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Long Rant, Whining & Complaints

March 23rd, 2013 at 06:32 am

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words about my (non) job offer.

It IS very discouraging. I DO know what it feels like to just want to give up; I have to battle those feelings constantly these days. I try not to whine about it too much, but there it is.

When it comes to finances, I "did everything right" for most of my life. Thanks to frugal living and a prodigious savings rate, I was able to purchase my last two cars new, in cash. I put 45% cash down when I bought my house in 1995 (about $95,000). By my early 30s, I nearly always maxed out (to 15%) my 401k and IRA contributions, never incurred massive debt (not having kids helped) and then paid off a 30-year mortgage in 17 years, all on a single income that ranged, in the past 20 years, between $50,000 and $80,000. (OK, there was one incredible year when I grossed $130K.) But now I feel I'm being slowly, inexorably, undone by a stupid job loss just at a time when I was hoping to cap off my hard-earned retirement savings.

For years, I dreamed about a comfortable early retirement, at about age 60. I knew I would continue freelance writing on a part-time basis, but I wanted to live a lifestyle on MY terms, terms that would include lots of travel and unstructured free time to pursue my interests. A lifestyle not dictated by anyone else. Iíve always hated long commutes, fixed work hours and, most of all, office politics. The egos, the personal fiefdoms people build around themselves in reaction to the impersonal, ruthless environment that is corporate America.

Late last year, I was hired as a proofreader; I am sharing the job with another part-timer so the employer can avoid paying for our health insurance and other benefits.

They recently asked us to start making sales calls to customers who basically dropped off the face of the earth in recent years. Iím sure if they were truly valuable customers they wouldnít have us making calls to them, but I guess they figured, what have we got to lose?

Umm, first of all, they havenít offered us any commission if we make a sale. You see, theyíve discovered that you can get an awful lot done with a $12-an-hour, college-educated, white collar professional. (Maybe next week theyíll have us cleaning the bathrooms, helping out in Accounting or who knows what.) But hey! I donít have a sales background, nor do I have an interest in becoming a sales assistant or sales anything. I was hired as a proofreader, dammit, not to fill in wherever you happen to have a labor shortage.

So about a half dozen of us were assigned a bunch of calls to make. All but the two of us proofreaders are salaried employees, and all of us normally do work that doesnít involve sales. Making the calls involves a fair amount of upfront research using the companyís databases to see when the customer last placed an order, what they ordered the most of and how far away they are from reaching a certain purchase threshold that entitles them to certain discounts. We also have to inform them of various promotions weíre offering this month. Thereís a whole sales script involved. No oneís really sat down with the two of us proofreaders to familiarize us with the software. (They had a meeting about the calls on a day I donít normally work.) So the training consisted of about 15 minutes of looking over someoneís shoulder to see how she did it.

The other part-timer didnít want to do it either and was procrastinating about doing so. She was hoping she could just say hey, I was just too busy with my normal work and I ran out of time. I took the opposite tack and just got through my (half-assed) research and calls as quickly as possible. I made one sale out of about 25 calls. When I approached my manager about needing something else to do, she then wanted me to do HER sales calls for her becus she was so busy and hadnít had time to start hers yet. I told her politely no, I wasnít comfortable with doing the calls, that sales wasnít really my ďschtick.Ē Then sheís like, well, then you can do all my research for me and Iíll make the calls. I said Iíd really rather not do that, if thatís okay.(If more was at stake, I might have relented, but for this piddly job? No.) She got pissed when I said that and replied, ďWell, it may NOT be ok.Ē

She gave me something else to do and then immediately walked into her managerís office (that woman is a true sweetheart) and closed the door . Of course, she was discussing my insubordination, and I contemplated whether I would be asked to leave in short order.

That didnít happen, and the rest of the day proved uneventful, though there was tension between me and my manager, someone who ordinarily is quite cheerful and nice, though she is a control freak who doesnít allow you to think for yourself. Everything must be done precisely as she says and that, for an intelligent person, is really grating.

Thereís a strong correlation between the degree of autonomy one enjoys in their work environment and the amount of personal job satisfaction experienced. While I completely defer to this manager on all things related to proofreading (tons of procedural stuff leave little room for interpreting anything), I also notice that she rarely takes any of my suggested edits when Iím asked to proofread a letter or something else. So why bother asking me to proofread it? Even when I back up my edits with credible/reputable online sources that explain why such-and-such shouldnít be capitalized, why you donít need a comma or why you should hyphenate, she often responds with, "But thatís the way weíve always done it." But that doesnít make it right! She actually showed me a letter that one of our clients sent back to her, all marked up and edited. She was embarrassed, but instead of taking it to heart, she found ways to rationalize and justify not making any changes to it.

So maybe you can see how defeated it makes me feel to work there; when Iím asked to do what I was hired to do, my suggestions are consistently overruled, and then they get pissed when Iím less than willing to do work thatís clearly beyond the scope of my experience or current job description!

10 Responses to “Long Rant, Whining & Complaints”

  1. MonkeyMama Says:

    I hesitate to post this comment here, because if you were a real life friend I'd just let you vent and leave this comment for another time. All this to say, PLEASE vent away. !!!

    But, I do want to say this - YES - you did everything right. This is why you are not worried about being homeless and destitute at these crossroads. Life doesn't always go how we want, and we change and we adapt. Have you considered volunteering with the less fortunate in any capacity? I really think that kind of perspective would be good for you at this moment. I think it would help you immensely. It's easier to deal our own challenges when we spend more time with people who are far worse off. & helping people is just good for the soul.

    Take Care.

  2. patientsaver.com Says:

    That's actually a very thoughtful response, so thank you for that....Volunteering has been suggested to me before. I have in the past, usually on a limited basis because I was always working with a longish commute. Now I have more time (although summer mowing season will be fast upon us), but whenever I think about doing something "for fun," even it doesn't cost money, I tend to pass it up because I feel I should be focusing all my energies on finding paying work OF ANY KIND. I know that's not healthy and a good way to reach burnout stage. I know I'm much better off than many in my situation, but I aspired to much more than just 'surviving.'

    It feels like a fixation at this point, but if I don't attend to this, it aint' gonna happen! If you remember from when I posted about my income sources in 2012, there were some unusual ones in there.

    But it's still a very good suggestion, and I'm going to give it serious thought. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  3. Wino Says:

    I am a boss. I have a rule: No one works for me for free. I tell all of my guys this. It sounds like they want you to work for free. My suggestion. Make the calls, but if anyone answers, hang up immediately. Even better, hang up before anyone answers.

    "Sorry, boss. No sales today. Maybe next week!" Let it go. They're asking you to work for free, and that's just not fair.

  4. Thrifty Ray Says:

    I can only imagine how frustrating this whole experience is. With your writing skills and your frugal success story- and your love of gardening...is there a possiblity for money there? Telemarketing is something most everyone dislikes - no matter what end of the call youre on, so I empathize with you. The company is using you in my opinion. Right or wrong- it could impact your future employment with them, but it sounds like youve thought that through. (I would take the same stance if I could live without the job) {{hugs}}

  5. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    The rug has been pulled out from under a lot of people. Good, decent, capable, productive, creative, hard-working, responsible people. It's true. Frown

  6. snafu Says:

    I agree things have gotten off the rails for you and feel free to vent where it is safe and friendly. If you were a fulltime, unionized employee you would have the option of filing a grievance but while 'on the clock' your supervisor can make reasonable requests. I'm guessing she too dislikes making 'cold calls.' Spending time doing research sounds ok to me because I do about 4 hrs research for every one hour lesson outline and that's off the clock research.

    Money Mom's suggestion to volunteer is excellent and the added benefit is an opportunity to meet people who may be in a position to offer paid work or refer your name for an opening. All the research confirms that most jobs are acquired by referral. It's more network than skill sets in a vast majority of cases. Talk to as many HR people as you can access as their contact list is up-to-date and unending.

    Since the 2008 crash, job seekers have been forced to be more flexible. There is a whole human river that has pulled up stakes and trooped back and forth across the country even to other countries to flog their skills. Sadly, I'm seeing 'ageism' as a huge factor. New graduates seem preferred over experience even though it's more expensive as their ghastly mistakes and job hop costing employers huge premiums.

    {{{{{Hugs}}}}}} take a deep breath and try to enjoy whatever part of the work you can.

  7. davera Says:

    You HAVE done everything possible for good planning! Your sound fiscal health is proof. But sometimes the universe just doesn't cooperate with the way we think things should be going.

    Take time to relax and step out of the fear vortex. Loosen your grasp on how things "should" be. Focus on other aspects of your life that may be calling out and are currently eclipsed. This may help you gain clarity about the bigger picture of what is important beyond your financial aspirations. Clarity will help you achieve all your goals.

    Consider this: What if you knew beyond doubt that you are going to be okay in retirement, and that you will have everything you need for a fulfilling life?

    Consider further: With that certainty, what specific bold actions might you take in this moment of your life?

    On the job front, like Yoda the Jedi Master said, "Do or do not...there is no try." Stay and contribute your best, or leave.

    You are awesome, .

  8. CB in the City Says:

    Your office sounds like mine. I wonder how widespread that kind of environment is? I think that because you are a part-time proofreader, you are pegged as a "schlub." Your education and talent do not matter. You are a tool to plug in wherever, and a cheap one at that. If you don't jump up and down about it, you're insubordinate. This is fatal ignorance, and it is not your fault. (And that kind of poor management will probably doom the business, but that's another story.)

    Since you are stuck for now, I would go along to get along (that's what I'm doing now)and wait for the opportunity to leave.

    Write a book, girl! You are so damned interesting!

  9. rob62521 Says:

    It is crappy when you are treated so poorly. I am sorry. It isn't fair nor is is pleasant.

  10. LuckyRobin Says:

    I'm sorry. (((HUGS)))

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