Thursday, January 31, 2008

Working Conditions


Last Friday, Jeff’s parents took mercy on us and took Ten for the long MLK weekend. I met Jeff’s mom on the other side of the grapevine for the hand off, and despite the fact that it then took me 4 hours to get home, I felt it was worth it for 2 days of peace & quiet.

My long drive home gave me time to reflect on my employer. No, not El Torito…the other one. Here are the harsh truths:

The hours tend to suck. I work a 15 hour day on average. My day starts somewhere between 7:30 and 8 and usually doesn’t end until 10-10:30. Sometimes there’s overtime. Days have been known to start as early as 5 and go as late as midnight. Occasionally you do shift work- you think the day ended at 10, but due to an unforeseen monster/lost lovey/hallucination that a train is about to drive through the office you discover that you have a shift at 2, 3 or 4. Or all of them. However, my employer still currently embraces the idea of siesta, so you do get a 2 hr-ish break in the middle that it is wise to take advantage of.

My employer does not give sick days. It’s worse than when I worked for places like Pac Bell & Disneyland where you were only allowed to have X number of occurrences totaling X number of days. Keeping up with the Boss when you have a cold or the flu is a killer- and forget about taking any medicine that might make you sleepy or groggy. If I’m really bad, I’ll call in a contractor like Grandma Suzie or Aunty Kim to see if they can work a couple of my hours.

My employer does not give days off. Not if she can help it. This is a seven day a week operation, and all staff members must be accounted for at all times. Occasionally we can arrange little meetings with the contractors, like last weekend, but otherwise there is no rest for the weary. Even then, the Boss prefers to have her staff with her. The best you can usually do for yourself are the days with the 3.75 hours when she meets with the other little upper management types and their educational consultant to create office décor, learn annoying little songs, feast on cheese & crackers and try to establish some reasonable language and social skills.

The Boss has uniform issues. Most companies pick a uniform or dress code & stick with it. They may update the uniform, or go to casual Fridays, but it’s usually pretty much the same. At this point, the Boss could care less what the staff wears. We could wander around in fishnet body stockings and pith helmets and that would be fine (as long as she got a pith helmet too). The Boss, however, is like a bad community theatre production of “Gigi” and insists on changing her outfit several times a day. Jeans are currently a requirement for leaving the house. But then the whole outfit comes off so she can put on her ballet clothes and do Bella Dancerella. Then it’s time to run around in underwear. Then the jeans are back on…but with a new shirt. Suddenly, boots are required. Then it’s naptime, but pajamas must be worn. After nap, the jeans are back…with a new shirt. That gets shed so the hula skirt can be donned while she watches Lilo & Stitch. And on and on. Any attempt by the staff to cramp the Boss’s style, like insisting that a sundress & bare feet can not be worn outside in 40 degree weather results in a lot of screaming, crying, and running away.

The lunch hour is non-existent. In a very trend forward and health conscious manner, the Boss wholeheartedly embraces the idea of several small meals a day. Actually, what the Boss wants is a continuous smorgasbord of snacks- preferably marshmallows, cheetos, cookies, crackers, suckers, popcorn, pudding, peanuts, mandarin oranges, yogurt, etc. An actual meal can be a challenge, and she’d like one of the first 5 snacks listed as an appetizer. And God forbid you eat something other than what she’s having, or eat at a different time: either way your meal will be hijacked and you will be required to “share” which roughly translates to “I’m going to eat your food and if you can get a bite in, well then that’s nice for you.”

The Boss is not a motivational speaker. “Because you have to!” “But I want it/to now!” “But I want (fill in the blank)!” “You have to give me sucker/candy/cookies because it’s yummy for me.” “NO!” …these are a few of her oft used phrases designed to motivate the staff to do her bidding. Obviously, they don’t seem to have that effect on us, which is when the Boss goes into Tyra Banks-Diva mode and begins pitching a fit. Lately, whenever the whine begins, I seem to be spontaneously unable to hear her: I explain that I see her mouth moving but I just can’t seem to hear anything. Often my hearing returns as soon as the whine leaves and the word “please” is employed.

The good thing about the job is that the pay can’t be beat. When you actually get paid it’s fantastic. These days, unfortunately, pay is sporadic and you tend to live off the little daily per diem of snuggles during story time and big hugs after pre-school. Occasionally there are surprise bonuses like climbing in your lap and snuggling until she falls asleep, getting told that you’re pretty, or even spontaneous “I love you”s (note: these are also given out when the Boss knows that she’s done something that is going to cause the staff to turn on her).

I keep hoping (although I am told it’s in vain) that as the Boss gets older she’ll become a bit more reasonable, learn some motivational speaking, and decide on some set hours; and that these little changes might lead to more pay on a more regular basis. Until then, I’ll just have to take what I can get, and roll with the punches. Because the truth is, that even if I could quit- I wouldn’t. Not for all the tea in China.

5 comments:

Rachel said...

OMG! I read through the first 2 1/2 paragraphs before I finally got who "the boss" is. LOL! I am a little slow today.

It DOES get better. In about 2 years you will realize "Wow-she doesn't do xyz anymore." Problem is in about 10 years the decline will begin again and you will feel like you are in the middle of he** and wish you had your whiny 3 year old back again. But in the end it is all worth it. :)

Rachel said...

OMG! I read through the first 2 1/2 paragraphs before I finally got who "the boss" is. LOL! I am a little slow today.

It DOES get better. In about 2 years you will realize "Wow-she doesn't do xyz anymore." Problem is in about 10 years the decline will begin again and you will feel like you are in the middle of he** and wish you had your whiny 3 year old back again. But in the end it is all worth it. :)

Valerie said...

Wonderful, honest, and rip-roaring funny!!! Love your blog and ALWAYS look forward to your next (mis)adventure...!!
De-lurking in Ohio,
Valerie

Anita said...

Hahaha, I, too, didn't figure out who the boss was till halfway through. I kept thinking,
"Why is she staying at that job, then?" Great post!

Mayzaboo said...

I didn't know who the boss was for a few paragraphs myself. :) I was trying to figure out where else you worked! You should totally write a book- I'm not kidding! This blog could so easily be turned into a fabulous book, and I know a BUNCH of moms who would buy it! :)