Thursday, March 25, 2010

Your Impatience is Not a Sign of Importance

Most customers treat service workers as equals and are polite and understanding. Others act as if we are invisible and will not engage in conversation, make eye contact, or acknowledge our existence in any way. I think they are funny. I will chatter away, "Did you find everything you needed?" Silence. "Do you have our discount card?" Silence, and customer looks at ceiling. "I do hope the weather will clear up. What do you think?" Silence and customer looks at shoe. "You have a really nice day. Thank you for shopping with us." Silence. Customer yanks bag from my hand scowls and turns toward exit.

There are a few customers that seem to think that we are all incompetent simpletons. One lady a few days ago had no patience for her brand new cashier. An item didn't ring in correctly for the customer in front of her and I had to correct it. She rolled her eyes at the cashier and grunted before yelling, "I'm in a big hurry today!"

I just smiled at her and corrected the price. The cashier then needed me to override the order because there was a voided item. I did that for her while the lady grunted and tut tutted and rolled her eyes continuously. I wanted to tell her that the new cashier would not be able to work faster because of her eye rolling. I also wanted to threaten her with what I used to threaten my own children with when they were teens. "I can pop out your eyeballs and put them in a jar so you can shake the jar and roll them all you want. By the way, I always thought that Gary Larson could turn that image into a great Far Side comic. Can you picture a group of teenagers rolling their eyeballs in jars?

The one customer in line in front of the rude customer was finished and the cashier started ringing her order. She said, "Thank you for your patience today ma'am." The look on her face was priceless.

Wouldn't you know it the lady paid by check and there was a problem with her account and the cashier had to call me to override it while two or three people waited behind her without huffing or puffing or grunting. She was still tut tutting and grunting and rolling those eyeballs the entire time.

The best way I have found of dealing with unreasonable people is to be pleasant and polite the entire time. Some people have control issues and they just want to affect your mood and have an impact on your emotions with their negativity. After many years working with the public I recognize that this is their problem and am able to laugh at this. I will NOT be taking on your cloak of negativity and wrapping it around my being, I will NOT bring this emotion home and share it with my family. You have failed in recruiting me. Have a nice day, and please shop with us again.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Time...Never Enough

Here I am at one in the morning dashing out something. I have been receiving more hours due to extra training for another position at work and I also get called in quite often when others call out for their shifts. I'm in debt and saving for a future move so I might as well get as many hours as possible. I don't mean to let the hours worked take a toll on my blog. I really do have every intention of daily posts, I just feel so physically drained every day that I don't always keep up.

Another thing I hardly do anymore is visit friends who live nearby. I have a good friend that lives in the next county and I haven't seen her in ages. My husband and I have family in the same county and we never get together. My life is becoming all about work, I need to make some changes.

Anyone else out there feel as if they are owned by a corporation and their private life is slipping away?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the Bright Side I Can Add the Title of Gravedigger to My Resume

I have other stories in mind that further detail what life is like for the uninsured or the working poor however, it is personal life that is forefront in my mind today. I spoke with my sister yesterday and she detailed how our father is slowly slipping away. He is weaker each day. He tried to go downstairs in his apartment building to the lobby where the residents gather to socialize but two neighbors had to practically carry him back. She told me he is sleeping all night and almost the entire day. He cancelled his day trip with the senior center, something he had been looking forward to for months.

He told my sister that he wants to try to make it past April first so he can keep his social security check. Of all the things to be concerned with...

She also mentioned that he was worried about leaving when my brother and I were not financially stable yet. My brother, while still very much in debt, has a full-time job and owns a home. I feel guilty he is using his last moments worrying about me. I work a low wage job and rent and have hardly any savings but I do know how to survive.

My brother reminded me when we last spoke that we were at the one month point past when the doctor broke the news to him. The doctor had said two weeks at one point and two months in another sentence. Nothing is concrete but this was the usual time frame he had witnessed. From my sisters description he is moving along quickly, something I didn't realize he would do. He has always been so tough and has defied doctors predictions in the past.

When he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer his then doctor said you are old and you will have to die of something. He then said you have a month to six months to live. Dad decided to move and try a different doctor. This doctor treated him as much as he could and gave him several more years. These last few years have been wonderful for my dad. He moved back to the city he grew up in, reconnected with friends and family, made new friends, played cards several times a week, went on several day trips and a cruise. The number of friends he has is just incredible. I truly believe he has enjoyed his latter years. I'm glad he didn't listen to that first doctor and he had options.

One of the things my dad did when my mom passed was take her ashes to the private family burial ground. He reconnected with her relatives and they welcomed him. The burial site is on top of a mountain in a long gone coal mining community. Her father died, crushed in a mining collapse when she was just three months old. Long story short she had a rough life and longed to know her real father. My dad buried her ashes and the old coal mining lantern that her father had on his hat when he was crushed which she had kept on display all her life.

This mountain top next to his wife is where my dad wants to be buried. He has the names and numbers ready for me when it is my time to reconnect with the relatives. He said they would be real glad to meet me. He said I would have to walk the remaining mile or two up the mountain because there wasn't a safe road anymore. So I am reminded that my next trip will be to a remote mountaintop where I will walk a long way, a shovel for a walking stick, my last trip with my father.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Do Professionals Have Work Anxiety Dreams?

Woke up this morning almost as exhausted as I was when I went to bed. I had one of those dreams where my work had incringed onto my home life. I was living in an old farmhouse that was filthy and in need of many repairs, and I was hand washing my work uniforms. A customer had just dropped off a "gift" of eight golden retrievers and the grocery store that I work for now had purchased my home and added a grocery store on the side of it. A door in the kitchen opened directly into the checkout area of the store.

I walked through the door and a customer complained that we didn't have the product advertised. I offered her a rain check but she didn't want one and had wandered off. I went back into my home and there she was. There was no lock on the door. She went into my kitchen and washed her hands. When she came out she handed me my range hood and said when she pulled on the paper towel dispenser which was attached the whole thing came out. I gently reminded her that the grocery store was on the other side of the building and this part was my house. I was still trying to guide her out of the house when I woke up.

I often do have these weird mixed dreams that feature bits of my work mangled together. One night I worked at a fruit stand/gas station/department store/hotel and had to work the entire thing by myself. My question today, is does everyone have this sort of dream or is it only the ones who are dissatisfied with their lot in life. If you completed all of your education and landed your dream job, make enough money to live comfortably, and are basically happy do you still occasionally have these dreams?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rainy Days and Impatience

Today it is raining and my area is under a tornado watch. At one point it was if a solid wall of rain was coming down. It sounded like hale but when I went outside I didn't see any on the ground. On days like these, with the steady rain and cloud cover, I only want to stay in bed with the dog and relax and nap. It is difficult to drag myself to work any day but rainy days are particularly difficult.

With extra hours here lately there is so much to do at home. I feel as if I can never catch up on everything. It seems as if I get really far into a project and then get called in to work and then several days later I am right back where I started. I cleared out half a bookcase and have a large stack to donate. The other half is staring at me but I have to get to work. I have a basket of clothes from yesterday! I forgot to put them away. Tucked into a corner on a chair, they will just have to wait until tonight.

One thing my husband and I committed to the other night was clearing out more of our possessions. It was something we were already working on. We've already made a few hundred off of yard sales and donated several carloads but we want to go further. We have moving goals and travel goals and want to significantly lighten our load. This is a long messy process. There are closets to empty and boxes to go through and it just takes so much time. Add in jobs and regular household chores and dog care. I'm further exhausted just thinking about it. My problem is impatience and wanting everything to happen instantly.

We were at the laundromat yesterday and there were two ads on the bulletin board from house cleaners and I so wished I had a little more income to afford this. With my freed up time I could pursue more education, or better this site, or get ready to move and do a job search in a new area. I am so impatient but my time and energy are not infinite.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Today I am Here

Today I wrote a guest post for Aspiring Millionaire at I'm a techno-moron, so I don't have a proper link here. Maybe I do in my title if I did it right. But please do visit his site, a very inspiring personal finance blog.

I'm not looking forward to it but I have to go to that laundromat again and then it is straight to work. Sigh.

Thank you to everyone who visits here. I truly appreciate your comments. Having your communication makes a rough day more bearable and inspires me to strive for better times.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Contentment Found

Today my husband and I visited a beautiful state park on a river. We wandered the trails, looked over the water, and took the time to just sit at a picnic table watching the birds forage for food in the underbrush. We also made time to discuss our hopes and dreams and renew our commitment to make some changes in our lives. We've both been so intent on survival lately that we have been doing just that. We have not taken the time to stop and have any enjoyment at all. Days off are spent running errands, or cleaning, or running back to work when our jobs call. It has been wearing on us.

After today I feel renewed and excited. We've already set a date for next week to visit another park that we haven't been to in decades. It will be interesting to see how it has changed. I can't wait.

No matter who you are or how many responsibilities you may have, you have to take a few moments as often as you can to pursue joy or else it all really isn't worth anything. You may have a healthy bank account and a high powered job, or no money at all and a draining job, but either way you must do something you enjoy, and spare a few moments to reflect or meditate.

Here's hoping everyone out there finds joy in their lives every day!

Monday, March 8, 2010

And How Was Your Day?

Today was my first Sunday off ever, and since Sunday is my husbands only day off we decided to do something. We kept discussing our day. "We can drive to the beach, or go to a nature trail." or "We can go have dinner and see a movie." We were both very excited to have a day off together. We woke up and while I made breakfast for the dog my husband drove my daughter to work. He then came back home and drove my son to work. When he came home we were still yawning and feeling drained from the past week. It's not that we are lazy or ill or anything, but we sat down and fell instantly asleep and slept til noon. The work schedules and coordinating all the rides to jobs are wearing on us. I know we needed the rest but it ruined our plans. We keep pushing ourselves for these jobs and earning a living just to survive, and we miss out on stopping to enjoy our lives sometimes. I don't mean to moan all the time, this is just my way of shedding more light on what it is like sometimes for the working poor. There are times when the budget is gloomy. There are less choices out there for work due to the economy so we feel stuck right now.

All was not lost, we did have dinner out and and some time for ourselves. We also tackled the unglamorous chore of grocery shopping together. For the record, we spent $61.59, and saved $79.04 ($26.20 of which was coupon savings.) We arrived home with five large reusable grocery store bags filled to overflowing. We will ride out this recession and keep these skills when times are better.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Even More Work Grumbles

I've been training for a new position at my current job and my work hours are even longer now. The position itself is not that bad, and the hours are just a little longer as long as everything goes well and I get out on time. I just haven't had any time to write lately because I run everyone else to work, do a few household chores, and then get ready and head to work myself.

The only problem as I train for this advancement, is in the back of my mind I am thinking of leaving. It has to be really bad for me to consider a change at this point because I would most likely have to purchase a car to travel any further for work. We have four in the house now with four jobs and one car. I really want to keep it at one car now because with the tag, tax, insurance savings I'm whittling down my debt.

There are no perfect jobs, at least from what I have seen. Some are better than others, but there is always something. I feel as if Chicken Little is running the place where I work now. It seems as if the rules are always changing and we are always reacting to customer polls and what corporate says trying to please everyone. The newest thing is the dress code, even though we have the same policy from corporate and the same posters, our store management is changing it slightly. They are sending people home for having the wrong color undershirt, writing up people for losing their plastic name tag, and in general just going crazy. I can understand if the staff was not following policy, but they were doing everything right. One manager even went so far as to make a few employees lift their pant leg so to ensure they were wearing the correct color socks. This is a fairly simple job and it started out as completely stress free. This is rapidly changing. When you have to have a pep talk with yourself every day just to make yourself go to work something needs to change.

Thank you to anyone who listened to me ramble. :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Nonsense in the Work World

Many corporations and the people that run them make it hard for the workers in the lower tier to enjoy their jobs. Sometimes too much stress is placed on workers with simple jobs. I once worked in a store with a discount card that cost money to purchase. You would have to go through an entire spiel about the card just to sell one three dollar item. Cashiers hours depended on their ability to sell this card. Some eventually lost their jobs because of low card sales, no matter how well they performed otherwise.

I worked in a second hand store once. I thought it would be fun and I would be able to help people. It was a real eye opener working there, it was the worst job I have ever had. Managers would scream at you to work faster. They expected you to get an impossible amount of product shelved. You could never do well, it was a losing battle. They even followed you to the bathroom! I hardly believed a coworker when she told me that until it happened to me. I was working and had to go to the restroom. When I came out of the stall the manager was standing there, it was bizarre. To make matters worse occasionally people would donate a big bag of clothing and before they brought it in they would squat over the bag and take a big old dump in the middle before tying the bag. A few times women would donate underwear with bloody pads still attached. When this happened we would throw away the whole bag, but we had to open it to see it first.

I once worked in a factory and watched a coworker work a double shift. In the last ten minutes of her day she caught her arm in the machine. She ran to the first aid stand and when she saw the blood she fainted. The cleanup crew were stepping around her to clean the machine and managers were yelling for the workers not to stop production.

Sometimes when you are following all the rules and doing things properly they look for some way to change things on you. You can never be secure, you can never be completely confident. I've been on the job where customer service is number one priority. I actually witnessed a completely drunk woman complain about an employee being rude to her. The woman could not keep her eyes open, stand up straight, or speak without slurring her words. After the manager spoke with her the employee was actually reprimanded and sent home.

I need to wrap up my meanderings here. I guess my point is there is a great deal of stress at the bottom, where you wouldn't expect it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My Personal Money Trap (and I wouldn't have it any other way)

It's time I confessed where every spare penny of mine goes. This is why I never receive health care and we do not vacation. I earn a low wage as does my husband. We are frugal so we are able to survive. Bills are as low as possible and we are careful with every cent. I don't drink and gamble every spare penny away. We are caretakers to an aging lady who has been with us since the kids were little. We get medical treatments for her and not ourselves. A few years ago I had to sell my van to afford her cancer surgery. Now that she has diabetes we have to buy special groceries for her and the needles and insulin are expensive for us on our income. When she does pass we will be heartbroken.

I've read many people don't believe the poor should have pets. I disagree, having a pet teaches children responsibility and gives them something to nurture. It also gives all family members something to look forward to coming home to. Chloe has definitely provided us with years of companionship and love. It was worth the financial hardship we are experiencing now.

When she was diagnosed with diabetes I read everything I could on the disease and treatments. One book was all about natural foods and how all dog foods are made with corn which turns to sugars in the bloodstream. We quit buying dog food immediately. Now each morning we cook old fashioned oatmeal for her and sprinkle it with cinnamon because it lowers blood sugar. Sometimes she gets scrambled eggs and a slice of double fiber wheat toast. We buy canned meats for her because they are a convenient and quick protein. We buy canned chicken, kippers, and sardines. Sometimes she gets vienna sausages for a treat but you have to be careful which brand you buy because most are made with corn syrup. We have been known to give our dog steamed fish and brussel sprouts. When we rarely grill steaks we make sure she gets one too. It us very expensive to feed a dog this way but we are keeping her alive.

The doctor was very surprised when we brought Chloe in for her blood check and we had lowered the blood sugar almost all the way where it should be by diet alone. She said they usually recommend a special dog food but whatever I was doing I should continue. She still needs an insulin shot every morning and night. She is also completely blind and lost most of her weight early on in the disease. It is so hard to watch her age so rapidly but she still seems to enjoy her life so we will continue to do what is necessary for her.

Monday, March 1, 2010

How To Keep A Husband Alive On A Tight Budget With No Health Care

Finally, a day off. I'm exhausted, my legs are killing me, and I have a house full of work to catch up on. I just want to pause today and stop running because I'm so tired I'm at at the breaking point. Since I'm so worn I can't dream up anything new and exciting to talk about so I will venture into the past to tell you how to find health care of sorts when you can't afford it.

My husband has asthma that requires medical care on occasion. He has learned a lot about asthma from doctors and reading on his own. He knows how his body feels and what affects his breathing. He has learned which medications help the most and what irritants to avoid. He used to see a doctor more often at least once or twice a year and has always paid cash for these visits.

Medication is costly. Everyone knows this. Not all Americans can afford needed medication and many do without. This is a terrible fact in our country that some do not realize. Each time my husband went to the doctor the visits became further apart because we had to save up enough cash for the office visit and some medication. The costs rose every time. Emergency inhalers which use to cost $25 now cost at least $65. Since he hasn't seen the doctor in over three years they are probably even higher now. He was given the purple disc of Advair one year as a sample along with a prescription. We never filled the prescription because we could not afford the $300 price tag.

Several years ago a dear friend helped us out. She had a family member who vacationed in Mexico each year. She bought her own medications across the border and said she would pick up some extras for us if we told her what we needed and sent some money in time. It was amazing what she came back with. We received several emergency inhalers for seven dollars each. Those purple discs were only thirty six dollars there so we bought some for the first time. The medications were the exact same thing we had here. They were new, in date, and worked well. The only difference was the labels were in Spanish. The exact same drug company names were on the labels. They keep warning us not to buy from Mexico but it is their product being sold there at an alarmingly better rate. Why are the poor in America treated this way? Are we that expendable to our nation?

I'm glad we had the help when we did. It was such a tremendous help that came at a moment when we really needed it. Now my husband is running low on his medication and I worry when we will be able to afford it again. My friends family member no longer travels and I can't afford a trip. At this low point financially we can't afford a doctor either.

Wouldn't it be a sight if all of the poor Americans with no health care banded together and went to Washington this spring? We could camp out until we were noticed. Would anyone listen or would we be arrested?