sarasvati: Squashed Teddie from Persona 4, looking angry (evil Teddie)
2011-06-30 12:09 pm
Entry tags:

Can't take much more of this.

Had some wonderfully good news today, which was that a company I interviewed with called me back and said that they want to offer me a job. There's a delay in the starting date, so they're going to withhold making a formal offer until things can be confirmed, but essentially, I got the job.

Not a moment too soon, because only an hour or so after I got that call, my current employer called to ask me why I wasn't back at work yet, because the doctor's note I gave them says I should have been back on June 25. I said no, I had a first note that put me out until then, but I also got another note 3 days after that which put me out for 21 days, which would mean I'd be back on July 5th. I gave that note to my supervisor. He photocopied it for me for my own records.

Turns out he forgot to give that note to HR. Two and a half weeks ago. When he gave them the first note, because I brought both in at the same time. So records got fucked up, and he didn't think to give HR that note until directly confronted about it. This is, sadly, just another fuck-up on a long list of fuck-ups that he's been involved in since... well, getting hired, let alone twice getting promoted.

Not to mention, if I was supposed to been back this past Monday (closest work day to the 25th), why call me now, on Thursday? Why not call me on Monday, or Tuesday?

I almost hope I have to get surgery on my hand at this rate, because that will keep out off work just long enough to bring me to the approximate start date of the new job, meaning I wouldn't have to go back to that infuriating shithole again. People on the inside are telling me that it's gotten work since I've been away. People can't take their scheduled breaks now without getting a supervisor's permission first. They refuse you when you ask to take an extra 5-minute unpaid break to go to the bathroom if you suddenly need to go. You can have medication on the floor form acute medical conditions only if they're in clear display and view on your desk, which also means that anyone passing by your desk can know what you're taking, potentially figure out your medical history, and possibly try to steal your meds from you.

Yeah. Having my hand sliced open and having to go through more weeks of pain actually sound preferable to going back to that hellhole.

And the elation I felt over finding out I'm due to be a part of a new company's team is now overshadowed by the supreme idiocy of a company I'll no longer bother to hide the name of. Seriously. If you ever consider working for Atelka, don't. Just... don't.
sarasvati: Greyscale image of the Digimon Kaiser. (kaiser-mode)
2011-05-31 08:35 am
Entry tags:

Too tired to keep smiling

When that supervisor told me that he told payroll that I needed that 16 hours of pay before the next paycheque, I believed him. I still believe him. I believe that he told them that, and that he honestly believed they would care.

Evidently, he was wrong, because it's the last day of the month, and the money's not in my account. Fortunately, out landlady always ends up cashing the rent cheque late, so what I was short on my last paycheque because of sick time should be made up on the pay I'll get this Thursday.

Assuming, of course, that they did that right. More than half of me expects that on Thursday, I will be arguing not only for the pay that they should have given me two months ago, but also for my vacation pay that will have somehow not gotten calculated properly.

I'm too tired of all this stuff to go in there with a smile on my face and pretend that it's all okay. I'm having panic attacks so badly that I don't want to sleep again, because sleeping means that I'm not conscious of time passing, which means that tomorrow gets here that much faster and I have to go back to work. I shake thinking about having to go outside, not just to go to work, but in general. If I have to do it, I balk, because it's not a choice for me, and I can't choose to stay inside if it's too much for me to do otherwise.

I don't want to have to keep doing this. But I can't seem to get any bites from other companies, and setting up a plan where I can sustainably work from home will take years, and I'm not sure I can put up with months of this, let alone years. I'd find a way to go back on EI if I could, but that wouldn't pay enough to cover my expenses and would run out, and it took me over a year to find the job I currently have; there'd be no guarantee I could find another job before the EI benefits ran out.

Besides, doing that, even if it would give me enough to get by, wouldn't give me enough to save up so that I could do the library technician course that I'm planning on starting on January. Unless EI would cover that too, which I doubt. I'm basically backed by circumstance into this shit-hole that doesn't give a damn abouts its employees enough to pay them properly.

I really hate it when people pull the whole, "You should be grateful you even have a job" crap on me. The implication there is that I should like being fucked over like this. Or at least that I have no cause to complain. The idea that anything is better than nothing, so I should just shut up. And yes, to an extent, that's correct. I'd rather be employed than unemployed, but it's not because I enjoy the work I do. I'd rather have enough money to survive by doing what I enjoy, which would be legitimate work in its own right. But I am not thankful that my current employer, much like my last employer, isn't paying me properly. I'm not happy to think that I could be making enough money save a couple of hundred a month, except that I'm never sure I'll be paid properly and so I can't count on anything that should be coming. I'm not thankful that this job is directly responsible for making me think I need to be back on medication to handle my anxiety. What part of this should I be thankful for without any reserve? I'm not being paid properly. I fear going in for my shifts. I was made to act as a pseudo-supervisor for over a month, taking half of the responsibilities without traininbg or pay increase, because they couldn't be bothered to hire a proper sup for the team. I'd be far more appreciative of this job if I saw a signs that the company cared even an equal amount for their employees as they do for their clients...

Half an hour until I have to get ready and leave for the day... Starting to shake again, and I can't afford to call in...
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2011-05-27 12:04 pm
Entry tags:


So, almost 2 months after my pay initially got borked, someone has finally stepped up to the plate and worked with me to get it fixed. It only took talking to 3 supervisors (one of them twice), the Operations Manager (3 times), the Human Resources person (once, who told me to speak to a sup or the Ops Manager), and a final report to the Labour Board to get them to do something, but something has been done. The sup who actually worked with me reviewed the records, saw that indeed I did work for all the hours I claimed I had, had no idea how I was paid for considerably less than that, and told Payroll to give me the money.

Originally, he told me it would be on my next paycheque. I told him flat out that while I appreciate his help, that just wasn't good enough. Legally, a place has 7 days to fix pay fuck-ups before I'm within my rights to demand they cut me a cheque there and then. I was pretty patient with this, accepting, "It'll be on your next cheque" 3 times already, and because of the wait, I was now short on rent money this month. He immediately sent an email to Payroll telling them to give me the money ASAP, and told me it should most likely be in my bank account this coming Monday.

And if it isn't, there will be hell to pay. I've put up with this for far too long, and I'm tired of it. Tired of the stress it causes, tired of, in spite of the fact that I'm making more than I need to survive, still living paycheque-to-paycheque because there's never a guarantee that my pay will be right and that I won't have to wait even longer for someone to fix the problem. It's pathetic.

I am looking into other jobs, still. Problem is, most jobs available will be a step back for me, and I don't want to have to do that unless I absolutely have to. Entry-level call centre jobs where I'll be back on the phones and will have less seniority there than where I am now. I've already wrangled a promotion out of this place once, and am working on trying to get a Quality job so I can spend my shift monitoring calls instead of taking them, which would be awesome and is something that I think I'm better suited to than what I've got right now, fun as my job can sometimes be.

I mostly have my fingers crossed, though, for a work-from-home job that's actually legit. A certain hotel chain has most of their agents work from home unless they live in a certain city, which I do not. They ship me off to said city for a month of training, put me up in a hotel and everything, and then send me back home to work from the comfort of wherever I have a computer with an Internet connection. I can have a little office area set up in the craft room easily enough, and their pay is about as much as I'm currently making, plus I'd get to work in a comfortable place where no stupid rules would prevent me from having my meds with me or prevent me from knitting or sewing in between calls. I've sent them my resume, and now am just hoping that they call me back.

Doing a job like that would be amazing, not just for the obvious comfort reasons, not just because it would save me money on transportation, but because I plan to, in January, start a distance education program to become a library technician. Working from home would allow me a better chance to coordinate my courseload and my workload, which could mean I could get through everything in 3 years instead of 4, allowing me to again get a better job that much sooner.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I really have a plan for my future. Not just a series of vague, "I want to do this," ideas that may or may not pan out, but a set of steps to get to where I want to be. Goals, I haz them! And it feels nice. Feels like I might actually be able to get somewhere good instead of just getting by, hoping for something better to come along. I'm actually making it happen, or at least working toward making it happen.

Shame it took me until I'm almost 27 to do all this. I wish I'd realised my strengths and habits half a decade ago, and maybe by now I could actually be somewhere better instead of just looking forward to something better. But unless my big break is to invent a time machine, all I can do is just keep moving forward and working toward my goals. It's pointless to look too far back on a regretful past. Doing so just takes time away that I could be using to get ahead.
sarasvati: Squashed Teddie from Persona 4, looking angry (evil Teddie)
2011-05-18 10:28 am
Entry tags:


It's no surprise to me that I'm sick again. It's gone from a stuffy nose and a swollen tonsil (just one, mind you) to barely being able to talk and feeling tight-chested and occasionally like I'm breathing in chalk dust. This started shortly after I finished a course of antibiotics for another illness, mind you, so I'm fairly certain this one's viral and there's little I can do but wait it out.

Which is a pain in the ass, since I'm on vacation this week. Sitting up is more of a chore than it ought to be. I spent most of yesterday watching the first half of House, season 4, and working on some cross-stitch embroidery.

It's also been raining for days. It stopped yesterday, only to start again at night, and it's not raining now but it's cloudy and the forecast calls for more of it later on.

Waiting fo0r my order from The Book Depository, which is bringing a cookbook, a craft book, and a YA dystopian novel that I've been wanting to read for over a month now. Also waiting for my order from GameStop, which has the Persona 3 remake for the PSP and the original Persona remake for the same system. The one in which they removed the removal of all references to Japan. Well, all references but Shinto shrines, for some reason. But yeah, in the remake, they essentially rebuilt the game from the ground up, left the character images the same as they started out (in the initial PSX release, they were whitied up so much some of them bordered on looking undead), and from everything I hear, made the game flow better. I've got the PSX game; it's slow, kind of clunky, and didn't manage to keep my attention for very long, so I'm hoping the better edition will, well, do better.

And now I think I might lie down for a while, since I keep feeling flashes of heat under the skin of my face, and I really don't want to have to battle a fever on top of everything else that my body's currently trying to handle.

(Oh yes, and by the way? Remember when I didn't get paid for 16 hours of a workweek over a month ago? Yeah, I'm still waiting for that money. Somebody was supposed to call me on Monday to sort it out. They didn't. I don't expect it to be on tomorrow's paycheque. Which means that when I get back in on Monday I am going to tear a fucking strip off somebody.)
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2011-04-19 11:30 am
Entry tags:

On resumes

Last night, I was discussing the issue of resumes with Daniel, how we both need to redo ours and beef them up a little bit. I mentioned that I already had sort of beefed mine up, claiming something that while is technically true, it can be inferred that I did way more than I actually did. I said I assisted with organizing fun events and activities for employees. In reality, I walked around and asked everyone if they wanted to do a Secret Santa swap.

Daniel said that's not enough, at least according to what he's heard from people who've actually attended courses on how to make your resume look awesome. The trick today, apparently, is to enhance your resume to make it look like you've done more than you have. But everybody knows this. So if you're completely honest on your resume, people assume that's actually the beefed up version and that you're actually sub-par in reality. If you'd really done all you've claimed, you'd have claimed you did more.

Yeah, that hurts my brain to figure out too. It's the sort of twisty turnly logic that corporations love, I guess.

So it got me thinking: what could I technically claim on my resume if people assume that I'm going to beef up my skills and experience? I made a list. In bold is what I can claim. In italics is what really happened.

I have participated in pet rescue and am a green activist.
Someone couldn't take care of their pet rat and so I offered to give him a home. A coworker of Daniel's could keep their pet bird and so we took him in too. I recycle and try not to waste food.

I have training experience.
My sup asked me to coach some agents who weren't quite getting stuff. This lasted for two days, though mostly because my sup forgot to keep scheduling those agents time off the phone to be retrained.

I have helped to teach and train the mentally challenged.
I wouldn't give up on trying to help a women with learning disabilities when we both had the same temp job and everyone else told me to leave her alone. It didn't make a bit of difference in the end. I guess it might also count that I once helped as a mediator between one girl who was autistic and a friend of hers who just wasn't quite getting that mindset. On a message board. Does that make me a social worker?

I'm an experienced freelance writer.
I wrote for HubPages. I keep a blog. I do the book reviews.

I'm a published knitwear designer.
I designed and submitted 2 free patterns to an online catalogue. People liked them, but the patterns never got famous or anything.

I have experience in journalism.
I interviewed an author for my bookblog. And that interview was me sending them questions by email and reposting her answers.

Singer, actor, dancer.
High school and church choirs and musicals, mostly, as well as a brief stint doing a 24-hours-from-conception-to-performance improv skit a few years ago. I still sing at home, mostly when I'm alone, though. I guess DDR could also count. :p

My photography work has appeared in publications.
Those publications were my freelance articles on HubPages.

Proficient with various forms of social media and marketing.
I use Facebook and Twitter to promote by bookblog. Oooooh!

Languages spoken? French, Japanese, Mandarin, and Sindarin.
Yeah, I think this one goes without saying. Though claiming Mandarin as a spoken language could backfire on me in this city, since we have a good amount of Chinese people who come here for university. Same thing with French, because while I can muddle my way through it, Canada's official bilingual and I could land a job that actually requires me to speak it a lot. I figure anyone who knows what Sindarin is will be amused that I claim it, and anyone who doesn't know will probably keep silent to avoid looking stupid.

And this is the stuff that people want to see on a 27 year old's resume. Half of this stuff wouldn't be of any use in any job I could get, but simply claiming it would help get me a job, because it makes me look awesome, even if it's ne.arly all exaggeration
sarasvati: A picture of a sign featuring vegetables and the text, "Welcome friends, I am POTATO." (I am potato)
2011-04-17 10:41 am
Entry tags:

(no subject)

So for my bookblog, I decide to create a fun little meme based on 30 Days of Video Games, which I call 30 Days of Genre I make the intro post, make Day 1's post... and then find that within a couple of hours the hits to my blog have just exploded as word started to spread about the meme and its topics. People all over were getting in on it. Somebody created a Twitter hashtag for it to help group all the link together. All because a friend who runs another bookblog went, "Hey, this is nifty, I think I'll spread the word."

It's gone from 30 hits being a decent day to 30 hits being a steady morning, and we're only on Day 5 of the meme. It's a little bit mind-boggling. I'm used to thinking of myself as somebody who stays in the background, who gets a little attention but will never be able to compete with the big players. And suddenly there are some big players who are linking back to me and increasing my site traffic and I still can't quite wrap my head around it.

Not complaining. Just goggling. :p

In more amusing news, I got a little bit snarky with a customer on a sup call the other day. Quite frankly, I kind of think the guy had it coming, and while I probably should have held my tongue and said something more polite, I just couldn't be bothered. I'm too tired of the bullshit there to put up with it being slung from another angle, and the customer wasn't listening to reason..

Let me set the scene. The company I work for bills for their Internet service per circuit, which means if you've got one Internet connection coming in, you get one invoice. It seems pretty straightforward that way.

However, this one customer called in and his story was thus: He has an ADSL connection, 1.5/384, and that connection is split over 3 condo buildings. Now my first thought it to feel pity for his tenants, because split that connection 3 ways and you're going to get slow speeds. Not as bad as dial-up or IDSL, but still pretty damn slow. Anyway, because it was split over 3 buildings, the guy wanted to be sent his bill in 3 equal parts, so he could bill each building seperately.

Here's our conversation:

Me - I'm sorry, sir, but since you have only one circuit on one account, we can only send you one invoice. If you wanted to get multiple accounts and multiple connections, then you could absolutely get multiple invoices, but where you've just got the one, you'll only get one bill.
Guy - Well, somebody there should be able to split it up.
Me - Sir, you have one line and you'll get one bill. That's how it works.
Guy - You should be able to change it for me.
Me - Sir, it's automated. Our system will detect that you have one line and thus only send you one bill. What you're asking cannot be done.
Guy - It's all done by computers, so I can't see why you can't just do that for me.
Me - *fed up* Okay, sir, I'll be blunt with you. While what you're asking is theoretically possible, I don't possess enough knowledge of coding to reprogram our entire billing system for you.
Guy - *grumpy mumbling* Well somebody in your company must be able to.
Me - Sir, there's nobody here who can complete your request. Is there anything else I can help you with?
Guy - Fine! But I'm going to report your response to my manager.

Ooh, big threat there.

Maybe I shouldn't have said that to him, and even the guy who I took the sup call from, who is known for being rude to customers, couldn't believe I'd said that, but I was just sick of it. I wanted to get across to him just how ridiculous his request was, especially when he'd been told multiple times that it can't be done. It would involve recoding the billing system. Whoever in the company can do that probably makes about as much in an hour as this guy pays for Internet each month, and I wasn't going to escalate the request to Corporate because this guy was too lazy to break out a calculator. I get that paperwork has to be submitted in a certain way, but when you involve outside companies who bill differently, you might just have to suck it up and deal. And nothing I was saying was getting through to him. I'd tried explaining things. So had the previous agent I took the call from. And according to the notes on the account, so had two other people, earlier in the week. One circuit, one invoice. End of freaking story. Stop calling.

You can tell I've had enough when I stop caring about getting in trouble. The worst they can do is write me up and tell me I can't be a Tier 2 agent anymore. Which bumps me back to being on the phones, which just gives me one more excuse to get out of there, which I'm already working on doing anyway.

And I highly doubt I'll even get written up. I flat-out told the supervisor what I said to the guy, and she laughed. Nobody's been doing quality monitoring for about a month now because one guy quit, one was out for bereavement, and the other's out on disability and is waiting for surgery. Nobody's replaced these people, or even started looking for replacements, so agents are doing a ton of stuff wrong and there's nobody to hear the calls properly and coach them appropriately. The company just doesn't give a shit. Neither do I.

And now I'm going to go eat a strawberry turnover and read a book. It's raining outside, and I feel like endulging in warm comfy things while I can.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2011-03-13 06:03 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

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)
2011-03-08 11:09 am
Entry tags:

(no subject)

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 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: (make tea not love)
2011-02-12 10:43 am
Entry tags:

Cough hack hack wheeze!

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 silhouette of a man riding a dolphin, with the words "Part of everything" underneath (inexplicable)
2011-02-05 10:46 pm
Entry tags:

Major update.

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)
2011-01-19 09:08 pm
Entry tags:

In less happy news...

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)
2011-01-09 09:50 pm
Entry tags:

Lifey update.

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)
2011-01-02 05:38 pm
Entry tags:

First post of 2011!

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, 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 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)
2010-12-11 02:48 pm
Entry tags:

Keeping my eyes open and my ears closed.

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.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2010-12-04 08:55 pm
Entry tags:

And rest!

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)
2010-11-27 08:11 am
Entry tags:

Too much trouble.

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.
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2010-11-17 09:54 am
Entry tags:


We're finally on the floor at work, taking calls. I won't even go into the mess that was the first day, except to say that they had 3 weeks to get everything up and running and they couldn't even manage that properly.

We've been doubling up in pods to give some of the less-confident people a chance to listen to calls before they take any. On Monday, I buddied with a girl whom I'll call M, who didn't take any calls. Yesterday I buddied with T, who said she'd take calls for the last hour but instead chickened out. Two days of taking all the calls while by "buddy" sits there and does nothing. If I buddy with C again today, I'm going to confirm with a supervisor and see if they'll back me up when I say, "I'll take calls until lunch, then you'll do it." I can understand her nervousness, and a little bit of coddling doesn't hurt, but she's had enough. Next week we'll be taking all the calls, not just our current 30%, so she has to get used to it sooner rather than later, or else leave and find another job. I went through the same crappy training she did, but I don't expect that much coddling.

I think C's the only person who has yet to take a call, too.

Even though things are better on the phones than they were in training, I'm still looking for another job. Most call centres will pay better than this place is, and most have better training programs, too. Now that I have a job, I can afford to be a little picky about where I apply, and I can take my time to look for actual opportunities instead of just "Holy crap, must accept any job that will hire me!"

Which makes me think that I really ought to expand on some skills that I have. I updated my resume to include activities like running my book review blog and my freelance writing, but I want to have a few more things on there to impress people. Thus, once NaNo's over (I'm still behind on NaNo, but I'm catching up, little by little), I'm going to devote some time to going through all my freelance articles on HubPages, rewriting and reposting them with a better eye to quality.

I also plan to do some refresher study in regard to HTML, and then make an effort to go a bit beyond that, learning CSS. I don't forsee myself becoming a web designer at any point in the future, but it'll be another skill that might help me land a better job. When I worked at CD&A, I seemed to be the only one who understood basic HTML enough to code the database pages from scratch, not copying and pasting a template that was saved in Word. When people used that template, it ended up causing a bunch of redundant coding on the page, which I fixed whenever I found it (a thankless job, let me tell you, because nobody noticed anything different when I was done, except that maybe the pages loaded a fraction of a second faster), so it's not like even basic HTML doesn't have its place in a job. Stuff I learnt by viewing the source of web pages I liked back in high school was making me a better employee only a little over a year ago.

The apartment's coming along decently. Most of our stuff has been moved over, with the exception of some books, bags of clothes and yarn, and some of the larger pieces of furniture (my gigantic desk, my bookshelf, that sort of stuff), and we're hoping that by the end of this weekend, we'll have everything out of the old place and into this apartment, and then we can just work on cleaning up the old place and doing a few repairs so we can get our damage deposit back.

I'm loving this apartment more and more. It's comfortable, large, spacious, conveniently located, well-priced. It feels like home, and we've only been sleeping here for a week and a half.

Can't keep rambling on, though. My drive to work will be here in a few minutes and I have to get my butt in gear and actually put clothes on. I don't think work will look kindly on me coming in dressed in my "bumming around the apartment" clothes!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2010-10-02 09:43 am

Do the building-building shake?

The building is still shaking. I was hoping that the deconstruction people would take the weekend off and leave me with a few days of stability, but I suppose they couldn't just leave huge piles of rubble there for two days. For one thing, the rubble is nearly blocking off the only entrance to the lowest apartment in the building. I pity them for having to pick their way around broken wood and glass shards in order to get to and from their home.

Rumour has it that the fire marshall told them they couldn't tear down that building in the way that they ended up doing, since it was so close to a lot of homes and would be a fire and damage hazard. Either they went ahead without approval, or argued the fire marshall down, I don't know. I'd say that they probably argued him down by saying that leaving the building standing would be an even greater fire hazard, but quite honestly, that building's been unoccupied and boarded up for the better part of a decade now, and there were no fires in that that thing during that whole period.

I admit I'm glad to see it come down, in a sense. It's been standing abandonned for so long, and had started to come apart anyway. But what really makes me uneasy about the whole thing is that they first had to clear it out before tearing it down. I don't just mean getting rid of any fridges and stoves that may have come with the apartments in the first place. I mean removing couches, beds, and even toys. It was like everyone got evicted overnight and weren't allowed to get their stuff. I'm sure there are some situations that might warrant that, but I can't imagine what they would be. I know if I was told to get out of my apartment and not come back, and no I didn't have time to move all my belongings, I'd be kicking up one hell of a fuss and wouldn't let it go without a fight.

Very strange.

But since the shaking can't stop me from getting done what I need to do, I've already washed a load of dishes, will wash the other load later, and I plan to make a vegetable stew for tomorrow's supper. (Tonight Rei and I are going to a friend's place for good food and company.) We have carrots, potatoes, and parsnips that need to be used up, and some onion and garlic that will add a nice flavour. I'm tempted to tweak the recipe and throw in the leftover bits of turkey that are still in the fridge, which will make it not-a-vegetable stew, but the turkey does need to be used up soon and this would be a good way to do it.

We've still got a lot of potatoes that need to be used up soon, too, so I'm tempted to experiment with dehydrating them. That way they won't go to waste, and next time we fancy mashed potatoes we won't have to go spend money on buying a new bag.

Of course, I haven't dehydrated anything just using the oven before, so it'll be an adventure. I'll probably try that on Monday, and make that day a kitchen day or something. If I'm not cleaning, I'll be cooking. It'll be the day before my EI money comes through, too, so it'll be a good time to take stock of everything that's in the kitchen, use up what I can before it goes bad, throw out what I can't use (or get stuff together to donate if it's still good but I can no longer tolerate eating it), and make sure I don't waste any of the money I get. I may find enough food to be able to put off grocery shopping for another week, if I'm a little creative with what I make.

Rei and I have been amusing ourselves at night by watching a few episodes of Ranma 1/2 before bed. I'd watched some of it before, at the old anime club I used to belong to in high school, but the club was disorganized and would pretty much just show random episodes from random anime, with no continuity at all. Thus I hadn't actually seen much, and had never seen the beginning. It's fun to take a bit of a nostalgia trip and watch really old stuff every once in a while.

And as a last piece of news, I have a job interview tomorrow morning. Yes, on a Sunday. It's a little unusual, but I guess it's the only time that was available, and I don't mind things being a little unorthodox. The interview's for a job as a night auditor in a hotel I'm actually rather fond of and would enjoy working for, so once more, my fingers are crossed and I'm hoping that they want to hire me.

Ah, let me be very specific here. I'm hoping that they want to hire me and don't demand ridiculous forms of identification in order to do so. I've already had that headache, and I don't fancy reliving it. I have enough rent money now for a few months (thank you, very old tax returns!), but the sooner I get a stable job, the better!
sarasvati: A white lotus flower floating on water. (Default)
2010-09-03 04:05 pm
Entry tags:

Tired of this.

Today marks my year-and-a-day since I last had steady employment. It was September 2nd, 2009, when I came home from the ANE to find out that I, and the rest of my coworkers, no longer had jobs. In the time since then, I've had a month and a half of paid work, countless interviews, far more resumes sent off with no interviews whatsoever, and a buttload of self-esteem problems that come from being constantly rejected for jobs that half-trained monkeys can do.

I'd actually have a job by now if it wasn't for the company requiring a piece of ID that they have no reason to require. My SIN card I can understand, but they also claim that because I'm not a Canadian citizen, I need to show them my PR card, which I don't have. Why don't I have it? Aside from the fact that there's a 4-6 month waiting list and it costs $50 I can't afford, the Permanent Resident card shows that I'm allowed back into Canada if I travel outside the country on my British passport. But the company that wanted to hire me claims that it proves to them that I'm eligible to work in Canada (no, that's what my SIN card is for), and they won't hire me without it.

That ends that.

I am still waiting on the money that's owed to me by the dead company. They drag their feet, lie, delay, lie, and delay more. The owners both have steady employment again now. I don't think they give a rat's ass about anyone other than themselves. It burns me up that what they did is technically not illegal, even if it is highly unethical and I think they should both be exposed for the scumbags they are.

My health has been both improving and deteriorating. I no longer have quite as many stomach problems as I did at the beginning of the year, though that isn't to say I have none. I still have to be very careful about what I eat. Not too much processed flour stuff. No potato ships before bed. Not too much red meat. No acidic stuff in the mornings. No anything in the mornings, really, unless that "morning feeling" has passed. I still have the gastro appointment in October, though, and hopefully that will clear a few last things up.

On the other hand, I've been more unsteady on my feet lately, falling over and tripping and getting dizzy enough to swerve in the middle of the street. It could just be a lousy reaction to the heat wave we've been having, since I've never tolerated the heat well, but this stuff predated the heat wave. It was only a month or so ago that I choked on liquid twice in three days, though I've been careful since. Could be a combination of a lot of factors, one of which is my stress level. That's been noticably high again, as evidenced by the fact that my Tourette's tics have come back. Not just head tics, but more verbal ones, and I haven't gone through echolalia since I was a kid, but here I am now, sometimes finding myself violently blurting out what somebody near me just finished saying.

I'm keeping an eye on everything. Could be nothing, could be something, but it's disruptive nevertheless. Even if it's just the heat and stress getting to me, I have to walk slower and more carefully now to avoid swaying and stumbling, and that's a pain when half of my friends are fast walkers.

I swear, my bookblog is one of the only things keeping me sane these days. At least when I'm reading books and writing reviews, I feel productive. Shame I don't get paid for it, though. Even $10 a review would still give me about a 40% boost to my monthly income right now. Kind of sad, that, when you consider that I've been rather slack about it all and I'm only reviewing about 5-6 books a month. Honestly, if I devoted 40 hours a week to reading and reviewing, I could probably manage 8-10 a month. But since I've been trying to get out for walks every day, have been sending out resumes and doing the occasional interview, have been doing more cooking and cleaning, and still going to the gym with my mother, as well as other incidentals that crop up here and there, it doesn't leave much time in which to just sit down with a book and do nothing but read for hours on end. And in this heat, it's hard to find the motivation to do anything at all sometimes!

Suppose I ought to sign off now. The tail end of Hurrican Earl should be here some time tonight, lasting into tomorrow, which will be nice since it'll cool everything down, but will also mean I'm trapped inside for most, if not all, of tomorrow, and I want to get some fresh air now before the rains hit.
sarasvati: (persona phone)
2010-08-02 02:36 pm
Entry tags:

(no subject)

Finally redownloaded, installed, and started playing MegaTen Online once more. Haven't even done much yet, but it's just as fun as it was in beta, and now it's running on a better computer so that I can actually enjoy it without as much lag.

Right now I'm just playing with Rei, under the character name of SageWilliams, so if anybody sees that character, feel free to say hi. I'll probably be creating a solo character at some point, too, so that I can play when Rei's elsewhere without feeling guilty about being too many levels above him. Sometimes we create characters in games specifically to play together, so I often create a secondary for when I want to solo later.

Need to get money so that I can get a paid account on DW again. I like having individual icons for the games I'm playing, and so far my "Persona Phone" icon is the closest I have to something for MegaTen Online. Just need to get a job and all will be sorted out.

Which reminds me, I interviewed for a company I will call Company X, and once again didn't get the job. I have the sneaking suspicion that they didn't hire me this time because they held my previous interview, one I had 8 months ago, against me, which I think is a load of bullcrap. I'll be contacting the temp agency tomorrow to find out if they gave a reason, and if it's something pathetic like that, I'm going to call them on it and demand that they not hold the past against me like that, especially when their own company policies dictate that I'm supposed to get a new chance to be hired by them after 6 months. If they're just going to hold the previous interview against me, then what's the point in interviewing me a second time at all?

But time will tell what comes of that. As much as I'd want to work for them because they pay well and offer good benefits and stability, they demand a lot of applicants that they don't demand of their actual employees, are notoriously strict, and yes, have been known to not hire people because they wear an article of clothing that's less than professional. (By which I mean, if I show up in sneakers, apologize for wearing sneakers but explain that I'm broke and they're the only things I actually own to wear on my feet, and the sneakers are neat and clean... they won't hire me because I had the audacity to wear sneakers to an interview.)

I also suspect that they may not have hired me because it's been so long since I last had a job. Makes me wonder how people who take time off for sickness or family ever get new jobs. I swear, next time somebody asks me why I haven't worked since last September, I'm going to lie through my teeth and tell them that I was recovering from illness. At least that way they might not get the idea that the reason I haven't worked much since then is because I'm unemployable.

The longer I go without a job, the harder it is to get a job. It's a piss-off!

Okay, enough ranting. Back to playing MegaTen Online!