Friday, April 7, 2017

Adjustments, Readjustments, Plodding On

When I started this blog, I had my dream job. My husband and I traveled quite a bit. We were always busy doing something, going somewhere. I was ambitious. I wanted to make a difference. Looking back, the title of the blog didn't fit.

The past few years have brought big changes to my life. If you followed my blog because I was in HR, you might want to disconnect now. If I blog after today, it will likely be about my dogs, health care, or an everyday something.

Cancer came first. It still lingers in the back recesses of my brain, day-by-day. I made it past the 5-year "clear sailing" mark, and I'm able to purchase life insurance again, but it's still a scary monster lurking in the shadows.

We lost my mother-in-law a year later. I miss her quiet, sensible, calming influence.

The month after she passed, the company my husband and I worked for was acquired by a competitor.  I spent the next year stressed and sick, until I finally quit.  In the interim, I've done some part-time HR work, and I started a soap and candle company.  It felt good, building something.

After the 15 or so years of health issues that led to the cancer diagnosis, I thought I was finally going to feel well. It didn't last long. Just 18 months ago, I started struggling with fatigue, pain and swelling in my hands, feet, knees and shoulders. It traveled, and waxed and waned. After three months of dr visits and lab tests, I finally got confirmation on what I feared. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I will deal with this chronic, debilitating, progressive horror for the rest of my life.

My life is much more compact now. I have days I can barely move. I've had days I couldn't hold a hairbrush or a toothbrush, and needed help to dress. I've always been a bit needle-phobic. Now I inject myself with medicine every week, and take a handful of drugs each day.

Today is a good day. I have a great husband and cute pets. I can move. I can type. I'm at my shop, happy the sun is shining.

Mundane = check. Real = check.

Monday, October 19, 2015

If You Employ People

If you employ people, pay them on time. Every time. Even if you have to jump through hoops to make it happen.

Yes. Really.

This is the most valuable piece of HR advice I can give.

Monday, May 19, 2014

One Secret to Good Customer Service? Don't Place Blame.

I just had a pretty negative experience. I did a small amount of freelance work for a company over the span of five days, decided the experience was not what I was looking for, and bowed out. I expected to be paid for the work I completed. I submitted the information requested for payment (actually, I submitted the information before I ever did any work), yet over a month later I still hadn't been paid.

Reaching out to my contact after two weeks, I was told she didn't know why I hadn't received payment, but that she would check into it and get back to me. I waited a week, and followed up with her again. She told me to contact the owner. I did. No response. I contacted her after another week. She apologized, and said she'd contact him directly about the situation immediately. After yet another week, I sent a final message. I said that unless I received a response by the end of the following weekend, I would broadcast my experience over my Twitter account - which has quite a few HR professionals following it. 

That final message prompted a cordial response from the owner. His response, although polite, placed the blame directly in my lap for the lack of payment. If they say I didn't submit payment information, that's fine. What is infuriating and unacceptable is that they could have said that in reply to my first contact attempt. He also took issue with how I contacted their company. As I told him in a final response, it is not unreasonable for me to contact the one and only person who has ever responded to any communication I sent this company. 

I also received a response from the main contact, the one who had been promising to follow up for weeks: 
"First of all, it is incredibly unprofessional to finish a request with a threat, ESPECIALLY in light of the fact that we are a very new company, not even launched. I understand your frustration. However, everyone else was paid for their week of work- YOU did not send in your info in a timely fashion as requested of you. That being said, obviously XXXX and I both are extremely busy and your messages to him were probably lost ................ I've just spoken to him again and he said he didn't receive anything from you but will pay you the $ you are owed if you have a paypal we can send it to. So please respond with your paypal email address and we will get that out to you."
All of these responses simply solidified my decision to part ways with this company. Instead of taking care of a pretty simple issue, they deflected the blame back to me in an antagonistic tone. If they had simply said, "We're sorry, we don't have the information we need to process your payment," I would have submitted it again. I would not have thought much about it - because they are a new company, and are trying to get their systems in order. It would not have taken much time or effort on their end, nor mine. Better yet, they could have reached out to me when they processed the payments (after all, everyone except me apparently got paid). If they didn't realize there was still a payment outstanding, what does that say of their accounting practices? The experience left a bad taste in my mouth, and I will go out of my way to avoid this company. I certainly will never recommend them to anyone. I sincerely hope they treat their customers better than their freelancers, or they will not be in business very long.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Winter Blues

To state the obvious, this has been a cold winter. My husband told me a few days ago that the normal high for late February is in the 40s.

Like most people, I prefer temperate weather. My definition of temperate is partly to mostly sunny, in the 55 to 80 degree range. Winters here in Northern Illinois rarely bother me all that much, as most of the days don't get bitterly cold. This year has been almost unbearable. The ten days we spent in Florida earlier this month seem like a dream, just a figment of my imagination.

We keep our thermostat set at 58 degrees at night, and normally no higher than 64 during the day. If it's set higher, it's likely we have company. My typical coping mechanisms are thick slipper socks, sweaters, sweatshirts, and blankets for the couch. Usually these things work. Not this year. My toes are cold. I'm wearing slipper socks with slippers over top of them. I don't really like socks.

I'm waiting, impatiently, for the weather to break. I need to open windows and let the fresh air inside.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dyson Repairs

Our Dyson DC07 Animal is a great vacuum, but awhile ago the hose ripped. Apparently it's a fairly common problem. I tried using tape to fix it..... but that was just a sticky mess.

Doing a Google search of the problem, I found this Instructable:

It worked like a charm - at least for now!

Since I was successful with that, I decided to change both the filters. The pre-motor filter was easy, as this is meant to be cleaned every six months anyway. The HEPA filter was a pain, but after some careful prying with a small screwdriver, I managed to get that done without breaking anything.

Another broken part on the vacuum was the clip holding the pre-motor filter in place. I ordered the new clip...... and couldn't get the broken bit out. Mike helpfully stepped up to the plate and muscled it out, again without breaking anything. 

So now, the Dyson is working like new! Good thing, since the new pup is already generating hair tumbleweeds.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Remembering Beans.

Twenty-two years ago, I was naive and had never experienced a tragic death.

What does that mean? To me, it meant that up to that point the only people I'd known who had died were either old or I didn't know them well. On September 30, 1990, that all changed. I received a phone call in the wee hours of the morning. My best friend had died in a car accident. She was 22 years old. She'd just graduated from college that May, had just started working her first "professional" job and was engaged to be married. In other words, she'd only had the barest taste of her adult life.

Back in 1982, during my freshman year of high school, I was seated behind Carleen Verstraete in French class. Alphabetical seating; a simple coincidence. That attendance-taking convenience for Mr. O'Connor changed my life.  I'm sure we were seated next to each other in other classes too, but French was where our friendship began. We quickly became as thick as thieves and remained that way until the day she died.

Carleen was the kindest person I ever met. She was not a saint by any means; she had a mischievous streak a mile wide and ten miles deep. However, she didn't have a truly mean bone in her body. She didn't care if someone was a jock, a brain, a stoner, or just an average kid. She talked to everyone. She was nice to everyone. Her smile lit up the room. I know you've heard that phrase before, and it sounds cliched. I don't know how to describe it adequately. When she was happy, truly happy, it was a sight to behold.

She was smart, but she had to study. Hard. She spent hours and hours working on homework, mostly at the kitchen table. She earned every single A she ever received, unlike me and some of our other friends. Where we would coast, she'd never think to do that. Integrity. She had it in droves.

Teenage angst? Yes, without a doubt, she suffered through it. She never thought she was thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough. She never saw herself the way the rest of us saw her, how beautiful she really was. I think she was finally, thankfully, growing into comfort in her own skin when she died.

I remember how much she loved fashion. She loved anything new and trendy, but always on the conservative side. Especially socks and shoes. One of her fundamental fashion rules (yes, there were rules and there were many) was that her socks had to exactly match her outfit. No "close enough." Off-white and cream are not the same color. Purses and belts were important too. It's the details that make or break an outfit, according to the rules of Carleen. And earrings! She had so many different colors, but here favorite pair was fairly plain - just a circle, half white, half gold. They had to be lined up just so when she wore them. We went to a lot of 2 for 1 sales, and as a result many of our clothes and shoes matched - they were just different colors.

Carleen was a happy athlete. She loved volleyball and basketball. She wasn't the star on the team, but she always gave her all. She never let her teammates down.

What I remember the most is how affectionate she always was. She was quick with a hug, whether needed or not. It was a breath of fresh air whenever Carleen walked into a room. She would try almost anything at least once. She was full of courage and trust.

Carleen and I shared hopes, dreams, troubles and secrets. We helped each other stay focused and confident. We believed in each other.  Carleen was one of my cornerstones. I treasure the eight years we had together, and I grieve for the outstanding woman she would have been today.

I miss her companionship. I've missed her every single day.

One of the letters I received from her in February, 1989, closed with, "April, I miss you a whole bunch and I wish I could call you up and talk to you for hours like we used to." Ditto, Carleen. Ditto.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday Movies

Saturday. Encore movie channel. 80's movie fun.

The Goonies, Big, and Highlander.