Friday, October 09, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For
I've never really liked the saying, "Be careful what you wish for." It seems to put a negative spin on wishing and I've always felt that one should wish or dream for as many wonderful things as possible. Remember how crappy it felt when you were a kid dreaming up something like being a ballerina or kick-ass soldier and some adult came along and messed it up with their comments? Well, maybe it didn't happen to you, but it certainly happened to me. And it wasn't just in the area of "what do you want to be when you grow up," but also happened to all sorts of wishes and wants. I went back and forth quite a bit as a kid between listening to what people had to say or ignoring them and doing what I wanted to do anyway. Of course, the "doing what I wanted to do" usually got me in a fair amount of trouble, but it was almost always worth it.

I had a fairly good handle on doing what I wanted during my teenage years, but once I became an adult, I got sucked in a bit by that "responsible adult" concept. That kept me pretty stuck until I had a major breakthrough in my thirties which caused me to hook up with Rob and start having fun again. But these last several years... not so much fun, mostly due to a job that sucked the life right out of me. Sure, financial woes played their part too, but it doesn't cost much money to have fun if you can just get past fretting about things you can't change. Or, in the case of my crappy job, thinking you can't change it because of this, that or the other.

Anyway, back to that old saying... when I was sending out reams of resumes each week, I was thinking a lot about what I wanted in a new job and wishing for certain things. I wanted a job that was close to the house. I wanted something part-time. I wanted something that paid at least $10/hour. I wanted something that would involve some physical activity so I wasn't sitting at a desk all day. I wanted a job with no phone calls to answer. I wanted something that didn't require me to be somewhere at a specific time or I'd get in trouble for being "tardy". I wanted something that used technology/computers in some way. I wanted something that didn't involve multi-tasking. I wanted a job that had clear-cut tasks with reasonable deadlines. I wanted a job that didn't require me to work every weekend. Now that's not a short list so imagine my surprise when the only job offer I received matched each and every one of those things.

Let's see, what can I tell you about my job? I signed a long confidentiality agreement, but I can tell you that I have a small laptop computer that has a touch screen and a barcode scanner which I take to various stores where I scan the products that are on the shelves. I do not work for the stores or the product vendors; it's an independent company that has been in business for a very long time, in fact, long before there were such things as portable computers and barcode scanners to make this job easier. Basically, I gather data and send it off to be sorted and analyzed. It's not as simple as it sounds and I've been told it takes 42 weeks to be fully trained. From what I've had to learn over the last two weeks for this one specific type of data gathering (and I'm still not fully trained on it) then I think that 42 weeks is probably an accurate statement. I've also met several of my coworkers, some of whom have been with the company for 4 or more years and were still enjoying their job. Imagine that.

At first, I didn't understand why they limit new hires to just 10 hours a week of in-store training, but now I definately know the reasoning behind it and it's not the large amount of training material that I need to memorize. It's because of the physical requirements of the job. My thigh muscles were so sore after working Tuesday and Wednesday that I could barely walk. Why the thighs? Well, picture a shelf at your local grocery or drugstore. Now imagine scanning all the different products on that shelf, reaching up to get the ones above your head, then squatting down to get the lower shelves. The reaching up, that's not so bad. But the squatting down at shelf after shelf is like doing squats at the gym, except I'm doing it for six hours instead of just 30 minutes. Some people bend over at the waist to reach those products, but with my back I can't do that. Between the squats and all the walking that I now do, I suspect I'm going to get my legs in shape like they were during my teenage years, back in the day when I used to piss the guys off because I could leg press way more weight than they could. Also, I should be able to keep up with Rob on the greenbelt in another month or so which happens to be one of the other things I was wishing for.

So, instead of "Be careful what you wish for," let's change that to "Be specific as possible about what you wish for." Because in retrospect, I should have set my wage requirements a bit higher.

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