Friday, November 15, 2019

Focus on Me - pt. 1 - Change of Plans

     There's a lot to unload here so I hope you'll be patient with me.  If you're reading this, then kudos to you, and good luck getting through it!

     At the beginning of October, I had the opportunity to get a job again.  There were so many red flags to this though.  First off, I'd applied to this job months before and had forgotten mostly about it because they closed the job listing and hadn't responded to me.  Then I get a poorly written email wanting me to come in after hearing my passion for art restoration.  This was a job with a listing that was for art restoration, digital restoration, needing an art degree, and even though I didn't have an art degree I'd been around art for years and wrote this letter detailing how excited I was to learn the craft.
     I thought it was a craft.  I went in with these super high expectations and my interview was the general manager talking about her life, her ambitions and barely asked me about me.  I should have just said I'll think about it and left.  But I'd been searching for a job for six months and this was the first decent bite I'd received in a while.  So I took it, started my job the next week, and immediately regretted the decision.
     Nothing was organized, nothing was clear to what I should be doing and no one was informed about what my job actually entailed.  By the end of the week, I was being sent out on jobs to talk to people, driving in a large truck for hours at a time to all corners of Ohio and even down into Kentucky.  I wasn't told that this was part of the job, and at first, I thought it would be a once-weekly thing, for jobs that would be high-end art where they didn't know how to talk to these customers.  I thought, okay, I can handle this.
     But then it started to be just basic jobs, go by myself for hours and hours, trudging through these poor people's homes that had burned or had small fires and pulling artwork out, packaging it up and then driving hours again.  This was not in the job description.  Then it became twice a week, and I thought maybe I could handle it, but I started working 9, 10, even 12 hour days.
     My allergies started acting up because of these places, the smoke, the soot, the dust, the smell.  I'd come home and take a shower, change clothes and take allergy meds, hoping not to get sick.  I had a few fevers and then there were the chemicals we used when we were actually cleaning some of these things.  I enjoyed the few hours a week of doing that work, but I was sure it wasn't good for me.
     I trudged on because the others were trudging on.  But I was starting to get those anxiety attacks on the way into work again.  I didn't want to go.  I'd wake up and want to call in sick.  I didn't, but then I started realizing that my co-workers were ALL suffering from the same thing and they were starting to call off.  That left ME doing all of THEIR work.
     And none of this work was what was on the job description!  I was doing pack-outs and driving big box trucks (a skill I didn't know I had until a week ago, and I haven't tried backing them up yet but I could drive straight pretty well.)  But that wasn't what I was told the job was.
     Everyone who worked there was miserable.  The general manager spent 60-80 hours a week and kept saying 'I can't imagine not being here for everyone all the time.' I sat next to her briefly and I just squirmed and felt uncomfortable.  I wanted to be out of there, I realized that no one was happy, and even though most of them were there because they needed the hours, I didn't want the hours I was getting... in fact, I was being forced to work these hours suddenly and if I had been given full-time I'm not sure I would have lasted so long to begin with.

     So after getting through a 12-hour day, getting home over 13 hours after I'd left home that morning, listening to yet another co-worker complain about where we were working (and I had never heard a positive thing about this place in all of these weeks) I was done.  I went home and told my husband I was quitting the next day.
     Now, maybe if I had been able to make a final delivery, seen the happy looks on someone's face once their items were all back to new again and happy...maybe it would have been bearable.  But I never got to do those runs, never got to see anyone pleased.
     No, I got to be called a 'douche' by another pack-out company two days ago.  I pulled the Transit into the driveway of this nice little old lady's house and asked the people inside where she was.  "Don't know, she left ten minutes ago.  Who are you?"  I'm the art person.  I've come for the art.  The what?  I pointed at the paintings, those.  Oh.  The group of five women all sorta looked annoyed that I was invading their space.
     I finally met the homeowner and went upstairs to work out of the way of these other women.  I started to over-hear them complaining about my truck being in the way, that they wanted to go to lunch.  I finally spoke up and said, let me know and I can move to let you out.  So they finally did and I moved my vehicle into the driveway where I could more easily pack up.  But then they got back and were eating, no one said anything about me moving.  I kept working on the main floor now, they knew where I was.  I took some paintings out and I hear over the last remaining vehicle in the driveway on speaker "That douche won't move her truck.  She's blocking the whole drive and we can't get in again."  There was more but by that time I was so surprised that she would be talking on the SPEAKER where I could hear her clearly OUTSIDE of the truck... I hear, "Oh she's outside finally" (I'd been on the first floor in plain sight of everyone while they were eating) and the lady comes out, "Are you going to move?"
     "Sure, I was just getting wrapped up," I said, then as she glared at me and another truck pulled in saying "Because we can't park on the lawn" and then glaring at me from the truck, I finally stopped and said, "And by the way I can HEAR EVERYTHING YOU ARE SAYING."  And I walked in and took my time packing up the rest of everything before moving out of the drive.
     There's nothing like being glared at for doing my job and never being spoken to but behind my back.  The owner said she was next door, so I pulled into that driveway (where I'm sure the other workers could have pulled in this whole time) and went in to talk to her.  The lady was as sweet as could be and her neighbor had given her the run of the house while her house was being worked on.  I felt bad that such disagreeable people were in her house pawing through her things.  I just left.  I had more things I could have packed up and I found out later that the other guy who had come to get the electronics picked up the rest and I was to check all of those things in...

     The thing you have to understand was this job is a number of things.  Dealing with the multiple insurance companies, pack-out companies, cleaning and renovation places, and the poor homeowner who is just trying to get their house back to normal.  The place might have had a small fire that smoked up the entire place and now everything smells.  Putting out the fire might have caused water damage which, if not taken care of properly, might turn into mold and mildew.  The house is covered in soot and water, drywall, insulation, and then there are all of these people who come in to take it all out to clear the house out and start over.
     Basically, the job they gave me was to drive wherever, pack up anything art related, bring it back to catalog it, and then when the insurance companies gave the go-ahead, we would clean it, pack it up, and send it back again.  The houses were filled with soot, dust, insulation, dry-wall and who knows what else and all I was given was a paper face mask and some rubber gloves.
     I came home smelling of smoke, and not just from the job site but from every single employee who smoked cigarettes at every free moment.  My allergies from all of these things were acting up every single day and on Friday when I would be home, I'd just sit around feeling miserable all day.

     After a long, sleepless night, my throat hurting, my sinuses draining, nose running, no sleep and just plain exhausted after a 12-hour day, I got up and went to work.  I took all of the shirts they gave me in a bag, wrote up a couple of letters, and set it on the pile of paperwork with the key on the pile in the GM's office and just left.
     They'd recently cut a bunch of hours but were saying I'd still get all the hours.  Oh, and we'll get you a raise once we get going too... I think it was all this matter of "don't leave us, we have no idea what we're doing."  And I'm thinking this whole time that I should have been trained.  I should have gotten to watch videos on how to do things.  I should have been getting jobs from museums and art centers and spending time working on items in the office.
     I knew if I spent any time telling them I was leaving rather then this method, I'd be guilted into staying...we'll give you anything...  No, well, here's the thing, you got rid of two people who had been working here for over a year, not the person who was here for a month.  You gave me all of their jobs to do.  This was not in the description.  This place is a mess and I don't see any changes happening any time soon.  I'm sorry, my body can't handle doing EVERYTHING.
     Those feelings of anxiety I had when I saw the piles of stock at my other job just building up and my old manager not letting me work on any of it because she knew better and she wanted me doing this nonsense instead... it was all flooding right back to me again.

     I'm headed out here in another hour or so to go do a walk-in-interview somewhere else.  Maybe they won't want me (I've tried applying twice here already) but I'm going to try again.  I just want to work in a clean environment that's organized, where I get training, where people are glad I'm there and I am glad to be there.
     I realized this morning as I drove to work that never once did I celebrate getting this job.  From the very first moment, I didn't want to be there.  Everything inside of my head said, "you can't stay here."  And that's not the job for me.  Even though I could have handled it, I didn't want to put myself through that anymore.

     My husband has been supportive.  I know he's kind of freaking out inside that here we're going into the holiday season and he's feeling a bit more secure in his job but he still doesn't feel completely comfortable there yet.  I'm sure thinking about money is hard and I know that it is troubling, but if I wear myself out I won't be able to get another job.  And at this's not worth it.  I need to have the motivation to do something new and find the excitement again.

     So, change of plans... onwards to a better future!

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