Delayed Awareness

Admittedly, in the last two and a half months, I have felt like the world’s pickiest eater when it has come to jobs.

In January, I was beginning to feel some pressure-placed on me both by myself, and from some external sources as well.  When I stopped working late last June, I had told myself that my break would last approximately 3-6 months.  Once I establish a time line, whether it is for an extended sabbatical from work, or whether it applies to something a little less significant like the number of times I would ideally like to run each week, I have a difficult time straying from it even if it is necessary and warranted.  By the time I was into mid January, I was beyond the 6 month tentative end date and so had figured (again with some internally and externally placed pressure) that it was time I get back to some form of work.

At first, I stuck with what I had been talking about for months when it came to my eventual return to work.  I wanted nothing complicated or onerous.  Something really simplistic like serving coffee or stacking papers and moving them from one pile to the next.

As money has never been something I have concerned myself with-in that I’ve never been someone who has demanded a fat paycheque, more so just enough to live within my means-I initially was fine settling for something in and around the minimum wage.

Once I had started sending out applications and resumes, I was soon contacted by a daycare which offered me on-call shift work at about $13/hour.  At first I thought this was ideal and perfect: it would still allow me the time and energy I needed to put into my own tutoring, in the hopes of growing the service, but would allow me some outside revenue to come in and a chance to work with children.

After the initial excitement died down from the offer and after I had accepted it, I began to take a bit of a closer, more logistical look at how this could work.

I wasn’t being guaranteed any regular hours, and the job was on-call which meant – for a daycare – that I would likely be called in very last minute.  Maybe even receive some very early morning phone calls.

After some consideration, the offer was no longer appealing to me.  I am someone who likes some form of structure and routine, especially when it comes to looking after myself.  If I was going to be getting called in at the last minute, it might mean that I would have to drop other plans that I had had for myself and also might make working with my tutoring clients a bit more challenging.

So, after accepting the position, I changed my mind and declined it.

Soon after, still on a kick for a simple, minimum wage position, I began to define with a little more clarity something I might enjoy doing for a few hours a day to secure some outside revenue that would still allow me the freedom and time to build the tutoring services I had started.

Ian’s mom does part time cleaning on her own, and to be honest, it was always something that I found wonderfully appealing.  I am someone who really enjoys cleaning-I find it cathartic.  I enjoy the manual labour aspect of it, and also the tangible feeling of a completed project.  The idea that I could possibly do this, and balance it with teaching sounded like it too, could be a wonderful fit.

I applied for a job posting to a very small, independently run cleaning company and successfully interviewed for it.

Despite noticing that the manager of the company seemed to be someone who worked more on a last minute basis, and struggled perhaps with organization, I still accepted the offer.

The weekend before I was to start my first week of work was eye-opening.  As I was trying to schedule in my tutoring clients, I desperately tried to secure my schedule from the owner of the cleaning company, but to no avail.  By the time Sunday evening rolled around, she had told me I could go ahead and make the plans I needed to and that she would work the schedule around me.

It took several attempts at messaging too, before I was able to finally get the start time and address of where I would be going on Monday morning, for the first client’s home.

By the time the end of the day came around on Monday and after I had finished my first very disorganized 8 hour shift with no breaks, I knew the job was not for me.  I sent in a short message declaring as much, and resigned.

Within a few weeks, I had sent out a number of applications, but the radius of my search had extended.  As I referenced in a post some weeks ago, following a conversation with Ian, I understood that perhaps I wouldn’t necessarily find a good fit in a minimum wage paying job, so I upped my standards a bit and began looking at education and teaching jobs.

One posting that quickly responded back seemed (again) like the perfect fit.  It was for a teaching position at a language centre which seemed to mirror exactly what I was trying to do with my own tutoring: work with government employees, international students and immigrants and individuals who were looking to work on their English language skills.

THIS was it.  It had to be.

After a short phone interview, which sounded promising, I was invited in for a face to face interview.  The first stage of the interview went well enough, but when I went through the second stage, my gut started nudging me, quite forcefully that perhaps this wasn’t as great a fit as I thought it was.  I was met with some condescension by a higher level manager who essentially dismissed and discredited most of my working experience.  Because he saw my qualifications and experience as essentially irrelevant to the position, he said he would be willing to pay me just above the minimum wage.

Ignoring my gut, I went along with it.  I think I figured at the time that it still seemed like it could be a good fit and the hours were such where I could still easily do my own private tutoring.

Within the first week, I learned that I had been given the sole responsibility of teaching two full classes, whereas other teachers were not managing the same work load.  There was also a considerable amount of prep work to do for the classes I would be teaching, but no paid prep time.  All prep work-some 6 hours of it each week was to be done on my own time, without reimbursement.

A lot of things began clicking and not in a very favourable light.

And again this realization dawned on me after I had accepted the position.

I am currently planning on finishing out the month with the position, which will be in two weeks time.  At that point, I will approach the management to request a few changes happen and make a case for why they should happen.

I am admittedly not terribly optimistic that my requests will be met, but I feel at this point I need to advocate for myself a bit, which is something I have been working very hard on during this last year.  The worst case scenario is that my requests will not be met.  The important thing and the fact that perhaps negates losing the job will be that I stood up for myself.

There have been too many instances now, over the last ten plus years where I have allowed situations to extend for far longer than they should have, because I have hoped that things would change or become different somehow.  I never was one to proactively make those changes or differences come about though.

I have noticed now in these last two and a half months that my awareness for bad or intolerable situations has improved a lot, in that that awareness actually exists now where once it didn’t.  I do need to work on my timing though, and strengthen that awareness so that perhaps in moving forward, I can identify these instances where I might be taken advantage of before I dive into them head first and realize it later.

I haven’t noticed a lot of change in myself now over this last year.  That’s not to say I am discrediting myself or suggesting that there hasn’t been change.  I think though, sometimes it can be hard to notice things about oneself.

One area where I have noticed a change is how I see employment and myself fitting together.  My tolerance for empty promises or a lack of employer value has gone down significantly, and I  am now less likely to put up with a less than great situation for long.

Which is something.

With Love,

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Olivia Shaw

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