Monday, November 16, 2009

Knowing the Consumer Well

I really appreciate that Ford is meeting us at our need. Their Super Bowl add is bound to clear the car lots of these puppies!

Ford Unveils New Car For Cash-Strapped Buyers: The 1993 Taurus

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Letter to Employers

I know this is a terrible thing to do here, but for three months we've endured such amazing injustices as far as the job hunt goes that I feel it's my duty to bring attention to the matter and call a spade a spade. To all employers *considering* hiring now or ever: You are NOT all that and a bag of chips. While I know I should continue existing in a faux state eager readiness and excitement at the prospect of ANY employment, it's just not happening any more.
For starters, I am 100% fed up with the false advertising of businesses. As hard as this may be to believe, there are actually businesses out there falsely advertising positions which do not exist. By that, I mean that these are positions which they hope to exist some day when they get that new account or when they start having the common situation of money flowing out of their ears. TWICE now, Jim has done interviews which seemed to go relatively well, until the point at the very, very, very end of the interview wherein the interviewer stated something generally to the affect of: "Well, IF the position becomes available, it won't be until JANUARY." Emm. . Excuse me? Your telling me that this position, which supposedly you (the interviewer) are handling right now (along with three other positions) won't be available until JANUARY? And emmm. . is that because you're hoping for some inordinate amount of money to somehow manifest itself within the company at some magical date in January? Great - thank you for wasting our time. My husband, he just really enjoys preening for people; it's his idea of a good time to sell himself; he likes demonstrating all of his knowledge when requested on the spot. . And he even more just LOVES acing an interview for a position which very well could NEVER exist. That's totally his idea of a real good time. Or what about the other interview he did just last week wherein he divulged all kinds of info about himself to prove what a 'very useful engine' (to coin Thomas the Tank) he was, only to have the HR lady on the other end of the line (who up until this point had seemed extremely pleasantly surprised and satisfied with Jim's answers) inform Jim that should their company acquire 'X' account, they may give him a call. . Well, thanks for all that! And of course Jim wouldn't feel like a used up whore or anything. . Of course he wouldn't! Really, I feel like this practice of conducting interviews for positions which at present (or possibly ever) do not exist should be criminal. And the fact that in both of these cases, the employer dropped that rather notable and critical bit of info at the VERY last possible moment in the interview just speaks volumes to the companies' integrity. Talk about being led on. It's on level with being invited to a fun pool party only to show up and have the host present 'the plan' to become a sales rep for xyz multi-level company. It's dishonest and disheartening.

Another amazing little factoid that I've come to be utterly disgusted with is the fact that employers simply will not accept the fact that you are willing to accept a pay cut. Again, it's been three months. . We would really appreciate some gainful employment at this point. Jim's not the type who would get hired on someplace, and then start sulking around because he's not getting paid what he got paid previously. And it appears this little issue of pay is a sticking point. People just will not accept the fact that you could be happy getting paid less - ever. News flash employers of America: every unemployed person in this country who has spent any quantity of time searching for a job has come to the realization that a pay cut is inevitable, and they have accepted it. . and it's HIGH time you people figured that one out too!

And for all the super neat-o managers out their with an inferiority complex, let's set the record strait for the unemployed folks: We don't want your job. That's great that you have a high and mighty position wherever, but we're not competing with you for your position; we're simply interviewing for the job your company advertised. While many of us are in fact far more qualified than you are for the work which you are doing, that does not mean we will be trying to edge you out the door. No, again, we're simply looking for employment - so quit being on the defensive. . it makes you look insecure and shallow.

My last gripe regarding prospective employment has to do with the manner in which people are informed of not getting the job. I received a letter in my inbox a couple weeks ago from an interview which Jim had completed at least six weeks previously. As soon as the interview was completed, though we both new it was a bad fit and just wasn't going to happen, we went ahead and sent a "thank you for the interview" card (how prompt and special of us!). I had pretty much long since forgotten about that interview until I received this special email informing us regretfully that he had not received the job. Again, we picked up on that when one of the interviewers began preparing to leave for lunch before all parts of the interview (as Jim had been informed) had been completed. . . That was our first hunch that it just wasn't looking so good. But to six weeks later get an email. . . an email? The level of utter stupidity of this is just mind-boggling. They couldn't even defer to the concept that their letter had somehow gotten lost in snail mail; no, it was an email. When an organization is that slow at simply sending out post-interview informative letters, it speaks volumes to their level of competency. Receiving the email made me realize just how close Jim could've been to getting that job (even if it wasn't totally up his alley); I mean, with time anyone can learn and accomplish anything, and clearly this little group seems to think that time is not a factor at all. Really, at that point it would have reflected much better on this group if they just didn't bother with sending out the notices at all. It should be noted that this was a position with one of the governing institutions here. WOW.

For right now, I don't plan on naming any organizations who have exhibited these extraordinary traits. But I would really like it (since I know this blog is read by lots of big employers) if the people doing the hiring and interviews could be a little more considerate to their prospective employees. Don't get our hopes up for nothing. Accept that we can accept you and your pay. Don't fret that we're going to take over the world (or your company or your job for that matter). And don't be rude. That's fair, right? If you can handle that, then you're hired!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Frightening Assumptions

Wheeewwww. . . Pheeewwwwww. . . Sigh. . Breathing again over here. I just had a very disturbing experience for which I'm now on the other side of and enjoying the relief of it all. Phew. Still glad to be breathing.

It all started when I dropped little Jimmy off at school this morning and headed off to the gym and to run some errands with Kyla. As I was coming home around 11:30, the thought actually crossed my mind that his school does not have either my husband's or my own new cell phone numbers. I thought of all the reasons both simple and complex for which they'd need to contact me during the day, and fully had in mind to promptly call the school just as soon as I got home. When I did arrive home I saw a message flashing on the machine. Checking it, I was utterly horrified to hear it was the Dean of Students at his school. "Calling to speak to the parents or guardian of James Britton. If you could please give me a call at your earliest convenience." Oh. my. gosh. I of course immediately called back and was forced to simply leave a message. . . Just let the gravity of that sink in for a moment. . . I was having visions of horror and shame and fear - nightmares really, and I was left to leave a message.

I put Kyla down for her nap, and I showered as quickly as is humanly possible (not wanting to miss the phone call). I checked my emails ever so briefly and thoughtlessly. And then I stewed. I checked the school schedule online to see when the kids would have their lunch so I could call again, and if I couldn't speak to the dean I could at least speak to his teacher to find out what had happened.

So while waiting, thoughts kept overtaking my mind - literally hijacking my brain. Bad thoughts. Sinister thoughts. I pictured little Jimmy having been sitting in the dean's office for the last four hours while the dean glared at him for his baffling behavior and wondering why in the heck James' parents were so inept at returning a simple phone call - surely this was the cause of James' behavior today. . .

I envisioned Jimmy shoving other innocent children. I pictured him sitting in his desk with his arms crossed obstinately refusing to do any work. I saw him telling off his teachers. I imagined him back-talking the dean. And then my thoughts took a turn. What if he had been the victim? What if some other kids had bullied him? What if he had been injured? What if he had been life-flighted to the nearest hospital? I googled his school to see if any breaking news clips showed up (fortunately there weren't any). And then just as quickly as it had come on, I snapped out that one. Obviously the dean wouldn't be calling me if that was the situation - probably I would have heard from his teacher, and the hospital, and the principal. . ya, there'd be more than one message on my machine if anything really terrible had happened.

So I returned to my stewing over Jimmy's behavior. I tried to think of good punishments for the sort of behavior that would elicit a call from the Dean of Students. He'd be cleaning the bathroom and sweeping the porch; he'd be doing dishes and fixing meals too for that matter. Still, I couldn't help but feel my attempts at more serious punishments would go unnoticed. I remembered back to the days of my own elementary school. There were children who were notoriously naughty (at least for that time) - kids who knew the principal a little too well or who had even been sent home on occasion. I tried to think of what these mothers did to encourage their children to behave, and alas, I could think of nothing truly special or notable. Ya, the mom's of the *naughty* kids from elementary school had finally earned my sympathy.

Finally it was lunch time at Jimmy's school (emm. . . yes, this was actually only ten minutes later), so I called back. Much to my relief and dismay, the dean picked up. "Oh, ya. Hang on just a minute." She seemed so casual as she placed me on hold - like he was just one of a list of offenders for the day, and she needed to pull his file to remember exactly what he had done to earn himself a trip to the office. "Yes, we're showing five excused absences and five unexcused absences for James for the month of October." Silence. My heart began beating again much the way most other living beings does, and I simultaneously realized how completely and utterly wrong I had been in all my assumptions. I casually explained how he had missed five days for the flu, and five days for our single family vacation planned for the last year, and how I had worked it out with his teacher and all his work had been completed. And that was it. "OK. Thank you. I completely understand." And that was it. . .

Yes, I know that mother's tend to worry, and I know that I in particular have an extraordinarily overactive imagination; but the bottom line is this: you know what they say about people who assume. . .

Monday, November 2, 2009

Organically Grown Locally

There is absolutely nothing quite like really fresh, locally grown produce. And when I say fresh, I mean "I just pulled this out of the earth" fresh. My favorite farmer is just a scant drive away from our home, and I take great delight in purchasing organic fruits and veggies from his stand. Not only do they taste amazing, but they also cost next to nothing. For absolutely NO effort on my part of trying to grow a garden in my back yard, I have all the advantages of just that.

Fernando is an amazing farmer; previously employed in the construction industry, he found himself out of work when everything came to a grinding halt a couple years ago. That's when he decided to begin growing his own food and open a little fruit and veggie stand. He's grown to love his work and says even if the construction industry ever comes back, he still plans to stay put at his little farm growing fresh produce for himself and all the locals here who love him for it.

I appreciated the reporting by Tom Brokaw on NBC on the importance of buying locally and from farmers who carefully consider their work; a beautiful piece of reporting describing how we, the consumer, can actually fix the food system by simply choosing carefully where and what we buy. . Choosing small local farms that don't use chemical pesticides or fertilizers means that we get a higher quality end product. We get a product which will serve the intended effect of nourishing our bodies - not harming them. I believe it's very important that we as the consumer make our voice heard: our health counts, and that means the food we eat should be grown conscientiously. Just because we can buy scads of uber cheap produce from government subsidized farms thousands of miles from our homes, does NOT mean that is the way we will be spending our money. I say the health of our nation's citizens is more valuable than saving some lose change to get a cheaper product. And while some local, organic produce may cost more, in many cases it doesn't. Fernando's Produce prices are very competitive, and frequently cheaper than buying elsewhere. Not only that, but he gives me any veggies that are on their way out free of charge to feed to my chickens; talk about smart recycling!

To Fernando of Fernando's Produce in Summerfield, thanks for making this possible in our area. We truly appreciate your efforts in supplying our community with thoughtfully grown organic produce.