Tuesday, June 28, 2011

THE DAY JOB part 2

Hello, I'm back with part 2 of THE DAY JOB.  lol everytime I type THE DAY JOB I hear a deep voice with quick echo and ominous music. In some ways, I find this funny--and sad.

Let's clarify here. I've had many jobs. MANY MANY JOBS. I've done and tried everything looking for a real job. Plus I've been willing to try anything to bring in extra money to keep my family from the pit of despair. Short lists of jobs I've had:

Firefighter (volunteer, but it brought in small amounts of money)
Newspaper stuffer
Courtesy clerk
Gas station cashier
Tupperware consultant (I rocked at this until my first divorce. Was Executive manager for a while)
Realtors assistant
Catch all at radio station-did everything from fill out logs to write copy. This job was fun.
Insurance Agent (worked at same place I was bookkeeper)
Securites (this was tied into my Insurance job)
Farm Labouror
Casino Security

This is a sampling. I'm sure there are more that I'm not remembering right now. All affected me in various ways and taught me various things. Some I can no longer do, even if I get the classes done because of my health, some you would have to pay me about a million dollars a year to do again (Insurance and waitress) and I mean gauraunteed money :P but none of them, except maybe the job at the radio station, were my true calling--writing and painting.

Now that you've seen I can work wherever needed, I'm going to tell you about the job I had the longest that was the hardest: Bookkeeping/Insurance/Securities

It started out as a part time job to help a friend with his taxes. I used to fill out my own stuff for Tupperware and told him I could learn the rest of what I needed for him. It started out as a simple job, 16 hours or less. I would take all his reciepts floating around in the boxes since 1996 (this was in early 2003) and keep him current. Also, help when payroll came around and do payroll. No sweat. Payroll twice a month for five people? Easy peasy. And it was. Nate had full time job that brought home 600/wk after health ins and daycare, I had a job and I went back to school and we started building a house. Great right?

Well, yeah. For about 2 months. Than my husband lost his job. No problem, my boss needed more help doing the insurance side of things, so I started working more hours until I was up to 40+ a week so that end of it, though tight, cuz I didn't make near as much as he did, but that wasn't the problem.

See, my boss, while a wonderful person, is a terrible business manager both financially and in dealing with personnell. He'd had me start while one of his gals were on Vacation. She was on a vacation for a month. I didn't think much of it, except knowing him for five years previously, I did call him a chicken with a little laugh. Turns out, it wasn't a laughing matter.

He was afraid of her. She was bitchy, bossy and hated me because I was white. She was, and remains, one of the most racist people I've ever met who hid it behind a cloak of polite snobbery until people's backk's were turned. She hated anyone not Mexicano. Period. She ruled her house with an iron hand and tried to do it at the office. The boss and his brother, mostly just smiled and ignored her and did things the way they did. The other gal, a proper Mexican woman (I'm using her assessment, not mine) was under her thumb and always retained a repectful demeanor to her.

Then came me. I started tracking all his money. His tills everything. He was losing a minimum of 100 dollars a week in the tills. I am not going to tell you what we discovered or how, but that five years later when he closed down, we no longer were losing money from till, but were still trying to catch up from previous years.

I pointed it out. Asked everyone to be more careful in their accounting and in tracking sales slips that needed further tracking. Asked in front of boss so they knew he wanted it, just didn't know how to explain the problem. Well, then came the woman from his auxillary office. See, I went to the other office, looking for any tax records, receipts, etc and also to fill in while on vacation...

Well, I got a LOT of comments about how she was never there, especially between these hours and these hours. So I started tracking her time cards. Always they said the same thing. A little more research and watching and taking complaints from customers reveals she leaves for more than an hour to get her kids etc, to take her mom hither and dither, go to appointments, and meet her hubby whenever she wanted to. Which is fine. One of the benefits of working for a small town employer, is they get the family thing. What wasn't fine was that the time card wasn't reflecting all this time off.

Her excuse? It's her break. My response? Your break is fifteen minutes. not an hour and a half. Bosses response, "I'll talk to her" results? nothing. He still paid out over 3k. I tracked for six months how many hours she actually worked and how much time she was paid for and showed him. Her average work week by the time we closed down? 12 hours. the time she claimed? 40+. Some people might say so what? why was it your problem. Well for a myriad of reasons.

One, he hired me to help him quit losing money and get his taxes in order.
Two, turned out he hired me to be a buffer between him and all this crap.
Three, asking me to do payroll meant that I had to make sure it was accurate
Four, when money was short, I was the first one, after him, to have to wait for a check. See that last reason there???? yeah, if I'm not getting paid for the hours I'm working, she sh=ure as hell shouldn't be getting paid for the hours she WASN;t working just because she had an elite sense of self and what someone owed her.

And it was blatant. Our daughters did sports together. I was score keeper one season. WE had a game at a place approx 30 miles from us. When the bus rolled in, at 3:40 she was already there with the grandma. So, she had to have left before 3 to get the grandma and get to the away game. NO problems there as our boss pretty much let us do anything family related if cleared it first. But then came time to turn in time cards. I took the sports scheduled, told the boss the set up then showed him how she shows not leaving until 5:30. I had proof this time. Did it matter?? nope.  She honestly felt that it was her RIGHT to go to every single game AND get paid for it. That kind of mentality pisses me off.

In the meantime, the first woman I spoke of, who'd previously hated the "other" woman for the reasons I've pointed out, came to like her. They both bitched about me. What did they have to bitch about?? I was all of the sudden there, making things come to light that they'd rather have been kept hidden. The first woman retaliated in a hundred little ways. Taling about me badly in Spanish thinking I didn't know any. I don't know a lot, but I know the basics and the more business I did in Spanish, the more I remembered. When it didn't deter me, (remember, husband lost job soon after I started. Was kind of stuck) she began to retaliate in other ways. Letting her children use my computer after hours, which no one was supposed to do because of the financial stuff on it. She tried to deny it, but I had the auto-fill feature on and could show the boss her kids' names on stuff. Then things would disappear. Then came the big retailiation--bleach.

The office was in an old strip mall. How old? It was a cinder block rectangle. There was water and electric hook up, but no ventilation system. We had a thin strip at one end. One day, I come in while they're cleaning and start having trouble breathing. They used way too much bleach in the water and were mopping the floors.

I didn't say anything. I have asthma and figured was having bad day. I did what had to be done then went home. I wasn't having bad day. I was fine within 10 min of leaving the office. Soon, she figured out the bleach thing gave me problem and went from using 2 cups in two gallons to over half the bucket was bleach. I couldn't even walk in the door without asthma trouble. The boss was torn. He liked the clean office but didn't like having his bookkeeper and now licensed agent (she was not licensed even after taking multiple classes boss paid for) leave from ashtma trouble (which I made him pay me for anyway cuz he didn't do anything.) Finally, I told him it was an L&I issue. she wasn't using the chemicals properly and he either did something or I walked. I had been trying to get another job, any job, but I was over qualified for most or they didn't believe I'd take the cut in pay. So we took all the bleach out fo the office and the aerosols because of same problem and replaced them with pretty smelling pine sole and the other spray air freshner. Same brand, same smells, just not aerosol.

Guess what happened? She brought her own bleach from home. By this point, I hate my job. I've been given tons of responsibility, no authority, and he wouldn't pay the taxes as I suggested. And I wasn't getting any back up. His reason? didn't believe in nepotism. I just about had a stroke. Literally. I felt my blood pressure rise, my eye ticked and the fury just went beserk. By this point I'd gone without a check on time mulitple times. Doesn't believe in nepotism??MY ASS. IF I CAN SUFFER CUZ I'M YOUR FRIEND YOU CAN SURE AS HELL STICK UP FOR ME!  yeah. not a good time all around.

I called L&I and confirmed the improper use of chemicals issue, yeah 2 gallons of bleach to mop floors isn't good. seriously, she was only adding water cuz she thought she had to, but it was barely a cup or two by this point. Then she started leaving the nail polish and nail polish remover lids off after spraying her hair with aerosol hairspray on mornings she knew I was coming in for a meeting, purposefully trying to give me an asthma attack so I'd have to leave. How do I know it was on purpose? Well this super fastiduous, non clumsy person, left one out on the desk and the polish? She dumped it out in her garbage can. And no, where here garbage was located under her desk, there is no way she accidentally spilled that much in there without getting it on her clothes/legs, her chair, or her desk. I confronted her and my boss this time. WE're talking almost four years of this by this point.

When my boss tried to talk to her she said I needed to get a new nose. Multiple times, she said this. My asthma was immaterial and everything she heard from our boss only gave her ammunition. The last time, when the boss showed up before she'd really covered her tracks, the boss gave me money out of his pocket and told me to go home and take my kids to the movies later and he'd deal with her.

She ended up calling L&I herself and found out that no, you're not supposed to use chemicals other than how instructed on labels, no you can't use chemicals from home just because you don't like the ones the boss provides, and no, you're not supposed to be doing anything, espiecially not on purpose, that gives your co-workers health issues.

She hated my guts and quit cleaning the office, so I ended up doing it. I hired my daughter to help after going throught the pain in the ass process of getting a minor license. (it really is a HUGE hassel. you know any company that hires under eighteen give them your support. They're going the extra mile-no ten miles- to make that possible.)

I HATED MY JOB. I HATED MY WORK ENVIRONMENT. I tried writing in notebooks. At first, it helped. I tried writing on the computer on my lunch breaks and before scheduled work time. My home computer had bit the dust by then. I'd get started but couldn't find the creativity to continue. I was tired. Emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

I took a couple of art classes which also helped. But it was hard to find the time or energy to paint either, especially after class was over. I had written a story in the mid 1990's which I typed up on an old word processor. I'd found the print out and looked into self publishing. It was expensive. I was trying desperately to find a way out, but the energy to write couldn't be found.

Side note: During all of this, I also had a thyroid problem which kept getting down played as a goiter and turned out to be cancer. I was tired all the time. I finally had surgery becaue the "goiter" got large enough to be considered a serious breathing problem (doc said prob stress of job because I'd branched out as my own insurance agent and the stress had quadrupled. I was trying to get away!) The resulting lab work proved that I had cancer despite the multiple biopsies that had said negative. I had to get another surgery done and then radiation. Then I was on low doses which increased until my current dose.

Then money forced him to let people go. Those two women ended up going. Mainly because their husbands had jobs and they were costing him the most. They went on unemployment, he gave them recommendations for new job, and we struggled to get taxes paid and the tills back to where they needed to be.
a few months later, he rehired the woman from the other office--without mentioning it to me. I found out when time cards were put in. I was livid. I'd just bought a car after confirming with him we weren't hiring anyone else or back because I knew if we did, I wouldn't be able to count on my check on time. (I was right!)

So yeah, creativity was so washed out by this point, I'd forget I ever wanted to be a writer until I'd come across a story I'd started. Then sadness would fill me and I'd determine that I was going to try and write. A few more pages would get written but then the will would be there, but nothing. I'd sit and look at a blank page. Why? It wasn't writer's block. It wasn't fear of the blank page. I just couldn't be creative. My job was sucking the life out of me. I joke about a muse, etc. but I'm really of the mind set that you can write, edit, learn or do something to improve your writing even if you're not in the mood. Even reading in your genre as it's a necessary part of writing. But there were times I couldn't even read. I tried to keep doing other things, like crochet. But it took a five day hospital stay for asthma in order for me to be able to do that. I got a good deal finished on the heirloom Christmas Stocking I was working on. And yes, I finished it lol It was the second one I've done. With babies and my eyes, it's hard to do them now. I need good glasses, good light, and free time from kids, but yes, this fast and loose, highly disorganized person is excellent at cross stitching.

Finally, the agent retired and I was forced to quit working for him. I quit my insurance job as I'd been offered a job at the sherriff's office, which didn't happen because of the previous job. The details of which I'm not going into because I'm still looking for a lawyer. (You know a good business lawyer in WA state I have an EXCELLENT case for libel. Specific repeated libel that cost a government job) Any ways, I got out of the job and since I had more time on my hands, I did firefighting again and started writing.

My first querly letter went to Jessica Faust. It said something like this. "I've written a Harlequin Intrigue. You want to see it?" I kid you not. I'd been able to find enough information with the little skills I had to know you needed one but not enough information on how to write one. She was kind. Very kind. In fact, now that I know what's entailed she was deliciously wonderfully beautifully considerate and compassionate. She will always hold a soft spot in my heart :) I progressed from there. Each year, I've gotten stronger and more defiant to those around me regarding my writing. I make time for my kids, but I've become vocal in telling them all I need to write. They need to do their chores without me hounding them (especialy the teens) and the last six months, I've become absolutiely rabid about it if I don't get my writing time. My daughter's near death and other health problems put it on hold for a bit, but it never went away. I've learned a lot about myself and writing since that time.

Class discussion: What could have been done differently on my part to help me find time for writing (and painting or whateverit is you love to do)? What attitudes do we need to bring to bear to our writing because others won't? I wish that I understood now, what I understood before. I'm going to use that to show you what NOT to do, and how to get yourself where you want to be. So please, comment!

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