5 Stages to a Job Search — Storytime with John

To those who don’t know I am back in the UK: Now this is as wonderful as you may expect; I’m seeing family and old friends, walking around familiar streets and experiencing our tropical climate – however it is also becoming increasingly frustrating. This is for one reason and one reason only: I’m on a hunt for […]

via 5 Stages to a Job Search — Storytime with John

Are You Being Served? Part 2

“What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. ” -Mark Twain


I survived Black Friday and Christmas.  Wait, where did my hours go?

Are_you_being_served1

Me: “I need more money for my till!  There are no $20s!”

(Puts in for $20 bills for the till)

(Customer then appears and his/her items are totaled.)

Customer: “I have 100 $20s! Here you go!”

(Manager appears with money)

Manager: “Ripberger, why’d you put in for $20s when you have all these $20s?  Don’t ask for money you don’t need.”

You can never win this “game” during high shopping days.  Somedays, you are only one bill away from being tapped out completely by customers.

Manager 1: “Why is that girl waving at you from her register?”

Manager 2: “She wants to work at the Service Desk, but she has no patience and neglects her duties already.  Oh, she thinks she’s going to advance!  She thinks she’s moving on to the desk!  Well, she won’t…”

(Girl cashier waves and smiles at Manager 2)

Manager 2: “…and she never will!

Not long after that, I noticed that girl was working at the Service Desk.  Manager 2 still gives sideways glares to her, I believe.  However, Manager 2 does that to others, too, now that I think about it…

Customer: “Want change for bike!”

Me: “Pardon me?”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike! (Spanish intermingled)”

(My rudimentary Spanish cannot decipher the meaning.)

Manager: “What is going on here?”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike!”

(Manager looks at me surprised and then turns to the customer.)

Manager: “You have to exchange at the Service Desk.”

Customer: “Change for bike! Change for bike! (Spanish intermingled)”

Senior Manager: “I think we need a Spanish-speaking member here.”

Even when the Spanish-speaking worker came, I’m not sure between all us we could solve the issue.  I… I think he got the bike he wanted?

Me: “Your total is X, sir/ma’am.”

Customer: “I have no money.”

(Customer walks away dejected and leaves me shocked with a dropped jaw and a myriad of unpaid items I or a co-worker has to take to Claims.)

This happens more often than you’d think.

Customer: “I have many items, but only X amount of money.”

Me: “We’ve reached your limit with these items.”

Customer: “Gah! Wait, no, yes, no, yes… yes… no!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(This goes on for so long, we’ve all lost.  Somehow, she finally wants to pay.)

Customer: “Here is money.”

Me: “Ok.”

(Customer tries to finish transaction with card, but the card is a weird, esoteric card that the register’s card reader continues to reject. A senior cashier tries to help, but all is in vain.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay with the card!?  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(Again, this goes on for so long, we’ve all lost.)

Customer: “Ok, you have money in your hand and it should pay for what I want now.”

Me: “Ma’am, the money I have has already gone towards your purchase.  The total left is what you tried to pay on your card which will not go through.  You still have to pay for the total remaining.”

Customer: “No, you have money in your hand and it should pay for what I want now.”

(Senior cashier and I try to explain, but all is in vain.  I call for a manager to resolve the issue.)

Grand Manager: “What is going on here?”

(Grand Manager hears the tale and manually checks to confirm what we’ve all been saying… that the total remaining still has to be paid.  The customer either understands or simply acquiesces, but then wants another exchange.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay that!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

Grand Manager: “Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Let’s start all over.  Let me abort the transaction and let’s take this one thing at a time.”

(Grand Manager mainly deals with Customer at this point.  My brain is shot.)

Customer: “Gah! I cannot pay that!  Exchange this for that and that for this!  Bad children, mommy is doing things here!  Here.. yes… no!  No, yes!”

(Finally, it seems resolved until customer returns one last time to do another exchange.  At last, she leaves.)

Me: “Thank you for you help.”

Grand Manager: “That was infuriating.  I… Ripberger!  Those kids destroyed the register aisle.  And what is this cart full of items she left behind!?”

Me: “She only had $50 and those in the cart are what she could not afford.”

Grand Manager: “WHHAAAA…..?”

This, so far, remains the strangest episode I have encountered in retail.  I imagine it will usurped by something else in due time.

Public Address (PA): “All register-trained members to the front registers.”

Colleague: “No!  I must finish my work!”

Me: “They know you are working and that you are register-trained.  They will find you and make you go, you know.”

Colleague: “No, I will not go!  I have so many things to do.  There is no time!”

20 minutes later, I see him at the register.  They found him and conscripted him to the front.

Manager 1: “You cannot leave.”

Me: “But it is time for me to leave.”

Manager 1: “There’s inclement weather expected and management wants everyone to stay overnight so we have coverage.”

(I look sad and confused, thinking about my employee rights and wondering how on earth I was going to get out of this.)

Manager 2: “Ha! Ya got him!  You should have seen So-and-so’s face when we told her the same thing!”

Manager 1: “You can go home, Ripberger.  Stay safe.”

Customer: “Oh, what a day!”

(Customer reaches out and I assume to shake my hand.)

Customer: “No!  Give me back my credit card!  You are holding it in your hand!”

PA: “Easter Bunny, report to the Photo Center.  Easter Bunny, report to the Photo Center.”

I saw the Easter Bunny later on.  He looked pretty sad.  I think he needed more food… or fluff.

(Santa Claus comes behind a Customer at my register.  Customer has beer.)

Santa Claus: “Can I go home with you?”

Customer: “Well, sure!”

Both: “Hahaha!”

Me (thinking): “Perhaps my rudimentary Spanish can be put to good use here.  Perhaps, I could even develop it further and get better at this!”

(Customers appear every day speaking Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, and a myriad of languages I cannot comprehend!)

Me (thinking): “Oh, I can barely hold two languages in my head and now they throw the whole United Nations at me!”

There are workers here who do know most of those languages, but they never seem to be working at the same time a non-English-speaking customer needs help.

Manager: “Ripberger, do you speak Spanish?”

Me: “I speak a little.”

Colleague: “Juanita knows Spanish!”

Manager: “Juanita, can you tell the customer about X?”

Juanita: “Just because I have a Spanish-sounding name does not mean I speak Spanish!”

(A cashier became a manager.  It has been mixed results.)

Me: “There’s a price discrepancy between the customer and the register. I need a price check.”

New Manager: “Everyone’s busy.  The customer will have to wait.”

Customer: “What’s going on with the price check?”

Me: “I’m afraid you’ll have wait.  There’s no one to check.”

Customer: “I’ve been waiting 20 minutes! What the H–l am I supposed to do!?”

(Experienced cashier Colleague Y watches this whole situation in stunned fury.)

Colleague Y: “New Manager, you wanted the duties and responsibilities of being a manager and yet you will not do them!  You were one of us and you know the pressures we face.  When we need help with something like a price check, you as a manager are responsible in figuring it out.  Now you have an angry customer and left poor Ripberger in the cold.  You wanted this and you need to do your job!”

New Manager gives the item at the customer’s preferred price and leaves.  I doubt that customer will come back after that whole exchange.

Husband Customer: “This cheese you bought is too expensive!  What… it fell out of the bag!”

Wife Customer: “Don’t blame the poor lady cashier!  She couldn’t see the bag was unzipped!”

Me (Thinking): “Man!  I’m a man! I have the beard and everything!  Am I like Dennis the Peasant!?  I even have a name tag with a manly name!”

More stories next time!  Note: Names and some situations modified/exaggerated to preserve my and others anonymity.

Libraries and Me

“Libraries are as the shrine where all the relics of the ancient saints, full of true virtue, and all that without delusion or imposture are preserved and reposed.” -Sir Francis Bacon


When I was young, I never really enjoyed libraries.  I liked reading the books there, but I never liked interacting with the librarians.  They were mean, strict, and old.  I found certain sections of the public and school libraries, I found the books I wanted, and I got out as quickly as I could.  In high school, there was an “Info Skills” class which you could say was an “Introduction to Library/Information Science” class, though I never thought of it that way.  I liked the creative projects we made there and even learning the Dewey Decimal System.  The practice of organization and being able to put everything in its proper place was somehow satisfying to me.  Still, I never thought about being a librarian.

In college, I rarely entered the university library unless compelled to by the professors.  Now, I did use its online resources from my dorm/apartment rooms.  If you asked me then if I used the library, I would have said “no,” but in hindsight, I used its online resources often.  I returned to public libraries near the end of my senior year while completing my thesis.  I learned, though, that getting anything done in terms of research meant avoiding librarians as much as possible since they didn’t seem entirely too happy to work with other human beings.  My times at the college library, though, got me to thinking that maybe libraries could be fulfilling and friendly places to work.

I had considered graduate school to become a history professor or museum worker, but my persistent anxiety attacks and general indecision about my future meant over a year before I decided to give libraries a go.  I had no license nor car nor means of attending museum/history graduate schools anyway.  The idea of perhaps ten more years of school and writing a long dissertation about obscure historical topics did not appeal to me.*  So, I went to library school online and got a Master in Library Science (MLS).  The school was not at the time accredited with the American Library Association, so I was able to transfer most credits to another library school and got a second, but ALA-accredited, MLS.

I came close to a library page job while working on my first MLS, but after failing to get the job, I decided to focus on my studies before throwing myself into the job hunt.  It hardly mattered as the Great Recession hit at the moment.  I watched as one of the largest regional public library systems nearest me nearly fell apart and a multitude of librarians were left without jobs.  Volunteers were the only thing keeping several branches open at all.  For several years, I focused on getting any kind of library job only to find them few and far between.  I eventually gave up and took web design courses at my local community college and started volunteering at a museum and library.  In 2014, I found a job coach and mentor who encouraged my volunteering and finding a job.  ANY JOB.  Yes, employers can discriminate against those “over-educated” in “under-qualified” jobs, but they discriminate even more against those with NO JOB AT ALL.  Even a fryer at the Beanie Weenie Hut is at least something.   In late 2015, I found a part-time retail job and the company is investing more employee wages and career expansion programs, so I was glad to get it when I did.

Slowly, I have been explaining my life story to others.  Most have not been judgemental, but I still get what I feel are “jabs” (intentional or non-intentional) that I should still be fighting for my “dream job” in libraries.  I have spent nearly eight years looking, applying, interviewing, and traveling to libraries only to be rejected or never being told at all of my status.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not even expect librarian employment to increase for well over ten years and public funding for libraries is not stable at all.  The Great Recession proved that.  I never considered libraries my “dream job,” but places with a good, organized stable environment where I could get good job satisfaction while helping people find information or whatever.  I have never been “passionate” on the level of “I MUST be this” or “I MUST be that for I love it so!”  No, that is not me nor my personality.  I love history, discovery, and connecting people with what they want or need.  If I can get that from a job/career, more power to me.  Otherwise, my retail job (jobs?) supplemented by museum and library volunteering will be fine.  This explanation does not always satisfy people.  We live in a culture where you are expected to chase and sacrifice for your dreams and anything less means you are lazy and a failure.  The reality of… well… reality, practicality and sunken costs often guides us to other paths.  Love it, hate it, meh it, that is how it is.  Let others think as they think.  They are not you.  Let it go.

I have been cleaning out my old library science books, yet I feel a sadness in giving them up.  Is this really the end for me and libraries?  My skills are long outdated as I have not taken a library science class in other five years.  Library assistant and page jobs rarely go those with an MLS.  I look again at librarian job advice websites and find the same venom of “failure” because I never, evidently, knew that I would need experience in a library before getting an entry-level library job.  Well, forget that.  What a bizarre world these professionals must live in!  The anger, sadness, and depression hit me.  After a time, I think about my job coach’s advice of looking at jobs as angles to other jobs.  You can start in one job and end up in a completely other place.  So, let me compromise.  I will focus on my retail job and volunteering and look for opportunities.  If it ends up in libraries or not, so be it.  Let it go.  Be Free.

*I’ve never quite given up the idea of going back for a Masters in History or Military History, though that option is a long way off.  Time and patience will decide if that is plausible at some point.

 

A New Year 2016

“No matter what the source of a sorrow may be, the sorrow itself is respectworthy.” -Mark Twain, Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 3


2015 ends today.

I gained a part-time job this year and that is going well for the most part.  I also saw Star Wars Episode VII.  I’ve started reading novels again and finished several Mark Twain books.  I’m currently getting through the third volume of his autobiography and Life on the Mississippi.  Unfortunately, the latter has been more boring than A Tramp Abroad, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Letters from the Earth.  I’ll get to it again in 2016, probably after finishing the autobiography.

Since coming off the antidepressants in mid-2014, I have not been happy.  That is to say, I am happy, sad, angry, and depressed at times and intervals that make no logical sense to me which spiral into a repeated pattern of happiness, sadness, anger, and depression.  There is no end and no relief.  I’ve dealt with anxiety since I was a young child.  I thought over time it would dissipate, but it never did.  It morphed and some aspects of it I could resist.  For instance, I never really think I’m overly stressed at work, only to realize coming home that I am thoroughly exhausted.

The last time I talked to my doctor about returning to antidepressants, he didn’t even want to consider it unless I was considering harm or suicide.  I have to threaten suicide to get medication for anxiety?  I mention my anxiety still being a problem, and he completely ignored it.  I no longer want anything to do with him, yet my health insurance limits who I can go to and he’s one of the few doctors still accepting patients.  I’ve searched for local psychiatrists specializing in social and general anxiety only to find they primarily focus on children and/or adolescents.  I’d have to drive for a hour or more to the nearest big city for someone specializing in it for adults.  I’m certain there has to be a specialist in my area, but Google and the ADAA‘s “find a therapist” function hasn’t helped.   I have a hard time explaining my symptoms to my doctor, I have no idea how I could explain them to a therapist.

There are quite a few “Christian” therapists around, yet I’m not religious.  My dental hygienist recommended one years ago.  I certainly have philosophical and existential issues that couple with my erratic mind, but talking about those with someone dedicated to a Christian worldview certainly wouldn’t help me.  It would make me more depressed.

Like most people, I’m likely to break a New Year’s resolution rather than fulfill.  So, I’ll do what I did last year and focus on some broad goals with a higher chance of success, like finding a part-time job.  Blogging more, reading more, and listening more are a few I can think of at the moment.  I’m going to stay-the-course with my part-time job and see where it may take me.

Retail work can take a lot out of an introvert like me, but I do like my colleagues, managers, and most customers.  The machines there hate me.  However, they hate everyone, so its not personal.  Bad moments and rude people usually don’t stay around long, though the anxiety can make me fixate on an error or bad experience.  I’ve only been there a short time and everyone says I’m getting better.  The anxiety says I’m not, but if I’m getting positive feedback from repeat customers, managers, and colleagues, then I must be getting it right.  I mean, they threw me in amidst the holiday rush and I survived, so that’s something.

On a meta note, what on earth did WordPress do with the “reblog” option?  I can’t find it under the “share” options when I want to reblog someone’s article.  All I get with the share is a sentence fragment with a link to there article.  I know the reblog function is still around.  Just when I get my head around WordPress, they change things around!

Happy New Year to you all.

Are You Being Served? Part 1

“What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn’t have done it. ” -Mark Twain


I’ve found a job!  It’s in retail… before Black Friday… and Christmas… oh my.

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It’s not what I planned to do, but I look forward to learning new skills and seeing where this goes.  I enjoy having a job, and I may find I thoroughly enjoy this job.  I’m open-minded and giving it a chance.  I’m finally getting out of the house away from job applications and job boards I can now safely ignore without worrying about missing something.  There’s always some misery with any job, but the misery of unemployment far outweighs the misery I believe that come with this job and commute.  I know I can handle it, even on the bad days.

So far, one concept that has come up in my training is loss prevention.  This can be best summed up with:

ImWatchingYou

Taken

Don’t steal from the store!  For the love of all that good in the world, don’t steal!  It isn’t worth it.  It’s a felony in the United States to steal from an employer.  They know what comes in, what comes out, and what is missing.  You may evade suspicion for a time, but they will find you.  Most are not even smart enough to try to evade.  They think they can just get away with it without consequence.  They will be found in time.

Oh, and if you do find money lying around in the store, that money belongs to the store unless it can be traced to a particular individual.  The store likely won’t care if you are a customer picking up small change you find, but they will care if they find store employees picking it up without turning it in.  To be honest, an employee picking up small change may not be challenged, but the risk is too great.  Whether a customer or employee, please turn in money to the main customer service desk.  Remove the temptation!  The loss prevention officer is watching… always watching!

All I ask is that when you see a retail worker, be kind.  You don’t know his/her life story and I know from looking online that people have bad impressions of retail workers.  It’s an honest job with honest work for honest money.  It’s odd hours and hard work to keep a store functioning.  We’ll work our best to make you happy and find what you need.  The customer is the ultimate boss and his/her decision to buy or not buy decides the fate of the store.  Customer service may not be like the way it was back in Harry Selfridge’s day, but we all know it is essential.  If I don’t know how to help you, I will find someone who will.  I was trained as a librarian and customer service in a library is no different than in a store.

Another piece of advice: order online.  My store will hold online orders for you and you can come pick up item with no shipping charges or worries of the delivery person leaving your package out in the rain.  You can avoid the crush of the crowd during the Black Friday and holiday madness for November and December.  Oh, and the retail workers get to live while the store gets a profit.  It’s a win-win-win!

Good luck to you all this holiday season.