Deadlines, Assembly lines, and Waistlines 

Since starting my full-time job as a graphic designer, I’ve found myself relying on reading energy. The energy of people, the energy of a room, the energy of collaboration. Trying to gauge how much energy people are investing into projects. Much of the energy of my investment, has gone into cooking with my team. Yes. Cooking. I work for a company that manufactures and sells kitchen appliances. Lots of them. Under several nameplates and in many different stores internationally. 

Today we spent the afternoon going over the care and use guide (also known as a CUG in our line of work). We have an air cooker, which is basically a table top oven of sorts that works best when trying to make frozen foods like fries, nuggets, egg rolls etc… anything you could bake or fry, but without the oil. The collaboration was simple. Get the manufacturing specs together and the engineering notes, throw in (or make up) the names of parts, act out the step-by-step of the process and write it out, throw in the warnings as you come across probable and improbable issues, and hit the ground rolling. Then you eat whatever you make while you type up the findings into a cute little booklet that gets revised 50 times in multiple languages (in our case English and French) before getting mass printed well after the deadline and stuffed into a box for absolutely no one to read. Because who really reads the CUG? 

The food is pretty much the only incentive of the process. Of course, that doesn’t help my waistline. What also doesn’t help my waistline is the fact that I now work a desk job and eat food at work. On top of that…all employees of the company get to check out a product from the product library fresh off the assembly line and available to the public or not. True story. So say…I want to borrow the top selling company dehydrator from the product library. I just go to customer service. Fill out the paperwork and say….I want it for three months. Just put in the date three months from the day I pick it up…and there you go. I have a dehydrator for three months so I can interact with the products we sell without having to purchase the product unless I want to. When I’m ready to purchase the product? I get a discount. A steep discount. 

All this, paired with me trying to take more insulin unlike before, has made me gain ten pounds. I can’t say I’m very happy about that. My weight has been something I became more and more conscious of in college, and now that I’m out of college, it’s become something my attention fixated on, especially since I had lost so much weight due to diabetic complications. I liked being smaller. I liked people noticing how much I lost. Even if I didn’t like how I lost it, I liked the result…..a little too much. Now, I work in a food oriented business, and while I’ve never considered myself fat….I know I am a person who enjoys eating. A little too much. And since eating a little too much and enjoying being skinny a little too much,  I find myself fixated so stupidly on my weight, and wanting desperately to go back to “forgetting” to take insulin and lose it all again. 

When did I get this shallow? There are worse things to be than fat! What is wrong with me!?!? When did I focus my own energy into something so silly and superficial as my weight? How did I get so good at reading the energy of everyone else, that I failed to read my own? 

Busy Week

I’ve been out with people nearly every night this week. Which is odd for me. As an introvert I’m almost always isolating myself to give me plenty of time to recharge, especially since I work in customer service and spend … Continue reading

The Visit

“It didn’t go well.” 

“What do you mean it didn’t go well?” 

“She was pissed off at the state of the store.” 

“What was wrong with it?” 

“We had boxes of clearance that we were scanning out to send off to the clearance center in Milwaukee.” 

 “And she was upset about that?”

“Said it looked messy. So now this week we have two more corporate visits.” 
I nearly walked out in that moment. Not only was it absurd that they were giving us corporate visits on one of the worst weekends to do so, but on the weekend our Regional Visual Manager and District Manager were on vacation, and only days after we were experiencing the trauma of our store manager abruptly leaving us. We had no leadership. We were understaffed because of a sudden outbreak of bronchitis. All of us were at our wits end. Considering we were running the store on a busy sale weekend with only three associates and a manager I thought we had done pretty well all things considered. The clearance product was all packed, scanned, and ready to ship by the end date. So there were a few boxes out on the floor? There was someone at the station working on them while they were there. Corporate had no reason to complain, but corporate always complains. They all do. They try to rule with an iron fist of fear, and never with actual empathetic leadership skills that FastCompany magazine always told me about. 

That day, I had three managers for other stores come to visit and help out. I was called in every which direction. I felt like I had accomplished nothing, and yet, things were getting done. Were it not for that and the fact that I had only just bought my house and needed a stable job, I would have quit that day. Thankfully I had made no rash decisions. Thankfully I had gotten the help I needed in order to get a better handle on the issues I knew my store had, but didn’t have the staff hands, or staff that cared, to get done. 

What pisses me off about the whole thing, is that most of the time when we want feedback or need help, we get ignored. Half the time our e-mails just don’t get answered. Half the time our store managers don’t actually get us answers, or pretend they did when they never asked. It isn’t until after they’ve suddenly gone and quit we suddenly get told all the lies we were lead to believe. Then we are thrown into a chaos so panicked that we end up making things worse. 

At the same time, they do too. Corporate comes in with lists upon lists of issues. Things we simply cannot get done with so few hands. We are missing two managers. A store manager, and a Home Store manager. Our last Home Store Manager up and moved to California. Living the dream with her BF, and probably enjoying a Bloody Mary on the porch of her LA apartment hearing traffic beneath her feet and enjoying warmer weather than we could even comprehend in Wisconsin at this time of year. 

Part of me is so envious of her. 

So I didn’t quit. I’m still there. Discouraged that my applications get rejected and that there isn’t much out there to switch to. I’ve considered going completely design freelance. Still, with how much Papyrus love there is out there in this town, I’m not sure this town is ready for good design. Still, I’m so burned out on work. Black Friday is coming and I was hoping to be gone by now. I suppose I have no reason to complain. I suppose I’m just not in the places I wanted to be because I’m not meant to be. Or am I just not trying hard enough? Am I just not aiming high enough? 

I’ll never be sure. All I know is what isn’t happening. It’s discouraging, especially during a week that has had its fill of discouragement. 

Missed My Meds

I had forgotten to refill my prescription in the hustle and bustle of the week. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. My thyroid has had problems for a while now, and though I would be tired from forgetting to take the pill, I could usually push through the week pretty well. So I ordered more pills, picked them up the next day (of course I was exhausted as usual) and began the regiment all over again. No big deal. 

 
Apparently my body decided it was a big deal. 

 
Monday had been hard. I woke up feeling heavy and achy, almost like I was having the highest blood sugar of my life, but I wasn’t. I was at 97. Pretty much ideal. I felt horrible though. A whole new level of tired. I couldn’t afford to call into work though. Corporate had asked for pictures of a big floor move to send to the board. I wasn’t quite ready because all of the posters and wall decals for it hadn’t come in yet. So I went to work. Cleaned up and organized the area to prepare it for the images (due on Tuesday) and waited. It wasn’t until an hour and a half before I was supposed to clock out that the collateral showed up (it was actually meant to arrive on the previous Friday, but as in most companies Friday means the following Monday). I grabbed the dock manager and a few ladders and in that time we had managed to get things pretty well set. At least photo suitable, with the exception of a few posters I could hang myself the next morning. Things were rushed, but complete, but exhaustion was hitting pretty hard, and I ended up in bed an hour after I came home…at 4 pm. 

 
Tursday I woke up feeling heavy as a large boulder, but knew I had too much to do. I drank 3 cups of coffee and went to work as if I hadn’t had any coffee at all. I was that tired. I finished the project, got all the posters hung. Took the photos I needed, and proceeded to attempt to send them from my phone via e-mail. It wasn’t working. The wifi in our store was bad and I couldn’t use my 3G in the building. So I sat in the parking lot for 20 min, and finally got the pictures sent. I returned to my computer to check out daily calendar to be greeted by a mass e-mail saying something in our written instructions was wrong, and that we had to retake our images of it was completed in correctly. Deja Vu set in as I sat in the parking lot , this time for about 25 min, sending updated images.

 
That afternoon was slow, and because of short staffing, I was stuck in the slowest of all departments: cosmetics. I had a total of two customers in 4 hours, and thankfully they all bought over $200 worth of makeup, because otherwise I’d have thrown myself off the building. At least it had been worth it. 

 
Today, I hit a wall. I went to work. Set up for the sale, and by 9am I knew I wouldn’t make it through the day. I have only called off work (in the last three years) twice. I don’t like missing work. I like being busy and really can’t afford to be off. However, today I couldn’t make it. I left two hours early, and have slept for the last three hours. I could sleep more, but my insulin pump went off informing me that I was out of insulin, so I answered to that call. Yet, I am a whole new level of exhausted. It’s something else for real, a whole other sense of tired, and I can’t wait for my meds to kick back in. Hopefully next Monday I’ll feel better.