Monday, June 30, 2008

The Replacements

I sat down intending to blog about the awful day I had at work. I was going to talk about how negative and hurtful and shocking The Gossip has been, but instead I thought I should talk about the great things that happened today.

Sue Ellen is a good employee, but doesn't want any extra responsibility. She has stated in no uncertain terms that she does not answer phones, and she flat refuses to act in any way that can construed as a supervisor or lead operator. I have room for this personality type on my staff, and she's very valuable as she is. Lately, Sue Ellen has been doing a lot more around the office; when she sees that our supply cabinet is low on shipping materials she brings some in from storage when she's on her way from there. She has been volunteering to do little things that she knows I don't really have time for, like distributing invoices which come in extremely large quantities. Nobody likes distributing invoices; it's boring, repetitious work, and takes a couple hours from start to finish. Sue Ellen especially hates doing it, but she's been volunteering for this task almost daily.

Beatrice has also been making herself available to help out where I need it, checking with me whenever she's finished with her assigned tasks to see where I need the most help. Constance has been working extra hard to complete her tasks ahead of schedule and jumping into other duties that need to be done. These ladies, and others, have taken turns distributing faxes off the machines, taking out the recycling, and covering for staff who are out.

This behaviour is quiet and matter of fact; they don't make a big deal out of it, but it's a definite change in attitude for these ladies. A lot of the time my group seems to have a status-quo attitude towards their work. I'll be honest, the work is not fulfilling or challenging. This is an AP department contracted to a trucking company, and the work is not especially creative nor gratifying. There are seemingly-endless stacks of invoices to process, invoices to reject, invoices to research, invoices to shred and line the bottoms of cat-boxes ...

It's no great mystery that I have a difficult time motivating people to work hard, and work happy. They think I'm loose in the head because I actually do enjoy it, but I don't honestly expect a lot of passion from them, as much as I would like to see them bring some passion to their jobs from time to time.

I feel like I got some replacements inside the same team members I've always had, like someone changed their filters and now they're working harder and better. I felt very grateful to not have to assign someone to the jobs they hate, but to actually be able to choose among several people for the best suited. And when I thanked them for their hard work and acknowledged how wonderful they've been, they beamed big, bright eyes at me and smiled like I had handed out cookies. They made the awful parts of my day not seem so awful.

Oh, and I've changed all the names. If you're named Sue Ellen, or Beatrice, or Constance and think you've recognized yourself here, you haven't but I'm sure your boss is proud of you too.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Just when I thought things had settled ...

I heard a rumour about myself this week, a nasty, rude rumour that I am having an affair. I think my assistant has started it, and two others have confirmed they heard it from her. It's awfully detailed, this rumour, including descriptions of the man I have been supposedly seeing and what we do during the day when I sneak out of the office to meet him; she has put a lot of time and energy into it, suggesting that she has not got enough to keep her busy during the day.

My initial reaction after being told about it was amusement. I burst out laughing because it's so ridiculous. The more time goes by, though, the more upset I am about it. I was going to let it go; it can't hurt me, after all, because it's not true. But as I think more about it I feel like I need to confront her, and get it out in the open. In addition to talking about me, she's been telling others that Mr. J lost his job due to misconduct, and that's why we had to move. I felt shocked hearing this, completely taken aback by the level of thought she has put into this scenario she has created.

For the first time in my professional life, my feelings are hurt. I have had rumours spread about me before, things that were partially true that someone misunderstood, or people overhearing part of a conversation and filling in the rest and repeating it as fact; I have had employees say mean, spiteful things because they were angry at me or just didn't like me. But I have never experienced someone making up an elaborate, involved rumour that could potentially be so harmful, and for no apparent reason. Especially someone with whom I thought I got along with at work. We're not "friends", but we have never really had a conflict with one another. She's a little asocial, a little cranky, and not a very positive person in general, but I never thought she was mean-spirited. I am disappointed, because it seems so out-of-nowhere; and I feel a little injured because I thought we worked fine together. I am also a little concerned about Bunny; it's not a secret in the office that we are friends. I don't want her to get dragged into something on account of being friends with me.

Have I mentioned I hate working with women? The men I have worked with, and had work under me, never behaved this way. They told me to my face if they had a problem with me; I have had to deal with unhappy male employees who didn't want to take orders from a girl, and I much prefer dealing with that sort of behaviour problem. How do you chase down a rumour? How do you prove that someone is actually responsible for making up and spreading them? People don't admit it when they're guilty of such behaviour; they lie about it and carry on with it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update

Work is amazing. The attitude in my office is so relaxed, so calm and peaceful. Even Friends of The Problem have been pleasant to be around. The salesman in our branch just celebrated 25 years with the company, and we had a party with grilled dead things and a pot-luck. It was nice to see everyone enjoying themselves. Tension seems to run so high every few weeks among everyone that I was glad to see everyone so casual and seemingly-happy.

And, the aforementioned salesman is working his brains out bringing more jobs into our branch. I am busy working with Bunny and learning as much as my fluffy head will hold. The rest of the work has picked up, seemingly overnight, so suddenly we find ourselves awash in busy things to do.

Yesterday was my first day working out in about a week. Left to my own devices I will work on a craft project or do some other sedentary activity that doesn't really tire me out; I was surprised at how little time it took my body to get used to being lazy again. I suspect this next week will be painful for me.

Bunny and I got a blog going for our business. There's not much yet, but it gives me something to update while I'm getting the website situated. CSS is hard, by the way, and I'm too cheap to pay a professional.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Potential business venture

Ages ago, I worked with a lovely lady who became my work-mom. She crocheted, and I learned many wonderful things from her. She helped me re-kindle my enjoyment of such crafts as knitting and crocheting. We often spent our breaks at work deep into a crochet project. She moved away last year, and I lost my crochet partner. Then I discovered that Tanya crochets. Not only that, she knits. I knitted when I was a girl, but have only recently started up again.

I've blogged about Tanya before. She has an alias that I have neglected to mention here. She is also called Bunny, so named by her husband (we'll call him Sugar).

We are both rather standoffish, Bunny and I. We don't generally like other people and keep to ourselves. As such, we worked together for a couple of years before realizing of one another that we really are quite lovely girls. We found some common ground, and became fast friends.

As we both enjoy the same sort of crafts, we often spend our breaks together working on this or that project. Recently Bunny said, in a moment of pure genius, that we should go into business together making hand-made items and selling them on the internet. I replied that I know people who do this, and we could totally pull it off. We laughed and talked of how fabulous we would be in business together, then sort of forgot about it.

On a whim I started making lists of the things that she and I can make, and realized that we really could have such a business.

We are still in the development/planning stages, but we're going to give it a go. There are oodles of things to learn about and we've been busy sucking up as much information as our silly heads will hold.

I am really excited about the idea. I love making things by hand, knitting and sewing and crocheting; I adore the idea of getting paid to do what I will be doing with my time anyway. I like the idea of pooling resources and creativity with someone as like-minded as Bunny is to me. Between the two of us, and our respective families, we really do have a lot of talent and skill.

I have had a lot of dreams and aspirations over the years. I have failed (or not even attempted) to realize most of them, and this feels like something that will be very fulfilling for me.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birthday celebration

Mr. Jade turned 40 years old yesterday; in our house, when it's your birthday you get whatever you want for dinner. He chose Benihana, a teppanyaki restaurant near our apartment. We enjoy teppanyaki, both for the food and for the experience.

On one of our first vacations together we went on a road trip through Arizona and California. We stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona and stayed a few days. While there, I had my first teppanyaki experience. That was when I discovered that I love sushi, and having a chef cook for you at your table is among the best dining experiences ever.

Last night didn't disappoint at all. I had a combination steak/chicken meal; Mr. J had the "land and sea" - scallops and steak. All combinations include onion soup, which is an excellent light broth with green onions, mushrooms, and french-fried onions; also included was salad, and a shrimp appetizer. I don't normally care for most seafood, including shrimp, but the way it was prepared was delicious and well-worth eating. We also got a dragon roll; I usually use unagi as my measure for how good sushi is, but we wanted something different last night. It was very good, though we had so much food it was a little overwhelming. Dessert was green tea ice-cream, another item I had never had but now love.

There were many birthdays last night. The staff sang two versions of "happy birthday" - in English, and in Japanese. They brought out little candles and took your photograph. Mr. J declined to acknowledge his birthday, but someone else at our table was also having a birthday so we embarrassed her instead.

All the singing aside, it was a great meal with excellent ambiance. Meals appeared to average around twenty dollars a plate. I highly recommend teppanyaki, and Benihana.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Aftermath

Firing The Problem yesterday was especially unpleasant. I was sure she should not have been surprised given our recent conversations, but she truly seemed shocked that I chose to let her go. I also saw a side of her that I have heard much about but never actually seen: violent aggression. She has worked for the company for eight years or so, and used to be a supervisor. Her file is filled with disciplinary actions revolving around behaviour that is legally considered physical assault: throwing things at subordinates, slamming doors, literally, in another's face, and so on. Behaviour I have heard many horror stories of, and should have resulted in termination a long time ago. I do not understand why she wasn't removed years ago. Usually when we get into discussions or conflicts, she just cries. I was expecting more tears, but instead I got the violent behaviour and the flying objects. She made a terrible scene in the office and cursed me quite foully.

This morning I announced to the office that The Problem was let go; the response was mixed, as it usually is. Half the group was visibly relieved that she is gone; the other half was anxious and distraught all day. I dealt with some attitude problems from other staff members, which was not unexpected but sure was unwelcome. Something I noticed among this group of people is their willingness to swallow outrageous stories without any evidence to back it up. I have never known a group of women who were more willing to jump on any ole bandwagon that happens by, with no regard to the other people involved. I'm a pretty thick-skinned individual so rumors and name-calling don't hurt my feelings, but it's damned annoying to be dealing with a bunch of people who seemingly refuse to think for themselves. I had to tell more than one person today that they can either call HR if they feel so concerned about my decision or they can continue working with their big mouths shut, but they can't sit around and draw their sophomoric conclusions all day and interrupt my office.

Harumph!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Problem solving

I have finally reached a point with The Problem past which I am unwilling to go. A member of the executive team for my company was in town yesterday, and we discussed the state of things; we talked with The Problem and made sure she understood what was expected of her, and confirmed that she and I are on track with one another. She nodded her head all snappy, and was bright and shiny; she said all the right things, pulled all the right facial expressions. Her body language and her tone of voice, as well as what she said, all suggested she understood fully how things were expected to go. She committed to doing what I wanted of her, of behaving appropriately, and conducting herself in a manner that was consistent with what a manager would expect of a person who is directly representing said manager. I was pleased, practically giddy, that things were going so well. Finally, I could take a deep breath and let it all the way out; I could relax, things were going to get back on track and we could all return to our normal business of taking care of business.

In an unrelated situation, The Problem has a Friend in the office, with whom she is very chatty (bordering on gossipy); The Problem is constantly telling The Friend things she shouldn't, involving The Friend in situations that she shouldn't be involved in. The Problem has been in trouble for this, and recently came to me to tell me about a situation in which The Friend and another staff member were gossiping about others. I pulled the ladies aside yesterday and told them to knock it off. That's when I find out their version of the "gossip", which differs significantly from the version The Problem gave me. At this point, I mostly just want to scream.

Then I find out that The Problem left the meeting with me and my manager and went straight to The Friend and unloaded everything we had just talked about. Right after she tattled to me about this supposed gossiping The Friend was engaged in. Is this starting to sound like a bad soap opera to anyone else?

This morning, during an unusually long shower before work, I decided to fire The Problem. Showers are a terrific time for me to sort out a lot of my office problems. It's relaxing, and I seem to have a lot of clarity during that time. I feel like I make my best decisions in the shower.

I feel a lot better now. I took the morning off and ran a few errands with Mr. Jade; I cleaned my apartment and smudged, removing so much negativity from myself. I'll head back to the office later this afternoon and conduct the exit interview and go about my day.

I have been reading Ajahn Brahm, a Buddhist monk who tells the very best stories in his book Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?; one of the things I am learning is letting go. Of fear, of worry, of trepidation. I have thought out my problem, attempted various methods of solving it, and have made a decision. Now I am working on letting go. I am not going to worry about this termination interview; I already know it's going to happen, and I need not choose a path of suffering over that decision. After coming to this realization, I feel terrific. I am able to enjoy my afternoon off before a potentially unpleasant meeting. My work load may increase temporarily and things will have to change in the office due to the nature of what The Problem does each day, but that's okay. For today, right this minute, I do not have to worry about that. I choose to let go of dread.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Death

In December 2006 my best friend's husband died. There was a lot of controversy and question about the nature and manner of his death, questions that I don't think have yet been fully answered. Before her husband died, she had been seeing another man, a boyfriend she was going to leave her husband for eventually. After the death of her husband, she moved in with this boyfriend, and now he is dead also. He died "peacefully", according to his obituary.

Everyone who has known her for any length of time believes that she is responsible for these two deaths. It is unfathomable to me that my friend has done this, is capable of doing this. It is sad that everyone has made their minds up about her before knowing all the facts.

She and I have not been close in a long time. We seemed like we were becoming close friends again after her husband died, but that didn't last long. I have no idea what is happening with her or where she is emotionally. The last time I saw her, she seemed a little unraveled, but no more so than one would expect after finding a spouse dead. Back then, a lot of people suspected she was responsible for her husband's death. It made me angry, because I've been there, understand exactly how if feels to have friends and family blame you for someone's death. Even given the suspicious details, I felt supportive of her because I know how heart breaking it is to have friends rush to judgment without knowing everything; I know how hurtful it is for people to spread rumours without regard to the damage that sort of talk can do. And I learned how fast people can turn against you in a moment of high drama like the traumatic death of a loved one.

I still feel supportive of her, even though we haven't spoken in nearly a year; I still feel unwilling to make my mind up because I don't know everything that happened, have only a second-hand story and completely non-informative obituary to go on. But I'm reeling from this, don't understand how my childhood friend, that silly blonde who could hardly put two thoughts together, has found her life in such a right mess.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What stone is this?

I have a stone I cannot identify. Can anyone help me? I'm not a photographic wizard, so please forgive the poor quality.

I picked this up when I went to the Third Eye quite some time ago, on my first stone-shopping adventure. I was quite overwhelmed by everything I found; I hadn't gone shopping specifically for stones - Tanya and I took an afternoon off and decided to pop into the shoppe before heading home. There were so many stones for exceptional prices, and I was immediately swept away by the variety. I could hardly grasp what I was looking at before my attention was diverted to other, interesting things. A number of the bins I was poking around in were unlabeled, so I had to sort out what I got later.

Now, I've got this terrific books on stones and I realize I cannot find this stone in it so far. I thought it was watermelon tourmaline after looking at photographs in Scott Cunningham's book on stone and metal magic, but I'm beginning to doubt that based on what I'm finding now.

Pendulum

I went shopping again, this time for a pendulum for myself. I have recently become interested in pendulums, and Fox Child does the very best work. This is a peace jade pendulum, made with the most beautiful stones consisting of green and white marbling, with traces of lavender in some. I have also recently picked up The Book of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach and I have been learning interesting things about lavender jade. For instance, it can aid in compassion, in which I am severely lacking.

I have had a couple of weird experiences with my jade lately. I have always felt profoundly drawn to it and have been extremely attuned to its energy. It is very comforting to me, feels as though it belongs to me personally. I found a terrific carved jade ring that I ended up losing; I still have not found it. I went back to the Gold Door and bought a new one; I put it on and wore it for five minutes. Then I clapped my hands together at something hilarious Tanya's husband said, and broke that silly ring. I can't seem to keep the jade with me, and it's a little disconcerting.

I've been doing some thinking about this; jade is for abundance, for bringing things in. I have been really future-focused for the past several months, concentrating so much on bringing changes to my life and my environment. Now that I have the changes I needed, I should sit with them and fulfill some of the goals I wanted to fulfill back when I was drawing so much in. Instead, I have maintained that future-focus; I have switched my focus to other things and have not really been spending a lot of time becoming comfortable with this change. I believe this inability to keep my jade rings is the universe telling me to stop focusing so much on drawing in that abundance I keep seeking, to just settle down with what I have for now and work on cycling my energy in my current environment instead of looking to change it.

Whatever it means, the energy of my pendulum feels much different from the energy of those jade rings. The rings had such frenetic energy, so busy and full of movement; the peace jade feels very calm to me. I'm looking forward to working with it more.

Photo credit: Shades of Midnight

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Yesterday marked the day when, twelve years ago, Colin and I started dating. Actually, I started dating Colin and his girlfriend, Robin, and he used to call us a "truple". That's "couple", but for three people instead of just two. I had a lot to say about that yesterday, a lot of memories about the early part of our relationship. I had a lot to say about our beginning, how we went from a poly-amorous relationship with Robin to just the two of us, how we clicked right away with one another and were inseparable, how we were truly like best friends. But I wrote it all out and it just made me tired. There was a lot of good back then, but a lot of bad too. When I wrote it all down I realized there is a lot of stuff I did not realize the significance of then, events that I have reconciled and don't really want to bring up here; there is also a lot of pain associated with that time for me, pain I don't necessarily want to go into here, right now.

I thought I had a lot so say about that time, about how different I was, and how happy he made me, but the truth is that I don't really relate to the girl I was when I started dating Colin. But joining my life with his started me down the path I am on today, and I'm glad of that, at least.

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