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So 2009 has been quite a ride of a year. It started out a lot better than it is finishing, that's for sure, but now I'm happy to try to dust some of this off and get going again in 2010.

You know, it's hard not to write out the year without hitting zero twice. i don't know how many times at work I've tried typing 20010. That's just not going to work.

One of the best memories of the year was on the cruise that seems so long ago. I met some great people on the cruise to Mexico. Really, the cruise could have gone just about anywhere, that didn't really matter. We did so little about seeing things off the ship.

Personally, I think if I go on a cruise that isn't all gay it would just be weird. The all-gay cruise is just such a unique little bubble of non-reality. It's great.

I just remember being on this large ship, on the 12th floor above the Pacific Ocean as another cruise ship was going the other way and I wondered if there was someone on the top deck of that ship, up late at 2 in the morning, watching our ship going by. There's seemed rather quiet, moving through the sea, while ours was alive with lights of all colors and DJ Rotten Robbie spinning the then new Po-po-poker Face single into the dark night.

It was a rather surreal moment. Sometimes you wish life could always be like that...minus the sea-sickness!

I know most people would say the worst moment was when they were fired, but that just doesn't seem like it to me. I guess I was able to keep my spirits going for a little bit as I had hope that I would find something new.

I'm not sure what was the worst moment. It might have been the moment when I realized that the new job was not only a start at the bottom, but not the opportunity that I was hoping it would be, and I felt a bit stuck. That or it might have been the moment where a little white lie was caught (trying to fudge that I was fired, not just laid off) and the prospect of a better paying job was yanked away from me. It was that moment when I realized that getting back to a job that used my experience and would give me some return to a better salary was going to be a lot harder than I had thought.

So the cusp of 2010 leaves me in a quandary. Do I start looking for a job again, or do I try to tough it out for a while in a job I don't like? Can I make the current employer better? Will I have the ability to make a difference here, or is the corporate culture too hard to move, especially from the bottom of the totem pole?

And if we are looking towards something new, what is it? I don't know if I can easily go back to financial services, and I bitched enough about it before, is that really what I want to return to? The money can be good, and it's nice to keep valuable licenses active, but ... Let's face it, I don't know what I'm really good at, and I don't really know what to look for. I think some more thought is needed here.

Since I haven't written in a while, I just wanted to say Chris and I had a great time in San Diego a few weeks back, and my love affair with California continues. The people of San Diego were friendly, the place beautiful even despite the cool and rainy weather. loved the zoo and Balboa Park and the Hole. I want to go back, and hopefully catch a ball game. Great meeting up with Dave, Mike, Brian, Justin, JP, Henry, Hadrian and many other great people. It was also fun seeing Shannon and Luke there on their first weekend as new residents. Maybe Chris and I will join you some day.

Speaking of baseball, the ball game at Dodger Stadium with Paul and Bobaloo back in April was the only baseball game I saw all year. I had hoped to see another game last summer, but having no cash flow kind of killed it. Here's hoping I'll get an opportunity this summer to catch a game or to and keep up my quest to see all of the stadiums before I'm 50. I've got about 15 to go, so I need to get on it!

Lastly, by sister has been here the last couple of days and it's been nice to have here here. It felt a little nicer to share Christmas this year with a little family of Chris, Laura and of course Joey.

Well, here's hoping that 2010 (or 20010) brings some good things to all of us and new doors will open. After this last half a year, I could use a lottery win in some form or another.

Crap.

Oct. 24th, 2008 08:33 am
eggwards: (Uphill Climb)
It's minutes from the opening of the stock market and all of the futures, all of the other world markets results overnight point to a large drop for the market today.

I'm tired of this. I'm sick of talking about the market and telling people how much of their savings they have lost, especially retirees who are counting on this. People are looking to me for guidance, but I can only give them a "wait it out." It's maddening. Where the hell is the bottom of this decline?

I'm also tired of pictures of stock brokers looking dismayed every single day.

We have a set up that people can get more specific advice, but they have to wait for an appointment. The advice specialists only tell them to diversify and wait it out. I have stopped referring people to the advice councilors because they don't tell them anything new, or anything that would belay their fears right now.

I so hate my job right now. Folks, I don't know when things will be better. I can change you out of certain investments, but I can't change the investments themselves, and yes I know some of them have lost 40% or more. It's awful. And from the looks of it, it's here to stay a while.

It took decades for the market to get to it's high, which was about this time last year. It may take a very long time to see your savings get back to where they were.

Aren't you happy that we've all left pensions behind and were told to save in our 401(k)s for retirement. Yeah, that was a great move.

Well, the Dow opened at 250 points down...we'll see where it goes from here.

EDIT: well, now it's down nearly 500 - in just minutes, and if it falls more than 1,100 points - as some have suggested, we'll see a halt in trading for the day. This could be a really fucked up day.


ANOTHER EDIT - 3:00CT: Well, it looks like we've staved off total market meltdown, closing down a little over 300 points. Given the predictions this morning, it's a little surprising, but that's the way it goes. I've learned never to make predictions when it comes to finances.
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Over the last few days the stock market has gone from bad to worse, and at my job, calls are spiking. We've been asked to work more overtime and take short lunches. The callers have become more and more agitated, searching for any information they can. For me, it's been tough.

I've never been in a position where I had to actually council people about their finances. I've always been behind the scenes working on issues, but never have had to guide someone into a decision of whether they should sell out of an investment, or buy into another. In a way, I can't actually tell people what to do, but I can provide guidance. Still, that's very difficult.

My job is a telephone councilor for people. In some ways I do simple things like address changes and getting out paperwork to people, but in others I have retirees worried that the value of their account has declined as well as people who have lost their job who are needing the money even though the taxes will eat up about 35% of what they take out.

It's been difficult. Funds invested in the stock market have declines more than 30% this year, a remarkable number. Still, for some people, you try to tell them to wait it out. It's all about the buy low, sell high idea, but then you have people who will be needing the cash for retirement in the next few years. Do you tell them to hang on, or do you tell them to sell and move into more secure assets? Then the question becomes, how do you guide them to the decision, and how much guidance then becomes advice and decision making?

I'm not supposed to make decisions for people, but that's what people are calling in for. It's difficult when people continually ask you for your opinion. Most people don't think about their retirement funds until you get to a crisis like this. Only now is when they want to act, and now they are acting out of fear rather than rationality, but I understand that response. Hell, the whole stock market is going through that right now as people sell out of stocks that have already declined. More often than not, people really do buy a hot stock when it is at it's peak, and sell when it didn't perform the way they wanted it to.

So I sit in my cubicle each day and take calls from people, some just need to be reassured. One lady asked about my company's financial health and I spit out the talking points we've been given which say how strong we are and she asked how long I've been there. I fudged and said about a year. She said she was surprised because I had the answer down cold. I replied, "I've had to say it so many times it's become second nature with me."

In a way I feel like I'm not doing very well for these folks. I try to provide the best information for these people, sometimes spending over an hour with them, but despite licensees and ten years of industry experience, the best I can do is give them a slightly educated guess. I had an 85 year old man call yesterday who wanted to know if he should get out of the market. Normally I would have said yes, but the guy didn't need the money. He had a lot saved, and was living comfortably without having to use this pool. I asked, "Do you want to take the loss at this time?" He said no, and we left it alone. I will continue to worry about him if the stock market continues to decline, but I also worry about those who only have a few buck that they have saved and expect years of income to come out of it.

I wish right now I could just go back to being an order taker, someone who doesn't have to try to go through these people's stories just to give them a half-assed "Sure" when they ask if this is a a good move for them. I never wanted to be a financial advisor, and I'm not, but for many people, I am their source of information. I try to cull from as much conventional wisdom as I can, and try to do my best, but I really don't know if I'm providing the right information for people.

The line between guidance and advice is a narrow one, one that I'm having difficulty with. I feel that in some cases I may be trying to do too much. Even my boss said I need to stop trying to fix everyone's problems because it takes too much time. I want the market to start going back up, just so people will stop calling in such a panicked state. I'm worried that angry people are going to come back to me stating that I told them to do something and it didn't work out.

Heck, I have enough trouble managing my own finances.

This job, it's proven to be more stressful than I thought it would be.

On a lighter note, I had a call from a customer in Wasilla, Alaska. I said that her town was famous and she said that they were all proud of Governor Palin. I just gave a non committal "uh-huh" to that. She then defended that their town isn't as small as they report, giving that standard line about how the mainstream media distorts things, as Republicans are wont to do at this time. Here's was a simple request, but it was interesting to get a call from the area.
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I spoke to my parents again tonight. Despite being 100 miles away from Galveston, they were without power. Their whole county is in the dark, and may be for several days. My Dad said that not only were many of the powerlines hit in the area, but the main powerplant was also damaged in the storm.

Ike hit the area pretty hard, knocking down trees and powerlines. Unlike parts of Houston that flooded, or the virtual rubbing away of homes that occurred on the upper Texas coast, Hurricane Ike quickly blew over where my parents live, but still did a number on the power grid.

My parent's home, in the city I spent many years in growing up, isn't all that rural. It's a city that's a northern bedroom community of Houston, but the power company is still run like it's the 1950's. Outages were prevalent. Conroe and the surrounding areas are the only areas of Texas that are not on the Texas electricity grid. It's actually an outfit that serves much of rural Louisiana as well, so they were already overpowered by Hurricane Gustav, now they have a whole new problem to tackle.

According to their website, the company has only 2% of it's cutomers restored in Texas. Estimates say it could be as long as three weeks.

My parents seem to be handling it well. Although in the dark the last couple of nights, they've gone out for supplies and gone to one of the Points of Delivery or "PODS" that FEMA has set up to get ice, bottled water and MRE's. They've also kicked in the camping stove and cooked on it. They've been able to get batteries, too.

I spoke to them about what I could see, as Direct TV broadcast a Houston television station all this weekend. I tried to explain images to them to images from the storm that many of us had seen, but they haven't. Radio has been the lifeline, but even then, few stations in Houston have one reporter, much less enough to be able to broadcast news and information 24 hours a day. Thanks Clear Channel. They are under curfew as well.

My mom, who's a chatterbox by nature, was happy to have someone to talk to. She started going on about Sarah Palin, asking me my opinion. I had to tell her, "We're having such a nice call and you want to ruin it by talking about her?" Mom seemed very excited about her, and I said I don't think it's a wise choice, and left it at that. I didn't want to comment on it any further.

Luckily, my parents had a trip planned this weekend and they will get away to be with my sister in Baltimore. They said they are having trouble finding clean clothes to pack since they can't wash anything. (My mom is a compulsive washer - she washes clothes every night.) They might just go and buy clothes there. I think it will be nice for them to get away. They may want to extend the stay if they can, and wait for the lights to be restored.

Luckily land line phone service seems to be just fine.
__________________________________________________________________

Otherwise, as I work for a financial firm, I took a lot of calls from people who are scared of a market collapse and that they will loose everything. It's hard to reassure people that your company is stable and secure and had very little holdings in the sup-prime mortgage business (less than 1%). Still, people don't always understand what actually is causing this meltdown, and how to see that some companies were not involved in it. (Thank goodness!)

One of our competitors took a nosedive this morning and we were having several people calling to see if we could take a transfer from them. The only problem is that it will take weeks for the transfer to happen, and I'm sure the competitor will do their darnedest to keep the money with them. We are all fighting for a small pool or retirement dollars that seems to be getting smaller all the time.

Still, even my company is feeling the financial strain and let 80 people go in the processing area that is on the floor below us. As much as I complain about my job, I still have to remember I still have a job. Now if I could get a few more sales!

As for the overall economy, I think it's going to get worse before it gets better. We still haven't resolved the fact that many investment firms leveraged assets so much, that there was no way to actually pay all the debt back. It's just like someone who maxes out their credit cards and suddenly finds themselves without a job. If you aren't taking in money, you can't keep payments up to just pay the minimum payments.

The thing I'm afraid of isn't the subprime mess, we're dealing with that now, although it's going to hurt. The problem is our government has also been taking on trillions in debt to pay for budgets and the war. what happens if we are trying so hard to prop up business, the government has difficulty paying it's debt service. That could really make things bad.

One disaster after another. That's our America!
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Moo!
One of the Longhorns out at the old Work Ranch


I'm typing this as my first entry on my new iMac. The screen is huge and it's so fast. The desk lamp iMac is so out of here!

The new computer is a reward for getting a new job. I'd been kind of silent on the topic, but it's been almost two months from first hearing from my new company to going in to work yesterday, filing out paperwork.

This sadly, means I can't say that I'm posting something from the Ranch anymore.

When I moved to Dallas now a little more than two years ago I was really thrilled to be working for one of the largest financial firms around. I thought that the size of Fidelity Investments would provide many different opportunities to grow and build a great career. Early on i found that it wasn't to be. There were a lot of problems with the department I was in. It became clear early on that the company did not care about it's workers, and certainly did not take any time to try to develop their people for bigger and better positions in the company.

I saw that it was easier to get a higher position by coming in from outside the company than from applying internally. All the new managers but one were from other companies. When I took a step back to get to Dallas, I knew I wanted to quickly get on track to join management, or find a better position, both in stature or in compensation. My managers knew this, but they weren't really allowed to really manage their people.

The problem is, the managers were told to manage the process, not the people. Instead of worrying about quality, they worried about numbers, statistics and how files moved through the system. It never mattered that it was done right, just that they showed to be in standard. Being 10 days out of standard is bad, and it should be, but there was no one who cared about how the files were worked, so a lot of work just got pushed on, and no-one cared.

My first manager never spoke to me. she had to do an annual review and you could tell that she didn't know how I was contributing to the company. Everything was in generalities. My next three managers were better, but still, they were told to look at the numbers, not the actual work. Everyone on the floor knew that the month before the annual reviews was the only time you would be observed, and even that wasn't much of an observation.

Lets face it, I got tired for not being recognized for doing a good job, for taking on more files than many other people - one manager accidentally showed me the productivity stats for my group. I also worked a greater amount of overtime than other people, and actually tried to learn several other procedures, even writing down some procedures where they were none. I won't say that I'm God's gift to my employer - I do look at the internet a little more than I should, but I think I was one of the best people in the department. One manager mentioned that I was a "triple threat", stating that I'd be missed for my superior work. that particular manager does tend to touch people inappropriately and make little sense, but I'll take it as a complement.

One of my managers was great. He was the one who let me sit for my Series 7 license, and he was actually looking out for me. I wish he was my manager longer, but it wasn't to be. On Thursday he joked to another manager I was saying goodbye to that you should never let a guy get a license, because they'll run off to a new job as soon as they could. He was almost right.

One year of working for this department was enough, and I was already looking for a job internally. I went on interviews for 10 different positions and didn't get one of them. I would get frustrated that they wanted someone who had already done the job, asking if you knew their systems and procedures. How could I? I'm not sure why they even interviewed me if they really just wanted someone who already did the job at another firm.

I dropped my resume on Monster in September and got a few nibbles, and got an email in December from my new corporate overlords. Two interviews and I was in. Now I have to prepare for two more licensing exams (series 63 and the state insurance exam) and three and a half months of training. After Fidelity gave me two weeks of training and gave me no assistance for the Series 7 license, being a part of a company that really values training.

As I left on Thursday, taking my last trip around the ranch, i heard from several others who were happy for me, but you could tell they wished they were going. Some of them had been working there for 10 years or more, so really, how motivated are they? A few of those that have worked shorter stints like I did, I told that that they needed to make their own opportunities because they were rare there. They haven't replaced a departing worker in more than a year, so the demands on each person there to work more overtime will only increase.

It was worth it to get out. I was tired of working 10 overtime hours a week and still never getting caught up since we were so understaffed. It's worth it to start again, new and fresh. I'll have to build my reputation with my new employer, but really, I'm sure I can shine here as well.

oh, and get this, there was no exit interview. They really didn't care why i was leaving, or what they could do better for the next guy like me.

The new employer is also a large financial firm, but smaller than Fidelity. They have only had a presence in Dallas for about a year, so I'm getting in kind of early. I think a smaller office will make it easier for me to stand out.

I'll miss seeing the cattle and the pond outside of the building, buy I still have water to look at from the office as it's next to a levy of the Trinity River. I hope it doesn't flood. The office is also closer. It's 10 miles away from the house instead of 30. I'll be saving some gas as well as getting paid more, so maybe I'll finally get some time to pay off some bills and start saving!

It all looks good, it's just one of those things about having to start proving yourself all over. I'll admit I'm nervous about jumping ship and trying something new when I worked hard to get somewhere with Fidelity and never really saw my work being noticed until my last day. Still, I can make the jump, and I'll be successful here as I was elsewhere, in previous jobs. I have to look out for number one, and that means getting myself into a better, more positive workplace. I hope this will be a much better match!
eggwards: (Xmas)
✬One more day of work before Christmas tomorrow. My excessively grinch-y overseers are closing the office early, but instead of being nice and just giving us the time, they asked up to get up early and come in early so we can still work our full shift.

The company I work for has a similar demanding tone with little recognition for your effort that I experienced at Target many years ago. Thanks to lack of planning, we've been on "mandatory overtime" this entire year. Still, they refuse to bring in help, or acknowledge that the upturn in volume is anything more than an aberration.

Happily for us, we are so loved. My boss, who after several months still doesn't know what we do, came around with an envelope stating that it was a bonus for all of our overtime. I opened up the envelope and saw a laminated card with some words of thanks and blah-blah-blah, then signed by our Senior Vice President. I looked back in the envelope looking for a gift card or something...nothing. The card was it.

Makes you feel like the effort to go above and beyond is so worth it.

❆I have a couple of words to mention about James' ([livejournal.com profile] jamesbeary) funeral services. First thing, it was very, very cold last weekend. The graveside service was pretty miserable, both for the reason and the cold.

In a way I felt like more of a placeholder for all the others in the bear community who couldn't be there. In some ways i felt like I didn't know James all that well. Chris and I seemed to be there more for support for [livejournal.com profile] urso than anything else. There weren't a whole lot of bears at the ceremonies, and the service itself seemed to gloss over this part of James' life. Really, the only member's of James' family that really talked to us were his nephew, Eryk and his wife, who greeted us with "so you're the bears?" Eryk was the one who was emailing, IM'ing and texting people about James' passing, so he seemed to be the only one who knew the range of people who James had touched.

Only the couple of eulogies provided during the service seemed to capture a little about James. The nice-but-formal pastor seemed to be on autopilot for the service.

It was also interesting being in a room with so many deaf people. The hands and arms were gesturing wildly. Urso could pick up things here and there and Eryk could converse as well, but it was tough trying to mingle with the crowd when you can't say much. It made for an odd afternoon.

✯I've had a couple of nudges saying that I should post more, and I should post more of my political rants. Really, I keep up with politics, but man have I been burnt out on it. I may have to give a new opinion for the presidential race, but really, don't we just wish that it was time to just vote for 2008 and it it over now? Do we still have ten months to go?

❄Otherwise, it's a quiet Christmas here. Chris is busy cleaning the house while I've been extra lazy. We were trying to figure out what to do for christmas dinner between the two of us, and it pretty much comes down to the the fact that I really can't cook much. I really should learn to cook more than Rice-a-Roni. Though I do love Rice-a-Roni. Having shopped early and already given Chris his gift, there's really not much to be done, otherwise. If I could come up with some time off during the christmas season some year, perhaps we could plan to actually travel, but for now we'll just be at home.

Since I was way too lazy to get out Christmas cards this year, I'll just have to tell everyone here that I wish them a Happy Solstice (belated), Happy Haunukka (also belated), Merry Christmas, Meaningful Kwanzaa, and observant Hajj, and we'll see you around New Years.

☆Chris has already given me one gift. He got me a membership to LA Fitness. He's been motivated seeing as I've been going to the gym at work for the past year and a half, so now he's trying to get into it as well. We've gone together a few times, but I get to choose between our little gym at work and the new LA Fitness across from the Baptidome.

So far the eye-candy hasn't been all that, mainly because the LA Fitness location is new and doesn't have a lot of members. Personally I wish it would stay that way. Fewer people to see how winded I get doing laps in the pool (besides the fact that I'm in the pool in the first place). The nice thing about the gym is that it has more equipment than the gym at work.

❆Personally I'm ready to move on to 2008 and see if we can take a few more risks and make a few things happen. It is once again a time for change, especially in the work life. Heck, with less TV to watch, maybe I'll work harder on getting my resume into the right hands. Perhaps some good could come out of the writer's strike.
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Today is my 5th LJ Anniversary. Although my blogging, with long, windy posts, had diminished quite a bit over the last year, i still find LJ to be a wonderful community and I'm very happy of the connections I've made here.

It's interesting that I was finally coming out five years ago, in my first "adult" job (ie, not retail), and living alone. Now I'm partnered, in a job that might be called "adult", but certainly not run by any and pretty much out, if a bit reclusive at times.

The nature of LJ has changed, people have come and gone, and what was a very small bear community in 2002 where you could know all the LJ Bears, is now huge. Except in Tulsa. It's not just LJ, but the internet as a social device that has really changed life for people, especially a minority group like ours, scattered across the country. It's pretty fascinating.

I haven't had too much time to think about this...and hopefully it will spur me on to plan even more, but here's a few things I'd like to set as goals for the future.

Within One Year:
Get a new job - whether it be in a different division of the company I work for, or with a new company.
Purchase a new desktop computer (Apple, of course)
Lose another 20 pounds or so and tone up the muscles.

Within Five Years:
Get Lasik before you have to get reading glasses
Buy a more fuel efficient car
Eliminate Credit Card Debt
Be able to help Chris pay for home improvements

Within Ten Years:
Travel outside North America - maybe twice!
Finish seeing all of the Major League Baseball stadiums
Live somewhere other than Texas (I'd do this earlier, but Chris has a good job)

We'll see how it goes.Certainly life has changed a lot in the last five, moving away from family and college buddies and into a new phase of life, but I still feel like this phase has only begun. We'll see how it goes.
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Wow, it's been a tiring couple of weeks lately. Mostly it's all work related. One thing I have learned, the division of the company i work for isn't really good at crisis management. well, they just aren't that good at management period because this shouldn't be a crisis in the first place.

What's the crisis? We have more work than was expected. No, really.

Being a customer service area, there's all sorts of forecasts and trends done to try to have the right staffing and such for the work you expect. That's the easy thing, though. You actually have to work with the unexpected with contingencies and ways to get what you can out of some poor situations. When i worked at AIM we had a couple of years where there wasn't enough work to go around, which was pretty difficult, sending people home, letting people go.

Having more work is even more difficult because you have to ask for sacrifice, and you really have to decide whether this is a temporary trend, and you can get by, or if this is going to be long-term and you need to look at staffing up. Well, at my office we've been on a hiring freeze, so we've been losing people all year. With that we've had a record June, and then a record July, and for some reason our management was super surprised when we have had a record August following!

I haven't minded too much as I've been able to pull some extra overtime hours and make some money that I'm using towards my trip next month. Still, I like it when I'm in control of how many hours I work. It seems to be the same way with other people around me. yeah, I've worked some saturdays, and gotten my work done with the extra time, but it was mostly my decision to do so.

Well, last week we finally got so out of standard with processing and follow up that it was demanded of us to work a 60 hour week, and 8 of those hours would be on Saturday. No one was very happy about this, and when most people had been working 50 hour weeks for most of the summer, the fatigue of spending so much time at the damned office was really setting in.

Part of it was the way it was told to us, via email, third paragraph in on how unexpected this all was and no one could think we'd have several months of these volumes, and then under the paragraph beginning with "How Can I Help?" was the demand of overtime for all. this without so much of a thank you, and some mild admonishments of those who already had vacation days planned.

The email ended with the prospect that we would be under the same conditions for the next few weeks, probably until our new group in India was ready to take on some of the workload in october - which made no one feel good at all, and has been the reason for the hiring freeze, even when our company OWNS a temp agency.

Of course there are exceptions for everything, and man where there a lot of exceptions brought forward! People really wanted to get out of working a full eight on Saturday - especially when we're not that productive on the weekends when we can't make calls.

So this weekend, well, thanks but we're going to need another ten hours of overtime by Friday so we can try to avoid having to work Labor Day Weekend. This is all crap because no manager was scheduled to work Labor Day weekend and none of them want to be the one who has to do it. Well, if we had to sacrifice a Saturday, you can too.

Hell, two weeks ago when you announced the mandatory Saturday, you still had managers come around trying to make people come in on Sunday as well, with that little hint of passive aggressiveness that makes you never want to say yes again. I certainly said no.

We did finally get a lunch today as an appreciation for coming in on Saturday, but if you took the free lunch, you would have to skip your lunch and take it back to your desk. Really, it's kind of a backhanded complement, really.

Yeah, I'll work overtime - but only one hour a day this week. I'll work a short shift Saturday if they an coax someone to supervise on Saturday (how about me?), so I'm giving in some, but I'm suffering work fatigue and today i spent a long time looking at the cruise website really hoping all this work will be worth it.

I think the job search begins anew after I get off that boat.
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This is the view out the window nearest to my cubicle at work. It’s a nice view, rather relaxing, actually. In the winter the Canadian Geese fly over. The pond is teeming with fish and turtles. Watching the spring thunderstorms come in from the west is especially spectacular.

The land, picked was once owned by Ross Perot, and what remains of his ranch is next door where there are cattle, horses, and for some reason, a camel. Our tract of land has a pasture up by the state highway where our small heard of longhorns stay. It’s a tax write-off, and we get government money for “farming.” Our building is hugs, and holds about 3500 office workers. A new building that will hold another 1500 is being built and should be full when it opens in 2009. This given that there’s no large economic downturn, of course.

I’m going to lose this view on Monday as I’m moving to a new desk and a new role. The desk is only a few feet away from my old one, but faces away from the lake and is a long way away from the windows on the other side of the building. If I could, I’d likely stay in my current desk, but since I’m switching teams, the desk goes with it.

I’ll also miss sitting next to my co-worker Sean who’s always good for a joke and understands my humor. He’s also the only one in my immediate area who seems to understand that I’m gay and I live with a guy name Chris, not a girl. I talk about Chris occasionally, but don’t make a big issue about it, preferring to keep my private life mostly private. The woman behind me who took the desk vacated by Sourpuss a few months back hasn’t caught on at all, and often asks me about my wife. Since she’s a preacher’s wife I just choose not to go into it. I’m thinking the husband’s ministry isn’t that successful as she seems to be the main breadwinner.

There’s other things I won’t miss, including the lady who talks about missing her little girl all day as she works here, and the woman who, when stressed always shouts “Lord Help Me Jesus!” She’s a bit annoying. There’s a lot of talk and craziness over here, and many people wasting their time more than I do, and they wonder why they can’t produce the numbers I can. They worry about their jobs, but there seems to be few repercussions for they lack of effort, so I think they have it rather good.

The only known problem with my new desk, besides the lack of view (I plan on printing the picture of the lake and placing it in front of me) is the fact it’s only two cubicles over from the loudest sneezer on the floor. She sneezes with an “Hhheeee-Hooo!” that is both high-pitched and projects down the halls well. She can be heard at the far end of our wing, some 150 yards away. Think of a Michael Jackson ad-lib, followed with “sham-on!” and you’ll kind of understand the sound she makes.

Like I said, the reason for the move is that I’m changing job functions and teams here. It’s a lateral move, so there are different responsibilities, and supposedly a more difficult job, but no extra benefits to moving. I’m just hoping it will work into my strategy of getting noticed, gaining more skills and eventually getting promoted. My attempts to try to get a higher position in this company – which has been more times than I’ve documented in this journal, have all seemed to fall flat. I was even told by my manager, my lack of time with the company has cost me opportunities, including the team trainer job I was up for last month.

So I’ll be working with mutual fund transfers. They think because I worked for a mutual fund company before I have more insight than others do, but really, it has not been that helpful. The systems used here are different than those I used back at AIM. Still, I don’t have to be trained in the lingo and I can talk to other fund companies with an ease that someone new to the position may not have.

The job is a specialization of the one I’m leaving. It’s a little more detailed, and a little more digging to be done to get the job done right. I’ve been helping out the mutual fund team for a while on a lending basis, so it just became natural that I would move into the role full time. The thing I’ll miss most about the old work is that it was always something different as they gave me different files to work on. I became quite versatile here, known as the guy who could work any file. Now I won’t get as much variety of work, so I know that will quickly become a drag.

My thought is this new position, like the old, is a temporary thing. I know I’m made for better, and I will keep trying to put my name and hat out for new positions, hopefully in management. When I was first hired, I was told I had to stay in the job for a year before I could move to a new position. A month before the year was up I was already applying. I have not been told that there is a restriction holding me back from going after other positions now that I’m in a new job, so I’m going to play dumb and keep applying. The operations group is the hind-end of the company and I think it would be good to get out of here, or at least move up. This fall I’ll also start looking at other area employers to see if I can do better. Heck, I have a Series 7, I should be using it!

It’s time to move forward, even though it’s not quite the leap I would like at this time (and I’d like to be earning about $10,000 more a year, too), but it’s what I have to go on right now. I guess I was spoiled by the job at AIM were there were leaps more than steps forward. I want the same here.

The only way to earn more at the moment is to work a lot of overtime, and since I’m averaging 50 hour work-weeks all this year, I’ve made a little extra cash. I don’t see that the overtime situation will change much with the new job, so you’ll likely find me here on most Saturdays. What a life.

Still, it’s time to move, at least just to get away from “Lord Help Me Jesus!” and her inquiries if I want to go to a Men’s Ministry night at her church – one that has free prostate exams for men 40 and over. There’s just something wrong there.

It's a small change, but at least I'm not stagnant. Little progresses, little changes. One thing about business now is that those who don't accept change get left behind.

I'll miss the view, though.
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I lost the job.

Today Chuck, who would have been my manager if I had gotten the trainer position took me off to a room and told me they liked me and my presentation, but didn't think I hit some of the points they wanted to see. He said that they chose another person, but I was definitely up there...and would have been selection "1-A."

1-A? Really, I'm flattered that I was your second pick, but hey, don't sugar coat, just tell me that I came in second and be done with it. Don't make it sound like I'm the first runner up and if the winner somehow manages to fall down a flight of stairs or end up on a porno website that I'd be elevated to the position.

He gave me some notes on my performance stating that there were some "pitfalls" set up by the managers that I didn't fully respond to. So I know now that a lot of the chattiness during the presentation was to see what I would and wouldn't respond to, and I didn't say specifically that I would take a question i couldn't answer and hold it until i could get a answer later (it's called a Parking Lot).

The problem is, I remember that, and I did say I would...I just didn't do it visually, putting it on the board.

Oh well, what are you going to do. They gave the job to someone they thought performed better, and Chuck told me that my tenure with the company was definitely a factor. This coming from two of the managers who evaluated me who have been with the company for a shorter time than me!

What hurts more is that I had a phone interview for a management job that also hasn't gone anywhere. It's funny, if you post a generic job description about a group that doesn't exist in our office yet, it's not right to expect your interviewees to be able to answer specific questions.

I felt embarrassed as I was chastised about not knowing about the group, but he provided few hints. I tried to pull experience I had that was generic, and try to work it into the little tidbits he gave me about the team's work, but I could tell he didn't care. Perhaps he already had someone he wanted to move from Rhode Island.

Tonight I feel I can't do anything right to be able to improve my lot with this company. I'm liked for the job that I do now, but I'm not happy with it. Unfortunately I feel like I need to get moving, need to build my career and excel. I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels right now.

I'm so wanting change, I should be careful not to just leap at anything right now, and I really should look at preparing myself better for this. I do try to do more, learn more, but when it comes down to trying to sell myself, I'm failing. Somehow I need to be able to tell people that I'm qualified, motivated and ready for the next step.

Perhaps I should just look elsewhere, maybe it's time to really make a leap and do something different, something far off the map. Financial Services doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but where? That's the question I can't seem to answer. I'd love to reinvent myself, but I think I need some sort of plan or goal. Maybe one will drop out of the sky.
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Today I had my annual review. I did well, and apparently most of the management staff at my job thinks well of me. My boss, David said that a couple of them ask for me to assist their group from time to time, which is a good feeling, being asked for by name.

I scored an "E" for excellent, which is a step down from "O" for outstanding. Because David was pretty glowing about me I'm guessing no one got and "O". I even got a little raise that will cover the extra 2% I'm putting towards my 401(k), because the company added 2% to the company match. Let me tell you, if your company matches on their 401(k), don't leave compensation on the table by not taking it.

I had a good conversation with my boss. He pulled out the chart showing that I was beating the team in productivity. Half the team wasn't making standard. The problem is that very little coaching happens here, and even less training when change occurs. work is sloppy and quality suffers for productivity which is king around here.

We spoke about others on the team, and I mentioned that I think I can help with this, but it would go beyond my duties as an individual contributor. David seemed interested, but we'll have to wait and see. David remarked that he didn't realize that I actually managed people in my last job (he's my new boss, and we haven't had a big talk before), and was somewhat surprised that i talked to him as more of a peer than a report, but it didn't bother him.

We talked about my future, that he'd like me to stay on the team, but know that i have been applying to go elsewhere, now that i have my license. I said I'd love to manage the team, but otherwise I'm really looking for more. He said that he'd be happy to help me, and I was glad. I said I really needed more help learning what areas and opportunities there were out there, and since he's an 18 year veteran of the company, he might be able to give me some insight.

Otherwise, I've said before here that the management seems to be on autopilot when it comes to managing people. They'd rather manage process instead. I'd mentioned that I thought we were a bit under-coached and I was used to having quarterly reviews, he said he too was used to quarterlies from working on the trading desk, but that just wasn't something our area did.

As he spoke about a couple of accomplishments I had this year, I wished I was able to do a self evaluation about some of the others that were left off. He specifically said my first manager with the company didn't have any feedback for him about this past year. this angered me a little because I did a special project for her specifically 2 months ago. she can't be bothered to remember that? Great.

It's already reviews by committee, which all the managers going into a room and calibrating the scores, but maybe some of them should bow out if they aren't going to contribute.

I tend to talk a manager's ear off, giving opinions and such, but we did have to cut it at an hour since he had to have all his reviews done this week. I guess I'll try to work more with him on issues involving the team for one of the places I got dinged was innovation. Normally most people in a processing type role get dinged for it since there aren't many opportunities to provide new solutions, but i think I have David's ear now, so maybe, just maybe this ranting won't be for naught.

I'm a little happier about the job at this point, and I know change is in the air, so hopefully some good will come of it. It's nice to at least be pegged as someone with potential, and that I do stand out.
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1. It’s been quite a time here lately. I’m totally stressed out about my upcoming test, the Series 7 brokerage exam, is now just about a week away. I’m really thinking I’m going to fail it, especially if I don’t get some stuff into my head about mathematical formulas. These things were the bane of my existence in school and college, and now here they are in real life – or something. Options seem to be something I can't get my head around and consist of a large portion of the test. Personally, I feel options are legalized gambling on stock and I think that it should be eliminated…if they could bann them before my test, that would be all the better.

I carry my study books all over the place. It’s incredibly dry reading, and I finally finished reading the whole thing last week. I haven’t carried a book around this much since I was pledging the frat. One of the book’s cover is starting to tear away in places.

Something tells me to just take it and fail and don’t worry about it, since it is not required for my current job, but it is required to become a manager. I’m afraid that if I do fail, and I get two chances before I have to wait a year – if the company would sponsor me again – that if I do fail, then I won’t be seriously considered for a management position. So, if failure does occur, then I’m going to really have to sit down and figure out what I want to do with my life, because maybe this isn’t the industry for me. It’s odd, I know so much about other parts of the business, like retirement accounts that are barely touched on in this test, but things like options and bonds and tax shelters, well, that, not so much.

Of course one of the bigger problems is that I’m going it alone, where others at the company, working in roles that require the license get classes and tutoring and handouts and such. I have the books and the online testing tool, and that’s it. The book is very poorly written, rambling and difficult to understand. When I took my Series 6 exam eight years ago, I had much better books. I’m really at a disadvantage, and I hope that will be seen in the future, fail or succeed.

After working 10-15 hours of overtime the last few weeks, I’m going to have to go home and study this week. I’m also thinking of holding off on the workouts just to give me more time.

2. Of course all this comes in one of the busiest times for television viewing. Last night I felt I had to get away from studying and watch The Sopranos, Entourage and The Amazing Race. Some shows I can miss and catch up with on Tivo in another week or so. Some, like Heroes and Lost I’ll want to keep up with. Others, like 24, Smallville, and America’s Next Top Model have been permanently dropped from my viewing list.

24 you may remember was a pickup this season for me, but when they totally scrapped their original storyline and have Jack move on to a totally different one for the overnight hours of the day, it was a good time to get off the boat.

Then there’s the recently cancelled show, Drive. I really should know better about getting involved with a show on FOX. Especially when it’s a show that stars the guy from Firefly and is written by the creator of Wonderfalls, two other good shows that FOX canned after only a few episodes. Let’s see, you premier a show on a Sunday, the busiest night of television, preempting Family Guy, immediately move it to Monday, and the next week cancel it. How would a show ever get an audience when you give it a start and finish like that?

The show wasn’t great, but it had a nice premise and it was fun watching the racers go up and down the same stretch of California freeway, and trying to make us believe it was rural Florida. The characters all had some reason to be in the race, but it wasn’t given to us right away. Nathan Fillion’s character’s wife was kidnapped, why we’ll never know, and he had to enter the race to try to get her back. Why the police weren’t good for finding her, I don’t know. Still, for fans of shows like The Amazing Race, and Bullrun, this was a good drama version of a reality show. Let’s face it, I like the serialized shows like Lost and Jericho. Of course Jericho has to be one of the most unrealistic stories of the apocalypse, ever. I’ll be shocked if they give Jericho a second season – it really doesn’t deserve one, but at least they are getting to ride out the whole year, probably because the show isn’t on FOX.

I’ll admit that FOX irks me. The few episodes of House I’ve seen were good, and I like the lead actor from the old BBC Blackadder shows, but it was on FOX and I thought they’d cancel it. Same thing goes for Bones. They manage to surprise you, but more often than not the shows thay choose to keep are really awful like The War At Home and Til Death.

Speaking of Bullrun, why is no one (besides [livejournal.com profile] jeremasur) watching this? This is a fun cross-country race with cars and some stupid, bitchy people (necessary for a reality show). One of the guys, a “flower delivery guy” from Austin is really cute, but he never drives. Looking at host Goldberg is pretty good as well. Since the show is on Spike, there’s lots of “male bonding” type talk, flag chicks and plenty of unnecessary explosions and fire during the challenges, all for the Hooters crowd. Still at the end of it, its really a good race for those who can do long distance driving, and it’s interesting to see what helps and hurts the racers.

3. Sort of on the cancellation lines, why do people just refuse to see Hot Fuzz? The movie is hysterical and really well put together, but it can’t seem to climb higher than number 6 at the box office when awful stuff like Nicolas Cage’s Next do better? Is it the British humor? Do people not know anyone in it (they’d be surprised)? Did they not see Shawn of the Dead? Come on! Well, the whole box office will be killed by Spiderman this weekend.

4. One more work thing, I’m perplexed about how many people bring a Bible to work with them here, or carry one around. I just don’t feel like the workplace is the place for Bible studies. I’m fine with people having their religion, but it’s something I think should be kept away from the office – but there’s plenty of people who talk about church and of course one who keeps saying “Lord Help Me, Jesus” at least a couple of times a day. I have yet to see a Koran, but I have seen a Book of Mormon here. Compared to my last workplace, I can definitely tell that I moved closer to the Buckle of the Bible Belt.

5. Otherwise, over the last few weeks things have been mostly well, with both of us working long hours. Joey is rambunctious as ever. We had a great visit with David ([livejournal.com profile] metacub) who I hope had great fun at Coachella and Palm Springs, and won’t have trouble getting home to Oakland with the big freeway collapse. friday we went and saw [livejournal.com profile] cristalskye kick it on the soccer field. CAPE is this weekend and I look to go see how well Richard ([livejournal.com profile] dedagda) and Chris ([livejournal.com profile] amyboy00) have done this year with their mini comic convention. I hope the cute but straight artist is there again. I think we disturbed him a little bit last year.

6. Lastly, I’m looking to go to Baltimore again the first weekend of June to visit my sister. This will likely be my last trip up there as she’s thinking of moving back to Texas – mainly because her fiancée wasn’t thrilled about leaving the state in the first place. It’s my big chance to see a Phillies game in their home stadium, and I may see if I can double up and also go to see a National’s game in DC, as they both play that weekend. The Nationals aren’t quite as important as they are still playing in old RFK stadium and I’ll want to see the new field once they move into it. Otherwise, I wonder if I can convince my sister to finally drive over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Something I’d really like to do. It will be my only vacation before the Alaskan Cruise in September. Chris may go back to California for a few days to see his family, but I can’t get the time off to join him. I'm lucky to get off what I can.

Here’s to test taking. If I do manage to pass, I’m going to get drunk after it.
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So, what's been going on? For me it's been mostly working. It's the worst time of the year to be in financial services, but yet it's when I can make the most money, so I try not to complain too much about the long hours.

We do get Good Friday off. There's not much point to having it off, but it's a day the New York Stock Exchange takes off, so we get it too. At first they were going to let people come in and get some overtime hours, which was fine with me, Chris has to work, and I might as well make some cash, right? Well today they decided that our volumes are down from what they were last year, so we won't be allowed to come in. No extra cash when we're not as overwhelmed as before.

This is all good, but Friday was the designated Jeans Day for the quarter. That's right, the quarter. Chris gets a jeans day every Friday, but we're all stuffy about it because some bigwig might come in. luckily we don't have to wear ties, I've been in those jobs, and hated them. Still, with so few opportunities to dress down I like to have those days.

Of course some people dress pretty sloppy anyway, I'm not the best dresser, but I'm not the worst, either. the best dresser is Mr. Dolche and Gabbana. He's always got sweaters draped over his shoulders and suits and super pointy shoes. He occasionally wears a D&G wool hat on his head. He dresses like the kind of older twink that you expect him to be. Very fussy, very Felix Unger.

One nice thing has been that Sourpuss has been moved away. She's on another row now, and I'm really grateful. I don't think I've ever known more about a co-worker's family, children's problems, home repair, and medical history. I know this because she would always talk about these things very loudly on the phone. I'm not sure how she could have ever been productive as she was always on a personal call.

I've heard calls about how she didn't want her daughter in the special ed classes, how she didn't get permits to have the landscape work done in her back yard, and her constant bickering with the people at the weight-loss clinic about what she could and could not eat on her plan. She did know that I could clearly hear her. one day she turned to me and stated, "You know that I suffer from depression, right?" Actually, I didn't until then, and now what am I supposed to say? "That's Great?"

Of course that doesn't mean that all of my other co-workers are quiet. Sitting in the cubical across from me is "Lord Help Me, Jesus!". I call her this because at any interval of the day, when she gets the slightest bit frustrated with work, this is what she screams out. She's not very well equipped for this job, so I hear it a lot. personally i feel that the refrain is falling on deaf ears, much like God probably doesn't care who wins the Superbowl, and probably doesn't do much with the outcome.

Sometimes she actually asks her coworkers for help. Wait, that's all the time. I get all sorts of questions, many are ones that if she had some training and know something about finances, she might be better at the job, but the company isn't big on training, just production, without seeing the benefit more training would have on the other. When I get questions about how mutual funds work, then I know we're in trouble.

That's a big problem with the job as it is, the managers are looking at straight numbers, and little else. I have a new manager, my third in the past year. He has said a full sentence to me about four times. It's just showing me that they really aren't paying attention to their people, and even worse, really aren't trying to improve their workforce. This is how people like "Lord Help Me, Jesus!" manage to stay in these positions when they clearly aren't cut out for it. I hate seeing this because i know what I could do if I was made a manager...and I'd want to make it better. I want that job, not the one I'm stuck with!

One last thing..."Lord Help Me, Jesus!" was asking people if they had seen a movie...one that i think was a religious movie of some sort, so she was probably trying to check up on people and to bring them to the Lord through cinema. So she asks me, "Michael, Have you seen My Special Something?"

I was confused by this, but it also sounded like a strange come-on, so in my usually loud voice I turned to her and said, "Glenda, No, I haven't seen your special something." She turned red and giggled in the "that was funny but I go to church and don't really approve" way as other people around us heard and were a bit confused. Someone joked that HR would need to be called in.

Oh well, that's what's up for me. Hopefully I'll enjoy the cafeteria's $1 burger day next week. So much for the full meal we were comped lat year! Otherwise, unless there's something better, I'll be studying for my licensing exam on Friday.

Meh.

Jan. 23rd, 2007 11:38 pm
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Meh.

I say Meh. tonight to the fact that "Dreamgirls" didn't get nominated for Best Picture Oscar. I guess I'm one of the only gays who hasn't seen this movie and doesn't plan to. Good for Jennifer Hudson, but personally I'd love to see Amber Breslin win for "Little Miss Sunshine".

I say Meh. tonight to President Bush's State of the Union speech where he just rehashed a whole domestic agenda that he's proposed before. Lot of big statements with very little answers to them. So you want to provide more healthcare to people by cutting their taxes...yeah. Once he got on to the whole Iraq/War on Terror part I tuned away to "The Stepford Wives."

I say Meh. to last night's "Heroes" for being dull. Too much of the I've got powers and they're ruining my life bit. Thank goodness for the actor playing Hiro or this episode would have been unbearable.

I say Meh. to the fact that I can no longer find Beef Romanov flavor Hamburger Helper in the store anymore. Some of the new flavors aren't as good, and I don't like that they changed the Beef Taco flavor's pasta. why the change? It's not healthier or anything.

I say Meh. to Sirius Satellite Radio for deciding that they want to have a "Jamie Foxx" channel which will move OutQ to another station on the dial as they want the "Foxxhole" to be next to the other comedy channels (including "Blue Collar Radio"). More channels I have no reason to listen to.

I say Meh. to the "controversy" of Grey's Anatomy star Issac Washington calling TR Knight a "faggot" or maybe he didn't, who the heck knows. Just friggin' apologize properly, go into rehab for a while and try to keep your job. Still, i guess I wouldn't be taken aback so much by being called a faggot, really.

Speaking of that, Meh. to the Donnie Davies/God Hates Fags thing. Poor guy just couldn't get a date, I suppose, so now he's Ex-Gay - or something. I have to agree with Matty that it's a farce since the band and the ministry websites were recently created and he said the band has existed for some time. I call shenanigans. Or stupidity. whatever.

Meh. to the Red Hot Chili Peppers (all your songs sound the same) and to Rage Against the Machine (all your rants sound the same).

Meh to the controversy of Dakota Fanning being in a movie shown at Sundance where her character is raped. Not something I'd see for sure, and everyone will stay away if she screams like she did in "War of the Worlds." Still, if her parents were cool with it, and she was, then by all means. She'll probably need therapy for many things later on, why not one more.

Lastly, I say Meh. to the guy who made me get up and go to work an hour and a half early to give a speech about his group and their business plans which didn't include us. I certainly know what his group is going to do, but I don't know what my group does to support his agenda. it also doesn't help when you create acronyms that aren't industry standard and you don't explain them. I wish I could have slept through your meeting.

Now let's hear it for getting some sleep.
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Yesterday I decided to test my car and actually run out on the ice, making the 25 mile trip to work. The car did alright, especially going over the Bush Turnpike, where a long stretch of it is elevated over the Trinity River. There was plenty of ice and snow, and there was more than a few cars on the side of the road, in ravines, and turned around the wrong way. the work ranch is pretty far out, so there wasn't much sand on the roads out that way.

Chris' car, which needs some new tires, didn't make it very far. After sliding across an intersection, he went back home.

After an hour and a half on the road, I finally made it to work. A good half of my co-workers didn't come in. Still, I didn't come the furthest distance, one guy drove 45 miles to get there. I worried about getting home, but enough of the ice and slush had evaporated, that i only had to keep it under 30 mph getting back on the Bush Tollway. Driving home took an hour.

Here's why actually braving it, and going to work was good. Today management made a decision and told everyone that didn't come in that they would be charged with an unpaid personal day. Besides the fact that many people stayed home because schools were canceled, I was amazed that they would penalize people for doing the safe thing and stay off the road. The moral of the story is: risking your life, or at least your property ,is what you should be doing for this job. This job that doesn't pay you enough as is.

there was a lot of grumbling, and so management decided that we would open Saturday to allow people to make up the time they missed. Given that it's optional is one thing, but still, it seems rather rude to ask people to give up another day when the reason for the missed time was not of their making.

To add insult to injury, another winter blast is due on Friday night/Saturday morning, so the roads may be iced up once again. Management will put people up overnight in a hotel some what close to work tomorrow night just so they can make it in on Saturday. I'm guessing the money they may spend for hotel rooms might cost more than actually giving people sick time for Wednesday.

It seems as though the company doesn't like to close sites for weather related emergencies, but a snow day in Texas is much different than a snow day in Boston. They need to know that we aren't prepared for this stuff, and productivity hours will be lost. Is it too much to ask for a little compassion on this?

Heck, I got paid for two days that we were closed after September 11th and for another four that we lost to Tropical Storm Allison when our building was flooded out - all in the same year. There were also two days lost to evacuations for Hurricane Rita two years ago. Luckily Dallas isn't susceptible to Hurricanes.

With the way things are going, weather-wise, I guess I'll need to make sure my tires are in good shape and inflated properly. There's going to be a few more slick drives before this winter is over.
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Overview: Blurting out the first thing that comes to mind might get a laugh or two -- but it could also burn a few bridges that you were counting on. Always think twice before speaking up and you'll be just fine.

That above is my horoscope for today, which is interesting as I have a “one-on-one meeting with my manager today to talk about what I like and don’t like about the job. He’s a fairly new manager, and after another manager left recently, he’s been given several more charges, so he’s trying to meet with everyone.

The problem is I’ve been growing less and less enchanted with working here as the months have gone on. The job is simple and tedious, and in some ways frustrating since we’re performing a job that other firms dislike, calling them about money we’re taking from them. It’s a little like being a collections agent without having the get super tough…sometimes.

What can I say, the job is pretty dead end, but there are people who have been doing it for 12 years or more. I find that amazing, and actually very scary, trying to figure out if there’s just no room to advance, or people just don’t have any ambition. I’m hoping it’s the latter, because I would like to get climbing here.

The problem is, I don’t want to burn bridges, because I could see myself going for the upcoming manager’s position, or trying to move to another part of the company. I’d probably have more luck, being new to the company, in moving to a different department than getting the manager’s position as there are many suitors. My new-ish manager interviewed for 3 years before finally getting the spot.

I guess I was spoiled at my old job. Things moved very quickly there. Jobs were multi-faceted since they didn’t have the scale to put someone in a job that did only one thing. You had to know more, and they trained you for more. Someone who had been there for 12 years was often a Vice President, sometimes just for longevity.

One of my big beefs with the new company is the lack of training. I was a step up simply because I had experience, but when it comes down to it, I know a lot more than even some of the people who have been here for years. They don’t teach much beyond basic processing. Why is that retirement plan not transferring? Well, if you knew something about what makes that plan work, you’d know that there are restrictions that don’t let it move without customer’s being of a certain age, or having a…well, you get the idea.

We have a new VP here, and he’s trying to make his mark by changing a whole bunch of things and introducing new technologies. The problem is that no one uses them because the “training” for each item was an email on a small PowerPoint that didn’t let you go step by step to learn it. If this division would spend more money in training and coaching, they would see the reward in greater productivity. It’s simple, but you have to take the time, and spend the money. I’m now glad that my old company was so much more attentive there.

So now I’m trying to decide what to say, and how to tread carefully. Should I say that I’m disappointed in the job and that I want more? How do I express that without sounding bitter, or trying to say that I’m above it all? I’m good at this job, but I haven’t seen everything, and I’m still learning – every once in a while, so I’ll label myself at confident, but not a mastermind. There are procedures and methods that I’m still learning – mainly as you have to learn them as you go, no one teaches you here, and often you have to know the right question, and be able to find someone who’s done it before to actually get the knowledge that you need.

What troubles me is that many people here wouldn’t take the time to hunt for answers, so that means people are just pushing that work along until someone who can do it, will. This becomes an actual dis-incentive to go above and beyond, because then you’ll just be a magnet for all of the trouble items. This is already starting to happen to me.

I function better as a big-picture guy, not a detail person, so I’d want to get a broader range of experience. I want to be a jack of all trades. One reason, I think I’d be a better management candidate.

Do I say that I’m bored, that I’m not looking forward to work, and that I have some definite opinions of what could be done to make it better, or do I play good soldier, and go with the flow, because I’m still new here. Should I create waves or not? I’m already bored and tired of the job, and I’m really trying to fight it…becoming one of those people who doesn’t care and ends up not going anywhere because he stopped having any pride in his work.

Be careful what one says…hmm.
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When I saw the news that Kenny Lay had passed on, my thoughts were the same as many of my co-workers - did he just commit suicide? Certainly if you were facing a sentence that would almost certainly leave you in prison for the rest of your life, and likely take away any financial security for your wife and kids. It's a decision that could make it better for your family, and your fellow defendant suddenly knows, crap, I'm the only one left to blame.

Of course, It's a little cowardly, but for one who cheated his way to millions, I guess it's not that out of character. Sure, he was 64, but he could afford good doctors who would have known that his heart was stressed, right? Of course, the wife could have done it.


Still, enough about that lets get on to something else. Today was my first review at the new job, in fact it was my annual review, so really thats all there is until next July. For someone who had to write and receive five reviews a year, I've gone from being over analyzed to under in the course of a few months. My boss seemed really rushed about this week's review deadline and all I could think of is how much I would have enjoyed only giving one a year per person.

My review went well enough. There were no surprises, and as I thought, my boss really doesn't know me well. It's been a little over five months now, and there were only a few notes, repeated over and over again. Now I know that you might say that five months isn't a fair period, but after doing quarterly reviews, I'd say that there is enough to gain perspective if you're really watching.

The problem seems to be in the management style that the company has. While I love the way that management leaves you alone, I do see that the managers aren't truly engaged with what people are doing. They rely on simple numbers to make grades, and they rarely walk around and talk to you. Given that my particular job doesn't have a reliable productivity measure, there's not much to say whether you are actually doing anything or not. We've had one of the temps who was finally removed when one of the senior associates went to management and told them that he wasn't actually doing anything. He had been in the job for nine months.

The company overworks the managers with so many projects and ways to create changes for no real reason, that they don't actually get the time to sit down and really see what's happening. Of course, what makes it ironic is that they are looking for ways to make the common processes more productive and efficient (otherwise known as continuing to squeeze more out of your workforce), but if they'd just take a little more time working with their reps, I'd bet that they'd get more out of that than any other plan.

One of the problems of absentee management is that you never quite know where you sit, until your one review a year. Constant feedback, especially given as the problem or praise worth events arise is much better than finding out you did right or wrong several months after the fact. one shouldn't delay or hold back feedback.

So, you can imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago my manager actually spoke to me, telling me that she was worried about my email usage. She said that I emailed Hans too often during the day. I admitted, that yes, given that IM's aren't allowed at work, we did email back and forth quite a bit. We also did this at my previous job without any problems or complaints. Well, she said, this was a problem, and I told her that I'll be happy to change, but that the restrictions on email were never explained to me.

Of course, she said that they just got new monitoring software, and that higher ups were asking managers to check into people's email habits, since now they could. It wasn't that matter that it was important before, but now, with the new software it was a top priority since someone spent some money. Very interesting.

A big part of management is setting expectations. It makes it much easier to go into a review, because there should be no surprises as to what is measured, what is the norm, and where you sit. Here I have had no expectations set, so I've had to go on what I saw others work ethics were like and what they do in their day (minus the lazy temp) and emulate that. Luckily this was a good strategy as I received at least "proficient" and several "exceeds expectations." Go me.

My manager did mention that I have leadership qualities and have done well on some extra projects I've been given, and she was happy that I was so willing to work overtime (I need the money). Then she mentioned that she had to ask another co-worker that I had done these things. Thankfully I have made a good impression on that co-worker.

Oh well, because of the re-organization of the department, she won't be my manager for much longer, so really, I'm not worried about trying to really impress her or to make a bigger connection. I'll save my energy for my next manager, who will be a new manager, working for a raise at the review next July .

Hopefully he or she will tell me what they want...but I think I'll just ask, first.
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Screaming Amy, originally uploaded by eggwards.

It's the one, the only Screaming Amy, out at the happy hour that was held in the honor of my last day at work. About 25 people came to Berryhill in the beautiful weather to wish me off, oh, and to get drunk.

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It's really starting to feel as though things are wrapping up here in the Bayou City. Of course there's still a ton of things to do, and no, not everything will be wrapped up with the weekend. I'll have to come back after a week or two to get the furniture moved, because my father hasn't secured the new storage unit. It's fine actually, it gives me some extra time.

Today at work I sat there ready to discuss with my boss all the stuff he needs to know to run the group in my access, but he did some other things and took a long lunch (as did I, actually) and left without coming over. Luckily I've prepared for this, and actually trained my people, or other supervisors in most things, so there's backups for everything. I doubt that he wants to really learn anything, so that's bad for my group, and really bad for my opinion of him. Of course Gina, his boss doesn't ask too many questions, so he'll probably be able to skate by for a while as nothing gets done. Good luck to them on all of that.

I'm starting to let go. It's tough for me, but I'm getting to a point where I can no longer start anything new, and I'm wrapping up the old. I got to talk to my laid-off boss, Ed, at lunch today, and we talked about company direction and the people, but he's gotten away from a lot, and doesn't seem to be troubled by his abrupt layoff. It's a good attitude for me to take too.

Still, it's been very gratifying to hear people tell me that they will miss me. Out of the blue today, Wendell came over and told me that he will miss my diplomatic demeanor and how I kept control of his training class when others were being disruptive. that's big praise from the guy who was the one having the most trouble in the class. I'm glad that he's been able to do well in his job after I helped him get up to speed.

Tonight after getting a few more boxes, and using my pharmaceutical benefits for the last time (don't worry, the new job has benefits, I just don't know exactly what they do yet), I went out for dinner with Jerry ([livejournal.com profile] goofycubb). In going back to his house he said that he'd miss having me in town and wouldn't have anyone to watch The Amazing Race with anymore. i definitely will miss seeing him so often as well.

Of course I did the evil thing by introducing him to Project Runway tonight, watching last weeks and tonight's episode. As much as Jerry protested about not getting caught up with another show, but the end of the skater episode, he was adding Heidi to his DVR's record listing.

As I came home tonight, I took yet another way, just taking in things as I went under the watchful eye of a very big moon. It's not like I'll never come back to Houston, but I guess I'm just trying to mentally record things that I might not see in a short visit back to town. I guess it just makes me think of some of the things I'll miss, and not miss about this town.

While I might not miss the humidity, the constant freeway construction, or the panhandlers who inhabit each and every corner of Westheimer and Hillcroft, I will miss the winding drives on Memorial Drive, or the tree lined streets near Rice. i'll miss the city skyline and the fact that there's bayous, not creeks or streams. I'll miss that an old house is now a bar, and it sits right next to a house that is next to a factory next to a Stop and Rob.

I'm sure I'll come up with more as we get closer to move-day.
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The word got out among my team on Monday. Now they were nice and kept it amongst themselves for a few days, not telling me until I was asking for agenda items for Thursday's meeting where I was going to tell them. Melissa, the gal who's super scared of hurricanes, asked if I was going to have an announcement. I deflected by saying, "what announcement would that be?" she then wouldn't say much more.

When I did tell them, they all seemed to know it, but they were nice about it, though I could tell that they were worried about the future, and they have every right to be. With so much change, and the specter of outsourcing on their horizon, nothing is stable anymore. I told them that I'm trying to finish my projects as much as I can, but wouldn't be able to finish everything, so I'll try to dole out what I can.

The team wanted to take me to lunch because two of them will be on vacation this next week, so Friday was their last day with me. We went out to Double Daves for some pizza and talk. My new boss came as well, and so did a few of the team members I've had in the past who were with me on the 20 person team I had at one time. One of them, Morgan, a supervisor in his own right, joked that he would be taking over the team, but we all knew that there was a kernel of truth to it. he might get the gig, and that would be fine.

Every one had questions on who would take over, and I mentioned that I didn't know, but I'm hoping that they will pick John, the brightest of the current team members, to take over. My new boss said they haven't even talked about it yet, and that sounded par for the course to me. The team was concerned that I wouldn't be there to train someone, and I said that the company just doesn't move that fast, and the burden will be on them to make sure the team works and the new person understands what the team's special responsibilities are.

I worry about them. I guess I shouldn't, and move on, but this has been such a part of me.

By friday the entire office knew, and I got tons of questions of where I was going and what would I be doing. Almost every comment was followed by "are they hiring?" or "I hope to follow you out the door." No one seemed to have confidence in their future with the company. I guess this makes me feel better about leaving. I already know of another supervisor who's leaving so I guess 2006 will have as many people leave as last year did.

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On the homefront, I'm living with a lot of boxes, and I'm trying to get as many things ready to go out the door as I can. I still need to get the kitchen packed up, but I do have another week of living here to go. All the CDs are in boxes, as are the DVD's and the incredibly large amount of action figures I have. Things have been stuffed everywhere in my small apartment, so it takes time getting everything out of the nooks and crannies.

Last night, I had a rather good time going through all of the porn. Yep, all the published porn that's in the house. there are many, many magazines, most purchased between 1985 and 2001, before my internet connection caught up with my need for hunky images. Besides the large outlay of money that I lament on now, I noticed that the choices I made weren't always the best, as I tried to find my taste in men, and of course the availability to get good magazines.

As many of my bear friends would tell you, finally finding the late Bear Magazine was a godsend, though the early issues were kind of grungy. Still, I have plenty of issues of Advocate Men and Colt and other things, like the First Hand readers. When you're single and closeted, it was how you got by.

Now I hardly look at these things anymore, so I'm tossing a lot of it out. I'm keeping the Bear issues, since that's more of a collectors item for me, but a lot of other things - especially the issues where there was only one hot guy, they are not coming with me to Dallas. Unless someone wants them, And I guess you'll need to be local, the big trashbag of porn is going to make the apartment dumpster very, very gay for a couple of days.

Oh well, I have to go take some unneeded clothing over to Goodwill. Maybe I should take the trashbag of porn to the Salvation Army.

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