The Lolo Show

Living La Vida LoLo

Enabling Dreams Part 2

Lois Burak - Sunday, April 02, 2017



In Part One you were introduced to the proverbial elephant in the room - my story.

 Anyone who has made the choice to be a caretaker of a terminally ill relative can appreciate the challenges associated with re-entering the workforce. When my mother came to live with me after her cancer diagnosis over seven years ago we began to habitually  lean on each other.

My working history at the time was on and off. I was fortunate to have built solid relationships that enabled me to work freelance jobs in various capacities and the small amount my mother received from social security covered my household expenses. Shortly before she passed, I began to worry about securing solid employment. I did not suspect she would suddenly leave me; frankly, it came as a complete surprise. The financial strain was a bit overwhelming as a result of the difficulties with the investment properties I own and my inability to dedicate myself to full time employment.

I had just about become a hermit. Alienated and isolated from the outside world. So when the opportunity presented itself to bring back The LoLo Show I was thrilled. It would be my outlet and I would continue submitting air checks hoping there would be interest and the powers that be could see I was staying relevant within the industry.

Mom unexpectedly passed in November. Still grieving, carrying the weight of many I am finding it difficult to find steady work. I’m networking, publishing LinkedIn articles and on job boards daily as well as creating accounts with companies so I can take their stupid assessment tests. Formalities that ask things like "How would you handle a disgruntled customer?"  Meanwhile more than half of the stores I’ve shopped, I cannot help but wonder if their associates failed their version of this formality. 

FINALLY I get a call from Natalie at Manpower. She tells me that they have an opening at local warehouse for shift work.  The entire process is a little degrading. The Manpower associates are matter of fact. You’re treated like you’re a piece of merchandise that gets boxed and passed around in the warehouse for which they are hiring  -which is ironic because there are signs on the walls that advertise and intimate how much Manpower respects their workforce.

I realize that time is running out when it comes to my bank account and I have to bite the bullet when it comes to working at anything to raise up the funds within. I’ll bring my resume and who knows, maybe they’ll have something else available, concentrating on all of the positives that I'm hoping for.

I decided to dress down, in past I was passed over low paying jobs because HR believed I would not stay. So I decide I should look the part...  I’m told by Natalie I have to show up at the warehouse the next day preferably wearing steel toe boots for orientation, after that I’m to report to LabCorp for a Drug test. That was fast, I guess I dressed the part.

 

While I’m there, a middle age man comes in and checks in to see if they have any open positons. She tells him there is nothing available at the moment. Apparently he’s been laid off from the same place for which I’m interviewing. Well, it wasn’t exactly an interview. I sat at a small desk across from Natalie and there were three other people on laptops within an arm’s reach. She looked at her computer more than she looked at me. 

Here was the extent of Natalie’s questioning:

 1. Have you filled out a profile with Manpower?

2. Do you want to be paid with a Manpower Card or direct deposit?  

3. Which shift would you be interested in working?

I had the choice between the first and s the second shift. I chose the second because it brought the pay rate to the grand amount of $9.00 per hour.

As I left I still had hope that another, more fitting opportunity would come through within the next twenty four hours. My immediate focus was to make ends meet by being able to pay my bills - not save for a luxury vacation. Growing up poor as a kid, I had to learn what items at the grocery store were “taxable” we weren’t able to buy a lot of those items because it wasn’t covered on welfare. Cutting back - making sacrifices is second nature to me.

The next morning I said my prayers and went on my way to the warehouse orientation. I arrived early and sat in my car. I’ll be honest it was hard to hold back the tears. I even gave myself a pep-talk and was committed to every reason that this was going to work.

A positive spin - it was VERY close to home and I didn’t mind a job that I would be out from behind a desk. I had worked out how my senior dogs would be cared for while I was away from home and I would choose the job of “picker” where I could be in my own little space…able to think while I did my work. I didn’t even mind second shift. 

A lot of my reservation came from the fear of something new and different. I knew each step in the process would eliminate that fear and I’d be fine. 

After security checked me in I waited with the others in the lunchroom. I took the time to wander and scope out vending machine choices and acquainted myself with the surroundings. As I sat I thought about many things from the past - my ex of ten years who had a warehouse job when we met. How much he hated it and how I encouraged him to go to school and learn a trade.  As I looked around at the depressed demeanor and facial expressions of some of the employees sitting down for lunch I couldn’t help but focus on one particular memory of him - the first day at his job as a tradesman with a good company.  I will never ever forget how proud he was to go from warehouse worker to professional tradesmen. Just the mere change of uniform had him standing taller than I had ever seen.

That is when I had to fight back tears. Finally Mr. Orientation shows up, asks everyone to gather around him and if we are wearing steel toe boots. There are 5 of us, I being the only woman. No one has steel toe boots so Mr. O (I’ll call him) leaves for twenty minutes to get steel toe slip on galoshes and safety vests. I almost left, but at that point I talked myself into staying convincing myself I was a spy. 

I don’t know, maybe I expect way too much from people. 

 

There’s an obvious disconnect between Mr. O and Natalie. He makes a derogatory comment regarding the lack of information she has given us. It’s hard to hear him above the loud noise of the warehouse, but he is really selling the company. I hear how clean the warehouse is and the emphasis on safety. 

I hear that there is a lot of opportunity including being a lead and other higher paying positions, telling us the key is "showing up". I am the only one of us that has never worked in a warehouse. Mr. O has us follow him through each section and also tells us they are in need of second shift. I think to myself "Awesome!" He emphasizes the need for us to get our drug test done, and the entire time never makes direct eye contact with me.

I leave disappointed. Orientation did not include training but understanding only that we still have to pass our drug test.  Still praying that something more suitable will come through, I think about bailing on the drug test. Not that I think I’m better than any of the people work there even though you’re made to feel that way by the people who hire them. Truthfully, I miss being the person who enables the dreams of others, getting people out of situations like I now find myself now. The pay isn’t enough to get me out my current situation but it will keep me from getting deeper into my financial hole. Despite all the conflicting feelings I move forward and knock out the drug test later that day.

Friday morning Natalie from Manpower phones to congratulate me on passing my urine and background check.  She then tells me the bad news, second shift is no longer available at that location and I can be put on a waiting list. I challenge this information telling her Mr. O told us that second shift was needed. She tells me she’s aware of who walked us through but gives me two names and that she is in contact with them every day and this is what they told her. They were cutting back at that location but if I wanted the second shift I could work at their other location. Where is that? I ask. Natalie tells me it’s on the same lot but the second shift work at that Warehouse is under $9.00 per hour. I’m thinking, what kinda bait and switch bullshit is this?!

I tell her that is not cool and she answer’s me with “Have you ever worked in a warehouse before?” I couldn’t control myself…I told Natalie,  "Manpower needs to be more respectful of the candidates and it doesn’t matter whether you’re a warehouse worker or an executive -  you should be treated with respect and not jerked around. I am in a tight spot and I am a hard worker, someone reliable who the company would be lucky to have. Put me on your waiting list for the $9.00."

 

Why did I want to open up and tell the world about this horrible but humbling experience? There are people out there that aren’t effected by financial hardship that have no clue what it’s like out there. They have no clue how their treatment of someone leaves a long lasting impression and can adversely affect a person.

I pray that I am in a position soon where I can once again enable the dreams of others…either or I will make eye contact with people, listen to them and offer a warm demeanor. Something this experience was lacking. 

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