Archive for March, 2015

Training in LA

March 17, 2015

I was dreading the seven days of training for my next job, part time, thank goodness. The first year I was a data collector for the study, the training was intense but great. Last year it was a boring rehash of the year before. The good part is the friendly and lively people who were the other data collectors. Judy and I always find a way to have a good time.

IMG_0479

Since I was working full time on my other job until Sunday, I wasn’t allowed to do the home study for the new job until I got to LA and picked up the materials. Judy and I spent the first night trying to figure out how to get into the training modules.

The first day wasn’t too bad, except we had one fellow who asked questions. I could understand it if it was his first time with the job, but he’d been doing it for five years! I know he wanted to share his insights with the newbies but I had no patience for it.

The first two days there were observers from the client company, so the mood was business-like. The next few days the trainer loosened up and turned out to have a great sense of humor. She knew the experienced people were bored but she h ad a job to do.

IMG_0466

The third morning I sat at a table with a trainer, a woman in her twenties who was a full time employee. I voiced my concern, and that of the other experienced people, that although they asked for feedback on the training, the company never seemed to get the message that the “old hands” needed a day or two of brush up and the new people needed the intense training. She replied, “There are a handful of experienced people who only need a brush-up but how would we decide who they are?” The fire burned behind my eyes at her insult but I said nothing. I was flabbergasted they thought so little of the data collectors. Most of us are retired educators with years of experience.

At breakfast the next morning I sat with some women who took a taxi to a shopping center. One woman had out her phone with a GPS and was trying to tell the taxi driver he was taking the long way around. He got upset and started yelling and cursing. The women bailed out and hailed another taxi. The first driver almost bashed into them on purpose. He rolled down his window and shouted insults and then followed them to their destination. Scary!

After six days of tedious training I was ready for some solitude. We got out an hour early so I finally made it to the Manhattan Beach before it was dark. Below are some plants near the beach that struck my fancy

IMG_0467 IMG_0468

It was a hot day, ninety degrees, so the beach was crowded. I walked out to the edge of the dry sand and stretched out my sweatshirt. I sat down, put my purse on my sweatshirt and put my head on my purse. I closed my eyes and all the people disappeared. Only the crashing of the waves permeated my consciousness. I meditated on the soft sand, letting the pettiness of the day disappear.

IMG_0469

After a while I stood up and walked along the hard sand with my head facing out to sea.

Manhattan Beach Pier

Manhattan Beach Pier

There were many more people towards the pier. I walked up Manhattan Beach Boulevard. I tried to sit at the bar at Rock ‘n Fish but there were no places. I ventured next door into Mangiomo’s.

Patrick shook up delicious cocktails

Patrick shook up delicious cocktails

I sat at the bar and Patrick, the young and handsome bartender, made me a sublime Pisco Sour with egg whites, agave nectar, fresh lemon juice and Kappa Pisco. Aaahhh! I sipped my cocktail and remembered happy times when Susan, Elisa, Linda and I went to Costa Rica to celebrate our sixtieth birthdays. We drank lots of Pisco sours and mojitos.

My thoughts drifted to when Susan B lived in Manhattan Beach. In 1986 she wanted to meet the guy to whom I was engaged. So Dan and I took Emily and Elizabeth to see Susan and David here. I was crazy in love and saw the world through rose-colored glasses. There was another time, after the Crash, I took Eric and Nick but I forced the memory away.

I left the bar every five minutes to take photos of the setting sun.

IMG_0474

IMG_0475IMG_0476A man, about ten years my junior, sat on the next bar stool and ordered a margarita. Patrick made it the old-fashioned way, shaking it. The man drank the margarita in a few minutes and ordered a special martini. By this time I was entranced by adorable Patrick shaking cocktails. He seemed to enjoy the attention.

I ordered a cup of sea bass chowder, cream based. Yummy!

A fellow at the end of the bar ordered a Caesar salad but sent it back because it had scallops and he was a vegetarian. The couple on the other side of me, (who’d already ordered bottled sparkling water, cocktails, calamari, and entrees) asked the bartender to send the unwanted Caesar salad their way. Patrick pretended not to hear them and the salad was whisked back to the kitchen. They couple have been hungry and rich because they ordered the Caesar salad too.

I ordered the smoked pheasant nachos. IMG_0478There wasn’t much food but it was exquisite and filling. My bill for the three items was thirty-two dollars, a bit steep for me, but well worth it. I caught the trolley back to the hotel feeling refreshed and my optimistic restored.

The Single Senior Works Overtime

March 9, 2015

I took a temporary full time job  supervise student assessments tthat ran from November to March 6. The first week was training in LA. I was on overload and information I was supposed to absorb didn’t make it into long term memory. I was worried. Did this mark a mental decline that had started a while ago and I hadn’t noticed?

I had manuals to study, three thick ones. I couldn’t get myself to do it. Not much else was required for the first few weeks. In December I was to call the clients. Some of the calls went well, others didn’t. My level of anxiety was raised but I relaxed during a two week holiday hiatus.

In January I sent out the required emails and was almost feeling comfortable. Then the equipment arrived. The three cases each weighed 46 pounds. I know.  I put them on a scale.

The work load exploded the next week. At the same time the website we and our clients had to access kept crashing. This infuriated the clients, many of whom who did not want to be bothered with the study to begin with. I had to reschedule planning calls, do the clients’ work as well as my own, and hope that the supplies for the project would arrive in time. I was feeling less competent by the day. A few planning calls went well, but most didn’t. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The plates were all up in the air and crashed down all at one time.

Since I’m single, I had no one to help me lift the cases into the car or take them out when I got home. I twisted the wrong way the first day and my back complained. I also had to hoist them onto counters to charge the nine tablets, unwinding the charger wires at night and plugging them in and winding them up in the morning. I had to lift these cases into my Honda Civic along with large boxes. When we started the fieldwork I drove to the site as if I were in a nightmare at a package delivery firm.

The good part was the team I had assembled. Two women were friends whom I had supervised when I was in the school system years ago.  Marlene took charge of the ancillary equipment and I didn’t have to think about it. Sharon, with her background in counseling, took care of any kiddos who were having problems. Audra was new to me. She was a bit shy in the beginning but she joined in the fun. We did a lot of joking around to dispel our frustrations. The team was flexible, effective, and worked well together. That was my salvation the first week the project was activated.

This was a technology based assignment with tablets and everything that could go wrong did. I was a first name basis with the people on the national HELP desk. Tablets froze, wouldn’t take the passwords, people started without listening to the directions, and data was lost because the monitoring laptop did not correctly show which tablets were disconnected from the network. At the fourth site in the first week a tablet froze and when my team tried to reboot, it took the client back to the beginning instead of where he left off. I was on the phone with the HELP desk and totally frustrated. I told the person I had to hang up because I didn’t want to cry on the phone. I took a short walk in the hallway to get myself together.

I’ve always felt competent in my working life. After a while on a job, I was a high achiever whether it was as a teacher, public librarian, storyteller, school librarian, nonfiction writer, college teacher or principal. My only crisis of confidence is as a fiction writer. I was flummoxed at my inability to solve the technical problems and grasp all of my duties. I called my boss while driving home the day everything went wrong. She convinced me that it wasn’t my fault.

I had a cohort with whom I could be honest. I called her, and lo and behold, she was feeling the same way. I decided to relax and give myself a break. The job would end in a month. The most fun was working with my team. Building an espirt de corps is my forte. I knew where every El Pollo Loco in the Valley is located and I got them hooked on that juicy chicken.

Problems, new and old, continued. Some were beyond my control and others came from mistakes I made. The world did not fall apart.

I was jubilant the day I shipped the cases, my computer, printer, and all the boxes back to the company.  My boss wrote a grand evaluation of my performance.

I proved to myself I could learn new and complex skills. I was able to handle the cases even though I’m only a weekend work out person. I have the stamina for a job that was seventy hours some weeks.  I feel terrific but I’m ecstatic it’s over.

Check out my book, Reinvented Lives, available on amazon.com, my

website at www.annieweissman.com