Sunday, November 15, 2009

The movie was titled, "Last Chance Harvey" with Dustin Hoffman playing Harvey. It's a cute movie....not destined to be an ageless classic. However, I caught a premise in the movie. Harvey was at loose ends. He had time to attend his daughter's wedding. Harvey was let go from his company. Harvey looks like a loser in the beginning of the movie. He really wants his job back. At the end of the movie, his boss (or agent?) asks him to come back. They had hired a replacement for Harvey. The new guy couldn't do the job. In the beginning of the movie, Harvey would have grabbed the first plane and went back to his job of composing advertising jingles. He would have come on his knees if He had to. At the end of the movie, Harvey tells the agent to shove it.

Scene two: Richard is working at SCM Corporation. It's a stressful job that requires competency. Over time, Richard and his colleagues become more and more proficient at their programming jobs. Over time, they get raises. Over time, administration notes that these guys are costing the company money. They find a way to let one man go. Richard and his colleagues watch the office politics at work. Administration hires a new programmer at a lower pay rate. Never mind that everyone works like donkeys. There were times when my husband worked around the clock to get the job done. So did the other men. They worked hard and earned their salaries. Never mind that the Supreme Court has ruled that this is discrimination on the basis of age. Never mind that. It happens all the time and it has happened to me several times. Anyways, the new man is now working at SCM. It is quickly shown that He can't cut it. He is slow and inexperienced. Administration determines that this new guy has a job that is too much for him. So, they hire a second man to help the first one.
Now the company has two men that are doing the work that one man did earlier. It took money and company resources to hire and train the new employees. Wouldn't it have been better to just keep the first employee, pay him his worth and trust in his efficiency and competency?

Scene three: I am working at a major insurance company. I am a technical specialist. All the people in my department are very competent at their job ...which is loss control. We have a lot of freedom to map out our own days. We have to meet deadlines for timeliness and for proficiency. Those that were goof offs, have been let go. There is a salary scale that supposedly is fair to all. A quick talk to my colleagues and I learn that none of us have reached the top of the pay scale...even those with many more years with the company. I note that this is a red flag. This is a wonderful company to work for. I put in extra hours willingly. So do my colleagues. The company announces that the company is going paperless. We are all trained on pen top computers. This makes sense, as insurance forms are standardized, so We should be able to input the information electronically. There is a learning curve. It is hard to see the screen when the sun is on it. It is difficult to back up when I find something that should be noted on a different page of the form. Over time, our proficiency rises.
Then, some bean counter in home office decides that loss control is very expensive. They have spent a lot of money purchasing pen top computers and training the staff. They solve the cost problem by closing down our department. Only a few top administrators can find a job in other departments. Some women take positions in claims processing...which doesn't pay the same salary as a technical specialist. We went to school to get certified. Claims processing is clerical.
The best salary I ever earned, was the last year that I worked in insurance. I hated to leave the company. I retired 5 years earlier than I had planned. As I am cleaning out my desk, I see advertisements for new hires in a different department. Their starting salary is the same as my ending salary.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

We did not have good weather for Melanie and Dan's visit. However, family can make good experiences whatever the weather. It was Melanie's birthday. We went to a good restaurant. Her number one son and number 3 son came to celebrate with their mom. Chris' girlfriend, Marge came too. We filled up the table, ate good food and wine and congratulated Melanie. There was another feast at my house on another day. Mostly, with all that cold and rain, We stayed in, watched movies, went through old scrap books, re-read old letters. It was enough that We were together, if only for a little while.

They are now back in Australia and it is time to get the property ready for winter. Tasks that I did not do in the spring, are staring me in the face. Too soon, the leaves will require raking. I am reluctant to do all this yard work by myself, although I am capable of doing it.

Our social service Department has a program called "Rent a Kid"....or is it "Hire a Kid"? Anyways, I signed up for this program. The first mother that called me was some experience. She is the typical helicopter parent. (she hovers) Her son, my potential yard work partner, has never held a job of any kind. He is 17 years old. His mother said that He will be coming with a friend to keep him company....and she told me what she would be charging me....which is more than double what I intended to pay. You can imagine that the deal fell through. First of all, a young man seventeen does not need his mother to apply for his job. Second of all, a paid position pretty much precludes having a friend around to talk to while working. ...or am I that much out of date?

I called the program director back and explained the above. Then, I told him that a young man with no work experience will not be working efficiently. I could just call a landscape company and they will be in and out in half a day with all the yard maintenance done. Even if I pay them more, they will do the job a lot faster than a high school kid. Therefore, I will not be paying any more than minimum wage.

A few days later, the phone rings. It is another mother. Her son is 13 years old, big for his age and is applying for the job. We arrange to meet. This is a good family. We agree to $6 an hour. Then, I get the request that Stephen would like to have his friend help him. I don't know what to say. The mother says that I don't have to pay the helper, but Stephen would enjoy the work more if He had a friend along. I know that this generation is very social. They live with a cell phone attached to their ear. (Stephen has does his friend). I have the choice of forbidding Stephen to bring his friend or to let him bring along his friend. The difference from the first applicant is the age. These boys are 13 years old. I regret saying OK, even as the words leave my mouth.

On the appointed day, Stephen and his friend, Alex appear ready to work. Alex is a small 13 year old. Stephen is man size. They get right to work edging my sidewalk. Over several days, they put down stone blocks to continue the walkway to the curb. They rake leaves. The two work well together, so I tell Alex that He is getting paid, too. For a 13 year old to get a check for $18 is a fortune. They will be spending their money on games.....Stephen has to get his x box fixed. I loved seeing the light in their eyes.

Then, the mother tells me the story about Stephen's helper. He and his two siblings are adopted from Russia. Alex has come from an alcoholic situation. He has malnutrition. His teeth are poor. Apparently, the state took the children away....or they were abandoned and neglected. No wonder Alex is small. He's been hungry. Alex's new mother tells me that although they had very little, the ladies at the orphanage loved the children. When she picked up the three, the workers stood at the door with tears in their eyes. The children never looked back. On the train, all they had to eat was tea and bread. They were so hungry that they tore open the sugar packets meant for coffee and ate them.

I fell in love with Alex...loved his inquisitiveness, learning about all things American. He was confused that I have 2 houses. How come I don't live in the house they are working on? Both boys are rewarded with their checks and root beer (their request). Working makes a fella thirsty.