Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cutting hours at work

At the current job most employees are experiencing fewer working hours. I've even been scheduled less than the minimum 24 hour work week. While I could complain to the union about this, it's much easier just to ask the bosses at work where I can add some hours to hit the mandatory 24.

While this is a typical trend with new store managers, it seems to be occurring more than usual. This means that my coworkers and myself are back on the job hunt.

The good news is it seems there are many job openings in the area recently. The bad news is most of these jobs do not have unions, so it is likely that I would not get certain luxuries I am used to, including a lunch break at a proper time. But the hunt is on!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Back on the hunt

With the store giving me only a 24 hour work week this week, it's time to once again go on the application rampage. To reasonably pay off my student loan debt (PRO TIP: Don't go to grad school unless you can get a fabulous deal from the uni and you can feasibly make a living off it), I need to earn double what I earn now. And I by double I mean what I earn in a 40-hour week.

Part of the problem is we have a new store manager. The usual pattern with new managers is they like to cut down the hours at the bare minimum when they get a new store. This is part a) it gives them an idea of what they can realistically work with and b) it makes them look like a payroll hero. Good for the store and company, bad for us suckers.

The good thing about me is I'm flexible. Working in a small grocery store makes you wear many hats, and I can be put in a variety of roles without too much complaint. But when everyone is getting a smaller slice of the pie there's only so much scheduling can do.

So, let's hit the listings!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Time to quit

"So... is there any reason you couldn't help us out today?"

Day 3 of the new job. Although I would likely get another chance, I'm supposed to have one sign-up by the end of the day.

"Oh man, I feel for you, it's a great cause, but I just can't today."

My coworker steps in and tries to get the guy to sign up. I only stopped him because he was in a suit, and I was making a joke about how suits just blow you off. I couldn't believe this person even listened to the first few words I said.

I could hear them, but I wasn't really listening. It was the last 20 minutes of the shift and I was getting desperate.

"Yeah, I understand you have quotas to make..." Whoa. He said that on his own, we didn't provoke that from him.

We both tried our best to get this guy to sign up, but to no avail. He walked off with his $4 coffee drink in his hand. I started crying, but not much. Just a few tears. I felt like such a failure, but I also suspected starting this kind of work right after Christmas wasn't going to bring out the giving in people.

My coworker turned to me, "Your boyfriend will sign up. Then you'll have one."

We left our post early. The whole group didn't fare well that day, but it was the moment of truth for me. I felt awful. I really didn't want to go back to retail full-time, but the unionized security of the job was looking better and better.

I met my boyfriend at Horton Plaza, where I begged him to sign up. He agreed, but he asked me if I was sure I wanted to continue the job. He was supportive in whatever job I took, but I knew he preferred me to work this job since it meant weekends off and two weeks of vacation a year, plus federal holidays off. These are things I can't get in my retail job.

That night, I woke up at 3 am with a fever and exhausted. The part-time schedule would leave me working without a day off for two weeks. I'm getting old enough to know my limits.

The following morning, I experienced my saddest resignation in a job. For the first time, I had to quit a job because I couldn't handle it. The only other times I've quit a job is because of relocation or school.

So now I'm back in retail, but still looking for something else. I loved working with the non-profit people and I miss them. But job security wins over pleasant work environment.

As for the donations, I didn't submit my boyfriend's form, but I did sign up myself. Even though I'm one broke person, I'm sure I can substitute 50 cents a day for those who need it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A weekend at the old job

I hate my original job for many reasons, but my new job fills me with a new disgust that I hadn't expected. After spending the better part of the week discussing children dying of starvation, I had to spend the New Year's Eve weekend cooking food, putting it out, and eventually throwing it away. The sight of at least 30 pounds of food heading straight to the compost made me feel sick. But that is how we roll in my company. We must have the food hot and ready for those who wish it. They are not interested in coming back later after I've cooked it.

The contrast between the two jobs creates a tug-of-war in my mind.

That said, tomorrow will mark my third day of the job so I must get one person to donate or else I will be back at the old job full time again and desperately looking for another one. The pressure is on!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Second day on the new job

Canvassing is not for everyone. I realized that two days ago (my second day), when I showed up to work and found the other new hire had quit. She only worked one day. It's easy to feel discouraged when you spend 8 hours of your day hearing "no". I can't remember if I discussed this in the first post, but canvassing is much more different than retail than I had realized. When you work in retail, the customer is already in your storefront with an intention of making a purchase. The difference is similar to writing a cover letter for an advertised position and writing a cover letter asking for a company to create a position - you're starting from zero. This person on the street wants to just get to work, get their lunch, meet their friend, get to the next tourist spot. Some think they're being harassed and shout, others politely decline. And you keep that smile on your face because you live with the hope that someone in this city cares that a child will die tonight, and wants to do something about it.

So far the most frustrating experience for me is the apathy. I get all the way through my spiel about the urgency of the issue, yet I get the same "not today". We spend so much money on silly things yet we can't take even a dollar a day to help those who have nothing.

About a year or two ago I was in a relationship with a man who I felt spent his money on silly things. I meanwhile have to be careful with my money due to my low wages and high student loans. But when a friend of mine e-mailed me and told me about a boy she worked with in Zambia and how $400 USD was urgently needed for a surgical procedure, I sent some money to him. Not much, since I had about $40 in the bank at the time, but I sent $10. She raised $400 in a few hours just by asking her friends. I told my boyfriend at the time and he said, "$400? I spend that in just one weekend out!" But did he offer a donation?

Please, if you're not going to give to a canvasser, give somewhere. Donate to any cause you support, and donate on a regular basis. We don't go out and buy a fire truck and install fire hydrants every time there is a fire. We pay a little bit each month to ensure we have the protection of the fire department when we need it. Charitable organizations work the same way - they need to plan their income for the year so that they may determine how to best use their funds. Now I just need to convey this information better on the street.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Workin' for a livin'

This week I started a new job working for a non-profit. Working in the service industry with my college degree is highly frustrating, though my retail experience helped me a great deal in my new job. At the moment I am part time in both: 3 days in one and 3 in the other. My original job pays more, but I feel I'm stagnating since advancement is slow. That and it doesn't pay the student loans.

The new job has a lower base rate by 25 cents an hour, but if I choose to go full time I have more benefits and more advancement opportunities, so it is my hope that the new, non-profit job will be much more suitable for me. I had my first day of training this week and I had my first day of working yesterday. The non-profit job is street canvassing which is not an easy job. I spent 7 hours in downtown San Diego just saying "Hi" to everyone on a street. My more experienced coworker was with me to help me learn the ropes.

On training day I was given a packet which included a copy of "The Art of Street Canvassing" by Una LaMarche. Normally I suppose this is read aloud and discussed during training, but due to time restrictions I found myself reading it on my way to work my first day.

I agree with LaMarche's idea that canvassing would help public speaking skills. I know I am very shy and I prefer to ignore people. Fortunately I have the retail experience, so I know that when I put on my uniform I am an actor. Anything shouted at me, no matter how coarse, is not a personal insult. It is easy to forget that in any job, but at least in retail I have a sales counter as a physical barrier.

On my first day I looked a bit comical in my uniform baseball cap, shirt, and fleece, but the minute I stood in the shadows of downtown's buildings I was grateful for the layers.

"Hi how are you today? Real quick - what do you know about refugees?"

So far, my favorite objections are "Not today", "Help your people here first", and "I already have one of those". Even when I respond with "We do assist people here in the United States" a man continued to shout at me. The people that seem to care the most and talk with me are those about to lose their jobs, so they listen to the whole spiel but then tell me they can't help.

At lunch, we discussed the law of averages.

"One in ten. If you talk to ten people, two will sign up. It's your first day, you need to focus on saying hello. If you feel comfortable, then continue on with your pitch." Okay, I say hello to everyone in my retail job, but in retail, the person is already there with the intent of purchase. People walking near the courthouse are more in mind of their legal fees than donating to a worthy cause. Still I refuse to show my frustrations.

"Hi there! How are you today? Have you heard about the current situation in Somalia?"

I get some holiday travelers from the UK and Saudi Arabia, so at least they take the time to listen to what I have to say. By the end of the day I'm doing better with my pitch, but still no sign-ups. LaMarche didn't return after the first day, but I have a lot more resolve than that. I really would rather work for a good cause than waste away in retail.