Monday, April 30, 2012

Natural Consequences

Sometimes dumb decisions have consequences. I made a rather foolish decision Saturday night and I'm still paying for it this morning.

Because of this silly decision, I missed 6 hours at my new part-time job yesterday and a full day at my day job today. Ugh!

Here's what I did.

Saturday evening my husband and I were meeting a couple of friends out. Though hungry, I didn't want to take the time to cook anything -- I ate half of a big, blue cheese hamburger I saved from my lunch Friday. It tasted great!

What I had forgotten was, after Friday's lunch the burger sat on my desk unrefrigerated all afternoon. When I got home that evening, the burger sat on the counter for another couple of hours. Eventually, I put it in the refrigerator. Then I ate it Saturday night.

I woke up early Sunday morning -- not feeling right, but not feeling sick. I took a couple of Advil and went back to bed. An hour later I was so uncomfortable in the bed, I went downstairs to lay on the couch. I still did not feel right, and a screaming headache was building. A shower, more napping, laying around, more Advil. I felt worse and worse as the day went on and I finally started to throw up around noon.

At that point I finally called the part-time job and said I was too sick to come in. Unfortunately, I needed to call in earlier than 2 hours before my start time -- I called only 1 hr and 45 min before. I can't believe how bad I feel about that.

I expected to feel better today, and I did -- a little. But the screaming headache would not let up. I could not imagine driving with my head hurting like this! There is no way I would be able to concentrate on anything at the office.

So, one stupid decision has caused me two days of feeling crappy and about 13 of work I should be doing. I hope I've learned my lesson.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Living What They Preach

So, I have spent about 10 hours in training for my new part-time retail job. Some of it was in person, some via video and yesterday quite a bit online. Throughout the training, everyone has emphasized customer service, helpfulness and basically being kind.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I've heard it all before. The cynical me was thinking, what company does NOT say it emphasizes customer service? And in reality, how many stores have I been in where I felt customer service was important?

While setting up a computer for my training, the manager on duty had to take a call from a customer. His tone was friendly, professional and more than that, it was kind. I could tell the customer was happy at the end of the call.

Later, I left the computer looking for a staffer to ask a question. The first person I encountered did not know me from Adam (Eve?). I asked my question expecting him to think I am an idiot. He listened to everything I said, then spent a good 3 minutes giving me a very thorough answer.

While sitting at the computer, several other staff members stopped by to say Hi and ask how my training was going.

As the store closed and I was leaving, the employees on the floor took the time to say goodbye and asked when I would be back.

Needless to say, I was stunned. Every single person I encountered who works for this company was friendly! They all seemed to care how I was doing!

I know there are a lot of people who would read this and say, "What's the big deal?" Let's just say that since graduating from college in the early 1980s, I have never had a job in my professional career where employees treated each other so well. Don't get me wrong -- I have had the group of friendly co-workers and that one amazing boss. But I have never experienced a company culture like this -- a company culture that says "let's all be nice", and the employees actually are nice!

Though training is rarely fun, I went home last night feeling pretty good. If I have to work a second job for a little while, I am so lucky to be working at a company like this! Though I had expected to have to learn to do this job, I didn't expect I would be learning something so basic that I should have been doing for years.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Not One of the Cool Kids

I'll just come out and say it. I am not where I want to be professionally and I am not as successful as I thought I would be at my age.

A few years back I took a business risk. My plan was that I would quit my day job and run this business until I sold it years from now, making millions. It didn't happen that way.

In the meantime, the economy has been getting progressively worse, I'm getting older, and finding the type of job I want is pretty tough right now.

This is all to explain why earlier this week I was sitting in a small conference room with seven other people (who were all under the age of 24) watching a two-hour employment orientation video for a retail outlet. Yes, I took a part-time job at a retail chain.

The initial interview process was great! The managers are wonderful! Many of the part-time staff are my age and pretty much in the same boat -- I feel very comfortable with my decision to work there. But in this small conference room, I was more than twice the age of everyone else. To say I stuck out like a sore thumb is an understatement.

The orientation process was fine until the manager started the training DVD and left the room. Though pretty well done as far as training videos go (I know it isn't a video, but what do I call it?), but it was horribly long and parts were a little cheesy. It was grueling to sit there for so long.

The "children" were restless and started talking about all kinds of stuff that had nothing to do with the video. They got pretty loud and silly. I felt old. I didn't want to participate in the inane conversation, but I didn't like being the geek among the cool kids. I just wanted to watch the video and move on.

At one point the youngest woman suggested we fast forward through parts. Someone handed her the remote and she tried the buttons. "Don't do that," I said. "If they want us to watch this, we should watch it." Just put the goody two shoes label on me now!

She kept playing with the buttons and I had to say something again. Finally, the guy who handed her the remote admitted that there were no batteries in it and he knew it wouldn't work. OK, so I wasn't the only one who knew we had to do it even if it was unpleasant -- but I was still the only one geeky enough to tell her to stop.

In the majority of situations, I am comfortable with my age. I'm OK around my teenaged son's friends and I'm comfortable around people much older than I am. In most social situations, I am not alone with large groups of twenty-somethings. And if I am in a group too young for me, usually I can leave.

It's totally different being with this group -- who will be my co-workers, my peers.

The good news is orientation is over. The better news is that I will not be working in the same department with any of these people.

After a year of freelancing and extreme budgeting that just has not worked, I am ready for this move. I have a plan to take care of a few things and this is the first step. It is not where I want to be, but I think it is where I am supposed to be -- at least for now.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Be the One

About two weeks ago, I got my hair cut. It wasn't anything complicated or unusual, it was just my usual hair guy and pretty much the same haircut and color I get every time I see him. Most women know that even if you tell your hair person to give you the same cut and color every month, you always end up with something just a little bit different.

I have no idea what he did different this time, but people have noticed. I have had more compliments on my hair in the last two weeks than I have all year! People who don't know me, but have to look at my driver's license, comment on my hair. The receptionist at my dentist's office said I look younger. People who have known me for years have said the color is great.

I'm not a froo-froo person and know nearly nothing about hair and makeup. If I am getting compliments, it is not because of anything I am doing. I was thrilled at the reaction!

Friday morning I decided to leave a message for him. "Hey, just want to let you know, I'm getting a lot of compliments on my hair. People love the cut and the color and they say I look younger. Whatever you did, remember it because you need to do it again."

A couple of hours later I got a call from him. He sounded a little bit down. "I just want you to know you made my day," he said in a low-key voice. "I've been having a rough week, and I really needed to hear some good news. Thank you."

Though I knew he would appreciate hearing I like my hair, the main reason for my phone call was somewhat selfish -- I wanted him to remember what he did so he could do it again. I never anticipated it would make that big of an impact on him.

In my PR classes in college we learned that for every compliment received on an event or project, there are 10 other people who are just as happy, but have chosen to say nothing. At the same time, most unhappy people will tell you exactly how unhappy they are. I hate to admit I am just like everyone else -- I complain immediately, but rarely give compliments.

After Friday, I will try harder to be that one happy person.

NOTE: I am not including a photo of my hair. I'm not wearing make up, I didn't put in my contacts, and it never looks as good in a photo as it does in person. Use your imagination -- it looks great!