Entry 08/24/2016 01:57:57 PM – Mentat 1159
I don’t normally like to talk about work or the work necessary to networking myself into a new position in a new company. Well, not publicly and not for years because honestly there’s only just so much whinging and hand-wringing that even I can put up with from the likes of me. However, since starting the carousel of finding a job that I might like (once again), my tolerance of the contracting field has not only soured but definitely creates the wrong sort of ire whenever I think about it. Looking back over the years, I can see the path in the sand on just how much the life as a contractor has changed from the time when I entered it and receiving offers hand-over-fist, to today where I’m fighting between the feelings of eye-rolling myself into a seizure to seriously slapping the ever living shit out of some of these bottom-feeders that storm my cell phone like it’s a game of capture the flag. While I understand that perhaps they’re a necessary evil to getting your foot in the door of some of these places in the area — I would prefer to even use them sparingly to if ever at all.
The fact is, I despise all contracting companies since the late 90s. Part of it has to do with the high level of turnaround you can have as a primary contact at the contracting agency. A person that seems to have their act together quickly shuffles off to a better position leaving a vacuum at the desk they had been sitting in the week before. With that power vacuum first came the lack of knowledge necessary to matching the contractor with the position, and then later with the Special Snowflake Syndrome that slowly came to inflict the younger work-force, it created the unfortunate necessity to lying to the contractor what sort of position they were filling at the company in question.
I remember the second aspect vividly during the first part of the 00s when I was still living in Atlanta, where a contract (short or long term temporary) was made to sound as glamorous as possible, only to discover within the first three hours of being at the job site was nothing like it was described over the phone as to the work and responsibilities that it would entail. The one contract that I recall off the top of my head as an example had to do with the agency told me that it was an administrative sort of position that required filing and clerical skills for a department of ten. It was billed as a Librarian sort of position that required to be filled while the person originally hired for the position was on maternity leave. What it was, was filing claims in a closet about 15′ x 15′ (4.5 x 4.5 meters), in a hodgepodge of misshapen filing cabinets that looked like they were saved last minute from the trash compactor with each drawer stuffed with files in a haphazard manner and at least 5 – 10 Stick Ups in each. Let me tell you — after an hour of opening and shutting those drawers my sense of smell was completely burned out. A refusal to return to the position the next day, it took almost a week to recover my sense of smell without constantly smelling artificial lilac or lavender. I think to this day, if I never smell Airwick Lilac or Lavender will be entirely too soon.
Moving north hasn’t been much better for the contracting circuit. One of my first contracts involved me working with a 20 year veteran from the nursing field that was given the opportunity to change careers and low and behold was given the cushy desk job as an IT Manager over several IT-related departments in healthcare. Interviewing with the woman — it was damned clear the woman was a Troglodyte. She had the voice of someone that spent 20 or more years smoking that had just given it up. While she seems fair on the surface and her idea of cross-training was sort of on the mark when it came to ensuring everyone on the helpdesk knew how to cover the desk during all contingencies; this great idea came to down in a crash and burn when that training would involve the same sort of schizophrenic and frenetic scheduling that nurses go through in a hospital. Looks good in theory, but when you realize entry-level IT people make on average $15-17/hour as opposed to nurses that make $29-$36/hour; this was a catastrophically bad idea and sleep hours are seriously and severely being cut when you’re finding your work schedule for three days are 23:00 – 07:30 and then the next four would put you at 11:00 – 19:00…
In my 40s at the time, I’m not a spry just-starting-IT type… Not to mention this isn’t the sort of thing I’d ever been used to — even when serving on-call — as I’m more than sure, I would bounce like a brick if I continued that sort of schedule. And like it or not — even though I had to have my contracting agency step in to remind them I’m a fill-in (and not a full-time employee), the retribution that came for not being “cooperative” was in fact borderline harassment and denigrating.
I would like to say before I continue that not all of the contracts I’ve had have been progressively worse since the late 90s as there are some good contracts out there that I can say were not only enjoyable but thought provoking as well. Working with the kids at Providence College, performing lessons for how to program in Access and SQL to someone that was on the verge of understanding OOL, opportunities to speak with people that remembered the times before NAFTA and so on… The fact remains that it’s not looking much better now than it did 16 – 18 years ago.
It’s just… it looks pretty damned bleak at the moment that even the closet optimist hidden deep inside is having a hard time trying to maintain a positive outlook through the current environment. Let’s see if I can draw pictures in the last month alone that have dealt with that has either left me rolling my eyes so hard I about had a convulsion in the process.
I have received calls from places like Maryland (using a 617 Boston Area Code but the return call number started 410), New Jersey, Manhattan, NYC and Colorado, trying to find technicians to work for a company that has a negative reputation of underpaying and cutting the workforce in a way that prevents anyone working there from being able to claim unemployment benefits. While I won’t mention the name of the company in question, I can tell you I had once interviewed for the position and couldn’t keep a poker face when I was told the starting salary was $7/hour less than the competition (that subsequently had more responsibilities for less pay). When I was told I should be “thankful for being hired by this company…” any semblance to a poker face was completely obliterated when I told him the starting pay at the three companies in competition against them was more offered to a janitor than a tech support specialist.
Yeah, they called me 10 minutes after that interview making up some excuse that the hiring manager had an emergency meeting and wouldn’t be available. I never heard from that company again. But that doesn’t stop the bottom-feeders in contracting agencies to contact me about the “opportunity”.
I received a call from another agency with a Metro-Boston area code that I remember submitting my resume (CV) to for a third shift position. That resume fell into a black hole that a month later – I finally received the “we received your resume… are you still looking for a job? We have something in the Boston area…”
Uh, that was a month ago. This type of call is a bait and switch. No thanks, I don’t like companies that don’t have the decency to send an e-mail or make a quick call confirming that the position has been filled.
Then there’s the agency I used to work for prior to being hired full time. Let’s talk about their tactics a moment, shall we? First they call but don’t leave voicemail. This usually occurs at least 3 – 8 times a week. When they do leave voicemail on around the ninth time, it’s the sort of nattering on like they’re your best friend, “oh just touching base see how you’re doing…”
Uh… Have I ever made an effort to call you since I was hired full time at Lifespan? No. Are any of you my friend? No. And given that I warned them of the mess that was being generated, which was blatantly ignored in an effort to kiss as much ass as you could to make the management happy by providing fresh bodies… Well, I’m not going to be rushing back to work for a company that doesn’t listen to first-hand eye-witnessing… That and let’s just say while this agency might be doing something legal, it isn’t remotely ethical… And I’m not about to sacrifice my upstanding attitude for that approach to business.
I know that’s convoluted. I wish I could say more, but the repercussions make me a bit… edgy.
Finally comes the call I just got from Woburn, MA. Seems that this agency is trying to get people to both companies with the notorious reputation of having extremely high turn around. Told him about that and the fact that I’ve talked with ex-employees from both companies and they tell me the same stories… Mass firing of employees before they can collect unemployment, burning out the contractor pool for years…
How do you know this? He asked
How many contracting agencies do you think have called and contacted me about job opportunities with them in the last ten years? You’re the fortieth. Do you think you have a chance to keeping their business? Nope…. I refuse to work for those companies.
He stammered out some professional comments and got himself off the phone .
The fact is, they’re so bad they’re reaching out to agencies outside of their state because those in the state know they can’t get people back in there.
So the question I’m asking myself now is — it is too late to change careers and make macramé plant holders, selling them on the corner in front of City Hall? Heh, then again, I’m not too sure it’s a good choice, given this news article recently. If the Mayor’s Press Secretary was almost mugged — who’s to say I wouldn’t be… again…
With that, I need to wind down for the night. Early day tomorrow as I have laundry to do and that means up at 04:00. Until the next time.
Entry 04/26/2015 12:25:00 AM – Mentat 914
Entry 02/24/2013 08:44:31 AM – Mentat 681
“The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is.” – Desiderius Erasmus
Sunday morning and I’m off with a start. Weird dreams that I’m simply allowing to fade into forgetfulness (and definitely not really worth mentioning as they were more third-person observations into the lives of others instead of first person). Getting everything (including cleaning the house) done before 8 am. Sitting here and swigging my first cup of coffee an hour before usual. Heck I was even able to work on my Fractal of the Day and not only did I get it done as I was finishing up with cleaning the house, but also was able to get it posted in sort of record time as well (good thing to habits and being able to run on auto-pilot sometimes). It sort of feels like nervous energy — which I still do get on occasion — but it’s not originating in the usual places. I could meditate on it, though I’m sure I’m going to find my brain going all over the place trying to, given that I’m still trying to drink my morning coffee. It’s something I might have the chance to unwind as I sit here writing… Or not, depending on mood and inspiration/muse.
I know it’s been a couple of weeks since the last time I’ve written. Almost three (weeks) as I look at the date on the last journal entry. Since the last time I’ve sat down and written, I’ve come to realize that I had a bad combination of Mid-Winter Blahs and Post-Holiday Blues. I about wanted to throttle my boss and landlord because he’s been way too scattered (and all over the place) queuing up work like a schizophrenic maid cleaning on what he wants/needs done at the garage and the properties that he’s trying to get rented once again. I needed (and got) 6 days off and a wage renegotiation to the amount of responsibilities that he has been throwing at me the last six or so months (and was still able to get the month of February’s rent paid so that I can work on trying to find jobs before the beginning of the month of March). During the six days off, I had spontaneously picked up the habit of working on a fractal a day (and posting them to all the usual places). Fun times there, as it’s rather fun to be starting my iPod/iTunes and then coding based on the first song that plays. In my downtime, I was able to get my main toon in Star Wars: The Old Republic up to End-Game Level (50) and found myself rather disappointed with the ending to the storyline as I was able to kill the Emperor of the Sith/Empire in about 45 seconds. Pissed off queerfolk and got myself ostracized on Star Trek Online in admitting that I troll petulant and disrespectful kids on SWTOR (for the lolz). And somewhere along the way, find that my calling has picked up another soul on his way to understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything.
Yes, there’s where the off-center is coming from. But it’s not like when I was dealing with someone else from the central part of the United States. God, that was the sort of drama that I found myself unable to handle at all. Sexual-related dreams every night for the first ten days/two weeks we had talked. Finding my center and grounding completely upheaved and leaving me a nervous and emotional wreck. No, this seems to be more like the nervousness of anticipation because my own curiosity is getting the best of me. While I know it’s rare for me to find equals (or even masters) in my life, I’ve come to appreciate that my calling involves me dealing with acolytes and those new to the path that I walk more. It’s just that… sometimes it would be nice to being able to talk with some that understands and can relate to what I know (and understand), instead of approaching the person as a student and waiting patiently for them to come unto their own to understanding what I know. That and I have to admit, it feels like a really long time since I’ve actually spent time thinking/feeling in metaphysics.
Heh, a friend of mine long ago (who surprisingly is recently departed) once said to me that, “…you are (and I suspect always have been)a teacher of teachers…” Hard to imagine more than 17 years later, I’m finding myself the teacher of students instead. Perhaps it’s a good thing about getting old and learning patience (or simply divine apathy) when dealing with the acolyte. At least they tend to last a bit longer and not prone to ending up in the fetal position, sucking on their thumb and crying pitilessly for their momma when I begin to lose my patience at how slow they’re taking when picking up what’s practically being given to them.
All right, so I understand now where the off-centered is coming from and it’s interesting that because of it, I’m looking for some sort of muse to be creative with. Not the sort of creative that the Mad Scientist (that I am) does with maths. No, the sort of creativity that comes from word weaving. From writing stories to weaving some sort of narrative that incites thoughts, emotions and perhaps even memories. The only problem is that I can’t find the right sort of muse to pull this off — not even for my own journal. *sighs* And I hate when this happens because while it isn’t writer’s block — it certainly feels like it. Pity there’s no such thing as writer’s congestion… That’s certainly what it feels like.
All things considered, I’m doing pretty well. My mood’s better since the mini-vacation I went on (in spite of the fact that my landlord did sort of get on my tits when I realized that he runs on a 24/7/365 schedule and not a Mon-Fri workday schedule) and in spite of snow threats over the next couple of days, I’m sort of happy that it’s rainy and dreary instead. As long as it’s making the snow from the blizzard we had between the last entry and this disappear, that’s all I care about really.
That’s about it for the time being. Short entry as it is, I’m off to enjoy a bit more music and then perhaps drumming up a challenge to work with this muse instead of just slogging along as I usually do. Until the next time.
Entry 02/04/2013 07:29:07 AM – Mentat 680
“Trust one who has gone through it.” – Virgil
In the thirty-three or so years that I’ve been working, I have gone through a lot of job interviews. Mainly because as a consultant, temp, contractor, and even occasionally the hired gun one of the major reasons is so that the temporary/contracting work that I’m going to be performing is done with someone that the management of the company (in question) has met, gotten a feel for and isn’t accepting cold and unknown just off the street. Or in (and especially) the case of being a temp and contractor — I’m not someone that the company has thrown at them just to get the commission and money for the worker and instead is providing someone of skill for the position they’re temporarily creating/filling to get the job done. However that doesn’t really mean anything in this day and age, given that after about fifty interviews, anyone (and yes even me) can put on an incredible interviewing face and completely suck when it comes to actually doing the work. Humans after all are social animals and the “job interview” is just a sort of socializing in a formal setting.
After a while though, I had given up putting on that incredible interviewing face as I had discovered too often, going into the interview hungry for the job and will do anything that is required to work there has ended up with me being accepted to positions that weren’t even remotely described either in the posting, relayed by the agency or even described in the interview. To further exacerbate the problem, I have ended up doing so much work as for it to be completely outside the scope of the job that was required for me to do in the first place. From strenuous physical labor, to being practically shoved into a closet and would make OSHA have an aneurysm a stroke trying to record all the violations, I have at times thought to myself, “what did I do to deserve ending up here? Is this karma for something I didn’t known I had to pay off?”
Consequently, having been part of an interviewing process that a major company in the South had learned to hone (and then distribute to other companies that use it as a part of their standardized interviewing process), I had been able to learn on both sides of the table (interviewer and interviewed) to read vocal inflections, body language and nuance. This knowledge and experience has only furthered my abilities of reading people that I’ve been doing for as long as I remember doing so.
So around my 30s I began honing a no-nonsense attitude for interviews that while it did convey honesty and integrity it also conveyed the right amount of confidence that I might be the person for the position. If it sounds too good to be true, or the requirements don’t match the money that the company to the responsibilities, while I might convey composure, I won’t for the sake of it hide my disdain or disapproval to what I’m hearing. Sure, this attitude might never get me to be remembered if I’m chosen to start the battery of interviews, or even want to have another chance with the company again (as is the case with United Health Care or CVS, but that’s another set of stories for another time) if my interview time is anywhere after the mid-point I can end up having a second interview (sometimes even a third) or getting the job I feel I want to have.
Now comes Thursday, I’m off to parts South (South County to be specific) for an interview for the position as Helpdesk Manager for their internal Helpdesk. While I won’t mention the name of the company at the moment), I will say that most of what the position described on their Monster listing was pretty much of what I expected from previous experience on Helpdesks here in the North and the South. In fact, with the exclusion of perhaps having to troubleshoot pharmacy programs, this particular helpdesk position seemed much like my experience working at Brooks/Eckerd Pharmacies (out of Warwick, Rhode Island before they had been acquired by Rite-Aid). As I usually do before any interview, on the way down I review the various experience that I have with whatever technology, programs and what not that I have come in contact with for the particular job. I might not have actual managerial experience, I do have enough experience leading people in situations and assisting them in getting their job done either by showing through example, or giving advice and/or suggestions on how to do their job better. Not to mention that in recent years, I’ve mellowed enough not to come off as a complete dictator (aka Little Napoleon) to anyone going against the rules I’ve dictated. And so naturally, I’m covering all the experience I have with Point of Sales equipment, various PC hardware, and communications along with the plethora of experience working in a telephone helpdesk environment.
It’s basically a two person interview. One with the HR personnel basically taking the notes of what’s going on, and the manger I would supposedly be reporting to. In such an interviewing situations, I have been taught that unless the Human Resources Manager says anything, you can basically ignore their presence as they’re only there to gauge the interviewee’s reactions to questions and how they answer.
At first it goes pretty well, the manager that I would be reporting to asks the usual questions: what kind of experience do I have when it comes to managing people, what kind of work that I’ve done in the field. What was it like at a couple of the places I’ve worked at for challenges and how did I overcome them. What was the biggest accomplishment that I was proud of… Did pretty well throughout the first part of the interview, though I was a little weak on my accomplishment mostly because there was proprietary and exclusive work performed for GMAC because of the way the information interfaced with their system, but did my best to explain how that worked without going against that confidentiality agreement. Though it earned me Employee of the Month for my last month there and runner up to Employee of the Year.
Then the interview goes into the second part, where the manager begins telling me some of the responsibilities and requirements that he wants for the position. And when he mentioned that the company (and more specifically this position) is making this position out of nothing (in so many words), that’s when I knew there was going to be trouble. And quite a bit of it too as the first red flag goes up quicker than you can say, “Are you kidding me?”
First off, the position of Assistant Helpdesk Manager is not a made from nothing position. This is a position that has been around for as long as there has been a helpdesk for a product. While computers, IT, and software support have been around for about 20 – 30 years, this has been more than enough time to establish the requirements for managing people working in a call center. Sure, this company only has just over a hundred locations that it’s going to be supporting (with growth for more according to the interview), but given what this call center will be supporting, it should well be on the way for knowing precisely what sort of position this will be.
We will be expecting this manager to take a walk around of the new locations and ensure that equipment is working properly, signage is properly displayed… and I stopped registering what he was saying after that. Red flag number 2 goes up.
This is Turn-Up/Lights-On Management. A particularly fun job if you’re into traveling a lot. You get to see various cities and towns as they put a new location in. Get to meet the people that will be working there and doing a bit of training to the equipment, procedures for the company, etc. I did this sort of thing almost 20 years ago for a number of companies that were upgrading from old book and paper systems to computers and networking. It’s particularly grueling in larger companies as you can be on the road far more than being at home, and one job while being really fun, 10 days out, 4 days home did wear on even me after 18 months of doing it. But I got my completion bonus and left the company burned out from seeing as much of the United States as I did.
And this isn’t the sort of responsibilities that a Helpdesk Manager would be doing at all. There might be a little travel once the location is established, but if it’s dealing with Point-of-Sales Equipment and some computers, this would be more something a Quality Assurance/Quality Control/Security job would require. Still though, what he described is under 25% total annual travel, and that’s 20% more than I was wanting to do for the position.
We’re thinking about getting our helpdesk technicians A+ Certified…
Another Red Flag goes up and this time I find myself rather hard pressed not to react with an “are you crazy” expression. This is a retail company selling product to customers that come into their stores. The biggest thing they will have for a computer if they’re using an IBM 4800 series (or newer) cash register is a Pentium Personal Computer in the Store Manager’s Office. Such technicians working this position usually make between $27,000 – $31,200 (USD) annually. My experience with this working at Brooks/Eckerd was that the Technician will be getting at most 10% of the calls dealing with the server not being responsive, and 90% of those calls being that the network cable had been in some way unplugged or someone accidentally pulled the power out of the PC itself. Out of the six or so months I had been working at Brooks/Eckerd, I actually got 1… Yes you got it 1… call that actually confirmed that the hardware had failed and even then did not require the knowledge required for an A+ Certification. (Subsequently, the remaining 80% of the calls received at such a helpdesk would be that the POS Gun and the cash register printer stopped working. With the remaining 10% being either misdirected calls, signage issues, and various escalations for reports that the manager didn’t know how to run).
Getting this A+ Certification is unnecessary overkill, and perhaps would be required for a heavily IT-related company. When he mentioned this, I could literally see that if this Helpdesk didn’t have a high turn around, they would be with this requirement as giving their current technicians the ability to find better paying jobs over $36,000 easily. Hell, most places that require the certification usually pay $40,000 annually to start.
At first I thought that perhaps they were also supporting their main office, but when I asked about it, the manager said they have an internal MIS Department that doesn’t answer to him. Good thing too, as I was sure to be seeing more red flags by the time the interview ended.
We currently have no Call Metrics…
While not actually being a red flag, this is still rather surprising to hear given this home office is supporting over a hundred locations spread through a handful of states. Even as a Self-Employed Contractor/Consultant I high level Service-Level Agreement (SLA) supporting less than a handful of companies at any given time. The smallest place I’ve worked at (ten people) supporting about thirty customers over the course of a decade already had a well established SLA. It seems odd for a company over thirty years old not to have one well on the way either. In spite of the fact that they have one of the lighter call volumes I’ve heard of in an interview, something should have been put in place.
Still, I like challenges and this one seemed to fit within the requirements of this position.
We would like the person in the position to Data Mine for trends…
Err, I was split on this one though I didn’t react too quickly, though I did have it marked as a red flag. The reason for this being is that Helpdesk Managers are more interested in the trends with their Technicians, and less with the various equipment issues out in the field. The only time that perhaps this call center would be concerned is if communications between the home office and the locations were to suddenly go down, but even then outages are fairly easy to trend of this nature. Further, out of all the ticketing systems that I’ve had the experience with working on, only one seemed to provide the sort of reporting this hiring manager was looking for, and they weren’t using it. They were using a proprietary piece of software I never heard of and likely never even seen before..
Data Mining is good, but if a company is trying to get the Helpdesk Manager to creating an SLA, these two sorts of jobs can pull him in two completely different directions. And that will cause untold stress regardless of the amount of money they’re being paid week to week.
We’re looking for someone raw…
You mean you’re wanting someone with little experience that you can mold into the position. Red Flag number three here. In the years that I’ve been in places that have taken this approach to hiring, this has a tendency of blowing up in a company’s face sometimes with dire repercussions. An inexperienced person can become overwhelmed by the responsibilities, particularly if the responsibilities seem to be all over the board place. They might work there for a year as the new employee quickly realizes they are either not a fit for the position or can get into a position that (significantly) pays more based on any one of the facets/responsibilities of the position they had been working with (like QA/QC that pays 15% more than they were offering).
On the other side of this, if the company went for someone too green, they could end up with their potential Manager running out of the place screaming into the night never to be seen again. Wash, rinse, repeating this could happen if the company isn’t up front for what they’re looking to do and end up with the position being phased out because of poor management decisions in its creation in the first place.
We want a long term commitment from the potential manager…
This one by far sent up not only the biggest red flag, but also an alarm in the back of my head (not unlike a siren) started and even caused me the comfort of being able to cover my surprise with confusion to what they were attempting to convey here. A start-up position that is basically being created out of nothing usually takes anywhere from 2 – 5 years to establish. After that, anyone in an managerial position such as this might stick around if he feels it worthwhile, but more often times than naught will look into promotion to something else in that time (either within the company or somewhere else depending on the stress levels of creating, stabilizing and maintaining the position). When I got this clarified, the manager was looking for someone to be in the position 10 or more years.
“10 or more years,” I was thinking, “this has to be the most unrealistic requirement for the position I have heard to date. While I nodded and said that this is feasible, it dawned on me that this company is clearly beginning to suffer from something I’ve seen for years in the south. What I like to call a combination of bad group-think and unrealistic expectations.
Looking at all the red flags that went up during this interview while shaking hands, being cordial and thanking them for the time (while saying I look forward to hearing from them for the next round of interviews which they’ll be calling day after tomorrow), I got the clear and distinct impression that he didn’t know what he was doing for the position. Experience tells me that the hiring manager had gotten these ideas from somewhere else (like a conference/seminar), talking with peers in the field and thinking this sort of mish-mash of putting these ideas together is going to create a good person (and good fit) for the work that he doesn’t want to do anymore. Couple this with delusional expectations from people (10 years in the position? In this day and age) and you end up with a failure just looking for a place to happen.
Getting home and talking about the incompetence of the position with my mother’s husband, he looked at me and said something to the extent of, “you’re not going to turn it away just because of this are you?”
Heh, no… Are you kidding me, I started, This is the sort of train wreck that I’ll end up being hired for. I’m open to seeing where this is going to go, I’m not going to run away screaming into the night for the money that they’re offering… Hell, I’ll even sit there drinking beer and munching on popcorn just to watch the train wreck in process and get paid for it. I might be prissy, but I’m a drama queen after all and enjoy the entertainment from start to parading-on-my-last-gay-nerve end.
Well that’s about it for the time being. Until the next time.
Entry 11/20/2011 02:27:47 PM – Mentat 622
“Love flies, runs, and rejoices; it is free and nothing can hold it back.” – Thomas a Kempis
Okay, so it’s Sunday and sunny… Weather outside my window has been warm enough for me to turn off the heat and open up the windows. I was in a pretty damned good mood, given that I had woken up well before the alarm was supposed to go off (and I shut the thing off so I could sleep a bit later than normal. Then it was after a couple of hours of slacking about the room in the comfy clothes — off I went on a tear cleaning up the house — right down to washing the floor. Then after a little time-out/break while I waited for the bus to pick me up so I could head up ½ mile (.8 km) to the laundry on the same road…
Heh, what can I say? I was lazy and not in the mood to schlep about 60 pounds (27.2 kg) of laundry in an Army-issued duffle bag.
Now I’m home chatting a bit online, listening to some music (other than the noise that’s going on across the street at the car wash), and realizing that it’s been more than six weeks since the last time I sat down and wrote a journal entry. Not to mention quite a bit’s happened since the last time I’ve written. So for those of you that like it summed up quickly for the tl;dr mindset:
- I’ve got (and still have) a job, and
- I’ve moved to Providence
Now the long of it.
It was the Saturday after the first week of work and I was sitting there with my aunt in the kitchen talking about the insanity of what I was learning on the job (more on that in a few). My uncle saw it as the opportunity to tell me that it was time to move. Didn’t say much of anything else other than that and walked off to ignore what was going on after that. Dropping bombs on me like that before my morning coffee (and not even after my morning shower) is never a good thing. I pretty much stormed out of the house and headed to my part of the house sitting in the darkness. Then for the next week, I was going through all sorts of anger issues (unresolved mostly of how that was just dropped on me) along with me being the drama queen expecting the worst at any given time — given that my uncle is well known for his impatience and his explosive attitudes.
The next two weeks, the environment around the homestead was dysfunctional, silent as a tomb, with moments of explosiveness given my aunt’s been the go-between between myself and my uncle through most of the bullshit of the announcement. The last thing anyone should be doing while I’m juggling two different sort of stresses (work and looking for a new place), because it’s a guarantee I’m going to shoot the messenger. And I did…
Every time she came into my sights to talk about it.
Eventually around the second week, I had finally worked through my anger and my outrage at the change of situation and knew that the timer was going to finding a new place to live. One that I would need nearly the whole of the month to find somewhere to move to. I was determined to live in Providence once again mainly because I was seriously tired of the nearly 2 hours it took getting to and from work. Not to mention that during my off-time, It took a mile to walk to the stop, and another hour to get to Providence to be around anything. And then, when I’m actually in Providence, given the uncertainty of the late night bus service, I won’t be able to stay late without having to spend $60+ for a one-way taxi ride to get back home.
No matter how much I look at it, it’s not the sort of proposition I want to deal with on my time off, and while there’s usually a good chance I wouldn’t do anything in the first place (given my history being back here in the Biggest Little) I like having the opportunity without having to invest way too much time into actually getting to what I’m doing. And let’s face it — suburban life while being nice — I have and always will be a city-boy (man).
Checking out the haunts and the potential apartments in the area were certainly a challenge; partly because of the time constraints, but mostly because at the end of 9+ hours days, I didn’t have the energy to schlep all around Providence checking out this apartment or that. So most of the apartments I did check out were within the Federal Hill and Broadway area as it’s along the lines that get me to work, and are in the neighborhoods that make it an easy walking distance to downtown (from what I’m seeing in Maps – 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the central public transit depot — Kennedy Plaza).
Missed one place in the area by about 2 days as they had someone else take the room. Another I wanted to check but ended up backing out of it because they were college students, and that would easily work my nerves. The next place I checked out had seen better days in the 60s. Sure, the landlord said that he would be having the place painted and touched up, but it would take more than a lick of paint to fix the linoleum and the bathroom was in sore need of new plumbing. Ended up checking a place out in the Mount Pleasant/Eagle Square area with a roommate that’s about my age. The place is a little small for the likes of two — but the thought that this is a temporary situation with me inheriting the place in 6 months isn’t too bad. Not to mention it allows me the tradition of shedding the crap I don’t need anymore.
Now the fun has been getting this place into some sort of order. Today I finally got around to picking up the necessaries for washing the floor, and realize that it’s going to take more than one washing to get this place into looking like an apartment my family would live in and not something a poor college student ends up landing in after a night of cheap beer drinking. At the moment, even after cooking a modest supper — I can take a deep breath and the place smells damned clean. But there’s a bit still left to do — though most of it is out of my hands, relying entirely on my roommate doing his end of the cleaning — like his bedroom and the den that I spend positively no time in. But the rest? The kitchen, pantry and bathroom? Better than when I moved in three weeks ago. As I mentioned in a tweet — compared to my roommate — I’m definitely more like Felix Unger to his Oscar Madison. But at least he doesn’t make a mess as he moves through the house…
[Last Edited: 11/22/2011 08:09:09 PM]
It’s been a couple of days since the last time I was writing this, and now it’s time to talk about the job… After being at it for six weeks, I decided that if I were finding myself drinking to calm down from dealing with the job — then this is definitely not the sort of job that I want to be part of. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind some challenges when it comes to making the sort of changes necessary to a better work environment… But when I find that the challenge is overwhelming.. When I find the obstacles daunting. When I find myself ill from the amount of multitasking that I need to do in order to keep my head above water, and not simply so that I can divert some of my personal resources to doing something relaxing… This isn’t a job. This is a hydra and I’m finding myself fighting the beast like Hercules. That’s where I’ve been for the last six weeks since I took up the position and found myself hitting the ground running on day two.
I understand that there is a sort of scarcity of jobs out there, but honestly, if I’m finding myself fighting my blood pressure along with trying to calm myself after working through lunch for almost three weeks straight (and thereby putting in on average of 50 hours a week because of it), well… I might as well go back into business for myself as I did some decades ago and work myself into an early grave. Sure, I can work up a hell of a laundry list about the things that I noticed in the time there, but I find that the simplest thing to say about it, will cover the issues extremely succinctly…
It was a small company trying to do the work of a big company, without understanding the value of the years that bigger companies take in setting up standardization.
To describe the job — yeah, it was helpdesk. It was third-party helpdesk for many companies within the New England area ranging from law firms to medical practices that didn’t want to deal with hiring someone in-house to handle their IT needs and instead went to outsourcing it to companies like the one that I worked at to get their computer needs handled. The inherent problem with this is that out of the 40 or so firms that they were handling for their IT needs, they had 40 different ways of handling the companies IT infrastructure. There were many programs that I’ve had experience with performing helpdesk work, and many more that left me wondering whether the company I was working for should be supporting in a helpdesk environment to begin with given the nature of the programs.
And what really made it a bugbear that was the straw to break the camel’s back was that this one company that worked in the production of medical equipment, were absolute luddites when it came to basic computer needs and expected the company to bend over backwards to handling aspects of support that any reputable agency would’ve put stops on their mad and prima donna hissy fits and standardized what was and wasn’t support for those users that remoted into the home-office. While I admire their “we support practically anything” vision — too many years in bigger business IT departments taught me — that is a Pandora’s Box of horrors and a quagmire to never-ending grief for the support professionals as they try to fix one thing only to end up watching it break time and time again.
So last night, after having a coffee mug filled with bourbon (Jim Beam to be exact), and then having an extremely stressful lack of a night’s sleep, I decided with clear conscience and clearer head to tender my resignation by e-mail (in the same manner as I did in accepting the position in the first place), effective immediately and also did something sincerely — wished them luck in their road ahead.
I think that with this, I’ve finally learned my lesson that I shouldn’t hold any ill will for a position that I simply can’t fit into. While I am flexible (for the most part), I am not completely malleable at my age anymore.
Anyway — that’s all for the time being. I’m off to relax with the cat and look forward to my bed finally coming in tomorrow. Until the next time.
“Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.” – Floyd Dell
Hard to believe that it’s almost been a month since the last time I sat down and wrote a journal entry. Quite a bit to write about though a good majority of it has been more of the same up until the beginning of this week. Starting with the weather — looks like autumn is finally here and that things are getting chillier. Right now while I’m still in shorts and the windows are all still open, the temperature outside is currently a rather chilly 57 F (13.8 C). Only just struck the middle of this week too; as prior to that temperatures were still pretty warm and summer-like. Of course this means that with autumn finally being here, the maples are going to be changing color soon enough. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a bit of it on camera before the leaves completely fall off the trees.
We’ve also had a couple of days worth of rain since the last journal entry. While it wasn’t enough to create the tidal pool I had talked about in the last journal entry — we did get enough damp and seep going on in the Southeastern part of the basement. It was just enough to cause some concern and a little worry — enough for me to head down routinely during the heavier part of the rain and make sure it wasn’t leaking into the finished parts of the basement. I put a bit of waterproof caulking in during the last part of the flood, and while it didn’t quite pour in as it has in the past (or as I mentioned in the last journal entry), it’s still enough that left unattended can cause the tidal pool to grow. Sometime during the winter, I’m going to need to get my uncle involved in stopping up the holes where the water is coming in.
The job search had been extremely annoying during the next couple of weeks after the last journal entry. Seems that the only people giving me calls were temporary and contracting agencies. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m seriously over working for them now. 18 years of their crap, lies and bottom-feeder attitudes has soured my want to return to being a temp. Had one contracting firm calling me from the Waltham, MA area tell me they had an opening for a job that I would be interested in. I told them flat out that unless it was in the Rhode Island area, I wasn’t interested. The man that contacted me said it was in Rhode Island and when I said I’d listen to what he was pitching then told me the job was in Waltham. I spent the next 10 minutes talking with his supervisor explaining the importance of not lying to someone when pitching a contract, for if they’re lying about the location of the position, they could also be lying about what kind of contract it was.
Sometime shortly after that rather annoying call, I received a call from the first agency I worked at when I moved back to Rhode Island — Robert Half Technology. Seems that they have all sorts of new contract coordinators there since the last time I talked with anyone there none of which seemed to have any clue as to what was going on. Not surprising really, given the turnover for such the business. For giggles, I feigned interest with the coordinator and when he asked when I could stop by to fill out the necessary paperwork to work for them again, also asked me for three references that they could call. I said to him that I had worked for them in the past and when he confirmed that they still had my information in the archive section of their system explained to him then there was no real need for me to go through the first hire process. The coordinator got insistent that I give the information that he requested, I explained until they waive this nonsense, I wasn’t interested. I haven’t received a call from him since.
After that? Well, I simply began ignoring any business calls that were coming from Temp/Contracting Agencies given that they were calling me after I had updated my resume links on Dice and Monster stating I was not accepting calls from Temporary and Contracting Agencies. And they still kept calling in spite of those updates, which indicates to me a complete lack of respect not unlike the BS I have to put up with on LGBT Dating/Hook-Up sites that write me from countries like the Philippines and Ghana in spite of my saying I want to chat with people within the USA.
I tried for a couple of full-time and part-time jobs at the local colleges and universities knowing full-well that even the part-time jobs paid well for part-time (providing you weren’t actually a student at the school), but either got turned down or haven’t heard from at all. And unlike my job search from some years back prior to landing the job at Cox Communications — every company (save one) that I had sent a job application or resume to — had written me back telling me that they had filled the position. The only one that I didn’t hear from was AT&T, but then again given their online application process seems to have a gaping hole in it that needed the EEOE information filled out without any means of actually filling it out, I’m not really surprised. Chances are it’s sitting out in limbo somewhere without any way for AT&T to consider the information.
Like my job at Cox, I was able to successfully land a job with a local IT/Tech Support company in what could only be described as one of the speediest processes I’ve experienced since moving back to the Tundras of New England. I received an e-mail on Thursday from the company in question asking what times I had available for an interviewing the following week. Explained that I was available any time after 10:00 AM, which they scheduled the interview for Friday (the next day instead). Got there and was interviewed for about ½ hour and was told that I was one of 4 candidates they thought eligible for the position. Seems that the pickings for the sort of experience that they were looking for was rather slim particularly given that they had sent the job posting to one of the IT-type boards. When done with the interview, I was informed they had two more interviews to do and that they would contact me next with by e-mail either telling me the job went to someone else, or with the offer for wages and salary.
Me being who I am and second guessing the longer it took to getting the response back after the interview , by Monday thought that I had in some way screwed up the interview or the e-mail correspondences and that I didn’t get the job. I held out schlepping my resume out to other places a day longer and by early afternoon on Tuesday, I was informed that I had been offered the position and they would like me to start the position on the 24th of October pending my acceptance of their offering. I had accepted the position and offered to start earlier if they needed, which had been revised to this coming Tuesday (11, October). So, in less than a week I’ll have a new job and needing to hit the ground running according to what the interviewer was telling me (seems that their current employee is being deployed and won’t be back for a while).
It pays well, given the position is a day job. Although I’m going to be away from the house longer than I’m used to as it’s a 45-hour a week job (9 hour days, 5 days a week). Says that it’s really busy, but I suspect that he was giving me a worst-case scenario particularly given that my experience with IT Helpdesk for the New England area is that after Halloween up until New Year’s Day — things tend to slow down for IT-related work.
My cat’s realizing something has changed as she’s been sticking to me like wet on rain since I received the news. She hasn’t given me a tenth of the problems about being fussy for her meals, actually finishing them within the allotted time between feedings. Right now, I got a reprieve from her wanting to sit on my lap right now, as she’s off on the bed, sleeping under the covers. Well that and yesterday she got a wild hair across her butt and decided that she didn’t want to touch her middle of the day food at all, sitting there and looking at it with the sort of disapproval that said, “I’m not touching this anymore”. But after getting it force fed to her, she’s back to normal and without too much issue. Hopefully this isn’t going to be an ongoing problem with her, given that the hours I’m working at this job mean I’m out of the house by 05:30 in the morning and won’t be home until after 8:30 in the evening. So for the next 4 days, I’m going to watch her and see how she handles the new feeding times. As for the middle of the day meal — my aunt’s going help out by checking on her and giving her a can between noon and 2 PM which should tie her over until I get home at night. Heh, of course she’ll probably be sleeping and eating through most of the day when I’m away and at work.
[Last Edited: 10/06/2011 05:44:15 PM]
With it being autumn, I’m finding my loathing of homo sapiens to be growing with leaps and bounds so I haven’t been socializing online as much as I did during the summer. Even when I’m there, I’m not really, usually feeling the lure of wanting to play a game or six in the process. I know I have a couple of reviews to write (namely: Spiral Knights, and Champions: Free for All), but won’t be getting to those for a bit. Also been replaying some of the games in my library (TFU, TFU2) for the sheer hell of it. There’s something rather satisfying about taking a lightsaber to enemies and storm troopers… Well that using Force Lightning as a means of venting frustration. Always fun watching storm troopers electrify and become crispy and then ashen after a good hit from Force Lightning.
Automatically got the Peer Review DLC for Portal 2 on Tuesday thanks to the way that Steam works. Man, Valve seriously upped challenge level of this DLC for cooperative/competitive play. So far it’s been well worth the surprise of finding out a couple of weeks ago that Valve was releasing it for free and quite the right sort of frustration of realizing that all these levels require absolute cooperation and teamwork in order to get through the level. Still have about 4 levels or so to go through, but might take a bit of time to work on them as they require quite a bit of forethought and coordination to complete.
Well that’s about it for the time being. I’m feeling particularly impatient at the moment given that I’m also sitting in with the kids in chat, and they’re seriously working my nerves. So I think I’m off to re-play a level I screwed up in TFU to get all the Holocrons. Until the next time.