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I think this takes the cake for condescending job rejections…

September 17, 2017, 6:25 PM

If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’ve probably, at some point, received a rejection letter from a company.  It’s that lovely little note that says “thanks, but no thanks” in a way that typically attempts to deliver the bad news while also attempting to soften the blow of said bad news.  Most of them are fairly straightforward, but some people try a bit too hard to make people feel better in their rejections, usually to the opposite effect.  On the /r/jobs board on Reddit, which I help moderate, this came through, which I believe takes the cake when it comes to rejection letters that try too hard to make people feel better:

Looking at my desk full of fantastic applications is like looking into a box full of puppies – you wish you could keep them all.

Unfortunately, this is not the case, and I’m sorry to tell you that your experience and skill set is not the perfect match we are looking for to fill this position.

I regret that I cannot give you a positive answer, but I have no doubt that there are many companies that will be thrilled to hear from a talented candidate like you.

We wish you all the best for your future endeavors and success finding the perfect match.

Best regards,

[Name]

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Categories: Reddit, Work

A few career anniversaries in the next month…

March 23, 2017, 2:04 AM

The next month contains no less than three career anniversaries of mine.  March 31 marks ten years since I was fired from Walmart, April 15 marks the 15th anniversary of when CFW Information Services (then Telegate USA) closed and I was laid off, and then April 18 marks ten years from the day that I was hired at Food & Water Watch.  Rememberances of jobs past, I suppose.

The anniversary that still gets me is the CFW one.  I can’t believe that it’s been fifteen years.  That was my first job, which I started at age 16, in June 1997.  It was a call center job, processing inbound calls for customers seeking directory assistance services in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, DC, Delaware, and New Jersey.  Then Pennsylvania got added to the mix.  Then we started doing two national services – one used by bill collectors doing skiptracing, and a wholesale service for the public through a variety of different providers.  When the national services came online, I mostly did the bill collector service.  That was a good job.  The dress code was casual (after all, who saw you?) and you worked at a computer all day.

That job did, however, have a turning point.  In June 2000, parent company CFW Communications made a major change to its corporate structure, merging with another regional telecommunications company in Virginia to form nTelos.  As part of that same deal, Information Services was out.  Our division would not become part of the new nTelos, as we were sold to Telegate, a company based in Munich, Germany.  I remember watching this company, which had thrived under CFW ownership, be slowly destroyed under Telegate ownership.  If I recall, Telegate acquired our company with the intention of gaining a foothold in the US marketplace, with the desire to eventually launch a “11880” style service in the US like they did in Germany.  The “11880” style service never happened, and things basically stayed the same.  Meanwhile, for a company with three Virginia call centers (Clifton Forge, Waynesboro, and Winchester), their choice of a headquarters location was surprising: Plano, Texas.  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.  The management in Texas also seemed to come and go on a fairly regular basis, as one after the other either abruptly quit or was dismissed.  It was no surprise when Telegate started closing call centers as the business started to drop off (probably due to the hideous management of the company), as Clifton Forge, Waynesboro, and Winchester all closed within about 6-7 months of each other.  I was away at college at the time that my center closed, and never received any official notification from Telegate of the center’s closing, but rather, was notified by some of my soon-to-be-former coworkers.  It just so happened that I would be in town the weekend before the closing, and so I stopped by to pick up my belongings and turn in my equipment.  And that was the end of my first job.

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Categories: CFW, Walmart, Work

In retail, it’s made abundantly clear that the employee is never right…

August 16, 2016, 9:12 PM

The recent discussion in this space about bad employee behavior made me think of a few incidents that occurred during my time at Walmart back in 2004 that defied logic.  These were incidents where I got pulled into the back office and chewed out for something that I had no control over due to policies and procedures in place at the time.  One of these even was handled as a “coaching”, short for “Coaching for Improvement”, which is Walmart’s term for its disciplinary process.  If you ask me, it’s pretty messed up to discipline someone over something that they have no control over.  It’s where you realize that as an employee, you are never right, even when you follow protocol to the letter, and you are also responsible for your managers’ mistakes.

The first incident occurred in the summer of 2004.  I got into work, and my boss, the assistant manager over the front end, pulled me aside to speak with me as soon as I clocked in.  His first words were, “This is your verbal warning,” i.e. this was a coaching.  Lovely.  I was then told that they had caught me on camera at the service desk accepting a stolen item for a return.  They explained what happened, i.e. that a person had taken a vacuum cleaner off of the shelf, walked it over to the service desk, presented a receipt, and got a their money back for it from me.

While at first glance it might seem like an open-and-shut case, and therefore grounds to discipline me for accepting a stolen item for a return, if you look more deeply into it, that argument starts to fall apart.  My job at the service desk was to accept and process returns.  In my store, a mid-2000s Supercenter, the service desk was in the middle of the front end, in a space that I referred to as a cave, since it was a windowless room that was only open to the rest of the store on one side.

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Categories: Walmart, Work

Now, about that boot…

December 23, 2015, 5:12 PM

You may recall that this past September’s splash photo showed me posing with a broken merry-go-round at Pentagon City Mall, i.e. this:

At Pentagon City Mall, sporting a boot cast.

Note the choice of footwear.  I’m wearing a Crocs shoe on one foot… and a massive boot cast on the other.  It was posted without any explanation other than a mention of its presence, but clearly, something was up, because I don’t normally wear a boot around like that.

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Categories: Elyse, Health issues, Work

Spotted a zebra finch today…

November 7, 2015, 11:42 PM

So I was on my layover right before starting my last trip of the night, when a bird flew into the bus shelter, and ran right into the glass sides.  The bird apparently didn’t hit very hard, because it never even appeared to act dazed.  It was like the Chumbawamba song “Tubthumping“, in that it got knocked down and then got up again.  And here it is:

A zebra finch, standing in the bus shelter

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Categories: Myself, Work

While hunting for a photo…

August 29, 2015, 9:29 PM

Yesterday, I was hunting through my archives to find a photo to show a friend.  My photo archives are arranged by subject and by date.  If I took a bunch of photos in a single day, then all of those photos typically go into a folder marked with the general subject of the photos and the date.  One-off photos usually get dated, marked with their subject, and get put in a folder with all of the one-off shots for the month.  The photo that I was looking for depicted a bus sign after the normal text for that route had changed.  So I knew what it was, and knew what the photo looked like.  I also knew that the photo was a one-off, since I took the photo at Glenmont on the way home from work.  However, I didn’t remember exactly when I took it.  I had an approximate range for when I took it, but didn’t quite know.  So that meant that I needed to hunt.

First of all, I was successful in finding the photo.  Here it is, dated September 24, 2012:

Route Y5, destination MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

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“I feel important, just like a king…”

May 30, 2015, 12:49 PM

So today is my birthday.  I am officially 34 years old.  I rang my birthday in doing one of the things that I always enjoy doing, i.e. driving the bus, and watching out for Virginia drivers (yes, Virginia drivers are, by far, the worst drivers in this area as far as I’m concerned).  Then I took my birthday as a floating holiday, so I don’t have to work my birthday (yaaaaaay!).

But at the beginning of my workday on Friday, my friend Elyse met me at the location on the street where I pick up my first bus, and gave me a birthday card.  Check it out:

  

And of course, I immediately made sport of the grammatical error in the handwritten message.  But no worries – I did it with a smile, so it’s all in good fun.  Then down at the bottom is an Edwards Integrity fire alarm horn/strobe, like they have at work.

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Okay, folks, story time…

March 25, 2015, 2:03 PM

After hearing far too many people on Reddit spew out the “fact” that you can’t get unemployment insurance if you quit your job, I think it’s time to share a story about one instance why that “fact” is not the case.  It is not, in fact, a hard and fast rule that, if you leave your job on your own, you don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, and it doesn’t make a difference if you head it off by quitting or let your boss fire you.  I should know, because it happened to me.

You may recall that in July 2013, I posted a Journal entry about my last day at Food & Water Watch.  For those of you solely know me through the website, that post probably came as a surprise to you.  Save for a note on a photo feature, I didn’t give any hints prior to that entry that I was leaving Food & Water Watch, and I also never gave a reason in the entry about why I left.  All you knew is that I had left, with no reason given regarding why.  And that made enough sense, because I didn’t want to go into detail while I had an ongoing job search underway in the same field.  Now I feel as though I’m in a place to share, especially now that I’ve changed fields, going from nonprofit operations management to public transportation.

In 2011, I had started to change a bit as a person.  I grew up.  My interests began to shift.  I had also noticed that my own interests and those of the organization had started to diverge.  The organization had also begun to change, with the introduction of anti-fracking work into its fold, beginning its morph from a consumer group into an environmental group.

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Categories: Reddit, Work

Growing out the beard…

February 25, 2015, 2:44 AM

This past Sunday, I really came to realize that I have, as TV Tropes would say, started “growing the beard” when it comes to driving a bus.  It’s about getting past all of the newness and figuring out how it all really works, and starting to, you know, become proficient at what you’re doing.  When it comes to jobs, if a person is a good fit with the organization, they grow out their beard within the first few months after whatever training period ends.  If the beard doesn’t grow, then it’s possible that they’re not a good fit, and that often ends with a parting of ways.

Me, I’ve grown my (figurative) beard out quite nicely.  I have a run of my own, meaning that my assignment does not change much from week to week.  I do the same thing every weekday, and I do the same Saturday and Sunday schedules every week.  When the transit agency that I work for cut me loose to work my own assignment for the first time, I was a bit overwhelmed.  I was at a different bus garage than the one that I had trained at after having been unexpectedly reassigned at the end of training (about half the class was also moved from where they had trained), and I had never done a street relief in the middle of a route before.

For those not familiar, a street relief is how some bus routes work.  The buses are out on the street all day, and the operators just cycle on and off of them.  One guy takes a bus out of the garage, and then at a designated location, he hands the bus off to another operator.  That next guy takes the bus for however long, and then gives the bus to someone else.  That keeps going until the last guy gets the bus, and he brings it back to the garage.

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This year, I want to slim back down to where I was in 2012…

February 19, 2015, 3:28 AM

While I was between jobs, I put on a bit of weight, most likely due to reduced activity due to my being out of work, and out of a routine.  My current job, where I operate a bus, is not exactly conducive to physical activity, considering that I sit strapped to a seat for nine hours a day.  Pushing pedals and turning steering wheels does not count as physical activity, though I was getting nighttime leg cramps from it for a while. I also was a bit lazy when it came to exercise once I finished training and got my own assignment.  I work late afternoon into the wee hours of the morning, and initially would tend to sleep in a bit.  The only exercise I got was just under two miles on Sundays, going to and from a street relief that was just a shade under a mile away from the bus garage.  I also now drive to work in my car, which means that I don’t get any activity related to my own commute.

However, now that the bus has finally become routine and I’m really starting to get the hang of things (and – heaven forbid – having fun at work), I can start getting serious about fitness again.  After all, one of my more recent splash photos shows me looking like this:

The October 2014 splash photo, taken on July 5, 2014

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“I am bold. I am brave. I am confident. I am supreme. I am courageous.”

January 9, 2015, 1:22 PM

When I was in training to be a bus operator, about half of the program involved going out with seasoned operators on their regular runs, and actually driving in revenue service, i.e. taking real passengers where they need to go (as opposed to driving an empty bus around with the “TRAINING” sign set).  During that time, I joined ten different operators on their runs, and learned a number of different bus routes.  It’s also where I came up with the idea that great bus operators don’t just happen, but rather, they are formed through the help of many, and lends credence to the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.

However, the one point that sticks with me most from this part of training is something that I learned on the first day with a seasoned operator.  This particular operator put a strong emphasis on positive thinking, and encouraged me to say the following affirmations to myself each morning:

I am BOLD.

I am BRAVE.

I am CONFIDENT.

I am SUPREME.

I am COURAGEOUS.

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Categories: Work

And this is why I should never be allowed to go to Micro Center unsupervised…

August 14, 2014, 1:27 AM

First of all, I apologize for my silence as of late.  I’ve been busy working on various things plus having some computer issues, and that’s caused me to neglect the website somewhat, save for changing the photo features and splash photos.

However, the good news is that I’ve received job offers from a few different area transit agencies (that I’m not naming) for the position of bus operator.  I should be starting training with one of them soon, once all of the various onboarding processes are completed.  From what I’ve seen, these are not quick processes, but they’re done correctly the first time, and I’m fine with that.  In deciding to become a bus driver, I realized over the course of the job hunt that my heart just wasn’t in it for more nonprofit work.  I also realized that I wanted a career, and not just another job, and I didn’t really have a passion for the issues that the organizations that I was applying to were about.  In looking at my interests, I came to realize that I had a real interest in starting a career in public transportation.  And a job as a bus driver is a foot in that door.  In pursuing that, I took a commercial driving course at Montgomery College over the winter, and I now hold a Class B commercial driver’s license with passenger and school endorsements, plus no air brake restrictions.  So life is good on that front.

I also had a big day on July 26, checking out the new Silver Line stations.  I received an invitation to ride the VIP train before revenue service began, and I brought my friend Matthew as my guest.  I’m going to do a full-on photo set for Life and Times for this day (along with a few other subjects in the photo set queue), so I’m not going to say much about it now, but we had fun.  I got to see a number of congressmen and other various elected officials, I got to talk to former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore, and then Matthew and I rode the first revenue train from Wiehle Avenue to Largo.  Then after lunch, we toured the new stations on the way back from Largo.

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Ten years after I graduated college, I’m going back to school…

December 23, 2013, 4:08 PM

First of all, yes, it really has been ten years since I finished college.  I finished up at JMU a little more than ten years ago, and then they mailed me the diploma not long after that.  I can’t believe that it’s been that long.  Doesn’t feel like ten years have gone by, that’s for sure.

That said, a lot has happened lately.  I am now the proud holder of a commercial learner’s permit, which I got on Monday at the MVA in Gaithersburg.  That was a stressful time, but probably not in the way you might think.  I got in there, got my number, and then sat down, figuring that I might as well get comfortable.  I took this picture, and then posted it to Instagram:

Waiting on one of the benches at the MVA in Gaithersburg

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Categories: Driving, School, Work

A very upbeat goodbye…

July 22, 2013, 11:28 PM

You may have gotten a hint from the notes in the July 14 photo feature, but this past Friday, July 19, was my last day working at Food & Water Watch.

On my last day, we were having an ice cream social in my honor.  I wanted to make it a celebration of me rather than an emotional goodbye, so I made a slideshow of photos to go through and talk about with the folks gathered.  Many had never seen these photos before, and I was sure that the photos would garner some laughs and rekindle fond memories.

On the evening before my last day, though, I was a bit nervous.  I was somewhat uptight about how my emotional state would be when I finally said goodbye.  I didn’t want to cry on my last day, but I was really afraid that I might.  I even went to far as to post this Facebook status at 1:44 in the morning:

Thinking about my last day at Food & Water Watch on Friday. Wondering how the mood will be when I finally say goodbye, and thinking about it in terms of the ending theme for an episode of Today’s Special. I think it could go one of three ways:

1) A very upbeat end to the day. That would warrant the regular ending theme.

2) A more emotional ending that might have me in tears at the end of it. That kind of end would call for the flute theme that was used in “Butterflies”, “Babies”, “Wishes”, and “Phil’s Visit”.

3) Considering that I have a slideshow with old photos planned, it might be a celebration of days past with mixed emotions of laughter and sadness. For that, I would lean towards the ending theme used in “Memories”, the series’ last episode, which was a continuation of that episode’s final song.

We’ll see how it plays out on Friday, but I’m rooting for the day to warrant the regular ending theme.

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New fire alarms at work… again…

August 24, 2012, 10:17 PM

So apparently the folks who run the building where I work are looking to improve the fire alarm system.  Recall that in 2009, the fire alarm notification appliances were replaced after an incident where someone pulled a fire alarm in our building due to smoke from a car fire in an alley behind the building, and those of us looking out the window at the fire couldn’t hear the alarm going off.  For that, we started with Wheelock 34 horns and Space Age AV32 light plates:

Wheelock 34 and Space Age AV32

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Categories: Fire alarms, Work