Thursday, March 5, 2009

When you wish upon a star

I am sorry I haven't posted in a long time but I could not get myself motivated. Now, however, things are looking up here at work. For one thing I have moved to a new neighborhood within the same company I have been working at the past 5 and a half years. If you have read past blogs, you know that one of my co-workers has treated me since day one with distain (to be nice) and sarcastic remarks. I have never complained about her (well this blog doesn't count) to management, but anyone could see what my life has been like.

About 6 months ago my company hired a woman to do contract negotiations and to look into consolidating stuff not related to production. She was given a manager title which made my co-buyer absolutely nuts when it was announced by our purchasing director. Needless to say, her discomfort absolutely made my day. I, of course, didn't care what title this person had. I only hoped she would be someone nice and a friendly face in my hostile environment.

"D" (I will call her this from now on) and I hit it off immediately (maybe the fact that we live in the same town about 20 miles from work had something to do with it). For a while we drove together, however she had kid obligations and my early hour was inconvenient for her but here at the office, we maintained a close friendly relationship.

Although business has been down, things are still good enough to keep all employees, so I was surprised when our Director called me into his office a month ago, and informed me that he was, with my permission, transferring me to work under the direction of "D" because she has too many projects and needs help. I managed to maintain a "cool" demeanor even though my mind was cheering madly, and informed him I would be happy to work anywhere in the company I was needed. He did inform me, however, that even though I would be working for "D", I would still be purchasing the products for the other departments as I had been doing the past three years. I love what I do, and this type of purchasing is what won me the "employee of the month award" in June (see Best Surprise in a long time 7/20/08), so I readily agreed to keep this assignment.

"D's" cubicle is on the other side of our building, away from the rest of us, so in my mind, I kept hoping that I, too would be transferred over there, away from my adversary. Later in the day, I went over to thank "D" for the opportunity, and she explained why I would still be purchasing for the other departments. It seems when the other managers were informed of the changes in my status, they agreed only if I be allowed to continue providing the excellent service they had become accustomed to. How is that for a major compliment??? When the word went out, people came over to congratulate me, BUT, needless to say my co-buyer wasn't one of them. It made no difference that my cubicle was still next to her's because I was no longer actually working with her and she could no longer have any opinions regarding my work or for that matter, anything else.

Last Monday, "D" came over to my side of the building to inform me that I needed to start packing because she had finally gotten permission from management to move me over to her side effective immediately. I could hear the happy band playing, see the fireworks and balloons in my mind. She and I walked over to the other side to scope out the empty cubicles, and I was given a choice. They are all larger for one thing (the cubicles purchasing is in now were in the building when we took over but these were added as the company moved in new people) and near the windows. I picked out one on the end of the row behind "D".

It's been almost a week since I moved. My cublicle neighbors (even though there are 6 cubicles in the row, there are only three of us so it's great) are wonderful. The entire admosphere on this side of the building is completely different from my former side. Everyone in the rows behind are warm and friendly, and obviously happy to finally have me here.

So, after 5 and a half years, even though the economy won't allow me to retire in July as planned, I have a new position I love, a new wonderful boss, a new cubicle in a new neighborhood. I can't ask for better while I wait for the recession to improve, no matter how long it takes.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chatsworth sadness

We had a horrible train accident in Chatsworth, California last Friday. The passenger train Amtrak carrying folks from Los Angeles to Ventura county where I live collided with a freight train going the opposite direction. I know exactly where it happened. For 6 years from 1972 to 1978 I lived less than 25 ft from the track carrying those trains and perhaps a half mile from the crash location.

My apartment was so close to the track behind us that when the freight trains like the one involved in the accident went by, the china in my kitchen would rattle. When I lived in the area (I was 29 when I moved there), it was still a ranch area and we would walk beside the track to exercise. Just beyond the accident point is Chatsworth park. Friends from the apartment building and I spent many Saturdays and Sundays there, having picnics, adventures climbing the hills to paint our initials on the rocks, sing alongs and just good old times. The entire area is still home to me. My first independence was in Chatworth and the memories of the area are still vivid in my mind. I can see the entire landscape, even though it's been 30 years. From the reporters' comments and the pictures of the site, I know exactly where the accident happened.

There is only one track. Near the park, there is a 200 ft siding along the track. When trains are running in both directions, one gets the red light just before the park to transfer onto the siding to let the oncoming train pass. The siding is just before a wide curve which leads into a long tunnel going under the mountains into the next valley. Supposedly the engineer of the passenger train missed the red light and kept going only to meet the oncoming freight train just leaving Chatsworth park head on. The results were horrific. Many people died and even more are severly injured. There have been close calls on this track before. There is no visibility coming out of the tunnel onto to the curve and the train going west towards the park can't see if anything is coming out of the tunnel because of the curve.

Having lived in Chatsworth when it was still a very small community, I share the sadness the local residents must be feeling. I pray for the survivors and the family and friends who lost loved ones. I also pray that somehow, something will be learned from this tragic incident to improve the safety. Surely in this day of electronics, there should be some way for the trains to communicate if not with each other then a central location which can inform each engineer what's oncoming. At least there should be some way to cause the engineer to pay better attention to the warning light Maybe it will be better late than never and something good will be gained to protect future train riders.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Best Surprise In a Long Time

I have been a buyer for over 40 years. It's been a wonderful career, and I really couldn't have asked for a better one. The job I now have is for a super company and I will be celebrating my 5th anniversary in just a few weeks. The only drawback to this, has been my co-buyer whom I have mentioned a few times. From the very first day, she for some reason, decided not to like me, I have no reason why, except I believe she had someone else in mind for my position, but I was hired without consulting her. The way she treats (or doesn't treat) me, isn't much better with the rest of the company and she isn't friendly with too many co-workers either.

Over the years, I have pretty much ignored her snarky remarks, choosing instead to befriend co-workers in other departments. This has worked well for me (remember it was these friends who replaced my lost Ipod at Christmas).

Being one of the buyers means that it's my responsibility to purchase what our employees need to fulfil their jobs. Over the years (not just here at this company), I have always tried to provide a genial service to everyone, being as helpful as I can when they have a problem, or don't understand something. If I have a question regarding a buy, instead of returning the request, I call the person to ask for clarification and between us we get it fixed. My co-buyer doesn't do that and never has. Helpful is not her middle name, and never has been.

Now for my wonderful news. In January of this year, my company initiated a new employee reward program. Each month all the employees vote for the co-worker they feel offers the best they can not only to the company but to everyone. The reward is $500.00 and a plaque. On Thursday it was announced that I have received this great honor from my company's employees. I received the notice along with the rest of the employees in the E-mail issued to everyone. When I read it, I started to cry. What a wonderful tribute this is from my fellow co-workers. It affirms the service I have provided the past 5 years has been appreciated. People from all through the building sent me E-mails congratulating me, plus many came over personally to offer their hugs and congratulations as well as ask what I would do with the money. I told each one that it's not the money which is important but just knowing how people feel is the most treasured thing.

As grateful as I am for this honor, the best part is that my co-buyer was not happy one bit. She has not acknowledged this at all, never saying one word ot me, and I do believe I could see smoke rising from her cubicle all day. This alone makes the way she has treated me the past 5 years worth every day I have endured either the silence or the sarcastic remarks. I was the one chosen as the best buyer, not her. What a wonderful high!!!! I just can't ask for anything better. If there were no monitary reward, just having her see the plaque every day will be the most punishing to her. I know this is not what this is supposed to stand for but for now, I accept this honor with the conditions that for a while, this has given me a chance to just rub her face in my glory, and repay her for all the crap sdhe has put me through.

Tomorrow, I will go back to just being another buyer, but nothing will ever be the same again. Both of us know that something happened last week to change not only me but the way everyone looks at our purchasing department. Will it rub off on her?? I doubt it. She is what she is. Will it put a chip on my shoulder? I doubt that too, but what may change is the way I react the next time she issues one of her famous sarcastic remarks in my direction. Only time will tell, but for now, I will bathe in the light of receiving this wonderful surprise.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to Canada and Me

So here it is July 1 and both Canada and I are having another birthday. Fortunately I am a lot younger than Canada but still not a kid any longer, and to be honest, I can't believe I am 65 years old today. I have almost convinced myself that my parents lied about my age and I must be younger, but alas, it's true that I have reached the age which I have always considered old.
We had a company lunch today in honor of new successful products and our president took the opportunity to have everyone sing happy birthday to me which was wonderful.
My Canadian flag is hanging in front of my house as it always does on this day and tomorrow I will change it for the American Flag in celebration of July 4th.
So all in all, it's been another great birthday. I look forward to the next when I will actually be able to retire. Happy Birthday Canada. It's been great sharing this special day for the past 65 years and hope we have many more together.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Where Have The Years Gone

I keep hearing that the older one gets, the worse the memory gets but this week for me it's absoutely not so.

In 1968 I was 25 years old and starting a new job. I remember distinctly that while I was filling out the new employment papers they said I would be eligible at 65 years of age for social security in the year 2008. To my 25 year old mind, 40 years seems so far away and I made a groaning noise and commented how long I would have to continue working before I would be able to retire. One of the other buyers, a woman named Althea was 63 years old and when I made that comment, she reached over the lunchroom table, took my hand, looked me straight in the eye and told me to appreciate the next 40 years, and savor each moment, because they would go past before I could blink more than a few times. She also told me that being forced to retire in two years (this particular company had a manditory 65 year age limit, something legal then) was not something she was looking forward to. I also stupidly remember thinking that she was nuts to want to continue working when she could retire and let the Government support her.

This week, I suddenly remembered every single word of that conversation 40 years ago. I also remember looking back at her 63 year old blue eyes with my extremely arrogant 25 year old green eyes thinking she was an old fogie who obviously somewhere down the line had lost it if she actually thought 40 years could flash quickly by.

Althea passed away in 1979 and I was lucky enough to attend her funeral. By then I was the ripe old age of 36. I have to admit that I was not quite so arrogent at 36 as I was at 25. I still had 29 years to 2008 and I was still not thinking that far ahead. All I could think was that Althea had only 11 years of retirement. It didn't occur to me that they were tough years for her financially. Being forced or retire after being a buyer in an office for so many years, she had to work as a clerk in a drug store, standing on her feet all day because no company would hire a 65 year old. I wish now, I could put my arms around her and tell her how brave she was and how much I now admire her.

You are probably wondering what triggered this long buried memory. On Tuesday, July 1, 2008, I will hit that horribly magical age of 65., which 40 years ago seemed so distant. Of course, Althea was right on the mark. The years have gone by so fast, I have hardly had time to blink more than a few times. I now know that social security is not that richest amount of money I thought it was all those years ago. Also, since then, the laws have changed and now I must work aother year to be eligible. Unlike Althea, I am looking forward to retirement. I have been a buyer for the past 42 years. It has been a wonderful career, but I am ready to pass the torch to some younger buyer who thinks 40 years is a very very long way off. Unfortunately, once I retire, I will no longer be able to remain in California where housing is expensive. My house payment is only $500.00 less than my social security, and one cannot live on $500.00 alone. Fortunately, I have some money put away in my 401K and very close friends who live in Iowa, where I will be able to live a very comfortable life, and not have to work in a drug store, standing on my feet all day.

So here's to all who will b eligible for retirement in the very near future. Those who want to continue working past 65 can now do so, but even though I could continue past next July, it's almost time for me to rest my now 65 year old weary green eyes and switch them from staring at a computer screen all day to black and white pages in good books, which have been waiting a long time to be read. I look forward to retirement, but also mourn the passing of the the many years, and regret that I didn't take Althea's suggestion to savor each and every moment. Fortunately for me, my mind has allowed me to return to that lunch room 40 years ago to give thanks to Althea who turned out to be a very wise woman after all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Changes all around

I have been in a very deep blue funk for the past 2 months, and haven't even had the urge not only to write in my blog but to even open mine or others. All around me there have been changes from my home to my job to the Moose and small changes in between.

I will start with my job. The company hired a new Vice President to replace my mentor, and the differences are night and day. Whereas "S" gave everyone free reign to do our jobs, trusting in his hiring faith, "R" doesn't trust anyone, and micro manages EVERYTHING. It's not as tough on us lowly buyers as it is on the managers but you know how crap filters down, and the reports we are required to do so that the managers can make their reports, fill the days. It makes time go by very fast, I must admit, but the feeling of mistrust is everywhere, and it's not a very comfortable feeling knowing the questions of why things were done can appear at any second. One of the casualties is internet time. I know I can still use my lunch hour to blog, but I just haven't felt the urge lately. Hopefully the urge will return and I have promised myself to try to blog at least once a month.

On top of this, there are 4 of us buyers. I have written about the one who doesn't like me before, but I haven't written about the one I not only get along with, but also commute with three times a week. It's been nice the past 6 months having someone talking to me in something other than a sarcastic manner. This week she gave notice that she will be leaving the company and I am heartbroken. It's a better opportunity for her where her work won't be challenged constantly, and much closer to home, which will save her gas money, but I will miss her terribly, not to mention I will again be spending $70.00 a week on gasoline - UGH.

At home, things are better. I wrote in March that the gentleman who had been rening a room, passed away. He was 81 so it wasn't unexpected. His passing has given me the chance to discard stuff which has been collecting for a very long time. I have been sorting things to move to Iowa when I retire and things I really don't want to move. Goodwill has been the beneficiary of bags and bags of clothes. Having to discard "C's" clothes made me pay more attention to mine and what I no longer wear, and so far 5 huge bags of clothes have been donated. I have also discarded papers I no longer need plus old pills, lotions and stuff like that and will continue to sort and toss. Someone once said that if you don't use something for a couple of year then toss it. I have more than enough stuff to toss in that case. I also moved the treadmill into the family room. I realize that in order to continue to lose weight, I must exercise so each night when I get home, I try to do at least a half hour of walking while watching T.V. Hopefully the last 40 lbs will disappear.

As far as the Moose goes, unfortunately, the funerals continue and we have lost three more very good friends. I have come to accept the fact that because of the Moose, I know a lot of people. Unfortunately, it's very hard to lose these friends, but I also realize that we are aging and this is part of life. All we can do is show our love and respect for those who have passed, and remember them with fond memories and a lot of smiles and a few tears.

We also have new officers at our Moose Family Center, and since I am hoping to leave in the next year or so, I have decided to spend less time as an advisor, giving others who will need to fill my place time to establish their own credentials. The Chapter must trust the word of these women, but if they are not given the chance to help the Chapter grow while I am still here, there could be resentment once I leave which would be wrong not only for these women but mostly for the Chapter. Spending less time at the Moose has been tough but fortunately I am using the time to work around the house, so in the end I truly believe both the Moose and house will benefit.

As I said, there have been changes all around. I have been having my nails done every two weeks for the past 15 years by the same woman. Last week when I walked into the shop, I was told that she had unexpectedly sold the shop (not because of health ) and I must admit, I was not pleased with the work done by the new owner. I have an appointment Tuesday, and will give him another try because I realize every new person should have an opportunity to prove himself. If I am still not happy, I will search for a shop closer to home and hope I have the same luck I had 15 years ago.

So here I am, trying to get my changing life in some sort of balance. What will happen at work is anyone's guess. I son't want to leave the company, having such a short time left to work. My 5th anniversary will be in August and with it comes an extra week's vacation, so I will hunker down and hope the buyer hired will also be a new friend.

So here I am, trying to catch up. I hope everything is well with our blog friends. Unfortunately I haven't checked on anyone's blog the past couple of months. I will try to be a better blog friend and after walking on the treadmill hope to fire up my home computer and pay you all visits more often. In the mean time, keep well and know you are all in my thoughts, even if you don't hear from me.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More Sadness to bear

In Victorian times, strangers would be hired to attend funerals if the family felt there would not be enough mourners to impress other people. I am beginning to feel like one of those professional mourners.

Since my brother passed away December 1st, I have attended 4 funerals. First my brother's, then the two past Governors of our Moose family center. on March 20th someone very close to me passed away at the age of 81. He was the husband of a very close friend who passed away in 1993. I promised her on her deathbed that I would make sure "C" always had a place to live and for the past 15 years, he had a room wherever I lived. "C" was not in the best of health the past 5 years. He had spent too many years smoking and his lungs were in bad shape. He was having trouble adapting to this weakened state plus the loss of dignity in having to use a walker and I think he finally decided that this way of living, was just not worth it. He was taken to the hospital but refused any treatment, and within a few hours he passed away. His memorial service was at our Moose Family Center last Saturday.

This weekend, one of my co-workers passed away. "S" and I had worked at another company for 8 years before this company, and we had an excellent working relationship. He was not a well man, but still there is the shock of his passing. Arrangements are still being made even as I write this.

With each one the past 4 months, I keep hoping it will be the last for a very long time, but, unfortunately, the losses continue. I will again pray that this will be the last for a while.