The Bitch and the Pendulums

I’ve got the flu. Coughing, aching, fever, sweating, I caught the bug.   I started feeling crappy Friday after work, but thought that since I had Saturday off, I could beat this thing and return to work Sunday. I slept a total of 12 hours from 8 am on Saturday, waking long enough to eat some toast, drink some tea, and complain about the tv being too loud. 

Sunday I was feeling worse, but since there was no one available to work for me, I had to go in and make sure the 8 people working that day were doing their jobs.

First, an apology.  I do believe it was the flu AND the flu medication that caused me to bare my fangs and claws. I apologize to everyone at work for snapping at them and waving them away when they would approach me. YOU know I’m not normally that way. Even so, you shouldn’t want to bring the bitch out in me. It’s not a pretty sight.

Next, a question.  Why can’t perfectly capable adults just do their jobs without being told every 5 minutes?  Let’s make that several questions.  Do people actually enjoy being micromanaged? I know I don’t.  I want to get-er-done, and get-er-done correctly, quickly, and in such a way I don’t have the management gods raining fire and brimstone down on me.  What happened to taking pride in your work? Is that such an old-fashioned notion, like opening a door for an elderly person or replacing the toilet paper when the roll is empty?  And whatever happened to the ideals of teamwork?  In my previous employment situations, where everyone sat in a cubicle and didn’t know the fellow employee next to them, let alone speak to them, teamwork is a very vague and abstract concept. You don’t see the results of working together until you attend an annual meeting and have to watch a Powerpoint presentation that only gives you a feeling of being a very small cog in the wheel. Where I work now, physical work makes up 75% of the job, the rest being using your brain to develop ways to do that 75% more efficiently,  utilizing your coworkers’ talents along with your own.  Brains people, BRAINS!

Let’s say, for instance, I ask someone to take all items with a green price tag off 3 shelves. and replace them with newer items with a pink price tag. This should not be so difficult. This person should not have to have someone standing over them and making sure they don’t take the green price tags off items  on 3 shelves in a different department and reprice those items with a pink tag, like the last person did.  And when someone knows their job is to break down boxes to recycle and take trash out to the compactor, they shouldn’t be standing next to someone who is actually (well kind of) doing his job and discussing the merits of using a certain type of cannon in the Civil War over another, or what is the best ammo to use if you want someone to really suffer when shot by a shotgun. (Creepy, but true).

You can blame it on their training, but I went through the same training and came away with knowledge of what to do, how to do it, and an incentive to find a better way to do it. These people, for the most part, are like pendulums on a clock; once they get started, they’ll keep going until their work day is over.  But introduce a distraction, like a coworker who wants to yap, or a song on the radio, or even a bird flying by the window, and they’ll stop.  The only thing that gets that pendulum swinging again is a manager giving them that verbal push.(Oh, if it were only legal to give them a physical one.)

Yesterday was like working in a building full of broken cuckoo clocks. Get one shut up and back to work, then another one stops ticking. Going back and forth from one end of the building to the other to keep all these faulty clocks working, when I was sick and feverish and just wanted to go to sleep, made something snap inside me. I didn’t yell, but I made it clearly known that everyone’s job was on the line if they didn’t do their jobs, and if they didn’t take that warning seriously, maybe a written one would have a better effect.  I turned off the radios, and limited the number of people working together at one task to just two. They did get their work done–barely–and baskets of baleful looks were heaped upon me when the left for the day.  Look, people; you can do your job and do it well without supervision. Or you can slack off, and have your day ruined by micromanagement and threats.

Looks to me like it’s easier for some people to just have a perfectly shitty day at work than to leave work with a great feeling that you’ve done your job well.

You People Are Sick, Sick…

Why do sick people go out and spread their diseases to those innocent ones–like myself–who, due to their vocation, have to come in contact with them? 

In the past 5 days I have had to listen to one of my workers vomit in the bathroom, another cough and snort and hack her way through the workday, and another (and I think this one was just faking it out of pure laziness) whine and moan all day about a stomach ache.

Sure, we all have to work. But we all owe it to society and mankind in general to keep your creeping crud to yourself and not expose the rest of us to it.  Hand sanitizer does not negate the effect of someone sneezing  into your face.  You touch money handled by someone suffering from some bug and there you go. You’ve exposed yourself to who knows what they are carrying, whether it’s Swine Flu or Dengue Fever.

Because of having had Guillaine-Barre Syndrome 20 odd years ago, I cannot be inoculated against the H1N1 virus.  And because I am also diabetic, catching that flu bug can be catastrophic to me.  But, I have to work, and I am continually washing my hands and wiping down all the surfaces I touch with antibacterial sanitizer to try to beat the odds and get through the flu season unscathed.  So when that man dug into his nose then handed me his money, or that coworker wiped her nose with her bare hand then pawed through some wares, or that bleary-eyed customer handed me a fist-full of used kleenex along with her credit card, I suppose I don’t have much choice but pray for a heavenly exemption from the flu. I know I can’t hit those people over the head with a used vaporizer and tell them they’re all pigs and to keep their nasty, unsanitary habits at home.

Oh, maybe that’s where the  term “Swine Flu” came from.

The Things You Think Are Precious I Don’t Understand….

I work for a nonprofit, charitable organization that takes donations of clothes, housewares, furniture and electronic equipment to sell and consequently fund programs and services for people who are in dire straits and unfortunate circumstances.  These programs include job training, education, and employment opportunities within our industries.

Since most of our funding comes from the sale of donated items, we have posted on our website and on signs within our stores that state “Give What You Would Give a Friend”.

In far too many cases, from the donations we receive, I would hate to be that donor’s “friend”…and would hate even more to be the donor’s enemy. For every donation of clean, well-kept items of clothing, shoes, and housewares, we get at least 10 donations of what I call, for lack of a more accurate term, garbage.  And because they are “donating items of value to a charitable organization”, they are entitled to use these “gifts” as a tax write off.

I have processed donations of designer clothes, purses, shoes and jewelry; also antique,  vintage, or collectible items. It gives me a warm feeling, knowing that these donors are giving of themselves and their possessions. On the other hand, there are people who bring in boxes, bags, and tubs of broken, moldy, smelly, and dangerous stuff that will never sell, then demand a receipt for their “donation”.  I will not resell these items.  They are garbage, and belong in a dumpster, not in a donation box.  Some of the items that have come in are:

1) An old cast from a broken arm

2)An unopened dual-pack can of Lay Choy Chow Mein, expiration date 1999. A crushed packet of strawberry poptarts. A half bottle of castor oil.

3)Several dozen pair of dirty thong underwear.

4)  A sealed box of clothing, which, upon opening, proved to have been used by a cat for a litter box for about 5 years.

5) Old rusty pans, some with food still crusted on them.

6)A Fry Daddy deep fat fryer, including rancid fat. Donor must have fried gym socks and fish heads before donating.

7)Brand new electric frying pan, still sealed in box. Upon opening, dozens of cockroaches pour out.

8 )  Complete enema kit, quite obviously used.

And the list goes on.  People bringing in things that didn’t sell at their yard sales ( umm…why would you think we could sell them when you couldn’t?), cleaning out grandma’s house, keeping the good stuff and donating boxes of old magazines, coupons, and half-used bottles of Milk of Magnesia; moving to a different state and donating mud-encrusted clothing and shoes. One donor said she was moving and donating all the shoes she couldn’t find a mate for, and all the tupperware lids she had that were likewise orphaned.

Sure, we recycle just about everything…clothes that are soiled, torn or in need of buttons are sent to another agency who cleans and repairs them, then resold or donated to other charitable organization.  Stuffed toys are sold and processed into carpet padding. Metal, cardboard, and old t-shirts and towels are recycled.  But we are not a recycling center. Nor are we a landfill or town dump. Dealing with and processing the garbage left by donors takes time away from our employees that could be used for more important jobs, like restocking goods and clothing, keeping the store neat, tidy, and organized, and making sure the people who shop there get the best possible items for the lowest possible price.

I would suggest to all who are out there looking at bags and boxes of stuff they need to get shed of to think, “Would I give this to a friend?” or “Would I buy this be proud to say I got it at a thrift store?”  If they would only give it a thought before donating it, we wouldn’t be having to deal with blood-stained clothes, dirty broken dishes, or an old arm cast.

For my sister

My younger sister is on her way home after spending a week in the hospital after surgery for thyroid cancer.  She has a long row to hoe, so to speak, as she has a lot of preparation ahead of her for her radioactive therapy, including  pre-treatment injections, two at $1000 apiece.

Luckily, this is a type of cancer that is 98% curable.  By standards, she should be cancer free within 6 months. But other than remission, what are some of the other things she has to look forward  to? 

Her family, for one thing.  A loving, devoted husband, who’s weak stomach became as strong as iron as he helped her through more than one vomiting episode while she was hospitalized.  Her daughter, who kept the family updated on her status even though this thing has been more than traumatic for her.  Her son, whose own son was born 3 months premature and knows far too well the life-and-death drama of a family member, and her 11 siblings, who, for the most part, have been relatively healthy until now.

I’m the person in this family who usually falls ill to a myriad of things; Guillain-Barre Syndrome, diabetes, to name a couple.  Another sister refers to me as the “Disease  Swiffer” of the family.  If anyone is stricken with anything, it’s usually me.  And I don’t mind a bit.  I think of it as Devine Retribution for all the bad things I’ve done.  So when anyone else becomes seriously ill, I feel extremely guilty….I didn’t use my Swifferdom to keep them healthy.

If I could take this away from her, I would.  But I can’t.  So in the meantime, I want her to know that I am with her throughout all of this, and that she can count on me for total support for the “Girl With The Strawberry Curl”.

I love you, D.