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To Degree, or Not to Degree? That is the Question.

Having a degree DOES matter

TO DEGREE, OR NOT TO DEGREE? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

 

Today, I met a new gal at work and we began to chat. She told me that she was 22 years old and had just recently completed her degree in English. Thus, our conversation regarding books began. Yes, I knew there were three Bronte sisters. Yes, I knew the “conspiracy theory” surrounding Shakespeare’s work actually being written by Marlowe. (Or a handful of others.)

I thought that Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations did not live up to MY expectations, and that Lady Chatterly’s Lover lacked a good climax.   I did not read War and Peace, but I have read Orwell and feel he paints a very clear picture of what we can expect in the very near future if we aren’t careful. Yes, I have read plenty, and I think that the young gal was a bit surprised.

Don’t get me wrong here. This gal I was conversing with was sweet, and far from haughty. There was still an element of underlying intent on her part to impart to me that she was far more knowledgeable about books than I was-which was inevitably met with my return serve.

One might think that this is a good argument to prove that one does not need a degree to be knowledgeable about anything.   To a large extent, this is true. I think it’s important for anyone with a degree to be cognizant of the fact that they are no smarter than anyone else. (Perhaps more knowledgeable in certain areas, but that is it.) More importantly, they are not better than anyone else. And I think, that for the most part, people with degrees do not think they are smarter or better than anyone else.

Sadly, I think there are far more people who do not have a degree that are intimidated (I use that term loosely) by someone with one, and immediately ASSUME that the person with the degree thinks they are smarter than they are. I don’t believe that the reality of the situation is as close to that as those without degrees would like to think.

Yes, there are a lot of jerks out there. Some have degrees. Some don’t. Some who have degrees flaunt it with arrogance and take the stance of superiority. The ones who don’t flaunt whatever they’ve got just as fiercely as someone with a degree, in their own attempts to attain superiority.   People are people. We all use whatever we have to try and get ahead, especially in the work place.

Yet, there seems to be this growing movement against getting a degree and people with degrees. I have seen plenty of videos and posts on Facebook postulating that for a young person to start their lives out with massive debt is stupid.   That with the age of computers and Google, we have vast amounts of information at our fingertips and so going to college isn’t even really needed. You get the point. On the surface, these seem like valid arguments, right?

I have mountains of debt and owe “the gov” over thirty-five thousand dollars in student loans. The payments per month are staggering, at over $600 per month. I mean, that’s more than my rent! Financially, I am no better off than before I got my degree. I made more money, but all that extra money went towards paying the loans. To me, that’s the beginning of an argument for free college tuition for anyone who wants to go and gets good grades, but that’s not what this is about presently.  For a young person, I don’t believe that’s a big deal. Because once the loans are paid off, that extra cash is then yours. Not only that, but as you gain more experience in your chosen field, you can be promoted and make more money as well. I will also add that I was no longer having to work crummy jobs for nothing. My work environment had improved along with the pay, even if I wasn’t necessarily better off financially. Let’s not assume that all students end up in debt, either. Many of them get scholarships and grants, and/or mom and dad pay their tuition.

So, what about having all the information I would ever need at my fingertips? Well, I think that’s only true in degrees. I love Google just as much as the next person. I am a naturally curious person, and I use that search engine all the time. Pretty much anything I want to know, is there. In bits and pieces. Sometimes, it’s not.   Sometimes, Google gets it wrong.  And sometimes, a mere sentence or two found by Google just doesn’t cut it, either. So, I can only partially go along with this argument also.

I think the biggest misconception is in assuming that access to information means education is no longer needed. One does not necessarily lead to the other.

Take for instance, my new co-worker who has her degree in English. She didn’t go to school and merely learn how to dissect sentences, correct grammar, and read a bunch of classic novels. Anyone who thinks that is being naïve. She also took her math, science, and humanities, etc. The point is not merely about information. It’s about being a well-rounded human being!

Okay, anyone can be well-rounded without having to go to school, one may argue. Sure. I’ll go along with that. But are they doing it?   How many people pick up a book beyond high school? Or make a real effort to be a better person, other than the occasional diet, going to the gym and working out, or travelling?   Which is not to discount those things, by any means. Yet, I think it’s true that growth and being well-rounded goes beyond being physically healthy and travelling. Maybe those are poor examples, but that’s the best I’ve got off the top of my head.

Did you know that the rate of divorce decreases with the amount of education each person in the relationship has? Did you know that education benefits a society as a whole, and there is a correlation of higher education with decreased poverty and crime? Education is not a four-lettered word!

I can personally attest to one thing. Working in an office of people with degrees was far less dramatic and difficult than working in an office where most people did not. The mentality and attitudes were just different and more mature. (Maybe respectful is a better word than mature, but sometimes, mature was definitely the word.) What do you think caused this, if it’s “just a piece of paper”?

I again defer to my new co-worker. While she may have been surprised about my knowledge of books, there was no need to argue over who was smarter, or right, or anything like that. We both knew better than to even entertain those ideas.

Getting a degree is not just about getting all “learned up,” or even being a well-rounded person. While a lot of liberal schools are basically brain washing a lot of their students today, (I won’t go there) higher education can be a good tool for teaching you how to think, and how to become a CRITICAL thinker. (I don’t mean being critical of others, either.) It’s about figuring out what you really believe. It’s about knowing who you really are-because when you get those difficult questions thrown at you and you have to write a paper on it, you’re going to give it some thought instead of picking up your next doughnut and plugging in to the next video game.

It’s about sitting through hours and hours of lectures with profs who are boring, eccentric, militant, or out to prove something. It’s about learning to get along with said professors and figuring out what they want, so you can pass the class. It’s about spending hours and hours reading textbooks. It’s about spending hours and hours doing research and being able to write papers that back up your opinion, instead of just throwing crap out there because it rings true to you. It’s about sleepless nights studying for tests. It’s about jumping through the hoops to get your financial aid in order, and getting your classes lined up, and scheduling, and writing essays for grants and scholarships. It’s juggling a job and trying to keep your grades up. For a lot of people like me, you can also throw raising kids into the equation. Most people do this for Four. Long. Years. (In my case, it was five, because I basically had to start all over.) It gets old pretty fast, let me tell you. I would venture to guess that this is a big part of why a lot of people never start, and never finish.

It’s about PERSEVERANCE. It’s about finding out for yourself what you are made of.

I’m sorry, but for those of you who think it’s just a piece of paper you pay for with dollars and it means nothing, I think you’re wrong. It’s exponentially more than that.

I’m not saying that a person must have a degree to do well in life, or be intelligent, or be well-rounded. One is not essentially dependent upon the other in either direction. There are people with degrees who end up working at McDonald’s and people without them who do extremely well.   What I AM saying though, is that it doesn’t really make much sense to point to ANY small group of people and reason that there is a correlation that does not exist, and that the solution is to do away with that group of people. (Ultimately.)

Yes, the debt of the matter basically stinks. I get frustrated about it all the time. Yes, I can Google anything I want and pretty much get the answers I am looking for. But I am so glad I got my degree. I wouldn’t trade it for Google, even if they paid me. I was forty years old before I finally got it done, and I STILL learned things about myself I had never even considered. I learned SO much. I don’t regret it at all. And what I learned-they can never take away from me.

So, you Nay Sayers can go right ahead and poo-poo getting a degree all you want. Those of us who can think critically are able to see how flimsy your arguments are. Not only that, but to try and influence people against bettering themselves mentally is not only ignorant, but harmful to a society. It is not just a piece of paper. Higher education matters. Even to you. You just don’t know it yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Nightmares

Nightmares

I didn’t know where I was, except a hallway somewhere.  It was completely black at both ends and the walls were white.  A single dimly lit bulb flickered above me.  There were no doorways in the hall, and there was a dirty brown indoor-outdoor carpet beneath the wooden chair I sat upon.  I was afraid, but I didn’t know what I was afraid of.  It was something I could not see.  I could only feel it.

Then, all of the sudden, Whoosh!  It was like an incredibly powerful burst of air came at me.  It was so strong, it knocked me over backwards in the chair.  It happened in an infinitesimal moment.  I did not even have time to blink.  No time to try and catch my fall.  It was almost like I flew from the chair backwards-instead of just falling with the chair.  It was I who knocked the chair over as I flew up and out behind it.  My hair flying wild about my face, and my arms…I don’t know where they were.  It was like there wasn’t even time to try and grasp for anything.

I lie on the floor unable to move.  I am on my back, and an invisible force is upon me.  My whole body, from my head to my toes, feels pressed to the floor from above me.  The truly frightening part was that my jaw was clenched shut.  I desperately wanted to scream.  To say something, anything.  But I could not.  I tried to squirm, but my attempts were futile.  I was too in shock to cry.  I lay there desperately trying to open my mouth to scream, over and over again.  To no avail.  It was worse than someone merely holding their hand over your mouth.  No, my jaw was actually shut tight.   My teeth were firmly planted upon each other, not moving, as if they’d been glued together.   I could at least breathe, and it came in heaves of terror.

I could not see anything.  Not because I was blindfolded, or I had my eyes closed.  My eyes were wide open, but there was nothing there.  There was nothing but heavy,   invisible air upon me.  It had no shape or form.  Yet I knew it was something evil.  Why me?  I thought.  What does it want?    I had no idea.  I looked up at the bulb hanging from the ceiling.  It seemed much brighter now.  What was happening to me?  Was I so afraid that I was petrified and that was why I could not move?

The only thing I could hear was a ringing in my ears.   It was void of any sounds of movement as I squired, or attempts to scream I made.  Not even any guttural noises from my throat, or the sound of air moving through my flared nostrils.

In the distance I heard a phone ring.  At least I thought I did, but it was far away.  Then, another ring, a little closer.  Yes, that was definitely a phone!  It rang again, but where was it coming from?  I couldn’t make it out.  Then the ringing became louder and louder as I began to wake.  I was in my bed, and it was very early in the morning.  My husband, who was a communications center operator in the Marines, had been working nights; he must be calling to check on me.

I knew the phone had to have rung a few times already and I didn’t want to miss his call.  I sat bolt upright and flung my legs over the edge of the bed.  I stood up quickly and took a step to walk over to the small table in the corner of the room to answer it.  My body crumbled to the floor in one quick spell like laundry thrown down the chute with me still in it, crumbling in a pile at the bottom.

I shook my head trying to figure out what had just happened, and the phone continued to ring.  I could not move my legs!  I tried again to pull them up underneath me.  Nothing.  I twisted my upper body and started to pull myself with my elbows across the worn out carpet towards the phone.  I did not want my husband to worry, but I quite honestly had no idea what was happening to me at the moment.

I pulled my body with my dead legs behind me up to the small table.  I reached up to grab the receiver, holding myself up with my left elbow, and quickly said, “Hello?”  He was gone.  The line was dead.  I hung the phone back up disappointed.  My husband was a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton, specifically, Camp Horno.  He was a comms center operator, and yet communicate with him was often difficult.  (In more ways than one sometimes.)  There was no way to call him back.  I hated that.

I sat on the brown indoor-outdoor carpet in our little studio apartment in Vista, California.  The sun was just beginning to come up and squirm through the fabric of the cheap curtains.  My husband had been working nights for a while now; and I was often afraid.  We didn’t live in the best neighborhood, but at least it wasn’t the worst, either.  The little apartment complex of 8 units, 4 in each of the two buildings, was set back behind some houses off the road.  You honestly had to know where to turn if you were going to get there.  It was surrounded by houses and behind a 7-11 store.

Despite the fear I felt having to sleep alone in that place at night, it did not compare to the fear I felt in that dream.  It was not the first time I had had a dream like that; but it was the first time I woke to find myself actually paralyzed physically.  Of course, I could not recall trying to get up before, because it had been the middle of the night.  There was NO way I was getting out of that bed if I didn’t have to!  I would rather cover my head with the soft fuzzy blanket or the pillow, try to think of something happy, and fall back asleep.

When Bob was home, I could just curl up to him.  I loved being able to do that.  He was a strong and husky guy.   He wasn’t afraid of anything that I knew of.  (Except my dad!)  He almost always had his back to me, and I could scoot over behind him and spoon him.   I breathed him in, and felt the warmth radiate from his body often.  It was especially nice when it was cold.  Not that it happened much in California, but it was great in the -30 degree winters of Wyoming.  I loved his muscular form, and that he was bigger than me.  That he could protect me.  But could he protect me from this?

The answer was no.  He could not.  In fact, sometimes, the nightmares were now of him; cheating on me.  I would catch him and cry uncontrollably; screaming and pounding on his chest.  All the while, he is laughing at me.  I would wake up from those dreams and cry.

As time went on, we fell apart.  Turns out, he actually was cheating on me.  A lot.

I would eventually remarry a really great guy.  He was genuinely in love with me, and I had no doubt of it.  He loved my daughter, just like he was hers, even though her father and I were now divorced.  It was a good thing he did, since her biological father was noticeably absent from her life.  He even adopted her.  For the first time in my life, I actually felt at peace.  I knew I was loved, and that I was loved by an honest and trustworthy man.  I was so blessed.

And then, the nightmares stopped.

A Terrible, Awful, No Good, Very Bad Day

The adult version. Alexander had it easy.

If you read my last blog, you know that things are not going well at my current job.  Nor have they been working for temp agencies in general of late.

I currently work for a lady who I believe to be addicted to serious prescription pain meds.  She has told me she takes morphine, but I don’t know if it’s true, if that’s all, or what the deal is with that.  She can be so contradictory in what she says, I have a hard time believing her anymore.  I just know that she shows definite signs of a person on drugs.

She’s is either exhausted, or doesn’t feel well-or both, every day.  I think she’s been in a good mood and feeling well 3 or 4 days in the last 7 weeks.  She comes in late almost everyday, and leaves early.  I don’t think she’s worked a full day since I started.  Maybe once or twice, but that’s it.  My biggest complaint is that she just won’t train me.  She will give me the bare minimum, and then go outside to smoke.  (She literally takes a smoke break about ten times a day.)  So, I have to keep going back to her to ask her “what about this,” or “what do I do here?” all the time.   I believe she finds it annoying to be bothered to help me; not understanding that if she would just make the investment, she wouldn’t have to be bothered so much.  (I guess.)   There are times she acts like she has already shown me something, and gets snippy with me, when she hasn’t shown me diddley-squat.

She goes around acting like she is SO busy and overwhelmed, yet she has time to take a million smoke breaks, come in late, and leave early.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

Last Friday, she took the whole day off, and I was on my own.  Needless to say, it didn’t go so well; and I ended up in tears.   I figured a customer would probably tell her, so I just told her myself.  This was met, not with concern in how to help me, or figure out what I need.  But rather, “This was only one day.  What are you going to do when I am gone a week?”   Despite my attempts to minimize her comment, it was met with only one big, “Hmmm.”    Not reassuring, “What can I do to help?”  Or, “What do you need more training on?”  Nothing like that.  Just a condescending, “Hmm…”

Monday, 06/19/17:
I went in to work this morning with my nerves on edge.  I was breathing, but I felt more like I was holding my breath.  My whole body seemed ready to respond to an attack at a moments notice.  My arms and hands felt tingly, almost like my body wanted to shake in fear; but it wasn’t quite there.

I arrived early and sat at my desk doing busy work, waiting for Jan to come in and drop the bomb on me.  When the clock said 08:30, I told myself, any minute.  Then 09:00 came, and still no Jan.  I wasn’t concerned.  Jan has done that plenty of times before.  But I saw Fred pull in the lot in his Hummer, then turn around and leave again with the production manager, Bruce.  I had never seen that happen before.

My mind began to race, and my imagination ran wild.  I imagined that Jan was at a restaurant getting the table and Fred and Bruce were joining her so they could have a little meeting.  The topic of discussion?  Firing me.  They were asking Bruce if he could help out with the inventory and such to help ease the load a few days until Jan got someone new in there.  Hey, I wouldn’t put it past them! 

At 09:15, Fred and Bruce returned and went back to the shop.  Jan still wasn’t there, nor had she made any contact with me.  I was now wondering if she was ok.  Finally, at a quarter to ten, she waltzed in.  I said good morning to her and she would barely make eye contact with me; and gave me only a small wave of her hand in response.  Great, she’s in a bad mood.  Again. 

I find myself doing “busy” work, because I don’t really have anything to do.  I haven’t since about 08:30.   I went out to the shop and checked some parts we needed and verified it with the guys, just to make sure.  I then sent Jan a message on Slack telling her the guys need a hydro valve ASAP, and I needed to know where they were purchased from so I could either go get them or get them ordered.  Then I got online and tried to read up some more on some of the machines and how they work, etc.

I supposed there are a lot of people who would think that because I am overweight, that I am lazy and love that down time.  You would be wrong.  I would much rather keep busy than watch a clock.  Especially when it’s only 8:30 in the morning.

I kept thinking for a while that at any moment, Jill was going to call me over to her desk and give me my walking papers; but she never did.

The day went pretty much like any other day.  I went to pick up the parts we needed and came back to find all the time sheets on my desk so that I could go around and get signatures from the 3 other employees they have besides me.   Jan saw me out in the shop doing this and said, “Oh, the time sheets.  I spent half the morning doing those.”   “You spent half the morning just getting here!  Then you sat at your desk with Fred and ate breakfast like you normally do.  Then you took an hour to do 4 time sheets.  Yeah, you must be just wiped out from all that work. 

I kept my mouth shut.

I went to lunch and decided maybe I could relax…a little.  If she was going to fire me, it probably would not be today.  And, given the fact that she wants to take a week long vacation in August, she would most likely be making an unwise choice to fire me and try to start over and try to get a new girl trained by then.  Maybe I could stop being so worried.  Maybe I have until August.  But I wouldn’t hold my breath that it could be any longer than that.  Especially if that week goes anything like last Friday did.

Later that afternoon, I ask Jan how to find out what the shipping price was for an order I had shipped directly from Graco to a customer.  You look it up in the FedEx website she says.  I wait for further instruction.  I wave my hand towards my computer, indicating I am already on the FedEx page, and she stands there saying nothing.   “So…how do I do it?”  I ask her.

“I’ll worry about that later,” she says, and turns to walk away.  “I have too much to do.”

What she had to do, was visit with her friend, she calls “mom.”   “Mom” shows up about twice a week around 3:00 and stays until Jan leaves.   Mom was there, and Jan would rather visit with her than show me how to do my job.   That’s how Jan rolls.  Why should I be surprised? 

I realize that what I thought was going to be a great job, really isn’t so great; and I ask myself why I am staying.  Why do I even want to?  I am not happy, and I am stressed.  I don’t have the tools I need to do my job, and I work for a couple of Fruit Loops who find fault in and complain about their employees all the time.  I get yelled at and snapped at, more importantly.  I find myself wondering what they must say about me.   I have no doubt they have plenty to say about the stupid, lazy, fat girl.  Especially Fred.  He calls everyone an effin idiot all the time.

I have always been the girl who stayed too long.  I have found myself in relationships I knew were just not healthy, let alone thriving, and just kept on trying to make it work.  For what?  Why was I always doing that?

Here I am again working for a man who has told me to shut up twice already when I had said nothing that would warrant it, who complains about everyone and calls them idiots; and who orders me around like a child in trouble, adding, “Now”‘ to what ever he wants me to do.  I work for a woman who doesn’t want to train me, likes to slam things around when she gets frustrated, tells her customers to go to hell (and other things) behind their backs, and calls other employees stupid herself.

No.  I don’t really like it here.  I like that it pays better than anything I have found so far.  I like being able to pay my bills, and that’s it.  But there has to be something else.  Something where the management can at least act a little more professional.

Then, I feel guilty.  If I find a job before August and leave, then Jan may not be able to take her vacation; and she’d be mad.  God only knows that woman needs a vacation, but I doubt that would change the way she acts much.  And why should I suffer for that woman just so she can take her vacation and then fire me as soon as she gets back?  That woman will throw anyone under the bus in a heartbeat, and here I am worried about ruining her vacation?  And how is it my fault that Fred can’t be bothered to staff this place appropriately?   

That’s how ridiculous this is.

She would be hot if I up and quit right now, there’s no doubt about it.   But I have to wonder; is that really my problem?  I feel stuck.

Wednesday, 06/21/17:
Today has been the worse day ever…so far.  I have barely walked in the door and am still getting my computer up and running when the phone rings at 08:03.  It’s a guy named Bryan we have just built a rig for, and are actually in the process of building another for him as well.  He’s a BIG customer.  His rigs are decked out with chrome everywhere and full of state of the art equipment.  His rigs are high dollar.  Aside from his two rigs, he’s dang near the only business we’ve had since I’ve been there.  There was one other small rig and a cart, and some other piddley stuff; and of course, repairs at $85 an hour plus parts, and the parts we have been selling to other customers.  That’s it.

Ryan asks for Fred or Jan.  Of course neither of them are there.  He tells me that they had a hose burst and are down on the new rig we just built them.  He’s wanting to know what we are going to do about it, and when.  “My guys were supposed to be up and running on a job at 7:00 a.m. and they are just sitting there.”  He says to me.  He’s being nice, but you can tell he wants a resolution to this problem as soon as possible.  I tell him that I will grab one of them just as soon as they come in.  I know Fred won’t be bothered with a call, so I know I am depending on Jan.  I pray she doesn’t wait til nine or nine-thirty to come in.  I decide to text her just in case.  She texts back a couple of short minutes later and merely says, “I spoke to him.”

Jan walks in about 8:40 and makes sure I know she had a “really bad night.”  She goes on to explain that she was getting ready for bed and was trying to change her clothes and got twisted up in them: falling on her night stand, hurting her leg and her shoulder and breaking two of her acrylic nails off.  She holds up her hand for me to see her nails; apparently the only real damage from the fall.  Obviously the only thing she seems concerns about.

The phone keeps ringing with orders, and I get the stuff and ship them out.  It’s been a busy morning.

A bit before 10:00, Jan gets a call from her friend she calls mom.   She’s been in a car accident, and has no real family to speak of, so Jan has to leave and go get her.  Right after she leaves, I hear Fred on the phone with Jan asking her, “Where is it?” and her replying, “It’s on my desk, written on my notebook.”   A few seconds later Fred replies, “Oh, here it is.  I’ll make a copy of it.”   Of course, I have no idea what they are talking about.

About a minute later, Jan texts me a number that is several digits long.  Then another text saying “he is needing to order some parts.”   I guess that means it’s a phone number.  I wonder how she has this number and knows this, since the phones have not been forwarded to her.  He must have called her cell directly and she just passed it off to me.  Should be easy enough, I guess. 

WRONG!  I tell the guy that Jan has asked me to call him and that I guess he needed some parts.  He affirms that this is so.    I ask him his name and he tells me Troy.

“Ok.  What can I help you with, Troy?” I ask him.

“Well, I soaked my spray gun in a crock pot of glycol ether, and I’m not sure what happened, but all my parts that were aluminum just melted or disintegrated.  I don’t think the crock put was too old.  I’ve only used it a few times.  I’m not sure what happened really.”

I listen to him, as he kind of stumbles around the little mishap he has had.

“So, I need you to give me a price quote on all the parts that are aluminum on that gun, so I know how much that would be.   I would also need a new trigger.”  He adds.

I sit there stunned.  I don’t even know what all the parts are, let alone what parts are made of aluminum and what aren’t.  I don’t know what to say.

“Since you are new, you probably won’t even know what parts I would need.”  He says.   “You may need to get with Jan on this.”

“Yes, I would.”  I tell him.  I have no idea where to even start.   “But I will get with her and then get back to you.”

“Ok, thanks.”  He says.  And the call is ended.  You have GOT to be kidding me!

I finish up some paperwork, and finally around 10:40 decide to take my break.  I hadn’t even realized it was so late.   I decide to step outside and check my phone for any messages and look at Facebook.  I haven’t even been out there five minutes and Fred walks out.

“I put a paper on your desk for some oil we need.  Call around wherever you can and find me some.  I need it right now.”  He says, as he barely even stops to tell me this.  So much for taking my break.

I go to my desk to find a photo copy of a page from Jan’s notebook that says:

Mattei Oil Aaron
8000F2

Great.  That gives me almost nothing to go on.   I am not sure what I am even supposed to be asking for.  I have no idea where to call either.  I get out my notebook with a few cheat sheets in it and begin skimming the page of places they order things from.  Nothing that mentions where to order things like oil.

I decide to call Premium Fluid & Power.  (Based merely on the fact that they have the word “fluid” in their title.)  Mike answers the phone.  He’s a good guy and has helped me with orders for connectors before.  I tell him the minuscule information I have and ask if he can help me.  He tells me that Mattei makes compressors, and that it’s 8000-F2, not 8000F2.  He tells me it’s a rotor oil. He then tells me he is going to check and see what they have.

About that time the security alarm in the office starts making this high pitched, constant scream.  I tell him I need to go ask my boss what’s going on with it while he is checking.  I walk out of my office into the shop to find Fred, holding the phone to my ear in case Mike comes back on the line.  I tell Fred the alarm is going off in my office.

“Did you find that oil for me?”  He asks.
“Not yet, he’s checking.”  I reply
“I need that oil right now.”  He says.   “Who are you talking to?”

I tell him Premium Fluid & Power.

“Tell him I need it right away.”  Fred yells back at me as I begin to head back to my office.

“That guy really needs to take it down a few notches.”  Mike says.
“I know.”  I tell him.
“He’s really out of control.”  Mike says.
“Yep.  Believe me, I know.”  I reply.

I get back to my desk and sit down at my desk to write down the information Mike was giving me.  They don’t have it but he thinks he knows who can help me.  He tells me there’s an equivalent and what it’s called and he tells me he is looking for the number I need to call.

Fred comes in and messes with the alarm to get it shut off and starts to walk out the office door.  Then he stops short in the doorway.  He turns to me and says, “Do you have an answer for me on that oil?”

“They don’t have it, but he’s getting me info for someone who may,”  I tell him.

At the same time, Mike comes back on the line and starts to give me the number.  Seven, Seven, Zero…

Fred starts yelling, “I need blah blah blah, and tell him nah nah nah.”    I am trying to hear Mike and write down the number and can’t focus on what Fred is telling me.

“Did you hear me?”  He snaps from across the room.
“No sir, I am trying to write down this number he is giving me, and I can’t hear him.”  I say, trying not to sound too insubordinate.

Fred slams the door and walks off.

“Wow.”  Mike says.
“Sorry about that.”  I say with a chuckle because I’m embarrassed.  “Can you please repeat that number.  I couldn’t really hear what you were saying.”
“Yeah, I bet you couldn’t.” Mike said.  “I feel sorry for you.  Good luck.  I hope you can get it.”
“Thanks, I think I’m going to need it.”  I tell him.

We end our call and I try the number he gave me.  No answer.  Just a recording I have reached, telling me the business name, and their hours, etc.  If it’s an emergency, call Barry or some other guy.  I hang up and wait a few moments and try again.  No answer.  I start calling other numbers in my Google search.  I either get no answer, or they don’t have it.  I got a guy named Garry, who says he’s driving, so he will have to check, but thinks they can help me.  He will call me back.  I try the number Mike gave me again.  Still no answer.

Garry calls me back and says that he has given my info to a guy named Steve who is going to do some checking and price it out for me and get back to me.  I thank Garry, and try the number Mike gave me again.  Still no answer.  I write down the cell phone number for the guy named Barry.

I call Barry and he tells me he’s working on a job out of town and that’s why no one is answering the office phone.  He tells me he could probably get me what I need.   I am excited, but it is short lived.  I ask him if there’s any way I can get it today.  “Negative.”  He says.  You forgot to call me Ghost Rider.  “I won’t be back in town until tomorrow.”

I tell him thanks, and take a deep breath.  I try a few more numbers I find on line.  No one has it.

Steve finally calls and says that they can get the 8000-F2 overnighted to us from a distributor in Ohio, but my boss wants it an hour ago, so that won’t work.  Steve tells me he has a DSL100 that is basically the same thing, but made by a different company; and they do have that in stock.

I go tell my boss, and he tells me that it won’t work.  He says if they don’t have the 8000-F2, to ask for CS300.  He follows me back to my desk.

“If you find something, call me on my cell phone.”

I look at him dumfounded.  I don’t have your number!
Ok, what’s your number?”  I ask, grabbing a pen.

He gives me a sideways glance.

“You just press this button on this phone.”  He says, reaching over me and pressing the button on the phone that sat on my desk, but I never used, because I didn’t know how.  I always carried one of the extensions around clipped to my pocket.  Using the mute button for a hold button, and then hanging up when Jan got on the line when it was for her.

“Oh, that’s your cell!”  I said.  “I thought that was your extension at your desk!”

He presses the button that says Jan next to it.

“If you want Jan, you press this button.”  He says.    I thought that was her desk extension too.

Jan’s cell phone is ringing, and she answers.  Fred tells her that she needs to teach me how to use the phone.  I can tell she’s not happy, but says, “Ok.”

I call Steve back.   They don’t have the CS300 either, but again, it’s a crossover for the DSL100.   He says he’s going to email this chart he has showing the different brands, and the crossovers that are comparable, and I wait for said email.  And wait.

I go out to the shop and tell Bruce, the production manager, that I am waiting on an email from a guy who says he is sending me a list of things we could use.  As I approach, one of the guys looks me up and down and says, “Hey.”  You know, that kind of look and “hey” that implies, “Guurl, you look FINE today.”   Dude, I am So not in the mood for your BS.”   I focus on my conversation with Bruce, who isn’t real receptive of what I am telling him.  He’s either convinced I am an idiot, or the guy I am talking to is.  Maybe both.

Jan gets back just before noon and I ask her if I should still go to lunch or keep working to find this oil Fred wants.  She tells me to go ahead and go to lunch, so I bolt before anyone has a chance to stop me.  I warm up my burrito in the microwave and then take it to my car and leave.  I’ve got to get out of this place. 

I head down the street and go to Lowe’s parking lot and find a place to park under a shade tree.   I am listening to another C.J. Box book on CD.   This one is called Blood Trail.  It’s the last disc and Joe Pickett is getting closer to finding out who has been killing all those hunters.  I have a hard time concentrating on it though, because I am so upset.  After a few moments of listening to it, I decide to run to the convenience store about a block away and get an energy drink.  I need it. 

I return to the Lowe’s parking lot and park under a shade tree again, listening to my book and trying to decompress a little.

When I get back to work, I have that email from Steve about the oil, so I write him back telling him I appreciate it, and send a copy to the production manager.  Frank told me just before I went to lunch that he was now turning the issue over to him.   Should have done that to begin with instead of yelling at everyone here.  I thought.  Bruce knows what he’s doing.

Bruce writes me back and says thank you, but there’s more involved in getting the right replacement oil than just weight.   I seriously doubt he even bothered to open the attachment and look at it.  Dude, I know you need synthetic and all this other BS; I have been educated just a little by the umpteen people I have talked to this morning! 

Instead, they had sent Andrew on a road trip two hours away to get a replacement oil.  I don’t remember what it was called, but it wasn’t the CS300, either.  I do know that.

I emailed Steve back and told him I was sorry, that they had decided to go a different direction, (Literally.  By two hours one way) but that I had passed his info on to the production manager, and would keep him in mind should we need anything else.   I can tell he’s disappointed, but it was out of my hands.

I remind Jan that Troy wants a list of all the parts he will need to rebuild his gun.  She tells me that she knows what he needs but she just hasn’t gotten to it yet.  I also remind her that a guy who called on Friday looking for a filter for a compressor, still has not been called back either.  This is met with silence.  Seriously?  These guys are going to be calling again, wanting to know why we haven’t gotten back to them.   Let me guess.  You are going to blame ME.

I go back to my desk and run some credit card payments and try to figure out the cost for shipping on the FedEx site.  Still finding nothing.  I do some filing and make a few calls, as well as take a few and sent out an order.  When I was caught up, I went looking for Jan to see if she had something I could do.  She wasn’t at her desk.  I found her in the back room counting inventory.

I go back and ask her if there’s anything she needs help with.  She tells me that she is just counting parts because she needs to get a jump start on getting all this stuff counted, or we will be screwed.  But I need help finding a shipping amount on FedEx, I need training on the phones,  I need help finding a filter for a compressor, and parts for the guy who melted his gun!  You have already said we are going to have to work at least one Saturday to do inventory this month.  Why are you choosing NOW to count parts?!?!

Jan still had not answered my question.  She makes a comment about how she has to go make a spreadsheet and type out everything she was writing down afterward too, in her best complaining voice.

“Do you want me to help count?  Or would I just be in the way?”  I ask hesitantly.

She tells me she has already counted the wall behind me and is working on a box of stuff in front of her.  That I can do the shelf in front of me to my left.

As we are counting, Fred walks in all Jolly and light.  He starts going on about how all of us were looking for oil for two hours this morning and what a waste of time and money that was.   Uh!  Excuse me!  You mean I was looking for oil for two hours this morning!  ME!  Not all of you!   He asks Jill if she ate lunch and she tells him that she had been too busy, all grumpy-like.  He offers to go to Taco Bell and get her something.  Sure.  Kiss her ass.  She actually did come back from getting her mom and taking her wherever she took her with a bag of food.  She just didn’t eat it.  But who am I to say anything? 

I keep my mouth shut and keep counting.

Fred is going on about how he’s buying a house and Jan should come by the house to see if she wants any of the things they are getting rid of that they don’t want to move.  Jan is not really paying attention.  He then tells her there’s a boat dock, and asks her about what the word convey means in the terms of the contract of the house they are hoping to buy.   She tells him that she needs to finish what she’s doing and then she will help him.

“It means to transfer.”  I interject.  “The question is whether or not they are saying they will convey the boat dock over to the buyer or not.”

All of the sudden, Jan has time to discuss this with Fred, and she walks back over to her desk and they keep talking about how he needs to find a place real soon, because they are closing on the house they are in within a couple of weeks.

Jan and I are all done counting and typing up the item numbers and how many we have in stock by 4:00.  Then I hear music coming from Jan’s office, and it’s pretty loud.  I go back to see what she is doing, and she is on YouTube, watching music videos.  She is watching a rendition of Hallelujah and tells me she shouldn’t watch it, because she will cry.  That they played it at her brother’s funeral.  Then why are you watching it?  You could be training me!  I immediately felt selfish and insensitive, but still.  I suppose I could have asked her what happened to her brother.  But I didn’t.  I said nothing.  I stood there and watched the video with her a moment, and then went out in the shop to get the pick sheets for the day from the guys so I could enter the parts they are using to build the rig into the system.

Jan actually stays until about a quarter to five.  Though I have no idea why.  She wasn’t doing anything work related.  Whatever lady.  As she is walking out, she sees that a walk-in customer has come in and left a box on the counter.  She asks me if he forgot his stuff.  I tell her no, that he was getting me a business card.

“Why is he doing that?!”  She asks me incredulously, almost yelling it at me.

“He wants me to give him referrals when people call wanting their house sprayed.”  I said.

“Oh.”  Jan said.  What the hell, lady?  What did you think he was giving it to me for??

“I told him I would have to check with you to make sure it was ok to give their names out, but if he wanted to go ahead and give me the card, go ahead.”

“Oh.   Yeah.   Sure.   I give their names out all the time.”  She says, and then keeps heading for the door.

On my way home, I called a friend who’s birthday was today.   I had hoped to call him all day, but never had time.  I could have on my lunch break, but wasn’t in a good mood, and didn’t want to be a Debbie Downer when it was supposed to be a happy call.  After we hung up I started looking for a convenience store.  The small burrito I had for lunch wore off about 4:00 and my stomach had been hurting with hunger pangs.

I stopped and got a slice of pizza, and then went over to the coolers to find something to drink, not seeing anything I really want.  I can’t believe how much a bottle of soda costs these days.  I scan the shelves for the smalls cans that are often cheaper, and more along the size I want anyway.  I walk all the way down and reach the cooler of beer and some wine coolers.  I had not seen any small cans of soda.  I start to walk back the other way and still don’t see any.  I walk back down to end where the beer and such is.  I’m not a big drinker.  I can go months without drinking and I won’t miss it at all.  I have never really liked the taste of beer, although I drank plenty in my early twenties while hanging out and partying with my friends.  As I have gotten older and less prone to be influenced by peer pressure, I have gone to not drinking much at all.  And, if I do, it’s usually wine or something like that.   I contemplate whether I want to drink or not.

I think about my day, and how much my week so far has actually been one for the record books.  I think about how just today, in an attempt to help me, my mom has sent me two emails for job fairs for a grocery store and something else, I can’t remember.  Although, I doubt she has taken into consideration when I would actually be able to go to one of these job fairs, since I have to work for the devil and his mistress.

I try to remember the name of that book I once read when I was young.  It sure has been a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day.  (Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.)  I grab a 25 ounce can of Straw-ber-ita.  I may have to become an alcoholic to get through this.  Here’s the adult version.  Alexander couldn’t drink!  

Also, unlike Alexander’s story.  I’ve no words of wisdom for you here.  I’m too tired and beat down to figure much of anything out, except how to open my can of Straw-ber-ita and wash my dinner down with it.

Yep, that’s the answer to my problem today.  I’m not saying it was a good one.  But for now, it would have to do.