At Last


In my Year in Review post, I had mentioned that (among other things) there was a good chance that my current freelance assignment was going to turn into a permanent, full-time affair.

I had been freelancing there since August and only had maybe three weeks off between then and today. They called me back when one of the other proofreaders—that’s what I’m doing yet again—went on vacation in September. I’ve been there ever since.

Then things got interesting. The word was that we had just landed a huge project with a current client and they were going to be in need of help. Naturally, the company started to search for potential candidates so that they could be in place once the work started to materialize. That said, they let all employees know that this was also an opportunity for them to move up and into one of the new vacant positions.

One of them was Proofreader*. Naturally, I applied.

And although I’d been there since August, I was still a bit nervous about how I would measure up against others who might have applied—and if they would even consider me at that point.

But my worries were all for naught. For some reason, they like me but I guess the feeling is mutual: I really enjoy working there, especially someplace that is not Ralphs. (In fact, I’ll refer to the new place as Not Ralphs or NR for this post.)

About two weeks after submitting my name, I was informed that my freelance gig was extended until January 31 and, as of February 1, I was officially hired. No more freelance; I was now an official NR employee.

And I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was.

No more waiting until Thursday or Friday to find out if I was returning on Monday. That was probably the worst part of freelancing: figuring out the bills when nothing was guaranteed the following week, and how to split what could have been my last paycheck into little chunks in order to pay everybody. That game was finally over.

No more going home after 3 or 4 hours when there was little work. Granted, I’m paid well enough to where even working 20 hours a week at NR was significantly more than what I made for 40 hours at Ralphs (not that I ever got more than 30 hours while there but you get the idea). Now that we’re starting to get the work for the new project, it’s full-time hours. There’s going to be plenty of stuff for us to do.

I no longer have to travel light. I’ve started to decorate my cubicle with personal items, something I refused to do while freelancing. In fact, my old Ralphs name badge is now one of the items on my desk—just because.

It’s Monday—Friday, 9 to 6. Bank holidays are paid days off and we get so many freaking perks as far as days off go that it’s insane, but NR knows that happy employees are good employees. Some of those days off include three Summer Days that we can use during the summer months in case we want to do something with the family. Then there’s floating holidays and personal days, not to mention two weeks of vacation that accrue each calendar year. I can finally take a vacation with the family and have money to do things. That will be nice when the time comes.

Speaking of money, we spent last Saturday at a local outlet and did some serious shopping. I can’t tell you the last time we did that but I can say with certainty that it wasn’t during my 18 months at Ralphs. We could barely pay the bills, let alone treat ourselves to much of anything.

Then there’s the commute which is about 20 minutes from home. It’s an easy ride on my trusty scooter that is easily filled with gas on less than $3 a week in most cases.

And the views downtown are spectacular, as is walking down to the marina during lunch.

My Chinese zodiac sign is the monkey and in this, the Year of the Monkey, it seems my luck as finally changed. As I’ve mentioned to HR and the boss, NR is exactly where I need to be at this point in my life.

NR is everything my last place wasn’t and I am so freaking grateful for the opportunity they have given me. I look forward to being there for a long time.

*I’m a much better proofreader when I’m being paid to do it. Considering the time I write these posts, I can’t much guarantee ye olde blogge will be 100% free of errors so don’t bother to point any out Smile

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Night and Day


I was fired from my job recently. Well, if you consider a few weeks ago as “recent” then it was.

But there’s a long story behind my termination that involves my [former] union, a department manager who was perpetually dissatisfied with my performance (and therefore a hindrance when it came to the possibility of advancing my uh, “career” at the grocery store), and all other sorts of nonsense.

I had taken the time to go into great detail writing about the events that led to my suspension and eventual termination but after all that, it really only comes down to a few pictures.

Here I am working the overnight shift at the store. I used to work those shifts as well as being subjected to working in the bakery or, as I called it, the place “where dreams go to die.” I’m stocking bags of dog food in this picture at oh, 1:33 am. And I look totally happy doing it for minimum wage with part-time hours, don’t I?

Don't I Look Happy?

You really have to reassess what your life as become if, at age 46, this is what it takes to get food on the table. Yet there I was, punching in and out and dealing with it because I had to, and this was pretty much my expression most of the time. To say I was disappointed was an understatement and this was well before the little verbal spat I had with my department manager.

Then the altercation happened and I was put on indefinite suspension. I had no income for at least two weeks.

But during my suspension, something happened. I found a freelance proofreading job at a local ad agency that was not only a full-time gig but they also agreed to my hourly rate – nearly three times than that of the ol’ grocery store.

Then things changed. I didn’t come home smelling like frozen dough and covered in flour and with cookie/bread crumbs in the pockets of my stupid Ralphs apron. I didn’t have stories of how despised every second of my job anymore. I was relaxed knowing I wouldn’t have to deal with the usual nonsense I was subjected to on a daily basis at the grocery store.

I now work 9-6 daily and have weekends off. The office has a kitchen that you could probably live in complete with video game systems and ridiculously huge LCD HDTVs. We get breakfast two days a week and a Social Hour on Wednesday. The scenery around the office is beautiful and, if I need to, I can bring Anthony to work as I did last week.

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This is me now.  I’m being paid well. I’m respected and doing what I’ve been doing for years. I’m freaking smiling at work and after work. I’m relaxed, happy and for all intents and purposes, thankful that this opportunity came my way.

What was a one-week trial period has turned into a gig that will be entering its fifth week on Monday as they keep extending my services. It seems that they like me there, which is more than I can say for The Powers That Be at Ralphs. I was such a horrible employee that they didn’t want me anymore yet I’m now proofreading documents for automobile manufacturers at a place where I get along with everybody. Huh. Imagine that.

I’m a creative person, and working in an environment where my creativity was being suppressed and where I was spoken to like a moron by people who could have used a dictionary when writing their nasty you-didn’t-do-this-last-night notes to me was difficult to say the least. And when I finally had enough of it, I did the only thing I could do: defend myself which was what led to my suspension and eventual termination.

But I’m glad that “my services were no longer required” as it was so eloquently stated at my meeting with the store manager. There’s no reason for me to ever go back or ever want to. Except for when I’m out of almond milk and need to make a quick trip.

I’ve since removed Ralphs from my resume so that it only shows jobs pertaining to writing, editing, and proofreading. This is where I need to stay and listing that horrible year-and-a-half stint at Ralphs stands out like a sore thumb.

The difference in my attitude really is definitely night and day and unlike my last job, I’m enjoying every second of my new gig. I couldn’t ask for things to be better, except for maybe being hired permanently.

And if that happens, I’d be as happy as I was miserable at Ralphs.

Finders Keepers, Part IV


Whether I’m running or riding, I tend to find personal items that the owners would probably want returned to them. I find so many of these things that I’ve decided to create a subject that will be dedicated to the topic of my findings, herein titled Finders Keepers. This is the third installment in what will probably be an ongoing series of blog posts.

But before I go into the few details about yesterday’s find, let me refresh your memory on the three previous incidents:

  • First incident, date unknown (not blogged): I found a small pouch containing a phone and money. I was able to get in touch with the owner who then picked it up and rewarded me with a gift card a week later.
  • March 2012: I found a Blackberry and returned it to its owner.
  • January 2014: I found a wallet that a local branch of law enforcement refused to accept.

And now, yesterday’s find.

I was scooting along on my way to work when I happened to see something lying in the middle of a residential street. If it were a busy street I wouldn’t have risked trying to retrieve it since, well, California drivers. The good thing about being on two wheels is maneuverability: you’re small enough to lane-split (which I love more than I can express) and you can pretty much turn on a dime. That was the case here when I saw the wallet.

Once I spotted it, I turned around quickly and picked it up. It was all documented by my trusty HTC Re Camera which I attach to my helmet in case something bad happens and I need evidence. (As of now, nothing has and I delete all the videos later.)

wallet

Granted, there was a chance that the wallet would be empty because hey, people throw stuff out and who knows where it will end up. But after I picked it up I looked inside in the hopes of coming across something that would indicate ownership. In this case, there was about $60 and two movie vouchers but no form of identification.

Bordering on being late to work, I picked a house that was adjacent to where the wallet was found and knocked on the door. No answer.

At that point I figured I’d hold onto it and figure out things later like posting signs around the neighborhood.

I threw the wallet in the storage compartment under my seat and shut it. Just as I started up the scooter, I noticed a girl – she may have been around 11 or 12 – frantically looking around her property while her dad was crawling down the street in his car.

If this was her wallet, it would have explained the absence of an ID inside. I opened my “trunk” and grabbed the wallet. As she darted across the street to her dad’s car, I looked over at him and held up the wallet. Their faces of concern turned to relief when they realized I had found it.

Dad opened up a dialog with me, thanking me for finding it and returning it. The girl ran over, thanked me, grabbed her wallet and got in the car, smirking and hanging her head in embarrassment. She would have had one bummer of a weekend without her sixty bucks and movie tickets so I was happy she got them back. I told them it was my pleasure; no thanks needed.

An aside: remember when $60 and movie tickets were all it took to make you happy?

Anyway, I once again did the right thing because it’s in me to do this type of thing. If I ever lose my wallet or anything else of personal value, I would hope that the finder would do the same for me. That’s just how it should be because the universe sort of has a way of paying you back for making it a better place. Yeah, it’s that karma thing again. But I’ve learned my lesson with finding money: just keep it.

So I was feeling very satisfied with myself knowing I helped brighten someone’s day. No doubt they will have a story to tell at school tomorrow when they explain that some scooter-riding dork wearing a helmet with the Flying Tiger livery found their wallet.

Still feeling high, I arrived at work where that buzz was shot down quicker than (I can’t think of anything so use your imagination). Not cool, universe. Not cool at all. As for what happened at work, let’s just say it’s been an ongoing issue and I’m making a call to my union representative in the morning to go over it.

In the meantime, it’s off to scour the usual job sites after I finish up this week’s Coursera lesson which I’m happy to say I’m sticking with.

(Un)employed


It’s official: I’m no longer unemployed.

This was the result of about a week of inquiring, calling, and probing a cashier at our local grocery store with questions relating to the store’s current employment status. Finally, after all of that and finishing with my interview today, I can say that I have job.

The cashier in question is one that loves Anthony to pieces and always talks to him whenever she helps us. One day after she rang us up, I asked if she knew if they were hiring. She said that many, many people had recently left and that there should be some vacancies. I slipped her my business card and told her to give me call when she found out.

I never got that call but, after dealing with this craptacular day last week, I went straight to said grocery store and asked the Manager On Duty if there were any positions available. She told me to call the manager the next day and talk to them, which I did. My interview was scheduled for today at 1:00 pm.

I was pretty much told I had the job before I even had a seat. The manager also said that I was overqualified for the job but after telling them I needed a change, they didn’t seem as intimidated by my professional experience. I filled out a few forms, took the drug test right there, and now I await the results. Provided I pass (and I’m sure I will), training will begin the following Saturday.

And that’s that. As for my last blog post in which I was obviously ticked off, I feel it was definitely justified and my feelings pretty much remain the same toward everything I mention in that post. In fact, I might have a little more spite for the EDD after reading this story which claims that 90% of calls go unanswered. I can tell you that after trying to get a hold of them for a simple question, it sure seems like they don’t answer. They are practically impossible to reach.

Oh, and Congress? I may be starting a new job soon but you still suck more than I can put into words for ruining peoples’ lives by not extending unemployment benefits.

It may be part-time and minimum wage but considering the time it took to find something and ultimately get the job, Ann was more excited than she was when I got a job paying 3x more. It’ll be tough but I’d rather survive on a little than worry about when Congress makes up its mind about EDD extensions – and get nothing in the meantime.

Job Fairs


I don’t recall where I was coming from or why I was there but one day I came across a huge banner in a nearby city that was advertising their annual Job Fair (or Job Faire if you’re one of those Medieval types).

I haphazardly made a mental note of the date – I don’t jot and drive – and added it to my Google Calendar as soon as I got home so I could have a constant reminder on my PC and phone as to when it was.

Well, today was the day so I put on my Sunday best and headed out to the location.

That’s when I realized how much I dislike these things.

First of all, parking is always an issue even when the economy is thriving. People are always looking for jobs no matter the reason or season but with the way things are these days, there are even more people looking for work (myself included). I ended up parking about a block away, fitting into a space that only a Toyota Yaris would fit into.

I then made the trek to the event where I was greeted by a line of people that stretched out the door. Fortunately, it was moving at a rapid pace so I didn’t have to wait too long.

Once inside, all participants had to sign in at a desk and listen to someone give details on a few forms they were handing out: a survey and postcard, the latter to be filled out and sent if you got a job that day.

And here’s the first issue I have with these events: nobody is actually hiring, per se. Sure, you can distribute your resume and fill out applications nine ways from Sunday but as far as leaving the Job Fair with a wonderful new retail position that will set the world on fire, yeah, that’s not happening. If anything, most of the employers are just a human element that searching online doesn’t provide and in the end, most of them will just hand you a flier with a URL that lists all of their available positions.

In other words, Job Fairs are just a congested way of conducting an online job search. You really are better off staying at home and using your Internet job website of choice. By going to a Job Fair, you’re just using up gas, getting dressed up, and dealing with a ridiculous parking situation and getting very little in return.

And there’s a lot less noise at home as well, unless you listen to Avenged Sevenfold while you job hunt which I may or may not do from time to time. Actually, it would serve me better to do that as opposed to dealing with the constant stream of talking from attendees and potential employers. To give you an idea, here’s what the view was like when I was in line waiting to speak to representatives from Mitsubishi.

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The pitch was such that it really was aggravating my tinnitus. I can handle noise if it’s at the right level but this was a little too much.

As far as the jobs go you have a cornucopia to choose from, most of which are sales, retail, and marketing. And the retail jobs at this time of year are no doubt seasonal so there’s no real hope in applying with any of them. There were also lots of companies I’d never heard of before who were also hiring for sales and marketing (which is obviously why I’d never heard of them). In the end, I spoke with about five companies and applied with only one that billed itself as “the Asian Starbucks” and is doing lots of expanding over the next few years. They were the only one who spoke with me at length and were beyond cordial, as well as the only one who didn’t look at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears when I told them I wanted to leave Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Proofreading. In fact, they were sort of in awe at how someone could spend 40 hours a week doing such a tedious job. I was admired for a moment but who knows what will come of it.

Speaking of proofreaders, nobody likes them. It’s a fact. With the exception of the aforementioned company, every single company rep I spoke with (including Mitsubishi) sort of cringed when I told them I wanted to transition out of said career and into something else. It was akin to saying, “Hi! I have the Black Plague and would love to give it to you as well. Can we shake hands?”

Nobody apparently heard the “I want to transition out of this career” portion of my elevator pitch because they all said that they didn’t have anything in that field.

Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Oh well.

I spent about an hour meandering the hall in which the event was held and refrained from taking any candy placed on the tables. It was after speaking with Mitsubishi when I decided that a) this totally wasn’t worth the effort and b) maybe I shouldn’t mention that I’m a proofreader to anyone ever again. I’ll think twice before attending another Job Fair and keep on searching online as well as locally.

But the upside of going to a Job Fair?

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You take home lots of craps.

But it’s still not worth it.