Monday, November 2, 2009

Working in Corporate America, a second little social commentary.

Greetings bloggers and readers. Apologies again for my lack of posts or attention to these blogs. I've been juggling personal and school life, but as I'm currently taking only one class, I've little excuse save the lack of motivation on my part for nearly anything.

Though I've wanted to dedicate this blog to social commentary, it isn't as though I've nothing to say. In particular, though this has little to do with gender, I'd like to take a second attempt at offering my disgruntled perspective in regards to the system of employment and job interviews in our society, and how I feel a bit excluded by it. I do not know whether this says more about me, or the values we keep in our culture, but I'll let my readers decide.

A close friend of mine got a job at Vons and promptly quit. She was a bit taken aback, with the way she was treated in her employment. The other co workers cared little for training her, and only did the bare-bones minimum they were required in showing her the ropes. She was unprepared for some of the work and shocked, with little assistance in tasks she was not ready for, or physically unable to comply due to her petite size.
But in my opinion, it was more the disposable nature by which she felt she was regarded, than the nature of the work itself that drove her to quit. I hold this opinion because I too, was an employee once at a super market, and I still dread Job hunting to this day because of it. I worked hard at my job as courtesy clerk, very hard. But I was not a fast worker, nor an effective one. Rather, I never gave myself unscheduled breaks or fooled around on the job. I obediently continued to wherever I was expected to be, and to whatever I was expected to be doing.
Often, it seemed like, the case was, that I was reprimanded for not being in two places at once, or for putting out the wrong fire at the wrong time. I was repeatedly told to say "service first" at albertsons, in particular any time I was needed to use the intercom, Yet when I had to choose between that customer that needed my help on aisle 3 and the spill on aisle 6, I was often treated like I was trying to avoid my obligations by helping the customer, despite the instructional videos I was shown which told me to do exactly that.

My boss would make fun of me. whistling the tune thematic of Slowpoke Rodriguez whenever I passed him struggling to figure out which end-cap the go-backs that looked as though they obviously belonged in a completely different location, should be placed in. Another superior of mine, was often thankful and polite to me, making me feel good, until I discovered from co workers how she would often discuss behind my back how wretched slow I was, and how she hated having to work with me.

I constantly felt like my employment, and any hopes of resume for the future, were at stake, because I was not fast enough at dexterity or wit to keep up with the demands of this rather simple, idiotic job at Albertson's. I wondered when they would decide to fire me to let in the next egomaniac behind me who was waiting to do my job, a little bit faster, with a little more skill, or maybe a lot more.
The other employees, who took their job a lot less serious than I did, seem to get along better with their superior motor skills, and that seemed to overshadow the fact that they would extend their breaks as much as possible, and goof off at every given moment on the job. One co-worker of mine even scolded me about the importance of putting away go-backs at the end of each shift, and then began to literally goof around, playing with a toy that was found in the items to be returned.

Another time I was looking for a job, a prospective employer asked me if I was "aggressive" and of course, I thought it meant rude or overly outspoken. Logic should have told me that he meant competitive, but I never took the moment to associate aggressiveness with the place I was applying for work at... Micheal's, an arts and crafts store.

So the bottom line is, I am neither fast, nor competitive. I just want to do my job, as best I can, and I would happily keep a vested interest in how my work is benefiting the employer for whom I work. No employer would want to hire me after I told them that, they want someone who will come in and say "yes" or give a positive answer to every question they would ask about their prospective employment. Either there's a shortage of people like me in this world, who are not good enough, or megalomania and an overwhelming excess of self-esteem are necessary to compete in this cutthroat environment we live in, even at the very bottom of the food chain.

Perhaps this is just the asperger's talking. Maybe this is just the perspective of someone in a very distinct psychiatric minority, complaining about something that works fine for just about everyone else. It must be because I don't see many people complaining about the values in entry level corporate society, outside of my little circle of friends. We talk about the big guys like the banks and the upper eschalons of corporate society, and how their greed often forgets about those left on the bottom rung, but nobody complains about the guy in charge of job interviews at the local best buy or Target.

Honesty and hard work in our society, only pay off when one also has superior skills in every aspect of their job, social, physical, and mental. I clearly simply do not fit in with my inferior self esteem and the slow pace with which I must try to keep up. You need to be the best, or at least be able to claim to be to an interviewer with a straight face.

At any rate I'm in school for the time being, and I'm sure I'll find a way to get by in society, but it doesn't change how it appears to me, in terms of cultural values. I don't like to boast about myself or try to put myself on some kind of high pedestal, and this has already put me into a number of awkward encounters with job interviewers.


Jota Be said...

I can relate all too well to you about this ^_^ you know me, i am as laid back as it gets. I know i wouldn't fit either in marketing or selling jobs, or other kinds of jobs where you have to perform tasks that involve movement... i am a slowpoke, and i take time to think things through. Over here, people like me are said "not to have blood in the body" lol XD

Thing is, if you don't feel competent for a certain kind of job, look for what you are competent. We all have our good skills and bad skills ^_^ and you have your own good skills. Find them, train them, keep studying to have a good resume that enhances your good skills. ^_-

Samantha Shanti said...

Over the years I have worked in SO many different places it makes MY head swim. I started at 13 taking the garbage out at a picture framing place. By the time I was 15 I was managing the place. Not because I was that good so much as the place was run by one women who'd gotten into an accident, and it was her only source of income. So I kept it going while she recovered.

There's a Kenny Chesny song I love that sums up my life in terms of work called "The Woman With You." From those early days until 2000 when everything came apart I worked my way through numerous careers all over the country. In 2000 I was the CIO of a Startup making six figures. I was THE boss because while there was a CEO, CFO, and CMO to mention a few, it was a software development firm, so I was the big boss, because, I was the biggest geek. Made six figures plus the perks. I was hired to turn the company around and save them from the terrible mistakes they'd made in the early days.

They didn't listen to me either. They didn't take me seriously. They didn't take the warnings, milestones or deliverables seriously. From there I left Software development and internet work to go back into medicine.

I wish I was kidding. I had ONE patient. I had two entire hospitals and nursing staffs at my disposal, but the patient, nor his parents, in the end took me seriously. In 2003 I had the most difficult conversation a Doctor ever has to have with a patient. I told him that if he didn't start taking his health at least as seriously as the medical staff was, he'd be dead in just under three years. He had to make major changes to his life or he would be dead in early 2006.

In April of 2006 they put him in the ground. He was 41 years old, and the man I'd fallen in love with and married in 96. I told him he wouldn't live to see our tenth anniversary. He and his parents all thought I was full of it. The care team we'd assembled was one of the finest in the world. He'd still be alive if he and his parents had let us do our job.

But NO. Nothing I'd do was fast enough, good enough, soon enough and trust me baby girl EVERYONE else thought I was amazing. I was working 24 hours a day. Being all things to all people. The faster I moved, the more I got done, the more they wanted.

Samantha Shanti said...

It had been that way my entire life. From the time I was FIVE on, nothing ever did was fast enough, good enough, soon enough or right enough for the folks around me starting with my Dad. I've worked in restaurants, grocery stores, art galleries, public service, health care, Wall street and everything in between. In the 80's while THEY were telling me I wasn't working hard enough, fast enough, good enough or smart enough, I was warning them that they'd be out of business in about 20 years if they didn't start doing things the right way. I invented new stuff for them, I was working with Windows 286 when it had just come out. They laid me and about 50 thousand other people off in '89. One of the biggest layoffs of it's time. In 2007 they went under for EXACTLY the reasons I'd warned them about. But I was the one who was never good enough.

It's not you Sara. I imagine anyone else who comes here, and reads this will have horror stories of their own, because you had it spot on when you used the word disposable. That's what we all are for the most part.

We were different, and just slaves to do their bidding for the most part. Yes, I've had some awesome jobs in equally awesome working conditions but they are, and have been few and far between. With very, very few exceptions all the best jobs I've ever had were the ones where I was the expert and had complete control over things. No one questioned me because I had built this amazing resume. Actually several. But in the end, there was always some for whom it wasn't good enough.

If my idiot husband and his parents had listened to me, HE would still be alive, we'd have more money than we could spend and we wouldn't need to work. I was bound and determined I'd be retired by the time I was 45. I'd invented some new stuff that was going to tap into a specific vertical market and forever generate money in huge quantities for very little work, and cheaper than anyone else on the planet was doing it.

It's still locked away somewhere safe, and I don't know if I'm ever going to do anything with it. I hope to, but I'm not hopeful.

Yeah, I'm 45 and retired. I'm on disability after three nervous breakdowns, depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress and more. I'm a mess. Why? Because they used me, and used me, and used me some more, and more, and moire, and when I asked for a little bit of help and a hug now and then from the man I was keeping alive, he left me. Threw may away like last weeks rotting garbage.

So no girl, it's not you.

I could write more, but it's 06:54 in the morning and I haven't been to bed yet. I'm so happy to see you writing again, and hope to see more of you. But please, don't let them convince you it's you because it's not.

Samantha Shanti said...

One more quick note. It is exactly because folks ARE disposable in terms of corporate culture that the economy is trashed. People are out of work, everything costs too much, but people don't get paid enough and are being worked to death without breaks, vacations, sick days, benefits or enough money.

Think it's you? Not even close, it's the entire corporate culture of unrestrained greed and seeing people as disposable. I wish I was kidding.

You my dear are special, wonderful, and deserve so much better than you've ever really gotten. We at least love you and appreciate you just the way you are.

Sara said...

It isn't so much that I think people are out to get me personally, so much as just I believe some people have a fierce, competitive nature that allows them to thrive in a working environment. I'm not aggressive. I should never have had to tell that that stupid Michaels manager that I was. I just wanna work to earn my money and be a part of a team.

Samantha Shanti said...

I don't think they are out to get you either, but am certain they have unreasonable expectations and demands because that is the way the entire system is set up. Doesn't matter for the most part who you work for or where. The entire system is broken. People are disposable cogs in the machinery of making more money. Promotion is based on games and politics, not what you can actually do most of the time. You're expected to play the game and put up with it, or they will find someone they can pay less to do your job kinda thing.