Tag Archives: Job

Respite

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I have, as has become my usual, plenty to complain about. I have been so tired lately, I can hardly think straight. It is starting to take a toll. I was so grouchy yesterday at work, my co-workers could hardly stand me.

This time of year gets so busy, so quickly, whether we know it’s coming or not, it’s impossible to prepare for it. Compounding the Memorial Day rush of people coming to Beaver Island to open their summer homes, the hardware store has, over the course of the last week, received:

  • a new four-foot display of Milwaukee drill bits and accessories,
  • a new eight-foot display of paint color samples,
  • about four hundred gallons of paint including new products all needing to be arranged on shelves,
  • several boxes of T-shirts and other gift shop items,
  • a large shipment of dog food,
  • a huge hardware store order and
  • two large orders of plants: flowering annuals and perennials, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs.

On top of all that, the owner is taking veterinary appointments, running for office and rehearsing for a play. Of the employees, every single one of us has other jobs – often several – to contend with in our spare time.

I do the scheduling for the hardware store. I make a good wage, but I don’t get extra for doing the schedule. I try to carefully consider what every one wants in terms of hours or days, with respect to their families and other obligations. My goal is to have enough help without being over-staffed. It seems I have almost never gotten it right. Days like yesterday, when exhaustion has put me in a bad mood anyway, I’d like to hand that job over to the next person that speaks up about it, and let them see how thankless it is!

Thank God I have dogs!

If I didn’t have dogs, I would think of twelve things that should be tackled right away when I stepped into my house, and there would be no pause after work. Dogs need fresh air and sunshine, though, after being home all day. Dogs need love and attention.

When I get home from work, their smiles and wagging tails welcome me. We load in the car for a drive to Fox Lake. Windows down to let in the breeze, the drive alone helps to release tension. At the lake, the dogs explore and play. Sometimes I take photos; sometimes I read. I let the view of the water and the movement of the trees do their work. By the time we pile into the car for the ride home, I have let go of all of the day’s aggravations.

Then, I’m ready for the evening’s work.

The Facts

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It seems that rumors are swirling around, here on Beaver Island.

Just coming out of a long winter, that’s not surprising.

It does surprise me when the talk is about me.

That is rare. I keep a low profile.

Rumors suggest that I am planning to leave Beaver Island; fed up, disappointed, I am moving away.

I worry about how that makes people feel.

Those people who have supported my endeavors, employed me, helped me when I’ve needed it. Those who’ve made sure I had heat, or transportation, or wine as the situation warranted it. Those who have been my friends.

Let me set the record straight.

Beaver Island and its people have not disappointed me.

This place has always felt like home to me; that has not changed.

I love almost everything about my life here.

However, I have been sending out resumes.

Well, more accurately, I sent out one resume…which led to a quick trip downstate for an interview, a nice chat with a group of hard-working administrators, and a kind letter of rejection.

And that’s okay.

I may send out more. I am looking into possibilities.

Over the years, I’ve come to many forks in the road, and made decisions based on what seemed most sensible at the time. Sometimes, the options were limited. It often seemed like other, outside, circumstances played a large role in the choices I made. There were always reasons.

But when are reasons only excuses?

How often did fear dictate my choice?

Or a desire to not move out of my comfort zone?

Recently, faced with the possibility of working in a career that would enable me to use my skills, education and capabilities in a creative manner, I realized how much I wanted to do that.

I also realized how weary I am of working without ever getting ahead. I’ve had some good jobs that allowed me to pay the bills, which is grand, and a big source of pride for me. But even in a job that kept me inside from dawn to dusk much of the year, I couldn’t actually afford to finish my house or take on a car payment. A roof repair, broken appliance or sick dog would throw my budget off for a year.

I’ve also been thinking that I would like to retire someday. I have done nothing to prepare for that.

So, I’ve been thinking of making a terrifying leap into a real career at this late stage.

I’m sixty years old. If I’m going to do something, the time is now.

But, the job market is not great, there are still limitations beyond my control, and I’m pretty old. The possibility is real that my endeavors will be met with other letters of rejection.

That’s okay, too.

I am not unhappy here. Not fed up with Beaver Island, not disappointed in its people.

I am happy to have a job, happy to serve, happy on Beaver Island.

Enough of Hopefulness

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Enough of planning, optimal thinking and expecting the best.

It all leads to disappointment, I think.

My friend Chris is a die-hard optimist.

We are friends in misery.

With busy lives, we go weeks or months without a good visit. But, when her sons are arguing or her job is not working out or her husband is making her unhappy, she turns to me. And, when heartbreak is upon me, Chris will always listen, and understand.

Her catchphrase is, “It will all work out,” as she relates tale after sorry tale; “It will be okay,” as she listens to my tales of woe.

I have teased her that we should carve on her gravestone, “It finally all worked out”.

I have taken her by the shoulders and asked, “When?? You tell me when has it ever all worked out?!”

My sister Brenda is the most positive person I know.

She’s a strong believer in the power of thought and visualization.

She believes in always looking at the bright side.

When I am wasting too much time on self-pity and need a good pep talk, Brenda is the one I call. When I’m afraid of a challenge and want to hear words of encouragement, I always know Brenda has them. I have to be selective, though.

I once phoned her, heart-broken and sobbing over a break-up.

“Aren’t you glad that happened?”, she asked, “Better now than after you invested any more time…”

“I’ve gotta go,” I whimpered, “I’ve got to call Chris.”

Personally, I lean toward pessimism.

I prefer to be prepared.

I like to keep the “worst-case scenario” always in my mind.

The very worst rarely happens, so it’s a pleasant surprise when the outcome is something less than total disaster.

I think this attitude has kept me smiling through years of disappointment.

Recently, though, I let my guard down.

A job opening became available here: Director of the Beaver Island District Library.

I felt like I was born for that job. From my love of reading and writing to my knowledge of books and my lifelong haunting of libraries and bookstores…from my education in literature and the fine arts to my grant-writing ability and my work with children at the school…to my public relations skills and my generally smiling demeanor and my desire to please…it was the perfect job for me.

It would also be a life changer. With a pay scale of double what I’ve ever made annually, and quadruple what I am earning now, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

My social security would be pumped up, so that it might eventually be enough to live on. That would move my retirement up to six to ten years from now…rather than at death, as I had originally planned. It would allow me to make repairs and replacements that have otherwise been impossible…to pay down my mortgage…to, for once in my life, not have to worry about every cent.

Others encouraged me.

I allowed myself to dream.

It felt like every decision good and bad that I had made in life to this point had led me to this place.

It felt like validation…as if the universe was telling me I was worthy of good things.

I poured my heart and soul into it.

Though I’ve written dozens of resumes and cover letters before, I read three new books on the process. I spent two long nights fine-tuning my submission before sending it off to daughters and sisters to approve and make suggestions. I lost another night’s sleep when I realized – too late – that a misspelled word had gotten past all of us.

There was a long wait before the library board went through the submissions.

I researched libraries – small libraries in particular – to learn about organization, funding and management. I took notes; I asked questions. I filled page after page with ideas.

I made it through the first and second cut, and was scheduled for an interview.

My hopes soared.

“Don’t even think that it won’t happen,” I told myself.

Picture it. Believe it.

But be prepared for the interview.

I tackled sample questions over the telephone with my sister.

I continued gathering ideas.

I planned a library blog…Garrison Keillor-esque, Books in Northport-like, non political, newsy and fun. I wrote the first three submissions in my head.

By this time I had more than thirty pages of notes and ideas. I read them and re-read them so that I could speak from knowledge, not by rote.

I tried on every single thing I planned to wear, to make sure there was not a speck of hardware paint or restaurant grease anywhere.

I made an appointment to get my hair cut. Brenda advised me against it, remembering me throwing the brush at the mirror over bad hair when we were kids. We agreed, it could be a confidence builder or a confidence killer, depending on how it turned out. I opted to get the new hair-do, and it turned out well.

I got up at four A.M. on Friday, to prepare for my nine o’clock interview.

I ate a light, high-protein breakfast early.

Took the dogs for a short walk.

Visualized success. Thought only positive thoughts.

Went over my notes, once again, before going to the interview.

I maybe talked a little too much at times, and stammered over a couple questions, but I felt good about it.

Brenda and I talked that night as if I already had the job. I planned kind letters to the other interviewees, and letters of thanks to all who had encouraged me.

I did not get the position.

The news was delivered halfway through my lunch shift at the Shamrock yesterday. As the news hit the social media sites, people came in to tell me, or to ask if I’d heard. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to cry in public. When they’d try to hug me or say, “Sorry,” I had to warn them away. Too much kindness would break down my guard, and I would fall apart.

I did that when I got home. I cried so much that my jaw aches and my cheeks are chapped. I have a headache that is probably the result of dehydration from shedding too many tears. That doesn’t often happen.

It feels unfair, but the entire process was more than fair.

It feels like I was cheated, but that’s not the case, either.

The problem is not in the result.

The problem is that I was not prepared for it.

Jack Kerouac said, “Accept loss forever.” That’s good advice.

I’m done with hopefulness.

UNemployed

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Well, let’s see…after two days of high drama at work  (none of which directly affected me, but anyone that works knows everyone is affected), I drove home Wednesday evening, took the dogs for an especially long and thoughtful walk, sat down at the computer and composed a letter, quitting my job. After considerable pacing and arguing with myself, I hit the “send” button.

There.

Done.

I slept like a baby that night.

I had stood up for myself, and my friend. I had spoken my mind in a way I am often too timid to do, but not unkindly.

I woke Thursday morning with the world laid before me, pregnant with possibility.

A morning to linger over coffee and then take a long walk.

A day to give the house a thorough cleaning: I tell you, if my floors had eyebrows (which they probably could have fashioned from the dust that was accumulating), the eyebrows would have been raised in wonderment at the attention they were given that day. I actually removed the sofa cushions to vacuum underneath; under normal circumstances, that rarely happens twice in a season! I cleared the dining room table, which had been looking quite a bit like a work station, and gave it a bouquet of peonies to celebrate.

A day for getting work done outside: I spent actual hours digging and weeding in the garden, trimming around the stones and trees in the yard, picking strawberries and watering everything.

A day for getting caught up on things in the studio: I assembled frames and unwrapped plexiglass. I matted and mounted new work. I knocked down and cleared out a bunch of cardboard shipping boxes. I finished writing out a plan for Drawing Classes to be offered this summer.

A day to spend time with my dogs: I thawed a packet of sliced turkey and worked on some of the training methods I’ve learned from watching “Dogs in the City”. It turns out, those television dogs are faster learners than mine…or maybe there’s some editing involved. We fit in three long walks, and one nice afternoon nap.

A time for contemplating my future: I balanced my checkbook and went through my bills. I checked the “forum” for job possibilities. I made a few lists, and a few calls.

In addition to all this, the man came out to do my roof repair. He even fixed my screen door while he was here!

I fixed myself a simple meal and ate at the dining room table with a cloth napkin, a lit candle and a glass of wine.

It was a wonderful day, with not one moment of regret.

Until bedtime.

When my head hit the pillow, my heart started pounding.

What had I done???

I had placed my principles above my security.

That would be fine, if I were independently wealthy…or even had a reasonably-sized savings account…or if I had a husband to help support the house-hold…or had another job in the works…

Principles are fine, but they don’t pay the bills.

What followed was not pretty.

Six hours of tossing and turning, pacing the floor and self-recrimination. I wavered between extreme worry and all-out panic. I cried once. I fell asleep, finally, at five A.M.

Yesterday, I picked myself up after two hours rest and gave myself a good “talking-to”. I am a good worker. I have skills that are useful. I am not too old to be of service.

I started making – and taking – calls. By early afternoon, I had a job.

And my unending gratitude goes out to the universe.

Unemployment does not sit well with me for long.