in your usual radar, and that’s just work related. Then you start to question the decisions you’ve made up to this point and if there’s anything different you need to do, like go back to school or just be your own boss. It can really take a toll on you and that’s why it’s important that we check in every once in a while on Jamie.

Jamie has actually made some progress…..networking has somewhat paid off. After she turned in her resume to her friend, her friend’s supervisor did reach out and gave her some information about an opening. However, the job just wasn’t what Jamie was hoping for. First, it paid a lot less than what she was making and it she would be working from home. Instead, it was actually 45 minutes to an hour distant. No, Jamie is not being a spoil brat, she is simple looking for a commitment because she is tired of the moving from one company to another crap. It may be worth being late on some bills just to ensure a forever career. I don’t know, is that the right move? Tell me what you think, we need a different perspective on this. Okay moving on….let’s see what else happened with Jamie, oh yes! She had a pre-interview or screening, whatever you want to call it, with (we will call it A-B-C) company. So far, this one sounds like the one, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. The pay and benefits are descent and there’s room for growth, but its not really the ONE. See, Jamie is looking for a career not a J.O.B (Just Over Broke). With that in mind, there’s a certain position with (we will call this one D-E-F) company that she applied for and it sounds like everything she has been wanting. It practically checks off all the boxes on her checklist, but it may take some time before she hears anything back. “Good things come to those who wait” or do they?

Predicament

Considering that Jamie meets all the requirements and passes all the interviews with A-B-C, should she accept the J.O.B with them and quit later on if she gets an offer from D-E-F?

OR

Should Jamie not accept the J.O.B and wait to hear back from D-E-F instead? What if she never hears back from D-E-F and misses out on a possibility of making enough money to get things back on track for her family?? What about ethics?

Time to make a change

“Change is the end result of all true learning”–Leo Buscaglia

“My son turned in his math homework with all correct answers and yet his teacher wasn’t satisfied because he didn’t follow the method that was taught in class” said one of the managers at my local TJMaxx as he stood by the cashier that was ringing me up. Poor girl, I just felt so bad for her. You can just tell she was just starting her journey as a sales associate at one of the biggest off-price retail stores across America.

My kids and I went in to purchase some gifts for Father’s Day and we spent a total of $79.25. I remember because of two different reasons, 1 )I was thrilled that I was just under my budget of $80 (cha-ching!) and 2) I paid the cashier with four twenty-dollar bills and my change was a simple seventy-five cents or so I thought. For some reason, my cashier thought my change should’ve been three dollars and forty cents. Why you ask? I asked myself the same question. Consequently, my cashier had failed to punch the amount of cash received into her register!!!! Shit!!! PANIC!!! That means it was up to her to calculate my change off the top of her noggin, instead of relying on a computer to do the math for her. That’s okay she can just subtract my total from what I paid with and Ta-Da I would get my seventy-five cents change and take our happy butts home…..At least that’s what I was thinking in my head, but apparently not my cashier. While she stands there with a “what did I wear yesterday” face trying to figure out that my change is 3 quarters….. SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS! SEVENTY-FIVE CENTS! Is what I’m kicking and screaming in my head. That’s all she had to give me back, that’s it. I don’t understand why this young, poor girl could not figure this out. I don’t understand why she got so flustered that “I” had to tell her how much change I should get back in order to get the correct amount of change back. Lucky for her, I was a patient and honest customer, otherwise her cash register would have been short at the end of the night. Meanwhile, her manager is just standing there and does absolutely nothing about it. Can you not see that your cashier cannot do math…why a well-known retail store like TJMaxx would hire someone so incompetent to handle their financial transactions beats me. Is basic arithmetic not one of the job requirements? Do you not verify this before hiring them as your cashier? Don’t get me wrong I believe everyone deserves a chance, but like I stated before not everyone is an honest person. The next customer in line may be the one to take advantage of her.

Since my curiosity would not leave me alone, I decided to look up what qualifications were required to work as a store associate or merchandise associate as they title it, at TJMaxx…and this is what I found:

Responsibilities: • Role models established customer experience practices with internal and external customers • Supports and embodies a positive store culture through honesty, integrity, and respect • Accurately rings customer purchases/returns and counts change back to customer according to established operating procedures • Promotes credit and loyalty programs during customer interactions and so much more…….

So its obviously one of the requirements, but how did she get hired? I don’t know, I don’t understand anything anymore. Maybe she was just having a bad day, maybe she found me so attractive that I made her nervous, who knows. What I do know is that TJMaxx needs to change their hiring process because there are many qualified individuals out there looking for work, who are better at math, with great customer service skills (ME), who cannot even land an interview. I hope they don’t make preferences over schedule flexibility and hire the individuals that have the most flexibility instead of the most qualified.

I am not sorry if you find my material offensive. This is merely insight to our world today and it needs to be said. This is a scenario that relates to many businesses, not just TJMaxx. I have seen it first-hand as an assisting manager. I would make suggestions as to who we should call in for an interview, based on both qualifications and flexibility. My supervisor on the other hand, was less worried about qualifications and more worried about schedule coverage.

Have you missed out on a job that you felt were qualified for because you lacked schedule flexibility? Only to find out that it was given to someone you know, less qualified? Have you ever been to a store, restaurant, or any place of business where you were taken back by an employee’s lack of skills? Share you story, it may help out the next reader behind you.

Networking When You’re Not Working

Jamie looks angry and fed up! Can you blame her? It's been over 2 weeks since she began filling out applications and still nothing. No interviews and no job offers, only some rejection e-mails and feelings of disappointment. 

Have you ever wondered what happens with all the online applications you filled out? There's an urban legend that they often disappear into some "abyss", never to be seen again. While there's some truth to this thought, they don't just disappear. If you've ever been on the receiving side of those applications, only then would you really know the facts. The truth is they do end up in an "abyss", an abyss of e-mails known as someone's inbox. When an employer posts a job online, they must provide an e-mail address where the replies will automatically go to. If a prospective employee applies via the job post, it sends their information to the employer's registered e-mail address. Normally, there are hundreds of applicants and the employer will receive each and every one of those in the order of date and time of submission. Now, honestly speaking, who on planet earth reads each and every single e-mail in their inbox? I don't, not even when I was a hiring manager...sorry guys. At best we skim through them and open whatever "appears" to be important. That's if you even check your email right?! LOL, lot's of thoughts running through your minds huh?

Well as the old saying says; if you can't beat them, join them. Join them by connecting with them in person versus staying behind your bad ass laptop. You could kick it old school and pay the employers a visit, but chances are you may not make it past the receptionist. However, there are other ways of networking that are more "acceptable" today. Jamie has a few acquaintances at the top of the corporate food chain, she could be upfront and ask if their employer is currently hiring (too desperate?) or she could just let them know that she is actively looking for work and see how the they respond. Jamie could also attend a local networking event. Networking events are great opportunities to meet other professionals and expand outside of your normal social circle. At the same time it allows you to put your name, skills, and achievements out there. You never know who you might meet, (Jeff Bezo's Assistant perhaps), so make sure you are prepared and bring your A game.

Jamie decided to use one of the above networking suggestions and applied for a position at one of her friend's employer. She gave her friend her resume and is now waiting on an interview. Jamie went on the company's website and was able to learn that she is actually very qualified for the position. Let's keep our toes and fingers crossed for Jamie! To be continued....

How did you get your last job? What are some popular networking events you've attended before?

Orange Button

Sixty jobs is the total number of jobs that I have applied for in the past two weeks. Had it been 20 years ago, I think I would have been mentally and physically drained by now, but thanks to websites like Indeed.com, applying for jobs is a lot easier now. I’m sure everyone knows how to use Indeed this day in age, but just in case there are a few beginners out there, I will give a short explanation. But first, let me introduce you to Jamie. Jamie is a 39-year old female, who recently got screwed over by her last employer. Jamie loved her job and dedicated a big chunk of her life to this job. Her employer loved Jamie as well and practically ensured her job security for many years to come. However, one day, out of the blue, her employer decided they just didn’t need Jamie anymore and let her go! Welp….now Jamie not only has money issues, but trust issues as well. Jamie turns to Indeed for help. See, with Indeed she can create a new resume or upload an already existing one and use it to apply to thousands of jobs they have posted, which include a user friendly orange “Apply Now” button. It’s really that easy! It eliminates long applications that can take at least an hour out of Jamie’s life. Now in an hour, (depending on fast she can work it), hundreds of companies out there will know who Jamie is and that she is interested in working for them. But, and this is a really big but, were talking Nicki Minaj……Jamie still has to search through thousands of listings and decide if she should click their orange “Apply Now” button. Is this a drawback for Jamie? Well, it depends which way you look at it.

Thousands of jobs available at touch of an index or middle finger….whichever one you mostly use to click. Great, but there is so much to consider.

Things to Consider Before Clicking the Orange Button

  • Job Jargon Gibberish: Do you understand the qualifications for the position? Not all job postings are created by the actual company that you will be working for. Some companies outsource the task of recruiting to outside resources such as temporary job agencies or online job boards (Greenberg, 2013). They have individuals who are hired specifically to create job posts based off of some summary that was provided by the company. Many times these job listings include jargon that can just sound like a bunch of gibberish, therefore you should take your time to decipher what exactly is it that the company is looking for. You never know, what may at first appear like a job that only Jeff Bezos qualifies for, may actually be one that you are perfect for!
  • What do you know about the company? Remember Jamie? Yes, Jamie who developed a trust issue after being let go from her job. Jamie could have benefited from reading this article before accepting that position, if you know what I mean. If you are looking for a career or a long-term position with a company, then make sure you Google them or Glassdoor them. Glassdoor is a great website for researching any company. They provide you with good insight like real employee reviews, salary information, and a lot more goodies. You want to make sure you are pursuing the right company. One you can trust and not one that give you the boot after a couple of years, for absolutely no good reason (poor Jamie) or due to lack of stability.
  • Too good to be true? Maybe. If you are having a hard time conducting your background research on a company, it could be because they are bogus. Job searching websites do their very best at ensuring that the employers using their services for recruiting are real and not fake, but they’re not perfect not even Indeed. Every now and then you will see a job posting offering an abnormally high salary for minimal duties and responsibilities. For example, “Looking for full-time cashier, no weekends, no late nights, no experience needed. Pay starting at $18/hr.” Yeah right! If you’ve done your homework, then you know that this is straight up fishy! When you feel your gut filling up with question marks as you read the job description, Do Not click the orange button. This can be some pretend company or just some scammer named Joe Doe, using a job post to hack you for your juicy information. I know it sounds crazy, but it happens to the best of us, so better to be safe than sorry.

Well then, there you have it. Some basic no no’s to remember when you are looking for that next exciting career. Trust your instincts, use logic, and when all else fails then network. That way if someone tries to lie to you in person you can just knock em’ out. LOL. Just kidding, you want to get a job not a cell mate. Keep in touch by subscribing below and find out how networking is working out for Jamie.