Category Archives: work

Working Sick: Where’s the Line?

​Recently (meaning a couple months ago), NPR did a report featuring workers who go to work sick. For the majority, it was mainly older employees who tended to stay home when I’ll while the younger workers were more apt to push through their illness to not miss work. The major difference between these two groups were the ones who tended to stay home were those who had tenure and got paid sick time off or would otherwise not be punished for taking time off. This was the older set. Of those interviewed in the younger set, they told the reporter they almost always went to work sick because they did not have paid (or even unpaid) sick time that they were allowed to use. Illnesses ranged from painful migraines to colds, flu, and other contagious illnesses that involved vomiting and diarrhea at work. Those who went to work sick said they did so because they could not afford to lose the pay or their jobs.
I was reminded of this radio spot as I forced myself to go to work sick today out of the same fear. I’d called out the past two days with severe bronchitis but could not afford a write-up for missing any more time, so I stuck it out. I ended up getting worse throughout the day because I wasn’t able to rest or take the medications that I have been at work – they put me to sleep. Upon returning to work today, I also heard from several others that they’d had to call out sick this week too for the same thing and I know where it came from. One person who came in sick 2 weeks ago coughing up a storm and even bragging about having the flu and still working.
The question is: where does someone who lives paycheck to paycheck draw the line between going in sick and staying home for their own health and others? Is it worth losing money or even your job to keep others safe? How do you handle it? Comments are welcome.

Perblog-Rainy Sunday

Normally on Sundays, it’s errand day. There’s mass in the morning, followed by religious education until noon, then the weekly grocery/necessities run and then the ATM to pull out my rent money for the week (landlady only takes cash!) Today just caps off the weekend “adventures” though as I recover from late work nights and a stomach bug plus ongoing migraines that seem to not have let up for 2 months straight. That’s why right now I am not doing a damn thing besides taking some time to myself after playing in the warm summer rainstorm that just passed over, enjoying the cool air on my wet hair and recounting what a crazy weekend it’s been. 

I didn’t wake up until 10:30 this morning after writing late (I freelance writing SEO content for websites). Fresh coffee was on and my breakfast wrap (sausage, egg & cheese, my favourite) was waiting in the microwave for me. After getting the sleep out of my head, I walked out to find my landlady under the kitchen sink trying to get the faucet unhooked to replace it. Of course I got recruited to help, so I did the clean work and held the flashlight for her, handing her tools. The faucet the neighbor gave her to replace it though was the wrong type and she spent the next hour struggling to get the old broken one back on. 

When she turned the water on, it was spraying everywhere under the sink. She’d given up trying to get the pieces to fit back together any tighter. That convinced her that she needed to turn the water back off and do it right this time. There is still no water in the kitchen sink because that faucet for some reason has been slowing down for a couple weeks and now just produces nothing. So after breakfast, I washed my coffee mug in the shower (now the only working water in the house) and am settled at my computer just waiting for a new job to post for the web content.

Mind you, during this plumbing fiasco, someone had dropped by unannounced to see the room she’s posted for rent. He was chased off pretty fast by the state of the house, but not before he asked us if we were single. What kind of creep was that? Not one that we want in the house, that’s for sure. 

Today’s craziness follows yesterday’s in a symphony of “I should have stayed in bed.” Yesterday while I was working on a website, fully concentrated in my content research so that I did not hear my landlady leaving to go to the store, all of a sudden I am ripped from my work by the sound of my favourite dog screaming at the top of her lungs. I slammed my computer shut and ran out to see what was going on and found the dog stuck with her foot in the bottom of the outer porch door in an absolute struggle to free it with paint everywhere (I’ll get to that in a minute). I freed the dog, grabbed her and immediately started washing the paint out of her mouth and off her as best as I could while the other dog (also covered in paint) ran to hide. Once the stuck dog was calmed and partially cleaned off, I checked her foot and nothing was broken. She was walking ok, just freaked out. 

Taking a moment to assess the situation, I went back out to the porch to try to figure out what the hell just happened. There had been a gallon of white paint apparently knocked over and kicked around in her struggle and it had spilled and sprayed everywhere. Imagine two dogs and a gallon of paint in a blender. That’s what it looked like when I ran out to her screams. I had no idea how I was going to start cleaning the paint off everything – it was a half inch thick coating the enclosed porch, so I left it and tried to call my landlady, only her phone had been left behind. She got home just at that moment and had a “WTF?!” pause before dragging the hose into the porch and starting to disburse the paint. As she started sweeping the wet, white mess out of the porch, I secured both dogs outside and hosed them off completely, restoring their natural colour. 

With the dogs cleaned and all the paint hosed off the porches, we sat trying to figure out what had happened. The best we can tell is the dogs were sleeping on the inside porch and someone tried to come in the outer door. Ceri, the big dog, would have rushed the door at the first sound and that would have scared the person enough to slam the door on her foot. There was no way, as far and as solidly as her foot was caught, that she could have done that herself. The door is too hard to push open at the bottom when it’s closed and even I could not force it open as far as her foot was caught. It was obvious during her struggle the paint got kicked over, slammed around and emptied. The takeaway: Ceri protected me from an attempted home invasion and got hurt in the process but she kept someone from entering the house. GOOD DOG!!! 

Seriously. This dog is my hero. She gets a sno-cone.

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Product Placement Fail (Back Pain Revisited)

Having scoliosis has been a boon for my activity level the majority of my life as even the slightest wrong move sends my sciatic nerve blazing in pain and surrounding lower back muscles seizing up as my body tries to immobilize the affected area.  A few years ago, I ended up pulling my back out by catching my daughter in my arms as she jumped precariously off the back of my car (always the adventurer, she).  As the pain got worse and my back got tighter, I dragged myself to Wal-Mart for some Doans because that was the only thing that has ever helped my back pain when simple heat application and stretching would not loosen it up.  Making it to the pharmacy, I stood there helpless and shaking my head to find the coveted back pain medicine on the bottom shelf where I had no hope of bending over to reach and retrieve it due to my lower back being locked up (though that didn’t stop me from trying in pain vain).  Finally, some kind person did wander by and, realizing my predicament, was nice enough to assist.  I mentioned this obvious oversight in product placement to the cashier who just kind of laughed.

For the past couple months, I have been working a job that requires heavy lifting – which incidentally was not mentioned in the interview – and frankly, it’s done my back in.  The past week, I have been experiencing pretty intense nerve pain throughout my lower back and legs and finally come Friday, my back became stiff enough that I got sharp pains trying to do even simple bending (such as getting up from a chair or lying down in bed).  Again, no heating pad or pain pill is working.  My neighbor C. gave me a Soma, which I took hoping it would relax the muscles enough to at least leave me pain-free for a couple hours but it did not help.  This time I headed to CVS for my Doans, thinking to myself, “History cannot repeat itself.”  Sure enough…

Thankfully, my daughter was with me this time and she automatically dove down to get the boxes of Doans (luckily marked buy-one-get-one-free) that were once again on the bottom shelf.  I actually complained to the cashier on this one too, saying Wal-Mart does this too but I expect such an oversight from them, not from CVS.  She agreed with me, she apologized and said she would bring it up to the manager.  Think about it… someone with back pain is going to have trouble bending over. If they’re going to a pharmacy to buy some back pain pills and those pills are on the very bottom shelf – isn’t that a little cruel?  It reflects poor planning at the least and I can’t believe that two separate stores would fail to see this logic when creating their stock layout.

That Kitten Sprawl (Perblog 5-27-13)

Four gruesome months of unemployment finally came to a close in May when I started a job as a Paralegal.  It pays very little (net has been about half what I need to meet my bills, which have already been trimmed down to the bare minimum) and it’s practically out of town for me, but it’s work.  I’m only hoping that I do well enough for the promised raises to come through as indicated when I started otherwise I don’t know how I’m going to make it.  Well, the truth is, I’m not.  So hopefully those raises come through!

I’ve started a 9-part pre-RCIA line of coursework with the Catholic Home Study Service in preparation for my RCIA classes starting in October.  William has been a wonderful guide to me in my studies though I quietly wish he’d give me a little more crap when I don’t go to mass.  No nun-pun intended, but I’ve got to work harder on getting into the habit.  It would be easier if my church had services on Sunday nights, but there’s really no excuse for me to miss the 10AM mass.  I’ve slept in the past two Sundays though.  Shame on me.

A couple weeks ago, a new kitten came into my life, a very friendly little long-haired silver kitty.  We named her Bellamina – the name is bigger than she is, but not bigger than the ball of energy that she brings into the house.  She’s a bit codependent which is fine by me as she lays sprawled across my lap as I type, hugging my leg and just purring away.  The big silver and white pouf of a tail reminds me of a squirrel, all fluff that constantly looks as if it’d been rubbed by a balloon and static took over.  The cutest thing about her is when she’s being petted, she blows kisses.  It’s not a post-weaning suckling kind of thing, she literally just smacks her lips and blows kisses as a person does when calling a cat.  It’s more of a mimicry, and I’ve never seen another cat to do that.  She’s also got enormous paws which give her a comical lope during play, like a puppy who hasn’t grown into his feet yet.  She truly is a treasure.

This Memorial Day, I’m not sure I’m doing anything.  It would be nice to have a cookout or something but I don’t have anyone to invite or join at one.  Going to the beach would be a full on nightmare with the traffic.  I tried in vain yesterday, couldn’t even get close.  Actually had to back my car out of a parking lot because there wasn’t even enough room to turn around where all the spots were full and people had parked in non-spots essentially gridlocking the entire lot so that no one could pass through or out.

We’ll see how this day pans out.  I’d hate to spend it just doing housework!

Unexpected Recognition

This news won’t come as any surprise to my Facebook followers (where this blog has an autofeed) but it is still worth sharing here. A couple weeks ago, motivated by some friends on Twitter, I decided to chase a dream to get involved in social work – officially.

In the past, I used to counsel and mentor runaway youths, then moved on to working with parent-child dynamics and on to battered women. I had gone through the ordination process to become a non-denominational minister to back the services I was providing.  Years of doing this however had left me emotionally drained. It became very hard to remain compassionate while staying emotionally detached from the cases and I had to step away.

In speaking with a friend recently, he pointed out a link to two things I enjoyed: helping others and doing research on just about everything. This led me to start a project called Helping Hands Community Research. The propose of this project is to assist people in finding local resources when they are in need – things like food pantries, clothing, financial assistance, etc. – as these sources are often difficult to locate. Since the inception of HHCR, I’ve gotten numerous requests through the website thanks to friends helping spread the word of it via social media.

What has me excited today is that I got a call from CASTLE, a local family services non-profit, who heard about my project and asked that I meet with them in person to give them more information on it. They said it sounded like something that was in line with what they do and would like to try to fit it in as a part of their family services programs.

This… has blown me away. Never before have I been this recognized for anything I’ve done and this presents a huge opportunity for me to really get involved in community service with other local organizations supporting my cause. I’m just amazed! I meet with CASTLE Friday afternoon and am so excited to be able to discuss the project at length and drum up some support.

In the short run, I do hope this becomes a networking opportunity toward actual paid work as I remain unemployed and looking daily, but in the end, just knowing I have done some good here, created something worth being supported – that just makes me so happy. As always, I am here to serve.

Pardon Me While I Go Postal

Disclaimer: If you’re one of those sensitive types who get all uppity about people who bitch about their government benefits (likely because you’ve never been in the position to need them yourself) then turn back now because this is about to get ugly.

As a statistical introduction, I will say that I am a single mother with shared custody of my child.  Due to 5 years of swindling and dishonesty on the other side, I am the one who ended up having to pay child support to my ex (who enjoys a new house, two new vehicles and all the home amenities one could want).  I lost my job of almost 7 years when my boss passed away on December 28th, 2012 and the company subsequently closed as of January 1st, 2013.  Before this time, I had only required assistance for about 4 months out of my life when I first relocated to this area and was looking for work.  When I lost my job this year, I immediately applied for unemployment and food stamps and started looking for a new job.  My unemployment and food stamps were approved and even though it is hard to feed myself plus a growing pre-teen on $200 a month, I was making it work.  

Once my unemployment benefits kicked in (roughly 50% of my usual salary), Child Support decided they were going to take an additional 40% of that.  Pardon my cadence, but that is fucking criminal.  I was already struggling on a normal salary, but to cut my half salary further in almost half?  Bullshit.  My food stamps for February were late and I was out of food.  Upon calling 72 hours after they were supposed to hit, I get a message that due to “increased income,” my benefits will be cut from $200 to $16 effective March 1, 2013.  WTF? Increased income?  Try decreased!  I look on my card this morning expecting to see $200 on there and they’ve only deposited $16.   What… the fuck.  To add insult to injury today I get a letter in the mail confirming that my benefits will be cut from $200/month to $16/month – again – in writing – EFFECTIVE MARCH 1, 2013.  *looks at calendar* Gee, this is still February.  Where the %^&* are my food stamps that I need to feed a frikken pre-teen 4 days a week until I find work again??

The State of Florida is trying to fuck me sideways and I am NOT going to stand for it.  Tomorrow morning warrants a very nasty call to these “ACCESS” people to get this crap straightened out immediately.  $84 over the course of a month for food is nothing to most people but when you’re in my situation, it’s the difference between a family going hungry or not.  Try to cheat me?  You WILL get bitchslapped.  Screw Florida.  Time to take action.

 

 

A Little Appreciation

How many times have you found yourself saying, “I tried to help them…” in instances where someone you were trying to assist put forth no effort to help themselves?

“SK” seemed like a nice enough man.  Upper 40’s, divorced, and on disability after a nearly fatal motorcycle crash.  He’d moved to the area in an attempt to start his life over, get a change of scenery and get back on his feet.  When the disability money had run out, he secured a job as a salesman but wasn’t very good at the job.  He was computer illiterate, had short term memory problems, and unrealistic expectations of salary.  Within days of starting work, he began tuning out and lost all enthusiasm.

He shared his story with me, venting that he just wanted to get his life back after the divorce, the accident, the vagrancy and the long string of “bad luck” that had befallen him.  Shortly thereafter, he was thrown out of the motel he was living in for dealing drugs on the premises and had moved to another motel.  When he came to me asking for advice and help and telling me he only had $11.00 to his name and no place to go, it sounded as if he was going to be one of those men who just wanted someone to latch onto for support.

I know the type, I’ve ended up with them many times in the past but I thankfully learned from those mistakes and did not let my heart be affected by his attempts.  Instead, I gave him phone numbers and addresses of my landlord who has affordable apartments in the area and who would work with him, of the local outreach center who could provide food, clothing and other basic services, and to other places that could help him with his immediate needs.  I even gave him my personal card letting him know I was available if he needed someone to talk to or to help him find additional assistance.

Well, the day after he was evicted from his motel room, he also lost the job he’d just started.  At that time, I believe he also lost all hope and I felt very sorry for him.  That was until I helped clear out his work area and found that not only had he left behind all the valuable information I’d given him for shelter, food and clothing, even my card – he’d thrown the information in the trash.  Seeing that immediately changed my opinion of him and validated my gut instinct that this person did not want to do anything for himself.  The opportunities he was given received zero effort from him (including the job).

It disgusts me that there are so many good people in the world who try to help others less fortunate by giving them the tools they need to help themselves yet the people they’re trying to help end up completely unappreciative of the help they’re given.  I don’t know if it amounts to laziness, arrogance, selfishness, or all of the above, but these people who only seek to take what they can from others without any effort on their own part are just dirt in my opinion.  They’ve no appreciation for the time and energy others are willing to put into them and do not deserve any sort of welfare or assistance until they are willing to do something for themselves.

That’s my vent for the day.

Not much to update…

Really… my life has been work crash eat crash work crash eat crash… completely boring :/ Seems work is all there is most of the time, 10+ hour days just to get by… there’s got to be more to life. I rarely have the energy to go out, and have even turned Dan away a couple times as of late just because I was so drained I knew I would be shite company. I did offer up a photo shoot to him this weekend though, so we’ll see if we can get together for that. Would love to shoot some old abandoned houses at night, or my other thought was Downtown Jensen around sunset. Hopefully he’s free.

This weekend, the only plan so far is just Spring Cleaning. Need to get rid of some grown-out-of kid clothes and do the big washes… comforters, curtains… need to break down some firewood too for the fire bowl out back.

Been having to have some intense sit-down’s with Kari on her schoolwork as well… I don’t know what’s gotten into that girl, but it’s like she’s just shut down inside when it comes to school. She’s acting like she doesn’t understand things that she previously did very well in, and she’s completely slacking on turning in her homework. I’m determined to get to the bottom of it. She has a tutor twice a week, but she is still not up to par on her FCAT’s and is looking at failing 3rd grade. This is totally unacceptable – I KNOW she is better than this.

I won’t stop until I find out what the real problem is because this is just so unlike her. She went from an A student to failing overnight. I don’t understand this sudden change in her attitude, but I’ve a feeling from what she *has* shared with me that it has a lot to do with the situation at her dad’s house. She is painfully unhappy when she has to be there. Over the past couple months, the things she’s confided in me with show me she’s hit an emotional brick wall from several angles and helping her through those has been difficult. I’m just thankful she trusts me and knows she can talk to me and that I can be her rock and help her. It’s just a matter of getting to the real depths of everything going on in her heart and mind that will help me piece together the puzzle and find the solution. It comes little by little, and it’s frustrating for both of us, but so long as she remains open with me, we will make progress.

Perblog January 17

Well despite the fact that my commissions were crap last week and I barely had bill money, nevermind any going-out money, I still had a pretty good weekend. Friday night, Dan wanted to come over so we went out for a little bit, got a few drinks, came back to watch a movie. He fell asleep during it – I mean totally crashed – so I let him doze while I talked to a buddy online. But… I was feeling frisky. I didn’t *mean* to wake him up when I got into bed but… Hehe it was by far his best performance yet. …til 6a.m. He finally pulled me close and we fell asleep together, woke up in his arms later on and just lay there studying every curve and rise and line of his sweet face in the morning light. He stirred, looked at me for a moment, held onto me tighter and went back to sleep, as did I, smiling. It was so nice.

later Saturday, a friend had posted some pictures on facebook of a man’s phone number scribbled on a piece of paper and tossed on the ground. From there began a conversation thread about “The sad tale of Matt,” in which numerous people wrote creating a fateful story surrounding the dropped digits. I added my part, but I was curious, so I sent a text to the number, advising what was happening. After about an hour conversation with the guy, we figured out what had happened (which was completely innocent) and we had my friend remove the posts. The guy was PISSED – not at me, but at the fact his number was in facebook so out of context from what had actually conspired. (His girlfriend was none too happy either at the speculations it generated!) the funny part is, out of the whole thing, I ended up making 3 new friends 🙂

Saturday night, I ended up going Downtown but there was nothing really going on, so I headed home after an hour or so of doing photos. Ended up enjoying a surprise when D got in touch with me and had another amazing night – another all-nighter, goddess help me. The man is pure passion. His words, they would melt even the coldest if hearts. We seem to be getting quite close and are great friends, though a relationship with him is not possible at this time. He has too much else going on. But… I’m still enjoying it. Ever since Andy left, it seems my popularity and social life have returned full force, and I am back into life. It’s wonderful.

Last night D earned a dozen golden cupcakes the way he played along and perfectly executed a plan to save me from certain hellfire. I’d gone to the river front just to chill and write for a bit and was watching some kids fishing when their dad came to sit beside me and struck up a conversation. He jokingly handed me a million dollar bill and told me to read it when I got home. …ok? We talked about local fishing, local history, things I could discuss forever. He offered me some gum – no thanks. He offered me an IQ test. …What? Things were getting weird now. He asked me if I believe in God. Oh no… I tried to steer the conversation, but he wouldn’t budge. Where do I think we go when we die? Knowing he wouldn’t understand or accept ANY of my views on this matter, I BS’d my way through the conversation until he turned away to tend to a fish and quickly texted D. “Bible thumper! Save me!” D called me just in time, I answered on speaker phone. He said, “Heeyyyy wanna hang out?” “Sure! Where ya at?” “I’m at home, can you come pick me up?” “Sure! Be there in 10!” And such was my escape… Bible guy says, “Well, looks like you have things to do. Guess we’ll pack it in.” “Yep!” You never saw me fly out of the Marina so fast. I was saved!!! By my tall dark and handsome! Oh it was perfectly done. I love u forever Daisuke!!!!! Man I owe him for that one. We laughed about it all night. The back of the million dollar bill told me I was going to hell. But as D put it, “Well, at least you’re not the only one!”

*CACKLES*

Not hiring? Don’t just blame the economy!

Since late 2008, the media has been feeding the public’s panic on the state of the economy and while analysts abound with their own long columns of numbers and conclusions, the general population is still apt to blame “the economy” as a whole for present situations, including a lack of available jobs. I’d like to bring to light another reason for the lack of “Help Wanted” signage that may well be a valid one: the *quality* of the job candidates.

For the past 4 years, I have been working at a small financial firm. We need a relatively high-caliber person to pass the interview process before making the hiring decision. Not only must they have a clean background, but also a strong work ethic. We deal with highly sensitive financial information and cannot risk bringing someone on board who is anything less than professional. The rules here are straightforward and in place both by law and by our own standards of procedure to protect the clients, the customers, the company and its employees.

Over the past few years in an attempt to expand a bit, we have gone on roughly one good hiring spree per year, looking for qualified and quality candidates to work with us. 99% of them are filtered out during the interview process. The one or two who survive get the opportunity to work with a solid company and gain excellent experience in the credit industry, as well as advance their careers.

Something seems to transform however during the first few weeks to months of the new employee’s time on the job. It’s almost as if they’ve forgotten that during their interview and training, they had us convinced they were intelligent, diligent and professional, trustworthy and ethical. Soon after beginning their employ with us, we find them calling out sick with minor, if not fabricated, ailments, simply not showing up, napping at their desks, surfing the web for personal reasons, acting inappropriately for the workplace to the owner and other employees (one recent employee actually tried to couple up with me and another woman here to get us into a threesome with his wife as well as attempting to kiss me!). There are the ones who backtalk the owner and show blatant disregard for his instruction. One threw a phone at him and stormed out after being told at least six times that morning to stop interfering with another person’s computer. Then we have had a few who have actually attempted to take business off the company for themselves to profit, and one who asked ME to assist with his scheme. Honestly, did that person not stop to think my loyalty would lie with the company that’s taken care of me for four years? There have also been a couple who have left here for something “better” and come straight back asking for another chance. We decline to take them back – like any company, we like loyalty. These are the kind of people we are finding.

Since 2006, we have had well over a dozen hard-screened men and women of all ages, all walks, come through our doors touting the best of intentions only to completely fail in the upkeep of their guise. We’ve since ceased advertising open positions and have turned away those inquiring after work. It’s not because we don’t need someone, it’s because of the experiences we have endured with those we did hire. We simply will not waste any more time and money on the general populace. Our freeze has nothing to do with the economy whatsoever. Instead, it has everything to do with the quality of the workforce available. Like a bad relationship, our ex employees have turned us off of the idea of future ones. Therefore, we continue on looking after what we have, and everyone is happy.

Incidentally, the people I work with have nearly all been with the company since at or near its beginning. We are more than simply employees, we are the backbone of the company – because we know right from wrong, we believe in and uphold the quality of our work and of ourselves, and we look out for each other.

Integrity. The American workforce is in desperate need of some.