For almost 20 years I've gone to the same workplace.. Sometimes I've lived within minutes and for other's a little farther away, Four places I have called home in that time, 10 different vehicles for one purpose or the other, but the same work environment for two decades. I have survived multiple management changes, partnerships, ownership's, outsourcing and so many comings and goings of employees and guests that I lost track a long time ago. Good or bad, I've been a constant factor in a surviving equation of success based on emotional relationships perpetuated by faceless, detached small world bureaucracy. I often say it feels like a Thursday. There's rarely a weekend to look forward to, your Monday could be Friday and it's generally a "mid-week" onslaught of just another game day with different players and no referee.
I spent my youth working. Mom and Dad had businesses and after they divorced, if I wanted things I had to get a job. I'm not complaining, as that's how they were raised and knew nothing differently and I did and to this day take great pride in a days work.. I regret at times that I have frequently worked hard and not smart. Not that I don't utilize my brain with my brawn, but putting forth too much effort for those "in charge" often sets a standard that is difficult to sustain over years. My Grandmother used to say that "if you show them all of your cookies on the first day, they'll just ask for a glass of milk on day two." The old dry cow will most likely take credit for your baking as well when Betty Crocker comes by when faking reviews and dishing out "att'a boys".
I went to college for 5 1/2 years. Full time for a couple and part time for the remainder. After working round the clock for darn near 20 and piling school on top, I just was exhausted. No straight lined degree as I couldn't decide and unfortunately was making double what most graduates were making 5 years in. If you walk through one door, you may close the other options and I hate painting myself in a corner. I worked for employers that just used me up. I allowed them. I thought it meant something as I was coming in on the tail end of ethic, integrity and relationships. As men and women that were 10-15 years older than me took my thunder and stormed on through with their less capable sunshine. I got left behind. Ten years later again, a couple more returns to academia, seminars and lectures, times had shifted and we no longer were looking for experience and ability, we are looking for a psychology degree from a 22 year old on a cheer leading scholarship to head the sales department for 60K less than Donna Reed at the end of their bouffant career at the new age useless 50, that moves on in two years for the next Miley Cyrus.
I've been in the hospitality biz for most of my life. Back in the day, this needed at the most, to head the building, an associates degree in lieu of a few good years of dedicated experience and a couple good connections. Even today when I see a kid go 4 years or more to land a job at the front desk, I can't help but think, Why don't you just get a degree in social work and pay off your 100k in educational bills getting pissed on, cussed at and end up driving a '92 Grand Am for the rest of you life on $25,000 a year and a shaky government pension...? There aren't that many good paying jobs atop you for all of you to succeed in this business.
Don't get me wrong, as all things being equal I am all YES YES YES on education. I do fear that it won't be long before everyone will need a degree for an internship at McDonald's . Don't get me started on internships. Entitled kids from rich parents that can afford for a company to take advantage of a free year of gophering on the next step to a year or so of obligatory writing from "IBESPECIAL University" to get an online MBA leap frogging any semblance of true life experience to perpetuate our collegiate system. It's beginning to rank side by side with our pharmaceutical universe. And, as a sideline, If I see one more 20-something post college, athlete, cheerleader, sorority beauty queen jerking each other off for a percentage, living life on the pristine clean air of planet "WEFABULOUS", please give me a bed pan. Unless a middle class parent wants to sacrifice the majority of their retirement for their child's education, it may not be ultimately beneficial financially for one, or both of them in our current workforce.
Just yesterday I had a conversation with a man in his early 40's that had 3 degrees and an MBA. Seemed like a nice enough dude. Later. after realizing that He could barely read, had pedestrian at best social skills, and couldn't accurately total his bill, I thought.........WTF. Afterwards another similarly educated man entered the conversation. Both were very cordial and completely engaged in my interjections, as common sense was apparently a foreign and interesting concept to them, until they just eventually fell in love with each other and spent the rest of the evening making fun of each and every person that was not them. As I listened further. I became sad. Sad mainly because for once I had let it affect me.
I've never believed that someone is better than another. Truly. I will however admit to thinking that if you act like an ass..................well, donkey up!
This came on a day that I attended the funeral of a friend. My skin was a little weak. Tender. Jo was a great soul. A good mid western girl that worked hard, loved Her family and gave of Herself without question. I was in the presence of friends that are of the same melting pot. Middle class, middle aged, middle America. Some more formally educated, some hard work and perseverance, some more talented, and some more lucky. At that moment we were all the same. Grieving. We also shared that many of us were the first generation in our families that went to college. Numbers of our parents inhabited the same or even more prestigious jobs than we from a generation that staying at one job carried a cache' that also allowed for apprenticeships, journeyman programs or simply attainable ladder rungs that meant something towards a career and comfortable retirement grounded with old school attendance. Just as a microcosm of life itself, 99% is just showing up.
As the ever growing work pool increases, specialization becomes more important, but with such pinpoint precision we are less well rounded to assimilate into other areas. Once again we are forced to re-educate ourselves or become obsolete to a new puppy with cuter ears that will do the same job for half the money and too young or hungry to care about health insurance or a matching 401k. We get weeded out by an ever more powerful, yet soil damaging level of herbicide that will be agreed upon by the masses to have created a cancerous growth in our system. 20 years later. It becomes a push and pull of bottom line. Can I afford to go back to school at this point in my life? How many years under the best circumstances will the break even payback occur? What other choices do I have? Will the rules change again before I have even purchased the new life manual? Does it even make financial sense?
There is no more true statement than that Life is what happens while you are making plans. I am a perfect example of that. I have done many things, and yes plan to do many more. Part of the attraction to years "behind the bar", was not only that it paid better than every position other than the general manager, yet gave me flexibility and yes health insurance to have other endeavors. I was a very good student. I believe that I am an exemplary employee for others. I told my current boss during our first meeting that I have lost my own money, so I am very aware of how to keep an eye on yours. I have owned and operated three small store fronts. I've performed services ranging from home staging, painting, landscaping, event planning, writing, entertaining, speaking, tutoring, purchasing, advertising/marketing, and booking to name a few. I've attained a number of educational certificates and frequently attended classes and seminars ranging from real estate, investment, nutrition, health, physical training, vitamins and holism, art appreciation and accounting. More importantly, I listen. I pay attention and hopefully learn as much if not more from my mistakes than my successes. Frequently when I need information to perpetuate an idea I hire a professional and pay them for their time and expertise with the understanding that I want to sit with them and learn. Often in an effort to cut to the chase and bypass one more semester of psychology, sociology, world history and obligatory 1 credit hour of bowling to properly set up the latest spread sheet engined by the most current software that plays well with all of the technology that we have all become accustomed to and paralyzed by.
I chose to have someone build my website not only to expediate things, but to have a sounding board to ease my frustrations.If not only to stay ahead of the curve but on the track, and be aware of it's true power and necessity in this information age. My designer said that she would, "learn to build what I needed and share the information with me". That was the catch phrase for me. As I frequently say, "To use information as a tool and not hidden as a weapon". I truly appreciate those that realize that giving of themselves, knowledge and experience is a gift and only makes them stronger in their abilities if not a good little shot of Kharma in your arm and heart.
My work world has changed to a team environment. No longer is your personal effort rewarded or even noticed. If one wins, we split the spoils evenly. If one loses, we are all punished, unless you have taken the initiative to solve a problem that has arisen and gone wrong due to someone else's negligence, then your job is in peril. Socialism at it's best in an effort to perpetuate a capitalistic venture propelled by frightened pre-retirees riding the shoulders of workhorse baby boomers paying the cell phone bills for millennials. If I bring in a tip of $100 and 5 people are working, my portion at best is $20 before taxes. At the very least one would hope that management is aware of individual work ethic in an effort to keep things fair, but in the bigger picture you are a cog and the no one greases the wheel. Heaven help us if an employee "tire" needs to be changed, cause unless your are threatening lawsuit HR doesn't even recognize how hard you're foot peddling their Flintstone mobile. Yabba, Dabba Don't
Human Resources used to be a safe haven for fairness in the workplace in lieu of another political form of unions, but has morphed into simply a corporate safeguard. We no longer protect the employee as much as we insulate the business entity from it's workers. In a very rare moment I once vomited information to a company in an effort to protect their best interest. I was politely told that they were sure that was not happening. I felt patronized and defeated. I don't lie and these were potential and current problems for the tattered safety net of their business. I tried to see it from their perspective, but ended up realizing that there is only their perspective. It's a representation of our current, and I will admit, many previous political environments that ignore the facts in a diversion for their own personal protection. If they gave value to my input, it gave me power. We certainly can't have that.
I recently had a conversation during a corporate regional visit. This could have been on a number of levels as the physical building is owned by one entity, managed by another, housing a franchise that is run by a 4th. This just creates a professional environment where everyone is in charge but no one is responsible. I didn't have much to say as it had gotten me nowhere before, but was encouraged to sit and chat. The conversation was pleasant, and he was rather forthright with information, although it changed little. It was pretty apparent that little was known about who did what and how the boat stayed afloat other than whatever witch hunt they were on at the time, but I continued to be honest, stay interested and listen. I was quite curious as to why even after almost ten years of being employed by this company through an outsourcing from my host company, why no one ever even asked me or anyone acquired during the "takeover" for a resume'.? The 6 people in my small department have a collective seniority of 90 years in that location alone. I said that I thought that was an enormous waste of resources and experience. There has been little if no movement upward for anyone in this location, Instead we have endured countless unsuccessful supervisors and management additions over the years and WE have absorbed their duties with no reviews, raises or even notice. Makes no sense to me. As we discussed this further and what responsibility each of us had a comment was made that sometimes you need to toot your own horn. Well BEEP BEEP. As is with many companies a title does not equate to more pay and here in created our problem. Historically the higher up you go, the closer you get to the exit, unless you have good subordinate shoulders to ride upon and stay in the saddle till you break the pony. They shoot horses don't they?
As effective management, more emphasis should be put on what they can do to help you and do your job, than what you can do for them.
We've lost our way. It's based in fear. We are afraid to take chances and we are afraid to show our true selves and expose those that are part of the problem. We shouldn't back down from doing our best and expecting to be recognized for it. We should also feel empowered to point out other's weaknesses without worrying about backlash. That does not mean that self-grandizing at the expense of someone else's job, ability or feelings is acceptable. A company and government should be aware of the contribution and needs of each individual as well as the big picture. Just as in a photograph, the addition or deletion of each face changes the very fabric of the story.
I'm in a environment that I am blessed and sometimes cursed to interact with an immense cross section of the population. I am daily amazed at how disillusioned we are as a people. We feel used. Unheard. Defeated. Someday's I feel utterly paralyzed , not by the sadness, but the apathy to affect change in one's own life. Money doesn't give you happiness, education doesn't equate success and truth has become alternative. We have failed ourselves which is the greatest feeling of hopelessness.
I spent a couple of hours the other day talking to two different friends on the phone that echoed just these thoughts. We shared experience. We commiserated. Laughed a bit and cussed a bit more. We are not different than a medium cross section of our world. We get it up front and sometimes feel as though we're taking it in the rear. You are not alone. Without honest and kind guidance of pertinent workforce information, we are incapable of making accurate financial, educational, professional and personal decisions.
As much as we are controlled by others and they too are being pupetteered by yet one more level of fear, I encourage you to reevaluate.. Surround yourself with people and concepts that make you comfortable,...... and not so comfortable, but always listen. Like Grandma said, listen twice as much as you speak. That makes your spoken word 2X as impactual.
Celebrate your education, experience and accomplishments and don't be afraid to share them. Re-think the puzzle pieces and what it means to your future. Just as our times and expectations have changed, so have the chapter titles given a mix and match of the glossary and foot notes of your life's book. A poor book can be rewritten. A good book gets a sequel and with a series comes great on going residuals.
Maybe it's OK for it to feel like everyday is Thursday. It keeps you focused and your nose to the grindstone. No one likes Mondays, hump day is an illusion, and casual Friday is just an excuse to quit being productive at noon. If you think everyday is Saturday, you might want to recount your Xanax.