Slacker Jacks

I feel like I’ve been steadily consuming a huge box of Slacker jacks. And the prize at the bottom? EPIC FAILURE, DISAPPOINTMENT, AND A LIFE OF RETAIL!

These taste like despair and self-loathing.

These taste like despair and self-loathing.

Every time I have a terrible shift I redouble my efforts to find a new job. But then I just get depressed. Because there aren’t any new jobs. I mean, if I really wanted to work at a different grocery store. Or an auto parts store. Or prostitute myself. Then, yeah, I’d have tons of options. But the point is to find something better and not just new.  All retail is really the same. All customers are assholes. And I really need to stop working with the public before I never go outside again because I see douches and morons everywhere. Everywhere. 

But I keep making the same excuse not to just move to Columbus, Ohio and become some sort of midwesterner. This trip Ireland. I have been really concerned with a new job being like, “Oh yeah, you just started here. Take 10 days off.” /sarcasmfont

So, once I get back in three weeks. IT IS ON. You hear that Slacker Jacks? You’re going in the trash. I’m going to Trader Joe’s and getting some bulk, organic… Successios. Whatever. Success is much more difficult to make into a snack or cereal. Productiveites? That sounds like some form of amoeba. Well…you guys know what I want to do there. Just pretend that I came up with some really good thing. Or stick with the amoeba, if you’re into Biology or something,

As it turns out, if I fail horribly, my current place of employment is apparently not above taking you back if you just walk out one day. So there’s that.

Also, prostitution is always there. The service industry is basically that, anyways.

I imagine most of my clientele like this.

I imagine most of my clientele like this.

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It’s a job, isn’t it?

“Roar! Customer always right!” (This was basically my day)

It’s been a hectic few days trying to get back into the swing of working, especially since I’ve been going in at 8 or 9 am. There’s also the fact that I basically have no idea what I’m doing and by the time I get off work, I’m exhausted and have four hours before I have to go to sleep so I can wake up and do it again.

In between all of that, though, I’ve had one question put to me repeatedly by friends and family, “How is it?”

The only way I can possibly put it is, “It’s a grocery store job.”

I mean, what do people expect me to say? It’s everything I ever wanted? It’s much better than I expected? It’s a job and it’s exactly what I expected. I stand there. I take items out of a cart. I move the items across the scanner or punch in a series of numbers that relate to the item. Those items are put into a bag.  I take their money, hand them receipt and off they go. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Part of me really, really wishes I had just stayed on unemployment and waited it out. The other part of me realizes that I really need a job in order to make it to a point where I can find another job. The other thing I keep hearing from friends and family is, “It’s always easier to get a job when you already have one.”

But is that really true? Is it easier? I mean, I worked at my last job for four years and I don’t think I was any more capable of getting a different job than I was when I was on unemployment. Of course with the money I was making and the fact that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I was much less motivated to do something different. Being back to barely making enough to survive will probably provide the necessary jolt to keep me going in my job search.

There’s also the fact that several companies actually admit to completely ignoring applications from unemployed people. That’s just insane! It’s the people who don’t have jobs who really need them! I mean, I’m sure people like myself with menial jobs need better jobs too. But I think it would be more fair if everyone qualified was given a chance. Wouldn’t a manager rather hire the person who is most qualified rather than  the person who just so happens to be lucky enough not to lose their job in this economy? Apparently not.

Frankly, I  think the way businesses are run these days needs a serious makeover. Unfortunately that won’t happen until several other things in this country get a makeover. But I’m not here to discuss politics.

So here is my to-do list for the last part of 2012 ( which has NOT turned out the way I had anticipated…):

  1. Try my best not to kill any biotches at the grocery store
  2. Continue to look for and apply to better jobs
  3. Continue taking online courses
  4. Continue attempting to get an internship/volunteer position
  5. Put together my graduate school application
  6. Have as much fun as humanly possible because I realized I was letting my job drain my life of happiness and enjoyment

I think these are relatively manageable things.  I started my Craft of Magazine Writing Course today. And finish my Intro to Microsoft Excel 2010 next week. I was hoping to start Introduction to Internet Writing Markets today as well. I just can’t afford to take 2 classes at the same time right now unfortunately.

Anyways, be prepared for amusing/enraging/sarcastic anecdotes from my new job! I already have some pretty good ones.

She Works Hard for the Money

Well. The day has come. I have been offered a job. I really cannot decide how I feel about the whole situation. Part of me is relieved that I’ll have an income again. Part of me is disappointed that I am taking another service industry job. Granted, as far as being a cashier, there are worse places to work.

It’s at a  brand of super nice grocery store. The atmosphere is much better than your usual fluorescent, over-crowded, 80’s hits playing store. They offer all the usual stuff like produce, meat, fish, dairy, dry goods, etc. But they also have an amazing prepared food area with organic meals and classy looking little desserts. A wider variety of food options and better quality looking food overall. The focus is more on the experience and what they offer than on cramming as much GMO crap into one space as possible. There are lots of organic, vegan, whole food options all set out in a quaint looking little store with soft lighting and friendly people.

So I could do worse. When I think about the idea of working in another grocery store like the one I had my first job at, I cringe (like I mentioned in this post)

The screaming kids and angry customers with fake coupons wanting their money back…ick.

The pay is…eh… much better than what I was getting as a cashier before. Not actually enough to continue living the way that I was, but better than minimum wage. There’s a review after 90 days and the possibility of a raise. So that’s nice.
And they promised full-time. So I kind of had to take it. Who am I to turn down the offer of full-time work that pays above the minimum wage? So many people are out there, in worse situations than I am, looking for work just like I am. Am I to decide that I am ultimately better than they are? Am I too good to work as a cashier? No. I did go to college and get the degree and gain tons of debt. But that doesn’t mean I’m a better person or a better employee than the other people with the same education, more education, or even less education. Turning down this job after over a month of trying, putting in over 50 applications, and literally no other viable opportunities just seemed… self-righteous and a little silly.

This also ran through my mind: What if I don’t get another chance at work for another month? Or two? Or three? Am I really going to live off of $244 a week from unemployment for several months? Plus, the longer you are out of work  the worse it starts to look to future employers. They start asking for explanations. So what do I tell them? That I was offered full time work and turned it down because I thought I could do better? If the next job offer is another service job that probably wouldn’t go over so well.

Sometimes, in this life, we all have to accept what we are given and then do everything we can to try and improve our own situations, as well as the situations of those around us. That’s why I’m still very interested in volunteer work while I have this job. Fitting it in could prove to be much more difficult, of course. But it’s something I’d still like to attempt.

So, what do you guys feel about this? I’m truly curious. Did I make the good choice? Should I try to back out while I still can (I have a pretty good excuse. My boyfriend and I are sharing one car because his is no longer okay to drive)?  A friend of mine works there and it literally took her 2 years to get moved up just one position…so it doesn’t look like there are too many opportunities to move up in a reasonable amount of time. Do you think that going from management to peon will look bad on my resume? Let me know! I could really use some feedback.

Skeezy Scammers Part Two – Multi-Level Marketing

So you’re browsing through the job sites, innocently trying to figure out how you’re going to afford food for your 5 cats when you come across something that looks rather interesting. It appears to be some sort of marketing firm: “Marketing associate needed ASAP!! Contact today!!!” You fancy yourself a bit of  a creative person. And marketing seems like it could be a great way to make money, just figuring out what people want to buy and how to sell it.

The company offers to train you and claims that you need no prior experience. Great! Finally a place that understands you can’t get your foot in the door without a little initial help.

You start to get a little skeptical, though. You read my last post about scams and the job listing seems sort of vague. They say you make great money and you don’t have to call anyone. There’s something mentioned about selling directly to the consumer, but isn’t that what you always do to sell stuff?

You check out their website, just be sure. A smart cookie like yourself doesn’t want to get caught up in the midst of a money sucking scam.

Our mission at Bullshit Marketing is to create a greater awareness for our clients by using a cutting edge promotional marketing method to bring their products or services directly to the community.

Ok, ok. That sounds…good I think.

We strive to reach goals not only for our company, but our clients, customers and staff as well.

To create a stronger presence in our community for the clients we represent, to go above and beyond the norm and have a level of success that far exceeds our competition.

Well…that’s literally what every other company tries to do…

Bullshit Marketing is a marketing company and our goal is to provide Client Acquisition services for a wide range of satellite and communications clients. We create a synergy between our various clients and retailers that give both the opportunity to touch different people that they may not normally reach.

So you read that last bit about 6 times. And it starts to sound a lot like you’re selling television and satellite television packages to people. That doesn’t actually sound like marketing…that sounds like sales. The annoying type of sales. But they say you don’t have to call!

The rest of the website just repeats the above phrases over and over in different variations. You sort of know what they are trying to do, but things aren’t clear exactly.

This is because it is a multi-level marketing company. This type of company is really no better than regular old telemarketers. But instead of calling you and bothering you at home, they come up to you in major stores. The particular business that I am referring to is local and sells satellite television packages. Or tries to anyways. But there are several different types all selling different things.

What happens:

You contact them about the job opening and in the next 24 to 48 hours they will call you. And email you. And call about 3 more times. Their tactic here is a bit similar to the internet scams. They want you to think that this is a once in a life time opportunity. “Call us back NOW! We have very limited job openings and want YOU to be on our team. Please call HR to set up an interview.” These people use high-pressure tactics to sell, as well as to hire employees. The idea is that if you think that you have to act now or you’ll never get the chance to work in NYC at a multimillion dollar marketing firm and live in a penthouse, you’ll immediately contact them. Truth is, they probably have unlimited job openings. Any sucker they can get to work for them is good enough.

If you do go in for the first interview, you’ll inevitably be asked to about 2 or 3 more. They’ll ask your practically nothing while claiming that you can make well over minimum wage if you work hard enough. The high-pressure pitch comes in to play once again and they’ll practically beg you to sign up. It’s all laid out for you. First you’re a marketing associate. Then, in a few weeks, you will get promotion after promotion after promotion. After a few promotions you can hire your own people to sell for you, called a downline. Theoretically you all get commission for what you sell.

Once you have the job, which you’ll certainly get, they send you out to stores to sell to people. And that’s where this all starts to fall apart. How frequently do people go to Best Buy to get a television package? An actual television, sure. But if  they want the TV they probably already have a cable or satellite provider. Or they’ve decided that they just want to watch Netflix. It’s obnoxious to try to enjoy your day while some guy follows you around begging you to buy DirectTv. So sales…probably not so good. You’ll end up broke and fired for not making enough money.

And while these types of businesses are technically legitimate, most people consider they to be a type of pyramid scheme, which is a whole different mess.

What to look for:

  • Vague descriptions of pretty much everything
  • The promise of almost immediate promotion
  • Calls itself a marketing firm, but you can barely figure out what they are marketing.
  • Literally promises no cold-calls. Almost a guarantee that you have to do something equally as awful.
  • The interviews seems more like sales pitches than actual interviews.

So with this new information, I send you out into the job market to make something of your life and avoid the jerks trying to pull one over on you. If you really want help figuring out what type of company you’re about to apply to, try Glassdoor. A nifty little site that has reviews of the company, the application process, salaries, interviews, and interview questions. If the place you’re thinking about working is no good, it is almost sure to pop up on this site!

Skeezy Scammers Part One – The Get Rich at Home Scam

To put it bluntly, a lot of people are out of work right now. The NC Division of Employment Security claims that unemployment rates are down in 72 out of 100 counties. As impressive as that sounds, it really doesn’t mean a whole lot to me overall. We still have a whopping 451,806 out of work just in North Carolina and 9,951 in my county, Buncombe. No wonder people can hardly find jobs! Or, excuse me, jobs that aren’t just awful. I actually saw a  job posting today named “Deboning Supervisor”. The job description included “must have 2-5 years of debone supervisor experience.” What…? What is that? It seems to have something to do with poultry. Other than that, I make myself stop imagining what the job entails because I come very close to throwing up.

So, with all the joblessness going around, people are going to be a little desperate. They have families to support, student loans to pay, bills, groceries, what have you. And, frankly, minimum wage just won’t cut it. So they get themselves online and start Googling it up. Eventually, if you look long enough, you’ll stumble your way on to a site that claims you can make money from home, online, without lifting a finger while you watch Jersey Shore reruns all day. “What’s this,” you say, “work at home and make $700 a day?” Maybe they claim all you have to do is place links in blogs and other websites. Or stuff envelopes. Or even, this is my favorite, receive mysterious packages from a company that can’t send the stuff overseas to military families due to some sort of international law. They send you the “stuff” and you take it to UPS and mail it at your cost. Apparently this will make you tons of money…and probably get you a comfy cell in the state penitentiary. But hey! You’ll have a new roommate and everything is provided free by taxpayers! No more money woes!

On the side panel of the website you’ll see a number of people with very professional looking photos (found on any stock photo site) claiming that they were able to work at home and spend time with their families because they followed this program. They could buy groceries, see their kids, and take a dream vacation to the Caribbean thanks to Profit Masters Academy/Home Profit Masters/Give Us All Your Money Inc. There’s usually some news report taken totally out of context pasted there as well, because anything that looks and sounds like it came from CNN must be TRUE!

So you look around and it never really says that you have to pay anything, but it doesn’t sound free either. You try to leave the page and up comes “WAIT! Before you leave! There are only a limited number of spots left! For a limited time only we will offer you this program for only all of your money, your left arm, and the blood of your great-great-great grandfather! Click OK to stay on this page and take advantage of this offer. To decline click CANCEL below.”

Here’s the funny part. There is NO cancel button. There is always, always, always just an OK button. Apparently they think that if you’re stupid enough, you’ll give up and click OK. I mean because clearly it was meant for you to buy this program if there isn’t a cancel button…

Some pages are slightly more relentless than others at this point and the only way to get away from them is to actually close the entire browser. Best to avoid these places altogether.

If you actually were to purchase the program, you would be putting your credit and personal information at great risk. These pages are hardly confidential. The entire thing is full of BS so you can’t trust they won’t give you a virus or steal your credit card number. Plus, purchasing the initial software isn’t enough.  Whatever they are claiming to teach you will eventually lead to you “needing” more information or better resources or more software or this or that. They tend to charge anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 for all these “services” and all the time you aren’t making any money, you’re just funneling your own cash into the bank account of some greasy, chain wearing man with gold teeth and a cane.

And no matter how much you think that you won’t fall for some crap like this, you can’t really know what you’ll do until your back is against the wall and your cats are pissed because you can’t afford their food. I personally know a number of people, including my own mother, who have fallen for this type of scam. In fact, my mom (love you mom!) has fallen for this kind of thing more than once. It doesn’t mean that she or anyone who goes for this is stupid. It just means that someone out there is pretty darn good at getting your money. They play on your trusting nature and the fact that you’re hard up for cash to get what they want.

You just have to train yourself to look for the warning signs:

  • Sounds too good to be true or really vague
  • Lots of underlined, italicized sentences
  • Stock photos
  • It won’t let you leave the page
  • The price seems to keep changing
  • It has some stupid name like Profit Masters Academy
  • They “teach” you what to do

When in doubt, leave the page and Google it. If it’s a fake you’ll find out pretty quickly because some person who was ripped off, like you were about to be, is sure to have posted a warning about it. You might have to scroll down, though. A lot of these fraud companies will pay the search engine to constantly put their own fake sites on top of the search. Look out for http://www.nameoftheproductreview.com  or http://www.nameoftheproductisnotscam.com or the like. Those are planted sites and will not give you any real information.

Hopefully you won’t ever fall for something like this. But at least if you do you there’s a better chance that you won’t make the mistake again.

Worse for Work

So there may be an opportunity on my horizon. My old boss, Chris, has a wife who works at Ingles (grocery store for those of you in other parts). She talked to her boss about me and I am going to go in and talk to her on Monday. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunity. I need a job and I need money. The money I have saved up in my bank account will only get me so far.

Not to mention my overwhelming boredom, the failure of the YWCA to return my attempts to contact them about my volunteer application, and the tension that can rise between my boyfriend and I about the fact that I have been out of work a month tomorrow. A whole month! Ugh!

And while I am thankful for the chance to possibly get a job. I am wary of working at a grocery store again. My first job was at a Food Lion 9 years ago. And it was mostly a fiasco. It does not help that my manager was kind of nuts or that the store was located just off of an island and completely slammed all the time. People could be rude or on drugs (seriously) or stealing or trying to scam you. If your drawer wasn’t right you were shouted at and accused of stealing. Maybe I just had a bad first experience and I’m a bit gun shy now…

I also remember next to nothing about the job. I mean…take the thing, run it across the scanner, someone bags it, take money. But there’s the whole WIC, food stamps, checks, cashier’s checks, traveler’s checks, and all that to deal with. I’d have to get back into the swing of remembering all that. Although if I just shove all the old and useless ice cream information out of my mind I will probably have room for it. And it might be easier with the newer cash registers. When I was working at a grocery store we were using the older technology. No touch screens or anything like that.

Then there’s this, here. Anna Sam is an inspiration! And I have such a similar story. I took that job at the ice cream store to make money while I studied literature and then just sort of got stuck doing it. Of course at the end of working at the grocery store, she has a best-selling book. Whereas, I’m jobless and considering taking over her old job as a grocery store check out girl… She gives me hope. But mostly a sense of dread. Especially because I’ve lived those customer service stories so many times before. Women chucking money in your face because they don’t get free things on their birthday. Men having their 6 year old daughter call and cuss you out because the product you sell is too expensive even though you’re just a peon in a corporation that decides how much money you have to make for themevery year… I was really hoping to move away from that sort of thing by this point in my life…

I also sort of feel bad because the second I could get something better I would be out of there. That could be a week and it could be two years. Who knows? I know it was annoying when I was managing when I would ask a potential new hire how long they wanted to stay only to be let down. Of course the person would always respond with “Oh, at least a year!” and then a month and a half later out the door they went. It was annoying because training costs a lot of money. Someone, usually some sort of manager unless you have certified trainers, has to take the time to train the person for a few days up to a week. And while they are doing that the business has to put someone else on the schedule to cover the job that person would normally be doing. Then, on top of all that, training is paid these days. So you’re basically paying three people to help the same amount of customers one person would help. To have that person you just trained walk out is a total loss of money and time.

I’m sure it is silly to feel bad about that. A job is a job and money is money.  They can always hire someone else. I think it mostly stems from the fact that I am getting a recommendation. I feel like that sort of puts even more pressure on me to do well. Or not screw them over, regardless of how good my reason for doing so is. My success and actions would reflect on me, but also on this other person.

It would be minimum wage, probably part time work no way related to what I want to do with my life. It’s depressing that money is so important that we end up doing something we don’t like or even hate just to get things we need to exist until we retire. Or die.

Yes, it is better than what a lot of people have in the world. A friend of mine was telling me how she has a number of homeless children in her class. How horrible! Kids living in shelters and hotels with their mothers, still trying to go to school so they can hopefully do better for themselves. But that’s my point. Jobs don’t just get thrust at you. There is always competition. Always someone better or cheaper to hire in your place. So when anything at all comes along we have to launch ourselves at it and hold on for dear life, no matter what it is. Just to survive.

If I could figure out a way to live a self-sustaining lifestyle with some like minded neighbors that would be amazing. We could all grow and raise different things. And trade for what we need… right…. let me use my several million dollars to buy acres of land, the crops, animals, machines, buildings, and materials necessary… In the mean time I would really just appreciate the chance to prove myself in the field of my choosing so I can maybe enjoy my life’s work as opposed to dreading my waking hours.

This post has taken a slightly morbid turn. It has just made me think about how silly life can be. When we are kids we are told to do what makes us happiest and reach for the stars and we will succeed no matter what. And here we are.

It’s exciting to have the possibility of work so close to my grasp. No need to turn your nose up at any sort of job when you’re getting desperate for money. Yet I can’t help feeling that I am taking a few steps back at the same time.

Publishing Powers

Sounds about right…

Aside from writing super interesting blogs, I like to write creative non-fiction and poetry. I know there are other people like me. I also know that they are generally just as screwed as I am. As grand as it would be to sit at a typewriter by a window all day pounding out glorious poems and witty self-autobiographical pieces, it would also be rather depressing. Because the typewriter would be in the box I would be living in and the window would be a jagged bit of cardboard I ripped out.

Regardless, there are still people out there, like myself, who would like to get their name and their writing out there. To leave an imprint. To add to the beauty, the magic, and the understanding of the world around us.

It is almost impossible to just write a book of poems or essays or fiction and have the money just roll right in. It certainly does seem to happen. Look at Stephanie Myers and her mediocre  tale of forbidden love. Or J.K Rowling and her fantastic stories about friendship, bravery, and strength.  Neither woman could have known their books would explode in popularity the way that they did. And yet, with some gumption and luck it happened for them.

So, how can you get started down the road of published writing?

  • Write, duh! Really write, though.
  • Join a site like Writer’s Digest
  • Search out contests
  • But a Writer’s Market book
  • Submit, submit, submit, and (yeah) submit to publications.

I personally have joined Writer’s Digest. Partially because they have some great contests. And partially because they send out pretty good advice. They also have workshops and great deals on materials for getting published. You don’t necessarily have to go the same route. But it might be a good idea to look into a similar site.

One of the best ways to find good contests and publications that are  geared towards your writing and interests is to get one of the Writer’s Market books. They have a general one, but there are also Poetry, Fiction, and Non-Fiction Market books available. They detail the best ways to get yourself noticed in the writing world. They also provide a very in depth directory of all the publications and national contests in the country. This includes what type of writing they take, the cost of entering, the dates of acceptance or contests, and how difficult it is to get in or win.

This book has provided me with a wealth of information. I’m sure that there are other books similar to it. And even websites. But I’m not sure they are as comprehensive as I haven’t looked into them myself.

And once you find the contests and publications you want to submit to…do it! Write until your brain falls out. And your fingers cramp. Write and edit and write some more, until you have some pieces you are truly happy with. Write a good cover letter, put together a good portfolio, and do whatever you can to stand out in a sea of jumbled letters and similar entrants.

If you get rejected, just realize that you always have the chance to try again. And pretty much all writers get rejected repeatedly before they get the chance to shine. So keep your head up. And remember that I’m out there too, toiling along with you.