Sunday, November 28, 2010

Warming up my novel fingers...

I have no great purpose to my blog this morning. I'm really just trying to wake up the writing part of my brain. I have found no better means of kickstarting my writing than typing away. It's like jumping on a bike after a long while of walking and driving. Yes, the old adage is correct. You will not forget. But, you may be wobbly for a bit as you work muscles that have let memory slide. This means the first bit of my wordsmithing comes out slow and boring. I can't do that to my novel. I do that to you all instead. You are welcome.

I've been babbling a lot about quitting my job lately. I will try to focus more in the future on how the act of quitting affects me and my life instead of ranting away. Not much to report at the moment. I gave a very large notice so not much is changing. I can say that I am still happier. Our guest satisfaction scores have skyrocketed since I gave notice. Just more proof that an employee's mood can drastically shift customer's perceptions. My good mood has been contagious. Front desk agents smile more, are more productive, and whine less. Thank you all for following my lead. The hotel needs happy workers. That is why I am leaving. I can no longer be happy doing this and I feel terrible that my unhappiness drags down the rest of you. Sorry about that. I will do my best to keep you all going strong until I leave in three and a half months. After that, you are on your own...for the most part. I will still be blogging and on facebook.

My novel is doing well. Yes, it is still stalled out around the middle, but the writing up to that is in good shape. My seminar was helpful and I was called professional by a man who has published many many books. I rewrote my outline the other day and I think the novel will take off from there. It looks good. I know my opinion is biased, but I like my book more than a little. Kaden, Aren, and James are in for the ride of their imaginary lives. Kaden is growing up as he attempts to find lost Aren in another world. Aren is discovering her own power and finding she doesn't need to be rescued. James is having some issues with nanochips in his head, a computer AI that is falling in love with him, holograms coming to life, his flirty but distant boss, and genetically constructed dragons. He'll figure it all out though. I hope to have it finished within the next four months. Then I am off to find an agent on the yellow brick road of publishing. Not looking forward to the flying monkey attacks, but some of the scenery should be nice and I do enjoy skipping.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Oh The Lemurs Will Fly

People keep trying to keep me from quitting. I understand their good intentions. I know they are trying to protect me, save me from myself perhaps. I want them to stop. The decision is somewhat out of my hands. Yes, I could backtrack with my RVP, make nice and manage to salvage my place with this company. Yes, I could ignore the things I dislike about my job and join the land of the gruntled.

I keep hearing this from my friends, family, people I know, and people I don't know:

"In this economy, you should be happy to have a job at all."
"You don't want to be out of a job right now."
"You really think its wise to quit your job right now?"
"At least you have a job."
"Do whatever it takes. Now is not the time to walk away from a steady paycheck."
"Being unemployed is not a good option."

Really? Thank you all for the words of wisdom, but please stop. I love you all (except those I don't know), but you are wrong.

What is steady? Could my hotel be sold tomorrow? Yes. Could I be laid off by the new company? Yes. Most new owners let the entire previous management team go. Could I snap and throw a lemur at a guest's face tomorrow resulting in a pink slip? Most likely not, but if a guest pushed the right buttons and a lemur was handy...well, yes. Could a crazy employee slap the company with an even crazier lawsuit that puts my job in jeopardy? Oh yeah. Some of you know that story. How stable really are any of our jobs?

Let's go through some of the reasons for me to stay:

"Steady" Income I agree. That is nice to have. I have bills to pay, a wife and puppy to feed, car, home, insurance, student loans, credit card, utilities, and maintenance costs (for home, cars, and ourselves).

Loyalty I like my direct boss as a person (though not always as a boss). I like some of my employees very much. They have been a joy to work with.

...hmmm...yeah, I got nothing else.

Now, the reasons to leave:

Finances Most people get weird about discussing their money. I don't understand this. We all have money. We all work towards having more. Most of our life is spent amassing it, paying bills with it, spending it on kids, homes, cars, pets, jewelry, art, projects, entertainment, food, and other random needs or wants. Yet, when someone asks details of money, people clam up. I will be honest with you. I make just over $38,000. I am salaried. It is more than my last job, but not by much. My last job was based on a 40-45 hour work week. My current job is based on a 50-55 hour work week. That means, on a typical week, I make about $13.50 an hour. On a busy week, like this one where I was called in for 14 hours on my day off, I make around $11.40 an hour. That is a lot of work for not much pay, especially once you take account for all the extras I do for my job and the treatment I've received lately. I made more an hour working at a health food store ten years ago, before I had a degree.

Physical Health I work long hours, weekends, and holidays. I am under great stress, do not eat well, and sit a lot. I weigh more than I ever have. My cholesterol is dangerously high. I have heart palpitations. People say I should make time to exercise. Thank you. Let me make time from my special time making machine. It is hard enough to eat with my schedule. Eleven hour day where I get home at 7pm, need to make dinner, spend some time with my wife, and get some rest before doing it again. Let's not forget that I am also renovating my condo, refinishing furniture, painting my light boxes, and have a novel to write.

Mental Health My job doesn't fulfill any of me dreams. It is a job, nothing more. Should I turn something I don't enjoy doing into a career? I find myself growing less patient, forgiving, and kind. I don't like it, but I am under a lot of stress and guests are more demanding and entitled each day. I need to unwind, but I don't have many chances to do so.

Social Health I got about five texts this week that read, "You working?" Not, "Hey man. What's up?" or "You wanna go to a movie?" or "Annie and I are going to dinner. Want to come?" That is often the first thing people think to ask me when they call or text. Why? Because I am always working. Some of my friends don't even bother to pick up the phone and call me anymore. They know I won't make it. Hotels never close. I work weekends. I miss birthday parties, dinners, nights out, church functions, road trips, and holiday get togethers. I miss my friends. I miss being able to visit family members who live far away or across town.

Spiritual Health It doesn't matter if you are atheist or a devote Christian, people need something that feeds them on a deep level. This isn't just church for me. It is camping, hiking, spending time outdoors. Half my weekends are spent pushing papers and dealing with guests. I would like to go to church more. I would also like to go camping. No, I need to go camping. I find myself growing more cynical. I have always been a practical optimist. I am very pragmatic, but I believe in the best of people and myself. Lately, I have been losing the optimist part. I can't blame all of this on my job, but it is a contributing factor.

Overall Happiness Just thinking I am down to my last few months at this job has made me happier than I've been in a year. I can make money doing other things. If my business ventures do not work out, I will take a job. Maybe it will make less overall than I make now, but poverty is not the worst thing in the world. It is tough and stressful in its own right, true. But, this job is killing me in more ways than one. I will be happier earning a little less if I am also working a little less. So...long story short, stop trying to talk me out of it. I am making the leap. Don't call me egotistical; I am too smart and talented to be wasting myself on this job and this company.

This is not directed at any one person. I have had a lot of support about my decision from many of you, even employees that I will be abandoning. The support has been great. I just want those of you who are still clinging to the cliched "at least you have a job" mentality to know that I am annoyed. By saying these things to me you show doubt in me as a writer, artist, and entrepreneur. Stop that!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My Boss' Job

Sorry to my little gang of followers for not working on this more. Life if busy and writing takes time I rarely have. The good news is that you will start to see more writing from me in the future. That's right, folks. I am on the edge of no longer being employed.

The prospect of losing a job in this economic market is daunting. I admit I am a little scared, but, at the same time, I am excited. Possibilities open up all around me. We will be poor...really poor. Crack open the ramen and cry in your soup poor. Yet, with poverty comes the opportunity to write, paint, carve, refinish furniture, and hopefully sell my first novel. I welcome poverty if the payoff will be time and happiness.

Here is the skinny on the job situation. I'm sure you are all dying to know what happened. I have worked for the same company for over three years now. I was promised a new title and raise months after I started. Three years later...nothing. My direct boss has been trying the whole time to get his boss to look at my situation and fix this oversight. He has been ignored.

Let me fill you in on my job really quick. Sorry, but it will help you understand. I work fifty plus hours a week. I work in the Hotel Industry. That means I also work weekends, holidays, never have a set schedule, and get phone calls on my days off or in the middle of the night. I deal with angry guests, sometimes slacker employees, a micro-managing boss, and a lot of financial headaches. Its a tough job, but I have enjoyed the work for years now.

This started to change with my current employers. They dump more and more workload on me and my boss. They ask for more hours. They offer no incentives. They squeeze every cent they can out of the hotel and give very little back. My work/life balance does not exist. I started to edge closer toward sixty hours a week there for a while. If you break down how much I truly make an hour, I made more ten years ago. Still they ask for more. I finally had enough.

I sent an email to my boss' boss voicing my frustrations and asking for her to look at the promised promotion. She came to talk to me. It did not go well.

She pretty much told me I needed to make a passionate commitment to the company. How can I commit to a company that has not kept its commitments to me? She set aside all talk of my promotion and raise and never returned to it. She instead focused on the possibility of my boss leaving sometime in the next two years. She wants me to prove I can do his job. This is where it gets good, people.

She told me I needed to do his job to show her I was ready to take over in 18 months to two years. So, she wants me to do my job and the job of someone who makes 26 thousand more than me for two years without compensation in order to prove I can do a job that I am already lined up for and ready to do. Crazy, huh? She gave me two weeks to think about her proposal and my commitment. Commit or start thinking about my "exit strategy." That's what she called it.

I don't need two weeks. My answer is no. I have put up with a lot from this company, but this is too much. I am done. Funny thing...I am happier than I have been in months. Just knowing light exists at the end of this corporate tunnel has made me near giddy. Yes, scared too. We don't have savings to cover a job loss, but we will make do. Don't tell me otherwise. My soul already feels less starved and compressed at the thought of being free.

I have never really been unemployed. Don't worry. I am not the kind of person to sit in front of the tv, eating nachos and playing xbox. My beard growing shaggier while my wife cleans around me and pays the bills. I have plans. My refinishing business made me a whole 1,000 dollars this year and that was with me barely doing anything. I have paintings to sell, light-boxes to build, refinishing to do, and a novel to write. If worse comes to worse, I will get a part time job while supplementing my income with my random endeavors. Weird, I felt so trapped a month ago. Now, thanks to a ridiculous ultimatum from my boss' boss, I can let the invisible bands loosen and make my escape.

Thank you for reading. Wish me luck, but expect great things from me too.
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