My experiences with work with two different employers

I am a single woman looking for work. I’m in my late 30s.  I live with my mom. I’m an only child. Since I have no significant other or boy/girl friend, I understand how hard it is to live without some support. I have heard of other people going to a training to learn how to be a loan manager. I did this once back in 2004. I interviewed with a man named is Desi Arnez. I thought I was interviewing for a loan PROCESSOR JOB, hourly pay.  Nope. I wasn’t told the truth that I was interviewing for a loan manager. They work for free, unless you can sell stuff your first week.

Here is how it works for some people: One half of a couple will go to “training” and work for “free” for an entire month to learn the trade. The other half would have a full-time job and with that full-time job, that half can make all the bills. Nice if you are NOT single. Can’t do that if you are single. And for me, I’d need to have at least $3K saved for three months income if I was to go do that . “free” job. No one EVER understood what it is like being single and looking for REAL WORK and not working for “free” in sales. 

My mom does not support me with gas money. I need to get that on my own. Her income is low as well since she is on unemployment. 

This first blog is about two different employers that I worked for in the same industry: mental health/non profit. At the end, I will share what I learned from this experience. 

I used to work in a residential treatment center for at-risk youth from 2004-2007.  I’m not going to mention the name of it to protect me and others there. But I will say this. Working here was not “for the money” as some people think. I went there since I needed a job, and I needed to eat. I didn’t go there for some lofty career choice. In 2004, I was not a psychology major. I was a business major earning my A.S. degree at that time. 

I learned about many things there, how children can be abused, how children can have struggles with life, with parents, with school, emotional problems, mental illness and autism. And Autism is the number one thing I learned about since working there. I was told about Asperger Syndrome in 2005. Once I was told about it, I read up on AS extensively from 2005-2010. I even thought I HAD AS for a good number of those years. 

I worked for this company on-call from Oct 2004-March 2007. By 2006, I already earned my A.S. degree in business. I graduated from a local private college, earned my bachelors in business and was done by 2009. 

I was long gone from this last employer by then. I used to drive their mini vans (and cars) of this employer, picking up kids to go to school and take them home. I never imagined in a million years that the job would be SO stressful. When I started this job I wanted to be a driver! I love driving myself around town. I had no CLUE what I was getting myself into! Boy did I find out quickly that this job of driving people around was NOT for me. These kids were sticking their heads out the windows, they wouldn’t listen to me and one time, a fight brought out in the mini van. A fight? I’m 5 foot 1 and some of those kids are 5 foot 5. I had no other staff with me in the car. And how am I to keep my eyes on the road and on the kids at the same time? You can’t. I wish I was more strong back then. Strong with my mouth and with my confidence. I should have never taken those kids home when they  were behaving so badly.  

But from those experiences from 2004-2006, it has shaped my perception of that line of work as a driver of people. It has also shaped my perception of  transportation as a job altogether. Bosses calling me all the time on my PERSONAL cell phone “Where you at, where you at?”  My reply? “I’m stuck in traffic, call me back in an hour”.  I’d get a phone call at 6am on my cell phone when I have a personal home phone. Do these people know that if you call people on their cell, it costs MINUTES? And yes, I went over my minutes each and every month for 4 months. I kept on telling these people “Call my home phone, if you want me to be at work at 6am, you got to call me at 4:30am.  If you call me at 5:30am, I’m not going to make it in at 6am. I have to wake up (that takes 20 mins) and get ready (that takes 40 mins) and then I have to DRIVE to work.  And driving took about 25-35 minutes since I don’t live in the same town as this employer.  This employer didn’t seem to get that I needed over an hour to get to work, get ready and wake up.  

When I tell others when I wake up for work they say “wow, you must drive far”. No. I just need to be AWAKE for my drive. You try waking up at 5am and leaving at 5:30am and starting work (more driving, getting the van gassed up) at 6am. May be some people can do it, more power to them. But not me.

This type of job is too stressful for me. You got to be here at 12:30pm and then done with that by 1:20pm and be back to xyz at 2pm to pick up the kids. And then get back by 3:30pm to pick up more kids.  Don’t we all know that this world is not scheduled? Traffic can take a LONG time. How does any person know what the traffic will be like on any day of the week? We don’t know. A person may not be done with xyz appt by 2pm to get back to the center to take kids home.  How can I be in two places at once?  No one can be in two places at once.  This is something this employer NEVER understood. And I wonder why others looked at me like I was nuts for wanting to be a driver? And now I understand why so many people did NOT want to drive for this employer. They had lived experience from days before! 

I was offered another job in Oct 2012. It was a temp job. . .I was told they “didn’t know” how long the temp job would last.  really? It was just a gimmic since the last person kept that job for 8 months until she was transferred to another dept.  So, in any case, I had told the employer in Sep 2012 that I was waiting for surgery. I didn’t know exactly when it would be, but I knew it would be soon.

Late Sep 2012, I had the interview. I knew the job description had driver duties in it. And in the back of my head I was saying “Sandra, you know driving positions don’t work with you”. And then I said “Sure okay. But you need a job”.
 I thought “But this job doesn’t have any health insurance and you’d be earning $12 an hour or 60 cents too much per hour to qualify for any county health insurance, is that worth it? Would you be able to AFFORD to pay $400 a month on health insurance with an income of $1900 a month?” Well, I never answered my own question. I mean, I had until Dec 31st 2012 to quit! 

 I was told that the boss wanted me to be ready to go and start by Oct 15th. So, Oct 3rd came and I needed to make a decision. Am I going to accept the position since the boss needed to send it some fingerprint background stuff. I said sure.

My pre-op date was Oct 10th. That is the day that I’ll be told WHEN my surgery date is. YEAH! I was waiting for 3 months for this. Well, around Oct 12th, I got a phone call “Your background check came in clear” .  Okay, I knew it would. . . .but that wasn’t the bad part. The bad part was that this person didn’t listen to me on the interview when I told them that I’m waiting for surgery. I told them that I’d probably wouldn’t be able to work for them and start when they wanted. 

So, I told them again on Oct 12th that my surgery would be Oct 18th. A Thursday. I started work on Monday Oct 15th. I job shadowed someone for one day on Oct 16th. That was HER last day. I couldn’t work Wed Oct 17th since I had to go to another town to a medical center north of where the employer was to get my blood typing done.  (When you go for surgery they need to see what blood type you are incase you need a blood transfusion).  I also had a mammogram scheduled that day after my blood typing and urine test was done. (Urine test I guess was to see if I had a UTI and I guess this is test is only done for certain kinds of surgeries, I don’t really know).  It took me the entire day to get this stuff done at the county medical center. 

Now, this employer wanted me to get a TB test BEFORE I started work. But that was impossible! Why? When you go in for a TB test, you need to come BACK to the same exact medical center you went to – to get it read. You can’t go to any medical center to get it read. So, If I had done a TB test on Oct 15th (a Monday), I would have had to go back on either Oct 17th (I was in another town at another medical center that day) or Oct 18th, the DAY of my surgery in another town away from where the employer was located.  How could it be read on those days if I was not in Hemet? 

I was told on Oct 17th that the employer wanted me to get a TB test before I started work. No they didn’t tell me that.  They said they wanted me to START WORK on Oct 15th.  If they wanted the TB test results FIRST they sure didn’t tell me! I could have done that TB test done on Oct 20th. (I was in the hospital on Oct 18th Thursday, AND I stayed overnight to Oct 19th Friday. I was released around 3pm and got my meds and was home by 4:30pm that Friday). If I had gotten the TB test on Friday Oct 20th, I would have been read by the next Monday. Sure, I would have been in a lot of belly pain . . .since I couldn’t do any sit ups (for getting out of bed). I couldn’t drive for 4 weeks and no lifting anything over 15 pounds for 4 weeks!  But they didn’t want me to start that week on Oct 22nd! That was too late.   And I wouldn’t have been able to job shadow anyone since the person in that position was gone on Oct 17th in a new position.

And I thought the first employer I told you about was nuts? This one had no organization at all, no list or Excel spreadsheet of who to pick up, no list of names AND addresses. No pre-printed google maps with address from the center to their place of residence. Not like my former employer from 2004-2007. And I thought employer number 1 was bad? HUH! 

Oh, also. This job (the second one) required that I pass a class B license test to drive one of those huge 15 passenger vans. I drove one before for the 1st employer. They didn’t require any training. Just get in and drive! Was it fun? No. I hated it. I’m only 5 foot 1. I don’t think I’d ever want to drive a big 15 passenger van again unless it was life or death for me to get away from someone else.

And I don’t think I can ever go on an interview knowing that a job requires driving. I’m just not cut out to be a driver. Be here by 12noon. Well, what if there is traffic? is that my fault? Be here at 8am for that?  Can’t do that all the time in traffic my friend!  

I’m more for classrooms, admin and office work. I can tutor. I can teach, I can answer phones. Driving people around? Not for me. I’m not a taxi car or taxi driver. 

But I learned three lesson from this. Never think that your current job or boss, or coworkers are THAT bad. It could be a lot worse – more stressful – you could have another job with double the amount of paperwork you need to do – and your next job may be less structured! 

If you had an experience before and your gut feelings say “This is NOT the job for me” then do not apply for the position. Don’t waste the employers time on a job that you KNOW is not for you and too stressful for you. If everyone was cut out to be a doctor or fireman, we’d ALL be doctors and firemen!  Instead call the company and ask if anything else is open or if anything else is planning on opening up. Some employer may know if someone is about to retire. Seasonal jobs may open up. 

I learned to be much more open and honest with work when you are getting ready for surgery. If it looks like the employer doesn’t understand the surgery process, or getting ready for surgery, explain it to the employer. You don’t know what the employer is thinking. More than likely he or she is thinking “I need someone to fill this position fast” . So be CLEAR and up front. If you know your surgery will be very soon, but you don’t have a date yet, say something like this “I know you need to fill this position very soon, but I also am waiting for surgery and I don’t think I’ll be able to start on that date. But I can give you a phone call as soon as I know my surgery date. XYZ is my pre-op date and that day I will know when my surgery date is. Can I call you that day?” This way the employer knows that you are still interested in the position and that you want to make contact with the employer the second you get your surgery date.  

You don’t need to go into details of the surgery. Employers know that you need down time from surgery and depending on the type of surgery, it may be 2 weeks or 4 weeks and sometimes you can work with light duty. Don’t do like I did and assume the employer knows everything about the surgery process of getting ready with the blood typing. Just the blood typing and urine test and the pre-op paper work took me 2-3 hours from parking to leaving the parking lot.