Turning A Corner


In my last post, I created a nifty little collage of images that was based on the currently popular “What People Think I Do” meme.

Then I really got to thinking about what exactly it is I do for a living and realized how much I no longer want to be a proofreader.

That’s not to say that I never have. When I first got my start I thoroughly enjoyed doing it because up to that point, I was just another retail slave. Going from printing photos in a photo lab to working in an office proofreading and  writing articles for magazines that were published across the country was a quantum leap in terms of personal enjoyment, compensation, and my overall career.

And the writing I do here on the blog is fine and well because, let’s face it, I’m the boss and everything is up to me (except those things which I cannot control). Whatever I want to say and however I want to format it – the choice is always mine. It’s enjoyable and is my outlet at the end of a day, a day that is filled with 8 hours reading a variety of labels and Instructions for Use in multiple languages, none of which I can tear apart and reconstruct the way I wish I could.

I have been proofreading since 2003 and I believe that it has taken its toll. Additionally, it’s not something I can see myself doing in 10 or even 5 years from now. Heck, try 1 year.

To top it all off, my eyes sometimes feel like they are going to fall out of my head by the end of the day.

Taking all things into consideration, it’s safe to say that I think I’ve reached the end of my line as a proofreader.

The lack of personal enjoyment aside, the market for experienced proofreaders is ridiculous. I can’t tell you how many recruiters have contacted me regarding open (contracted) proofreader positions they had available. The contact is made, I send my resume, and then I either hear nothing or get the “Thanks, but…” e-mail or call. It’s an employer’s market and I’m nowhere near the top rung on their ladder of qualified candidates.

What makes me less attractive, aside from the obvious physical traits, is that I’m 43 with no college degree which pretty much makes me look like a loser when they open up my resume. I simply lack the required education for the available proofreading jobs and it’s not like going back to school was going to help me one bit. In fact, I have scrapped that plan because at this point, I would be wasting my time and money by taking whichever course I was considering: Technical Writing or Effective Business Writing, I forget which. I don’t even think I had my choice narrowed down yet.

Yay verily, it’s safe to say that my days as a proofreader are most definitely numbered – by my choice. For the sake of my sanity I’ve decided that my next job will most likely not be in the same field. If anything, I may consider a return to retail management or go off and so something completely out of my element.

In short, the time is right to move on and try something different. Going for a real estate license? Selling cars? Driving the tractor that picks up golf balls at the local driving range?

Who knows. Anything is within the realm of possibility at the moment.

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Dodging A Bullet


About a year ago, I went for an interview for the position of proofreader at Corinthian Colleges in Santa Ana, CA. I don’t even remember blogging about it to be honest.

During the interview, I recall being told by at least a few people that despite the shitty economy (with “shitty” being my word choice), the company was actually doing extremely well since more people were going back to school to learn a new trade, hence another proofreader was needed to meet the demands of the marketing material they were producing.

I was told I met their needs exactly and my experience in proofreading several languages was an added benefit. After months of being out of work, it seemed things were starting to look up.

I went back for a second interview and through the whole process, felt pretty confident about how it all went.

Then, of course, The Waiting Game began and as time went by I started to think that even if I didn’t get the job, it would be just as well since it was a pretty long drive. (Note: I now work about 3 miles away from the Corinthian Colleges building.)

I sent a few e-mails inquiring about the position and never heard back so I figured that it was a bust. Then about a month after the interview on February 3, 2010, I get the following e-mail:

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

I wanted to thank you for the time you spent interviewing for the Proofreader position. Although your background and experience were extremely impressive, another candidate was selected for the position.

I will definitely keep your resume on file for future openings and wish you the best of luck in your job search.

Well, that confirmed it. I was yet another statistic, another victim of a weak economy.

So what am I getting at? This, which appeared online almost a year to the day that I was denied the position.

corinthain

(Screengrab to avoid the eventual dead link. Courtesy The Orange County Register)

So much for a weak economy being a boon for these guys, eh? But hey, my resume is still on file Smile

Sanctuary


Even though it’s been dedicated to be my workspace once the home-based business ball gets rolling, it’s a little slice of Heaven right in my own home.

And here it is:

desk1

It may not be much to look at but it’s where I plan to spend my time when proofreading documents for clients. I did just that over the last few nights as I proofed a 25-page document for my former boss, and it was great to be making a little extra cash, be comfortable while doing it, and not have to worry about El Jefe sneaking up from behind and demanding more from me.

Dogs and cats sneaking up from behind, however, will always be welcomed.

As you can tell by the photo, this little workspace isn’t exactly a desk. It’s more of a bookcase with removable wood shelves that’s been built into the wall of furthest corner of our den. It had been unused for at least a few years and was a serious waste of space so I decided to move in and it make it my work center. There were no objections.

And despite not having any views of the outside world, it’s fantastic because this small corner also doubles as my sanctuary. Hell, if I could put up a small wall to the left of me just for more privacy, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

With the rest of the den in darkness, the LED strip lights affixed to the underside of the top shelf provide my corner with illumination in a cool blue hue. I bought these lights on clearance a few years ago for, if I recall, $1.50 per strip and despite not knowing when I’d ever need them, I thought they were cool and took them home. They are designed to be placed under kids’ beds so those who believe that The Boogeyman or El Cucuy will come crawling out from underneath can sleep easier at night knowing that the light will scare those two monsters away. The lights also came with five plastic filters that can be placed inside to change the color of the illumination but I’m perfectly happy with them as they are.

Also on the shelf are all of the grammar and English books I bought at the thrift shop, plus a few I already had from my college years. Chances are I can look up anything else I need by going online.

And while I thought my little place was pretty cozy as it was, today I decided to make a few more additions to it:

desk2

I went ahead and added a second LED light strip, my Super Mario Bros. banks in the right corner, the Loteria placemats to cover up the ugly wood shelf, a pen holder (which is a can cozy that Anthony made for me this Father’s Day), and I bought a wireless mouse at Best Buy today. It was quite the steal: regular $29.99, it was $12.99 on sale and I had a $10 RewardZone certificate so I only spent $3.27 for the thing. Go me!

I am networked wirelessly to the rest of the PCs in the house but I do no streaming of media while here because this is where I work. Heck, I don’t even have speakers here and aside from the pre-installed media, I have no music or videos on my laptop.

You will also notice the Logitech Rock Band mic on the left side for whenever I’m a guest on another podcast. (Thanks to my neighbor Tony for giving me the mic stand and windscreen!) I also had Anthony draw a few pictures for me and hung them up right above the laptop screen. That’s about the only thing about my sanctuary that looks even close to a standard office cubicle, which is what I’m trying so desperately to avoid.

So this is where I spent a little over 5 hours yesterday and today, immersed in 25 pages of documentation that I was marking up like mad in Word (with Track Changes on). I was left alone to work as I relaxed and listened to one of my many White Noise apps on my iPod. In this case, White Noise Storm since it is currently raining here and I wanted to enhance the mood a little bit.

And it was perfect: no boss, no pressure, no stupid company rules or regulations to follow when it comes to proofreading. Complete freedom. Awesome.

I’m totally digging my little corner of the house because it’s mine. That means that if the weather outside is frightful and I want a fan blowing in my face without the fear of people looking at me like I’m insane, I can do it. Now that I think of it, I need to go find my small desk fan…

All things considered, I can see myself doing this kind of job more frequently—and quite honestly, for good.

Signs


 

"Machines..."

 

You know, there are certain signs once should heed. It could be one of those instinctive things that your gut just naturally tells you not to do or it could be one incident that might just eventually lead to a chain of catastrophic events.

Mine came a few weeks ago and yes, I should have listened.

I’m a brown-bag lunch kind of guy and have been since I decided to lose weight. Granted there are times when I decide to eat out for lunch or tag along when a group of co-workers goes somewhere but for the most part, I pack my own. And on occasion I look in my bag and decide that what I packed wasn’t quite enough or not exactly what I wanted.

That’s when vending machines come in handy–or drive you crazy.

It was a few weeks ago when I posted this picture to Twitpic, expressing my overall disappointment in the fact that my bag of Pop Chips was thrown into a state of suspended animation as it was dispensed. As you might be able to see, there is another door inside the vending machine that I suppose is designed to deter or discourage theft. When you stick your hand in the machine, the secondary door appears from out of nowhere and protects the machine’s precious cargo from those looking for a freebie. (But should you be fortunate enough to have pliable limbs like Plasticman, you’re still good.)

This somewhat superfluous door, however, presents a few problems as well. First, it increases the chances of items getting caught while making their break for freedom and, if they do get stuck and no matter how hard you shake the machine, it’s damn near impossible to get them out.

But let’s get back to the signs.

This morning, instead of opting for what’s becoming an extremely unwanted habit of drinking a cup of Michael Jackson Coffee (you figure that one out), I meandered over to the cafeteria for a can of Diet Pepsi. I had brought enough change from home to easily buy a few if I needed to.

So I plop 75 cents into the machine and make my selection. Nothing happened.

I try it again and still, nothing. It was then when I looked at the blue LED screen and it was flashing “EXACT CHANGE ONLY” (or 65 cents). Only having quarters I figured I might as well try the bottle machine instead. I wanted my fix.

I take a few steps over to the bottle machine which gladly took my 5 quarters. I make my selection and this time the machine’s display reads, “Please Make Another Selection”. I guess I didn’t want that Diet Pepsi today.

A bit disappointed, I hit the Change Return button–and only get 4 quarters back. Sonofa…

Dejected, I trudge my way back to my desk and get to work. Hours pass and it’s now lunchtime so I head back.

I entered the cafeteria and gave both machines the stink-eye. I could almost hear them telling me, “GET OUT OF HERE, MORENO!” But I didn’t. Instead, I walked right past them and thought I’d take my chances with the food machine again. After all, what were the chances of having another bag of chips get caught in there, right?

There were bags of Harvest Cheddar SunChips in there. My favorite. Much like Sun-Dried Tomato Wheat Thins, I think the secret ingredient is crack or something because once I start eating them I just can’t stop.

I reached into my pocket, grabbed 4 quarters and dropped them in, make my selection and as the machine dispensed my 15 cents in change, I could almost taste the cheddar cheese goodness that was about to hit my tongue.

Except for one small problem… Continue reading

Jobs and The Jackass


It’s been a strange past couple of weeks.

As you know, I’ve been spending them working my new job which I will finally reveal on this here blog at this here moment: Kmart. Yes, in an attempt to get myself back on track, I accepted the temporary position that they offered knowing it would last from 4-6 weeks. But what I didn’t expect was to be turning my my less-than-two-week notice today.

Just last week I received an e-mail from a staffing company. They were apparently in need of qualified individuals that could proofread (*raises hand*) in several languages (*raises other hand*) for a client’s project slated to last until the end of the year or possibly spill over into 2011. Deciding this was a risk worth taking, I took a day off from Kmart–the same store where Tom Hanks was filming Larry Crowne–to go down there for an interview.

The result? Tomorrow will be my last day at Kmart and I will be starting my new job on Monday. Yes, it’s a little bit of a drive from Long Beach to Irvine but for $4 more an hour, I think it will be worth it in the end. And it gets me out or retail which wasn’t entirely bad this time around, just something I thought I’d never, ever subject myself to ever again.

Oh and to top it all off, I got a call from Central Casting on my first day of work at Kmart. They wanted to know if I was available to work on The Middle that same week, but I had to turn them down since I had already made a commitment to this job.

So I basically went from having the plague to being somewhat wanted. And it feels good, damnit!

Okay, so that covers the job aspect of this post. So what’s with the Jackass portion? Allow me to explain.

My lovely neighbor, jokingly referred to as “The Jackass” around these parts, has taken to the habit of rolling his trashcans out at 3 am lately. I really don’t have a problem with that if he were quiet about it but he is anything but clandestine when he does it. It’s damn annoying and it’s hard to get back to sleep for another 2 hours when my alarm goes off.

Despite being instructed by the police during the alleged dog-poisoning incident to ignore these people, last week I decided I’d calmly ask The Jackass if he wouldn’t mind taking his trashcans out at a decent hour of the day. After all, he leaves for work at 3 am and is home all night. There’s plenty of time to get it done.

Apparently, he had a problem with this.

“For all the problems you guys caused us…” is about all he could get out before I simply told him, “Okay, have it your way” and walked back into the house. You yell at guy and he gets pissed; you calmly ask him and he gets pissed. Problems we caused them? Let’s not get into that right now.

At any rate, I decided to send an e-mail to my local representative at the Noise Abatement Department and ask what, if anything, could possibly be done about this. She replied with a few suggestions that I didn’t act upon (since I think it’s silly to have the police take time from their schedule to tell this guy to stop). Regardless, something strange happened within a few days of that e-mail.

He took his trash out at 6 pm. Not only that, he didn’t leave the empty cans in front of is house for the entire week as he tends to do on occasion. I’m sort of starting to believe in the Invisible Space Wizard if this dude came to his senses and actually reconsidered what I asked him to do. If so, it would definitely be a first around here.

Oh and by the way, they have another dog. Jeez…

So yeah, these few weeks have been a little odd for me but despite it all, I think I’ll take them.

Strange days indeed…