I'm not even sure where to start. A lot of things have happened. When I was younger, I thought work was going to be the easier part of life. I could not have been more wrong. Last night I attended a mandatory meeting after I got off of work. Right away people asked if I was okay, I must have looked really bad because I was asked numerous times. Each time I explained that I was just really tired. I didn't know anyone other than the people at my branch. The store was dirty, they had ordered pizzas and the entire place smelled like old grease and electronics. It takes a while for people to get there and the meeting to start. I'm one of the newbies so I'm asked to go up front and tell a bit about myself. My boss warned me that this was going to happen, I wasn't super serious about it and don't know how that came across, retrospectively, I don't know that I actually care.
Thankfully I was able to stand by the people at my branch for the first part of it. Then we had this scavenger hunt that I thought was kind of stupid, but whatever. Our district manager gave a speech and I saw him in a new light. Today I learned that some people I work with got into trouble for what started out as mocking someone else which is never a smart or cool thing to do, but sometimes people do things against what seems like better judgment in hindsight. I have no idea what kind of a situation I'll be walking into tomorrow, but trust that I will handle it with as much grace as possible. In other news, a friend of a friend that I know slightly asked if I was interested in helping someone get organized. Then she said something about him wanting to meet someone, and I thought that I explained I would be happy to help with the organization part, but did not want to be set up with anyone.
The guy sent me pics of his place which was trashed. This guy doesn't need organizational help, he needs a maid. Apparently he thought that he could flash some cash at me and I would race over there to pick his shit up off the floor. He even made a joke about it and I replied that if my teens rely on me to pick up their things, it gets donated, or tossed. I gave him a couple of simple solutions and then he replied that he wasn't expecting me to say that, which made me feel even more manipulated. He went on to ask what I look like in real life and what I do for a living. I didn't get back to him, and eventually blocked his number. Looking back I can see that I misunderstood my sort of friend's comment, and she obviously thought I was consenting to more than just organizational services from this dude. I don't care if he's offended and I really don't care if she is either, I am hot about this. Asking for help is fine, asking me out is fine, but don't lead with one in an attempt to get to the other.
Racism and sexism are often so ingrained in someone, or a particular culture, that people view challenges to these allegations as personal attacks, which to be fair, they are. The other day I was at work when two corporate employees entered. They both shook my hand, but made no real effort other than that. They went over to a table, sat down, and started talking about Very Important Business Matters. Two other men entered, we had customers of our own, they could have gone in back to discuss their 'work', but they felt entitled to one of the best seats in the house. Our district manager came over to me, asked how it was going, didn't really pay attention to my answer, and then started in on a discussion about TV. We are supposed to sell it, and I went on the defensive when he started asking me about my lifestyle which hasn't included TV since I got divorced. I thought I should just be honest with him, but he kind of looked at me with a funny expression before telling me that I should probably get TV at my place.
After hearing that I didn't know anything about it, he wanted me to do a demo. My boss gave me an opportunity to get out of it by asking if I felt comfortable with it. I know from experience that any time you show weakness to your opponent, it doesn't go as well for you as if you are very brave. I took the remote and botched the demo badly. The district manager told me I obviously didn't know the product, then went off into a tangent that included a discussion on how many people have expensive smart phones and go out to eat every day, but can't afford TV and other (not sure what he said here, but you get the idea), because they had no idea how to budget. All of the corporate people are standing behind us watching the drama unfold. I had a silent moment of smug smirkiness when my boss told him that I had one of the oldest phones we still carry, and I bring my own lunch to work.
The conversation ended very poorly, as one might expect I was humiliated, alienated, almost in tears, and my boss was stuck between two hostile parties squaring off on the sales floor. I could tell that he felt bad, I did, and I walked away in a bitter and angry rage because when your employees are poorly trained, I feel like good leaders and managers own that which is what my boss did when we had a moment. I went about my day, but I was far from calm. Later on I was asked for a tape measure. I asked the DM if he had the measuring app on his phone, not to be snarky, but because it was a big deal when I first started. I found a tape measure in the tool box, went back to observe my boss talking to his customers, but I could feel eyes on me from across the room. Once or twice I looked up and made eye contact. I held the gaze because bigger people than this guy have fired me, and I wanted him to know that I wasn't afraid of him, or anything he might do to me.
On his way to the restaurant next door he stopped and asked me how my children were. It takes a lot to leave me speechless, but he managed it with one sentence. I was so angry and infuriated that I literally could not get a single word out to answer him. He said something else, I have no idea what, and I said that I prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate. One of the guys who had come in earlier tried to tell me that the next time he came in he would spend some time with me instead of ignoring me. I kind of nodded at him, walked away when they walked out, and I'm sure my boss knew the meltdown was coming because he was waiting near the end of the counter. It's easy to upset people. It isn't hard to make people feel crappy about themselves, or to get them to question if they have made the right decision about a new job.
Either I hugged him, or my boss hugged me. I spent the rest of the day either fighting crying jags, or giving into them. My boss told me my experience was not unique, and a lot of others had gone through what I did, and harbored resentment because of it. I told him I was over it, on some level I was, but on another very deep and personal level I wanted out. Long before my shift was over I had an excruciating headache, my stomach was upset, I didn't know if I was going to make it until closing time, but somehow I did. I drove home in a daze, tried to get to bed early, and then ended up snapping at the girls because I really needed to get some sleep. It's funny what stress does to people. It seemed surreal that I had to be back there the next morning, but I woke up determined to have a better day than I did previously.
I guess if there is a silver lining here my boss and I got through an incredibly difficult situation together, and I saw that he was willing to take ownership of his part in the situation. I'm so glad I studied as much as I did even though it didn't end up coming across that way. My district manager put me on the spot, but he knows that I am intelligent, and I really don't care what these other guys think because their opinions aren't going to influence how I feel about myself. I know I could do their jobs and do them well if I had the training, and the next day when I was talking to one of the other guys I work with, we had some good conversations about people at work, their good points, shortcomings, and ways to move forward. If I had to guess; I'd say that my boss and I have very similar personality types. I would put money on us both riding the NTJ/INFJ line. It's kind of funny to see/realize, and I'm not positive, but I like this theory so far.
My guess is that one of our top sales guys is an ESTJ. He doesn't tune in to his own emotions, or those of anyone else. He has very little capacity for empathy, which is completely unlike the other guy who I think might be an INFP, or possibly and ENFP. I'm positive about the NF combination, and pretty sure about the P preference, but have more trouble with the I/E border. My mom is an ESTJ, I see a lot of similarities between her and the guy who can reduce training to flow charts, and outlines. He's a concrete numbers guy, and that's how he sells, are people getting the best value for their money? We have had a lot of fun together, but sometimes he is off in his own little spreadsheet world while I am off in a completely separate universe. He's not a particularly deep thinker, but he can carry on an intelligent conversation when he chooses to which is handy in this line of work.
He comes in, does his job to the best of his ability, and I'm so grateful for someone who isn't as emotionally conscious as some of the other guys. It means he misses out on more nuanced takes, but we need people who can see a list, or a goal, and start thinking about ways to get from here, to there. I think there's more to him than may initially meet the eye, but it's not my job to figure him out thankfully. He can be super fun to work with, he can also be very cold and almost heartless, but since I don't perceive him as actively malicious, I recognize that he's just trying to see if there is something in it for him, and if not, he's learned not to bother with a great deal of effort. Even though that sometimes bothers me, it's actually been a great experience since I tend to do the opposite and take on all sorts of things that burden me and wear me down in the process.
I've thought this previously, and still believe it to be true. If we can get past these learning curves, I think that we will eventually be an exceptionally good team. We need the facts and figures people as well as the empaths. Yesterday a woman came in with a teary face, but when I tried to address the emotions, she pushed them aside. It turned out that she had a terrible experience with another employee from a different store. She was still upset about how he had treated her, and after the guy I was working with and I had helped resolve her tech issues, we moved on to the residual upheaval. She said she didn't like her email address just because he had set it up for her, we explained that she could try calling Gigantic Fruity Tech Company, but it would be a lot of hassle, and not much gain for her.
She was my last customer of the day and I found that fitting somehow. I drove home in a better frame of mind than I had been, tried to lie down for a while, but couldn't manage to fall asleep. I have no idea what the future holds, but I am finally in a place where I feel like I belong although that's not the best choice of words. Maybe it is more accurate to say that I am needed. The other day my boss said that a friend of his had once described him as an eggplant. Not many are fans initially, it's an acquired taste. He said even though he cringes whenever I start talking to people on the sales floor, he stops to remind himself that this is a good thing. The other day we had a customer who seemed very down. Even though he claimed to be okay, I challenged that by saying he didn't seem very okay. We went over to discuss his phone options. He had been with us and moved to another carrier where the service wasn't as good.
I learned that he was out of work, owed our company money, and had fallen on some hard times. Having recently been fired, unemployed, and gone through countless job searches, I had a great deal of empathy for him. I don't know if he will end up coming back to us, but as I explained to my boss, I had to give him a reason to return. It was going to cost him extra money to come back, so I didn't have financial leverage. Many people need emotional support. This is very easy for me to provide on the sales floor, I gave the guy a side hug after I told him it looked like he needed one, and as we walked to the door I told him that I believed in him, and when you hit rock bottom, the only way to go is up. Whether or not he comes back to us or not, his experience there was a positive and probably unexpected one. Maybe I'll never be the sales person others are, but I felt great about how I handled that and realize it is a gift I have.
At the end of the day I told my boss that if he was eggplant, maybe I was a mushroom. I value what he and others bring to the table. We have our little skirmishes, sometimes it is me, other times it is them, at times it is nobody's fault, just the way that things are. I'm always going to be sensitive and emotional, others are going to be who they are. At a fundamental level, I believe it is best to embrace who you are and what you do well. I'm learning how to make my emotions and ability to perceive the energy levels of others work for me rather than against me. The empath at work said that my boss should be promoted instead of some others, and I agreed with him. It's funny how often companies think that good sales people are also the people who are good managers. My boss is an exceptional manager even if he doesn't really ever tear up the sales floor.
I took a break from audio books and got really into old love songs again. Work and home life was so stressful I gave into the emotional support the music provided. One thing that is great about working with a group of guys is the daily drama is gone. We have our little things here and there, and sometimes even big things, but for the most part, if someone needs space, they get it, and once again I have to give my boss credit for asking if people need to talk, or would rather not, for some reason just having the opportunity makes me want to refuse even if we often end up discussing things anyways. We've had some great conversations about anything, everything, and nothing; and I am extremely here for that. I mostly took a break from the dating scene after the last guy ended up trying to tell me I was molding him into something he didn't want to be.
He was interested in a friends with benefits relationship, and I'm following a new rule I learned recently; I am only into people who are also into me and a committed relationship. I'm not saying anyone has to sign on the dotted line after meeting at Starbucks, but he might try a better line than asking why I didn't drive over to his place to take off his ugly sweater. The other night when I was at the rally I saw someone who was looking very intently at me. No matter what I did I could feel, or even observe him watching me. I don't know what, if anything, I did to warrant that kind of attention, but I did not like it, and I made sure to stick close to the guys I worked with and the one other person I actually knew while I was there. Sexual tension with the right person is amazing and tantalizing, but it has to go both ways.
- Hey, can you help me?
- That's not what you do?
- Ok, it's cool, I see.
- But you're still talking,
- so I stay, listening,
- watching eyes that
- seem to be watching me.
- I leave with paperwork,
- folded in half, knife sharp,
- like creases in a dress shirt...
- He keeps telling me that
- he's going to be there when
- someone takes me down,
- pulls me apart, makes me
- cry. I'm annoyed because
- I've been doing this for a
- long time. I think I'll be
- okay, and I am, until the
- moment I'm sobbing in
- the safety of his arms...
Him: "Sorry we can't finish this up tonight, but you'll need that paperwork first."
Me: "I'll bring it in tomorrow. I'll stop by after work."
Him: "It looks like we'll see each other then."
- "Hi Jessica, how's it going?"
- I comment because
- it's expected of me. He starts
- talking about TV, I'm not
- comfortable with the
- conversational turn, but
- I'm trapped. He looks at
- me as if he can't believe
- what I just said. When
- the only tool you have
- is a scalpel, the cuts are
- deep rather than broad.
- I'm drowning in hot
- emotions, my boss is
- there, but he can't save
- me. Nobody can. Before
- lunch he asks me about
- my kids. I stare at him,
- my mind whirling while
- blood drains from my
- face. The day goes on,
- but I am living in a
- nightmare that has
- come to life. Caught
- in a web of my own
- untimely spinning.
- Somewhere, I hear
- piano music playing.