TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right

A few months ago, I ran into a former employee of mine from the airport.

At.

The.

Airport.

What was initially awkward about it was that she had quit me with no notice because her doctor told her her legs couldn’t handle it.  She told me she’d really only worked sit down style jobs before.

“You were a bartender!”, I had corrected her at the time, incredulously.  

“Yeah, but that was only part time.  And at The Elks”, she had replied, like The Elks was a stand-alone explanation.

I’d written it off as relative at the time.  I really liked Kim, she reminded me simultaneously not to judge a book by its cover and that stereotypes exist for a reason.  That was Kim.

Mrs. Magoo glasses.

Bowl style haircut.

She was a middle aged transplant to Portland from Spokane.

SpoVegas.

SpoCompton.

Spokanistan.

Take your pick.

She moved away from Spokane for her internet fiancé.  Fuck my life…should this boost my romantic optimism?

Anyway, I run into her in the roadway under the airport at about 5 am.  She was just getting off work, I was just starting.

Innocently, I ask how she’s doing and express my surprise at seeing her.  Instead of the conversational default response one expects to off the cuff, reflexive social niceties, Kim gives me a longform response.

I guess that I – particularly – had that coming.

She was back to work, ground crew for one of the airlines.  Nights, it was hard, but it worked with her and her fiancés parenting schedule.

“Wait, your doctor wouldn’t let you work in a newsstand but now you’re working ground crew?”

I had both knees replaced!

“Wait, wait, wait.  Parenting?!?  Knees replaced?!?  It’s only been 6 months!”

She and her also middle aged fiancé had adopted or were in the process of adopting a 6 year old relative of his.  They had also moved out of his parents house.  I mean, mid-50s is probably the right time to venture out of the nest, if ever there was one.

She was going on about how she was looking forward to getting onto the day shift, but not until school started and she was going to have either her hips or ankles done.

I get distracted by imagining her as Jaime Sommers.

…and tune back in as she says, “but now my doctor wants me to wait to do that until after they take out the brain tumor” like it’s y’know, somehow an elective surgery.

I had to get away from this surreal conversation.

I walked away thinking, “How does she not put a gun in her mouth?!?”  It was really inspiring to think on.  Kim took over as my workday inspiration.

Shitty joints.

Late in life love and parenting.

Entry-entry level physical grunt work.

Oh, and a brain tumor.

If she can do it, I can do it!

Bad news for my former inspiration/mantra:

For the moment, “If Britney can make it through 2007, I can make it through today” took a backseat to my new battlecry of “Tim Kimke!” which was a mash up of her actual name.

It was really kind of the motivational push that I needed.  Britney’s breakdown was only getting me so far.  I was also reaching back to when I worked with a peer that was a real B-word in my mid 20s-30s.  

I was stubborn.

That stubbornness was manifesting itself in longevity in a job that didn’t deserve my efforts.  But I was learning a lot, while simultaneously refusing to walk away from a bad company where I had a boss I liked.

But he was weak and didn’t reign in my counterpart.

Ooh, foreshadowing.

Nonetheless, I stayed, refusing to leave before she did because to me it sent the message that she won.  

It was kinda fucked up.

My payback was that I was learning how to really manage.  Succeeding through my people, versus calling what I could accomplish with my own two hands success.  That kept me motivated whenever I crossed paths with my backstabbing peer.

But, I was recruited away by a former peer and I took a leap.  It’s actually where I met my current boss, even though we only worked together tangentially at the time.

Flash forward 15 or so years.

I’m doing good work, feeling like I make an impact everyday…of course, there’s a but coming.  

My boss is weak, but I like him.  But that’s not enough.  He’s afraid of being the bad guy.

Since last summer, I’ve been stringing up carrots to get me through the bullshit that weakness has manifested:

Make it to your year anniversary.

Make it to bonus payout.

Make it to review time.

Well, the other day, I found myself thinking, “Only 11 more months til bonus payout” and that was a wake up call.

 I’d doubled my tenure since work got shitty, I’d spent as much time dreading my job as I’d spent loving it.  The writing was on the wall, too.  Things weren’t going to change…just like my boss’ poor people management skills created the dysfunctional environment I was spending my time in, his boss was further enabling it by refusing to take action when measureable company policies were broken or violated.

You just need to learn to get along…maybe I heard that one too many times.

Looking back, once turned out to be too many.  The writing was on the wall, but I had to hear that damn phrase a few more times before I saw it.

Then I turned in my notice and basically fired my employer.

Time to reset.

Me time.

Heal wounds.

Because I stuck with it as long as I did, I’ve got the foreseeable future covered in cash:

Forgoing vacations allowed me to bank some PTO to ice the bonus cake I’d waited out.  Believe me, I’m gonna make every penny scream.  If you wanna enjoy my therapeutic free time with me, of course, you can treat!

I’m gonna write again.  No more of these weeks without content or publishing.  That bullshit ends.

Starting here.

And tomorrow, I’m going to brunch and then a hike like a normal Portlander does on a weekend.

TIL #7:  Danny Glover Was Right

My Huge Confliction

Who knew the Chrisism confliction would have legs as a blog theme?

We’ll see…

I realized this morning at 4:30 that I was the Old Mother Hubbard…I’d failed to remember to pick up dry cat food last night and my kitty cupboard was bare.

Normally, Mistress Myrtle’s feeding routine is:

Dried Salmon snacks when we wake up,

I leave kibble for her to nibble throughout the day,

When I get home, she gets a few more Dried Salmon cubes to tide her over to her 6:00 wet dinner.

Wet dinner is at 6:00.  Do not make the mistake of missing dinner time.

Running out of kibble is not a situation I want to find myself in when the only thing keeping me alive is that I provide the food that The World’s Most Dangerous Feline loves to hate.  Fortunately, I was able to double down on the wet food…”Look, Myrtle, it’s dinner for breakfast!”

She was not as excited about this as I’d hoped.

So, this evening; after changing, playing a bit and giving The Mistress her salmon snacks, I beat feet to the RiteAid for dried food.  I also figured I’d pick up some beer and chips to inspire my dinner making creativity.  I’d pulled some beef out of the freezer this morning and put it into a water bath in the fridge to thaw.  When I got home, the whole damn thing was frozen.

There’s something seriously messed up with my fridge.

All this is pointing toward me having chips and beer for dinner.

Since this is my life, the RiteAid was out of dried cat food.

Looks like my last meal would be Nacho Cheese Doritos and some Hop Valley Alphadelic IPA.

At least the beer was on sale.  A 12-pack for $13.99 ain’t all that bad.

None of this in any way has to do with my confliction.

I get to the checkout, wait for Shaky James to complete his transaction and then step up.  The very disaffected young lady – aka: millennial – ringing me up scans the beer and says, “ID for the beer”, which I guess passes for a complete sentence in her universe.  I pass her my ID, she types something into her register, pulls her phone out of her hoodie pocket, answers a text, scans my Doritos, mumbles something about what I owe her and stops.

Then she answers another text as I ask her if I can put in my Plenty number.

She puts her phone down on the counter and makes a minimal fuss about forgetting about the store’s loyalty program, replying, “Sure…if you want”.

I want.

Then she tells me my total.  This time I can hear her clearly.

$3.43

I start to question the total as she answers another text, so I shut up and give her a $10.

Am I a bad person or just a grumpy old man?  Surely being a grumpy old man is a condition that’s exacerbated by bad service, right?

The funny thing is, is that lately I’m scoring on buying beer.  Over the weekend, I picked up a 6-pack at the Brodega.  It was on sale, too…$8.49 from the $10.99 regular price.  It rang up at $12.49.  When I questioned that, the cashier asked if I was sure…so I went and checked.

Seriously.  

By all means, don’t take my first word for it, let me verify that for you.

Me:  Yup.  $8.49

Hipster Cashier:  Let me fix that for ya.

Me:  The funny thing is that this is ringing up for $1.50 more than the non-sale price.

HC:  <distractedly> Oh.

Not a question or surprise.

HC:  OK, your total is $8.49 then.

Me:  <thinking> Because you don’t want to charge me the $.10/can tax on this…right.

So, it’s been a pretty good week for this old beer hound.

But now my confliction is, do I just complain about this cashier’s over-the-top poor performance?

Or

Do I also complete the survey for a chance to win $1000?  I can’t tell which way the karmic winds are a-blowing here…

My Huge Confliction

My Dysfunctional Relationship

Yesterday was my one year anniversary.

With.

My.

Job.

Honestly, if you would have asked me a year ago whether I was more likely to date a guy for a year or remain employed for a year…I’m not sure I could have guessed which would come to pass.

I really think I would have bet on the guy.

Nah.  

That’s not right.  For two reasons:

First, I’ve gotten really good at cutting off losers and abusers in my personal life.  Not legit abusers, I learned that lesson early on.  I mean abusers as in the folks that emotionally bankrupt me and just DGAF about their responsibility to the person they date.  They’re harder to spot, these covert narcissists.  

Probably, I even overcorrect.

Definitely.

Plus, last year at this time I wasn’t even giving dating a second thought.

Second, I was starting a job working for someone in my prior professional network…so, it should’ve been a slam dunk.

Little did I know what I’d signed on for.

But, I made it.

I’m not entirely sure what positives I’ve gotten out of this relationship, it’s definitely not my best professional situation.  

Well, reconnecting with a few past co-workers and making some new, valued profession connections that will outlast my tenure in my current role…obviously.

Outside of that, I know that regardless of what personal gains I can or can’t catalogue, I can say that I contributed.  At least walk in on Year 2, Day 2 knowing that for however one-sided this relationshit seems to have been when/if (when) I leave it, I will be leaving it better than I found it.

Just like the guys I’ve dated.

Even if the job can’t recognize the positive impacts I’ve made there, either.

Just like the guys I’ve dated.

Wow…when your job is your life partner, who needs a boyfriend?

The biggest head scratcher for me at the end of year one is – because I think of my job as a relationship – why do we look at dating someone new and starting a new job so differently?

For instance, if I’m meeting someone new and we get past the first few weeks, I settle into getting to know him.  Between month one and three, I’m looking at how we relate and how our individual selves fold together.  By month six, I’m looking at longer term, will I want to live with this guy?  And by one year, I know the answer to that question and either move forward and in together or move on.  

Sure, those timelines can move around for better or worse – says the single guy weeks away from closing out his fifth decade of life…alone.  But I’ve got landmarks built in along the way about every three months to check in with myself and evaluate.

Conversely, with a job…a year is pretty much the professional qualifier to be considered a stable candidate by prospective employers.  Less than a year, you’re expected to explain yourself…and the onus is on the employee.  Employers are presumed…innocent, shall we say?

How is that fair.  

I know the answer.

But, perhaps interviews should be more like singles bars and dating.  There should definitely be a two drink minimum and interviewers should be the guy who’s looking for love and is eager to prove he’s better than your last boyfriend.  Or, at least be the person that’s there to tell you that you’re alright and too good for that last job.  

Maybe it’s just me.  Anyone else look at it that way?  Different thoughts?  Lemme know.

My Dysfunctional Relationship

Staycation

Admittedly, this is not as exciting or fulfilling as my August vacation with the family.  To be honest, this vacation is the result of my testing the new vacation request system at work so I knew how it worked.

But, The Boss approved it…so, Bob’s your uncle.

Speaking of uncles, mine flew in on Wednesday from Houston.  Coming to Oregon from Texas for some dry weather, I reckon.  I didn’t get to see him when he landed because I had a meeting that ran long.  I’m not entirely sure when I will see him, actually!  Mom-Donna threw out a few weekend ideas for get togethers, but I had commitments both days and had to pass.

Of course, both things fell through, because this is my life…where the Galby Effect originated.

So, here I sit.  Balancing bursts of housebitch activity on this vacation Saturday with bouts of couch surfing…and now WordPressing.

Couch Surfing round 1 was Miss Congeniality.

I’ve got Miss Congeniality queued up and ready to watch, but I’m not quite ready to commit to that…yet.

Which means, a lil vacay update for you all instead of finishing one of my two dozen blog drafts.  

It’s my vacation…rhymes with procrastination.

Let’s not pretend that’s a surprising development.

Let’s see.  My vacation started after a six day stretch at work, which ended only an hour later than I projected.  Good thing, too.  That gave me just enough time to get home, change and let The Silver Fox cajole me into an inaugural vacation beer before the hotel tour I had arranged to see the guest facilities of the new hotel next door.

I’d see the bar, that’s for sure.  Besides serving one of the best Oregon beers – Breakside IPA – Turner Creek Tavern also offers up some pretty tasty morsels.

Some of them are even on the menu,

But after watching my view over the last 18 months go from this

To this

To this

And, finally…this

I felt like a view from their rooftop patio was in order.

Plus, The Fox has a great nephew that is going to PSU and he’d love to have the boy’s parents stay so close by when they visit.

You could say that our recent twice weekly and now this tour was recon.

It was a good start to my work break.  It’ll be my last break until probably March/April next year.  I’m hoarding the last two weeks and rolling them over into 2018.  I’m not sure I’ll stay in my present job later than that – it’s frustratingly dysfunctional and I simply don’t earn enough money to secure my financial present and future on my salary.  So, if I leave within that timeframe, I’ll have four or five weeks of vacation time – and hopefully a bonus – to take with me when I leave.

Anyhoo.

A few days before my vacation started, I’d told The Fox that I had been thinking maybe I should date again.

If you ask him, he might tell you I was trying to kill him by saying that to him.  But, it’s about time.

After Sacha left me on our “seventh” anniversary (it was our sixth) I was alone for six years before meeting Rib.  He and I were together for four.  I released him back into the wilds of Capital Hill three and a half years ago, so…math.

Math says that it’s time.  My process is complete.

Actually, when I broke up with Rib, I did so with full cognizance of the fact that it might have been a reasonable assumption that he’d be my last boyfriend.  I’m gonna be 50 in a few months.

Maybe – definitely – I was past my gay expiration date.

But that’s another blog.

Maybe.

Having said the words out loud, I wasn’t surprised to find myself attracted to the guy giving us the hotel tour.  What did kind of surprise me was that in my thank you email, I gave him my phone number and offered to take him out for a beer.

That also afforded me the opportunity to creep myself out, since I’d basically hit on him at work…breaking my dating rule about hitting on guys in their work place.  Obviously, that’s what Missed Connections are for!  

Sure, it was just an email and a fairly innocuous one, at that.  It’s not like I told him I wanted to put my Tab D into his Slot B. 

It’s just a beer.

And he’s new in town and said he loved IPAs.

Speaking of dating rules – well, this is more relationship advice – get one that’s new in town.  Especially small towns like Shittatle and PDX.  Less cross-pollination.

Unless his boyfriend followed him to Oregon.  But I’m pretty sure that only happened to him because he and I would eventually cross paths, share an attraction and this is my life.

Of course he’s going to be in anunfilfilling relationship.  Because that’s what could possibly go wrong.

But, we’ll still have a beer.

It’s not like I have anything else to do this weekend since I’m on vacation, my weekend plans fell through and The Fox is out of town.

I can’t watch Netflix the entire weekend!

But, I can go do my recycling and then hit the sofa for round two of couch surfing for today.

I am going to potato my couch so hard…

Staycation

The Red Shirt Diaries #16

What?!?

Back to back posts on the same day?

Within the same theme?!?

What next?  Liberals and Conservatives coexisting?

Next stop: anarchy.

The fact of the matter is that I just finished a 12 hour day and need something to focus on for my MAX ride home from the airport so that I don’t fall asleep and end up in Hillsboro.

Again.

Ergo, the MAX Blog Challenge hashtag.

But also, after my 5 am to 5 pm shift today, I’m feeling pretty jazzed because I got a shit ton of stuff accomplished today.

Not everything, by any means.

But, a shit ton.

Not bad for my work week’s Wednesday, eh?

Well, I should say, the first Wednesday of this particular work week since I’m in a friggin’ six day stretch.

If I survive tomorrow, aka: Second Wednesday.

You see, my boss has been on vacation the last ten or so days.  I took the initiative – in my spare time, trust me – to do some Spring cleaning.  I’d say it’s 70/30 whether he kills me or praises my initiative when he returns tomorrow.

He’s not the quickest to embrace change, you see.

Also, he’s a pack rat.

I’m not the apex of organization.  The Filipina Fox…she’s the poster child for organization.  If she walked into our shared office…yeah, she’d rather fly full speed into a black hole than spend a full minute in our office.

I’m coming up on a year of working in this environment that is equal parts chaos and clutter.

So, it’s time.

And it’s not that The Boss is on vacation, it’s that – really – I am productivity-wise on fire this week.  Might as well strike while the iron is hot, eh?

I’m averaging personally processing three garment racks worth of apparel each day.  I average a garment rack’s sales value to be around $2500, so that’s something.  Plus, in addition to eliminating some backlog in our apparel processing, we have inventory in a few weeks…getting this stuff hung will be way easier than trying to inventory it in boxes and on pallets.

Speaking of pallets, I broke down four pallets today, too.  Three personally, one I had an alley-oop on, as someone else off loaded the pallet and I put it away.

Those accomplishments alone would make me feel like I earned my sore back – er – paycheck this week.  However, in addition to my normal daily store support and HR duties and those two achievements I’ve also been onboarding a new junior manager.  He’s doing great so far and his attitude is just the can-do shot in the arm our environment needs!

This week – his second – didn’t require as much 1-on-1 time (shut up, Diezel) as his first week, but we probably spent a good six hours together.  That’s 15% of a 40 hour work week.

So, for whatever reason, on top of all that great stuff, I decide to clean my rat’s nest of an office.

I felt like both sides of Indiana Jones’ persona:

Carefully excavating the top layers in my archaeological dig to preserve anything of value below,

and;

Heroically overcoming seemingly overwhelming odds to complete my mission.

Aside from the uncertainty of The Boss’ reaction, I’ve also had to face the present danger of navigating the motivation behind the praise of Capt Can’t.

He seems to have enjoyed encouraging my efforts and reassuring me that they’ve tried to organize around The Boss before, but then telling me it always ends up the same.

Hearing that, my gut says this

But my innate optimism and grumpy old man-ness says this

And if The Boss hates it and goes postal…at least I didn’t die on a pile of retail debris.

But in addition to my 70/30 chances he’ll either hate or love it, I’d say that if he hates it that there’s a 50/50 chance he has a stroke from the shock.

So, tomorrow oughta be pretty exciting!

If we both survive and he does hate it – if I did fall into a trap laid by Capt Can’t – there’s only three more work days until my vacation.

Or my last day…wudyagunnado?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s my hump day.  And you can believe that tomorrow – on Second Wednesday – I’m gonna double my pleasure!

Yeah, right.  I’m gonna go make dinner and then fall asleep on the couch.

The Red Shirt Diaries #16

Christopher Does Adulting.

Flippantly – and surprising to no one – I began 2016 determined to say “yes” to more opportunities that come my way, because:  What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

That’s what my recent big-boy thoughts have been about.

The week of my birthday was amazing and fun.  I also had a good week of reflection and job prospects.  The most promising was with Target, the outcome of which I recently chronicled in The Great Job Hunt:  Redux.

That said, the week after my birthday started out all sorts of rough when I learned that Monday that I wasn’t getting the position at Target.

Add to that, the couple of traveling nurses renting my condo in Seattle weren’t going to stay until October of this year, as they had previously committed.

Suddenly, the opportunities that had recently been pointing toward replenishing my coffers while also capitalizing on my self-sustaining Seattle condo endeavor had dried up.  It’s a bummer, too.  I have been holding onto the condo under advice from a couple of real estate pros in Seattle until a few things transpired in the market.  Those things are on the horizon and doubling down on payments, if not even tripling down once I didn’t need to use that rental income to pay my Portland rent, would have put me in a great equity position once the nurses moved on in October.  The benefit to holding onto it were substantial, along the lines of an additional $25k in equity, minimum.  That ain’t chump change.

Alas.

Days after that disappointing news cycle, a head hunter in Seattle reached out to me again about an opportunity there.  It was his second pass at me, I had actually thought or assumed that the position was filled.  Originally, I had opted-out due to the fact that relocating to Seattle would be overly complex since I had a place in Portland until November and my Seattle place was presently occupied.  The last thing I needed was a third residence.

But, the EVP of this company kept focusing back on me…so the recruiter put out a feeler.

It’s all about timing, some times.

I decided to make a quick day trip up to Seatown and have a talk with the guy.

It was a good talk.  I think I would work well with this fella.  The product…I think I have a lot of friends who would be excited about the merchandise, but for me, the satisfaction would be strictly people and numbers based.  Which is fine.  He told me that he wanted to see me again soon and have me (and the other final candidates) meet at least one other person involved in the hiring decision.

Interesting timing, just as I had been considering yielding to parental advice and selling the condo.  If for no other reason than it would provide solvency for a good chunk of time.  The nurses would vacate at the end of Feb; I could evacuate the furnishings, perhaps stage the place and get it cleaned up and on the market by the second week of March.  From what I hear of the movement in that market, I would probably complete escrow by the end of April and be breathing easily by May 1, if not sooner.

Depending on the timing.

Additionally, I got kind of good at investing and day trading during my time with Seattle Coffee Gear, so I could actually sell the condo and walk away with enough equity to generate some respectable income through investing until I had to put funds down on a new place here in Portland, should I choose to assume that risk-slash-frustration that accompanies investing.  I was thinking my house hunting could start in August and by the time I found a place and went through escrow, I would be nearing the end of my lease here in the Pearl.

Timing would or could work well.

Quick side note on the basis of my reluctance to sell in the first place.  It’s two-fold:

First, I’m looking for work, if that called me back to Seattle, my $1200 mortgage is way cheaper than renting in Seatown…studios can run $1500, easy.  One bedrooms?  You’d be lucky to find a nice one bedroom for $1800.  Even with the crazy 50% jump my HOAs took for 2016, my existing all in cost of shelter in Seattle was a deal.

Should I end up returning for a job, that is.

Second, when I originally moved to Seattle, I never looked at it as a permanent relocation.  It was a means to an end when my job moved up there and my choice was to be unemployed during the Bush years with 10% of the rest of Oregon keeping me company in the bread line or be employed in a new city.  I chose the latter, obviously, but considered moving back to Portland a foregone conclusion, therefore also considered keeping my house here.  After discussing it with my family, I decided to do the easy thing and sell it.  Macy’s was paying the realtor fees, so it was an easy as well as cheap plan.  Unless you consider the fact that I am back now and that house has doubled in value thanks to Portland’s housing market.

Bubble.

Whatever.

The point is, my condo in Seattle has equity for a couple of reasons; specifically, I put a good downpayment on it and I’ve been there for eight years now.  The value on it as of Fall 2014 was about $50k more than I bought it for, so most of what I was pulling out in equity was more what I had put into it via my downpayment and the basic principle reduction of paying extra payments over the years.  Not a great return on my investment.  Holding onto it for another year or two wasn’t going to see it’s value magically double, but it would – according to my advisors – likely see that extra $25k in equity manifest.  At a minimum.

At a minimum.

No more comforting words than those when considering a return on your investment, eh?

The other consideration here was my growing frustration level with relying on others for my income, I’d definitely gotten burned by incompetence a couple of times over the last few years.  Also, I was definitely growing weary of interviewing with people that I suspected wouldn’t hire me simply because my resume was longer than theirs.  A secondary use for that equity would allow me to strongly consider starting my own business.  I’ve kicked it around for 15 years now.  Part fantasy about being my own boss, sure…but why not work on making it a reality?  I know after the last couple of years, that retirement in it’s strictest sense is not for me.  Being my own boss with a semi-turnkey business would be a good alternative to that and still get me out of corporate retail by the time I was 50, so a good potential win-win.

Of course, I would need to meet with a CPA prior to pulling the yes-trigger on this, just to make sure I was set up to use part of my capital gains for funding a business endeavor.  So there was that X factor.  Feel free to chime in with advice if you know anything about this…really!

Perhaps most flattering in this thought process was revisiting a conversation I had had last year with the Filipina Fox and her hubby.  They had mentioned stepping out of the housing market and using their downpayment money to augment my startup funding.  They also had familial connections that would potentially participate in the start up financials.  I can’t tell you how simultaneously rewarding and terrifying it is to have someone give over that level of trust to you.  It was humbling and awesome at the same time.

So, I also had partners if I said yes.

Yes to Oregon.

Yes to small business ownership.

Yes to those partners.

Yes to selling my condo in Seattle.

And all I had to do was put a period at the end of the “No more Seattle” sentence.

What was my hesitation?

Having thought about that question for a few days, I’m not sure there is an actual hesitation.  It’s more likely just a matter of wading through this present limbo regarding the open job opportunity there.

It’s coming back to timing.

But this time, I’ve no vague apathy.  I’m impatient to make a decision.  The invite for the second/final interview came and I’m set up for another day trip this coming week.  I would imagine that the EVP wants to get a job offer out before he leaves for vacation the following Monday.  He’s gone for two weeks, so his return to the business and my presumed start date would be right around March 1st.

The timing worked for lodging in Seattle.

If he said yes to me.

If I said yes to him.

And I said yes to Seattle again.

There’s a lot of comfort in being a part of someone else’s risk and having that support, to be sure.  However, now that feels like I’m saying no to myself.  Which kind of conflicts me.  So, Neurotic Xtopher gets to work and starts mentally spinning plates, each one a different variable in this big decision.

Then I get a call from a company here in Portland that is interested in interviewing me for a position.

Another plate.

But I’m just going to try and keep them all spinning until the end of this month.  I figure, the real drop dead date here is February 28th.  That’s when the nurses move out.  A lot can happen between now and then.

Interviews on Tuesday in Seattle next week and Thursday here in PDX.  I’ll figure out what the next steps are for each shortly thereafter.

Dusting off my business plan and giving it some tweaks.  Doing some research into particulars of timing and execution.

Determining the validity of using part of the proceeds from my condo sale to fund a business…

My big hope in this…inning of the yes game?  That I get the job in Portland.

Then the condo gets sold.  Most definitely a yes there.

I say yes to buying a new place here in Portland sometime this year.  I think the Silver Fox secretly wants me to buy a two bedroom so he can move into my place in his dotage, whenever that might be.  Hehehe.  That’s a maybe yes, but I owe him big so it’s something to consider.  Plus, he has the coffee maker I want, so there’s that added bonus.

I look at whether saying yes to this business start up is the best idea.  Is it viable?  Yeah, it is.  Would starting a new job, buying a new house and starting a small business all in the same year be hellacious?  Absolutely yes.  But, theoretically, I would have partners.  Definitely, I would have my friends and family around to support me in this effort.  Plus, it’s a nice busy offset after being decidedly underemployed for nearly the last couple of years.

Maybe those Seattle plates spin.

Maybe they fall.

If they do fall, there’s a whole set of new plates here in Portland that I can get spinning in short order.  Yes?

We’ll see what the end of the month brings.

 

Christopher Does Adulting.

The Great Job Hunt: Redux

Late last week or early this week – I have too much free time and frequently lose track of it moment to moment – I received a Facebook IM from a friend of mine, a former co-worker from the good old days of Chris being employed.  We talk semi-frequently this way and it’s nice to keep a little more in touch than just reading someone’s Facebook feed, I also run into her a couple times a year; just randomly in the Pearl District as she shops or runs errands and I…change things up from my normal routine of sitting around and venture outside.

This particular message was especially intriguing.  She was asking what one does when offered a job you don’t want or when you get an offer that isn’t what you expect.  Compared to my current job search norm, I think this is a good problem to have…so this was a meaty dialogue.  We traded a few messages and she suggested we meet for coffee.

And meet we did.

Yesterday.

We met up at Sisters Coffee House here in The Pearl, which turned out to be full of people proudly out doing what I normally do all day – sitting around on their computers – so I assumed they were all homeless, since I can do that at my condo.  Unshowered and, if I can stand the sight of myself, in my loungers or undies.  But all these people sitting alone at tables for two or four kind of pissed me off, since it left us to the sidewalk seating.

It was 45 degrees yesterday.

So, when she told me her story, I was cold and in a “Screw that, say no” mood, but I made myself filter my frustrations.  As chance would have it, a seat inside had opened up.  Plus, there’s no reason my EOG should negatively impact the lives of any innocent bystanders.  Particularly when they have sought out my advice on an issue.

I totally get where she was struggling, too.  We’re both at a point in our lives and careers where we expect certain things from employers and situations.  When we don’t get them, it raises a red flag.  We’re also alike inasmuch as we come from a time when we took a job offer or didn’t.  More often, we took it, because it was just what you did.  Worked.

Then the 80s happened and people started negotiating their worth during the job offer process.  It was really all kind of downhill from there, since now people don’t negotiate their worth as much as they simply don’t seem to deign to work at all in exchange for the rate of compensation they negotiate for themselves.

It’s crazy.

All things considered, I think I would rather live with Harvest Gold and Avocado Green kitchen appliances forever in exchange for a return to a true working class population like we had in the 70s…where we also worked for a whopping $2.10 an hour minimum wage.  Today, it seems we all think we’re going to be millionaires and are prepared to offer zero effort in return for anything less.

It might be worse in Portland, famously described by someone as “Where young people go to retire”.  So true, but not as unique to Portland as one might think.

Anyway, my advice was being sought and after listening to her story I told her about what my dad said to me when I started looking for work, “Don’t take a job you aren’t going to be happy at”.  And I absolutely hate that it’s so challenging to find such a simple sounding position, but absolutely love that I am fortunate enough to have parents that say something so awesome and then consistently point me back to that when I get frustrated with my job search.

She completely understood that sentiment and shared that she was kind of in the same place; after all, her job had just ended in December, so she’s only six or seven weeks into her Unemployment Insurance.  This particular offer was less money than she had been making and below the market value for the position and only had five days of PTO.  She’s looking for a job she can offer a five year commitment before joining her husband in retirement, how hard should it be to find a place one can be happy working for five years?

What must she give up?

Money?

Family time?

She’s mature enough to carefully weigh what it means to pass up a job even though she admitted that she’s never really been in that situation before.  Nor had she ever negotiated, so this was a brave new world for her, career-wise.  She had been granted an extra five days of PTO in her job offer but had decided to counter with the pay she expected – which was on the low end of the industry average – and ask for an additional five days of PTO prior to meeting with me.  I wholly supported that move and openly supposed that she would probably get the money but not the PTO, which sounded like a blessing since it provided her a legitimate reason to decline the offer.  The worst possible case I could imagine after hearing her story was the owner coming back with everything she asked for and she still didn’t actually want the damned job.

Then she’d be in a pickle.

One other thing that I asked her after hearing her story, was whether she thought this was the employer putting his best foot forward, which gave her a good chuckle.  Her offer was from a small company, six people including the owner.  We worked together at a once-great small company…only 75 stores when I joined up back in 2009, and still family owned for the most part.

Since then, we have both aligned ourselves with smaller outfits, so the dysfunction she shared during her story was familiar and cringe inducing territory for me:  irrelevantly good people who kinda sucked at their jobs.  Great…it’s a small company, it should have character like that, I guess.  It’s one of the things that gets lost in a larger corporation:  personality.  But on the flip side, those larger corporations have the ability to withstand someone who isn’t the most competent at their job making a mistake.  Not so in a six million dollar company.  Someone fucks up and people lose their jobs.  Back at the job I accepted in 2013, separating me from my work life with this particular friend, the controller made a $600,000 mistake and 10% of the company’s employees lost their jobs.  Me included.  And that was a twelve million dollar company…which frankly surprises me with its persistent survival.

It’s a real head-scratcher.

On the way home from this coffee date, I was thinking of the Silver Fox.  He was given early retirement at the beginning of 2015 with a fantastic severance package and a one-year non-compete, which he thought was no big deal since he was retired!

A few months in – and I swear he came by this on his own, even though we were spending a lot of our mutual free time together – he had decided he needed to go back to work.  He wanted to.  For his peace of mind.  I think he had always planned to continue working, but I was making unemployment look so glamorous that he simply had to try it out.

Right…

Anyway, there he is, putting out feelers.

He starts getting the passive-aggressive attention I’ve come to love so much about looking for a job:  being ignored.  This is one of those things that prompted me to write in my original Great Job Hunt that Human Resources is one of the most worthless parts of any organization.  It’s not like this is a hard part of their job, they tend to have rather expensive Applicant Tracking Systems to allow them to manage what anyone who has ever hired off of a Help Wanted ad will tell you is a potentially overwhelming influx of applicants.

That said, each of these systems also has an automated Thanks For Your Application email as well as canned Thanks, But No Thanks emails that can be sent to applicants you aren’t interested in…the latter just takes the click of a mouse.

People who can’t manage that low-bar job expectation have jobs and I don’t.

Go, America.

And some will judge that this is my expectation of employer behavior and not what should be expected.

Of course, I disagree.

My thought is, these software designers didn’t think, “Hey, this function would be cool!” and just put it in.  They got feedback, gathered data and were likely encouraged to include such a feature allowing for easy communication with applicants.  Regardless, though, I think if you are going to ask people to apply to work for your company, it’s the right professional behavior to repay that effort.  It’s the right human behavior to show that minimal amount of respect to your applicants.  Again, these people are probably customers of your business in some way, shape or form.  If they aren’t, you’re probably likely to be snubbing someone who works in the industry your business does its business in and unlikely to not cross paths with these applicants at some other point in the future.  Who wants to go into that situation at a disadvantage because someone thinks your organization isn’t?

Back to the Fox, he had been approached by some folks in his massive network about a position in his industry.  For a non-profit.  A religious non-profit.

We all know what I said.

My knee-jerk reactions to that information notwithstanding, he felt the same way.  Being the mature person he is, he took a couple of meetings about it and learned things like the expectation is that each meeting begins with a prayer.  Led by the person calling the meeting.  Him.  Surprisingly, he still ultimately interviewed…walking away with the impression from the President that it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, she herself not being “that religious”.  So he ended up being kind of jazzed about the opportunity.

Naturally, nothing happened.

But, the President did at least call him to explain the final decision, which was professional of her.

Thank god.

It reminds me that the interview process is very similar to dating.  How you act could and should determine the future of any level of relationship you have with the other.  Personal or professional.  If someone asks you out for dinner and then doesn’t even show up or acknowledge that you did what they asked…instant jerk status, right?  Why would a potential employer be any different?  They place an ad asking you to apply, invite you to meet with them and then you hear nothing after?

I’m glad that wasn’t the Fox’s experience.  They were slow, but at least someone reached out and thanked him for his time and effort.

What my coffee date reminded me of was that there’s pros and cons to any situation, but also ultimately that my dad is right…I shouldn’t feel like I have to take a job just to have a job.

Last October I applied for a job with Target.  It was the second time I had applied for a job with them, earlier in 2015 I had applied for a Store Team Leader (just a store manager job, but look at them being all precious about it) job with them and interviewed with a great person in their corporate HR department.  We discussed my flexibility about working either in Portland or Seattle and she put me forward for both markets to speak with people in the respective markets face-to-face.

And nothing happened.

Then The Broken Poet applied for a job with them.  Just as a cashier, but still, he had essentially zero qualifications for the job.  He had a 13 minute interview and left with a job offer.

Let me say that again:  a 13 minute interview.

No reference checks.

No second interview.

Simply 13 minutes of Hot Seat questioning and then a “Please, come handle part of our $30 million in sales transactions every year, WhoeverTheHellYouAre.

He never showed up.  He was busy having a melt down and fleeing the big city for the dustbowl he called home.  Again.

Given their strict standards, once TBP had up and left me again, I applied for the next Store Team Leader position I saw posted…bringing us back to October of last year.

I got to speak with my buddy at Target corporate again.  She’s sweet.  She remembered me.  Then told me she was definitely putting me forward to meet with the Portland leadership.

Again.

I emailed her two weeks later to ask if the position had been filled, because I hadn’t heard from the locals.  She replied 10 days later, asking me to complete a fresh assessment, since they had changed in the month since my application was submitted.

She sent me the wrong link to the assessment.

I said she was sweet, I didn’t say she was great at her job.

I emailed her with the issue and she never replied.

Until a couple of weeks later when she called out of the blue to ask if I was still interested.  Now, admittedly, my interest was waning.  However, my need for a job was not, so I stifled my grumpy old man schtick and eagerly replied in the affirmative.  She told me to expect the process to move quickly and to be prepared for a Portland person to reach out and set up an interview and a job shadow for the next week, with a job offer to follow shortly thereafter…not a promise of employment, just filling me in on her timeline.

A timeline that had me starting the week before Christmas in a thirty million dollar store.  But I was definitely not intimidated by that prospect.

Then, wait for it…

…nothing happened.

In the middle of the second week of January I got an email from Target asking if I was interested in a job shadow two days later with an interview the following week, at 8:00 in the morning on my birthday.

Fuck no.

Er…yes!  Yes!!!

So at 3:30 the day before the job shadow, I get the details and go meet a lovely, peppy and significantly overpaid for her age Store Team Lead.  Thirty miles away from my home.  Why would it be convenient at this point in the game?  We spend a few hours together and this job returns squarely to the “Fuck yeah” list of jobs I want.  It was a really good experience.

The next week – happy birthday to me – I have a phone interview with the District Team Leader (District Manager to all us unfortunate, non-Target retail slobs).  It also goes great.  Nice way to begin my birthday.  At the end of the conversation, she tells me to expect corporate to reach out within the next two business days to set up a FaceTime with her boss and probably the VP of HR.  After that, the guy who is responsible for all Target stores in the top half of the US will call me, but it will all happen quickly from this point.

See, that phrase…I just shoulda known.

Nothing happens that Friday.

At 3:00 Monday, I’m thinking about emailing my corporate contact, but decide not to.

She calls at 3:30 my time.  From the Midwest.

Yes!

She’s all excited.  Thanking me for my patience, acknowledging the length of time I have invested in the process.

And then kicks my balls and tells me that she’s super sorry but they went with another candidate.

I soccer mom the grumpy old guy residing within, cooly and professionally “admitting” that I’m both surprised and disappointed to hear that outcome.

She digs down a little deeper with some assurances that the next opening is mine – which does sound pretty close to a promise of employment; pulling the dirt in after her by telling me that it was an internal candidate from somewhere else in the country that they were hiring.

My inner soccer mom steps aside and lets the grumpy old Christopher take a head run at her with, “Well, if the team in Portland would have been on top of their game back in October, I could already have my first Target Christmas under my belt…come to think of it, had this internal candidate even expressed interest in the position in October like I did?  Because fair is fair, and I’m pretty sure that I was first.  Again, if the locals could perform their jobs effectively, this internal wouldn’t have an option here.”

I feel bad, because she’s stammering and I know she feels bad, but that empathy doesn’t get me a paycheck, does it?  Ultimately, since she wasn’t watching her open job requisitions or enforcing the expectation that the locals follow up on the candidates that she put forward…well, she kind of made her own pain.

I’ll bet next time she simply sends an email.

While sobbing a little inside.

I’ll also bet she doesn’t call me for the next opening.  Just a hunch.  But Target has crash landed itself in the list of companies that I don’t want to work for now.  After my time being underemployed, I know that I want to work until I’m 70.  Screw my fantasy of retiring at 50, I need to work…it gives me a purpose, not just a paycheck.  Spending the next couple of decades wallowing in dysfunction without the ability to make an impact isn’t a job, it’s a sentence.

No thank you.

Going back to Applicant Trackers and Human Resources…well, whose job do you suppose it is to keep track of open job posts?  Yup…HR.  They’re supposed to be watching them and making sure they are opened when needed and are actually worked with urgency.  Their department name pretty much predicates that they are responsible for making sure stores are staffed appropriately with managers and sales associates…the literal human resource all companies need to succeed.

Here this peppy, sweet person is letting a job post stay open for 90+ days.  That’s just not acceptable.

Again, and I don’t have a job.

Nor does my coffee date friend from yesterday.  At the end of the day, she decided to pass on the job and sent an email to the owner of the company honestly and professionally explaining her decision.

And I think we need more of that respectful and open communication in both corporate and every day America.  Not having it has gotten us Stainless Steel kitchen appliances, which is awesome.  It’s also gotten us Kardashians…which is decidedly not.

The Great Job Hunt: Redux