Saturday, June 29, 2013

Time is on my side

Yes it is.

One of the big worries that has cropped up in my mind the past two years while looking for work is how much time has passed.

Not just the time lost in the search, but the time in my life.

I "think young" (Rodney D. Young?) but I'm also a realist: I'm at an age where age discrimination happens. Employers think they can get someone cheaper, more compliant, more tech-savvy, whatever.

I worried about this, although I honestly don't feel as if I was ruled out of anything because of my age. I made it onto the short list of two great jobs in LA.

When I didn't get the editorship of the alt-weekly I interviewed for, and the job was given to a 20-something woman who actually listed babysitting on her Linked In profile and transitioned into the job from her previous gig selling dresses, I had some concerns. Was it age that worked against me there? It sure wasn't experience.

I tend to think that my failures there, however, were not mine. Science has determined fairly conclusively that island populations tend to regress and die out because of the incestuous, limited gene pool. My previous location was somewhat of an island, and I think that isolated situation worked against me. I always felt I wasn't "of" that place as much. I not only wasn't in the "Good 'ol boy" network, I wanted no part of it.

The concept of a meritocracy is always what I want. Can you do the job? Will you devote yourself to the WORK first? Will all of your efforts be in the service of the profession?

That's how I operate in a job. I just can't be half-assed about it. And, I have no tolerance for workplace politics and bullshit that have NOTHING to do with why you're there.

Who has the energy for that? If you're pouring yourself into the work, maximizing your abilities to improve whatever business you are in, there shouldn't be any time left over for frivolous, non-business-related game-playing.

But where I was, this was a significant part of the equation. It wasn't what you knew, it was more who you knew. You had to "manage up." You had to suck up. That's not my strength.

I manage "down." The people who actually do the work are more important than those who oversee the work. Think about it: generals don't fight the wars, soldiers do.

So my policy has always been, focus on the soldiers.

But that place is long behind me now. And very soon, I will be working at a place that has looked at my body of work and said, "this person can help us be better."

And I will help them be better.

I'm relieved, excited, very happy... and validated. I was evaluated on objective merits. That's all I've ever wanted.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Some Good, Some Bad

I landed a longer-term part-time assignment last month. At the time it happened I was told (twice) that the job paid at a rate of $17 per hour.

Not Walton money, but money that would come in handy, and money beyond the scale of the other jobs I'd been working for the district. As a classroom aide, I made $66 per day. As a substitute teacher, the rate was $80 per day; $85 after 20 days of service.

The job was to provide one-on-one monitoring and work with a troubled six-year-old boy with fairly pronounced anger issues. On May 16, the kid had a meltdown in the classroom, throwing items, screaming, and uttering a variety of colorful threats and expletives, the highlight of which was telling a girl he'd put something in her vagina.

I don't think I even knew that word until I was a teenager.

Anyway, this type of work isn't my favorite thing. It's unwinnable. The most optimistic outcome is to manage the situation, and hopefully provide enough guidance and oversight to let the class proceed somewhat normally.

After four of the five weeks, I'm fairly pleased with the results. He's reduced his outbursts significantly; the last few days of the week went quite well.

Just not for me. The district has decided to fuck me over, now saying that the person who told me (twice) that the rate for this gig was $17 per hour was mistaken, and that I'd get the sub teacher rate.

Now, odds are very likely that had they said at the time of the job that the rate was regular teacher sub pay, I'd have taken it.

But that wasn't what they told me. Contractually, I think this is no contest: they offered, I accepted, then they said they fucked up but too bad so sad. But I have no hammer. If I fight them on this, I could probably win. But it'd be the last time they let me work there.

Welcome to the Modern American Workplace, where you're going to eat it.


During class Friday, before I found out what was happening to my pay situation, I got a call. I quickly shoved it to voicemail, but the local number intrigued me. A little later I had the chance to listen to the message, and return the call.

Guess who's got a job interview Friday?