Friday, June 28, 2013

This Is What The End Looks Like

The speed level seemed to be changing. When did I take my foot off the gas? When did I stop paying attention to where I was and how fast I was going, enough to take my foot off the pedal without knowing it? Swinging my head from side to side, I'm trying to take in my surroundings and wondering how did I get two blocks from Lowe Street and not know it.

The minute I cranked up my truck and began to pull out, the wave of loneliness swept over me. I left the back parking lot and rounded the corner and there they all were, all the guys from the shop. Standing in a huddle. Looking as if they couldn't decide when they wanted to take that first step. The walk to their own vehicles and the unknown. I quickly looked away. I had already had enough of that today. Hugs and tears. And loneliness.

The company put on a lunch for everyone. Charles Colston, our Grill Master, did his always mighty fine job of smoking a gazillion leg quarters, and Piggly Wiggly was our caterer for the rest of the meal that consisted of baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and a cake. As I walked in the break room, I saw some of the girls, behind the tables, ready to serve, including our Plant Superintendent's wife Lari Davis.I could feel the unsteadiness in my legs begin.

Now let me take a minute to tell you a little bit about this cake. It was made by an employee of Piggly Wiggly here in Quincy. We have all of our worker lunches done by their Deli/Bakery Department as well as all of our cakes. But this particular cake was not made by just any employee.

When I started to work at Quincy Joist in 1993 there was a man named Dan Laracuda. Dan the Man they called him. Dan worked with us forever it seemed, even into partial retirement. He would work each year until he had used all the hours available in accordance with his Social Security benefits. Dan passed away several years ago, but his memory has remained hard-fast and strong for many. Today his granddaughter Jackie, who works at Piggly Wiggly, made the final cake for the final workers lunch at Quincy Joist Company. How fitting was that I ask you?

Before we ate our meal, our Plant Superintendent Phil Davis, addressed his workers, his teammates with a few words of thanks and inspiration. There was already someone waiting in the wings to give our prayer, but someone else interrupted to address Phil with an acknowledgment of his own. Acknowledgement for his kindness, his loyalty, his caring for their group, even given the short time he has been with us. Phil Davis did not arrive until late Fall of 2012, but he immediately took those guys under his wing, incorporated long overdue training, brought the influences of a higher power in his daily talks, and whatever he pledged, he delivered. It had been a long time, if ever, since those fella's received that kind of one on one treatment and today Phil was told just how much they appreciated him as well.

I cried during Phil's speech, cried during the speech for him given by Kevin Jones, and I cried during the prayer done as eloquently as any I have ever heard, by William Shiver.  My eyes were full of water for several minutes afterward, Phil and Lari's grandchildren sitting in front of me were a blur, and people were already gathering to get in line for food, while I was still sitting at the table dabbing my eyes.

Some office employees during this last week had brought their children in with them to spend the day.  Today was no different. One of our Engineers, Marlon Hill, brought his son to work with him, bringing a little joy and life back to the building.

But even he at the end of the day, had already had all he could take. And as I came around the corner and saw him napping, in one of the most conventional ways possible given we had no beds for him to lie on, I thought to myself, this is what the last few moments of "everything is really over" looks like. Devon Hill exemplified what the last day looked like without speaking or saying a word.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home-Sick, Life-Sick, Breath-Less ....It All Feels The Same

 Sometimes I want to go back. To the summers of sliding down hills on the tops of pieces of cardboard, cut from moving boxes. When you live in apartments, someone is always moving in or moving out. To learning to ride a bike. With one foot propped on the concrete curb, the other foot sitting unsteadily on the bike peddle. To Barbie Doll birthday parties in the apartment complex game room. To moving into our newly built home when I was seven years old and unknowingly about to spend all of my growing up years at the best place in the whole world.        

Right after I got married the first time, before I had my first child,  I wanted to go back home. Back to my beautiful girl room. Where the walls were painted a very pale yellow, the homemade orange and yellow quilt that covered my bed made by my mother and the butterflies that adorned my walls.  I called it homesick back then. Maybe that wasn't it at all. Because this feels like the same thing. But I am home. As home as I have ever been. Then and now. Maybe I was simply life sick.

Major life changes bring uncertainty. They bring intimidation, can take away confidence, and breed anxiousness. The minute they announced the closing of where my husband and myself work, I could feel my life spiraling out of control. Down into darkness. It's hard to explain how those words feel. It's almost like receiving news of a death. That may sound exaggerated to some, but I have spent twenty years of my life going to the same place, down the same roads and doing the same thing.

What will I do with myself now? I'll be fifty years old this November and I thought I was through proving myself, my value, and my worth. It seems like you have to spend the whole first half of your adulthood doing all those things and I'm tired. I don't want to do it again.

I suppose I could get just a "regular" job. Where I'm told what to do every day, do it, and go home. But I think we all know, that I am not one to be "told" what to do. I like being a Manager, I like guiding and teaching people, and I like the freedom. But with that freedom comes massive responsibility and quite frankly, I'm also tired of being in charge or responsible for the outcome of everything that passes my way.

Here within lies my problem. What in the world am I to do. Live freely, but on a budget much tighter than I am comfortable with, or live responsibly with too many calls and emails after I get home and not enough time to enjoy my extra earnings or my family.

Once more, I'm life sick. I want things to be like they were before. I want to get up and go to work facing problems, but at least they are familiar problems. I want to see the same faces everyday that I have seen for twenty years and I want to go home at the end of the day bitching about one thing or another, but loving what I do just the same. I want every day to end knowing what the next one will bring. I wanted to end my life of working simply, with the people I have grown to love, their families, their children and grandchildren. Not starting over with strangers.

I despise change. And yet change must happen all through our lives in order for us to grow. I miss tee-ball Saturday's something fierce too, but if we never got past those, or high school and college, how would I ever see grandchildren?  As I sit back and consider these things, my mind says, I'm not not the only one life sick right now.

My husband is about to turn sixty one years old, and he too will have to prove himself again. His plans of retiring at sixty two may be put on hold, he's tired, he's angry and I don't blame him.

I have one son trying to burst into the writers world just as hard as he can, slinging words and thoughts in every direction hoping something sticks and his dream will come true.  But in the meantime, he must have a job, so he too is subjecting his soul to strangers every single day hoping someone sees his value.

And I have another son who is about to embark on his college career, leaving a part of his childhood behind, wondering if the same laughter and joy will follow, and anxious because so many people still expect something of him, and wondering when that will ever end.

Life sickness. It probably never stops. Through jobs, marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren, aging parents, nursing homes and death. Life sickness, someone is always experiencing it. It's not letting it drag you down into it, that's the secret. It's keeping your head above the water, paddling as hard and fast as you can, and reaching for the lifeline that is being thrown your way. And it's looking for the rainbow full of life, color and miracles instead of dreading every new step you take and believing it's quick sand.

I don't know what I will decide to do. It's a fight to stay positive, a fight not to lay down and cry, and a fight to remember I have others who depend on me. But I'm tough. My Daddy likes to tell the story that when I was a little girl he would tickle me and tickle me, telling me that as soon as I hollered out  "Please Boss Man" he would stop. Story goes, I would turn blue and stop breathing first, because that would have been giving in. Even at the age of four years old, I knew that to do what he said, just because he said so, to make something easier, was not the right way.

Don't look for me to be giving in any time soon....even if my face turns blue.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Nothing is like it used to be. Years ago you could walk into a place of business, ask for one, and they would give it to you. You would sit there in their lobby, fill it out, and hand it back. Smile all nice and friendly for the receptionist, because you are friendly, of course, they tell you they'll let you know something in a few weeks, and you leave. You go to another place of business and do it all over again.

A week later, someone calls you on a land line telephone, asks you to come in for an interview, and if you smile pretty enough and say all the right things, you might get the job.

There is not one single thing about applying for a job that works like THAT anymore. You walk into a place of business and ask for an application, they look at you like you're a nut case recently escaped from a time capsule somewhere. And if you happen to get a young person (younger than 35) to assist you, they have to ask someone else more mature what is an application, why is the stranger in the lobby asking for one, and what should they say to you because you are obviously from another country. Once the mature person tells them what they should do with you, they come back to the lobby and tell you to apply for a job ON LINE.

Okaaaayyyyyy....ON LINE....what? Like on the computer? How in the heck am I supposed to find a job on the computer.  I mean I know I have learned to order my clothes "on line". And I have learned to listen to music AND stalk my Face book "on line". But look for a job? How impersonal is that I ask you?!

So my fate decided, I set about to find out where to go on line to look for A JOB. Turns out, there are special sites for job hunting. 236 sites to be exact. 

It was overwhelming
say th
e least.
Too many Jobs.Com for this ole' girl. So I talked to some of my friends and they explained to me that the first thing I needed to do was update my resume.

Well my last resume was done in 1993. Twenty years ago. One baby boy, 100 pounds and 12 clothes sizes ago. I didn't plan on ever needing a resume again, so NO, bunches of smartie britches friends, I hadn't updated it lately. I have to tell you, I felt very old and intimidated trying to get it done. For one thing, I had nothing to say about anything but the job I have had for the last forever. I felt so outdated and dormant. But it was all I had, so I wrote the words down and dared anyone to question where I had been the last quarter of a century.

Next step. I attempted to go to these 236 sites and download my resume. That was about 3 weeks ago. As of last Saturday, I had heard nothing to date, I am talking to my oldest son, frustrated, angry, and hurt, because no one has called or emailed me. We set a date for Sunday, to communicate via telephone and figure out what I may or may not be doing wrong.

We were on the phone for two solid hours. Ask me how many applications I was able to get done in that period of time. ONE. ONE APPLICATION. Because now there are three applications for every one job. One is for the site that you are asking to be a part of and receive information from, one is like a personnel file and one is the actual application. We had 90 minutes to complete it. Josh was helping me with my verbiage towards the end, and I was sweating it to the finish line!

Anyway, we got that one done, and now I was registered on the site. My son asked me how many other sites had my resume. I told him one in particular, that I done three weeks ago that was called Indeed.Com. He said  "well, lets check it, maybe something isn't right since you haven't heard anything". I give him my password, he checks it out, it's there, and he begins to read off all these job updates. I'm carrying on now, wanting to know why they haven't called me or emailed me. He's laughing, and through my rant, I'm beginning to laugh at him laughing at me. He said as gently as my sweet son could, "Mom, YOU HAVE TO CHECK THE SITE".

And there went the next ten minute rant / laugh fest. I was like REALLY? I have to do all that and STILL check with them? What are they doing for gosh sakes? Doesn't everybody have a job to do in this process? I give them my stuff....I fill out all these applications and THEY FIND ME A JOB...and CALL ME. That's how it should work. Right? I was cursing and carrying on about all these LIFE changes, how much I hated it, shouldn't just myself and my worth stand for something? Out and out uncontrolled laughter went on for a solid five minutes or more.

Looking for a job is HARD WORK people. It's selling yourself. And I gotta tell you, I was a lot more marketable product when I was twenty nine and pretty dang fine. I'm tired and worn out and I have Menopause issues. My rose colored glasses have long been tainted with real life. And to say that I have limited patience anymore is a vast understatement. I require soft soled shoes on my feet that hurt all the time, and my work area has to have an A/C that can pump out the cool like a AK47 machine gun. So you tell me how well these interviews are really gonna go ... if I ever get one.

But low and behold, IF I can't find a job in the 'new' conventional way, on the new conventional job sites, I can always fall back on sites that are more familiar and comfortable for me such as :



With a little bit of luck, and a whole lot of humor...I think I got this...don't you?