Long before I was a work at home professional, and many years ago, I was a manager in a local elementary school cafeteria. I was the new kid on the block as most of the staff had been with the school for many years. I got along well enough and the people who worked in there were what you would expect of the kids lunch staff. One of my duties was to choose and set out a snack for the after school program that often met in the cafeteria at the end of the school day.
This one particular day, we had some Popsicle’s of assorted colors. It was an exceptionally warm afternoon and it was a perfect day to have these out for a snack for the kids. Whenever we had to leave something out that required refrigeration or a freezer, they were often set inside a piece if equipment that housed other things that the kids paid for when they were sent to school with extra lunch money. The school required that we kept a daily running inventory of these items because the money earned from these items was accounted for and used to purchase things like the after school snacks and other things for the kitchen. Our school sold “rainbow pops” of “assorted colors” to the kids during lunch. These were one of the sets of items I had to have inventoried daily.
I would leave a note for the after school teacher directing her where to find the snacks for the day provided to her program each afternoon. This particular day, I had to put some extra thought into the note I was leaving her. I did not want her to confuse the after school snack with the snacks that the children paid to purchase during lunch. I was unable to note that her kid’s snack was “rainbow pops” because that was the literal name of the ones we sold at lunch. I felt that would cause confusion. I certainly did not want to explain to my higher ups why there was a discrepancy. I had to come up with another way to explain on paper what she was to look for. Another term I did not want to use was “assorted colors” because that was also on the label of the for sale Popsicle’s that were not intended for the program. I was also acutely aware that I did not offend anyone. After much thought, I decided to let her know:
“Today’s snack is the colored popscicles in the freezer. They are right on top. Have a great day!”
I went home and thought that would be the end of it. Early the next morning, the principal came to my office. As a side note, when I interviewed for this position, my husband drove me to the school and waited in the parking lot for me to attend the interview. On the way out, the Principal had walked with me to the car and she met my husband. Both had attended this elementary school and were able to make pleasant conversation. The day ended well and I was offered the job. Ah, but I digress. So the Principal comes to see me and shows me this note that I had left the after school lady. The one about “colored Popsicle’s” Really?
Apparently, the thought I put into this note was a bit much and I was accused of being a racist. Keep in mind, the Principal (and maybe the kitchen clean up guy) were the only ones who knew anything about my family and anything outside of what I was at work. As she was explaining how utterly offended the after school lady was, she noted that we had to have a meeting about it in her office the next day. What struck me as strange was that she was grinning the entire time she was talking to me. Let me put the situation to you in “black and white.” It is not meant to be offensive. If you find offense in this, then you are better off reading other things. There is no other way to set up how this went down. The Principal is white. I am white. The after school lady is black. My husband is black. It is that simple. Because the Principal knew my husband. She asked that he be present at this meeting so that we can squash any conflicts there may be over any misunderstandings.
She asked that DH and I be in her office at 7 AM the next morning. Purposely, she asked that the after school lady show up at 7:15. DH and I were sitting in the Principal’s office discussing our own elementary school adventures when the after school lady came in. Immediately, she noticed someone she had never seen before and stopped at the door. She had a look of confusion on her face. Obviously she did not understand while DH was sitting in this office. The Principal waved her into the cozy office to have a seat. She immediately began by raising the letter into the air and noting that we are here due to a serious accusation of racism. Yes, there is no room in today’s world for such a thing a s racism and we are here to stop this before it becomes something it is not. She went on to allow the after school lady to explain her side of the story.
The after school lady noted that she was utterly and thoroughly offended by the statement and that it was a racist stab at her because she was black. She went on to say that my behaviors during the day were, in her observation, discriminatory and she did not feel comfortable working around someone who was borderline white supremacist as me. I am sure it does not help the uninformed third party that I am as pale as they come. There is no mistake that I am white. There is no way around it. After the after school lady told her side, I explained my side. I told how I had put careful thought into the letter and that I tried not to offend anyone nor create any confusion due to the labeling of all of the Popscicle’s that were in the deep freezer in the cafeteria. After both sides had told their stories. The principal sat there for a minute or two and there was an uncomfortable silence.
One of the things I admired about after school lady was that she was very vocal about her observations. She broke the silence by asking who was this man sitting here in this office with us and what was his purpose for being here? Principal asked DH to introduce himself. (She did so with a grin.) He thrust out his hand to after school lady and introduced himself as my husband. There is not a way to describe the look on after school lady’s face. She was, for lack of a better description, floored. She had no idea that I was married and married to DH. There was not any words she could form to show that she knew in that moment she was wrong for what she had done. After school lady came into this meeting likely believing that I was going to be reprimanded of fired for purposely writing racist slander. Instead, Principal went on to advise after school lady that she should not judge a book by it’s cover and to not assume that all white people that she did not know were racist.
We got along famously after that and the whole thing brought the kitchen staff a little closer. This story has stuck with me over the years. I had never been in a situation like that or have since. It was interesting and a great learning experience for me.
Two things come from this. 1. Don’t be racist. Even when you don’t try to be and 2. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
What do YOU think?
When you work from home, having someone to be your personal assistant is not a luxury that many are afforded. I am fortunate enough to have a good support system and, on school holidays, the children take turns being my “assistant” for the day. What this means is that I won’t have to get my own coffee, let the dogs in our out, check the mail, or anything else (besides going pee) that requires me to get up and leave my desk. This does take some careful orchestration. Because I work in a call center, my office must have a quiet, distraction free area and there needs to be zero background noise. Fortunately for me, my company allows for me to have my phone in the office with me so long as it remains silent. This means I can text one of the kiddos in another part of the house and request a reheat of my coffee or for them to bring me a lunch.
I try to give them leeway in somethings. Surprise me with what you are bringing me for lunch. Come and check on me every now and then. What they do is quietly open the door, give me a thumbs up and if I do the same in return, they will go away satisfied. If I don’t, I will wave them in and write down whatever it is I need for them to do. This is something that works for our household and is not easy to accomplish for everyone. It enables me to teach them a value of a good day’s work and it allows me to ensure they are OK while working. Obviously you cannot do this with a child under the age of 8. However, for older kids, it is a great way to teach valuable lessons, while ensuring they are OK throughout the day as well as getting your work done.
Of course the kiddos go back to school. Most days that I work, they are doing their job of earning an education. My job makes us money and their job ensures they are able to get a job better than I what I have and to help them become productive citizens after being on this planet for a couple of decades. It works for us to think of it this way. When they are out doing their “jobs.” I still have assistants. The dogs. 🙂
On their own, the dogs we have understand that Mommy’s office is a no bark zone. I am not entirely sure if that is anything that I taught them. But, when they are quarantined in the office with me, should someone knock on the door or they hear something, they whisper bark. It is something more of a bark that is mumbled under the breath. They are great at letting me know if they hear something. They are also considerate of the noise they make if I am able to leave my office door open. That doesn’t happen much but I do that to allow them to come and go instead of being locked up in a stifling server room. They also remind me that it is time to take a break and rest my eyes for a few minutes. When you work in an office setting, whether it is work at home, or if it is in a brick and mortar office, breaks and lunches are important. They give you the opportunity to get up, stretch, rest your eyes and decompress for a few minutes. Depending on how long my lunch is, I am afforded the opportunity to play fetch in the yard or even take them for a walk.
Each of my assistant’s have their own style and affect my day positively in different ways. I would not be able to enjoy the lifestyle that is working from home without them.
What do YOU think?
As we all know, I have my “writing days.” This means general laziness and lack of the elixir of life (caffeine.) To begin with, I worked late last night. This, of course, horribly threw off my weekend sleeping schedule. As a result, I ended up oversleeping. I know what you are thinking. How can you over sleep on a sleep-in day? Sadly, I had to work for a couple hours this morning.
Bottom line? I was tired, I overslept, and I had no choice but to have a couple cups of Java. No, I have not been squirreled yet, I have just begun my day! Groggily, I meander into the office and get my couple hours out of the way and then brush my teeth. Yes, normally I am ready and the brushing of the hair, brushing of the teeth, beating of the boogey man are all done before work. Like I said, I overslept. Anywhoo…I went to brush my teeth and made the mistake of looking up. Toothbrush and toothpaste in hand, I notice a couple of dots on the wall above the lights that are above the medicine cabinet. I know, why in the sam hill would I look up there? I don’t know. Maybe it was my body finding something to do with an extra dose of caffeine for the week cuz BOY WAS I AWAKE! Instead of proceeding to put the toothpaste on my brush and go about my day, my brain said that I absolutely had to see what those two dots were.
OOOOKAY! I was too lazy to go get the utility bench and stand on it so I just went for it. I climbed up on the counter and stood up. So here I stand, on the counter, without my glasses on, and my face is about 8 inches from the wall so I could determine what these little dots were. Here is what my brain is saying: I don’t know why I never seen these things up here before. But dang….its dusty up here and I need to get a wet rag and wipe the top of the cabinet and the light fixture down because; oh…ick. What are those two dots? Squint. Squint. Think. Squint. Damn, its dusty, let me grab the hand towel and put some water on it because the dusting wipes are in the kitchen. *Looks down* Let me grab my phone by my foot and take a picture and send to Cal because WHY THE FLUCK AM I STANDING ON THE COUNTER? It would be hilarious if he were to walk in the house at this moment from picking up breakfast. Hehe *Click…Send* Where is that towel, there it is. Lower yourself to get water carefully Micaa, that floor is concrete and you might break something if you fall. How would you explain THAT?!”
Let me step back from this thought process.
At some point in all of that noise, it occurs to me that the dots on the wall were ants from an infestation we had originating from the open bathroom window about 4 or 5 years ago. We sprayed ant spray all over the bathroom and there was a line of ants going from the bathroom window to the light fixture above the medicine cabinet. These two guys must not have been wiped off the wall during any subsequent cleaning adventures. Oh, they were crunchy. I imagine there was nothing biological left of those guys except the fact that they were just there. Mummified so to speak. Ultimately, I wiped the entire wall above the medicine cabinet, dusted the top of it off, cleaned the light fixture, and started laundry.
Yea, I started laundry. Then I brushed my teeth. Whew! That took about an hour. All I was going to do was brush my teeth. I have come to a conclusion about this situation. I am either suffering from busy mom syndrome or I truly have ADHD. That was tiring.
What do YOU think?
This post is originally found on my work place’s FB page ans was initially written for there. However, it is my creation and I would like to share it with you!
Back in my lat teens and early 20’s I was a breakfast manager at a local fast food restaurant named Hardee’s. The hours were perfect: 3am-1pm. For me, it was an easy job and presented challenges as well. One such challenge was some of the people that worked the same shift I did. One was the hostess, she is a topic for another story. The other was this big ole German lady named Ingold.
Ingold was not by any means your normal person. To begin with, she had to warm up to you. It was not easy to gain her confidence in your abilities as either a manager or a co-worker. Also, she hated everyone. However, she was good at her job. Ingold only worked breakfast. When it was time to transition, she was out the door. She was a good worker but you had to get her on your side to work for you. You see, Ingold liked to be prompt and start things on time. While the manager was technically not supposed to start or arrive to open the doors until at least 3:45 am, if you showed up at any point after 3:00 am, you were certain to have a bad day. Showing up late made Ingold grouchy and boy…you never wanted that woman to be grouchy. (Grumpy doesn’t even come close to what this woman could be if she was…grouchy. Even Oscar the Grouch was mild compared to when this woman was on a roll. Ah, but I digress.) I liked to show up early just for her because I knew if she started her day off right, I would not have to worry about the kitchen because Miss Ingold handled things. Besides, at 4:01 am, the time the schedule says we are supposed to clock in, she would get in her car and go home. THAT, my friends, is a bad day. Without her, it was difficult at best.
Other workers knew that too. Because I worked hard to get Miss Ingold on my side, she eventually warmed up to me. I think there were a few mornings that I totally earned her respect. “Why? How?” You ask? Like this:
Ingold worked six days a week. The days I was blessed to have her on my shift, I knew I was going to have a good day. She kept that kitchen running and things were hardly ever late. I would giggle at her when there was a special request from a customer during the busy part of the morning because she would yell through the window at me “What the hell do they think this is Burger King? This is not have it your way!” Begrudgingly, she would make the special request anyway. If she was particularly chipper, she would offer to make your breakfast for you on your break and hook a sister up!
Anywhoo, back to the how and why. There were a few times I had overslept. Upon waking, the only thing I would think would be:
“Shit! Ingold is gonna be pissed!”
I would jump straight up, throw on my pants, button 4 of the 7 buttons on my shirt, grab my shoes, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, and other “get ready” stuff and run to the car just so I could make it on time. One particular morning I got lots of laughter from her (which was rare) because I showed up at 3:05 am and had all my stuff randomly in my arms and was dropping and picking up things all the way from my car to the door. I was apologetic every step of the way. One sock on, one sock off, she actually told me not to worry that she was in a good mood because of me. This thoroughly confused me because in Ingold time, I was late. I think the that she seen that I was stressing out over her being grouchy more than I was at my appearance at Good God It’s Early in the morning. To be honest, I think that was the first time I did that. After that day, I think I had Miss Ingold on my side and we got along famously. Even when she was grouchy.
She was old then and this was in the mid 1990’s. I moved on and life went on but I thought of her often. I really liked that old Broad. I wonder what has become of her?
What do YOU think?
Stephen King had it right.
In the writing of the Dark Tower Series, he foretold of the destruction of man via people using their minds to break the beams that hold our worlds together. He wrote about a group of people in a desolate wasteland who went to “work” every day by gathering in a room and concentrating on one thing or another all the while their mental activity is chipping away at reality and causing the erosion of society. This story started in the machinations of this author’s mind long ago.
Translate that into today’s world, this is exactly what is happening. While you sit there, staring into the device that you are using to read this blog post, you are using your mental faculties to chip away at the beam of reality. All the while, the world around you is falling into chaos and disarray. You sit there, for hours on end, focusing on this little gadget. From an uninformed, third party, point of view, it appears that you are just staring at an inanimate object. The world forgotten. Like abandoned homes and buildings, the more attention you pay to the gadget in your hand, the more cracked, disregarded, and uninhabited your life becomes. We, as a society, are essentially breaking the beams to our own realities and letting technology take over. In the stories I mentioned here, there is a mechanical being that controls a thing or two. In our life, it is the cell phones and the computers and tablets that are taking over.The Positronics of the modern age.
It is not to say that this can be reversed. It can. It truly can. However, it is going to take more than one voice to make it so. Even as I sit here and write to you about the startling reality that is going on around us, I am feeding into the chaos and disarray as I compose my message to you.
For all the naysayers that disagree, I urge you to ponder this: How hard is it for you to leave your gadget alone for 24 hours. What about 48 hours? Three days? It is nearly impossible for anyone to admit that they can do this without worrying about what they are missing or what they are going to come back to.
Tell me, what do YOU think?
The grumpy blue smurf has a job. Yes, let’s all run in fear as she joins the ranks of the working paid. I must say I am quite proud because they pay her pretty good for a first job and it is not in the service industry. She is actually a lifeguard and she even received her CPR certification. BIG accomplishments and champagne all around. We are very proud of her and my hopes are that the grumpies will subside a tad. Well, after she gets used to working. She is VERY grumpy after work. Heck, I would be too after spending nearly 10 hours in the sun for my shift and yelling at little kids “WALK!” all day. I was even impressed with her first check!
I remember my first real pay check. I say real because I worked for my Mother at my first job. I manned a cash register at a convenience store Mom owned for a couple of years. I got 20 bucks a day. In hindsight, that was pretty crappy since we were there nearly 12 hours every time I went to work. But hey, that was a lot of green when you are 13 years old. $40 for working Saturday and Sunday was pretty good. I thought I was doing something. Technically my first job was Mc Donalds. I was paid ten cents over minimum wage. My hourly wage was a whopping $4.35 an hour and my first check, after taxes, was $43.xx. I will never forget the dollar amount. The smurf did a whole lot better than I. She hit (barely) three digits! YOU GO GURL! (Ah, but I digressed, didn’t I.)
I assume with every job these days, you have to pass a test about training before you can actually get to the meat and potatoes of your job. To be honest, I thought it was only work at home jobs that did that. I was wrong. Alyssa had to take a test that was not related to her CPR certification before she started work. After she passed it, she said she had something funny to tell me but could not remember it. Yesterday, which was about 2 weeks later, she came to me and told me she remembered what was so dang important.
“Mom, I remember what I had to tell you.”
“Oh?” was my reply
“Yea. Remember that test we took for work? Well, there was a question on there….’What are the only two animals they allow into the water park?’ ”
My mind immediately began to assume. Service animals. That HAD to be one. You know, ADA and all that jazz. But, WTH would be another? Birds? They live here at the beach and the HUGE ones people have as pets are pretty chill. Um….ferrets? No. WTHeckles could it be? Then she pipes up…
“Little Horses! NOT donkeys! There is such a thing as LITTLE HORSES!”
(O.O) <—That was my response.
What, do they bring a petting zoo into the park for birthday parties or something? They are not trained to poop anywhere specific and what in the world would a little horse want to be at the water park for? I asked her that and she said they could not provide her with an explanation only that it was in the rules. Service animals and little horses are allowed into the water park and nothing else. I even googled it and could not find an answer.
I tell you, the world feeds to my skewed view of things more and more every day.
What do YOU Think?
Alas, it is Mothers’ Day. That special day where we celebrate all that is mom and let her know that, even though we act like we hate everything you say, you are STILL Mom and we love you!
I had to work today. Of course, I was up before everyone else in the house so no fabled breakfast in bed for me. I think that is why they keep you in the hospital at least overnight when you give birth. This way, you get at least one time in your life that, as a mother, you can have breakfast in bed! For me the best one out of our brood was the last one. I was lucky enough to find a channel that played “Castaway” with Tom Hanks about a million times before I left the hospital. I actually watched it while eating breakfast. Good times. Gooooood times! Ok, well maybe reflecting on giving birth is not the best “good time” that anyone can think of but it is a pretty awesome experience. Ok, so on to my Mothers Day story for the post…
This morning, my lovely daughter came into my office to wish me a Happy Mothers Day. I asked her “What did you get me?” Mind you, she IS a teenager and teenagers get up to some persnickety stuff sometimes. She just grinned really big at me, turned her back to me and then said:
“The only thing I got you was my AWESOMENESS.” As if that was well deserved.
Well, guess what? I accept that. She is Awesome. She has more talent in one fingernail than any kid I know for miles around! If Awesomeness is all she has to give me well then, I am going to BATHE in it! She has already been up (going against her character) and soaked the dishes and helped out with her brothers. All without asking and I have not had to mute my headset and scream like a banshee through the wall to get her to tell them to stop fighting.
All in all, good Mothers Day so far. Now, because I don’t normally take a lunch on Sunday’s, lets see how hard it is for her to come and get the coffee and reheat it. It got cold while I was telling you my story. Ugh. I need a coffee warmer in my office.
/micaa yells….DAUGHTER!!!!!!!!!! I NEED MY COFFEEEEE HEATEDDDDD!!!!!!
Heard through the wall: UGHHHH!!!!! **Stomp Stomp Stomp..(yes, they are womens 13s!) Typical Day in the Miles household.
What do YOU think?
I have been working from home (off and on) since I was a teenager. This time around it has been solidly for 3 years. My kids, friends, and family now know the routine. DO NOT DISTURB WHEN WORKING. Sometimes, I can work with my office door open. While it does not happen often, I have to make it a point for them to understand when I am not to be disturbed. This was quite frustrating at first but I really did not have to make much effort after about the first month. It was vibrantly clear when mom was working and when she was not.
When this epiphany first happened, I noted that it started with baby who was then 4 years old. Only this time I was not really working. When I don’t work and I have to sit down at my desk for some tedious task, I unplug the headset and use the speakers. This particular day, I felt it too much of an effort and just put the headset on and began checking emails. My desk faces the door to my office so I can see when the dogs have to go. (Yes, they are trained to let me know quietly when they have to go instead of scratching frantically on the door.) I had left the door open and this was during the time which I often would work with the door open. (Gawd, I miss doing chat support.)
Lo and behold, here comes the four year old bopping around the corner to come and tell me some amazing story of some thing or another he just built with his stuffs in his room. He looks up at me as I sit and wait for him to open his mouth and spew out his musical little voice and he stops dead in his tracks. He stares at me for what I believed to be an eternity but my peripheral vision noted about 3 seconds (according to my work clock sitting on my desk.) He immediately about faced, and marched right back to the oblivion from whence he came. No noise, no speak, were I “on the phone” the caller would not have been the wiser.
I sat there slack jawed for another moment or two then lights began to go on in my brain. My children DO listen! They DO understand! Oh. My. Gawsh! I am utterly impressed. Fast forward to the fact that said child is now seven. He does fail to remember from time to time that when that door is closed, DO NOT BOTHER MOMMY. They simply have to pretend I am not there. Further, they still have to get along because I will become a fierce dragon should the living room turn into a UFC ring the moment their father steps outside for a moment. Ah, such it is that we are. Family. Yea, they know. Sometimes they need a gentle reminder so I have posted the picture on this blog on my door.
Those of you who know, we do not have a cat the first. Therefore, the names of the animals have been changed accordingly. Yes, Dogs. The constant through all of this? I am no longer facing the door but the dogs still let me know quietly they have to go. Snorting under the door works fine because if a customer ever hears it (not that they will, wonderful noise cancelling mike, sliced bread was the last greatest thing) I can always blame it on a sneeze. 🙂
Now I just have to figure out how to let the dogs know that putting their muddy paws on the window frame is not acceptable when I am working. I am certain the whole neighborhood knows where I spend most of my time as I often leave the dogs outside and they immediately come to my window to say hi. The upside to that? Who needs a mirror to smile in when the dogs are making you smile and sound (to the customer) like you are thrilled to have them yell at you for something that is probably their own fault.
Sometimes I work on Saturdays. Most Saturdays, our teenager has some sort of thing she has to rush off to and blesses us with the lack of her teenagery presence. Well, maybe not a blessing because she is our gurl and we miss her when she is not here. Just don’t miss that ‘tude so much.
At any rate. Working from home, WAH Professionals know it is not as easy as going into the other room and waking said teenager then coming back to your office and return to work. This is where I have to “call home” and make sure the teenager is up and getting ready so she wont be late to her activity. Anyone with teens knows for sure that if they miss something, no matter how trivial it is to YOU, tears will ensue.
So, here I sit tethered to my machine (work has a strict rule that thou shalt be ball and chained to your computer as wireless anything is a big NO NO) trying to get her attention. She is only 2 rooms away and I know she has to be out the door by half the hour to arrive on time. Texting, texting, texting….no reply. Hrmmmm. It is slow. Maybe I can sneak in an actual call to her without a call coming in from work. Calling……..no answer. Figures, the teen keeps her phone on silent and unless she is looking at the physical phone itself, she is not going to see the thing blinking like a fire truck blaring down the street. Ugh! Time to call the house. Never mind I get lots of flashy lights and notifications in my office when the house phone rings and it annoys me greatly but here we go…..RING (as I hear it through the walls) RING…. RING…..
Sleepily, a voice answers. Ah, yes. Just the voice I am painfully searching for. “Are you up m’dear? Get up Daddy so you can go, go, go!!!” She replies with an “OK Mom. Love ya.” Of course the teenager only says that because she is still SLEEPY! But hey, it works. I accomplished getting them up and running from the comfort of my floppy bunny slippers.
What do YOU think?
Disclaimer: Author has several blog outlets and pages. This entry is reprinted on those for high level access.