A Quandary.

So I have this interview tomorrow. But I’m unsure of what I want to do. See it’s this marketing internship with a well-known and respected IT company. $12 an hour and 40 hours a week. Pretty sweet deal, right?

But, here’s the kicker. It’s only 60 days. At the end of the period there’s a review. If I’m doing really well and there’s a job opening they’ll give me a job. A real, business, marketing fucking job. If I do horribly, they’ll just terminate the whole thing. If I do really well and there is not a job opening…I don’t get a job…

So I realize that the only way to succeed in life is to take chances and make waves and all that. But I also realize that there are these very real things called bills. And I have quite a lot of them. And if I don’t have a job at the end of 2 months, then I don’t have a way to pay my bills. I also forfeit the raise I’m about to get at my current job, dental insurance I’m getting, and quite probably my full-time standing. I can’t take a leave of absence because I have only been there a year. My coworkers have informed me that if I leave on a good note I can get my job back in 2 months if things with this other company don’t work out. And judging by the amount of people I know there who have left and come back repeatedly, I know this to be true. Mostly. What I don’t know is that my specific job will still be there. The job as the only actual full-time cashier/respected department floater who has been depended upon for the last week to run a department while the department head was working at another store. So I could come back, lose any and all benefits, and only be working 15 hours a week. Do you see the issue?

My mother does not see the issue. She’s says to go for it. And I understand where she is coming from. But, my mother and I have always differed in the way we think about the future. As well as money. I like to know that I can pay my bills and eat my food and be what I consider to be a contributing member of the household and not a total drain on my wonderful boyfriend’s money. She responds to this with “Well, just get a different job.” Yes. Because that’s been going so well for me thus far. I actually have amazing jobs thrown at my head every day, I just find the joys of working at a service job even though I have a degree to be really rewarding… I get that too I guess. As a woman who hasn’t worked for “the man” since about 1982 when she and my dad went into business for themselves and who is currently a real estate agent who, while she works at Century 21 and technically has a boss, still essentially works for herself, she might not have the best idea of getting a job these days. Frankly getting a job in the 70’s when having a 4 year degree was still impressive and the population was a lot lower and so was the cost of living (and hitchhiking across the country was still considered relatively safe) was a bit of a different experience. I try to explain that “just getting a new job” really doesn’t exist anymore. As I ‘ve discussed I’m over qualified for a lot of things and under qualified for the rest. It becomes a matter of finding someone who is either willing to hire me even though I have too much education and experience or hire me even though I don’t have enough. Quite the gamble.

It seems like settling to stay at a job where I make just enough to get by and that is not a career. But it seems silly, also, to take a chance on something like this without the guarantee of a career. If I was still a college student, this would be a no brainer. If I was younger and still having things like my car and health insurance as well as my cell phone paid by my parents, this would be a no brainer. But as an almost 26 year old entirely on my own with an all too familiar understanding of what happens when you don’t give companies the money you owe them, I’m unsure. I guess if I take it, don’t get the job, and can’t go back to the one I have now I could go back to writing about the woes of being totally unemployed. Without the benefits of receiving unemployment…



Things I don’t understand about customers.

You complain to me.

We don’t have senior discounts. We don’ t take EBT. We don’t carry that brand of whatever anymore.  We don’t provide enough food at our sampling event. We are out of whatever. That lady let her kids get candy out of the bulk bin with their sticky hands.

None of these things has anything to do with me or my existence. Not in any way shape or form. There is nothing I can do about it. I can’t order different products, force the bakery to make more things, follow mothers around the store, etc. I really can’t. And what’s more? I don’t actually give  a shit.
You seriously fail to understand the concept of carts.

The store I work at has three item carrying options. The big metal carts, the green plastic baskets, and these weird bastard combinations where you can stack two green baskets to make a little cart. I see so many people making poor cart choices.

Old people are constantly getting those huge carts. For an avocado. Or a muffin. What the hell? You might be 90 but you’re really telling me that the muffin was beyond your ability to hold?  And now you want a bag for it too? Or some lady will come up with one of the tiny green baskets totally overflowing with stuff. Crap is falling on the floor and if you move it the wrong way everything starts to collapse. Men are the most amusing, though. Apparently asking for directions is not the only pride-injuring thing out there. Grabbing a cart when you can no longer hold the 16 items you’re buying is too. They’ll walk up with everything stacked precariously between their hands and chin or propped in their armpits. It’s easy. Make a freaking list and then use your critical analysis powers to deduce what size conveyance you need. Done.

You are perpetually confused by how to use the credit/debit machine.

Every single store in the world, basically, has one of these machines. You swipe the card. It prompts you to do various things. You do it. You leave. Every 10 minutes I have someone glaring at this machine in contempt. Like it’s trying to trick them.

Why does it want my zip code?? Hell I don’t know. You can’t pay for this without putting it in, so get over it. What do I push now? Which is enter? Seriously? There are two universal colors that mean the same thing no matter what. Green = yes, go, accept, enter. Red = no, stop, decline, cancel. Always. For everything. When would red ever mean enter? Why are you still punching the machine with that little plastic pen? It say processing. It has to process, so chill the hell out. Or keep smacking it. That might work too.

You blame me for…everything.

I had a lady actually try to come into the office while I was counting my money at the end of the shift to tell me that I needed to “get out there” because there were like four people in each line. No. I’m done with my shift. Get out and go wait in line. This is a grocery store, you do that. Go to Walmart on a Saturday morning and see why 4 people to a line is nothing. Don’t tell me I need to “get another person up here right now to help.” Like who? You? Are you going to get on a register and ring up these lovely people? No? Right. All the people here are the people here. I can’t clone myself or make a gollum, so just wait.

Oh your check didn’t clear? Your card was declined? That would be your fault. You don’t have enough money to buy the $200 worth of snacks and alcohol you’ve put before me. This woman actually was going to call her bank and put them on the phone with me. Me! Apparently I cut her paychecks.

You assume I am uneducated.

Don’t tell your brat of a child that if “they aren’t careful they could end up a cashier.” Are you serious? Well maybe one day they too can accrue thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt to scan stuff at the local high-end, over-priced, snooty ass grocery store! People are honestly freaking surprised when I tell them that I do, in fact, have a degree. Like someone was supposed to hand me my diploma and appropriate job assignment the day of graduation.

You go out of your way to be complicated.

So you’ve collected approximately $336 worth of “organic” spaghetti, potato chips, mini cupcakes, and some weird drink with chia seeds in it (yes, chia seeds. The seeds that produce chia pets. I am riveted to know what the health benefits of this could be…).

I start scanning and the courtesy clerk starts bagging. Half way through you remember that all the way at the bottom of the cart, under 6 bottles of wine, are your reusable bags. Or you really need paper bags. Out comes everything from plastic and we get to start over.

Oh and that tomato was $5…that’s too much just put that back for you? Sure. Let me void that and walk back over to produce for you…

Now you’re half way through paying with a credit card and realize you wanted to pay for half of it in cash. Cancel, cancel, cancel. And I have to wait for you to rummage around in you D&G purse for that $100 bill.

Now, you suddenly need cash back after you’re already done and I’ve started on another person.

Now you realize that the bottom of your container of figs is sticky and you want a refund.

Long story short?

Get your shit together!

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.

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.