“G” is for “Glorified Grease-Monkey” – An A-to-Z Blogging Challenge Post

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For the A-to-Z Challenge 2017 I’m writing all about myself. Every post will be some random fact or bit of information about me that you may or may not have already known. Maybe you’ll learn something! Feel free to let me know! ^_^


For those of you who don’t know: I make approximately none of the money through books and/or YouTube. That’s not even a joke; the two things combined make me less money per month than it would cost to take my husband and daughter out for a night at the movies. For that reason, until the world smartens up and starts buying significantly more of my books, or YouTube’s ad revenue system becomes significantly more lucrative, I have a day job. Strictly speaking I don’t have one now (the nature of my work is that a job finishes and I’m unemployed for a while until the next one pops up), but what I am is an Industrial Instrumentation Technician. So why didn’t I use this topic for the letter “I”? Or “T”, even? Well, that’s because I often feel like what I really am is a Glorified Grease-Monkey.

Now, don’t get me wrong…instrumentation can be an extremely technical field. When you’re trying to work out flow coefficients and adjust factors for non-linear temperature curves and stuff like that, it can be really brainy work. But, more often than not it involves a large amount of loosening bolts, tightening bolts, greasing gaskets, tweaking set screws, and sometimes even just taking an extremely large mallet to an extremely large valve body and wailing on the sonuva- until whatever is causing it to stick cracks and allows the internal mechanism to move again.

And there’s lots of dirt, and lots of grease. LOTS of it.

I’m not necessarily complaining; sometimes good old fashioned nigh-brainless physical work can actually be very cathartic. That said, it’s often difficult to explain to people what I do when one day I’m doing derivative calculus to create a proper flow curve for a multi-state process, and the next day I’m wailing on a $75,000 piece of equipment with a mall-hammer like a madwoman.

There is one caveat to this post. On my last job, it was discovered that I was the only person on the crew who had even the slightest talent for not completely screwing up all the required paperwork. So for many months I was actually assigned to locating, printing, and organizing all our paperwork, being the caretaker for it, and keeping track of everything that got handed over to the parent company and when so that we wouldn’t lose any of it. So instead of being a Glorified Grease-Monkey I was instead a Glorified Secretary. Go me!

Liebster Award 2014

It’s been a while since I received one of these, so I was thrilled a couple of weeks ago to see that Jwls MacKay over at 2B Creative had sent me a Liebster Blog Award. It’s always so great to receive peer recognition, and I particularly like this award because it is meant to be given to bloggers with fewer than 200 followers, so as to help the gain some publicity. To participate in the award, you must answer the ten questions left to you by the person who nominated you for the award, then award ten more blogs that you think are worthy and send them ten questions of your own.

So without further ado, here are my answers to Jwls’ questions:

1. When did you begin blogging on WordPress?

My first WordPress post was written and published on February 19th, 2012, right after creating this blog. I had had several blogs, journals, websites, and the like over the years and I’d finally decided that it was time to start acting like a professional. I closed down many distractions that had been fun at the time but ultimately served me no purpose or had no future in my life, and consolidated my online presence to what I felt were the most important sites: Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and a few others that serve a purpose. Then I created this blog to bring it all together and to give myself a place to interact with the world while writing consistently and building my own personal voice. It hasn’t grown as fast as I might have hoped, but it still amazes me every day to see that people are, in fact, logging on to read my words.

2. What is your main focus on your blog?

It started as a place to talk about writing, being a writer, and the writing process. I soon established that this kind of focus isn’t really sustainable in the long term, and it is also only really interesting to other writers. I started splicing in little stories about my own life, my opinions on things, and bits and pieces of fiction that I’d written. These days I would say that my “focus” is simply maintaining an online presence while sharing my writing and my style with the world.

3. What inspires you to write?

Art of all kinds, whether it be ancient or modern, prose or poetry, adventurous or romantic. I draw inspiration from others’ books, TV shows, movies, and video games. I see what other people have done and I think to myself, “I can do that.” When something of another person’s creation gets my heart pounding, or makes me cry, or makes me think, or turns me on, or blows my mind, or gives me goosebumps…that is what inspires me to write.

4. What is your most unusual writing place?

Probably the one I’m using right now. I’m currently scribbling this post in a 3″ notepad while I sit in a trailer full of instrumentation techs (my coworkers). I’m wearing two layers of clothes underneath a pair of dirty coveralls with screwdrivers and wrenches in the pockets, and I’m leaning the notepad on my lap as I write because the table I’m sitting at is covered in work folders, paperwork, and our lunches.

5. Does music inspire your creativity?

It depends on the music. Pop music…absolutely not. But a more classical piece…yes. Music with words doesn’t really inspire me most of the time because a lot of what’s out there is just a pile of carbon copies of the same few themes: I love you, I hate you, I miss you, I wanna party, I wanna do nasty things. But with classical music you can imagine your own story emerging from the highs and lows, the beautiful melodies and the dissonant notes. I find that kind of thing very inspiring, not to mention peaceful and relaxing. 

6. Why do you follow blogs?

The simplest explanation is usually the correct one; I follow blogs because I enjoy reading them. I like hearing about what my peers have to say, what they’re worrying about today, or what achievements they’ve enjoyed recently. I also feel that “author platforms” and social media communities are a two-way street. If you want your blog posts (or status updates, or tweets, or whatever) to be read/followed/liked/commented on, then you have to take the time to do the same to others’ work.

7. What other creativity sites do you belong to? (Instagram, Instacanvas, writing.com, etc)

These days I don’t use many different creativity sites because I’m more I’m more about focusing on my blog and my fiction writing. I have an old DeviantArt account that I never bothered to close even though I never draw anymore, and I’m a member of Flickr only because it’s a treasure trove of images that I can use on the blog (if the owner has given the proper rights). As for sites that I really use, the big one is FanFiction.net. Since I love writing fan fiction, but can’t legally publish it, I love this site for sharing what I’ve written. I also have an account on the sister site, FictionPress.com, but I don’t use this as often. It’s meant for sharing original work, but since most of my original work is stuff I’d like to actually publish someday, I don’t tend to post anything there these days.

8. Do you believe the arts should be taught in school?

Not only do I believe it, but I feel that they should be given significantly more focus. I’m not saying that we should neglect important things like math and language, but I feel that artistic kids are given the shaft in today’s educational system. Creativity outside of the highly-limited art and music classes are generally frowned upon, as the system tends toward favoring wave after wave of little carbon copies who memorize and regurgitate. And I’m not just defending those kids who genuinely want to become writers, artists, or musicians…creativity is extremely important in many other fields, such as marketing, architecture, and journalism. Being able to think creatively can give kids a huge step up on an unlimited number of vocational options. Hell, being able to be a little creative and think outside the box is probably the only thing that makes me a decent instrumentation tech.

9. How old were you when you decided to develop your creativity?

Young enough to barely remember. I’d say the trigger happened sometime around the third grade. Back then was when I first started both writing and drawing. I wrote because it was fun, and it simply never stopped being fun. I drew mostly because I enjoyed the positive reinforcement I got from people when they saw me drawing. Eventually the positive reinforcement wasn’t enough for me…I wanted to actually get better, and it seemed like I never did, so drawing started to lose it’s appeal. Writing, however, has never lost any of it’s appeal to me, even during times of my life when no one was reading.

10. What is your paying occupation?

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m an Instrumentation Technician. Most people tend not to know what the hell that is, and the simplest explanation I’ve come up with is that I’m like an electrician, but I work with valves and control programs instead of motors and high voltage.

———-

Now, normally this would be the part where I nominate ten more blogs for a Liebster award. Unfortunately I won’t be doing this part, but I have a good reason…see, after the first ten minutes of sorting through the list of blogs that I follow it became evident to me that I’m one of the only bloggers I know who falls under the “200 or fewer followers” category. Almost every blog I follow has many hundreds, if not many thousands, of followers. I’m sure there must be a few blogs on my list that meet the criteria, but to be perfectly honest I’m not willing to spend the next few hours sorting through them. So, blogger friends, if you happen to fall under the category of having fewer than 200 followers, I officially nominate you for a Liebster. If you wish to accept and answer my questions, please leave a comment here letting me know so that I can check out your answers. 🙂

That said, for any who wish to accept my open award, please answer the following questions:

1. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
2. If you didn’t become what you wanted to become, why not?
3. What kinds of cartoons did you like as a child?
4. Be honest…are there any cartoons that you still watch now?
5. What is one skill that you really, really, really wish you had?
6. What TV show or movie could you watch over and over and over, and why?
7. If you could be any superhero in the known universe of superheroes, which one would you be?
8. What is one regret you have about your past?
9. What is one wish you have for your future?
10. If you could go back in time and tell your past self about your present self, what is something that past you wouldn’t believe about his or her future?

Hoping to see some responses!

How I Became the Exact Opposite of What You’d Expect Me to Be

Most of you who happen to be reading this blog know that I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl. What only a few of you will know is what my day job is. I am an industrial instrumentation technician by trade, and many times since I began this career I have been asked how I happened to come into such an occupation. It’s a valid question. Even in this day and age the industrial and construction trades are a vastly male-dominated field, and even without going into the gender issue I simply do not appear to be the kind of woman who would do this kind of work. I’m small, I don’t appear to be very strong, and I enjoy activities that lean to the artistic side of the spectrum, and yet I do a job that requires a lot of grunt work, numbers and technological understanding, and often lands me in positions that are dirty, loud, and either extemely hot or extremely cold.

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This was once my desk. Can you FEEL the dirt and stress?

So how did an artisticly-inclined girl with aspirations of becoming a novelist wind up in such a physical, technology-based, male-dominated profession? Well the first thing that you have to understand is that, while I’ve always loved the arts and greatly enjoyed such activities as writing, drawing, and singing, I was actually an extremely well-rounded child. To say that I was a nerd would not be stretching the truth in the slightest. I loved school for most of my younger years. I was always great at things like writing essays and book reports, but I was also very good at math and very interested in science. Often on this blog I will focus on the parts of my childhood that lead me to wanting to be a writer, but there were many other important aspects of my childhood that lead me on different paths. I’ve always loved understanding the way something works. When I was two years old my father caught me shoving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into our VCR. In that moment he explained to me what the VCR was for and showed me how to use it, and I think that instilled in me a desire to know how everything worked. When something broke in our house I would take it apart and try to fix it. I rarely succeeded because the problem was usually electrical, but it was fun to try. And it didn’t have to be an appliance or gadget…if anything at all broke I would try to find a way to fix it. I remember once when one of my grandmother’s frames broke, I was determined to repair it for her. The piece that makes it stand up had snapped clean off, leaving two little holes where it had once been. I took a piece of scrap wire – a nice, stiff piece – and carefully bent it into a sturdy rectangle, the ends of which I poked through the holes in the frame. I was extremely proud to have “engineered” a solution. I felt an extreme sense of pride every time I managed to correct a problem.

Sometime in high school I decided that I was going to aim for the technologies, but I wasn’t sure which field to aim for. During my senior year, right around when we were supposed be starting to apply to colleges, one of my teachers told me about this program that was supposed to have an excellent reputation for graduates getting jobs right away. I never was 100% clear on the course or the jobs that would result from it, but it had something to do with GPS sytems. Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do exactly, and I had to start applying to colleges asap, I decided to go for it. As it was, that particular program was not in the cards for me. Oh, I applied, and I got in…that was no problem. But in early August of that year I got a letter from the school, letting me know that the program had been cancelled and that if I planned to attend that September I had to choose a new field of study immediately.

I can remember being panicked. I hadn’t been thinking about what I wanted to take because I had already been enrolled. I scoured the course schedules, looking for something technology-based that wasn’t too mechanical (I had absolutely no interest in cars) or design-centric (I also had no interest in sitting in a room drawing up plans for the rest of my life). What I landed on was something that I didn’t even really understand, but it sounded interesting and I was in a hurry. That program was a dual-graduate program. In three years I could graduate with a diploma in Electrical Engineering, and with one further year I could graduate with a Bachelor of Technology in Controls and Instrumentation. As it turned out I did both, though not with ease. There were some courses that nearly broke my spirit (having a professor with an extraordinarily thick Chinese accent and extremely poor anger management issues did not help), and there was one point during my third year when I nearly had a nervous breakdown, wondering what the hell I was doing and how on Earth I had come to find myself in these strange courses (programming languages were a huge surprise to me, and I don’t believe for a second that there is anyone on this planet who truly understands VHDL language).

But I got through, somehow or another, and I was lucky enough within six months of graduation to get a call from a paper mill located only an hour and a half from home. I moved to town for the job and promptly found out that four years of schooling had taught me positively jack. Don’t get me wrong, quite a bit of the stuff I learned in school was totally necessary, but let me make this perfectly clear: until you have actually worked in the trades, you know nothing.

The rest is history, I suppose. I spent five years at the paper mill, doing industrial maintenence. I was the first and only woman to ever be on the instrumentation crew at that mill, an honor that I’m fairly certain I still hold. I learned a lot, whether it was doing complex calculations and redesigning parts of the overall control program, or hanging underneath a grim-drenched pulp refiner with grease in my hair and dirty water dripping off my wrench and into my mouth while I fought with a jammed valve. And then, when the mill shut down, I took the (for me) ultimate leap and travelled out West to try my hand at commissioning work, which involves significantly less grease and grim, but significantly more unfortunate weather issues.

But when it comes right down to it, when people ask me how I wound up in this job, I always have to think about it for a moment or two before I answer, because honestly, half the time I don’t even know. What I do know is that winding up in this career, however unlikely it may seem when you look at me, has worked out for me. It’s not always glamorous work, but I enjoy it, and it allows me to take care of my family.

And until I become a rich, famous novelist, it’ll just have to do. 😉

You Know What Opinions are Like, Don’t You?

A fellow blogger, one I happen to follow, has started up an interesting project. This blogger is known as Opinionated Man, and on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy he has come up with the idea for “Project O“. Basically, throughout the month of September he is going to be researching and discussing the concept of “opinions”, what they are, where they come from, what factors in our lives affect the ones we have. He plans to do this by way of information gathered from us, the bloggers, the readers, the people around the world connected together by the internet.

opinionsI thought this sounded particularly interesting, so when I saw that he released a template of questions for use in the project, I decided to write a blog post answering them. As per his requests, I will also be emailing my answers to him for use in the project, and I urge you to do so as well, should you decide to take part on your own blogs.

So without further ado, here we go:

Question 1: Please provide a window into who you are, some background information in a not too overwhelming profile here.

I’m a wife and mother, and an only child, but I grew up positively surrounded by cousins. I was a book-nerd kind of kid growing up, as well as a bit of a geek (I liked Star Wars, anime, video games, etc). I never had a lot of friends, but I loved the few I did have. I’ve wanted to be a fiction writer since the third grade, but somehow or other I became an instrumentation technician by trade. It’s a very male-dominated field but I’ve had surprisingly few issues in my seven years in the trade. These days I write whenever I can and aspire to become published sooner rather than later.

Question 2: If you haven’t already done so please provide your country of origin, whether you are male or female, an age would be nice, and where you currently live if that differs from the country of origin.

Country of origin and the country I’m currently living in are both Canada. I’m female and 29 years old.

Question 3: Recount the first time you remember having a differing opinion from someone significantly older than you. Do you remember what the topic was about? Did you voice your opinion or hold it to yourself?

The first time I can remember having a really strong opinion to the opposite of my elders was when I first started to realize that I thought religion was hooey. I was in the 7th or 8th grade, I believe, which is when Catholic kids complete their “Confirmation” ritual. It involves going to church every week for so many weeks and doing this and that and there’s a big ceremony at the end…and after a couple of weeks of church (I hadn’t really gone since I was little) I remember thinking, “This is ridiculous, I don’t believe a word of it, and so why am I trying to become a permanent member of this church?”

I did voice my opinion to my father, who more or less told me that I could believe whatever I wanted, but that it would probably be worth it to just complete the confirmation and be done with it since some of my family is very religious and it would likely have ended up in a huge fight. I took his advice and never went to church again after that ceremony.

Question 4: What levels of respect were practiced around you when you were a child? Was there bowing involved, handshakes, “yes Sirs and yes Ma’ams,” or some  other equivalent respectfulness in your culture’s tongue? Is an honorific given to someone older than you and do you often respect and practice that? How might the culture you were brought up in have affected the growth of your own opinions?

There weren’t a lot of honorifics in my childhood. Mostly we were just expected to watch our mouths (no profanity) and our tones (no smart-mouthing). I don’t know if it was a product of my upbringing, or if it’s a general feeling that I absorbed from my environment, but I grew up believing that age has nothing to do with respect, and that it doesn’t matter if you’re 100 years old and I’m five, you do not automatically get my respect if you haven’t earned it. There are, in my opinion, too many older people out there who feel that they should be respected by the sheer fact that they’ve survived for a while longer.

Question 5: How traveled are you and to what degree do you keep up with international news? You might also provide an educational background if you wish and if that education was gained from somewhere other than your current location. How available is the news and what goes on in the outside world to you in your country?

I’m not particularly traveled. I’ve only traveled within Canada, and not even all the way across (I’ve started in Nova Scotia and gone as far as Alberta). I obtained my education (Bachelor of Technology) in Nova Scotia. International news is available enough here (if not a little bit “tweeked” by the media), but I can honestly say that the degree to which I keep up with it is minimal at best. I glean my news stories from what others deem to be important (my husband might tell me about something, or my father might post a status update about it on Facebook). It’s not that I don’t care what’s happening in other areas of the world, but I’m the kind of person who can barely handle the events going on in her own life, never mind the lives of people I’ve never met.

Question 6: If you could share an opinion on a single international incident or topic that you either feel strongly about or that might not be known to the rest of the world what would it be? You have our attention.

As mentioned above, I don’t really keep up on the news or international incidents, but if there was one topic that I’d impress upon the world if I could, it would be the stigmas surrounding depression. These days it’s been proven that depression can stem from any number of factors, including physical (hormonal, for instance) ones that in no way reflect a person’s life or situation. I’ve seen people be berated for “pretending to be depressed” because the feeling is that someone can’t be depressed if they have what is considered to be a “good life”. Too many people think that depression is only allowed if the person has “real” reasons (got fired, wife left, someone close died) to be depressed, but there are scads of reasons for someone being depressed. I myself had a doctor check me out for chemical-imbalance depression because of a couple of other complaints I had brought to him, and the reaction I got from a few people close to me was very simply, “you’re not depressed”, as if it was an impossibility. I wasn’t, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to presume to know what’s going on in my mind and body, and true depression – whatever the cause – is a very dangerous thing to ignore and scoff away.

Question 7: What does the right to an opinion mean to you? Is it essential to freedom to have this right? How far would you go to protect that ability? The world is on fire with people of passion, how passionate are you about things you value?

This is a tough one because while I believe everyone has a right to their opinion, there are plenty of cases in which someone’s opinion is clearly wrong or psychotic. For instance, a kid who shot up his school because he was being bullied had the opinion that his tormenters deserved to die.

I do believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, but how you act on that opinion is the real trick.

I’m passionate about a great many things (the depression issue above, acts that I consider to be extremely poor parenting, the current employment insurance scandal going on in Canada, and so on), and this kind of passion inevitably leads to a battling of opinions. It can be very difficult, in these situations, to grit your teeth and accept that other people have different opinions. How does one find a happy medium in this sense when your opinion is that another person’s opinion is wrong? It’s a bit of a catch-22, isn’t it?

Question 8: Is it ever right for you to be allowed an opinion while someone else is denied that same right on the same topic?

In my opinion (haha, this is getting silly…) there are plenty of situations where I would deny someone their opinion. People are going to have an opinion whether you like it or not, because that’s the way that works, but I would deny someone their opinion if they had absolutely no knowledge or experience of the topic at hand. For instance, say I’m yelling at my daughter in the mall for doing something bad, and someone comes up to me and berates me for yelling at her because I’m “causing her psychological issues”. If that person has no kids of their own, has experienced no psychological issues as a result of the same kind of situation, and has never so much as opened a book on psychology, then what right do they have to impress their completely-pulled-out-of-my-ass opinion on me?

Question 9: The last question. upon completing this template and hopefully contemplating the issue what does this project mean to you? How can Project O potentially enlighten or help the world?

Mostly I’m interested to see some of the outcomes of these questions. Opinions are a tricky concept because they can come from so many different places, including but not limited to plain old base emotion. I hope that reading other peoples’ responses to these questions will help people to understand each other a bit, and maybe even help them learn a bit of tolerance.

“Assume” Makes an “Ass” out of U and M-…Actually, No, Just You.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in order to fully understand this post it bears repeating that I’m an instrumentation technician by trade. What this means, for those who have never heard of the term “instrumentation” is that I work with the machinery, special technology, and programing that makes plants, factories, refineries, and so on run. These days it’s a very technological field with lots of computer-intensive work, but less than two decades ago it was a very grease-monkey-esque kind of job. Even today, depending on which area you work in, there’s a lot of bull-work, messy work, physically demanding work, and good old fashioned beat-crap-with-a-wrench-until-it-works kind of work. In other words, it’s a male-dominated field.

grouppicWhen I first began working at the paper mill where I got my first career-related job, I was actually the first woman to ever be hired to work on the maintenance team. From the day the mill opened over 50 years ago, to the day I was hired approximately 7 years ago, the only women who had ever worked at that mill were secretaries, clerical workers, or the types of engineers who spend most of their time at a desk. I was the first one to actually be out in the field, getting my hands dirty, working on the machinery. In those first few months I got quite a few looks from the men – especially the older ones – and I can’t really blame them too much because I was 22, short and small, and unassuming. I looked like the kind of girl who spent a lot of time fixing her lipstick in the morning (a stereotype that was exacerbated by the fact that I’ve always worn bright red lipstick, regardless of what I was going to be doing that day). But here’s the thing; even though I got a few looks here and there, and it took the guys a while to get used to the fact that there was a woman on their team, the guys I worked with were civil. Even if they secretly thought I was a joke and that I should go home and find a job more befitting a woman’s stature, they never said anything. If they had a problem with me being there, doing the job that had been a man’s job for decades, they kept that attitude to themselves.

Where it belongs.

Fast forward seven years to the present. Last week I woke up to an unpleasant surprise. The plastic tubing running to the water filter in our basement split, and was spraying all over the room. It was quite a mess. The tubing was shot and the small valve that isolates that particular piece of tubing was faulty, so we had to turn off our main water line to stop the leak. Until the tube and the valve were replaced, we had no water.

Now here’s the thing; I’m an instrumentation tech, and my husband is an electrician. Neither of us is a plumber, but instrumentation is a hell of a lot closer to plumbing than electrical is. As part of my job I understand tubing and valves. They aren’t rocket science, especially when you’ve seen a million of them. So since my knowledge was a step up from my husband’s, I detached the broken parts, hopped in the car, and headed off to Central to get some replacements.

Here’s where the story goes sour, because, you see, Central has a lot of bits and bobs. In the enormous aisle filled with shelves and shelves of parts, I couldn’t locate the one particular valve I needed, and after a lengthy search I decided to ask for assistance. The man who was running the Plumbing counter was about 50 years old or so, and I could see the look in his eye the second I approached him.

A few extra bits of information before I finish this tale:
– I arrived at Central in the clothes I’d been wearing while dealing with the leak, which were dirty and wet,
– I was tired-looking and probably a bit stinky because I hadn’t had a shower yet,
– I was holding the broken parts when I approached the clerk,
– I quickly demonstrated my knowledge by asked for  a replacement part by name, and explaining what size pipe I needed the part for.

In other words, everything about my appearance and the words that came from my mouth showed that I had been the one dealing with the problem. Regardless of all that, would anyone like to guess what the first words to come out of the 50-year-old male clerk’s mouth were?

“Well, hon, what your husband has to do is…”

It truly amazes me how in this day and age, a customer service representative would find it acceptable to jump to that sort of assumption. Also, he used that exact phrase at least three more times before I was finished talking with him.

IMG_0959I mentioned this encounter on Facebook later that day, once I’d (successfully!) repaired the leak and restored water to our home. The responses that I got were ones of empathy from friends who had dealt with the same thing. One woman had a real estate agent constantly hyping a large garage to her husband even though the husband doesn’t drive and it’s the wife who was interested in the garage in the first place. Another friend, who happens to be of a race with dark skin, was told by a salesperson in a formal clothing store that “someone like him wouldn’t be interested in those clothes”. Another man chimed in that he was once told that the most important thing women look for in buying a car is the cup-holders.

We all make assumptions sometimes – it’s human nature – but it amazes me how often those assumptions are put into play by people who should know better. So often these people are trying to sell you something and they don’t seem to be able to understand why it’s bad form to insult you in the process.

I have many other stories I could share on this topic, like the drum salesman who tried to convince me to pay an extra $100 to set up the drums for me (I built them myself in less than 20 minutes without instructions), or the furniture salespeople who used to ignore Jason and I because we wear geeky shirts and look young (we were making damn fine money at the time). I could probably go on and on forever, but I won’t because I’m convinced of something: that is, every person who is reading this right now probably has their own stories. Right now there are probably people reading this post who were accused of being fat cows when they were 9 months pregnant, or who were laughed out of a high-end clothing store because they weren’t “pretty enough” according to the snarky clerks, or who have seen mothers pull their children away from them because they have a lot of tattoos.

It’s a sad truth of humanity that these things continue to happen even in this day and age when we should have gotten past judging people by appearance alone. The old saying is that “assume makes an ass out of u and me”, but I disagree. To the jerk at Central who assumed that I was a fragile little thing who must be out fetching parts for my dear, manly, fix-it-all husband, I say this: assume makes an ass out of YOU, buddy. Me, I’m totally in the clear.

Have you ever had to deal with people making idiotic assumptions about you? How did you react? How did it make you feel? Please share!

It’s a Full-Time Job Just to Keep Track of the Jobs…

When I was in the eighth grade, one day our English teacher began talking about the difference between jobs and careers. I don’t recall much of the conversation except for this: he told us that on average each of us would have ten different “jobs” throughout our lifetime (and hopefully eventually end up with one “career”).

At the time I remember thinking how silly a statement that was. Ten different jobs? Preposterous! I was going to have one or two summer jobs, tops, then graduate from college and swoop right into my career. There I would stay for the rest of my working life, and retire a financially stable woman.

Kids are dumb.

Contrary to my childish beliefs, within two months of my 28th birthday (hardly my “lifetime”) I had already had the following jobs:
– A paper route (shut up, if you have to get up before sunrise it’s a real job)
– Cashier/server at the cafeteria in the Marine Atlantic terminal building
– Cashier/floor walker at Zellers
– IT assistant at the Coast Guard College
– IT assistant at Cape Breton University
– Cashier/floor walker at Walmart
– Cashier/floor walker at a different Zellers
– Cashier/stock person at a liquor store
– Customer service at a call center
– Instrumentation mechanic at a paper mill
– Instrumentation commissioning tech at Kearl Lake
– DCS commissioning tech at Kearl Lake

Twelve. Twelve jobs, and no careers. The job at the mill could have become a career if it weren’t for failing markets and the fact that even if I’d stayed there, there’s no way the mill itself will be around long enough for me to retire. Twelve jobs, and there will be more to come because even the one I’m at now is not permanent. I could be laid off any time now, and it’ll be on to the next one.

Thinking about this makes me wonder how many people ever actually make it to the “career” phase of life, and/or how long they are able to hold on to it in such an uncertain economy. Instrumentation, technically, is my career, but at any time I could be laid off and there’s never any real guarantee that I’ll find another position. Ideally writing would be my choice for a permanent career, but that requires sacrifices I’m not currently able to make, so that may never happen either. My husband was an electrician for four years, and is currently a stay-at-home-dad. My father drove trucks for pretty much as long as I can remember, but that’s between a couple of different companies and soon he’ll be heading out West as well. I know tons of people who went to college to train for careers they never ended up achieving, and just as many people who had careers and lost them for any number of reasons. Nothing is certain, and any of us, at any time, could end up in a completely different situation than the one we’ve been in, or the one we imagined for ourselves.

Look at your own situation. How many jobs have you had throughout your life so far? How many careers? Do you feel secure? Is there something you’d rather be doing instead? I’m interested. Please share. 🙂