sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Fortunately, we got paid the $12 an hour that we were supposed to, along with the expenses refund, and then the deductions for the time that they overpaid us. This, luckily for them, prevented me from going to the Labour Board.

However, I did notice on my pay that they shorted me some hours one week. Almost 5, according to the comparison between what I worked and what they logged me in for. I saw my logged hours. They didn't match up. I'm not happy. I have people looking into it. I'm now going to keep careful track of my working hours because sadly, I just can't trust people in higher positions to do anything properly anymore.

My health has still been declining because of all this stress. Any my HR person, upon seeing a post I made on Facebook about work's stressing me out, had the gall to comment that she'd love to trade places with me because her job is far more stressful. I don't doubt that her job is very stressful. But that doesn't not invalidate my comment. My work is a lot of fun, actually, when I'm not being forced to act like a supervisor without the authority to back it up. Its the workplace that's got me so wound up. I leave on Friday dreading going back on Monday.

I'm a weak person. I can't handle this level of stress without my body and mind reacting badly to it.

In happier news, Daniel and I went to see Rango yesterday. Quite a fun movie. I suspect, though, that the large number of children whose parents took them to see it will watch it again in 10 years and wonder at the amount of humour that they just didn't get the first time. Jokes about prostate exams...

Also endulged in a large number of new books, as an old tax return came through and I suddenly found myself with a spare $700 or so. Because the gods know I don't have enough to read at the moment...
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The unsteadiness in my legs seems to have become some sort of permanent feature at this point. :/ Not fun. I really am hoping that my body just reacts to stress in an unpleasant way, but even if that's the case, then I'm going to have to find ways to cut down the stress in my life, and one of my biggest stressors right now is the fact that my workplace refuses to hire a supervisor for the billing team, meaning that the escalations team has to keep order without having any actual authority to do so. Pain in my ass, let me tell you!

Stress level isn't helped by Daniel being stressed about his job. They're trying to bully him into working nights again, and demanding yet another doctor's note if he refuses. This will be their third doctor's note he'll have had to bring them, and considering they ignored the first and second until he took it to the company's head office, that's not impressive.

Haven't slept well for a few nights now, and my left eyelid's been twitching for two days straight. Also not fun, and very frustrating.

Finished reading Jo Walton's Among Others, which is an absolutely brilliant book. Am in the middle of Brandon Mull's A World Without Heroes (thus far rather disappointing) and a re-read of Mercedes Lackey's Winds of Fate (as enjoyable as ever). I really need to read more of the e-books I've received, since I have a tremendous backlog now, and it's not made easier by the fact that I'm no longer allowed to bring my Kindle to work.

I've nearly saved enough enough Swagbucks for another $5 Amazon.ca giftcard, and I'm hoping that their offer of free shipping on orders over $25 holds long enough for me to take advantage of it. It's done so since January; at this point I'm wondering if it's their new policy rather than a special deal.

Pokemon Black and White were released on Sunday, and I've been playing that. It's interesting in its differences from previous generations of the game. TMs can now be used repeatedly, which is very nice. The levels of wild Pokemon are to a scale where level-building is now a challenge sometimes rather than tedious. I have to get out of the habit of rushing through areas the way I'm used to, because levels of wild Pokemon are usually around the levels of my trained Pokemon, sometimes higher. Previous games have gotten me in the habit of thinking I can rush through and that I really only need to train a little for Gym Leaders. That isn't the case anymore, and it's both frustrating (because I have to adjust to it) and welcome (because it makes the game more of a challenge).
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I was wrong about one of the agents getting fired. Turns out he just left early that day and nobody knew, so they assumed the cops had hauled him off, falling prey to the rumours. On the other hand, the two sups and the ops manager were actually fired, so that part still stands true.

The Tier 2 Billing folk have been doing our best to keep control of the floor in absense of a sup for the team, as well as getting our normal work done. It's been hard and hectic, but hopefully a new sup will be assigned to us soon so that things can return to normal. Or closer to normal, anyway.

Trying a new approach to helping with my tinnitus. I read an article a while ago that a theorized cause of tinnitus is the brain getting used to so much sound that when there's an absense of sound, it fills in the blank spaces with that annoying tone. Which makes no small degree of sense, by my way of thinking about it. So also by my way of thinking, that could indicate that by adjusting oneself to less sound, the brain might eventually stop compensating, and reduce the severity of the tinnitus.

Thus, whenever I can get away with it, I'm wearing earplugs. Right now, all I can hear is vague background noise from my typing, and the ringing in my ears. Got to get used to that, weirdly, so that it will go away. I hope. It's all just a shot in the dark right now, but if I can lessen the severity of one of my complaints, then it's all to the good.

And now I have to dash, since Daniel and I are dog-sitting this weekend. Walking a golden lab in freshly fallen snow? Oh yes, I see much fun ahead!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
We've had such mild weather these past few days that the ice on the river shore is almost gone. It's nice to see flowing water again instead of thick white sheets extended a third of the way across the river.

I don't delude myself into thinking that this means the end of winter. We always have a sort of false spring around this time in February, where the weather gets mild for a week and a lot of the snow and ice goes away, and it tricks a surprising amount of people into thinking that everything will be green again very soon. And then snow and ice and cold temperatures come back until around April. You'd think some of them would have learned by now, but no, every time this happens I hear excited whispers about how spring's right around the corner.

Which it is. Sort of. But not in the way they mean. I always hear annoyed whispers when the cold weather comes back, people being disappointed because they really thought they'd seen the end of the bad weather.

Me, I'm just glad that the false spring is here. It's a nice little reprieve. And we've had a lot of snow this winter, more than we've had in previous years, so it's nice to see some of the 5-foot snowbanks shrink a little bit, and to go outside without immediately wishing that I was back inside.

I think I'm going to spend a good part of today reading and playing some video games. I'll probably be responsible and actually do some housework, too. There's a load of dishes that need washing, and I ought to clear the table of non-essential things. I might even get around to doing some more unpacking! Go productivity!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
- Work, thankfully, wasn't too bad today. We're quickly catching up on the backlog, and most of what's left is because we're waiting on confirmation for credits from people higher up than us.

- It occurs to me now that I probably at no point actually explained what my new job entails. We handle stuff that regular agents can't. Fee disputes, cases where the billing went wonky, that sort of thing. Escalations issues. We also handle answering the emails that come in to specific branches of the company. In addition to doing supervisor calls (even though we aren't supervisors) and continuing to run floor support even though that's not technically one of our normal duties. It keeps a person busy.

- Head a left hemisphere pinging headache all day. Also my legs aren't that steady at the moment, which makes doing complicated things like, oh, say, walking a real pain in the butt.

- Hoping to spend a good chunk of tomorrow catching up on some reading. Honestly, there's far too much that I need to catch up on. Nearly all of them hobbies, I'll grant, but I still feel like a slacker for letting some things go undone for so long.

- Supper shall be arriving soon. Daniel's feeling under the weather, and I'm still not fully recovered from layrngitis, so we're falling back on our old standby of ordering Swiss Chalet for supper.

Updates.

Feb. 18th, 2011 08:17 am
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
- Am seriously tempted to start a specific blog just to rant and bitch about all the things that are happening at work, because honestly, that place is just over the top. Aside from the fact that one of the newly-promoted seems to want to hand out credits for issues that, quite honestly, don't need them, rumours are flying around that say that next week the ops manager and one of the few remaining supervisors (and the only remaining billing supervisor, since the last one up and quit thanks to too much drama and lack of job knowledge) are going to be fired for, and I quote, "running the company into the ground."

- Have been reading less due to general job crap. I'm constantly busy and have to practically spend my lunch and breaks in the bathroom to avoid people coming to me for help or assuming that me sitting in the lunchroom and quietly reading is an excuse to come over and talk about their life issues.

- You know your life is special when one of your coworkers learns you also have IBS and thinks that's a good reason to give you updates on the consistancy of her poop that day. Uhm...

- It's raining today, which means slipperly slippery ice everywhere. Joy oh bliss. You can tell just how much I'm looking forward to stepping outside my front door, can't you?

- I'm trying to take some comfort in the fact that the weekend starts tomorrow. Daniel has to work and then is going out to dinner with coworkers, so that'll give me the perfect opportunity to be a total introvert and hide in a closet if I feel like it.

- There's a chance I'm going to get to see Cirque du Soleil again this July, if my mother can score tickets.

- I've been lax about updating this thing. I do apologize. It's just that half the time lately my day was annoying enough that even complaining about it seems like too much trouble, because then I'd have to relive it. Better to just stay quiet and not turn this entirely into a rant blog. I'll try to be a little more diligent with updates, since I know some people are actually interested in my life. (I know. Weird, huh?)

- And now, off to work...
sarasvati: (make tea not love)
There are many days in which I wish I had something more entertaining to talk about here. As it is, the most exciting things that have happened to me thus far consist of getting back from PEI and finding out that I have laryngitis.

Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco; I left my voice in Charlottetown. Mine doesn't make good song lyrics.

At least the job training was good, even if I was sick through almost the whole damn thing. I now get the power to approve refunds and credits, and to do some more legal changes to accounts. Fun!

I'd have an easier time getting my work done, though, if my home centre actually had bothered to get our emails set up so we could get the templates and guides that we need. As it is, until they do that, we can really only do about half of what we're supposed to be doing.

On the other hand, part of the duties that we've taken upon ourselves rather voluntarily consist of doing some coachbacks to agents. I honestly can't believe the amount of stuff that people were doing wrong. In some cases, it's excusable, because our training sucked and we got a lot of wrong info. In others, though, the agents just aren't trying. And since there are way too many incidents for sups to coach them back on (Sup A is also handling the tech support teams, and Sup B is lucky she knows how to turn on a computer), we're going to do it.

This means making ourselves unpopular. People like us now. They're not going to like us when we sit them down for the fourth time and ask them why they're still not reading case notes or still escalating issues that don't need to be escalated. We've gone from colleagues to superiors, and I don't doubt that there'll be some grumbling about us on the floor.

But let them grumble. Coachbacks need to be done, and agents need to learn and improve. Kat, Bernice, Joe, and I all learned. We learned the hard way, through work and our own coachbacks and helping others and putting in the extra effort. It's how we got the promotions - I did floor support and additional retraining, Kat did floor support and was acting supervisor for a few weeks, Bernice knows her job as well as Kat and I do, and Joe's been there the least time of us all and he's proved himself very competant. We got our positions on merit, not on butt-kissing, and it's possible that any agent could do the same. If anybody grumbles at me for turning into a disciplinarian...

Well, in truth, I haven't changed, per se. The only thing different about me is that I have the authority to do coachbacks. But when I did floor support, if somebody did something incorrectly, I'd educate them. When I was covering the floor for a sup, if I saw somebody with their cell phone out or online, I'd give them a warning. If they ignored the warning, then I'd report them for rule-breaking; it's not like I didn't give them the chance. I'm not changing in this role, and I didn't suddenly get power-hungry.

I just hope the others can keep seeing that. I don't really want to be disliked.

I'm just hoping my voice returns by Monday so that I can go in, handle cases, do callbacks and coachbacks, and find access to all the things I need access to. I want to be awesome at this job! I can't be awesome if I have no voice and no work email.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
A blast of pain!

I kept waking up last night because my throat hurt every time I swallowed. Didn't go away by this morning. In fact, that lovely little symptom was joined by throwing up, blood when sneezed, and the inability to get warm despite the fact that the water from the shower was almost scalding.

Yeah, adjustment sickness. new place, slightly different climate, storms that keep coming and going, new living quarters where the gods only know what's come and gone through it. I don't think I'm sick with a cold so much as my body's just reacting to all the chances, and reacting badly.

Cough drops, lots of tea, and an early night in bed, I think. Not much else for it. It's not like I can call in sick or anything.
sarasvati: A silhouette of a man riding a dolphin, with the words "Part of everything" underneath (inexplicable)
I'm in a room in the Charlottetown, PEI Best Western hotel right now. On the floor above me are three of my coworkers.

Why are we here? Promotion, baby! Last week, I applied for a position in Escalations, and was pretty much hand-picked out of the applicants. Kat, Bernice, Joe, and I all got the position, and so they shipped us off to PEI from tonight until Wednesday for training. It may have been technically cheaper to have someone from the Charlottetown centre come to us, but they have so few agents now that could train us that they couldn't really spare anyone. So thus, we go to them.

It isn't too shabby a deal. The company paid for the mileage to get here (we all came in Kat's car), covers the hotel rooms, and reimburses for our meals. I had to borrow money to cover meals for now, but so long as I get it back, I'm fine with that. Tonight we ate at a steakhouse. Tomorrow, the others plan to get nachos and watch the Superbowl, but since I like neither nachos nor football, I think I'll be paying a visit to the little Japanese place across from the hotel and then coming back to my room for an evening of reading.

Speaking of my room, it's a rather nice one. They upgraded us for free, so instead of standard rooms, we now have rooms with kitchenettes. A greater saving for the company, really, since having a fridge and stove and microwave will allow us to just go to a grocery store instead of having to rely on restaurant food the whole time we're here.

As nice as this all is, I can't help but be nervous, though. Not about the new job, no, but being by myself away from home, away from Daniel and my pets and all the familiar things I'm used to having around me. I've never travelled for work before, so that's all new. Plus I can't be as antisocial as normal because I have to get along with the group. It isn't that I dislike the people with me -- quite the opposite, in fact -- but it's my natural inclination to hole myself up and avoid most people, most social interactions, and that inclination is coming through twice as strong because everything's so unfamiliar here. I already feel awkward enough avoiding the nachos-and-Superbowl thing, and while my meal tonight was enjoyable, by halfway through I was feeling tense and like I just wanted to end it and go be by myself again.

I'll be happy when I get home again and don't have to worry about socializing. Weirdly, I'd almost feel more comfortable if I was the only one here. I'd still be alone, but I could be alone more on my own terms, explore on my own terms, and not feel obligated to go everywhere as a group. If I holed up in the hotel room after work and didn't come out until the next morning, nobody would care, and that'd be great.

But it's only until Wednesday. That night, I'll be sleeping in my own bed again, surrounded by fluffy cats and familiar surroundings.

Wish me luck on my first day of training, guys! It'll be in the middle of a snowstorm, so I might need it!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I landed myself in the hospital yesterday. My headache was on its third day without abating, and I was starting to see flickers of darkness around the edges of my vision whenever I heard sounds. And given that I work in a call centre, well, it's hard not to hear sounds. I asked my supervisor if I could go to the hospital, and when she heard why, she drove me.

Turns out it was a migraine, which was vaguely surprising because I don't tend to get migraines anymore, and because even when I did, they didn't come with an aura. But they gave me migraine meds by IV, which helped about as much as the short nap did.

At this point I'd like to take a moment to thank the doctor in the ER by name. Dr. Sukosd, you're awesome. Not only were you amused by my, "Oh god, no," reaction to being asked if there was any chance I was pregnant, but while on the way to check on another patient, you looked in on me, saw that I didn't have a blanket, got me on, and told me to take a nap so that I'd feel better. Normally I feel lucky if doctors look at me like I'm a person and not simply a problem to be solved. You went above and beyond, and that's so very awesome. I am making a point of going to RateMDs.com to give you my praise, too.

Anyway, while I was lying there, after the med bag had finished and the saline drip had started, I noticed that my hand was warm. Normally my hands, and feet, are rather cold, because I know I have crummy circulation. But the hand that the IV was attached to was warm, right down to the fingertips, when it was lying outside the blanket and my other colder hand was under it.

Then it hit me. The saline. The hydration. I hadn't connected it before, but I have crappy circulation and I know I don't drink as much as I ought to. I knew dehydration often caused headaches in me, and I recognize what they feel like when they happen, but I really hadn't connected dehydration to the circulation issues before that moment.

So now I'm making a stronger effort to stay hydrated. I'm even going so far as to put a chart on the wall so I can mark down whenever I drink 250 mls of liquid, so that I can keep track of it and know when and where to make improvements, find out how much I usually drink in a day. I'm guessing I drink about a litre, maybe a litre and a half on most day, and I know that's only about half as much as I ought to drink.

And today's bad, since I woke up early, drank half a small bottle of 7-Up at lunch, then took a nap until 5. So about 250 mls over 12 hours. More than 12, really, since I don't think I drank anything between 11 last night and lunch... So yeah, between 11 PM last night and 5 PM today, I drank a cup of clear pop. I finished the bottle and am having some tea, and I plan to drink another mug of tea and some milk before bed, and possibly a smoothie if I can convince Daniel to make me one.

You'd think that staying hydrated wouldn't be so hard, but I've been in the habit of not drinking enough for years, so forcing myself to drink more takes a conscious effort. But it'll be worth it. It'll help me lose weight, help reduce my headaches, help my extremities not feel so damn cold all the time. It'll even help with my sinus problem, since, gross as it sounds, it'll thin everything out in there and help keep it from getting so cloggy.

*raises mug of tea* Here's to a healthier me!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I was talking with somebody at work a week or so ago, and the subject of working at home came up. She asked me why I would want a work-from-home job. I said that to start, I'm not a very social person, and she interruted me there with a little smile and said, "I won't tell you you're wrong, but I don't believe that." Little words, probably so inconsequential to her, probably said because she thought I was putting myself down somehow, really got me thinking.

Related is the concept of tatamae and honne in Japanese, or rather, the mask you wear in public versus your own private feelings. There, it isn't so surprising to hear that there are words and clear-cut concepts for such things, as it's no secret that moving smoothly through society involves, to be blunt, keeping your mouth shut about some things, hiding your inner self so that you can work with other people with as little friction as possible. That, I understand.

But here, it's almost like socially, these concepts don't exist. We seem to have the notion in our heads that the person we see on an everyday basis is the true person, and all of them, and that there is nothing else. Thus people don't believe me when I say I'm not a very social person, because they see me at work, floorwalking and helping people and being friendly and smiling.

This is the mask. It's the face I wear so that I don't alienate everybody around me, so that I don't get fired for being a snarky bitch, so that I can help people patiently, time and again, with concepts that they really should have learned by now. It's the persona I adopt so that I can make my workplace a touch more bearable.

It's something everybody learns in every training class, but when it's heard there, it's only ever in the context of employee-customer relations. Be nice to the customer, even if they're being stupid. Help them. Be patient. Don't interrupt. If they're abusinve, brush it off and keep trying to help them. We're taught to put on the mask for one group of people, but it's like it never occurs to them that we might wear the same mask with our coworkers, too.

It bothers me when people act like the mask I wear is my true self. I don't expect them to know who I am underneath the mask, but it would be nice if they'd acknowledge that I might not be entirely who I present on the surface, that I might actually have a personality that goes deeper than that. I don't expect that they're showing me all of themselves. I expect that they're showing me their Work Mask, the one that covers any attributes that might be less desirable in a workplace than, say, in the privacy of ones home.

I'm not a social person. I'd rather be left alone than have to deal constantly with a crowd of people. I want a work-from-home job so that I can be comfortable while doing what I need to do to pay the bills, so that I can interact with people in a manner that suits me better, so that I can go to work each day and know that if I want to retreat into a room to be by myself, I can do so without people looking at me like I've lost my marbles. And I don't appreciate being told that I'm something I'm not, or that I'm not something I am.

I wear my heart in my pocket, not on my sleeve. Most of us do. It just surprised me that most of us don't even know it.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
While I'm still pretty darn chuffed about managing to get cheap groceries, some of that happiness is overshadowed by the fact that other pieces of my life are less than great. Our old landlord wants to withold a large portion of the damage deposit, and some of the claims he made even we agree with, but...$80 for "general cleaning?" Some of the photos taken as proof that we did damage to the place are grainy and in greyscale, meaning we can't identify what the hell the picture's supposed to be in the first place, let alone know how to dispute it.

This isn't helped by the fact that the first letter the rentalsman's office sent to us regarding this issue was sent to our old address. The one we moved out of. The one that pertains to the damage deposit we wanted transferred and our old landlord wanted for himself. Nice job, morons.

My job is going nowhere. Every time I think I might have some room for advancement, something comes along to block it. My sup, who had every indication that he was getting a promotion (including being put on the mailing list for the position he applied for) ended up not getting that job. Which means that no sup job opened up for me to apply for. Which means I'm stuck as an entry-level agent for the foreseeable future.

Oh no, wait, not entirely. I do get the privilege of walking the floor and helping the new training class. Extra work, for no extra pay. Two others get the privilege too. And they also get to have other temporary sup privileges, like being allowed to fill out paperwork and take agents off the phone. I don't get that. I get to do extra work for no extra pay, extra responsibilities for no compensation other than not having to take calls for a while sometimes, and it doesn't seem like anything's actually going to change.

One thing that I love about this job is that I can read on my Kindle between calls. Can't do that when I'm floorwalking. And right now, I'm torn between just letting them use me and keep hoping that I eventually get somewhere because of it, and telling them that if they want me to do more they can compensate me appropriately, which they won't do, and thus then refuse to floor-walk or assist other agents when sups ask me to, which will kill my chances of promotion, but it will let me chill out a little more and get more reading done.

I'm in a training class right now, learning a new aspect of the campaign (more duties, no more pay for it, of course, though at least that makes more sense since it involves a client merger), and I swear I spend more time trying to help the supervisor catch up because she just doesn't have the brain to think grasp what we're learning. She doesn't have the brain to grasp what she's supposed to be supervising us regarding; she failed both tests from the previous training class. She was hired as a supervisor based on previous sup experience, not because she knows the material and has good leadership skills. More than half the agents on the floor admit openly that I could do a better job than her. But I won't get the chance to.

It took a call to the Labour Board to have anything done about the heating in the training room being broken. Let me elaborate - it's been broken since the last time we used it, which was back in November. It was -20 Celcius outside on Tuesday, we were all wearing coats and hats and blankets indoors, and were too cold to concentrate, and we had to get up and walk around to thaw out about every half hour. Eventually, even the trainer gave up and complained. One of my coworkers made a point of calling the Labour Board and ended up speaking to the inspector who viewed the building in December. He wasn't impressed.

And let me tell you all, it's funny how quickly a company will call a repair person when they think they're going to get in serious govenmental shit if they don't. It was fixed 3 hours later. Which is good, but it's disgusting that they let it go that long in the first place, and only responded to threats rather than decency.

My stress level is, naturally, rather high through all of this, and I don't register stress much. I mean, I don't feel it consciously, but I have the appropriate reactions. My sleep suffers, I snap more, my health declines. But I don't feel stressed unless it's exceptionally bad. This past week and a half, I've choked on liquids more times than I care to count, and my legs have been shaky and unsteady a lot. Same symptoms I had in July and August, when my stress level was really climbing high because we were running out of money and I still hadn't found a job. I now have to be very careful to take smaller mouthfuls when I drink anything, and to walk close to walls or handrails, because I'm apt to lose my balance or not have my feet respond properly when I tell them too.

At least, I'm assuming this is all because of stress. Gods help me if it isn't.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I have been incredibly fortunate this ast week, when it's come to groceries. A supermarket near my connecting bus stop has started a Dollar Sale, wherein many of the products it sells are marked down to $1. I couldn't resists stopping by to at least see what they had on sale, and I have, I must say, made out like a freaking bandit!

I made a point of going after work and only getting a few things at a time, no more than I and Daniel could carry home with us on the bus, so we'd save on cab money even if it took us longer to get everything we wanted. But what we did get still astounds me! I've sent around $100 there between Monday and today and come home with around 15 grocery bags full of stuff.

Smoked pork shoulder for $1 a pound. Pork loin roast for $1 a pound. 2 pork souvlaki stick thingies for $1. 3 bars of Ivory soap for $1. 10 pounds of potatoes for $2. Cartons of Egg Beaters, normally between $4-5 a carton, for $1 each - we ended up buying 8 of those. French fries, pasta, jars of spaghetti sauce, fruit snacks, cake, frozen dinners, bagels, tortillas, cans of soup, tubes of toothpaste, nearly all of it for $1, or else incredibly discounted.

The freezer can't hold any more food right now, and it's nearly all filled with meat. I've wished more than once that we had a chest freezer, because I'd get more pork while it's incredibly cheap, and just store it away for when we need it. The cupboard is about full to bursting. The fridge is the only food storage place with any room left in it, and even then it's a tight squeeze.

$100 has bought us enough food to last us for around a month. I'll be spending a little bit more tomorrow, getting some shampoo (not on sale), and some vegetables (carrots, turnip, parsnips if I can get them), and then this weekend I'll get some dried split peas, but other than that, we're pretty well set for food for a good while. Easily until we can afford another grocery order in 3 weeks time. I'm incredibly happy about being able to find so many good deals on so much food, especially when money has turned out to be a bit tighter for us this month than we'd originally budgeted for. This gives us a little leeway, so we're not feeling the pinch quite so much.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Came down with a stomach bug toward the end of the week, which made me miss a day of work and feel touchy all Saturday. Fortunately, with the exception of getting some groceries and a new surge protector (had a minor power surge last night), I didn't have to go out for anything, and got to spend the weekend recovering. I'm feeling much better now, thankfully, and should be able to return to work tomorrow.

Good thing, too, since the newbie class hits the floor and my supervisor has strongly hinted that he'll be getting my help as floor support. Anything that keeps me off the phones.

Though as much as I don't mind working where I do (so long as there are no more pay screw-ups, that is), I still do wish that I didn't have to work but could still afford rent and bills and the like. Still crossing my fingers for that lottery ticket!

Daniel made a delicious beef stew on Friday night, and made far too much of it, so we've been eating beef stew for two days and we're likely to eat it for another two yet. I was going to make a vegetable stew today for work lunches, but it seems I won't need to do that until Tuesday or so.

Beef was also cheap this weekend, so we stocked up and froze what didn't go into the stew. I have plans to make nikujaga with it. We've also still got plenty of ham left over from the Yule feast (it's in the freezer, of course), and so I'll probably spend next Saturday making split-pea-and-ham soup. And another batch of baked beans. That ought to take care of next week's lunches, and probably dinners, too. Daniel really likes the baked beans that I make, and they're so cheap that really, I can't complain at making them. The pea and ham soup won't be very expensive either, especially since I'm using leftover ham.

Read and reviewed 4 books thus far in the month, a feat which is somewhat lessened when you consider that between gifts and galleys, I thus far acquired 21 books. Luckily I don't foresee getting many more this month, so I'm hoping that the ratio will be a little more balanced at the end. Not sure how much I'll be able to read at work next week if I'm on floor support, though, but I'm aiming for another three books read and reviewed by next Sunday.

The apartment's coming along nicely, though I admit we've been a bit lazy about unpacking some things. The craft room is more of the storage room at this point, and our storage room is still filled with bags of clothes that need to be washed and donated, washed and folded and put in dressers, or washed and turned into rags. We're trying to be sparing on the water, though, since its our landlady that has to pay for the water consumption and not us, and she's nice enough that we don't want to burden her too much. Little bits at a time, especially when we've got enough decent stuff to get by for now.

A friend and local writer has asked me to act as his editor/cheerleader while he works on something he's looking to submit for publication at the end of this year. Haven't done much so far, but we're both getting adjusted to life as normal after the holidays, so we can both be forgiven, I think.

Wow... I'd say I wished for a more exciting life, but actually, I'm quite happy not having one. I prefer my life to be steady, tending to lazy and comfortable, rather than rushed and exciting. Rushed and exciting just means I get worn out and sick more easily, and I'm having enough of a problem with that now that I've returned to work. I've gone from a recovering immune system to one that's being bombarded with the illnesses of a hundred other people five days a week - it's no wonder that I've picked up a few colds and whatnot since I started there!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
The holiday season went pretty well. Christmas dinner with my mother was tasty, doubly so because I cooked everything. I did the turkey in Daniel's roaster (count the ways that phrase can be taken...), and did it a little differently than normal, by laying slices of bacon over it so that I didn't have to baste and yet prevent it from drying out. Turns out that the turkey flesh right under the bacon will stay pink (the skin won't, for some reason, though) even though it's cooked, and that turkey-flavoured bacon tastes as good as bacon-flavoured turkey! Must remember to roast turkey that way again.

Then it was off to my father's rented place to hang out and, of all things, get him interested in Gackt. Turns out he's getting into visual kei, and recommended a few J-rock bands to me. This may well be bizarro world...

He sent me home with plenty of food that he wouldn't be able to eat before he had to hit the road again, and some good memories.

Oh yeah, and a brand new freaking Kindle!

Now, as much as I am not fond of Amazon playing the moral police and didn't particularly want to support them at the risk of losing my library, I'm still not going to look a gift Kindle in the mouth. That thing's pretty awesome, especially because I can transfer .pdf files via USB, and I get a lot of my review copies of books via .pdf. I can also send the books I get through NetGalley to it, too, and that'll really help me with getting through my backlog. Before, I was only able to read those books at my laptop, and considering I get around 2 hours a day at my computer now thanks to work, it was pretty slow going. But I'm allowed to use the Kindle at work in between calls, so it'll help out a lot.

I've got my goal to read 100 books in 2011. I'm sure I can make it with the Kindle's help.

I also got a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.ca, from my mother. I'm sure they intended me to spend that on e-books for the Kindle, but frankly, I knew I was going to have an easier time spending that money on other books I wanted, some that don't have a digital edition. I used that, plus $45 in Amazon.ca money that I got via Swagbucks, to make a huge order.

Well, I say huge, but it's not excessive. It's only 11 books, and while I don't relish carrying the package home from the post office, I'll squee with joy when they get here, because they're all books I've been wanting to read for a good while now.

New Year's celebrations were nonexistant, unless you count being really happy that Daniel got a 4-day weekend and I got a 3-day one. We've spent the time bumming around and playing video games, but it's been so wonderful to have a little extra time off!

Shame we both happened to be sick through it, Daniel moreso than me, but as I like to think, it's better to be sick on your days off than on days that we have to work. It sucks to be sick on downtime, but I'd rather be sick then, when I can stay in bed and rest up, than be sick when I have to drag my sorry butt out of bed and go suffer through a 9-hour shift at a call centre.

Speaking of work, it's getting very well known that I'm seeking a promotion, and I've got people in positions of seniority encouraging me to keep pushing for one. This is one of the first jobs where I've sought a promotion for fervently, and where it means a lot to me. In other jobs, I didn't want to be stuck in an entry-level position forever, but I only applied half-heartedly for other positions. Here, I know I can do the work, I'm taking on extra duties and assisting supervisors and helping agents, and I'm making my intent known. I want to move up, I'm capable, so I'm not going to stop until I get something.

Or until some other job recognizes that I can do it and offers me a better position there. Either way, I win. I don't want to have to go through the hassle of getting a new job, though, because as much as there have been problems with this job, I'm already almost through my probationary period here, and I don't want to have to start from scratch somewhere else.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
We had our Yule celebration this past Sunday, and I confess, a lot of it disappointed me. I was planning to make a large ranty post about it, getting out all all the frustration that was caused, but for various reasons, I kept putting it off.

Then today, I started thinking about it, what made it so disappointing, and how it differed from last year's incredibly satisfying Yule celebration. I finally narrowed it down to one main thing: focus.

True, there were some things that legitimately would have disappointed just about anybody, and I feel that some of my annoyance was justified, at least to an extent. But some of it was just overreaction, and pointless, because being frustrated didn't even lead me to fixing the problem so much as avoiding it.

In thinking more about it, the biggest thing that changed between last year and this year has been my mindset. Last year, I was in the beginning months of my unemployment, and being gung-ho about simplifying my life and finding a focus again, and a good chunk of that focus was a spiritual one. My mindset was definitely one of, "Be thankful for what I have, because there'll be less before there's more," which fits in nicely with the theme of Yule. There's a celebration that the days will get longer from here on out, and also the implied blessing of having enough to have a feast when you know that the dark days are still going to be here for a while and the growing season is over and won't be back for months. I was mindful of that, last year. Not only mindful of it, but I actively had fun with it. I made most of my presents. I wrapped gifts in pretty cloth instead of wasting paper. I was aware, in each bite of the food that I ate, that I was lucky to be eating it, lucky to have what I had, even if it may not have been a hell of a lot.

This year... not so much. I'm still in the joyous throes of having a new job that brings in $600-700 biweekly, enough that I could buy people "real" presents. I didn't think to be so appreciative of the food, because I knew I could get more. I used wrapping paper that mostly got thrown out when it had been ripped off the presents. My focus was all wrong, and I paid the price for it.

I need to get back to the feeling I had last year. The feeling of calm certainty that I didn't need fancy stuff to be happy. The feeling that enough was as good as a feast. The simplicity and modest humility that I felt and was comfortable with.

It's hard. My job requires me to be hard-hearted sometimes, competent and aggressive and ambitious, to talk to people when I don't want to, to suck up when I don't want to. To be judged on how I dress rather than how skilled I am, which always frustrates me. One thing I really enjoyed about unemployment was the ability to be at home, to focus on myself and ways I can improve my life in small and simple ways, to get comfortable with being me before I had to step outside and put on a mask in order to deal with other people. Many take it for granted that putting on the mask is easy. It isn't, not always. It certainly isn't for me. But I have to do it, because I do need the money. I may be making a fair amount right now, but nearly all of it is going to rent and bills and groceries while Daniel uses his paycheques to lower his credit card debt. The debt that he racked up by covering nearly all the bills for the past year. I can't afford to think that I have a ton of money to spare, because I don't. I can't afford excesses. I still have to be frugal, and frugality is a hard thing unless you also can take some joy in simplicity.

I think, over the past few months, I forgot how to do that. I lost my confidence, I lost my joy, and I lost the feeling of comfortable spirituality that came with it.

For a long while, I covered my head as a sign of modesty and spiritual expression. My religion certainly doesn't command me to do so (see the article I wrote for many reasons behind pagans veiling, if you like), but I did so for the comfort it brought me. It not only made me feel safe and comfortable, but it was also a very physical reminder of a spirituality I felt and the things I aspired to. I think perhaps I ought to start doing that again. Maybe I could stand having a greater reminder of what I want in my life, and giving myself back that security blanket that allowed me to put another layer between myself and the world I find so hard to fit into. It couldn't hurt. It may well help. It will, at the very least, give me a focus.

And a focus is what I really need right now. Giving in to such baseless negativity does nobody any good, and I want to get away from that.

Though I don't expect that getting work to accept that I wear a head covering for religious purposes will be very easy, especially because it's not exactly a secret that I'm pagan. Most workplaces will accept it for Muslims, if that. It might be hard to convince the people in charge that yes, it may be unorthodox, but it's related to my spiritual development and expression.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Eyes open
Work could be worse, I'll give you that. Looks like my chances of promotion are still pretty much nil - I seem to have pissed off the wrong person and sabotaged myself in doing so, though in truth, I have no idea how I did it because I barely speak to the person in question. It's said that if you get on her bad side, you can kiss your opportunities goodbye, and now, well, she'll say hello to everyone in my row but won't even meet my eyes. I can only conclude that I did something wrong.

I've been advised by M, the quality manager who'se so much like me that it's eerie, that I shouldn't discount promotion so quickly, because for one thing, I have to be at the company for a certain length of time before they'll consider me for anything. But that doesn't tally with what happened to Kat, as she had an info session for an internal promotion that starts early in the new year, and she's been there as long as I have.

Also, the Keener has been granted floorwalking time, which particularly rankles me because she still asks me questions when I walk the floors. The times I do that aere fewer now, though. At first, my sup let me do it a lot. Then it seemed he was only letting me do it until Kat showed up, and then virtually ignored me, like I was a poor substitute for Kat and he'd only tolerate my help until she arrived. Now I'm still being passed over so that the Keener can floorwalk. I'm starting to feel seriously shat on, here.

My sup's likely going to be promoted soon, too, and he commented that he'd get to pick his replacement. It was the next day that the Keener started walking the floors, and I overheard the other sup talking with her about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that supervisors do. I have no definitive proof, but I'm getting more sure that I'm going to stay an entry-level agent there until I quit, because I keep getting overlooked by those who can help me.

The people around me love my help. They ask me questions even when someone else is walking the floor. That's heartening. But it's ignored by the people who can help me advance, and I don't have enough conclusive proof of being overlooked to approach them about it. If I do, I'll look paranoid and self-centred, I know I will. It'll sound like I think I'm better than other people and want all the attention and accolades for myself.

But there are too many signs adding up to the strong suggestion that somebody doesn't want me advancing.

So I'm doing the only thing I can do. While I'm there, I do my work as well as I can, help people out where I can, and try to catch the eye of supervisors and managers who might help me rise on the corporate ladder. In the meantime, I'm putting resumes out there to other companies, too, who might be able to get me a better job than what I've got now.

For instance, today I managed to find two good-looking jobs on the job bank. One for a technical writer, which I knows pays decently although it's only a temp job. (If it's temporary and work-from-home and I'd get paid by the document rather than the hours I worked, I could technically work that job in addition to my current one, depending on the workload.) The other is a web design job, $16 an hour for 40 hours a week. I know I don't have the best web design skills in the world, but I've done web design before, and the ad did say that all experience levels will be considered. For all I know, I might be the person with the best skills willing to work at the price they're willing to pay.

Besides, I'd be a fool not to apply for those jobs. At worst, I won't get them, and then what was lost but the five minutes that it took to type out a cover letter and send off an email. At best, I'll get the job and I'm sure I'd enjoy it more than the one I have now, and I'd get better pay to boot! After taxes, the web design job would give me about $2000 a month, which is around $600 more than I'm getting right now. That could change my life dramatically. Right now, I can pay the bills and rent and whatnot and still have a little money left over for meds and maybe a treat every now and again. On $2000 a month, I'd have enough money to do all that plus save $500 a month for... I don't know, maybe going back to school, going on a vacation, retirement, anything I please!

But we'll see what happens. Maybe I'll get lucky and get the web design job, and maybe I won't and I'll stay where I am until something better comes along later. But either way, I'm trying.

Ears closed
My mother insists on calling me. Or on getting me to call her. Constantly. Annoyingly. For ridiculous things.

Earlier in the week, she left a message on my voicemail, then posted on my Facebook wall for me to call her. Thinking it was important (because why else would she do that so randomly when she could just email me), I called. Turns out she just wanted to repeat everything she'd already said to my voicemail. *facepalm*

The other night, I sent her a message on Facebook asking if she remembered whether my dad likes a certain kind of candy or not. her reply, half a minute later (showing that she easily had access to the Internet) was, "Call me." I replied no, I was a bit busy, and was there some reason she couldn't answer a simple yes or no question?

She replied, of course, but I imagine she was annoyed that I had the temerity not to call her.

She did the same thing today, only worse. I made a post on Facebook saying that I'd applied for a job. Her reply? "Call me, please."

So I call. All she wanted to know was whether I wanted to go to the mall with her, to keep her company while she shopped for winter boots.

I'd had enough. I asked her to stop doing that. I work on the phones for 42 hours a week, and she's known for years that I both don't like phones and also don't like pointless chitchat, so could she please stop getting me to call her for things that could be easily said through a simple message when she clearly knows I can receive it online.

She got a little huffy and said that she liked talking to me and that she didn't hear from me as much anymore, so it was nice to hear my voice. I bit back a retort about how she hasn't heard from me as much because now I have a job instead of being unemployed, but just repeated my request and told her that she knows I don't like phones.

She reluctantly agreed to stop harassing me.

Hopefully that'll give me a month of blessed silence before she forgets that I'm not at her beck and call every second and she starts calling constantly to chat about nothing once again.

And rest!

Dec. 4th, 2010 08:55 pm
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
This is one of the first nights in over a month where I've been able to just take some time for myself and relax a little. Most of last month consisted of cleaning out the old apartment, moving things into the new apartment, writing like a mad fiend to get NaNo done, working for 9 hours a day, sleeping less than I should have, and trying to still maintain some semblance of a bookblog.

Now it's December, we're all moved out of the old crummy place and into the new awesome one (our stuff's still everywhere, but we're slowly making progress on cleaning and organizing), and Daniel's out at a Christmas party with his work buddies, so I'm sitting at home alone, comfortably hanging around on GPX Plus and doing some reading.

I've still been productive, though. Yup, wrote up a book review today, and I've got another one coming tomorrow, plus another entry in regards to my thoughts on Orson Scott Card completely missing the point of one of his own books. I cleaned out some old emails from my inbox. I haven't entirely been slacking, though some people would consider reading and reviewing books to be slacker work anyway.

But it's nice to have some leisure time again, time in which I can just relax and enjoy myself without worrying that each minute can be better spent doing something else because I'm running out of time on [insert thing here]. If I wanted, I could just go pour myself a drink and take a bubble bath! That luxury's almost unfamiliar to me now, since in the old apartment, the bathroom had something growing behind the walls, I'm sure, and the steam from the hot water and lying back in the bathtub nearly always combined with the wall-stuff to make my lungs seize up, making me fight for breath. I spent about four years giving myself scrub-downs rather than baths or showers. Being able to relax in a deep tub is so awesome!

Daniel and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie today. I was actually quite impressed with it. Good adaptation, good pacing, much better than some of the previous movies. It's been a while since I've actually walked out of a movie and ended up talking about how good it was all the way to the bus stop. I'm looking forward to seeing the second part, the final piece of the movie series, though I admit I'm not looking forward to crying in the middle of the theatre. I know myself well enough to know that I'll be doing it. I'm an emotional sap.

At least Daniel will be crying too, so that makes it a little more bearable. I won't be the only one there with tears in my eyes.

On a less happy note, work is still dicking everyone over. Remember my last entry about all the problems that place was giving us? Well, it got worse. (Is anybody surprised?) They messed up our paycheque again. They forgot to tack on the vacation pay that they owed us from the last paycheque, and they also didn't pay us for 8 hours on the first day we hit the floor, because our softphone programs weren't working properly. They swore our hours would be properly tracked, but I guess the company couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the reports they got, because we ended up lacking the right pay for the hours we worked.

We've been told they'll be depositing all the rest of the money they owe us on Monday. I wonder if that will actually happen. Three paycheques, and they've messed up 2 of them so far. That's actually pretty impressive.

Here's hoping one of the resumes I put out there will bring something good my way. People keep telling me, "Oh, you'll have to put up with crap no matter where you work," and yes, that's true, but this level of crap is just ridiculous. Usually in bad jobs, I can console myself at least a little by telling myself that at least they're paying me. I can't even properly say that here! They're paying me, yes, but not what they're supposed to be.

I guess I'll just have to see what happens on Monday, and keep putting resumes out. Honestly, if another place offers me the same pay and same hours, I'll go there rather than staying where I am. I get great shifts where I am, but only because of an unfair seniority system, and at least a new job will have a fresh chance to not screw me around. If my supervisor or someone from HR asks why I'm leaving, I have no qualms about telling them, either, and adding on that I seem to have no chances of advancement where I am because the company would rather hire an external trainer who'd have to teach from pieces of paper than giving the trainer's position to one of the agents who already has experience and has expressed an interest in the job.

Enough ranting. I'm determined to relax on my weekend, dagnabbit, and relaxing is what I'll do!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I think that we're about 90$% moved now. Nearly all of our stuff is here, barring kitchenware stuff and a few last things that need to be stuffed into bags and boxes, and then the last-minute cleaning, and those things can be done fairly easily tomorrow and Tuesday. We managed to get 7 SUV-loads of stuff brought over today, with both Van and Luke (Daniel's brother) helping. Van couldn't do too much (can't blame him, with all his health problems, and I think he overestimated his strength today, too...), but what he could and did do helped immensely, and allowed us to get two of the biggest pieces of furniture over here without too much difficulty.

And he's willing to help us tomorrow, too, so we can get the last things brought over, which is awesome. All the heavy stuff's already taken care of, and he says he can handle light stuff far more easily than heavy stuff. (So can I, but I feel like a dick comparing my energy levels to those of a guy waiting for a double organ transplant...)

Luke also hooked up our washing machine, so we can stop cleaning clothes in the bathtub and can also start washing our old clothes before donating anything that we can't use or don't want.

So now that Daniel's visiting family and eating a yummy dinner, I'm at home unpacking and organizing. Or rather, I should be, but I'm sitting down for 10 minutes to have some tea to revitalize myself. I've already set up my bookcase and two of the dressers, and I'd debating whether to start stacking books that have already been unpacked into the shelves or to concentrate on unpacking boxes. Both ways have their merits. The first means that my books can be divided from Daniel's and we can fit more of our stuff on our respective bookcases, but it means fewer boxes get unpacked. The second means more boxes get unpacked but I might have to jumble everything up on the shelves, which will make us need to take them all off and redo the whole thing again at some later date.

I'll probably take the former choice, really. Do it right the first time and it saves energy in the long run, even if it looks a little slower to begin with.

I much prefer unpacking to packing! Packing may be relatively easy; all you're doing is putting stuff into boxes and bags. And unpacking is just the same thing in reverse, really, but there's the fun and excitement of putting things in new places, experimenting with how things look, turning where you live into your home with all your belongings.

Speaking of, my break is over, and I should be cramming too many books onto too few shelves!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
I won't say that I'm not grateful for my job. My job has allowed me to get out of the shithole I lived in for almost 5 years, and will give me enough money and hours to pay off my debt to Daniel. I'm grateful for having the job.

What I'm not grateful for is the way that the company seems designed to fuck me at every turn. I already wrote a post about why it dropped numerous balls during training, which was bad enough. Well, it got worse. In many ways that pissed off enough people that at least a quarter of the people working yesterday were on the verge of walking out right there and then. One person broke down in tears at the news we got yesterday.

Start at the beginning? Don't mind if I do.

So among other things, we found out the real reasons that our CSP training was immediately after our billing training. The original plan was to give us two weeks of billing training, then have us on the phones for three or so weeks, then they'd pull those they felt could handle the extra work back into the classroom and give them training on CSP. As it was, the company couldn't actually get all of our computers and programs working by the end of the two weeks, so they bumped up CSP training and made it mandatory for everyone.

Okay, that was pissy, but at least I can sort of see why it was done. Even if our stuff should have been ready for us when it was supposed to have been.

One of the things we were all worried about was a piece of paper we'd all signed regarding the pay. It said that any training done within the first 90 days of employment would be paid at $9 an hour, and production hours on the phones would be at $11 an hour. Which, to be blunt, didn't seem fair in light of the original plan. Pay us $9 for two weeks, put us to work on the phones for $11 for a few weeks, then dock our pay because we're actually good enough to learn extra skills?

I'd like to point out that to the best of my knowledge, this is the only call centre in the city that pays their employees only minimum wage for training. Other call centres pay you the same wages you'll get when you hit the floor. I can see the merit in this, since a lot of people go to call centres and stick out the training to get decent wages but them quit as soon as they have real work to do, so this method prevents some of that. But when tyhe above scenario happens, what's to be done? It's unfair to expect employees to take lower pay for a time because they've proven themselves competent!

So we asked about that. And we were assured by somebody in Human Resources that because it was originally going to be supplemental training, we'd be paid $11 an hour for the CSP stuff. Yay, we all thought. That sounds wonderful!

Until the paycheque fiasco hit. When we received our paycheques for the time that this stuff fell under, we all noticed something odd. In addition to them forgetting to pay us time-and-a-half for the holiday that we worked, we were only paid $9 an hour for the CSP training.

What the fuck?

So we questioned it. And were told that oops, it was a mistake from head office, they'll fix it as soon as they're able. Which became, "We'll just add on the money to your next paycheque."

Which fucked over many people, because it was the lay paycheque of November. There goes the money I was going to us to buy my meds in addition to paying my rent. Sigh.

So that brings us to yesterday, when we got taken, in groups, into a meeting room and told that yeah, that extra money we were supposed to get, the additional $2 an hour we weren't paid for a full week of training? We weren't getting it. Turns out that the HR woman didn't bother to check the actual rules and just assured us that we'd get it when we weren't actually entitled to it according to company policy and the paperwork we signed. We'd get paid the holiday pay we were owed, but not the rest of the money we were told we'd get.

$75 we were all hoping for, gone in a heartbeat. There went my thought of getting my meds next week instead, or making up money for one of the days off I had to take this past week because I was sick.

That's what made people threaten to walk out, and reduced one employee to tears. That, on top of everything else, was pretty close to the last straw for a lot of people.

But oh, it gets even better! Originally, we were hired to work from all the campaign's open hours, which was 8 AM to 8 PM. Then we found out that was EST, which is 9-9 in AST. Fine, that's tolerable. It's one hour difference. No big deal.

Oh, but then we were apparently all doing so well at our calls (in spite of shitty training...) that the client decided to give us the calls from all 3 other call centres doing that campaign and take them off the phones for retraining. That panicked a lot of us, because there are only 20 of us on the floor! 20 people taking the calls for 3 centres?!

Turns out that the calls are still pretty slack, which makes me wonder if each centre only had about 5-8 employees...

But that's not the real kicker. This "treat" meant that our hours of operation had to shift. From 9-9, to 9-midnight. We got half a week's warning.

The contract we signed upon hire, and what we were told at the interview, said 8-8. The 9-9 switch was understandable. But adding on those extra 3 hours without asking people if they could work that, asking who was willing to work that, is just the piss-cherry on top of the failcake. We get no choice in our schedules. They come down from head office on Montreal, and they don't actually seem to give a damn about who's available when. We told the company we were all willing and able to work until 8 at night when we got hired. Not beyond that.

Myself, I can't work past 9 unless I want to take a $10 cab ride home or can get a lift from someone passing by my apartment.

We do get differing schedules, though. Oh yes, even within the same class, there's seniority. People with the lower employee number have higher seniority than people with higher numbers. But they didn't decide on the number based on hire date or on test scores. No, they based it on surname! Which means my friend Kat, whose surname starts with an S, get shitty shifts in spite of having passed all the tests in training with flying colours. Because my surname starts with a B, I get the best shifts.

This won't change until a new training class hits the floor in January and more shifts become available.

Oho, but the extra kick in the ass in what they did to the schedules this past week. I was given a schedule or working 9-5. Prime hours, right? Who doesn't want to work 9-5?

Except that we all had Thursday off because we work for an American company and Thursday was American Thanksgiving. And most people who were lower on the seniority ladder than me ended up getting 9.5 hour shifts to make up for the time they'd be missing.

The company evidently thought that 9-5 would be such an awesome shift that people wouldn't mind getting less hours and consequently less pay than the people they arbitrarily decided should come lower on the ladder.

It sucks no matter what. There's no way around that, because scheduling me 9-6 last week would have meant too many agents and too few calls for *gasp* a whole hour. And making somebody lose an hour of their shift isn't any more fair than asking me to.

Thankfully we were allowed to trade our shifts around, so I took a later shift with more hours and gave somebody my earlier shift with less hours, and it worked out fine for both of us.

This coming week, I work 9-6. 42.5 hours after lunch breaks get taken off, which is more than the 37.5 hours we were promised, but I don't mind the extra hours. I do mind, though, the fact that they're not doing any of this fairly or properly or even giving a damn about employee needs. One guy, whose surname happens to fall later in the alphabet than mine, has to leave at 6 to catch the last bus home or else hope that somebody can give him a drive. They made him work until midnight. There was no consideration.

It's been argued that staffing in a call centre is all about when the client needs coverage, catering to the client's needs. I pointed out that such a thing is all well and good, but if they don't start considering employee needs in their equation, they're going to find themselves understaffed very quickly, because none of us are happy about this and just about all of us are looking for new jobs elsewhere. How hard could it have been to ask us, when the hours of operation changed, "Who here is able to work until midnight? Who wants to work later shifts?" But we didn't get that consideration.

Then there was the only thing keeping me hanging on there: the thought of potentially getting a trainer position. One person in our class was hired to train to be a trainer. He got fired after half a day on the phones; I suspect reasons why, but can't say for sure. So I approached HR and told them that I'm interested in a training position. I knew one would be coming available for the new training class starting in December, I knew one hadn't been hired yet, I knew my stuff, and I was more than willing to take the pittance of a salary they offered trainers. (All other call centres in the city pay more to trainers than this place does.) The HR person said they'd take a look at call volumes and see if they could afford to take someone off the phone to become a trainer instead of hiring externally. In other words, if we weren't swamped with calls, I'd at least be considered.

We're not swamped with calls. We're getting 20 calls a day each, often with 10 minute gaps between each call, sometimes longer. And I saw on CareerBeacon their external ad for a training position.

I got passed over. So did Kat, who has more experience training and submitted interest before I did. We got overlooked seemingly without a second thought, in order to hire someone from the outside who would have no experience with the actual work we're doing and would have to train people based on info given to them on paper, which turned out to be incorrect as often as not.

That was their last chance to keep me, I reckoned. I'd been applying for jobs elsewhere, but I knew very well that if I got an offer from somewhere else and then suddenly I was offered a training position, I'd stay here and train. No question about it. $30k salary a year is still better than the $20k a year hourly wage I'm getting now, and I'm not likely to get better pay from many other places, either, for entry-level positions. But no, now if a place calls me an offers only the same wage and same hours as this place, I'm gone. I'm not paid enough to put up with their BS. I suffered through lousy morals and backtalk for almost a year at CD&A, I know what makes a bad company, and I know not to stay in one longer than I have to. I've been there for 5 weeks and already I want out.

Like I said, don't get me wrong. I'm glad for the chance to earn money again, to pay my bills and to buy large grocery orders and to move to an awesome new apartment. And there'll be crap to suffer through no matter which job I have. But crap is relative. From what I hear, the crap I've been putting up with here for 5 weeks is about average for what that place does to its employees. I do not want that. I do not deserve that. None of the employees deserve that. We deserve the pay we're promised, decent training to do our jobs, consideration to the fact that we might not be able to work past what our contract requires us to work.

Thanks, all, for reading this rant as far as you did. It felt good to just get it all off my chest.

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sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
Sarasvati

August 2011

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