Friday, March 18, 2011

The worst job I ever had

I was sitting down eating breakfast with my Grandfather the other day. I have to consciously remember not to tweet the gems of wisdom he gives me -- when I pick up my phone he shy's away from talking because he thinks I'm either not interested in what he is saying, or am talking to someone else. So now I have been bringing my voice recorder with me every time I go over there. So my voice recorder now has random poems and song ideas I start while I'm driving mixed in with some of my Grandfathers stories. 

He was asking me about my job, and I was expressing how unhappy I was in my situation. I started telling him about what I went through on a day-to-day with the people I work with: one of my brothers who saved me from unemployment when I was pinked slipped working in the UC system, and who also taught me one of the most valuable lessons I learned while pledging -- pay it forward; I carry that with me to this day. The three counselors who work in the revolving door of Academic Review (in my time, those three positions were held by seven different people), and then there was the older women that held the same position as myself -- she was the bulk of my frustrations at work, however I did get a lot of positive feedback from people who loved reading about my misery in working with her on twitter through my #joanism tweets.

So between working with the older woman, and dealing with the students that have attitude problems, professors who are pretentious, and parents who feel they are entitled to everything under the sun  because they pay tuition (despite FERPA regulations) -- its gets to be a bit stressful, and it starts to wear you down and it affected my personal relationships. That's where I was -- short tempered, stone faced, low energy -- and that's what I was telling my grandpa about; mainly venting about the root of my frustrations; having an inept co-worker with no common sense.

It made him laugh, and triggered a few memories he had from his working days. He told me, "you'll never find common sense in the work place." He proceeded to tell me a stories about some of his experiences working with bosses and corporate executives with no common sense that made his job more difficult than it needed to be.

He'd say, "now, this could be because I'm not 'educated' and didn't finish high school...but, me going out of my way to sell only one crate of soda to a guy at the corner store was more important to these execs than me hitting the other higher traffic stops on my route and selling and extra 5-10 more crates to each vendor....they said it was about volume...they want volume...what do I know? ...they want the one crate sale over the 10 crate per vendor sale. I wanted the bigger commission check" ...he then told me how he got the guy who refused to buy no more than one crate to become a regular 3 crate purchase every time; but got in trouble for doing it. He said, "how do you get in trouble for bringing in more business?"

There was a custodial position he applied for -- the hiring manager told my grandpa that he was the best candidate to apply, but he couldn't hire him. When asked why, he told my grandpa, "well, I'm Mexican, and you're Mexican...I dont want them to think I hired you just because you're Mexican, too." Thankfully, my grandfather still got the job.

We went on with stories for a couple hours, and I told him "you know grandpa, I think this is the worst job I've ever had..." He took a moment and drank his coffee. He stared off into what seemed to be a day dream while he was looking out the sliding glass door and then said to me, "until you've been the guy holding the sledge hammer as the cows come into the slaughter house, you can't say you've had the worst job you've ever had."


Anonymous said...

considering the status of the economy...definitely pay it forward man.

Anonymous said...

This story moved me for many reasons. Thank you for sharing. While I was reading I was thinking about how our familial stories are woven with testaments of knowledge and complex issues. Reading this generational dialogue I appreciated how in the midst of your sharing and frustrations your grandfather used his own experience to as a means to relate and provide wisdom and advise.
There are times we think our family doesn't understand our moments in school, workplace or with relationships. But specificity aside - issues with love, racism, aspirations and frustrations are similar themes each generation deals with just "masked" differently.

We need to turn to our elders and empower there experience as you did. Native Americans do things in the framework of a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, as does experience. An elder told me while things work in circles it its your responsibility to acknowledge what happened before you [know your history] and perpetuate change [social justice] forward so the cycle changes in our community. I believe parallels the idea of "paying it forward".

Read this recently and thought about it in conversation with your post,

"For people of color have always theorized - but in different from Western form of abstract logic [...] we create, in riddles and proverbs, in the play with language, since dynamics rather than fixed ideas seem more to our liking" - Barbara Christian "Race for Theory"