Not getting paid enough for this

At work we use the G Suite for most everything and it works okay — for the most part. The problem is that we’re starting to have so much documentation that is just frozen in a spreadsheet or document that is just… out of sight, where no one pays it attention ever again.

I’m having a devil of a time convincing someone, anyone that having something other than the mess of documents we have shared between all of us is something worth having. Our current system simply doesn’t allow for detailed notes to be kept on all the parties involved for what we do: The sellers, the customers, the employees, so we end up just having the knowledge be stored on someone’s mind, where it can’t be efficiently shared.

And when that person leaves the knowledge is lost.

So now I’m wracking my brains to figure something out that we can all share because what we currently have is simply not working. A wiki is starting to look like the best idea but I can’t simply go and run it off a server somewhere. I want it to be at least be allowed, because I don’t want to lose my job trying to improve the company. It is confidential information, after all.

I’ve seen people lose their jobs for less than that.

My job is managing being interrupted

Last year I turned off all my notifications. I stopped booking meetings. I started living asynchronously.

Source: Live asynchronously.

My job (and that of my coworkers) is being constantly stopped from finishing the task we are working on. I’m told that I’m really, really good at it, but I only got that way by working in the kitchen, where the job is, again, being interrupted.

But the cognitive load is immense, and intense. I often get home feeling more tired from working at the office job for 6 hours than from working in the kitchen for 12 hours.

And no, I don’t get breaks at either job unless it’s slow.

Hold strong against the waves

Shifts on the phone just… wear you down, humans. They wear you down, hard, no matter how fit you think you can take the damage.

You never see the person. You usually never even know what they look like (we have social media for that nowadays) but they sure wear you down, call after call.

Doesn’t matter if you’re apologizing to someone or if you’re apologizing for someone. The mere fact that you have to talk to someone is enough to grate on you.

This is why there is so much turnover at call centers. Talking to other humans is just hard. Because no matter what you’re calling about or why you’re calling about, they usually resent it.

The internet has not made this better. It has made this worse.

A computer conversation

There was a tweet from @findchaos that made me remember a conversation I had with a coworker at my kitchen job a few days ago.

The gist of it was “I’m looking for a new computer that’s good for everything and has lots of gigs to do what I want because I don’t want to spend a grand on an apple laptop“. Cue the questions regarding use (“Are you going to use for facebook? Youtube? Are you going to play on it?”) and connectivity (“Do you have WiFi at home? No? Are you going to use a hotspot from your phone then? No? So how are you going to get online???”)

This guy is from a poor part of Mexico. Whenever I ask specifics I just get grunts or non-answers, because he gets embarrassed. He knows he’s in over his head on these matters and I am understanding, but there’s so much I can do without kissing his ass which I will not do.

So with that said, I recommended a few models from the Dell XPS line, the Lenovo Thinkpad line and a couple of Samsung laptops I saw for cheap on Amazon. The guy was quite insistent that he wanted a “Sony laptop” if he couldn’t get a cheap Apple laptop. It didn’t matter what the sub-brand was since Sony has a few, most of them with the esoteric model names so favored by this manufacturer. I kept asking if he wanted a Vaio, but he just answered “I want a Sony laptop if I can’t get a cheap Apple laptop”.

After a while of circular arguments on his part I eventually ended the conversation with “If you don’t want to pay over a grand for a computer from Apple and you don’t like what Sony or Dell or Lenovo or Samsung or anyone else has to offer then I can’t help you. You have to decide what you want and all of it costs over 500 dollars from what you say you want.”

That shut him up.

From this I get a few things:

  • Apple is quite uncaring of people like my fellow cook. I’ve seen their support and as they’ll help you as long as you give them money, which most in his position don’t have, otherwise you’re on your own. For them, an Apple device is a status symbol.
  • Other computer manufacturers should try to fill in this gap. Even though these people are mostly illiterate they are already online through facebook and whatsapp. They are quite willing to spend the funds, it’s just that they don’t even have brand awareness of others because no one has even tried beyond a few ads in the most popular telenovela.
  • I think more efforts to promote Chromebooks would help as these people pretty much only use facebook, youtube, whatsapp and a few others. Particularly now that Google is working on having chromebooks have the capacity to run Android apps and even use the Google Play Store itself.
  • People like him want to know more but the classes available are designed for people with 9 to 5 schedules. The vast majority of Hispanic immigrants do not have that schedule and if governments want to better integrate them into US society at large more efforts should be made to allow for schedules where people have free time in the morning and work in the evenings.
  • I should probably start a side business giving people like him advice on what to buy and for a commission, buy it for them through Amazon. Offer training for an additional charge.

In writing this I forgot the original point of the post, but that’s okay. At least this is now out there since it happens somewhat often. People ask me something, I try to obtain more information to provide better advice, then they clam up because they realize they don’t even know what they want or what the person that wants the thing wants.

I’ll just go along with it.

There are a few things that I have to make clear, though, as the entire conversation was conducted in Spanish:

  1. “Lots of gigs” is a valid unit of measure for people like him. I don’t know whether they refer to RAM or to storage capacity, but I go along since they usually mean a bit of both. The actual phrase was “hartos gigas”.
  2. Apple is the same whether they are talking about an iPhone (“Un telefono Apple”) or a computer (“una laptop Apple”) regardless of whether the computer is a desktop or a laptop. The only difference is whether it is a mobile device or not.

No, I’ve never gone canoeing drunk at night in one of the lakes. I was probably working

So knowing to disclose deeply personal information about yourself—the best stories are not necessarily why you want to be a banker at Goldman Sachs, but how you reached the summit of Mount Everest—knowing that’s what interviewers value creates a disadvantage for individuals who don’t have those types of stories, or don’t know how to tell them.

Source: Recruitment, Resumes, Interviews: How the Hiring Process Favors Elites – The Atlantic

This is me. I don’t have stories about crazy adventures while young — I much preferred to be alone. I don’t have epic tales of surviving an extremely busy shift in the kitchen — at the end of those days usually you just want to go home and pass out.

While I am fortunate enough to know how to tell these stories when pressed, the fact is most of these stories are not something the interviewer would appreciate listening to, nor appreciate if they have no way to identify with me given my employment history: car washer/valet, cybercafe attendant, call center rep, sysadmin, barista, cook, server. If they’ve never been one of these it will be almost impossible to imagine the situations you live.

Meritocracy is a myth and it is high time people realize this.

’tis the season in 2015

This year I’m conflicted about the holiday season.

I have two families with which I’ll happily spend time with alongside the Jägerin. Problem is both of us are working a hell of a lot and having a hard time finding time to see each other.

Oh, I have a girlfriend now. Catch up.

More work

Why oh why do I work so much? It’s not like I truly need the funds.

Part of me thinks I just do it for the company. Otherwise I’d see no one at all, since I do tend to stay at home sleeping or reading.

On the upside, since I have to wake up early there won’t be any more late night drinks after work. Saves more money.

If only I were working in IT instead of food service… then I’d be making real money.

On the menu

Coconut tamale

This was the first time I had an item on the menu. Grabbed the recipe from a book, then reworked it with the tools available to me at Sandcastle. Even then, the execution wasn’t mine.

Too bad I’m not at Sandcastle anymore:

Broken knife tip

Perhaps, in time, I’ll be able to go back. It was home, after all.

Sandcastle Kitchen

Sandcastle patio

Yeah, it’s hard

Complaining about restaurant coffee « jimseven.

We don’t offer any form of coffee at work. How could we? There are two real coffeeshops within half a block and we’re next door to a bakery that is thinking of adding espresso to its menu. We don’t have the infrastructure to support even a simple espresso machine either.

Were we to offer coffee, it would have to be brewed coffee, either french press or chemex, and even then it’s not guaranteed it would even sell. Plus, who would make it? The waitresses won’t want to, and in the kitchen we barely have the time as it is.

Getting coffee right in a coffeeshop is hard. Getting it right in a restaurant is even harder.

Going bolshie

Take yourselves as a case in point. I’m guessing you’re the kind of people who’d prefer to feel needed rather than expendable. Well, that kind of attitude won’t do. Bosses want to keep your wages down, and that would be harder to do if you were given opportunities to make yourselves invaluable and near on irreplaceable. Bosses need to keep their options open in case some of you get ideas about better pay and conditions, or just generally become ‘difficult’ or, dare I say, ‘bolshie’.

via Why So Many Jobs Are Crappy | heteconomist.com.

Apropos to my previous post. The main cook at work is indispensable. He works seven days a week and without him no wok-fired entree gets made. I don’t know how to make those entrees yet and frankly I’m not sure I’ll even be taught how to make them. I’m sure he’s got a few ideas but doesn’t speak up lest he gets to find out what it’s like to work as a mere cook somewhere else.

Measures of control

These past few days when I’ve gotten to work, the first thing I do is go over to the audio system and put on some music to help me sweep and mop faster. Doing this sort of work is more fun when listening to some Daft Punk. The first thing my boss does when she gets to work is go over to the audio system, quit the stream I put on and switch to the restaurant’s usual music stream. Nothing against Pandora but when you notice repetition of songs every few hours day in and day out, you’ve got a bit of problem. Customers might not notice, but the workers do and it drives us insane.

It just goes to show I’m a good employee but a bad subordinate. I will usually do what is best for the business as opposed to doing what I’m told by the owner.

Most people I’ve worked under who are both manager and owner have a certain tendency to think what is good for them is good for the business. In most cases you can work under this assumption and grow your business without any problems – to a certain point. There will come a time when the owner will make decisions that will effect a business negatively but the owner will insist they are good for the business even on the face of financial and managerial facts proving it isn’t so. They want to control every single aspect of the enterprise when they no longer have the skillset to actually do it. To show everyone who’s the one telling everyone else what to do. To show people who’s boss.

When I’m told to do something by the boss, it usually is something good for the business and I’ll do it as soon as I’m done with my current task. When I feel differently, I’ll just do something else. Yes, I’ve gotten in trouble for this but make no apologies about it.

Right now I’ve got a few suggestions to improve the way we do things in the kitchen but I’m not sure I’ll bring them up; I’ve only worked here for a month and it doesn’t do any favors to my paycheck to be thought of as an employee who is out to change things. The boss will just get rid of me and get someone else who won’t rock the boat.

On my boss’s defense, she looks like she knows how to make every single article made in the kitchen, along with a variety of drinks at the bar and maybe a few rolls of sushi. All while looking good and not getting food or drink on her clothing.

Even if I don’t change anything at all, I’m learning. I’ll never be indispensable (bosses hate employees who are indispensable)b but hopefully I’ll be able to get a weekend off every now and then. I’ll worry about getting in trouble when I’m not learning anymore as that is when I tend to get in trouble.

Alternative Places to Get Work Done | Martin Shen.

While these places are all good and fine, there is one thing you also have to do while you’re in them.

Spend money.

No mention is made of the local neighborhood library, which I’ve found are great places to work at. I’ve worked outside in parks too, although working at one is dependent on the weather and the time you can do actual work is limited by how long the battery on your laptop is going to last.

Surely there are more places one can bang out some work and not having to spend one cent? The comments for the article mention places and poke fun at the post itself.

Bouncing back and forth.

A month ago, I was moving from Minneapolis to Rochester to work at a store in which a family member is involved. The warning was the other partner was hard to work with and would grind you down if you let him.

He is a micromanager. He is an asshole. He is a bikeshedder.

In a month, he ground me down enough for me to explode at him. Merchandise was broken. I almost spent the night sleeping outside in 10°F weather.

Now I’m back in Minneapolis looking for a job to love, in which I at least have the freedom to sell the way I like to sell. To sharpen my skills and do what I love — working. Even dishwashing is a good job if you like to have people say “these are the cleanest dishes I’ve seen at a restaurant.” That’s what I want.

Sad part is, I saw what Rochester needs and wants and I think I would have been able to provide it, in time. Now I’m afraid I won’t ever have the chance.

“All I Need Is a Real Job”

"Everyone Only Wants Temps" | Mother Jones.

The future of all workers in the United States is exceedingly dim. Either you become a contractor or a temp, no matter what the job might be.

This is something most immigrants realize soon after getting here, no matter where they’re from. For them, the American Dream turns from being one of gaining full citizenship, to one of getting enough money to buy oneself a business back in the country of origin.

In the race to undo the gains earned by the union movements of the past two centuries, this country certainly tries to be Number 1.

I wanna move to Europe now

Europe Court Says Ill Workers Can Retake Vacations – NYTimes.com.

With much of Europe mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment, the ruling is a reminder of just how hard it is to shake up long-established and legally protected labor practices that make it hard to put more people to work and revive sinking economies.

If you look at it from an American point of view then yes, the ruling is a mistake. As for myself, I think adding additional available sick days would do the job and it’d be a nice compromise between the employer and the employees.

(via The Daily What)

it’s screwed

Yendo a la Parada

I know I’m not the only to think this! The picture above is just so you can have an idea of how empty the city is around that time in the morning.

When the Congress of our northern neighbor decided to move up Daylight Saving time a month a lot of people got screwed, although it’s not as bad as some people have it since I don’t have to get up even earlier in the morning to cross over the border, like my in-laws have to do. Traffic to cross is hell at those hours.

Last year it wasn’t that bad since I was on the night shift. My regular hour to leave was at 0600 and it got changed to 0500. Now, because I’m in the morning shift, instead of signing in at 0600 I have to be there at 0500. Using public transportation at this time is rather problematic because at 0430 most drivers are just leaving their houses or their bases.

I don’t think my floor supervisor will like the idea of having me be late for a whole month until both countries’ schedules match up.

But then again it’s a good thing I don’t have to sign in at 0400 like the people whose usual sign in time is at 0500.