Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

A Sad Anniversary

Four years ago today, I wrote this blog about the death of my father, the Rev. Ivan Blaine Emily:

Over the last four years, I've often thought about the things that I should've done back then, like taking FMLA from work while he was hospitalized here in Indy; or even not going to work the day he died.  I sometimes wonder if it really mattered that I waited for permission to leave the job after the nurse called with the sad news instead of just leaving.

What really plagues me from time to time is the fact that I refused to allow Daddy to be put on intubation.  He had a DNR in place, but he also had a living will and made it very clear that he didn't want to be kept alive by a machine.  An intubation meant that he'd have a machine regulating his breathing, as opposed to the bi - pap machine he'd been on that was assisting his oxygen intake. Would it really have helped him come back to a measure of worthwhile living?  Or would it have just put off the inevitable?  It was my decision to make back then, being his power of attorney in that respect.  I know that refusing that measure went with his request and stated desire, but it also contributed to his death.  I contributed to his death.

Those same feelings of guilt have followed me around after making a decision to euthanize a beloved pet who was not experiencing a quality of life.  Was the decision made for their comfort, or just for my convenience?  Was the decision four years ago against the intubation made with compassion?  Or was it selfishness?

It always bothered me that I wasn't at his side when Daddy passed.  He wasn't alone thanks to the doctor and the nurses, but none of his family was with him when God took him Home.  It was a major regret.  After being present when his wife, my stepmother Rosemary, passed from this Earth, I'm still conflicted about not being present when Daddy passed.  Rosemary took these short, panting breaths and was on oxygen (not intubation, however), but never responded to anything anyone said to her.  She left us between one breath and the next; Robert was the one who realized she'd stopped breathing.  I often wonder if that's how Daddy passed - between one breath and the next.

The last few days of his life, Daddy wasn't conscious at all.  It stands to reason that he might have heard us talk to him.  At least that's my hope.  I hope he knew that he was loved and would be missed. He is greatly missed, and he was greatly loved - by me, his step sons, his brother and sister, his nieces and nephews, and his many friends.   He is missed greatly.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about him, or wish to hear his voice on the phone for his daily call - to hear him tell me to give Robert a hug for him and Mom and to pet the kitty cats so they'd know they're appreciated.   To discuss the Cubs latest win or loss (or IU's win or loss or Da Bears), to discuss politics.  I miss his laugh, and his smile, and his wisdom.

I miss my Daddy, plain and simple.

It's funny, we never think that our parents will ever leave us.  They seem invincible when we're children; strong, wise, powerful, vibrant.  We see them age as we do, yet it still doesn't seem possible that they will eventually get gravely ill and die.  My father was my hero in many ways.  He had faith in spite of the challenges Life threw at him.  He beat cancer for 27 years and more.  He believed that to lead souls to the Lord, he had to be an example of Christlikeness.  He never smoked, or drank, or did anything else that was against the Commandments.  At least none that I ever knew of.  There's not a lot of people one can say that about.

And he was a happy person.  When he smiled, it was genuine.  He didn't form opinions about people just because they might believe differently, or were of another race or belief.  He formed opinions about people by their actions.  Even if he disagreed with someone, he never looked down on them.   He could be firm when necessary, but gentle as well.  He did the hard things that had to be done, despite the personal hurt it cost him.  To this day, I am protective of his memory - just ask my poor husband, who got quite a tongue lashing last evening for making an off the cuff remark about Daddy's opinion of our current lame duck President.

It's been four years since he left this Life.  Sometimes it feels like centuries, sometimes like minutes.  I know he's better off.  There's no more pain, no more illness, and he's reunited with Mom.  I'm sure he looks down from time to time and shakes his head over what goes on with me and with the world.  The love is still there, but it's not the same.

Hell, probably a few readers will think this is nothing but a selfish pity party and it's time to get over it.  Do you ever really get over the loss of a loved one?  Does guilt over the things you didn't do and should've done ever go away?  .

This day is very hard for me.  Once upon a time, it was just another day highlighted with 'May the Fourth Be With You'.  Now it's a little more intense for me.  I'll be glad to put the day in the rear view mirror for another year.

I miss you, Daddy.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Reflections

It's been awhile since I wrote anything in this blog; mainly because I was hesitant to write much of anything since one family member has a tendency to 'rat me out' to my aunt on the things I post.  Some of my blogs have really unnerved her, so I took a break from it.  In fact, I wound up taking a break from a lot of things in Life due to fighting challenges to my spirit, psyche, and emotions.  Loss of jobs, continued mobility issues from the bone spurs in my knees, my birth mother's continuing psychosis, and a deep sense of loss from Daddy's death in 2012 and the loss of my step mother last September put me in a pretty big depression.  However, things in life are looking up, and I find myself facing another Easter without Daddy.    It makes me sad in thinking of another Easter without him, but I also remember how special Easter was to him. That's why I'm writing this blog, to share with you some things about what Easter was to me.

You see, even as a child, I knew that Easter was more than jelly beans, colored eggs, and chocolate bunnies.  It was the advent of Spring - even if sometimes we were shoving snow on Easter Sunday - and it was a time of renewal.  This Sunday  marks the 2016th year since Christ rose from the tomb after sacrificing himself for our sins.   I won't post the story of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus here, the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) do a better job of it than I can.

Those of you who know me know that my father, Ivan Blaine Emily, spent all of his adult life as a minister in the United Methodist Church.   Easter was always an event to celebrate at our house, even more so than Christmas.  Easter was 'our' family holiday in a sense, as it was the one holiday not spent at one or the other grandparents'.  We spent it at home, and at church.  

Easter Sunday was a busy one for Daddy, beginning with the Sunrise Service that celebrated the Resurrection of Christ - and the promise His death means to all who believe in Him - that He died for our sins.  Whether we were living in a large city or a small rural community, the joy of Easter was felt by all who entered the sanctuary.  There were always the familiar faces of those who came to worship each week, and new faces of visitors and the 'Christmas/Easter' church goers, dressed in their new Easter finery.  Lillies and palm leaves would adorn the altar, and everyone seemed happier on that day.

We weren't alone in primping in new Easter clothes.  Both my birth mother and myself would get new dresses, Daddy usually just wore a new shirt, as his robe covered everything else.  Not only would we get new cothes,  but he would give her an orchid corsage and a carnation corsage to me.  Many Easter Sundays, that cool (because the corsages were kept in the refrigerator so they wouldn't wilt), white flower would remind me that Spring was just around the corner.  Many times during Easter services, my nose would descend to the heart of the corsage to breathe in the aroma of Spring to come, of newness, of freshness, of Hope.

After the Sunrise service, we would have Easter breakfast.  Sometimes it was at the church, provided by the women's society.  Other times, we would go back to the parsonage for hot cross buns and cereal, then back to church for the regular service.

Following the regular morning service, which included children's time at the altar where Daddy would tell us kids a tale of Jesus' life, we would go home for the traditional Easter egg hunt that Daddy would set up before waking me for the day,  After the egg hunt, we would sit down to dinner (and why on Earth we Protestants celebrate Easter with ham I'll never understand.  After all, Jesus was Jewish and they avoid pork!).  The kitties even got something special to eat for Easter.  Of course the Easter eggs I hunted were those that my birth mother and I colored the day before, and would become deviled eggs for supper durng the week.  There were also plastic eggs filled with jellybeans and chocolate.  There was usually a stuffed critter or a book for me as well.

After all that activity, Daddy would be worn out, and often fell asleep in his chair while we were watching a holiday movie like King of Kings or Greatest Story Ever Told.  He might've been worn out, but he was content in the knowledge that he had - once again - led his small flock to the word of God. In later years, we often listened to - or watched - the Cubbies on television when Easter fell in late April.

Sure, Christmas was special, because in order to die for us, Christ had to be born, but Easter is considered to be the most important spiritual holiday, because of Jesus' sacrifice for us.

It's been nearly four years since Daddy passed on to Eternal Life, but I miss him more on this holiday than any other.  Daddy never let his faith in God falter - despite the trials and tribulations that came his way in this life.  Though he had three recurrances of prostate cancer, divorce after 26 years of marriage to my birth mother, and an adult daughter who made unfortunate and devastating choices, he didn't lose his faith.  .

From the day Daddy accepted the call to preach, he felt that in order to lead the people to the Lord, he needed to set the example.  He never smoked, he didn't drink, and he didn't curse - except for one memorial day when he dropped a heavy metal world radio on his foot and said a word that made an eight year old's eyes widen with fear that God would strike down her Daddy for taking the Lord's name in vain.  He believed in having his facts right to support his sermons, so he studied and read from many resources.  He believed in being clean of body, mind, and spirit. He prayed for our Presidents, even when he felt those men were weak.  He visited the sick and the troubled, because it gave them comfort.  If only he'd been given some of that comfort during his final illness; which is one of the reasons I no longer believe in church.    

When I was a child, I often envied the church kids, because his tone of voice was often gentler with them than when he spoke to me.  With the wisdom that comes from 20/20 hindsight, I now know that he loved me more than the church kids because I was his child.  He held me to a higher standard than other people's kids, and sometimes he had to be the disciplinarian instead of the friend.  .The hardest thing he ever had to do was to deny all help to me - except for prayer - for several months in 1986 because of the choices I'd made.  And later, like the prodigal son was welcomed back by the father he'd let down, my father welcomed me back into the family.

I have no doubt that Daddy is in Heaven now, rewarded for his good and faithful service in ways that the Indiana Methodist Conference never did.  And even though I miss him during this time of celebration, I know that he's not really gone, it's just that I can't see him, or hear his voice, and that's the part that saddens me.  But I know he's in a better place, and still doing what Daddies do for their children, looking out for me.    Nothing reminds of that more than a song by Ramin Karimloo, entitled Constant Angel.  I believe that Daddy is a constant angel in my life.  Just as the love of God never dies, the love of a parent for their child and vice versa doesn't die just because life on this Earth comes to an end.  I may not have the belief in church since Daddy died, but I still have my belief in God and the Son who died to give us all eternal life.  Every time I take a ride in God's world on Tig, the Honda, I'm reminded of His glory.

So I leave you with this song from Mr. Karimloo.  If you, too, are mourning a loss of a loved one - whether it's recent or years past - may it give you the comfort it gives me.  If you're a parent, perhaps you'll see yourself as the Constant Angel to your children; and whether you're a grown child or still growing, you'll see that Constant Angel in your parents.

Whether you believe in the reason for Easter as a Catholic or Protestant - or don't believe in Easter for your own religious reasons, may Your God go with you.

Friday, August 28, 2015

WTF Happened?

This kitteh's expression pretty much sums up how I felt around 1040AM this morning, when I received a tersely worded email from the supervisor/manager heading up this project I was contracting since 5 August.  It was the same expression that came over me just before 1PM when the account manager for the temp agency told me said manager wanted me removed from the project.  

Allow me to backtrack just a tad.  I landed a nice 60 day temp to perm position through a staffing agency here in Indy, doing outbound calls to get new members of health insurance to take a screening survey.  In doing the screening, the members would earn money to use for groceries, OTC meds, baby and/or personal care items.  Sweet deal.  Getting paid to make calls and ask incredibly personal questions of complete strangers five days a week and maybe land a perm position with the company.  No benefits, no guarantees, but it was a start. 

I should've known there'd be troubles ahead on orientation day, which was also training day (the only day of training).  Things just didn't seem very organized at orientation, as the HR person would start a video and walk away.  There were about 20 or so people in the session with me, but little did I know that another, larger group of people were being 'trained' for the job in the room next to us.  They would go through orientation in the afternoon while we were being trained.   A very large group being quickly trained on a few processes in two different segments made me nervous.  

The next day we report to the downtown location to begin the project.  We had our log ins, and some of us had access to the necessary database that would record our work.  Some of us, like myself, did not have said access on the 'first' day.  A few lucky people got to work in cubicles, but the majority of us were put in a large room, at long tables with computers and phone banks - much like the old telemarketing 'boiler rooms'.  It was crowded and it was noisy.  There were no subject matter experts or trainers to help anyone with questions.  Just the three managers who had been pulled out of their regular work to train us and manage us. 

 Most of the time, those managers were off in the cubicle area so that they had to be tracked down if a question arose.  It caused a lot of dissention and ill will in the 'boiler room'.  Things didn't improve when we had a mass meeting at the end of the work day and were informed by the lead manager, whom I will refer to as 'the bully' - told us that anyone not performing up to speed (100 - 125 calls made in the day) by Friday would be replaced.  

One of the other people without mainframe access asked about that situation, as we had been unable to make any calls unless we did so under a neighbor who had the access.  The bully stated lack of access wasn't an acceptible excuse, and wanted to know why no one had spoken up during the day to tell him. 

"A lot of us did look for you guys to tell you, but were unable to find you," I spoke up politely.  "I personally emailed all three of you, and one of the managers (I identified her as the lady with the mechanical hand because her name wasn't known to me) told me to call IT.  I did, and emailed you all with the results." 

"I get thousands of emails a day, you can't expect me to wade through them all and get back to you!" He retorted.  "It's your responsibility to make sure I am made aware of such issues!" 

We all shared the same look of shock and surprise.  I couldn't help thinking that any manager who expected his people to hunt for him when a problem arose was a sign of danger ahead.  

Fortunately, the next day, the mainframe access was available to us, as if by magic.  Who knew?  But now, instead of being able to load the new members the way we were originally taught, we had to rely on spreadsheets being sent to us to work from.  OK, I can deal with that.  It's a change, but it's just a minor thing.  Right?  

Some of the co workers made the mistake of returning their spreadsheets to him with color codings and notes.  Though he hadn't told us how he wanted them back, he expected them to be returned to him without colors, without notes, and with just the results of the three attempts we were to make (successful or unsuccessful and our names).  He blew a gasket and had a temper tantrum at all of us for not knowing what he wanted without him informing us.  

Yes, I said temper tantrum.  Now do you see why I refer to him as a bully.  

The next day, one of the other managers pulled me aside and warned me that I had to get 100 calls that day, or not come back.  

"Wait a minute, you only gave me one spreadsheet with 37 names on it, and didn't get it to me until after lunch, even though I tracked down all three of you to tell you that I had access!"  I protested, again politely.  

"Just smile and dial and don't waste time," was the response I was given.  

So I smiled, and dialed, while around me, a few rumblings and mumblings about the way we were being treated were going on.  I made the mistake of trying to show empathy/sympathy for the managers by reminding the group 'Hey, there's only the three of them to all of us.  I suspect this was kinda thrown at them last minute, so let's give 'em a chance."

Good going, Myra!  Great way to win friends amongst your co workers, you brown noser, you!.  But at the end of the day, I'd tripled the number of calls made, and felt I was safe.  Still, the bully's behavior and the warning about numbers worried me, and I contacted the staffing agency to let them know of my concerns about the training, the lack of access, the lack of helpers, and the general chaos - information the staffing agency said they appreciated having.  

So the next Monday, back to the 'boiler room' and the making of calls.  There was a lot of non productive conversations going on, a lot of cell phone use, and again, no subject matter experts or trainers to help us.  I just sat down, shut up, and smiled and dialed. By the middle of the week, cubicles had been found on the other two floors the company occupied, and things quieted down a bit.  No one had said anything to me about my production - or lack thereof - so I developed a system of tracking my own attempts and completed surveys, and reporting those numbers at the end of the day along with my completed, pristine and properly filled out spreadsheet.  

The work itself wasn't all that hard.  When I did get to do a screening, I always told the person being screened that 'I'm not here to make judgements based on your answers.  This information is simply to help us better help your doctor keep you well.  But, if a question makes you uncomfortable, just tell me, and we'll move along."  The person on the other end seemed to relax then, and instead of shooting out questions in a monosyllabic 'let's hurry up and get this done' tone, I actually interacted with the person I was speaking to.  It took the same amount of time as the rest of the group, but there was a sense that the person on the other end felt a connection.  I felt good about what I was doing. 

We as a group would get occasional emails with changes to the processes.  Not a big thing.  One of our problems was that the members we would call would show up in the state web eligibility system, but weren't loaded in our database, so we couldn't record the screening (if we were able to conduct the screening,that is.  We were to do a paper survey, and then enter the answers in later when the member was loaded in the database).  

If we came across a situation like that, we were to email the account number and the name of the member to all three managers.  Again, no big deal.  Until I sent one in as directed and got an email inquiry "Did you do the survey?"  

"No, the attempt to reach the person wasn't successful.  I left a message." 

"Please advise when you send these in whether you completed the survey or not going forward."  


So, on Tuesday, I sent in another one, and this time included below the name/account number "unsuccessful, invalid telephone number".

On Wednesday morning, I get this from the bully: 

Please do not send us an email for every error on your sheet.  You will just need to follow the process.  If the number is invalid please reach out the PMP office on file to get a valid number.  If you can not get one each time you reach that name on the sheet mark it unsuccessful.

Just to make sure we are on the same page.  Was there something about _______ email with the process that you did not understand because this is outlined in there?

I replied : 

This is the exact wording from _____________ email, so would you please tell me what I am missing?  Cause I’m doing precisely what she indicated: 

o  If the member shows eligible in web interchange but cannot be pulled up in ____you can do a paper HNS and send an email to ------------ so that we can get them sent over to be added. Keep the HNS to add at a later date, with members name and id# so you can find them later. Please lock those up at night.

These are the only emails I am sending at this time, pertaining to ‘errors’, just as instructed.  What has changed since this email went out to us?    A clarification would be appreciated and helpful.

M. Lowe

Unfortunately, I didn't include the addendum email from the third manager telling me to advise of the attempt.  You see what happenes when one assumes?  I assumed they would tell each other these things!  Silly me! 

So I get this in response:   

k and if you look at your email below you sent me an invalid number.  My emails says do not sendevery error off your sheet.  There is nowhere listed you should send invalid numbers.

Please let me know if you are still confused.

So I replied: 

No, what I was doing was showing that the attempt was an unsuccessful one, because _______ had asked on a previous email such as this if I had done the HRS or not.  I was simply trying to be professionally courteous in advising the attempt had been unsuccessful and why, so all y’all in management would not have to worry about PHI floating around.  

In future, I will just send the name/account number and not report the outcome of the attempt. 

M Lowe

It didn't take long for the bully to reply: 

Myra –

I need you to follow the instructions given to you by _________.  If you have any questions about those please call me ASAP at ______.  We have over 60 people and I am trying to streamline this work and need everyone doing the same thing.  At this time you are not.


It was at this point that I forwarded the volleys to my contact at the staffing agency.  

Just sending you a copy of back and forth email conversation between me and ______.  He is really working my last nerve with this thing.  Maybe it’s just me, but the whole tone of his responding email really set my teeth on edge. 

It would really be helpful if the management team would be on the same page. 

Guess this kind of thing will keep me from being offered perm with this place.  The newest email from ______ has me in tears at the moment. 

To which he replied: 


I’m going to forward this on to my manager for you. I’m currently out of the office till Friday. But she should be able to resolve any issues you’re having. I understand completely why you are upset.

A little later in the day, his boss emailed the following: 

Hi Myra,

I hope all is well. Jordan forwarded this email and asked I reach out to you. I apologize you’re upset and I’d be happy to speak with you after your shift today.

I’m sure _______ didn’t mean ill-will when responding. I know the management team is stretched quite thin at the moment with this large project, so my assumption is that he was responding quickly and directly. I don’t want you to be frustrated or feel like you aren’t valued, so please let me know what I can do. My recommendation is to no longer send emails for invalid numbers. Please let me know of any questions.

I literally did a head desk.  Why was everyone focusing on the invalid number thing?  It felt like a three ring circus all out of control.  I replied to that person that my shift didn't end until after 7, and she'd likely be gone for the day and explained (again) that the original email contained the acct # and name of the missing member, why I'd included the end result of the attempt, and that I was already not including that last bit of information.  No response came back from her.  

In response to the bully's last email before I forwarded all to the staffing agency, I replied to him:  

In answer to your comment about not following the process, here is WHY I went the extra mile for you folks.  To save you folks from having to make inquiries such as this. 

I won’t make that mistake again.


The body of the email was the correspondence between myself and the third manager.  

His response was: 

Thank you! 

No acknowledgement of the misinformation, no apology for the misunderstanding.  Just the two words.  

I replied, 'You're welcome", and forwarded the last volley to the contact.  

The rest of the day, I smiled and dialed, though yes, once in a while, I grumbled to myself.  At the end of the day, as usual, sent the threesome the spreadsheet with all the attempts completed, advised to allow for 15 mins non productive time due to the misunderstanding about the process, and requested a new spreadsheet for the following day.  It was my practice to put on my nightly report if I'd taken any bathroom time or had some other unusual situation (such as a translation call) that ate into production time.  Part of it was to CMA, but mostly as a professional courtesy to them.  Or so I thought. 

So Thursday, I get in, log into the phone, then check email for a new spreadsheet.  None.  

I emailed a polite request to the trio: 

"May I have a new spreadsheet please? I returned the completed one to you all last night.  Thank you." 

Fifteen minutes later, and no response.  The one manager on our floor wasn't on the floor.  I had no instant message access, no extensions to call except for the bully's, and wasn't feeling up to walking all three floors to look for one of them.   To be honest, I didn't feel it was my job to track one of them down to get work to do.  I sent a second request, politely worded, with the little red exclamation mark highlighted that mean 'important'.  "Just in case you might've missed it, may I have please have a new spreadsheet?  Thank you." 

And waited again.  Another 20 minutes goes by.  I've been at work for 30 minutes, and not able to make any calls.  I'm getting a little nervous, as the clock is ticking and there is a quota still over our heads.  At 1035, I sent a third email, again with the little red exclamation point highlighted.  This time, I wrote in all caps in the subject line "THIRD REQUEST, MAY I HAVE A SPREADSHEET PLEASE?"  Followed in the body with 'Sorry for shouting in the subject line, but I've been waiting over 30 minutes without a response." 

One of the managers gets back to me with 'My bad.  It's coming."  Two minutes later, she sends me the requested work. At the same time comes a terse email from the bully:  

"Come to my office NOW!" 

Up to the 9th floor, wondering what on Earth was wrong with the bully this time.  I walk in, remain quiet for the sake of the other workers, he has his door closed.  I peek in to the room where the third manager was working, and found the manager for our floor there.  "Go on in," she tells me, following me inside.  Naturally, I knock first and wait for his summons to enter his den. 

I'm not offered a seat, so I stand in front of the door with my back to the wall. He tells me that he does not like my combative attitude.  "We have 70 people, and I get thousands of emails.  Just becuase we don't answer you right away doesn't mean that you won't get an answer in due time!"  

Bewildered, I asked what he meant by combative.  He told me the was no reason to send three emails asking for work.  "You don't need to tell me why you're not productive, we can see when you're making calls and when you aren't.  _____ had to go looking for several people this morning who were suposed to be making calls and were buying their breakfast in the basement, I was on a conference call, and ____________ was handling her own work.  We have other responsibilities besides this project, and you are not falling in line!" 

"Wait a second, here.  I don't use my cell phone on the floor to call my kids and yell at 'em or talk to potential employers, nor do I run around and sing and gossip and cause a ruckus on the floor.  The only places I go to are the bathroom, the breakroom, and my desk. I make calls until the end of the day, and only then do my wrap up work, and yet you call me combative and not falling in line?" 

"Take yesterday, for example!" He shot back. "I gave you a directive, and you questioned me, not once, but several times!  There was no need for it!  I've also heard that you've been speaking negatively about the management team and that is not appreciated." 

"Hold on.  Granted, yesterday was frustrating, but I said nothing to anyone directly against any of the managers.  I've had concerns, yes.  The entire project team has concerns.  I've actually defended all y'all to the rest of the staff when they've complained!  How is that being negative!" 

"I don't think this is the place you need to be," he replied.  "You need to decide what you're going to do.  Either toe the line or get out." 

"Are you telling me to leave?  For what crime?"  

"I'm not telling you to leave. Your attitude needs to change.   No more unprofessional emails, no more telling us about your down time.  Just do what you're told." 

"I'm trying to, it's just a little difficult when there's conflicting information going around," I pointed out in a reasonable manner.  

"That's it!  I can't deal with you.  Your staffing agency will be in contact with you about your future." 

I was dismissed.  Yet, I hadn't been told I was fired or anything like that, though I had a feeling.  So, away from the floor, away from the bathroom and breakroom, I called the staffing agency to advise the manager of the account what had happened.  I was in tears, shaking, and upset to the stomach.  I was bewildered.  The call to the agency didn't make me feel any better, but I went back to my desk and worked.  I smiled and dialed and made three surveys in two hours and 30 call attempts.  

Then the account manager for the agency appeared in my cubicle, asking to talk to me.  I finished the call in progress, properly noted it, saved the speadsheet, locked my computer, and followed her to a consult room. There I was handed my walking papers as the bully had called her and demanded I be removed from the project. 

The damn water works started flowing again, and I let her know just what had transpired on the 9th floor.  "Unfortunately, the recording I tried to make didn't come out, otherwise I'd play exactly what happened up there." 

"I'm sorry.  They're the customer, we have to abide by their wishes.  I need your badge and need to escort you out."  

I quietly walked back to the cube, packed my gear, made a pristine copy of the work sheet, sent it to the three without any preamable in the body, noted my time on the time card and logged out of the computer.  

Then I got on Tig, the Honda and rode to my doctor's office to find out WTF is wrong with me that this happened. 

Thank God I've been with my doctor for so many years.  She knows me.  She knows the issues I deal with.  Yes, I have a type A personality.  I call 'em like I see 'em to your face, not behind your back.  I treat people with respect and only request being respected back.  After decades of being treated as a second class citizen due to weight and eyewear, I won't accept that kind of treatment any longer and will fight for the right to be treated decently.  

Dr. does not think I am one of those types of people like that asshat that shot the two reporters.  The type of person who collects perceived wrongs done to him/her as an excuse for their own behavior.  Have I made misjudgements in the past?  Yup.  Have I goofed big time?  Oh Hell yeah!  Am I willing to apologize for existing?  Fuck no!  Not anymore! 

Dr. also does not believe that I'm turning into my birth mother, which is my greatest fear.  "Unless you have a Jekyll/Hyde personality I don't know about, you've never treated any of my people badly, even if you're stressed like you are now," she assured me. 

"Well, I have my temper moments, Robert knows, even if he won't tell you.  I scream in the car, or on the bike at times.  I've gotten mad at him many times in the last 21 years.  I get impatient and annoyed." 

"That's normal." 

But she gave me the name of an actual psychiatrist that she trusts, not an LSW or someone who will tell me it's all in my head like in 2004.  Our insurance will cover the cost, so I'm going to take advantage of it while there's time.  That and maybe finally take the MC road test to get my endorsement finished.  But that's another story for another time.  

Thanks for caring, for supporting, and for being there.  

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tired of Being a Disappointment to Those I Love

Wednesday started out like any other work day, with me havin' no idea of what would cause the bottom to fall out of my somewhat delicately balanced psyche.  By 1030AM, just an hour after the work day began, I was bein' uncermoniously escorted out of the buildin' by a security guard, and watched by same until I rode off into the day.

So what the Hell happened in that one hour?  Sherman, set the way back machine to yesterday evening, between 530pm and 6pm, when I handled a call for which there was no guidance to be had anywhere, and vented on my wordpad, where I take notes for the call for documentation.

The caller was checking on a weekly payment they receive, and was very perturbed that I had no idea what she was talking about.  Ninety percent of the calls have to do with claims status, so naturally my mind went there.  The caller got a 'wee' bit snarky about my questions, as it was the first time I'd ever heard of this kind of payment.

Still, it shouldn't have been a problem, as the employer provides an on line guide for handling many situatios.  Note, it shouldn't have been a problem except that the on line guide had NOTHIN' about this situation in it.  The next thing I did was ask a coach, which is a tenured rep who one can go to for assistance.  The coach had never heard of the situation either!  Like me, the coach thought I was asking about a claim.

The caller wasn't happy about the number of times I asked her to hold while I was investigatin' the matter.  "What's the problem?  I call every week and get my question answered right away!  Are you that stupid?"

"No,ma'am, just want to be sure I'm giving you the right information."

You guessed it, I vented on my notepad and usd an uncomplimentary adjective rhymin' with witch to describe her.  The call document history was little help, but I eventually figured out what she was talking about on the caller profile payments tab.  There, at least, was a listing of the previous weeks payments, and with the help (FINALLY!) of my supervisor, figured out what type of payments the caller was referring to.

That led to a whole new problem; the payments for this week weren't posted on her profile.  She wanted to know why.  Guess what, I didn't have an answer to give her!  The call ended with her
informing me I'd been of no help to her at all, and that she would contact her corporate rep the following day.

End of shift, no more calls after that one, so copied my notes to transfer to the call report.  Dumbass that I am, forgot to edit out the colorful metaphor, saved the notes, and ended the day.

now the way back machine is whiskin' us back to Wednesday mornin', and my supervisor (not, incidentally, the one that had humiliated me in May) comes to my cube and asks me to come with her.  She's very serious, and I ask her what's goin' on.  "Just come with me."  I had a very bad feelin' about it.

I figure she's probably doin' the monthly one on one's that hadn't been done in a couple of months, lock the computer and follow her. She leads me through the call center to a corner office where the aforementioned security guard is standing in the 'at ease' position near the office door.   The bad feelin' increased.  

Inside the office  is a gentleman I'd never seen before, who tells me to have a seat and shoves a sheet of paper in front of me.  "Do you remember this?"  The paper is a screen shot of my documentation from the final call the day before and of the colorful metaphor..  My heart dropped into my stomach.  Only the first few lines of the documentation were shown on the paper, but it was enough for me to recall the situation.

So I explained what had happened, and Mr. Big Shot makes notes on the back of the screen shot.  I'll give my supervisor credit for backing me up about there being NO information in the on screen guide for the situation, and that I'd done the best possible to assist the caller.  It wasn't enough.  Mr. Big Shot, who'd casually tossed off my inquiry about the security guard standin' outside with "I had to talk to him about something before you came in," told me that I was being suspended for one day - with pay - pending termination for being unprofessional by documenting an uncomplimentary comment about the caller in the record.

I brought up the lack of professionalism in the sense that no guidance existed for the situation, which only fueld the caller's frustration which fueled my own, hence the venting in wordpad.  "I just wanted to get out of here, and completely forgot about double checkin' the document before savin' it."

"You admitted to putting it there, you intended to leave it there. That's not acceptible and unprofessional and won't be tolerated.  There's no excuse for it."

"So it doesn't bother you that I had little to no assistance in getting this call properly handled via the on line guide and the coaches and supervisors?"

"That's no excuse.  HR will contact you in 24 hours with the result of their investigation."

"Seems to me all y'all have already made up your minds," I retorted, getting up and striding back to my desk to get my vest and other stuff, followed by my supervisor and the security guard.

Before the supervisor had come to get me, I was taking an on line training course, and using my own earphones to hear it.  When I unplugged the headphones, the guard reached out to take them from me, as if I were stealing company equipment.  "These are mine!" I hissed.  "I bought 'em right across the street from Cycle Gear!"

"Got a receipt?"

The supervisor spoke up for me.  "I know what kind of head sets we give out.  Those are hers."

I pulled out my lunch bag and stated quietly to the guard,"This is mine,and everything inside it is mine, as is this coffee cup on my desk, and the vest on my back."  While emptying the second drawer, where I kept snacks, some change, and aspirin, I held up each item before stuffin' it in the lunch bag and statin' to him, "This belongs to me."  If it didn't belong to me, it stayed in the desk.

The supervisor was kind enough to give me a plastic bag to put my framed pic of Robert and another framed pic I kept for inspiration in to carry on the bike.  Maybe it was the drama queen in me, but I held 'em up to the guard and stated, "This is also mine, though I can't prove it with a receipt.  However, my name and image is captured on 'em!"

The supervisor was hiding a laugh behind her hand.

Once packed, I strode past my stunned team mates with my head held high to the elevator.  The guard right on my heels.  He rode down the elevator with me, and accompanied me to Tig's parking space.

"Hurry up and get going.  I have to make sure you leave the premises without damaging anything."

"Then you're just gonna have to wait for me to get things loaded, and that's not somethin' I'm gonna hurry through, buster!"  I deliberately took time to load things very carefully, double and triple checking the straps on the saddle bags and tie downs while he stood in the sun.  Petty of me?  I guess in retrospect it was. Accuse me unnecessarily and I'm gonna find a way to pay ya back.

When I eventually climbed onto Tig and backed him out of the parking space, the guard was still watching me.  It took every ounce of restraint in me not to 'accidentally on purpose' attempt to run over him.  

Something led me to stop at my church on the way home, where I'd not been since Daddy died.  As my luck would have it, the minister was on vacation for the week, but a couple of the office staff knew me, and counseled me.  I think had it not been for them, I would've done a Jax into the rear end of the nearest semi.

As most of y'all know, I've battled depression for years.  I'm not suicidal by nature, but the last few months employment track record has not been kind.  All y'all who matter know what happened with the job before this one and the bullyin' manager, and the temporary job prior to that where a bad case of cellulitis (blood poisoning) cost me that position, plus the unhappy circumstances at the job before that.  Frankly, since Daddy died, me and permanent employment have been ships passing in the night.

I feel pretty bad, as we really need my income to stay above the water line.  I feel like a failure to the cats and the husband and really believed for a few hours that they'd all be better off without me in life.  At least for the one day, I still had life insurance coverage....desperate thinkin' by a very depressed individual.  Not to worry, there's no chances of me flyin' into the back end or front end of a semi.

Instead, after a nap and another good cry, I got on line and began the task of job huntin'.  Contacted a couple of places that had shown an interest in me while gainfully employed.  One doesn't have anything, but another wanted my resume today to forward to a potential positio; it's temporary, but it beats nothin'.

I firmly expect that HR will decide to terminate me, despite the fact that I played by the rules, often staying 30-45 mins past the end of the shift to clear the que of waiting calls. I would work to find my own answers before asking for help, and didn't spend time being a social butterfly.  I cared about the work done, and can count on the fingers of one hand and have fingers left of the number of escalated calls experienced after graduation from training class.

Should the powers that be surprise me andoffer to let me come back under the condition of a final warnin', I can't help wonderin' if it would be possible to walk back into that call center without feelin' like a target is on my back where Mr. Big Shot is concerned.  Additionally - not that I give a rat's ass what the co - workers discuss, I know damn good and well they'll have their wide eyes and big ears on me.  I could really do without the attention.

So that's the whole sordid story.  If I'm comin' off like a victim, that's not the intent, though I kinda feel like one at the moment.  It was wrong to put the colorful metaphor in the notes.  The notepad is really the only way to vent, but there are drawbacks to it, as one can see.

Anyway, thanks for readin' this little epistle.  Thanks for carin', and for bein' supportive.


Sunday, May 03, 2015

Three Years

Tomorrow marks three years since Daddy died. Sometimes it feels like forever, but more often than not it seems as fresh as if it had just occurred.  

Today I took Tig, the Honda, on a long ride.  I thought about how Daddy loved working out of doors at the grandparents farm, and felt a little closer to him. 

Tomorrow, Robert is going with me to Daddy's grave.  We'll trade out the winter flowers for Spring/Summer ones.  I'll spend a little time talking to him, then we'll probably visit my step - mother and then the little nieces and nephews.  

I miss you and love you Daddy. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Indiana's RFRA is Wrong

The DH (Dear Husband, aka Damn Husband, depending on the situation), raised an interesting question to me the other day about Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act that our governor signed into law this week.  He asked me if I thought Daddy would be for or against it. 

My immediate response was that I felt he would be against it.  

I think it surprised him, considering that my father was an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.  There's a lot of my father in me -  though I have strayed from organized religion in the few years since his death - that has shaped my thoughts and opinions in my life.  

Though a lot has been written after the fact about what RFRA is and is not all about - and for education purposes, I'm including a link to an article in one of the magazines Daddy subscribed to; The Weekly Standard.  I think it gives the best information about the bill.  Go ahead and read, I'll wait.  Here's the link:

Welcome back.  So if you're still confused and wondering what all the uprorar is about, don't worry.  So am I.  But I still think Daddy wouldn't be in favor of this bill, and neither am I. 

Not because of the possibility that someone could use religion as a reason to discriminate against gays.  And let's face it, that's the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  No one can ignore the fact that passage of this bill happened AFTER Indiana lost the legal war on the constitutional ban on same - sex unions.  The timing stinks.  LIke fish that has been left out of the water too long.  

And that's why I believe that there is such a back lash against the passage of the bill by the LGBT community.  I don't blame them for feeling angry and hurt by the timing. But that doesn't mean that calling for a boycott of the entire state is the thing to do, even though a large number of big businesses, cities, and entertainers (including those I love and respect) have called for exactly that.  So far, no business has used the state version of the law to discriminate against ANYONE, and until that happens, boycotting the entire state at the moment is a lot like asking a monkey to guard your banana.  It's a bit ridiculous. 

I'm not saying that their feelings and fears are unwarranted.  There is always some idiotic extremist asshat out there ready to use the law as an excuse for anti - social behavior against someone different from him or her.  It's just a matter of time.  That business owner will cite the RFRA as an excuse to deny service to that person. 

You know what?  Let that business owner do such.  THEN we can all boycott the asshat.  While he or she has the right to deny service, we as consumers have the right not to cross that business' threshold.  We'll see how long that business can stay afloat for using a legal crutch as a reason to be a bigot.  

In the meantime, I beg the rest of the world to not blame all Hoosiers for the stupidity of our legislature.  After all, the rest of y'all have equally blind law makers that leave you shaking your head and wondering what they use for brains.  

And the reason why I think Daddy would be as much against this RFRA as I am? Because  religion in America is already protected by the Federal Constitution.  Granted, there are some people who take the separation of church and state thing a little far - let's face it, the founding fathers were mainly not wanting one particular faith to be government sponsored as England had.  All this bullshit about not putting the 10 commandments on display on state property is for the birds, considering the 10 commandments are the foundation of basic human behavior (does the fact that murder is considered a heinous crime ring a bell?  Hmmmm?  Remember 'thou shalt not kill?')!  Having a state protection like this is overkill and it doesn't do anything to protect the basic religious freedoms of the followers of Christ that have been contested by believers and non believers alike for decades. 

While I've lost all faith in organized religion, that doesn't mean I don't believe in a higher authority.  My type of belief is that you have the right to worship as you see fit, just as I do.  It doesn't mean runnin' around tellin' people they're goin' to Hell because they haven't spoken in tongues or been baptized in the blood of the lamb (as a group of extremists in college would do), or stand on street corners passing judgement on everyone passing by.  My belief is based on trying to do what is right, even if it's not the popular choice with the masses.  My worship is taking the bike out into God's country and talking to Him.  

I wish it were a world where saying 'Merry Christmas' wasn't considered a slam and insensitive to others.  I wish it were a world where high school graduation ceremonies could still hold a prayer service.  A world where political correctness wasn't worshiped as the be all/end all of the way things should be.  

I fear that one day soon, the Indiana RFRA is going to used to discriminate not only against the LGBT community, but bi - racial relationships/marriages, and any other difference that someone will claim is their religious right to engage in.  I'd like to hope it's a baseless fear, but with the way that the nut cases can use theology to support their radical views, I tend to have little faith in that hope. 

Maybe I'll be wrong. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Happy Brithday Daddy

Today would've been Daddy's 87th birthday.  

Today marks the second birthday without him. 

It's no easier to mark this day than the first birthday after his death, the first Christmas, etc.  

I hear him in the way I cough and sometimes in the way I answer the phone.  "Yellow!"  Kind of a combo of 'Yeah' and "Hello".  

When Daddy was born in 1927, there were no cell phones or computers.  There was barely landline telephone service.  Cars were still relatively new, so you either walked or rode a horse or burrow if you lived on a farm.  There were no Playstations, Xboxes, and indoor plumbing was a novelty.   People were considered old if they lived to 50, and wise if they lived to 70 and beyond.  

Immunizations for diseases such as polio, measles, chicken pox, and other viruses were unheard of.   Cancer would strike and cut down men and women in just a few short months.  There was no such thing as the space program, and the second World War, Vietnam, and Korea were yet to be thought of.  The last assassination of a Presidential figure was in 1865.  

Throughout Daddy's life, many technological and cultural changes took place.  He lived through a World War, the Vietnam and Korean skirmishes, Woodstock, Watergate, the Depression, the assassinations of JFK/RFK/MLK Jr.  Cars replaced horses, farms became commercial operations, landline telephones were in nearly every home.  Touch tone phones came into use.  Direct Dial instead of asking the operator to place a call.  Computers, video games, VCRs, color television.  The space race, the cold war, ERA.  He basically LIVED the Billy Joel song 'We Didn't Start the Fire'.  

Daddy accomplished a lot in eighty five years of living.  Besides marrying my birth mother and siring me (which some pundits out there might ask if that was really an accomplishment!); he was a full time minister for 37 years, survived cancer for over 26 years.  He wrote two religious text books for youngsters' release time education - one on the New Testament and the other on the old testament.  He wrote more for every week of the year for all those years.  He printed his own church bulletins which meant he mastered the use of mimeograph and offset printing presses.  He could change his own oil and do most of the basic maintenance on cars until it became too difficult for him to do so.  He had the patience to plant and weed gardens, to can and freeze the bounty from those gardens.  He loved animals (especially kitty cats).  He cared for people.  

My father believed that in order to lead people, he had to set the example.  He was always bathed, shaved, and in clean clothes each day.  He didn't drink, smoke, or cuss (well, he did once, when he dropped a very heavy item on his foot).  He didn't 'sleep' with another woman without benefit of marriage, nor did he cheat on his wives (my mother and step - mother).   He researched for his sermons so that the topic was accurate.  He kept good records.  He didn't cheat the government.  He prayed for the President, even when he didn't agree with the man in the Oval Office.  

He loved sports, though his eyesight made it difficult to play.  He loved baseball and was a die hard Cubs fan (card carrying, and I carry that card to this day).  He loved basketball and attended IU basketball games like a second religion.  We often spent Thursday evenings and Saturdays watching IU and 'helping' the coach.  

Several years after I'd gotten out of college, Daddy apologized to me for not being free from the needs of the pastorates to attend some of the extra curricular activities I was involved in, such as basketball.  

"Y'all would've just seen me sit on the bench," I assured him.  "You were there for the piano recitals, the plays, and the musicals in high school.  You were there for the choral recitals, and you listened to the campus radio station whenever I was on air.  That more than makes up for never watchin' me sit on the bench." 

Sometimes I didn't always live up to Daddy's expectations.   He wanted me to pursue a career in music, but I never felt that confident in my talent in that area.  Who knows?  Maybe if I had followed his wishes, my life might've taken a very different turn.  But he supported my dream to be in broadcasting.  Because he was my Daddy. 

We weren't best friends.  My father believed in discipline for bad behavior.  I don't consider myself abused because he got to the 'bottom' of the problem.  He was fair when being the disciplinarian.  He would listen to both sides, then render a decision. When I got a little too old and big for spankings, then I got grounded.  It certainly taught me not to make the same mistake. 

My father taught me to be courteous to people right at the start.  Mr. Mrs. Miss so and so were standard forms of address for me to use.  It's still my habit today.  I give up my seat to older people on the bus (the few times I take the bus) and hold the door open for people of both sexes if they happen to be following me into an establishment.  

There's not a day that passes that I don't think of him and miss him.  While he was still healthy enough to do so, he would write every week.  When he wasn't up to writing, he called each night to say 'hello' and make sure things were going well.  He was my rock when my birth mother's chronic mental illness reared its ugly head, even though he was legally out of the situation. 

Once, after I lost the first cat that owned me when I moved out of the house, Daddy incurred the wrath of his church members by printing a story about Jesus' losing his own beloved pet, a dog named Tobias, in order to help me cope with the loss.  

The last picture I have of Daddy before his final illness was taken on his 85th birthday in 2012.  He had been admitted there for rehab after another bout of gastrointestinal distress and weakness.  Just a few weeks later, Daddy fell extremely ill and was transferred here to the Specialty Hospital in Indy where he remained until he died. 

I know he's in a better place.  He feels no pain, he's with God in Heaven, and is havin' a great time reuniting with his college and pastoral friends who went before him (Wallace Chappel and Pete Chattin).  

But what I wouldn't give today to be able to call him and say 'Happy Birthday Daddy!' and hear him say thank you for his card.  I'd give anything to get one more hug and kiss from him.   Maybe in the next life, but on this plane of existence, there is a big hole in my heart.  

So Happy Birthday, Daddy.  I love and miss you.