Thursday, February 14, 2013

Working Girl Update

So, I haven't written in awhile. Part of it was just all the craziness of life getting to me and the rest was that I just haven't had enough energy to do much more than crawl in and out of bed. Right after Christmas, I hit a wall. Or rather, I stopped hitting a wall. When I have something stressful I need to work through, I can usually push things aside long enough to reach my deadline. Once I don't have anything driving me forward, that's when I tend to fall right over and I get to pay for all the extra effort I just put in.  Starting around Thanksgiving I had managed to start working more than full time hours (instead of 30 per week) to help get money for Christmas. I planned it right, I busted my tail, I got the presents bought - and WRAPPED - before midnight Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning was just wonderful. I wanted SO MUCH for Monster and The Boy to have a happy and peaceful Christmas this year, and I managed to pull it off pretty well, I thought.

Of course, there is always that price to pay.

I kind of pushed myself a little too hard with all of that. I didn't really have much of a choice, of course. Work really was relying on my heavily and we really needed to get financially caught up so Christmas didn't hurt us or set us back. With extra long hours and still taking care of so much at home, I just plain overdid it. The day after Christmas, I started to feel that "run down" feeling that I have come to recognize as a warning for an FM flare up. I talked to my boss and arranged to only work a few hours each day that week. I got lots of rest, ate well, kept hydrated, and prayed with every fiber of my being that I could bounce back.

I tried. I really did. The fatigue was just too big to battle. After another full month of doing the same thing - short days, and even not working every day - I realized that things were just not getting better. In fact, things got worse. I was able to work about 20 hours a week, and that wasn't doing me or my work any good. Ok, it was doing work plenty of good, as long as I was there, but the hours I were there were even more stressful because of playing "catch-up."

I probably could have stuck it out a little longer except it occurred to me one morning that I didn't WANT to. When it comes down to it, my boss was the biggest ass I have EVER worked for. That's saying a lot because I have worked with some pretty "special" jerks in my career. Again, maybe if it was just HIM, I could have pushed myself a little longer, but it wasn't just him. It was him and all the other family members that ran the shop. The half of the employees that weren't related to him were actually some of the coolest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The other half that WERE related to him, though... well, let's just say the negatives outweighed the positives. I have seen a six year old in a full-on temper tantrum display more maturity than this group did on any given day.

For the last few months, I had been telling myself that I HAD to keep putting up with it because no one else was going to hire me. Even more, I truly believed that if I did manage to get hired on anywhere else, I wouldn't be able to keep a job. The embarrassment of being fired over and over again still stings. It isn't easy to let it go. So, if I kept the crap job there, it was a sure thing but if I left I just KNEW I would go down the drain like I did before. This line of thinking had me putting up with all sorts of nastiness every day that I never really should have had to. I worked late and came home after dinner to make up for coming in late in the morning. I didn't take lunch breaks and instead ate fast food at my desk every day. I "put out fires" when the management screwed up. I played nice and won back customers who wanted to leave because they had been treated poorly. I bent over backwards and went above and beyond to help fix the problems that were caused by poor management and worse customer service. And I did it all with a smile while the owner was standing behind me asking me if I ever got tired of being stupid. (Yes, he actually said that.)

One morning I woke up and realized that there was nothing that would make me want to go to work. The drive was barely worth the money I got paid, the only positive feedback I ever got was from customers, and there was not one thing I could be proud of in the company I worked for. THEY DIDN'T EVEN RECYCLE. A copy shop. Refusing to even put out recycling bins for paper. It was disgusting. When I woke up in a good mood, I didn't want to go in because I knew that work would ruin my day. At first I told myself that it was ok to put up with it because they couldn't make me feel bad about myself. I knew that whatever foulness was spewing out of their mouth, it was THEIR problem. Not mine. Eventually though, just having to bear up under that much negativity - even when it isn't directed at you - will take its toll on anyone. I had come so far and dug myself out of such a deep hole. Just going to work every day was threatening to push me right back in.

So, I took a risk. My sister has been working for a company that hires tech support employees who work exclusively from home and they are always hiring. So I applied. It isn't a scam company and it isn't a cake job. It is real, hard work and you HAVE to be tech savvy to even be able to pass the test they give you for the application. I attempted to apply with this place several times over the past few years, but every time I got to the application, I would just freeze up. I don't know why I was so afraid just to apply. It actually took three times for me to get through the application this time around, but I did it. I called my sister to get some guidance, I practiced typing until I was able to test at 43 wpm, and when I actually took the application test, I managed to score high enough that I got a call back the next day.

That was the best feeling I can remember having in longest time. Even though I didn't actually have the job officially landed yet, I didn't wait to turn in my notice to my boss. I got all sorts of ugly looks, and attempted guilt trips, and nasty attitude from the family that ran the place, but none of it really bothered me. At this point, it only made me feel more secure in my decision. I have not lived this long, worked this hard to be a grown-up, and bent over backward to raise my children with respect and maturity only to be treated like crap every day by small minded, bigoted, whiny, overgrown brats. I wouldn't put up with that kind of attitude in my house. Why would I purposely put myself through it every day? No money is worth that.

When I turned in my notice, I said I would work through the next week and help out part time after that because I knew I would have to wait at least until the next Monday before starting the training class. But, when it came to actually going in I just couldn't make myself. I called them back and told them I was just too sick to actually come in at all, which was completely true. I ended up losing out on a week of pay, but really, that is such a small thing when compared to the relief I found when I just let myself off the hook. I spent that week resting, taking care of the little things around the house that really needed it, and just relaxing.

I started training on Monday and I am so very excited. I really didn't have anything to worry about. Sure, the sort of support I will be giving is pretty advanced stuff, but I can handle it. Not only have I grown up around computers but my professional experience has given me more knowledge than I really understood. Going through the training videos and taking notes gave me a cool kind of boost. "Hey!", I thought. "I KNOW this stuff!"

Working from home isn't for everyone, but I think it may be for me. When I feel the worst, driving anywhere is the last thing I want to do. When standing up for 10 minutes wears me out and taking a shower is too painful because of the pressure of water on my skin, I certainly don't want to have to be seen by ANYONE, certainly not complete strangers. However, even when I DO feel that bad,  I'm already awake and usually on the computer anyway. Why not get paid while doing it?

The people I work with are actually really cool, too. I was a little concerned thinking that this would be one of those places that will hire anyone, treat them like babies, and then try to make them feel thankful that someone as dumb as they are actually has a job. I almost got into a place like that before so I was wide awake and looking for these signs again. This place is a real company, though, with real employees who just happen to work from home. The training is excellent, provided you already have some technical knowledge, and the support the management gives is really amazing. The pay is actually not too bad and they offer benefits like medical insurance, vacation time, and even 401k.

I finished up the video and testing part of the training today and tomorrow I will start handling a few customer calls. I'm a little nervous, naturally, but it really isn't anything I haven't done before. I can do this. I know I can.


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