Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quitting Time

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Come August I shall be celebrating my 27th anniversary at my job. I doubt the Boss will give me a gift of money or even a lousy pen to show her appreciation. The Boss is cheap. Yeah, I said it. C-h-e-a-p. Cheap. But, then, you see, the Boss is me. 

Like everyone else, I've had quite a few jobs during my life. Some jobs were temporary. I liked those. I knew when the ending would be. No fuss, no muss.  As for the jobs from which I resigned, okay, quit, I had gone as far I wanted and needed to go with them.

Cutting apricots was my first paying job. It was also the first job I quit. I was nine years old.

The job entailed cutting apricots in half, pulling out the pits, and laying them on a wooden tray bigger than a kitchen table. When the tray was filled neatly with halved apricots, it was placed out in the sun for the fruit to dry. I think I got 75 cents a tray.  Yeah, I know, a pittance. This was the early 1960s.

I don't remember how many trays I was able to fill in a day, or even if I could fill one. Some kids worked together on a tray. I did feel kinda left out working alone. I  recall a couple of kids staring at me and talking about me and the way I was cutting the apricots but not in an admirably way. Hmmm, maybe they were jealous that I didn't have to share my earnings. Never thought of that.

After three days on the job, I got sick. Probably worked too long and hard, which I still do when I want to get something done and over with as soon as possible. When I was back to normal, the Mama and the Daddy told me that I did not have to go back unless I wanted to. I did not.

I wonder if the Older and Only Brother resented me for quitting the job. After all, he was the one who got me the job. Maybe I would've been better picking apricots with him. I know I would've liked it more. I envied him climbing up and down the ladder with his pail. It would definitely have been faster earning money.  I think he got 25 cents a bucket, or maybe it was 25 cents for filling a box. I probably would've gotten sick doing that job, too.

Anyway, being allowed to quit the job, set the pattern for me.  I learned that I could choose to say yes or no to being "cheap labor" for someone. Gosh, I hate that term with a passion. Several years ago, the Husband and I took an agricultural tour of our county. One of the stops was an apricot orchard where the Daddy used to work as a tree pruner. The daughter-in-law whined about the family's concern of not having enough "cheap labor" during harvest time. Seriously, how difficult would it be for her to say "temporary employees".  I instantly lost all respect for her, the family, and the business. To this day, I will not buy their products, I will not recommend them,  and I will spit out food if I happen to find out I'm eating their product at a function.

Okay, back from the digression.

Of all the jobs I've had, I have worked the longest for my current employer. And, I tell you, there have been days, weeks, and months where I've worked for far less than minimum wage. That's how much I like working for the Boss. And, I know she would not ever, ever, ever talk about me as being just "cheap labor".

Trays of apricots drying under the sun.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teamwork

It takes being disconnected to the Internet to get me to finally write a post. Go figure.

Yesterday evening—around 5:03 p.m. to be approximate—the Husband came into the bedroom where Molly T.K. Cat and I were taking a snooze. Well, Molly napped while I clicked the TV remote in search of a show that would invite sleep for a few minutes.  (Lack of sleep was finally making me feel yucky, for lack of ability to think of precise words.)

"The modem is dead," announced the Husband.

I was promptly alert and in a state of panic. How was I going to finish my last two assignments? How was I going to send them to the editor? How was I going to. . . you get the picture.

The Husband and I went instantly into troubleshooting mode. The husband went back to his computer to play a tetris game (which allows him to think he says), and I went searching for a phone book.

I called the computer shop where we bought the last modem. Unfortunately, the shop just closed. Bummer. When something as vital as a disconnection to the Internet happens, I realize again the downside of living in an out-of-the-way  small city. I was ready to drive anywhere to get a modem last night, so as not to waste a work day today. The next call was to a big electronic box store in a nearby bigger small city. While the sales clerk searched his computer database,  I handed the phone to the Husband and went searching for our Internet folder in the file cabinet.  The salesman told the Husband that there was one in at their store in three nearby, but further away, larger cities. Bummer.

I dialed the local computer shop again, handed the phone to the Husband, and pressed #1 for him to speak to an after-hours tech. The shop had a modem—Yay!—and we could go down and buy it before 7 p.m.—double Yay! And that, dear reader, is one of the virtues of living in an out-of-the-way small city.

The tech guy at the shop suggested we double-check that the DSL line was not down before we open the new modem package. Because if it was glitch in the DSL line, we could bring the modem back for a refund. Back at home, I dialed our Internet service provider (ISP), waded through the canned messages, and once I got a person on the phone, handed it to the Husband. While he spoke with the tech person, I went off to make dinner.

At 11 p.m. we finally started installing the modem. The Husband focused on setting it up and I stayed out of the way by writing this post. Everything was zinging along until the installation step with the ISP.  Around 12:30 a.m. The Husband called the tech number. He got stuck listening to a canned message about wires, didn't like that, and cut the connection. He re-dialed, got flustered listening to the same messages, cursed, and slammed the phone down. I re-dialed, went through the canned messages until I got a person on the line, and  handed the phone to the Husband. Step-by-step, the Husband and the tech went through the installation process. Voila, the Internet was working. At least, on the Husband's computer.

And, when I finally publish this post, then my computer shall be, too.

A Joyful 2013 to you, dear Readers!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What's the Word?

What's the word I'm thinking of?

Damn. What's the word?

That's my life these days. And, that's not good when you make your livelihood as a writer.

The word I'm trying to think of is usually a simple word, too. Forget about asking for an example, because I can't remember any one of my 500 million+ instances at the moment.

All I know is that the word I'm trying to think of just dangles ghost-like in my mind. I really dislike the way a word plays hide-and-seek with me.

If the Husband happens to be nearby, I'll ask him for help. "What's the word that means  blah blah blah." Most often, thank goodness, he knows the word I'm seeking. Some times, he throws out a bunch of words. None of which fit what I'm wanting to write. Other times, well, let's just say that I just type in blab blab blab and move on to my next thought, choosing to believe that the word will show itself. Eventually, it does. So far. Thank goodness.

This trouble of finding the right word snuck up on me all of a sudden. But, then, it could've been gradual. I don't know.  If I were to believe the psychobabble I was taught in my 12th grade psychology class, my mental capacity started going downhill right after I graduated high school. Ha! Seriously, I was taught that. I hope they don't still feed that kind of rot to kids. I mean, come on, what a way to discourage the adventure of starting off being a post high school kid. (Well, there's an example for you. Instead of a cool, smart precise word, I give you"post high school kid".)

What was I talking about? As usual, I find myself thinking about something way in the past. That's another thing. How did I suddenly become one of the oldest elephants in the room? One thing about being an oldest one, sometimes the very young ones applaud you for doing something you normally do—such as catch a fly ball (not that I do that) or walk up a mountain (that I still do).

I know I'm rambling now.  Before I go down another wordy path, I shall say this: I think part of my problem was/is due to menopause/postmenopause.  Not all. Maybe 30 percent. I didn't get the hot flashes, which I suppose was a good thing. At least my memory lapses weren't/aren't so bad that I forgot that I did agree to skip exchanging Christmas presents. But, then, I can't recall.

Here, word. Come here, word.

By the way, if I've already written about this. Well, uhm, Merry Christmas!

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A New Daydream

This morning, I read that a local farm needs a driver to deliver CSA boxes to its distribution points in several cities. Only twice a week. Only 15 to 20 hours a week. $12 to $14/hour, depending on experience.

I would love that job.

Yes, I would.

Those are not long hours at all. The pay is definitely a living wage and it would be a nice monetary supplement for this nonstarving writer.  The lifting and hauling? I may not be in the best of shape, but I can manage the up to 40 pounds per item. I truly believe that within a few weeks my strength and stamina would be greatly improved. I would be hauling boxes with the not-quite nonchalance I used to do when I was quite younger. (Hey, it's my daydream.) Besides, the Husband says he would do it with me. Just think, the farmer would get two for the cost of one.

If only I didn't have this writing project right now. And, those other responsibilities that I can't walk away from for two days a week.

I know my limits—and my priorities. So, I'll just daydream about driving a van full of organic vegetables and fruit from a farm to suburban and urban locations. That is, when I'm not stuttering out words on the computer into the early morning hours for a wage that was minimum many years ago.  Not that I am complaining. Most definitely not.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thirty Years Ago. . .

Some of the first books I wrote and edited at Janus Book Publishers.
Thirty years ago, I began my first day at work in the publishing industry. It was actually my second day of employment, but the first day was a holiday. I still think that was (and is) definitely a great way to start a new job—and a new career.

I had not planned to enter the publishing world. Back then, my goal was to get at least five years of teaching under my belt so I could eventually become a high school counselor or a curriculum developer in a school district. So, what happened? Simple. By the time I earned my teaching credential in social science, there were few teaching jobs. I was in another bout of unemployment when I saw the newspaper ad for an assistant editor position at a small educational publishing house. I figured it was a long chance, but heck, what did I have to lose.

Throughout the whole job selection process, I had a good feeling about the job. I had to do a writing sample, and as I worked on it, I knew that this was the type of work I wanted to do. Creating textbook materials was the best way for me to contribute to education. Alas, I did not get the job. Still, I felt like one day I would work for the company. 

Ring. Ring.  You got it. About a month later, another position became available, and I was offered that position.  Every day, for four years, I commuted from San Francisco to Hayward, about 45 minutes away, to edit and write student materials at a third grade readability for teenagers with learning, reading, and language disabilities. The interactive workbooks were used as supplementary materials by teachers to teach core curriculum subjects. Although the primary audience was teenagers, the books were also being used in regular elementary classrooms and adult basic education programs.

My time at Janus Publishing was essentially an apprenticeship. I was fortunate to work under the editorial direction of  Winifred Ho Roderman, who had been a special ed teacher and so was quite committed about developing materials that taught concepts in small, manageable, and progressive, chunks of learning. She was ruthless with her purple pencil, but so worth it. She was a visionary and fair-minded. What I especially liked about Winifred's work style was her dedication for explaining to an author or an editor why a change needed to be made to improve the manuscript. Winifred demanded excellence and I did my best to give it to her.

Let me tell you, I learned quite a lot in those four years at Janus. Not just about editing and writing professionally, and how the publishing cycle works from developing book content outlines to producing books, but also about science, mathematics, history, English, government,  home economics, and other subjects. I was actually learning basic concepts about the solar system, simple machines, human body, and earth science for the first time. I had science in grammar school and took most of the science classes in high school, but for the life of me, I do not recall learning things such as we always see the same side of the moon as it revolves around the earth, or that the inclined plane is a simple machine and a screw is an inclined plane. It blows my mind away again as I tell you those basic concepts.

I was perfect for writing the Janus workbooks. I was like the audience, a bit slow in grasping abstract concepts. I wrote and edited words, sentences, and paragraphs so I sure as darn tooting understood what was what.  It took a lot of  hard work to state tough concepts clearly and simply. But, then, that's the way everything is, isn't it?

Yep. One of the best things that ever happened for me was Winifred willing to take a chance on me—an inexperienced teacher, editor, and writer—and hire me, all based on what she perceived I could do through my writing sample.  Thank you, Winifred!

So, here I am 30 years later. Writing and editing haven't gotten any easier. But, then, why should they?