Something Old, Something New

Something red, something… silver!

I started a new job yesterday. I won’t work with them again until after next week because I must finish this upcoming week at my old job. It’s still a clothing store, but smaller and much more expensive! My old job turned me into a shopaholic, but I will not shop at my new store! Too pricy! The first day went well, though. Everyone’s super nice, nothing too hard, and I got all the on-boarding done. So many manuals! I am still employed with my old job, but as an on-call employee. I confess part of that is, despite all my complaints, being my first job makes me somewhat attached to them. That, and how I like so many of my co-workers. Having a heart sucks!

One of my bosses told me this recently: “Don’t burn a bridge.”

Putting aside the hope that bridge has two sides, I have to wonder how often bridges have been burned to say that. I certainly didn’t want to leave on bad terms, but I know a lot of people just stop showing up or quit that very day. I (unintentionally) gave them only a week’s notice instead of two, partly because I had no idea how transitioning to on-call works, but they didn’t hold it against me. I’ve learned anything can happen, so for all I know, I could go back to them as part-time someday (if they let me), so I very much don’t want to that bridge to become ashes.

I think the biggest change, however, is I’m paid bi-weekly instead of weekly now. That’s undoubtedly going to take some getting used to!

Empathy

A human emotion that’s apparently very hard for some people.

I have four bosses. There are two I absolutely admire. I will keep names private, but I enjoy working with them, even on stressful days. They are never less than radiant – constantly full of sunshine – and what I’ve noticed lately is, no matter how stressed they are, they never stop being kind and empathetic towards those of us beneath them. Despite they have more power and authority over us, they still talk to us and listen to us. It’s to the point I will only come in extra if it’s one of them who calls me and I’m able to say yes.

There was recently one night where I was frustrated and not feeling good at one. One of these two I admire was the closing manager. She had a headache the entire night, yet she noticed I was aggravated.

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Me: (lying) “Oh, I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

Me: “It’s nothing, really.”

“Well, if you want to talk, let me know.”

Somehow, my night got a lot better after that. I have spoken to her before when I needed help and she’s never failed to solve it. In one case, she undid another manager’s giant mess. I have no idea what keeps these two managers able to put themselves in our shoes, but I hope they never lose it. The level of empathy they have and their ability to never lose it under any amount of stress are things I aspire to possess someday. Were I ever to leave my job, voluntarily or not, I would come back every so often solely to help them out if I thought it made even a small difference in the night for them. I’m not kidding. That’s how amazing they are as managers. Few people can do what they do.

Speaking of few people, the other two of those four bosses? I would’ve left a long time ago if the empathetic two I spoke of weren’t there. The other two have no emotion that doesn’t regard business. I guess that happens over time. I’d get more help from talking to a brick wall than talking to either of them. They only listen to what they want to listen to, and they decide from their own bias and personal ideas who’s right and who’s wrong, regardless of who truly is. One in particular enjoys exaggerating, unable to differentiate between “toss” and “slide”, and loves to blackmail and to make threats. Heck, one of my co-workers (who is older than him!) outright considers him an idiot, and I think stopping at “idiot” is generous. Both of them love to make assumptions, I suppose because taking an extra few seconds (sometimes literally only an extra second) to know what really happened is too strenuous. Heaven forbid anything serious happen at work because they could only be counted on to make the matter worse. I no longer hold respect for either of them (yes, I genuinely did think highly of them at one point, not that it matters), and the bridge has been burned to the ground and into ashes.

Granted, I feel slightly more tolerant toward one because he seems more naïve and lacking in memory than having any real malice. He did, for example, permit me to leave a shift early with no question for why I’m asking, though it’s likely he’s forgotten by now. His naiveté can be painful, to say the least, but I’ll give him half credit for never threatening me. That, sadly, doesn’t make him any better than his assistant, should he be needed for something the empathetic managers can’t do. I prefer not to talk either of them anymore because it’s fruitless. An “open-door policy” is only useful if it actually helps. I wouldn’t be surprised if there have been incidents where they wrongfully penalized someone and never apologized because, well, we’re just drones to make the store money. Who cares what they do to us? In fact, in my case, there has been at least one such incident – a different manager pushed me to mental/emotional breakdown, enough I couldn’t process my thoughts and wanted to hit my head on a railing, and I had to leave for my own well-being – but they already decided I was the monster in that situation, so anything I said fell on deaf ears. I would’ve accepted the penalty for leaving without permission, but for heaven’s sake, just listen!

Interestingly, the two managers who haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be at our level have had breakdowns. One recently told me she went in the back and cried after she had deal with a hellish customer because she was so stressed out and tired. The other admitted to having similar moments and she used to see a therapist to help her stress. In a way, it makes me hate that they can relate. They are too kind, too good, to be given hell like that. At the same time, maybe it’s part of what makes them empathetic. They deal with it, they know we deal with it, they know we break down and lose our stability, and it’s unfortunately a normality of the job, despite their positions being far different from those of us on the floor and register (especially the register; there’s a reason I was desperate to work on the floor). I suppose the two managers lacking in empathy have been managers for so long, they don’t remember what that feels like and they can no longer. I’m not saying I want everyone to be breaking down – of course not – but to still be considered valid. If the empathetic managers can still remember we’re human, why can’t the other two?

All of the above said, the one thing that officially made my last shred of respect for the latter two managers crash and burn is finding out they’re cowardly. They can yell, threaten, and take sides to their hearts’ content, but they could not tell me to my face they thought my performance with a certain aspect of work was low. I had to find out through my own questioning and, still, not much was said about it. They just kept moving me elsewhere, I suppose under the assumption I’d be too stupid to realize something was suspicious. Assuming I’d be slow to figure it out would make sense, but not that I never would. Weird. I’d think people with such a callous outlook toward anyone beneath management would be more than to tell someone they suck. I take more offense to thinking I can’t see through a trick.

Well-Meaning, But Uninformed

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Indeed it is.

I’ve struggled with my hair for years. My family was obsessed with it. As a kid, my mother forced me to my hair permed and professionally styled with extensions, not caring at all for my discomfort or how much getting extensions hurt. Trips to the hair salon were seen as essential to my living, and any protests were met with verbal/emotional abuse and accusations of me not liking to look “pretty”. As an adult, the obsession continued with my grandfather. Let me tell you, an old man obsessed with a young woman’s appearance is all kinds of creepy. Only recently has my family shut up about my hair because, frankly, I can’t afford a bi-weekly visit to the hair salon and I don’t have time for it.

I’m anemic because of iron deficiency. I have not had my hair permed since late last year, but I had no idea stopping those treatments meant your hair begins to fall out. I have been using certain hair oils – something I was recommended by people in personal life who aren’t family – but they’ve had no effect, and my hair is still falling out. Some advice-seeking in a Facebook group got me an interesting bit of knowledge: lack of iron can cause hair loss.

I did a research of my own. It turns out iron is necessary for hair to grow. Iron, the mineral I’ve been deficient in for at least eight years (when I was diagnosed with anemia), is necessary for hair growth.

Never did my hair-obsessed family mention this. And I’m furious.

I don’t expect them to know such a fact. I do expect them to care more that my hair is healthy rather than pretty. But they didn’t. Hair care has been a trial-and-error process for me because I only knew it as “washing, perming, and hair spray”, and I got sick of it. Only when my family’s obsessive behavior stopped did I care to try to learn if there were other ways.

I intend to see a doctor to ask questions and rule out other medical problems, but for the time being, I’m going to take some multivitamins I have and see if my hair changes at all. I don’t expect too, but if there is a good change, I’m going to be both glad and angry. Glad because my hair is finally fixing itself, and angry with my family for not teaching me better hair care habits while growing up to begin with. At the very least, if it doesn’t grow, I’ll be happy if it stops falling out.

Pressure May Vary

More often than not, I feel like things that surprise me really shouldn’t. In my defense, I have good reason for expecting the worst.

It turns out instead of taking the exam as soon as we can, our teacher recommends we not take it until we finish our last class unless we feel confident we can take it right now. Yes, instead of shouting “believe in yourself” over and over, a real teacher told us not to rush and wait until we feel we’re ready for it. We don’t have to read the entire textbook. He suggests we do because it can only help, but it won’t be a tragedy if we skip over something we already have a good grasp on, like half a chapter about how to create, move, and rename files. I don’t need a detailed how-to guide on something I’ve been doing since my age was in the single digits.

In short, a lot of the pressure I was felt was self-induced. Granted, like my cynicism, there’s reason for that, but it seems like I continually struggle to remember I don’t have to learn the same way everyone else does. I can study in the way the works best for me and go at my own pace. Even MLP had an (surprisingly good) episode about that. I don’t try to be different, but I think trying to be the same is part of what causes me these problems to begin with.

I’ve begun playing around with some practice tests. The site I used allows the user to customize the test instead of take it with every question about every topic thrown together. To my ridiculous surprise, I did well when I tested against things I read about and I can now study what I’m struggling with that wasn’t yet covered in my classes so far, or wasn’t covered much. I also managed to answer 20 to 25 questions in 7 minutes without knowing the answer to all of them. Maybe 90 questions in 90 minutes isn’t so intimidating.

I’ll eat my words later, but for now, it’s nice to feel less pressured about everything.

Or Maybe Not

I guess there’s a reason for the expression that you are your own worst critic.

I got a big surprise when, at my school’s brief award ceremony, I was given two awards! One was for perfect attendance while the other was for having a 4.0 GPA. Perfect attendance is easy for me, though I still very much appreciate the award. On the other hand, I have never had a 4.0 GPA in my life! I really cannot believe it and I am so stunned! And I am not a flawless student, as I think my last post makes evident. Yet, somehow, I achieved that! I really do not have words. My whole day has been made!

My school award certificates! School name, my real name, and signature of the director have been omitted.