Dealing with Chaos

Work is crazy. I am only claiming the craziness that rightfully belongs to me.

I found out last week that I am only an independent contractor at one of my jobs. If I had known that, I would never have taken the job. But I am not quitting. I will use it for as much experience as I can get.

And now at least one person is saying no to the independent contractor BS. My immediate boss is out on military maneuvers for two weeks and the family that runs the place is on vacation for the next two weeks. Nobody knows what is going on and I am not in the loop. So tomorrow will be more chaos, but, whatever, I will charge them for the time I am dealing with this drama. If they don’t pay me for all the time, I am done.

In other words, there is a lot of drama, but most of it is not mine and it is not worth taking on as my own.

Then there was the refrigerator drama. “What the heck is refrigerator drama?” you may ask. Saturday evening, I heard some thumping noise and thought that the upstairs neighbors got a big dog that was thumping. Sunday, I realized the noise was my fridge. The noise would happen for hours and then mercifully stop. But the food was still cold and I didn’t want to treat the situation as an emergency. So Monday morning I called the management people. I wasn’t sure they had paid attention to my request. So I called them again in the evening. This morning, the fridge was thumping again and I was about to walk out the door to go to work when they knocked on my door and asked if I had a refrigerator problem. I said, “Can’t you hear it?” They said they would lock up when they left. They called me at work at about 1 and asked when I could empty out the fridge so they could replace it. I said two. There was chaos at work and I had to leave to empty it out. I got home at about 5 minutes to 2. I threw away almost everything except my frozen dinners. They arrived at about 2:30, removed the old one (still running and thumping),and replaced it with one from a neighboring empty apartment.

After cleaning up the mess of the kitchen, I had to go to an audiologist appointment so Michigan Rehabilitative Services will help pay for my hearing aids.

The theme of my life right now seems to be dealing with my feelings, not over-reacting, and not taking responsibility for things I have zero control over.

The solution at work is transparency. Openness and honesty are the only way people are not going to feel lied to and deceived. Anything less speaks volumes about unethical  management.


Isolated to Focus?

I am having assorted problems. I always look for a theme to my woes.

At least one of my trial hearing aids is not working. I can only, and just barely, hear the phone ring in my left hearing aid. They are programmed into my IPhone5. When technology works, it makes your life so much easier, but when it doesn’t, it is pretty much worthless.

About a week ago, my friend in MD called. I was not accustomed at all to my hearing aids and I may have hung up on her. I may have put my ear onto the phone, which may have accidentally hung up on her because putting my ear to the phone, I think, pushes a button that I don’t want pushed. I have tried calling her back and get her voice mail after just one ring, which is odd, because it has always taken 5 rings for her voice mail to pick up. She may be angry at me, but I have no way of finding out with my hearing aids not working….

And then I have friends who have no idea that actions and words have consequences. There is my friend of thirty years, S, who cheated on her husband, put me in the middle, and then expects me to keep her secret. It dawned on me a few days ago that, even if she told her husband tomorrow, nothing would change what she has done to me. Time won’t change the fact that she put and kept me in an untenable situation for years. A true friend would never, ever do that.

And then there is the friend with cancer, W. W has been living with my friend L since 2012, when L rescued her from homelessness. L kept telling W to not use the address as a mailing address or to tip off management. W accidentally told someone in management a month or two ago that she lived there. Now L has her rent increased by $50 a month and owes that extra $50 retroactively back to the time L moved in in 2004. Perhaps L can have a neighbor sign that W has only been there since 2012, but, if not, L will likely owe $7000 to $8000 in back rent and may have to pay it immediately or risk eviction in 30 days. I won’t take in W because she just screwed over her most recent roommate. I don’t need a roommate like that. She was simply careless. The issue: W is a few years older than myself, 53 or 54. She is too old to have such loose lips. They really do sink ships.

What the hell is wrong with people? I keep hearing that Mercury is in retrograde, as if that explains all the insanity on earth. I guess it hurts people’s ability to communicate. That’s easy to believe.

All I can focus upon is work. Now I am working for DS Huber. They have the right concept: Lansing is becoming a rental town, full of grad students looking to rent houses. They are expanding quickly. I get the impression that the head guy’s wife just wants to stay at home and raise their children, but he’s into real estate and, since she is talented, she is doing a lot of stuff from home. I think she wants to unload that stuff onto me. Starting with payroll. She is training me on that. Also, I am getting accustomed to this software, Rentmanager, where I can generate bills. Last week, I went to the website of the Lansing City Assessor’s office and looked up properties and put the amount due for summer taxes into Rentmanager. Also, they have some realtors working for them, purchasing properties. Each one is responsible for paying the various repair/tax bills for their listings, but that is getting to be a bit much, so they are going to start unloading that onto me. And I am supposed to start on-boarding people, knowing which are normal w-2 employees and which are 1099 independent contractors. And this is me after one week.

And this is all good, once I get used to it. I have a theory that adults do four basic things: marriage, children, school, and work. I never wanted kids. Marriage? Been there, done that. School? So been there, done that. I wanted to work when I graduated but had a sick husband. So that didn’t happen. But now it is all I want to do. I have a key to the office building. I really want to do a good job and be the best they’ve ever seen.

I am just left wondering if the universe is trying to prevent me from doing pretty much anything else. I can’t seem to reach people and some of the people in my life I’m not sure I want in my life anymore. I feel isolated but like there are too many coincidences. There is a message here somewhere, but I’m not getting it.

From Zero to Sixty in Six Weeks

Remember when I had no job? Now I have two! Seriously.

I started working for this guy that flips houses. He thinks I’m great. Then, another guy who flips houses on a much larger scale hired him–and me.

Right now I am very frustrated because I am trying to handle all of his accounts and the passwords and user IDs he has given me do not work. So I am accomplishing zilch at the moment.

My boss, Jim, is a little ADD. And I am a little Asperger-y. He wants me to handle all the non-physical aspects of the company. If I had access to the accounts, things could get accomplished, but no. My autistic-ish tendencies make me want to rock back and forth in my chair until something changes. So I’m trying to be Zen and meditate while awaiting someone who can actually help me to call or show up.

I sooooooo want to do a good job.

Younger Me Still Exists!

A few days ago, I was at the Biggby’s coffee house where Barry and I always went on his meeting days. I miss him so much and the people there know me and knew him.

Anyhoo…I was staring out the window into the sky, watching the clouds go by and had this sudden feeling of recognition: it was the same feeling I always had staring at the sky while lying on my back behind the high school growing up. I have always loved being alone. But I hadn’t had that feeling in over thirty years.

I thought that part of me had died after 29 years of marriage. Has it been hibernating for three decades? Where has it been?

I feel like I am resuming my single life, which I had never developed in my youth.

And I have a job! I am working for a guy that flips houses, Jim. He’s a really good guy, but a tad ADD. He is unorganized and that’s where I come in. So far, I am simply organizing his receipts, but I have learned how to run payroll. He trusts me with everything, which is huge. He just started his business. My work has started small, but I realize that this job will probably take over my life in the next year.

Long-term agenda: get some awesome experience so I can leave Michigan and work anywhere. I am contemplating Columbus, OH, because I have family there.

Short-term agenda: contact my Indian friend in NC and schedule a long weekend with her before the job takes over my life. I haven’t gone to see her in years. She came to visit me in February 2017. I could not go to her because I could not leave Barry. I have gone nowhere for years. Literally and figuratively. I can travel now that Barry is gone. My first trip was this past February to visit my parents in FL. Now I can have my own life.

Am I ready?

I have been helping this house-flipping guy. I was referred to him by a friend. Thus far, I have been organizing his receipts (and putting them in an Excel spreadsheet) and helping him efficiently receive his Menard’s rebates. Menard’s is a home-improvement chain headquartered in Wisconsin. He just started his company.

The other day, he was online doing a bid for some job. He emailed someone and referred to me as his “administrator”. Holy crap. This is a new company. This is a mega-opportunity. I cannot turn it down. But I feel a little in over my head. I have been intentionally applying only for part-time positions and have now signed up for a job that might threaten to consume my life.

I feel like Joey on “Friends” when he got the lead in a movie in Vegas. He’s sitting in the coffee shop and says, “This is my big break. It’s what I’ve waited for my whole life. Why haven’t I been preparing?!” I need to clear up my apartment to make room for a real-life office. Just for starters.

I have realized that we are all preparing for something. If you want Mr. Right, you must make yourself desirable to him. You have to be Mrs. Right. Centuries ago, women went to actual “finishing schools” to learn house-wifery. The concept is ridiculously antiquated today, but the principle still and always applies. Same thing with employment. You may be looking for the perfect organization, but they are looking for the perfect employee. The question is, “What do you bring to the table?”

The next phase of my life is really starting. I have a lot to do.

Heard Myself

My life is going in a good direction slowly.

I am now working a house-flipper. He’s very interesting. He just started his company about two months ago. He has no system, so I am helping him the way I helped the Chinese lady, entering his receipts onto an Excel spreadsheet and keeping track of them. I can do a lot for him.

My normal job search has not gone well. But I know it is not just me. I apply for a job I see posted online. I interview for it. I don’t get it. And I keep seeing the same job posted over and over. I am not what they want, but clearly neither is anyone else because the position is going unfilled.  Whatever the local employers are looking for is simply not in the labor pool. Everyone keeps telling me that the problem is not me. I believe them now.

The issue is one of skill range versus wage range. The skill requirements for these jobs range wildly, from burger-flipping to high-end administrative skills (three years experience of data entry, two years of customer service, and must be familiar with databases). However, the pay range is minuscule, from $10/hr to about $14/hr. Reality check #1: absolutely nobody with the skills being demanded for some of these jobs is going to apply for them at $10/hr, unless they just got out of rehab or prison. Reality check #2: nobody in their right mind is going to go up to their eyeballs in student loan debt for a raise of $1 or $2/hr. Employers get what they pay for. A $10/hr employee might need time off to see their parole officer or some leeway if the buses are running late because $10/hour is insufficient pay to support yourself and own a car.

Long story short: employers in Michigan are driving away everybody with an education and real skills with their low wages and zero opportunity for advancement.

About six years ago, my friend who now lives in Maryland graduated law school and was looking for a job. I kept telling her, “You have an amazing and unique skill set. I do believe there is a fabulous job out there for you–but you will likely have to move to another state.”

A week or two ago, she repeated it back to me practically verbatim. Suddenly I understood. It sank in.

So I have expanded my job search area to include Grand Rapids to the west, Jackson to the South, Brighton to the east, and Dewitt/St Johns to the north. For the time being while I live in Michigan.

But my long-term plans are elsewhere. I am looking at other job markets: Columbia, Missouri, Charleston, West Virginia, and even Columbus, Ohio. Places with reasonable rental costs and abundant jobs all at the same time. But it would be hilarious to go to Columbus, home of the nemesis of both U of M and MSU: the Buckeyes.

In the mean time, I am helping the house-flipper by getting him organized, doing data entry, and doing research for him.

My future is bright. Michigan’s, not so much.

A Good Sign?

I have been dealing with strong feelings. There is the “OMG! Why doesn’t anyone want me?!” panic, with occasional bouts of optimism.

Why is this a possible good sign? Because it takes a certain amount of energy to panic. Having dealt with depression since I was about 10, I know that true depression precludes panic or even giving a rat’s ass about anything. Serious depression means simply not caring about what is going on because there is a zero percent chance that any possible event would have an  emotional impact to make one feel better.

I see my life right now as having crashed. My car has crashed from Barry’s passing. I have gotten out of the car with the smoking engine. I am standing in the middle of nowhere, scratching my head. Everything in the car has splattered on the inside of the windshield from the abrupt halt. I am okay, but really, really lost.

A friend suggested I start looking for jobs in Grand Rapids. I might do that. Lansing has nothing. I seriously mean nothing. Just the same old re-posts of jobs I have already applied for. This tells me that neither I nor anyone else is meeting the expectations of employers. Whatever it is they are looking for, they are not finding it. At all. It is so not me.

I can’t even imagine hunting for a job with an opioid addiction or felony on my record. I am squeaky clean and having these issues. These people must be ready to off themselves. I am not kidding.