Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

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

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not Bloodied, But Hurt Nonetheless

Anyone who follows me on Twitter and Facebook knows that on occasion, I will comment on some of the frustrations related to my job.  Well, as of today, my #workrants (the # is the hashtag I use when commentin' about said frustrations) will not be appearin' for awhile. 

I was terminated today.  After an hour of work. 

There was no written disciplinary action taken prior to the termination.  No warnings, no documented consultations.  The only thing that preluded today's event was an investigation that came from, ironically enough, a report I personally made to the ethics line on 11 January. 

Allow me to backtrack a bit.  Up until our evening team lead/manager was fired in November, our department at night wasn't too hard to work in.  We had some people that would misbehave when he was out of the department, but it wasn't rampant and constant.  After he was fired, things got pretty bad. 

There are company policies against threats and profanity, no use of cell phones on the call center floor and no visitin' other departments.  There were also many reminders to watch excessive loud talk that could cause distractions.  Certain members of the team violated one or all of these procedures on a regular basis.  The person who was assigned to the quad across from me often sang to herself, belched loudly, yelled over (other people's and) my cubicle/head to her friends regardless of whether teammates were making/taking calls.  She would also stand behind me or beside my cubicle to talk loudly to her friends.  So would a couple of other reps.   The one across from me had her cell phone out constantly, and it would buzz every five minutes with text msgs, buzzing that was of a pitch that hurt my head.  The one across from me and her friends would have visitors from other departments or would just take off from the department to visit their friends in other departments for long periods of time.  Their stats were indicative of this occurrence, but they continued with apparent impunity (I say apparent because after two months of this behavior, they have not been transferred to a different department due to their lack of call processin').

Because we had no night time lead/manager, instead of emailing the miscreants to ask them to tone it down - which to my mind would've resulted in conflict - I followed the establishe procedure of goin' to another department's manager, explainin' the situation, and relyin' on that person to take care of the problem.  If I received an unprofessional/harrassin' email from one of the miscreants, same thing.  Nothin' was addressed.

I was not the only person aware of the miscreants lack of decorum, but was one of the few willin' to speak up.  I asked to relocate my desk more than once, but it was denied for various reasons, usually that IT had to approve it.  It seemed that if I moved to a desk away from the miscreants, their disruptions wouldn't disturb me as much. 

It was a thought.

On 11 January, one of the other reps on the team got fed up with the main three miscreants bein' away from their desks, visitin' another rep in another department.  I was on a bathroom run at the time, after holdin' it in because they were off the phones and he and I were the only ones on the floor takin' inbounds.  While away from my desk, he apparently told the trio to get their @$$es back to work.  They didn't like that and snarked back. 

Upon returning to the department, he was followin' the same manager my pleas had been made to into a conference room.  The rep was lookin' grim.  So did the manager.
Considerin' that this particular manager had done nothin' when one of the miscreants sent me a nasty email and then verbally harassed and threatened me while I was on a call, I didn't figure the manager would do much then. 

Next thing I knew, he was pullin' me, the other rep, and two of the miscreants into a conference room to discuss the on going problem in the department.  I was gobsmacked and caught off guard by this; havin' no idea what was goin' on in the first place.

He started by sayin' that all the managers, includin' himself were 'sick and tired of the problems in the department.'  I spoke up that if the managers would address the issues when they're brought to their attention instead of eggin' on the problem by jokin' around with the people causin' disruptions, there would be less trouble on the floor.

Well, the back stabbin' and finger pointin' from the two miscreants erupted, and yours truly was the object of the finger pointin'.  I got upset and defensive, and cursed a few times in defendin' myself against the accusations bein' made.  At one point, one of the miscreants brought up the fact that she had kids to go home to, which was more important than the matter of hand. 

That pushed me a little too far.  I said, "By all means, we don't want your kids to get upset!"  Which earned me a threat to be beaten in the parking lot.  The mgr said nothin' to her about that, but threatened to write me up for cursin'. 

The woman left, slammin' the door behind her.  Her friend continued pointin' me out as the main problem, goin' so far as to say that 'nothing that is done is going to make her happy!"  Well, since she isn't me, she doesn't know that.  I was shakin' and beyond upset by this point, my shift was over, so I left as well, and slammed the door myself. 

After clockin' out, I made a report to the corporate ethics hotline.  I felt that there might have been some ethnic sympathy goin' on between the manager and the miscreants, and reported what had happened durin' the meetin', includin' the fact that I had a recordin' of it.

The next week, all four of us were hauled into individual meetin's with an HR rep and the department manager.  When my meetin' occurred, I answered the questions, provided information, but was unwillin' to go out an name any names of people who had might have witnessed the event. 

Why?  Well, unwillin' witnesses often won't back you up.  Additionally, after one of the miscreants gave her statement, she told her friends on the team what was goin' on, and what to say because if they all said the same thing, they'd get me fired.

And they did.

So, even though I reported to the boss that this was happenin', again, there was no apparent action taken. 

During the interview with the HR rep, I had a vivid realization of where the investigation was leadin'.  I did ask why were they makin' me the scapegoat when I had no inolvement in the intial 11 Jan incident.  "Because of behaviors you engaged in during the meeting," was the answer. 

No one ever asked to hear the actual recording of the meeting.  And yes, I recorded that little interview, too.  And today's.

So today, when I came in to work, and cleaned up a mess that someone else had caused by not followin' a process, the department manager asked me to go into an off line status and to come with him.   I did, but took my iPhone with me and set the memo app to record from my pocket.

The HR rep and the center manager were already in the conference room.  My manager and I sat down, then he proceeded to read a document to me. 

I attempted to interject once, to verbally and on record correct a misrepresentation of facts on the write up, but the center manager told me to 'Shut up.'   When my manager announced that my employment was being terminated, I took off my badge and dropped it on the table.  I was told to sign the form and refused, as was my right. When I attempted to speak on record, the center manager told me if I had something to say, it could be put in writing on the form, but he wasn't going to listen to anything I had to say.

So, I stood up and walked to the door, intending to get my jacket, coffee cup, and my lunch bag.  The center manager leaped up in front of the door and got right into my space, yelling at me to sit down and pointing his finger in my face. 

I told him he needed to get out of my face and quit threatening me, or I'd call the police.  "You do, and I'll call them on you!"  This guy easily weighs 275 to 300 pounds and stands close to 6 foot.  He frowns a lot and is intimidating in bearing.  Yup, I was. 

I went back to the chair and asked my now former manager to walk me out of the building, as I had no desire for that center manager to be anywhere near me.  All three of 'em walked me out.  The center manager charged out of the room, and brought a cardbox box with my few belongings in it (two pictures in frames, my coffee cup, my lunch bag, and my phone's power cord). My leather jacket was placed haphazardly on top. 

"Here's your stuff.  Get out of here." The center manager informed me.

So I walked out of the conference room AFTER inventorying the items and returning a book from the staff library so they couldn't claim I stole it.  I kept my head high and walked to the nearest elevator instead of takin' the walk of shame to the opposite elevator - which would've meant goin' through the entire center.  The three managers seemed to dilly dally when the elevator opened and I got on. 

"Are y'all comin'?  Otherwise I'm outta here."  

That got 'em movin' pretty quick.

We walked briskly to the entrance where my car was parked.  I was still pretty perturbed, and told the center manager that in my opinion, he had behaved very unprofessionally, and that everything that had been said about him from the sales department he'd come from was quite true.

When I opened the door and walked through it, something caused me to lose my balance, and I fell onto my left side at the entrance.   This was on concrete.  Hard concrete. 

Now, a human bein' would at least have the courtesy to say, "Are you alright?"  Instead, and maybe because he feared (!) that I'd sue him for helpin' me up, he stood and said, "Be careful next time!" in a snide manner.

"Fuck you!"  I retorted while struggling to get up.  No one offered to help me, none of them asked if I'd broken anything.  Instead, they left me in the cold air and held the door closed.  I was surprised that my then former manager was being so callous.  Maybe he wasn't allowed to help me?  I don't know.

So I left.

And have filed an unemployment claim, as this will be the 'waiting week'.

And will be calling HR to file a WC claim for the fall, as it happened on their property.  I went to the doctor's office and she said nothin' was broken or sprained, but I'll bruise and be in pain. 

She called that right. 

And if HR refuses to file a WC claim, I'll call the leasing office of the building and file a liability claim for the doctor visit and any subsequent care I need.

Oh, and the reason for the termination?  That I perpetually fostered a sense of a hostile work environment, threatening fellow employees (by remarking that sometimes the people who created problems by not following through made me want to go on the warpath and scalp 'em -- ok, bad thing to say out loud, but not bad as bad as threatening to take someone out in the parkin' lot --  called the two miscreants 'bitches' more than once (I muttered it to myself in the meeting and that was the only time).

Meanwhile, the two miscreants are still employed, and were smiling broadly as I was going to the conference room.  

Well, I was job huntin' when I got this job, and can do so again.  Hell, I'm only 53.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Bad Side of Fandom, But Also the Good

On Saturday, 19 Jan, I went to the Chicago Motorcycle Show and Swap Meet which was actually in St. Charles, IL. That's a suburb of Chitown on the West Side.  Originally, it was because of the advertisement that Charlie Hunnam from 'Sons of Anarchy' would be the Guest of Honor.  Well, that got changed, and Mr. Tommy Flanagan and Mr. Theo Rossi attended as Mr. Hunnam was workin' on a film and couldn't keep the date.

In show business, that can happen.  If a good job comes along, y'all may have to renegotiate a previously planned personal appearance. 

That didn't keep people from kvetchin' about the change, though the promoters of the event did as much as they could to advertise the change of GOH in advance.  Perchance promoters of personal appearances like these may need to go back to old catch line 'subject to availability of the star at the time of show' phrase. 

That in itself isn't the reason for this first blog of 2013.  It's some of the attitudes and behaviours I witnessed at the show.  There was some good, but there was a lot of ugliness.  Some of that ugliness was directed at Mr. Flanagan and Mr. Rossi, though they didn't know it at the time.

First, I'll admit that yes, these gentlemen are recompensed for their time. That's a part of agreein' to do these things, and goes back many, many decades. That's as it should be.  They are takin' time from friends, family, and other pursuits to fly to a town they won't get to sightsee very long - if at all - meet and greet people, sign autographs, pose for pictures, and be an ambassador for their show.  They have to smile through some of the most bizarre, personal requests during that short period of time they spend with each fan.

The promoters of this show had two VIP opportunities.  Pay some big bucks ($100 for VIP meet/greet and over $260 for a breakfast meet and greet) for the opportunity for a little more up close and personal time with the stars.  The breakfast VIP was a late add on, and I'm not sure it was a good idea.  It started the day very early for the guys, who didn't get in to Chicago until 2AM CST!!! 

More on that in a moment, as I have to address an issue that was imparted to me by a very good source.  Mr. Rossi and Mr. Flanagan were stalked/followed by some very aggressive fans at the airport when they landed.  The fans demanded time, attention, etc., and even followed the guys to see where they were stayin' (since the event was being held at a resort/golf facility/convention complex, it wasn't hard to figure they'd either be stayin' there, or at one of the nearby $$$ hotels)!  Regardless of whether they were stayin' at the resort or at another hotel, it wasn't any of these fans business WHERE the guys were stayin'!  They had just gone through a four hour flight, they had an early call to prepare for the breakfast and no time to adjust to the time zone changes, yet they were expected to smile and make nice for these people who descended on them like flies to a pile of stuff left behind by the horses?  If it had been me, I'd have probably told 'em to go to Hades in a heartbeat.  Maybe that's why I'm not an ambassador!!! 

Anyway, back to the breakfast.  Besides the fact that it made for an early morning for the guys, I heard rumblings from people who had purchased the breakfast pass that they weren't told where to go, and there were too many people.  This was in passing at the swap meet where a very boisterous VIP pass wearer was makin' his opinion known to anyone who would listen.  One of his comments was "I paid damn good effiin' money to talk to those guys, and no one would tell me where I was supposed to go to see 'em!' 

Granted, the gentleman felt cheated, but that was NOT the guys fault!  I doubt they knew about the lack of information being made available to the 'VIP' card holders.  The people to complain to would've been the event organizers, not the attendees.  The promoters/organizers would also have been the people to blame, not the guys. 

Same thing for the first general meet/greet.  The published program/calendar indicated that Mr. Rossi and Mr. Flanagan would be at two different places during the day.  That's possibly because the organizers thought more people would have an opportunity to meet the stars by splitting them up during both sessions.  Again, based on a very good media source, Mr. Rossi vetoed that idea upon arrival.  If only one of the cast is attending a show, that's one thing, but if two are attending, they do the meet and greets together.  Therefore, the first general session was hastily switched to the swap meet venue across the street from the resort. 

Mumblings and grumblings erupted at the 'Mega Event' area of the resort when the news got out.  This problem I place squarely on the organizers.  Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but this situation could've easily been avoided had someone on the organizer level contacted either Mr. Rossi's manager or Mr. Flanagan's representative and made sure of their policy on these things, instead of dictating it to the GOHs.  This is not the guys' fault, but shortsightedness on the part of the organizers for not making sure.  Remember what is said about ASSUME.

This part is conjecture on my part, but I have a feelin' based on grumblings and complaints on the fans' part, that the noonish VIP event might've been oversold.  There were attributes that the VIP session went long because of the number of tickets sold, as when it was supposed to end, not all the ticket holders had had their opportunity. 

I am going to go to bat for Mr. Rossi and Mr. Flanagan about the complaints people on line made about them not even being at the venue at the appointed time of the second session.  Yes, it was cold outside, and a long wait to even get back inside the 'mega event center'.  I was one of those who had to stand outside in the cold.  BUT, keep in mind that originally, the guys were supposed to be on a plane back to LA at 6pm.  The orginal plan was to go to their hotel - which was apparently NOT the resort - freshen up, pack up, load up, and get back for the 2nd session.

The added time on the second VIP meet/greet ate into the guys' time.  Not only did they do all the aforementioned, but they also made arrangements to take a later - and probably the LAST - flight out of Chicago to LA, at 8pm.  That took time, and it might have been a cost they had to absorb. 

Now, before all y'all start playin' your tiny little boomboxes in mock sympathy (I can just hear all y'all sayin' "They make good money!  They can afford it!"), consider this.  They didn't have to arrange to take a later flight.  They could've just said, 'Hey, we're supposed to leave on a plane at 6pm, and we're not alterin' our schedule! You should've planned better."  They delayed their departure in order to accomodate the fans.  They didn't want to disappoint anyone. 

Unfortunately, they had to disappoint a few fans, and that was about 20 or so of us standing at the line when they had to leave for the airport.  One female swine (OK, one bitch) stalked to the door where they guys had exited to get into the limo and yelled at them to get their sorry asses back inside because she'd waited all that time and wanted a pic with them! 

This I witnessed, because the security people had let me go to the platform in hopes of catchin' the guys' attention long enough to give them the gifts I'd brought for them.  Havin' already met both gentlemen at previous venues, it wasn't that important for me to get another pic, but wanted them to have a little somethin' for them. 

For Theo, because of his twitter support of the Indy 9/11 Memorial Project, I brought a t - shirt with the rendering of the Memorial that stands downtown.  Somethin' tells me he never got down to the canal area to see it during the Super Bowl in 2012. 

For Tommy, I had an uncirculated IN quarter in a plastic holder affixed to an autographed pic of myself and Tig - the bike.  That was because I wasn't sure if he'd gotten the ones in 2011 left for him from the SOA fan event. 

Was I disappointed by not gettin' the gifts to them?  Sure, a bit.  But that was my fault for standin' on line, in the cold, and havin' my knees give out on me.  My knees are 30 years older than the rest of me, and the combo of concrete and cold weather made them literally quit.  One of the fans on line, a member of the Gunrunnerz MC nicknamed 'Frosty' was of great assistance, as were two ladies who were ahead of me and kept my place for me outside when I found a place to sit for awhile.  Those same women were willing to hold my place inside when I couldn't stand any longer.  

That's one of the good things.

However, when the line began moving, I was otherwise occupied by the wonderful meeting with two twitter friends.  Instead of dumpin' them, I figured to join the back of the line, and spent time talkin' to these two lovely ladies until the line was about thinned out.  Little did I realize that this was gettin' close to the time that the guys were goin' to have to go.   Had I to make the choice again, I would do the same thing, though probably bring one of those canes with a seat!!! 

Meetin' those two friends was an experience I wouldn't trade for the world. 

There was a lot of good behaviours by the fans, don't get me wrong.  Most were respectful of the guys and appreciated their time and presence.  I didn't see anyone ask for their boobs or arms to be signed, but I might be wrong.  Why people want to do that is beyond me.  It's an embarrasment to the cast member, not to mention it sells you short.  Especially females who flash their boobs - harnessed or not - to be signed.  Maybe they intend to have the signatures tattoed for permanence?  I know not, but cringe whenever I see it. 

One young man walked up to me in one of the vendor areas because he recognized me from the S4 DVD 'Fans of Anarchy' segment.  He was very polite, didn't grab me, though he was a teeny bit of a fanboy at the time.  No, I didn't give an autograph, but I did speak with him about the show, answered his questions about what it was like to be chosen (that I was a total fangirl upon learnin' the news myself).  I thanked him for supportin' the show and bein' a fan and shook his hand.  It was a fascinatin' five minutes, and I hope the young man felt that he was treated properly. 

Many of the fans on line spoke pleasantly to each other, not just about the show, but about life in general.  Some were riders, some were in clubs, some had young children with them.  The women who kept my place for me had active children with too much energy and nothin' to occupy them during the long wait.  The little girl (age 6-8) had gotten a kitty painted on her arm during the event, so I shared pics of my kitties, occupying her for about 10 minutes - giving mom a much needed break! 

Those are the good things.  It's the horrid things like the bleatin' bitch yellin' at the guys to come back for her, the cursin' VIP blamin' the guys for the lack of plannin', and the people who fumed at the guys for not bein' at the venue at the time of the second meet/greet that I found irritatin' and hissed me off. 

I said it before, many times in previous blogs.  It obviously bears repeatin' again.  The stars DO NOT owe us a damn thing!  They don't owe us their time just because we watch their show.  It's one thing if there is an advertised meet and greet opportunity.  That's when they are representin' the show.  That's when they're 'on the job'. 

It's different when the cast member(s) are in the airport, or at a meal or a sportin' event, or some other event where they are NOT 'on the job'.  It's bad enough that they have to contend with the paparazzi.  Aggressive fans like the ones at the IL airport who believe that just because the actor/actress/musician is in a public place that they are owed a piece of that person's time are the total assholes who ruin it for others. 

Yes, I understand, it's easy for me to say, I've had opportunities in meeting famous people throughout life.  And those opportunities came about because I was respectful of the person in the first place! 
Goin' all the way back to the first moment I met a star, 1974 in Toledo, OH.  I met Leonard Nimoy after he appeared in Fiddler on the Roof.  My birth mother arranged for us to meet him, through her association with his personal assistant.  We didn't demand his time, we asked and he was gracious to sign the program for us and to allow Daddy to get a picture. 

That same respect earned me the opportunity to have a personal meeting with DeForest Kelley (Bones) in Atlanta a couple of years later and again in Louisville KY a year after that; and to have more personal interactions with Jimmy Doohan (Scotty) in Atlanta and Louisville. 

Maybe it was my upbringin', and maybe it was just the rarity of bein' called "Mr." by a fan instead of automatically callin' 'em by their first names.  To me, it's respectful to refer to 'em in person as 'Mr.' or 'Ms' or 'Mrs.' until they give permission to be called by their first names.   That's what I owe them.

As for the presents during the SOA S4 fan event?  Why not give them a little something from the heart as a 'thank you' for giving me so much joy?  Why should they always have to give? 

Whether they kept the items or not, that's their business.  I hope they all kept their gifts (and know many did because they said so), and that those little items give them much pleasure.  Once the gift is given, it's given.  So there.

This idea that 'they owe me!' is something we all need to get out of and we need to get out of it right quick.  We need to remember that these stars, be they on SOA or other shows, are people the same as us.  They get tired.  They get sick.  They have families.  They have wishes and needs and desires.  They want to watch a sporting event without being hassled for autographs and pictures.  They want to eat out without being harrassed for a piece of their time.  They want to see their children graduate without havin' unwarranted pics of the event and/or of their families bein' all over the frackin' interwebz. 

They want to be able to walk through the airport or a hotel lobby the same as you and me.  Without bein' mobbed.  Or to be able to conduct a phone conversation without it bein' picked up and shared all over the world.  They just want to be.

Yes, these people chose to be in the 'public eye' from their profession.  That doesn't mean they owe us their all in doing so.  A fan who is respectful and treats the star with respect is going to be better remembered, even on future meetin's and interactions, than the one who is pushy, demanding, and agressive. 

Believe me, I'd rather be remembered by them as a pleasure, not as someone to be endured and gotten away from.

A final note.  Both Theo Rossi and Tommy Flanagan got their presents from me after all.  For whatever reason, as I was limpin' back to my car, their limo was stopped in the traffic lane.  Mr. Flanagan had his window down a bit and was vocal about the limo gettin' stopped. 

I waved, and then yelped when my knocky knees went haywire again.  It's possible that Mr. Flanagan heard me cry out, and the response I made to the fans who asked if I were OK.  I was about 10 feet from the limo when it happened, so then I called out, "Have a safe trip, guys!"

Next thing I knew, Mr. Flanagan was yelling "Thank you!  Love you!" and was holding his hand out the window to me.  So I limped over and shook hands, then took their presents out of my bag and said to Mr. Rossi, "You might not remember me, but this is about the Indy 9/11 Memorial" and tossed it to him.  He initially replied, "I don't remember five minutes ago!" but when he heard Indy 9/11, he remembered and thanked me.  I handed Mr. Flanagan his little gift and said "I didn't forget y'all, either!"

I know this stressed Mr. Rossi out, but Mr. Flanangan seemed very pleased and said, "Let's get a picture!"  He was out of the limo very quickly, hugged me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and asked me if I had a camera while I was protestin' that they didn't have to do that.  (Yes, I was rummagin' for my camera at the time!).  Mr. Rossi got out, we got the picture, and then I kinda shooed them back into the limo.  "Y'all want to get inside before you get mobbed!" 

I didn't expect it, and didn't want to stress Mr. Rossi.  Had the window not been down, I doubt that would've happened.  Maybe it was a little opportunistic on my part, but I'm glad they got their gifts.  That meant a lot to me. 

If the window had not been down, I wouldn't have gone up and beaten on it for attention.  I definitely would've waved.  Even would've called out 'Have a safe trip home!'. 

I think that's what makes a difference.