Tag Archives: work

Accurate map is accurate, or, why are your riding your bike in the snow?

If you haven’t seen this tweeted revision of the Boston transit system yet, it’s pretty accurate right now.  People can’t get to work, kids can’t get to school on time, I had an epic three-hour commute the other morning that will be the subject of a Viking Saga someday, and the T, when it does run, breaks down with no warning.  People are starting to have to get back to Colonial roots, when we walked everywhere.   Everywhere.  I walked two miles in the snow the other week during work hours (it only took 45 minutes each way), it being easier to bring snowshoes into work for this meeting that to 1) take the T, 2) unpark my car and try to drive there or 3) try to get a cab and get stuck in traffic while at least being able to catch up on email on my phone.  Yep.  I snowshoed to a business meeting.  It was the best possible use of my time for something that couldn’t be rescheduled.

Everything is being rescheduled.

Not pictured in the above accurate map; none of the purple lines (AKA the Commuter Rail) work, the bus lines are curtailed as well, and if you try and drive anywhere, the snow piles are all 4+ feet high, 2 lanes are 1, 1 lane is a half a lane, the streets aren’t fully plowed (or get plowed once, before the lazy drivers take a week to shovel their cars out and then throw all the snow into the street, may their assignment in hell be to shovel neatly uphill forever), and there are BICYCLISTS who are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN THE SNOW who are then mad because they are RIDING THEIR BIKES IN SNOW and there isn’t room for them on the road IN THE SNOW with the cars.

At least the pedestrians on the road I can understand, since the sidewalks are only intermittently cleared, people have to walk places or wait for buses that never come, and pedestrians don’t weave in and out of the cars and thump your car when they pass and yell at you for being in their lane (what lane? there aren’t any lanes? it’s a three lane road that is currently a half a lane because of the SNOW!) and otherwise behave like someone I would definitely not offer a job to.

Not that that happened, at all, this week, when someone cut me off on Huntington Ave, slowed down long enough with their distinctive gear to shoot me the finger, then proceeded on their merry way, doing the same antisocial thing to two other drivers (car thumping included, property damage, what?) only to show up an hour later for a job interview with the same distinctive gear.

I know.  I am a petty, bourgeois middle-aged capitalist.  I did give him feedback about why he did not get the job, and said that it was based both on my observations of him being hyperaggressive and antisocial in traffic, as well as his aggressive flirting with a lesbian front desk worker who told him she wasn’t interested and he continued to act like the Fedora he was.

Still.  BIKES IN SNOW.  LOL, No.

It isn’t full circle

It isn’t full circle, I have to tell myself that, when I find myself in a chair no one held six years ago when I was falling apart and people asked, “Was I doing okay,” but took it at mostly face value when I said yes, then let me fall apart and drop off the face of the earth, only to slowly scotch tape, duct tape, Krazy glue myself back together with no one’s particular help (no matter how much I did try to ask, too little too late, but still, I did ask and they vowed, marital, Hippocratic, parental, but still, they all failed, when asked they unanswered).

It isn’t full circle, I have to tell myself that, that I now sit in the chair that no one held six years ago and tell the truth I did not want to hear.  ”You are not doing okay,” I say, and lay out the hard options, which are take the time off which is some hardship, or take the exit and the door will hit you hard in the ass on the way out, and trust me, that will take longer to recover from.  I don’t say, “I’ve been there,” but I do say that maybe the time off will give them time to straighten things out, and if not, at least give them time to make a more graceful exit.  It’s hard to be kind, but if it’s not kind, it’s true, and it’s a truth no one told me and a tough love I had to learn all by myself (a love for myself I had to learn, too, when the people who owed me nothing didn’t bother to extend me anything, either).

So, no. It isn’t full circle.  It’s miles and loops and six years ahead of myself. And fuck yes, it’s hard, because I want to cry with them, too, and cry for myself, for who I was then and still always will be, just a bit, always a little raggedy-broken unevenly stuck to myself in places it hurts to detach myself from to sit in a different chair than where I ever expected to be— but that is the joy and the pain of learning and growing and doing something for others that no one bothered to do for you.

It isn’t full circle, it’s a line, and it’s a line going forward. That’s better.

Lost & found

Again with this job, like the last retail one, I started off at a small store, moved to a big one.  I always make the mistake of wanting to believe that my work friendships are more than they are, that they’ll last my leaving a place.  I’m usually wrong.  I thought that this time, it might be different because of all the hippie-dippie values and the bonding experience (war trauma?) of opening a store and becoming one big retail family.  Turns out, not so much.  Continue reading

La Lupa

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I am frequently asked if I have children– I don’t ask people why they ask me that question.  Is it because I am a woman of a certain age and it’s a “natural” assumption to believe that women over 25 should have children?  Is it because I’m not obviously a hyper-masculine bull-dyke and I wear Mary-Janes with quirky socks that coordinate with my clothes that are straight out of an L.L. Bean catalogue?  Is it because my behavior codes as maternal, in my brusque & busybody kind of way?  Is it because I work in a “helping” job and am usually the one with the common sense and resources/information to untangle people’s messes for them?  How do these qualities come to be associated with maternal/”do you have kids?” rather than just “oh my God, you people are idiots, step aside and let me fix this,” which is sometimes what my inner narrator feels like a lot of the time?  I try not to let that uncharitable & condescending sentiment show outside my head if I can.  Is it just that we live in a society where asking about children is part of trying to get to know who someone is?  (Why is that?) Continue reading

Ask for it

If there’s something you want, something you need, ask for it.

You have to ask for it, because it’s the only way to make sure you’re going to get it.

Other people aren’t psychic, much less as attentive or empathetic as we’d like them to be.  You might mention it once, but what’s the off chance they’ll 1) remember and 2) care enough amidst the noise in their own heads to act on your expressed need or desire?

This bleak fact, that at the end of the day, we ourselves are the only ones who can make sure we get what we need, what will make us sane, healthy, happy, and that the people we care or love about, by DNA-roll-of-the-dice or by choice may not be able to deliver, even with prompting, is the hardest lesson of being a “grown-up,” and the one I struggle with all the time.

Asking for help, rather than expecting people to see I need it– asking for hugs, or giving them out so I can get one in return– repeating myself over and over about “no, I do not want to celebrate my birthday and it’s not a thing that’s going to happen,” and then carrying through rather than caving– expressing the need for solitude, or quiet, or to not be the one making decisions about anything from what’s for dinner to how some social activity ought/not to go– these are all exquisitely hard at times, especially when I do manage to say them clearly around the hesitations of not wanting to feel like I am actually as bossy/ bitchy/ a spoilsport/ just acting crazy again as other people might think I am for standing up for myself.  Other peoples’ reactions and criticisms are still really wounding.  I still get really paranoid around silence, and overanalyze what’s going on in that silent reaction.

Brene Brown writes in her books about shame versus guilt– that shame is silencing & paralyzing, but guilt isn’t.  I haven’t read enough of her books to have worked out my own processes to pinpoint all the things that make me shame-turtle, but the “you shouldn’t need help and it’s wrong to ask for it” message clearly got driven home at some point.  At some point, my incapacity to competently and intelligently handle a situation all on my own (even when, objectively, it’s more than any one person could handle), or my need for others to give me some positive emotional reinforcement got deeply entwined with my being a “bad” person if I had to ask for help.  If it was freely given, then maybe it was something I could consider accepting (although even then it was suspect, because I have known lots of people who were just manipulative in the end and that reinforced the “don’t ask” button in a different way).  In the meantime, I put on a brave face or a brusque face or just straight out lie.

And asking doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the help that you need.  You might get half-measures, or none, and have to still do it yourself, with the anti-climax of breached trust in your fellow humans.  (Hooray!?!  At least it tells you who not to waste your energy on? Framing shit as teachable moments just sucks.)  Sometimes, you’ll get help from unexpected quarters– and that’s good, in the end, but can be complex if you’ve been less than gracious to those folks beforehand, and so you’ve got to reevaluate your own shitty behavior.

I’m writing this on day one of my leave of absence, after precisely two hugs (freely given) and four and a half well-meant expressions of taking it easy or good luck or likewise from direct coworkers. I did get several more well-wishes from folks in my working group, and some unexpected help from that quarter, too– which means, again, that I have to examine the divide between my own self-perception and others’ willingness to help when asked not by me, but my boss. I am seriously questioning how long I will stay at my job once I return, having talked myself off the ledge of trying to quit while I’ll out– but the larger question of the cluelessless and/or disinterest of most of my coworkers and my need to look at what I can do to prevent future overexertion as well as to identify– what is it I like about the job, in case I do decide to look elsewhere, what I need to change in this workplace in me and in others for me to tolerate staying, and what conversations I need to have with colleagues & higher ups to see what would work.

Of course, there are other things to do.  Sleep.  Read.  Socialize.  Tackle the garden.  File for divorce.  Get my dad’s mortgage resettled.  Other family health & legal projects.  They will be good distractions and anxiety-reducers around the hard work of “how did I get here again,” and “how do I ask for what else I need to keep going?”

 

Not helpful

Today, I said no.  That was something I did right, because setting boundaries and holding them is something I have a huge problem with.  In addition, telling them no was the right thing to do because I wasn’t really competent to say yes, in the professional sense of giving answers to questions presented.

Today, I told someone at work who came to me for help that what they wanted (immigration and green card assistance for their wife, specifically, logging in to create an online account and then paying for things) was something that I wasn’t comfortable with, and that they needed to either do it themselves or use one of these (*insert montage of me googling & printing*) several immigration-specific resources outside the store who know all about this kind of thing.

And then I said no, again, and again, and again, because he was arguing with me about why I wouldn’t do it even when I said “I’m sorry, this isn’t something I’m trained to do, here are some places that have people who are, I could really mess something up and I am not going to do this for you.”  He was really unhappy with me, but I’m an HR manager– not a social worker– and one of the larger systemic problems at this store is kind of a nanny-state issue where people wander in to my office and ask me to wipe their noses for them.  The pushback when I refuse is really amazing.  Petulant, too.

(I also managed not to laugh in the face of the person who said– “Someone told me I have to file taxes?  Is that really true?”  When I assured him that indeed, he did have that obligation, and that he could in fact pay a sizeable fine if he did not, and that this was why, in fact, I had chased him to file new withholding certificates, he was in awe of the idea that he had, you know, duties as a citizen and an adult.  I think I was too baffled in the moment by “where does he think the money goes if not into returns?” to laugh, but still.  I am counting it as a thing I did right.)