Tag Archives: employment

Better off?

I’ve heard it said that most people are better off after a layoff.  They’re happier, they have a better job, and they’re richer, if not in monetary terms then in life.

While I was upset I was laid off, I was also excited.  It was a kick to the butt.  It was the shoehorn needed to get me out of the company I was at for seven years.  I was going to write a book, find a better job, make more money.

Well, I did get some writing done, but not as much as I wanted.  I found a job, but is it better?  I’m not getting paid more, and in fact, considering the lack of benefits, am being paid less.  And it’s a contract job, so I have, essentially, more guaranteed unemployment to look forward to at the end of the contract term.

I don’t love this job or this company more than my old one at this point.  Did I love my old job?  No, but I did enjoy most of it, and there were still things I felt I could learn.  I knew the company wasn’t the best, but leaving means taking your chances on another, unknown entity.

The company I’m with now is a great company, and if I were full time permanent I would be ecstatic.  But I’m not.  I am, regardless of anything else, a second-class citizen.

It’s what you make of it, I know.  And I’m trying to make the best of it.  But right now?  No, I don’t feel that I’m better off.

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Back to Reality

After six months of being unemployed, I have a job.  It’s not perfect – I’m basically a contractor – but it’s got its plusses.

It’s a job with a large, well-known, global, Fortune 500 company (one of the top 100 companies to work for).  People have left jobs with benefits to work for the company as a contractor, without benefits, for the chance to get their foot in the door.  It’s that big a deal.

I admit, I was quite hesitant at first.  Yes, it’s a foot in the door, but the pay was much less than what I was expecting, and it’s a contract position.  So, I might be unemployed again in a year, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to collect unemployment at that point.  And, of course, no benefits, which sucks.  But…it’s a job.  At least, that’s what  people keep telling me.  I’m trying to be optimistic.

I just finished up my second week, and I feel like I’m catching on.  I think my last job provided a good base for what I’ll be doing.  I’m comfortable with the ideas behind the job requisites, although some of the terminology still eludes me.  But each company has its own language dictionary.  I’m ready to jump in with both feet, if they’ll let me, and so far they have.

It’s funny what sticks with you.  When I sit down at my computer to log in, I automatically start typing my old password from seven months ago.  I’m putting everything in terms of what I know (this role at this company is like that role at that company), which I’m not sure is a good or bad thing.  It helps me understand it better, but maybe it’s the wrong understanding.  I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Getting up at 6AM again hasn’t been too difficult – in fact, it’s been surprisingly easy.  Surprising because while unemployed, regardless of how hard I tried, it was impossible to force myself out of bed before 9AM.

Finding time to do my own thing, however, has so far been surprisingly difficult.  Not sure why I’m so surprised by it, but I am.  Obviously, I don’t have as much time to work out, read blogs, watch TV… I had no idea there were tornados in Alabama until 2 days after the fact, and I’ve barely even caught of glimpse of Kate’s dress.  I’ve been doing the bare minimum on my smartphone, keeping up with email, some blogs, and facebook.  Not sure what that says about me…  (I have now downloaded the CNN app, so hopefully I can stay a little more up to date on the news. Of course, the new beau has also gotten me addicted to Stupid Zombies, so I’m not sure I’ll get much news reading done…))

Coffee? Tea?

PBair female flight attendant at work on board...

Image via Wikipedia

Years ago, while I was living in Dallas, I briefly considered becoming a Flight Attendant for Southwest Airlines.  A brief look into it revealed very low hourly pay – about $8/an hour. 

Fast forward ten years, and I’m unemployed.  Several friends, separately, have suggested I look into becoming a flight attendant – evidently, they think I would love it and/or be perfect for it.  I admit, I think I would enjoy the lifestyle, but I still had that $8/hr figure in my head, and I also know that a Flight Attendant’s “hours” include only door close to door open of the airplane – in other words, they don’t actually get paid for the time people are boarding and deboarding, only for the time spent separated from the terminal.

Both Delta and US Airways have announced openings for flight staff in the past couple of months.  And the position pays about $20/hr.  I admit, I seriously thought about it.  But then I got onto some of the message boards and found out more information.  Like, the fact that most FA’s have second jobs, just so they can support themselves.  Many FA’s only log 80 hours a month – 80 hrs x $20/hr = $1600/mo.  Pre-tax.

And then there are those pesky passengers, you know the ones.  The ones who don’t quite grasp the concept of their chairs and traytables being in their full upright position.  The ones that can’t seem to understand that when the pilot turns on the “Fasten Seatbelt” sign, it’s probably a good idea to Sit Your Ass Down.  The ones who think that they are the only person on the airplane, and because they want to do XYZ, they should have the right to, since they “paid for the damn seat.”  This is one case that I would probably better to be able to handle the privileged set in First Class, because at least they have less to complain about.

So, yeah, no, I’m good.  Until I have no need for more than $1000/mo net, I’m going to pass.  But maybe one day…

“I need a win”

In case you haven’t guessed, I’ve been having a pretty rough time lately.  I’ve been in a serious funk for the last three to four weeks now, and I can’t seem to pull myself out of it.  I don’t know if it’s the job situation, my personal life, the holidays, my financial situation, or (most likely) a combination of all of the above.

I had a mini-meltdown on Facebook last week, and since then I’ve been trying to see the happy in each day.  “Today I am happy for central heat and warm fuzzy socks.”  “Today I am happy I have Aleve in my medicine cabinet.”  Small little things, but I thought it would be a good way to help me see the bright side of things.

It hasn’t, to be honest.  But at least I’m trying, right?

I had lunch with a good friend yesterday, and I was (reluctantly) telling him about my funk.  He nodded, he understood, he’s been there.  He said, “I was telling someone else recently, ‘I need a win.’  If I just had something go right, go well, if I just had a win, it would help.”

That’s what I think I need.  I need a win.  Not just a goal, like a bright spot in the day, but a WIN.  Yes, I have plenty of good things around me, but those aren’t quite the celebratory moments I need.

I need a response to my resume.  I need to win $500 from the lottery.  I need to win a $500 gift card to Harris Teeter (yes, I filled out their little online survey to be entered).  I need the vet to call and say my cat is perfectly healthy.  I need the mechanic to call and say, “Just kidding, it’s only going to cost $50 to fix.”

I need one of the damn stones taken off my chest.  And no more added on.

In the meantime, “22 days until 2011, and today I am happy for leftover chocolate pie filling (now a souffle) and leftover cupcakes.”

The first day of the rest of my life

This year has really been shit all around.  And I feel bad saying that, because part of this year hasn’t been all that bad.  The first two months were, obviously, difficult.  March and April were…okay.  Most of the summer was pretty good, actually – really not a lot to complain about.

But yesterday.  Yesterday was…well, I don’t want to say bad.  It could be really great, I don’t know yet.  The world is wide open at this point.

Yesterday we had our third (or is it fourth?) layoff this year at work.  And this time I got hit.  After seven years with the company.  Seems sales are low, so they’ve decided to lay off roughly 15-20 support staff.  While they’re hiring approximately 20 new salespeople.

My question, of course, is who the hell is going to do all the work once these people actually start selling?  And if the current 60 sales people can’t sell anything, what makes you think the new 20 will?

Well, I don’t have to worry about that anymore.

I’m okay.  Really.  At least that’s what I’m telling myself right now.

Ask me again later.

I know that this may get me out of my rut.  That it may lead to something truly amazing.  I get that, I’m all over that.  But in the meantime, I have the worry of being a single-income household, with no one else to help cover..mortgage…power…gas…food…

But I’m not thinking about that today.  I’m doing what I planned on doing today anyway.  I had already planned on taking today, tomorrow, and Friday off to essentially bulldoze my house.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m thinking only about what to keep and what to send to Goodwill.  I’m not thinking about next week.  Or next month.

Just today.

In the meantime, I have some really great friends.  I called my friend geauxgirl when I left work yesterday, about 10:45.  “How do you feel about having a drink before 11am?” I asked.

She instantly knew something was up, agreed to a drink without hesitation, then I told her I had been laid off.  She left work and was at my side immediately, and all day.  She and her husband have been there for me more than once, and I appreciate them more than they know.  I don’t know what I did to deserve such solid friends! (Love you guys!)

And now, how about a little joke?

This is the first time I’ve been laid all year!  🙂

Groan away.

Really? That was the best option?

“After days of public outcry,” Mecklenburg has revisited the decision to close half of the library locations.  Seems that was only one of three options originally presented when looking to cut the budget.  The other options included cutting library hours and cutting pay, each option with a different rate and number of layoffs. 

So, the board thought it would be better to close 12 locations and layoff 140+ employees, rather than cut hours and pay and layoff roughly 80 employees.

How was THAT the better option??

Wouldn’t it be better, in this economy, to keep people employed, and ensure access to a public resource?

It really makes me wonder if they did it specifically to get people riled up. 

Personally, I think the best option would be a combination of ideas.  I think that some locations can be closed without much of an uproar.  So, close some branches, cut some hours, cut some pay, and, if needed, lay a couple of people off.  It sucks, but shouldn’t the idea be to lessen the impact on everyone involved?

I love the idea of politics, or maybe I should say the ideal.  I hate the current practice.  Common sense is sorely missing in the public arena.  Kind of makes me want to (cannotbelieveI’mabouttosaythis) get into local politics.

Charlotte Mecklenburg closing 12 branch locations

On Wednesday, they announced that they would be closing 12 of the county libraries.  I was somewhat shocked – 12 seemed like an awful lot.  In fact, it’s a full half of the local libraries. 

I thought about the ones near me.  I have four locations within about 5 miles of me, so I figured three of those might close, and the biggest one, the Regional one, would remain open.

On Thursday, they announced which library locations would be closing.

All 4 of the locations near me are closing. 

From charlotteobserver.com

Here’s a map of the closings.

I live near 14, the Morrison Regional Branch that I thought they would keep open.  You’ll see that there is now a HUGE hole in the South Charlotte and East Charlotte areas.  They recently remodeled the Myers Park location (16), and it’s closing.  And the Hickory Branch location (8) is a new $5 million building that opened 6 weeks ago.  What a waste.

Meanwhile, they are keeping 7 (Freedom Regional) & 24 (West Blvd) open (see how close together they are?), as well as 11 (Downtown) and 18 (Plaza-Midwood), also close together.  (ImaginOn, 9, doesn’t really count, as it’s specifically a children’s library.)

And they’re closing 5 (Cornelius), but leaving 6 (Davidson) & 17 (North Co Regional)?  Why not close Davidson & North Co Regional and leave Cornelius open, since it’s in the  middle of the two?  (Granted, I think it’s a smaller branch, but you see my point.)

The board says they looked at “overall cost of library operations, usage levels, proximity to other branches and library size.”  I don’t think they took the proximity issue into account, based on the huge holes on the map.

Future budget cuts may reduce the library system even further, to just the downtown branch, or maybe the downtown, a North Regional, and a South Regional. 

I was absolutely sick about this when I read about it on Thursday.  And based on the comments on all the news articles online, so is everyone else.  There’s a grassroots effort to raise the $2 million needed to keep these branches open, but the deadline is Wednesday.  So far, $35,000 has been raised.  You can donate here.  The problem with this, of course, is that it only saves them this year.  More budget cuts in future years will only put them back on the chopping block.

This isn’t simply about losing libraries.  148 employees are being laid off.  People who depend on the branches for internet access, meeting locations, children’s story time, and any of the other programs the library runs, will need to find an alternative.  It’s exacerbating a problem – the unemployed who can’t afford a computer or internet access go to the library to search for jobs, but now they won’t be able to do that, or will have to drive further (or find another bus route).  Kids who can’t afford books will now have a harder time checking them out of the library, possible leading to a decline in education and/or reading levels.

Why not cut hours, or days, like the postal service?  Sure, close a few locations.  There are other ways, I think, that this could have been handled.  Charge a nominal fee for internet usage ($1/half hour?), or charge higher fines for past due books.  There will still be operating costs on the closed locations – leases that need to be fulfilled, security and maintenance for the now empty buildings. 

I’ve always joked that the way I support the local library is by paying overdue fines, because I’m almost always late with books.  Now I’m looking for another way to support the library.  Where’s a damn petition I can sign??

It could be worse

I get five weeks (25 days) of time off each year.  That includes vacation, sick time, personal days, etc.  Last year it was four weeks, but when I hit the 5 year mark with the company, I got an extra week. 

20 days is about average, at least in my experience.  In past jobs, I’ve usually had 2 weeks (10 days) vacation, plus  5 sick days, plus 3 personal days, plus some “non-premium” holidays, such as MLK or Columbus Day or the day after Thanksgiving.  So, my 20 days last year was about average, considering I only get 6 major holidays – and that does not include the Friday after Thanksgiving, which kind of sucks. 

Today, all full time employees got an additional 5 days off.  Without pay.  They’re reducing our hourly wage by 10% across a ten week span, then it will go back to normal.  In return, we get 5 days (40 hours) of extra “vacation.”  These days have to be used in the same ten week period.

I worked it out, and it’s essentially a 4.5% pay cut for the year.  It sucks, but it’s not awful.  It’s not a 10% pay cut, period.  It’s not a layoff.  The money I will be losing was just the right amount to pay off my Lasik surgery, which sucks, but, what can you do. 

I’m still making more than I was a year ago.  I still have a job.  And I get a total of six weeks of vacation this year.

It could be worse.  I know.  And I’m not complaining.