Archives for category: working

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For the past year, my daughter and I have been carpooling to work every day. We work a short distance from each other, and until she could figure out the means to buy her own car, this was our only option.

It worked out well, with the exception of our schedules. I work from 9:00 – 4:30. She has two radio shows; one from Noon – 2:00 and another from 4:00 – 6:00. Our usual daily routine was, she accompanied me to work, and sat reading at a local coffee shop until 11:30 or so, and then she’d take the keys and head to her job. At 3:30, we would meet at my office, and I would drive her to the station for her 4:00 show, and then return to my office for the last 45 minutes of my day.

That 3:30 shuffle sucks. The lot I park in for my job is 2 blocks away from my office, which may sound short, but in heat, rain or snow, that walk turns into a tiresome trek. And then, when I’m done at 4:30, I had the pleasure of waiting 1 1/2 hours for daughter to be off work. Most times I would grocery shop, but other times, when money was low, it was harder and harder to find creative ways to pass that time.

A favorite of mine was to spend a half an hour at our local animal shelter petting cats and kittens. Or sometimes I would just walk around the mall and “window” shop. For the most part that hour and a half would go by fast.

An additional burn? Sometimes our boss would let us out early.. like at 2:30 if there was little work to do. Then I’d be stuck in town for hours and hours when I could’ve been home with me feet up in front of Food Network. It also was not convenient for meals. We would not get home until 6:30 or so, and the thought of starting chicken piccata at that late time was a tiresome thought.

For a year I did this. My husband would pitch in when it worked for his schedule, but his schedule is ever changing, whereas ours was set, so most times it was me.

The commute itself would be great. We would usually spend the time talking. Sometimes we played music, but the commute was typically spent discussing a variety of things; upcoming vacations, plans for work; and it was really nice.

It all ended this week. Our children recently came into a small sum of money through the passing of a relative, and my daughter knew…this was the opportunity to buy her own car. She test drove quite a few, but in the end we decided to buy the same make and model as my car, which she was very used to driving.

I’m so happy for her. What a sense of independence this must give her. I remember when I owned my first car…you felt the world could be yours. You could go anywhere. But I’m also happy for me. While I really miss driving with her, it’s really nice to be able to just come home after work.

I’ll can always pet kittens on Saturdays…

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I don’t think it’s possible to be female in the workforce without having a couple of #MeToo stories, especially not if you’ve been a working gal since 1986.

My first encounter with sexual harassment occurred at my very first job. I was a graphic designer for Tiger Beat magazine. It was the 80’s – I was in my 20s and had a good body. Yes, I’ll admit, I wore the obligatory mini skirts and large hoop earrings.

I was in the elevator heading back up to my offices after lunch. There were two salesmen in the elevator with me…one who worked for my company and one who was a stranger to me. The stranger motioned towards me with a nod of his head and said, “I wouldn’t mind a piece of that.”

As if that weren’t bad enough, my company’s salesman said in return, “Believe me, you don’t want any.” Then the door opened and they walked out.

I was furious. While my fear of confrontation kept me from screaming in the face of that scuzzy salesman, I was angry enough to report him to the higher ups. So, I went to my publisher, an older gentleman, and told my story. With a patronizing tone he told me that comments of that sort were to be expected, especially when you wear short skirts and tight outfits.

After hoisting my jaw off the floor, I told him if that was  “company policy,” then I demanded that the men in my department wear pants wth at least 3 pleats. Who knows..I may not be able to control myself around all those good looking men in tight jeans…I may be forced to grope someone.

He laughed it off and dismissed me, but I was pissed. I also gave that salesman dirty looks for the remainder of my tenure at Tiger Beat Magazine.

The second time I felt the workplace ogles was when I had finally landed a job back in my field of graphic design. I had been working as a waitress for a while when I finally got wind of a job at a design agency in Soho. I met with the boss for an interview on a weekday night at a bar in the city.

It didn’t take long for me to realize this guy was a sleaze. He told me during the interview that perhaps he should consider dating me rather than hiring me. I pretty much ignored the red flags for the opportunity to work in my field again.

I worked for this pig for less than a year. The final straw was, as I sat with my legs crossed at my desk, he walked by, ran a finger up my leg and said, “Sweetheart, it’s time for a shave.” I quit that job to work as a cashier in a liquor store in Jersey. From swanky Soho to wearing a blue Bottle King vest in a strip mall off Route 46.

But I never regretted leaving. He begged me to stay. In the end he offered me full health coverage, parking and tolls thrown in. No thanks. I’d rather bag pints of vodka for functioning alcoholics.

It really sucks that so many women have to endure these Me Too moments…times when you just have to suck it up and take it for the sake of a paycheck, or health coverage, or God forbid, advancement.

 

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Have you ever heard of the word “snork?” If not, read the urban dictionary definition above.

Yes, it’s that gross sound someone makes when their nasal passages are filled with snot, but rather than grab a tissue and discretely and privately blow their nose, they choose option B…which is to suck said snot up their nose and swallow it. AKA the snork.

It’s a disgusting sound – loud, wet and rattling – a sound that cuts through the air and makes those who are forced to hear it shudder. Or gag.

That being said, let me share a little something with you. I have a co-worker who snorks continually, all day, every day. She’s not sick. She does not complain of constant sinus problems. She just snorks. She’ll be standing over my desk, discussing an ad design with me, and before long I am forced to hear 4 ounces of phlegm travel up her nose and into her throat.

It’s worse after she sneezes. She has one of those stunted sneezes…not a hearty “achoo!” at all. It sounds as if she is swallowing the sneeze, and to make it worse, she’ll “sneeze” about 7 times in a row. And then…then comes the snorking. Over and over again, every 15 seconds or so. *SNORK!*  *SNORK!*

I am certain she has swallowed at least 43 gallons of snot since she began working here.

How does someone develop such a disgusting habit? I mean, she’s a grown woman with children. I don’t know how she has gone this far in life without someone taking her aside and asking her if she’s ever heard of a tissue. Or that foreign practice of nose-blowing.

She did this continual and constant snorking once during a staff meeting, where the entire office was present. It was so gross to hear, and I’m still baffled that not one person called her on it. We have some folks here who can take being snarky to an Olympic level…but not a peep from anyone.

Maybe it’s just me.

Nah…it can’t be. It’s too gross a sound. I guess everyone is too chicken-shit to call her out on it. I just hope I don’t snap one day, stand up and scream…”WILL YOU PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST BLOW YOUR NOSE!”

I really don’t want that to happen. I’ve already snapped at her for being a control-freak-know-it-all. I can’t handle being the snork police as well.

Oh God…she just sneezed….

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I’ve been at my new job for a month now, and I have to say, I am really loving it.

After 2+ years of having to get permission from multiple people to take a day off, or leave early, and being chained to my desk from 9:30 to 5:30 (because God forbid the phone rings and isn’t answered IMMEDIATELY), it’s nice to be able to leave my phone-less desk and walk to get a cup of tea, or to just take a breather.

But it’s so much more than that. Because my newspaper is deeply steeped in our community, we have a presence at a lot of community functions. And with that presence comes free tickets. Free VIP tickets. Easy parking, lots of perks, and access to stuff the creme-de-la-creme of Charlottesville is used to, but I certainly am not.

For instance, next weekend I will attend the Heritage Harvest Festival at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The next weekend is Tomtoberfest, a fall block party featuring a variety of danceable musicians and bands, a dozen of the best local food trucks and an Arts & Crafts fair. And all this is free and VIP. Yippee!

In October, my office will attend an Avett Brothers concert at an outdoor venue here in town. They have reserved this space called the Party Porch, and it’s a fun time to drink and socialize with my fellow co-workers. While I don’t really know the band very well, I’m willing to give them a listen to, especially if the wine is free.

I also found out, I get to claim expenses…now there’s something new. I get money towards my cell phone, towards parking, and if I joined a gym, they kick in money for that as well. When I go to take photos for the newspaper, I get mileage.

I get to work from home on Wednesdays. My company pays for a LogMeIn subscription, so I can access my work desktop from home and get my work done while sitting in my pajamas. It’s so awesome and it really breaks up the work week, making it seem a lot shorter.

And take this past Friday…almost the whole office left early. It was the Friday before Labor day weekend, and the ad work was all done, so…we just left, two hours early. And nobody cared.

At my last job there had to be a meeting of the chiefs just to see if we could leave early during a snow storm, or the day before Thanksgiving.

It’s all so wonderful. Each day that goes by, I discover something wonderful about my new job, and I’m pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

It makes me think back to the spring. I remember being in the shower and coming to the realization that I was never going to find another job. I hated the job I was at, but after several failed interviews at other companies I realized I was stuck where I was, and it was going to be fine. There were way worse places I could be working.

And now look at me. Everything has changed, and all because I happened to look on Craigslist on the right day. I’m certain it was divine intervention…or my dad from beyond the grave giving me a nudge.

When hubby and I were talking about all these fabulous new development and how happy and satisfied I am now, he said to me, “you’re not just on a roll. You’re on a buttered roll.”

He’s so right.

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2016 has been a year of new jobs for me.

I left my job of almost three years at a high-end real estate office, to take a job as the designer for a local newspaper. I had grown to hate my job at the real estate office. It was a constant merry-go-round of bullshit work that was totally uncreative. And if something creative did come around, I was too tired and uninspired to give it much attention. But it was a job, and I had no choice but to just soldier through it each week.

So when I got the job at the local paper, I was elated…it was close to my home, and I could pretty much set my own hours…freedom at last! I loved the flexibility and the creativity. What I didn’t love was the pay. I was told it was a 30 hour a week job; I was only working 32 at the real estate office, so I figured the pay cut wouldn’t be too drastic.

Problem was, I could get the job done in 15 hours a week. I’m not sure how the previous designer could milk double the time out of the job, but my time sheet for a two week span was usually only 32 hours or so—only half of what I was expecting. This was not a good realization.

But one day I just happened to look on Craigslist in the art/media/design section, and there, I saw an advertisement for a designer at my old office. The one I was fired from back in 2012. I had applied for this job previously, but was muscled out by someone younger and hipper. Well, the problem is, the young, hip designers work there for a few years and move onto bigger and brighter futures.

So, I emailed the publisher and said, “how about hiring a seasoned pro who will remain loyal to you?” And a few days later, I had the job – the job that comes with benefits and dental.

But now, I had to tell my adorable little local paper that I was leaving…a mere six weeks after I had started. But what could I do? I cannot pass up benefits for my family, and in the long run, they understood.

 

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My new totally cool location.

The result? I started back at C-ville Weekly on August 1st and I am monumentally happy. The workspace is cool, and located on the Downtown Mall, just about the coolest place in all of Charlottesville. I can walk out the door anytime I need a break, and pick up a salad or an iced tea. I am not chained to my desk, and the work is creative and fun.

I truly feel like I have come full circle. I know when I worked there in the past I had lots of complaints. But, the management is new, and I know what it’s like to try to find a job with benefits at my age. I am so grateful to have been given another chance, and I’ll work my hardest to make sure I don’t disappoint them.

 

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I know, I know…I’ve been remiss in keeping up with my blog. Shame on me. But in my defense, things have been really crazy this month.

I started my new job as the editorial designer for the Fluvanna Review. It’s a little paper that serves the rural county I live in. It’s no New York Times, but it keeps the locals informed. What I love about it is a) It’s creative, b) the hours are flexible, and c) it’s a 4 minute drive from my house.

My other job, designing for a high-end real estate office, has been a real emotional roller coaster. Before I left for vacation, my understanding was I’d work from home Monday & Tuesday, and be in the office the rest of the week.

But when I got into the office the Wednesday after vacation, my boss handed me a pile of ads to be worked on, and said “oh, I almost forgot. We really need someone here 5 days a week, so we are trying out someone new on Monday and Tuesday.” The gist was, if she worked out, I’d be out for good.

Part of me was shocked.  I mean, they didn’t even try to see if my new schedule would work. The other side of me understood where she was coming from.

The entire office, my boss being the main offender, is very used to me being their little graphics monkey…I am here to perform for them at will. They don’t like the idea of having to wait, or having to think ahead. With me at my desk 5 days a week, they can give me last-minute stuff, and I get it done. But that doesn’t wash if I’m only in the office 3 days a week- this requires them to schedule my time, and they don’t like that at all.

But it turns out they don’t really like this new girl. She’s 100% capable of doing the job – hell she’s even a real tech wiz, which I am not. But her interpersonal skills suck. She’s a bit of a know-it-all, and she has already clashed heads with the boss in the course of two weeks.

My only problem with her is that I’m not even gone yet, and she’s moved a ton of my files around. Now when I open an ad or a postcard, nothing links. If they wind up canning her (and that’s the word that’s going around) I’ll be stuck trying to undo all her crazy reorganizing.

So with all this PLUS my three other freelance jobs (yes, at present I have FIVE jobs), it’s no wonder I haven’t had the time to write about my silly little life. I hope that once the dust settles, I’ll have more time to devote to being Typical Tracy.

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My family and I leave for our annual Florida vacation in a few days. While I’m looking forward to sunning myself on Flagler Beach and sipping wine in my dad’s pool, I am not looking forward to the 12 hour drive. I am also not happy about having to leave our poor kitty alone for a week, but then, coming home to a super loving pet who is so very thankful that you came back to him is nice.

It sort of takes the sting out of the fact that your vacation is over for another year. There’s been a lot going on in my life over the past few weeks, and here it is in a nutshell;

Good News! My oldest is home for the summer and working as a paid intern at a local radio group in the promotions department. With only two cars in the family, it’s been a bit of a schedule shuffler dropping her off and picking her up from various gigs, but she needs the credits in order to graduate, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

I love when she’s home. Our family is complete again.

Bad News: Her ex-roommates are a bunch of inconsiderate tools. When we went to move her out of her quad dorm apartment there was a ton of stuff left in the kitchen and one of the bathrooms. When the RA came to sign off on the stuff we cleaned up, she informed us that all the other girls had “checked out” leaving us to clean up the mess.

Left behind was a very large TV, a microwave, a toaster, a fridge FULL of spoiling food, cabinets FILLED with half eaten food and canned goods, pots, pans, a shower curtain, mops and cleaning supplies, NONE OF WHICH were ours. I had my daughter send them a text calling bullshit, and informing them that ALL OF THEIR STUFF was getting thrown out. They knew she was the last to go and left us with their shit to clean up. What total assholes.

Good News! I sort of got a new job. A local newspaper with an office two miles from my home remembered me from a previous interview and called to see if I was still interested in working for them. It’s only part time, so I worked out a new schedule with my current part-time employer(s). They are very flexible on time, which I love, especially during summer when my youngest daughter has little to do at home.

Bad News: One of my bosses isn’t thrilled about this arrangement, but is willing to see how it plays out. I am reducing my in office hours, and there might be times when they will feel the crunch because in essence I am less of a graphic designer here and more of a fall back receptionist. There are days where I just sit here and sit here with little to do but answer the phones. It’s boring. But I don’t want to just quit because with all my salaries combined, our family might not feel such a financial pinch once all the bills are paid, and that’s a very good thing.

Bad News: My “new” used car began sputtering on my way to work this morning. It was then I realized I was on “E” and spent the next 10 minutes white-knuckled and praying that I would make it to the gas station before it totally conked out. After filling her up, I hopped back in thinking “problem solved!’

Nope.

My car was bucking, shaking, and idling very rough, and I was in a full blown panic because our 30 warranty was up 9 days ago. After dropping my daughter off at her job, I limped the car to the dealership. The sales manager hopped in the car to test it, and the dude who sold us the car reassured me that all would be good.

Good News! Less than 15 minutes later, my car was fixed and at NO CHARGE. How often does that happen??? These guys are the best, and I will use Price Kia in Charlottesville for a long as I live here.

Good News! A bit of bonus good news – had to get new blood work done, my doctor called to say everything was normal. EVERYTHING? That was the best new of all.

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While technically it’s not spring yet, our local real estate market begs to differ. Spring is the hot time to put new listings on the market, re-introduce old ones to potentially new buyers, and sell, sell, sell.

What this means for me?
Work, work, work.

I just went through 5 days of non-stop crazy work. Every agent needed flyers, every agent needed a mailchimp to go out, I had no less than 4 ads due…my legal pad was three pages long with to-do’s from more than a dozen agents.

There were times I wanted to cry. On Friday I had to put in two extra hours, which went unnoticed and unrecognized, unlike the time I was an hour late due to snow where EVERYONE noticed.

I was churning stuff out like a machine…and I have to admit I had my fair share of mistakes. Turns out, I’m not that great under pressure. I can get the work done, but it needs to be thoroughly checked by a sane person.

On a nice note, one of my agents left me a pot of tulips on my desk with a thank you balloon. At least someone noticed I was losing my mind.

Today was far less hectic. It’s Tuesday and that means Broker’s Open Houses…half the agents in my office were either holding an open house or visiting one. It was blissfully quiet…at one point I was here all alone.

But today, at roughly 2 pm – I crossed the last thing off my legal pad. I had caught up with everything.

Ahhhh – until the next rush of must have’s comes in.

 

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Today while taking my lunchtime walk, I was amazed by the number of people who got in my way. I mean, on an average walk in downtown Charlottesville, I may cross paths with a few people, but today? It was like Grand Central.

And it wasn’t just passing people on the street. It was intersecting at a corner where one of us had to stop or we’d simply collide. Or on several occasions I would meet up with a group of people walking together, none of whom would make room for my passage.

I have to tell you, all that stopping and starting? It got a little annoying.

And it made me think, why now? I mean, if I had left my office 38 seconds later or earlier, I may not have met up with any of these people – the sidewalks may have been all mine, or doubly as crowded. You just never know.

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This morning had to be late for work. My daughter’s school had a two hour delay, which meant school started at 10:25. I’m supposed to be at work at 9:30. I was fully aware of the deficit in time.

I had discussed this with the office manager yesterday, saying that I would stay late to make up the time – today is one of my half days at work, and I’m usually off at 1:30. I figure no biggie, I’ll stay until 3.

I am always very honest about my time. I hate being late, I hate feeling like I’ve cheated my employer of hours. If I’m stuck in traffic getting back from lunch on Monday, I will come in 15 or 20 minutes early on Tuesday to make it right – even if they don’t know about the deficit in time. It’s about keeping it equal and right in my mind that counts.

That being said, one of the first emails I read this morning was from my boss, saying I needed to make up the time today or tomorrow, not “after hours.” I quickly responded saying that I wasn’t sure what “after hours” meant, but that I planned on staying until 3 pm today.

It turns out she was concerned I might try to “make up the hours” during times when we were out of the office, like before or after closing. And I was super insulted at this.

I’ve been here over two years, and I don’t feel like I’ve given them any reason to doubt my honesty. I have only asked to work from home because of bad weather and in sickness – and only on a handful of occasions. All other times I am at my desk, at the ready for whatever is asked of me.

I thought of the conversation I’d had with my daughter on our way to school this morning. I told her I had to stay late at work to make up the time, and not to worry if I were a wee bit late picking her up. I further went on to say that in the future, if she had late openings, she may have to get herself ready and take the bus because I can’t be late for work too often.

And when I get to work, I see that email which makes me feel like if the boss hadn’t said anything, she figures I might have tried to scam out of making up the time.

What insults me more, is an hour and a half deficit is immediately red flagged and commented upon. Yet the fact that I regularly show up early to work, sometimes 3o minutes or more, is forgotten. I can assure you that I am in the red when it comes to hours. They owe me way more than I owe them.

It was a cruddy way to start my day. I feel so devalued. Like I’m just 30 man hours per week…nothing more.