Jul 28, 2011

Welcome to My Experiment

So, here it is. My first blog. Nope, I've never done this before, but I have, however, been a contributor for online articles and other types of media. This blog is sort of just an idea that popped into my head on my way to the gas station across the street for some much needed coffee.

For your sake, this little idea of mine is mainly for entertainment purposes in which I hope it is entertaining (and maybe serve as a little guidance) ... at least entertaining enough to make you come back. My hopes aren't high in that regard, but, in this life, you never know what's going to happen next. I should also let you know that names are changed throughout (especially mine) because, well, it keeps me from being embarrassed in case this is a complete failure and it also keeps weirdos away.

I'm done with my intro now, so I guess this is where I get started ...

I have quit the same job three times. Yep ... that's right. Three times. And how is that accomplished, you may ask? I'll start from the beginning. A couple of years ago, I found myself in a really good paying job that I enjoyed and got along very well with my coworkers. Just like everyone else in this economy, instead of getting the raise, I got that piece of clothing that everyone hates getting ... the boot. Laid off. Nada. Zilch. No more job. Luckily, I had a back-up.

While working for this extremely exciting company, I was in school full-time and eventually got my license to practice as a registered nurse.  I figured, I'll take the week off for a little bit of 'me' time and then hit the classified ads, Craigslist, Monster.com, etc., and do something with my license. I didn't have it long. I had it for about six months and, in the mean time, I did some volunteer work at the local free clinic at night. As all nursing students know, they are advised not to work during nursing school. I had bills to pay and pets to feed, so I pretty much had no choice. I was, however, lucky enough to have a virtual job (at the time, of course) where we all worked from home. Don't get me wrong. I knew my employees. We would travel for weeks at a time together, we got together once in awhile for company training, we communicated either over the phone or in a chat room on a daily basis, and  through it all we've managed to stay pretty close friends. Anyhow, so I decided, I'm taking some 'me' time and making up for lost time with my dogs and catching up on some TV shows that I missed.

The following Monday, I brushed up my resume, searched the job listings, bought a newspaper (which I rarely ever did and only if either I or someone I knew had an article posting in it for sentimental value), and started applying. Two days later, I started getting calls from employers. Sadly, they weren't the right employers. (Here's a little warning ... when you post your resume in a database where all hiring employers can search for their next correct match, more than likely it will be someone who will ask you to come in for an interview only to find out that they're trying to sell you the opportunity to make money real fast so that they can make more money at the expense of your hard work by allowing you to work on your own schedule - for example, Nationwide, Mary Kay, Avon, etc. It's that whole pyramid ploy thing that people get wrapped up in.)

So, to make a long story short, nurses are in dire need. Let me rephrase that. Nurses with EXPERIENCE are in dire need. Two years later, my younger sister, who was currently working as a manager for a local franchise owned by a family member of ours and getting paid sweatshop wages, landed herself a job out of state. Growing up, we were taught to help family when family members are in need because at the end, all you'll have left is family. Naturally, I stepped in where she left off. I figured, I'm not doing anything else, no one is hiring, $100 a month is better than nothing, and, well, because I have the biggest issue with saying 'no'.

Anyhow, a few months into it, I found myself doing the marketing, scheduling, and budget. (Let me stop right there really quick ... I was doing all of this without any knowledge or insight by the business owner and my younger sister suddenly became unreachable.) The owner finally gave me the insight that I needed to help generate income. For instance, "We charge this much for this because we have to make sure there's enough for that." I've never run a business before so you could imagine how clueless I was for the first few months. At this time I asked politely, "Is anything else that I need to know to help out like a manual or something? And if there is, can you loan it to me so that I can get a better understanding of what the heck I'm doing here?"

Time went on, I never got the manual until I found it stashed in the corner of one of the building closets in a bag. It explained a lot - how to market, how to schedule events, how to sell merchandise, etc. Two months later, one of our employees quit. No warning. No hint. Nothing. Just decided she didn't want to be there anymore. Until I could find a replacement (because she was one of two employees - not counting myself - that worked for the business), I ended up fulfilling her duties plus other duties that were added to my plate. My duties, not counting the quitting employee's duties, now consisted of front desk assistant/front desk manager, event planner/party assistant, party decorator/janitor, director/maintenance personnel/accountant ... and so on ... for $100 per month. With her leaving, that added lead instructor/instructor's assistant/lesson planner/support material planner ...

So, you see, I went from earning appropriate income that suited me and my way of living - I hardly went out since all of my friends lived in other states - and working a 9 to 5 job that I didn't mind working overtime knowing I wasn't getting paid for it to working 72 hours a day, 12 days a week, nine weeks a month ... you get my point ... for a whopping $100.00 a month. (Not to mention that I pay this family member nine times more in rent.) And what is up with all this clothing? First I get the boot, then I'm wearing lots of hats?

As anyone would in my situation, I scheduled an event and totally forgot about it. The person with whom I scheduled the event for called and, being out with friends for once, I ignored the call. My family member, as usual, forwarded the message to my phone even though she was sitting about 5 yards away, and looked angry. So, she yelled at me (in front of all our friends) and actually asked, "Is it really that hard to add something to a calendar?" I was fuming! I said, "I can't believe you have the audacity to ask me a question like that. I quit!" (Quit #1).

She decided that maybe now was the time to hire someone new to take the other girl's place. (Ya think?) and so, the hiring process. Now I was the HR department. I placed a couple of wanted ads - one for her position and one for front desk assistant - and ended up with about 75 applicants for the front desk assistant and 4 for the other girl's position. I would be the first interviewer and the owner would be the final interviewer. That was the plan, anyhow. I called in a few applicants, interviewed them, explained the hiring process to them, and finished by saying, "After I have made my decisions, the owner will schedule prospective employees for an interview with her." That was it.

After two weeks of interviews (all while being those that I have explained above), I gave her a list of the employees I thought would be beneficial for the business with their contact information and my part was done. Her part never started. What she said was, "Go ahead and hire who you think will work out well." With may past HR experiences being however many years you think times zero, I hired them and training began.

Day 1, the other girl's replacement couldn't make it because she has 10 other jobs (I'm exaggerating, of course. I think it was closer to five). I ended up taking over for that day. In the process of hiring, I hired two assistant instructors just in case something like this would happen. Good, right? Well, apparently, they couldn't make it either because they both have another job as well. I ended up asking the front desk assistant to help out and, little did I know, she freaks out when there are more than two adults in one room (that would include the both of us). I figured, she's just starting, I should give her some time to adjust.

Day 2, I get a complaint from one of the new employees stating that she worked really hard at cleaning the place up because it was so dirty after the employee before her came in. Their job duty, however, included that they were responsible for keeping the workplace clean and organized. It was ok with me. They were just starting out.

Day 3, again, no one can come in.

Day 4, the office assistant sends me a text all in capital letters because she was angry at the fact that people keep asking her questions. I mean, duh. No, I didn't fire her for berating me. (Although now I know I should have.)

Eventually, I was doing more work than what I had hoped hiring four new people would eliminate. Now, my new hat ... babysitter. I sent a letter to the owner after I found myself laying all my anger on my dogs. The letter said, "I quit." That was that, right? This was Quit #2.

Her response? "I'm sorry that you don't want to work there anymore and understand that you have other things to take care of, but I just wanted to say thanks for all your help. You did a great job running the place." I felt good. No more dealing with other people. No more trying to rescue the business because apparently the new employees had issues with showing up on time. No more using my own money to fund the materials and having to wait until the end of the month to be reimbursed even though I ended up overdrawing on my account and what she paid me helped me go from about -$1,000 to only -$900. I was SMILING again!

Five hours later, her husband asks if he can speak with me. It starts off with, "We want to close the business down but we still have all these events that were planned that we need to get through. Do you think you can just hang on until the last of the events are over? It's only six weeks." Sigh. I walked away, my head hung low, shoulders sagging, feeling greatly defeated. Six more weeks. Sigh.

I continued, knowing I wasn't going to last long, but what could I do? I had no job yet, I had dogs to feed (I lost 40 lbs just from not having enough time to eat and running around like crazy) and it was just - six - weeks. Fine.

So, a week later, the  employees started complaining again. "You didn't pay me for all the times I stayed here and cleaned!" "The place is dirty!" "I wasn't sure how to answer the client's questions so I dropped everything and left." and on and on and on.

Two weeks later, I got tired of all the people yelling at me, telling me what to do ... it was as if I hired four directors not to mention I had to answer to the owner and her husband. Things were boiling - and I mean BOILING! New clients were angry because they weren't getting what they paid for. Employees were getting angry because the owners haven't paid them. I ended up having to sacrifice reimbursement for all the materials I bought because of employee demand ... things were not good.

One glorious, sunshine morning, I received an email from the other girl's replacement. "I was wondering if I could get my check early. I worked 20 hours." Really? I was there about 72 hours a day and i saw her a total of three times just for the events she was scheduled for. I decided that she needed to be set straight. I replied to her message calmly telling her that she was not getting paid for twenty hours of work. I was calmly letting her be aware that she was not scheduled to work today (because she thought she had the right to ask an assistant to come in and help out for an event that only had two participants so that she can leave early and get to her other job) and that the assistant was going to take over for the day. I called her and left a message explaining the same thing. She never got my message. Why? Because she was at her other other job.

I was running late because: 1) I had to reply to her email. 2) I had to pick up the materials for the event. 3) I had to go to the owners house to print out directions for the clients because I had no money to buy ink for my own printer. I got to the business facility twenty minutes late (which followed a message from the front desk assistant claiming that the clients left and were angry and that I need to practice organization). So, sue me. I was seething by then. I went in there yelling. I gave the girl her pay check (post dated of course) and she was angry at the amount. I looked at the front desk assistant and said, "Don't you EVER tell me what I need to do." The assistant who was asked to come in sat quietly, not saying a word.  For almost a year of hard work for nothing, I finally exploded! It was great! Very exhilarating! So much adrenaline was pumping through me that my entire body was shaking!

I went into my office for about five minutes to calm down. I took a deep breath. Eventually, I opened my door, coming face to face with the girl asking for an early paycheck. And she continued. "I was here for this many hours and you aren't paying me for my services! I stayed here and cleaned ALL BY MYSELF!" And right behind her? The quiet one. "There are bugs all over the place! This place is so dirty!"

I stared at both of them ... and calmly said to the quiet one, "If you have a problem with the cleanliness of this place, (and then not so calmly) THEN TAKE IT UP WITH HER! SHE WAS HERE FOR FIVE HOURS CLEANING ALL BY HERSELF!" I walked towards the entrance, they both followed me (the office assistant letting me know that I did cheat the other girl out of how many hours she worked) and I stopped dead in my tracks before I reached the front door and turned around.

"First of all, (looking at the office assistant), I know how many hours she's been here. What she writes in her daily planner (then turning my head in the other girl's direction) DOES NOT MAKE IT THE BIBLE! Secondly, (pointing at the office assistant) you (then pointing at the girl with the pay issues) and you are fired. I quit!" That would make it Quit #3.

That was about three weeks ago. Now, the owners won't change the voice mail message letting everyone know the business is now closed, they send me messages left on their voice mail, I don't answer the phone when they call, and I don't listen to any of my messages or check on missed calls. Yesterday, the owner called, I answered, and she said, "Can you call this lady back?"

Hellooo? You just spent the last minute or so dialing my phone number. Don't you think that maybe it should have been that lady's phone number you should be calling? I mean, doesn't that make sense? I didn't say that to her, but I did say it to a friend of mine (like that helped any) after I got off the phone with the owner (a relative of mine). I did, however, reminded her that I am no longer her employee and followed the call with a nice little email with the dictionary meaning of "quit" just in case she didn't understand what that meant.

So, my daily pondering today lies in wondering: where do I go from here?