Saturday, March 23, 2019


I've been training in quality control. I like it, but although it is the same company, things are quite different in that department.

Thursday afternoon, I got quite a complicated pallet of work, and since I am new, I try hard to be careful. I went to the woman who trained me, and explained what I was doing and that it was likely to take me a while. She said told me not to worry about it, but she also told me to make sure that I put myself in off-standard work.

Off-standard means that they will not calculate your efficiencies using that time frame. In my last department, putting yourself in off standard was a big no-no. That was called 'cheating', pure and simple.

I met, and exceeded, the standards in my previous department but I always thought it was unfair that they calculated the time spent on replacing the labels in your printer, or having difficulty with the computer, or having any problem that required you to find someone to ask questions. It really rankled me to hear the word 'cheater' bandied about so freely.

I consider myself a person of integrity. That is not to say that I'm perfect, but it does mean that I try my best and that I don't think there is any reason that my honesty should be in doubt. I don't believe that I've given them any reason to doubt it. I was plain spoken about this, something which did not endear me to the supervisors there.

I worked away at my new job, patiently, carefully, working as quickly as I could, but still, I still had another pallet of mixed cases the next morning. I worried about that,  so when my supervisor came around, I explained to her that I would have a lot of off-standard time, and why.

She assured me that I had nothing to worry about. She said that if she saw I was in the same case for hours, she'd have questions for me, but she didn't see that as something that would ever be an issue with me.

It was a little shocking to hear that. She was saying, in effect, "I trust you. I trust your judgement."

Those are important words for an employee to hear.

I went back to work, and eventually I got through those cases and on to less challenging stuff. I flew through that.

Here's the rub. I'm not meeting standard there, and I do not understand why. It is frustrating to me. I'm not even in the ballpark. I've been asked several times if I plan to transfer to the department. I tell them, "I would love to, but I will not until I know for a fact that I can meet the efficiencies of this department." (Plainly and simply put, at this company, if you do not meet efficiencies, you will be fired.)

The supervisor in this department has taken it upon herself to insure that I meet efficiencies, extra work for her, and I appreciate it very much.

The first time that she watched me work, she gave me some suggestions. I spent the next couple days working more slowly but using that time to instill a slightly different procedure that incorporated her suggestions. She watched me again yesterday, and actually stopped me to tell me how pleased she was.

Later when we were talking, she told me that I worked at 105% efficiency while she watched me. She also wondered why I wasted time double checking myself. I blinked a little at that. She said, "You don't need to." We talked for a while, she answered a couple questions.  I thanked her. She said, "My job is to make sure all my people succeed."

I went back to my desk and went to work.

It is a huge difference to work in a department where you are treated with dignity and where your questions are not immediately perceived as challenging authority.  Seems like a small thing, maybe, but it's a big deal to me. I really would like to stay in this department.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Passing the Peace

I'm doing a Lenten study at my church. It's a small group and the discussion is good. This week's topic was prayer, and a very tiny elderly lady talked about her best prayer time is in the morning, in her silent house. I could imagine her sitting quietly, feeling close to God. 

But later during the discussion, we talked about the parts of our own church service, and her response was poignant. She loves passing the peace. She loves the hugs. 

She is a widow. The mother of six children grown and gone. She lives independently in her own home. 

Passing the peace can be controversial. I tend to stay in my pew and shake the hands (or hug) the people around me. Others roam the aisles. I think of this lady, tiny and frail. If she's in my vicinity, I do leave my pew to give her a hug. She always approaches me with outstretched arms and when I hug her, she says, "Oh Debby!" in such a glad way that always makes me feel as if I am, at that moment, the most important person to her. It's sweet, and it always touches my heart. 

Some folks cannot stand the wanderers. They consider it a disruption. One woman even sneeringly referred to it as 'Howdy Doody Time' (which did make me laugh). 

It doesn't matter to me, really. I like my church and the people in it. I'm also reserved, so I see both sides of the controversy. Last night, I realized how important those hugs can be.

Her children live far away. Those hugs my friend gets on Sunday are likely the only hugs she receives regularly, so they have to last her the week.

 I made sure to gently hug her before I left, one of those big enveloping hugs. She hugged me back, and she said, with her usual gladness, "Oh Debby!" 

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


It was the first day of spring. Even better it FELT like it!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Answer Me This...

Why is it that I can fall asleep soundly on the sofa and not hear a single thing? Not the news, not Wheel of Fortune, slept through a full half of Jeopardy.

It was a sound sleep, the kind of sleeping that you wake up from wondering, "What time is it?" "Where am I?" "What day is it?" 

I watched the second half of Jeopardy, trying to figure out just why the current champion annoys me so much. She won again. The woman played well and she certainly deserved to win, but gads....there's something about her. 

I blearily drag myself to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I nestle under my cozy electric blanket in my favorite flannel gown. I read a chapter of Howard's End (which I am enjoying as much as I did the first time I read it). I close the book, and shut off the light and stretch out luxuriously...

....and I am wide awake. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Iris and Izzy

My son and daughter-in-law have a little dog named Izzy. They got her as a puppy, and she was quite ill for a time with parvo, or something like it. She had terrible, terrible diarrhea and they were not sure that she would live.

But she did, and fast forward, Izzy is now a chipper little dog, a lot of fun. However, canine PTSD is real, because all these years later, the sound of a fart, or someone making a raspberry, will trigger Izzy to leap to her feet, sniff at her nether region, and run upstairs to her safe place beneath their bed.

Iris is 7 months old. Guess what new sound she's learned?

The dog may never come out from under the bed again.

Strange Thing

Today, we had a small party for a woman who is quitting to take a new position. I'd heard that she was frustrated with a personnel situation and I felt sorry for her, even though it is hard for me to imagine the woman she was having difficulty with as 'a bully'. I was shocked when I heard it. The woman in question talks a lot and it is plainly evident that she is not very bright. In truth, I feel a little sorry for her.

But the woman who is leaving is a nice person and I'll miss her, and so I told her that. 

She said, "It was a bunch of things, really, but the straw that broke the camel's back was when they raised the starting wage." 

I blinked. Of all the things to quit a job over! 

I listened to her vent about her 10 years with the company and her disappointment to see the new people rewarded. While the people who were there for years were given a raise, it wasn't equal to the raise in the starting pay. 

I remembered that day. We were all called in to an all associate's meeting. We were told that starting wage was going to be raised by $1.50 and that everyone there was going to get a raise as well. 

Dead silence. People were shocked. 

You could tell that the raise meant a lot to a lot of people who were struggling to make ends meet. I was very happy for everyone. So happy that I even dropped an anonymous note into the suggestion box thanking our general manager, and telling him that the raise would make a big difference for virtually everyone there. 

Not once did it ever occur to me to compare my raise with the new people. It surprises me that anyone would. 

I wish her well. It's not an easy place to work sometimes. I get frustrated too. But the company has been good to me personally, and I don't take that kindness for granted. I get 5 weeks of vacation a year. I have a very nice 401K and it provides Tim and I with the health benefits we need. I don't begrudge anyone the same. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

In which Tim sells a house and finds another...

We sold a house.

I got home and Tim said, "I want to take you out for supper."

I said suspiciously, "Why?"

He said, "I don't want you to cook."

I studied him. Something was up. He said, "I want you to come look at a house with me."

Me: "No. You've got Wayne St. waiting to be fixed up."

Tim: "This is a two unit duplex, a rental."

Me: (glowering) "No."

Tim, smoothly, and not missing a beat: "I want you to tell me why we shouldn't get it."

That shouldn't be a problem.

Update: We went to look at the house. I kept quiet. It had new windows, and was well insulated. It was also a work in progress. We went out to eat. Tim said, "Order anything you want. We'll save the coupons for another day." (The man was working it.) He discussed the house. I said, "I'm not going to advise you on this, because it is your business, and you make good business decisions." And I ate quietly.

Inside, I was doing math. We've got a renovation waiting. After a year or so, when that sells, we'll be able to begin on our retirement house. After a year or so, then we'll begin to ready our current house for sale. This takes us neatly into 2023. I want to retire. I want to see grandbabies grow. I want to go to Australia. I've been waiting ever so patiently....

This morning Tim woke up. Lying lazily in bed, he suddenly said, "I'm not sure I want to get tangled up in another house. It's a big chunk of money to commit.

I said, "You know, Tim...we've got the money to commit. I just am not sure that we have the time..."

Friday, March 1, 2019

Looking Ahead

March 1st. It actually came as a shock to realize that. Although the calendar indicates that spring is just around the corner, the weather doesn't. Single digit cold for the beginning of the week.

Cara will be coming home at the end of the month, and we will be meeting Colin in person for the first time (although we have skyped).

We plan to spend part of their visit in Washington DC. By then, it should actually BE spring, and there should be cherry blossoms.

I'm looking forward to every last bit of it.