Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Getting it Done

Tomorrow is food pantry day. 

Going back to work is going to put a crimp in that, but my daughter works at the same company at a different job. Her department is not part of the six month extension so she will be done on the 17th. She is going to take over the running the food pantry in my stead. We have a pretty decent little system set out, and she understands it. 

Tomorrow, I will go there for my last stint at the pantry for 6 months. The company called and is ready to start workers on the 10th (as opposed to the 17th). They increased the starting wages substantially as well. 

I had questions and so I asked them, being the no nonsense person I am. 

The woman seemed to like that a lot. "Since you spoke plainly to me, I will speak plainly to you," and she answered my questions. I listened carefully and read between the lines. 

The company that I worked for had been very demanding and very competitive. They had 'standards' and if you did not meet the standards, you would lose your job. Period. That's how it was. However, if you were a person that the supervisors liked, they had a lot of latitude. They could do little things to tweak your scores and help you keep your job. If the supervisors did not care for you, they didn't help you. You sank or you swam, and many people were 'walked out' (fired). 

This created a pretty tough work environment, a lot of back stabbing and jealousy and trickery. I hated it, really, and I am pretty vocal when things are not fair. None of these things endeared me to anyone, but there are not a lot of job options and I liked my weekends off and my regular shifts, and because I was a hard worker, I could easily make standard and collect performance bonuses every week. So I stuck it out. 

Now that company is 'gone', bought out. The decision has been made by the new owners to shut the place down. There is a lot of anger there from the present employees of my old department, most of whom were laid off on April 5th. There is a small skeleton crew left, but apparently, they can't keep up with the closing work. 

So...they are looking to hire former employees back but a lot of those employees are disgruntled employees, people who are very bitter about their time there. Add that to the fact that most of them have gone on to other jobs...well...it sounds like people are not chomping at the bit to come in and help the new company out of a tight spot so they can close the place up and the high wages are a desperate attempt to get people who know the job to do the job.

The HR person explained it to me in HR terms and I listened and translated it in my head. 

When she was done, she stopped. 

I cleared my throat. "I understand the bitterness, but in the end, I have always thought that working at the company was a symbiotic relationship. Right now, you will be using me, which I understand. I also understand that when you no longer need me, I'm done. But I'm also using you. The extra money will be a nice thing, and when this is done, I'll be ready to retire. I guess I'm a pragmatist."

She said, "I wish I could find more of you."

I've been thinking of this all afternoon. It's a big loss for our little county to lose one of its major employers, but it's happened before. I'm not minimizing the pinch to others. Our population has steadily declined since the 1970s, and it is directly due to business closures and declines. People leave to find work elsewhere and it is sad. However, I have no power to change what is happening. All I can do is position myself to best meet whatever comes next. 

So Monday, I'll go back to work. 

Until then, I've got stuff to do. The food pantry tomorrow. I'll also be waiting for a call. 

On Thursday, I'm running an Amish family and their child to Pittsburgh Children's Hospital for some pretty serious surgery. 

Friday, I'll transport everyone 3 hours back home as soon as the baby is released. I honestly don't ever think I'll get over the fact that brain surgery can be done as an overnight surgery.

Some time on Wednesday, their neighbor will get the call about the surgery time. She'll come down to tell them, they'll go up to her house to call me and let me know what time I need to pick the three of them up.  

Between dropping my family off at the hospital and picking them up the next day, I will have an evening in the big city all by myself. 

The gentleman taking my room reservation was proud of his city. He was quite a talkative soul (like me). I think that he thought that I was a country bumpkin, afraid to go out into the city. I assured him that while I wasn't wild about driving in the city, I was planning to get out and do some exploring on foot. I also said that I planned to scope out ethnic restaurants.  This delighted him. He asked questions and provided suggestions for tours of some old homes and buildings nearby. He also had quite a list of suggestions for restaurants.  Indian, Korean, Thai, Japanese, Mideastern...it's been a long time since I had such a variety of cuisines to pick from. It feels luxurious. 

When the baby is released Friday, I will be waiting there to bring them all back home where seven brothers and sisters and their anxious grandma wait for them. Once we are all unloaded, and the baby tucked back into the life he knows, I'll head back into to the life that I know. 

Tim and I will spend the weekend putting the finishing touches on the the garage. 

We'll make the cut on the left doors so that they will now swing open so that we will pull the old Farmall out and drive it down the road to my sister's place to hook up the rototiller and get our garden tilled and the dump truck of mushroom mulch worked in. I didn't get to plant my potatoes last week, so I will get them done this weekend. 

At some point between the building, and the tilling, and the planting, I'll get a chance to talk with the kids for mother's day.

It will be a busy weekend, a lot of loose ends to tie up. On Monday morning, both Tim and I will head out the door to work.


  1. All very interesting.

    I had benign views of Amish but from what I am understanding, the Amish reject modernity, yet accept it as a kindness from others. Puzzling, like those who don't want to pay tax but scream blue murder when a pothole appears in their road.

  2. What a busy life you lead - but I suspect like me that you'd not have it otherwise. I'd bet a great deal that retirement will be no less frantic when it comes.
    Where I live there is an industrial past and many deprived areas as a result - it's a tough job keeping those communities going; sometimes I think it is better if they decline and people leave, for in a sense their purpose is now gone and we must seek opportunities anew.

  3. I don't understand it either, to be perfectly honest, but I accept it as their way, which means I don't have to understand it.

    I think that's the biggest problem in my country today, that idea that if your lifestyle doesn't make sense to me, it is wrong. It leads to a lot of judging and polarization. In my country, Andrew, there are places where that would apply to you and your lifestyle as well.

    The fact is without surgery, this little boy would die. At 2 1/2, he's gone to Pittsburgh multiple times for multiple surgeries. This is nothing new to the family. They cannot get there by buggy. It is a 3 hour trip by car. The fact is that hospitals always call the day before surgery to tell you what time you need to be at the hospital the following day. This is not something that could be conveyed in a letter. It needs to be phoned in. They give their neighbor's phone number to the hospital, she runs down to tell them the news. She's actually the one who usually drives them there, but she's had a death in the family and could not. I volunteered.

    It's funny that you refer to it as 'kindness', because that is how I think of it. I've driven them to the local hospital for the covid test required before the trip to Pittsburgh. They tried to pay me. I said no. That it was a simple kindness for a child's sake. This trip to Pittsburgh? It usually costs them a great deal to 'hire' someone. They will reimburse me for my gas, the parking fee, and my room. In exchange, I will have a great time traipsing around a new place, and an opportunity to meet new people and try new foods. Their little boy will have surgery. Without these surgeries, little Rudy would die a slow and painful death.

    From where I sit, it's a win-win situation, Andrew. That's good enough for me.

    We all have the choice to make. How will we live our lives? Andrew, choose kindness. Always choose kindness. I have no great gift for this world, I will leave nothing behind when I'm gone except that one thing: kindness.

  4. I like the garage. It looks so natural.

  5. It matches nicely with the greenhouse, doesn't it? We still need to finish the batten boards on this, and some work on the second floor at the back. The greenhouse is in front of the building off to the left hand side. The plan is that a gutter system will be set up on the left side of the garage and it will be diverted to a rain barrel which will be used to provide water to the greenhouse. In the winter, it is easy enough to unhook the gutter and drain the rainbarrel to prevent freezing damage.

  6. I like your perspective on your former employer. It doesn't make sense to hold a grudge if that means depriving yourself of extra income, right? I have only a vague idea where you live -- I thought you were in New York state but maybe you're in Pennsylvania?

  7. We are in Pennsylvania, tucked up in the northwest corner, about a half hour away from the NY state line, about an hour away from the Ohio line.

  8. I am sad that your daughter is losing work, although it is good that you will get some and the food pantry will keep on.

    Enjoy your trip to the city - a big difference to a trip to the city 18 months ago, no doubt.

  9. That all sounds very exhausting to me. Since I retired, five years ago now, I find that I no longer have that energy and drive that kept me going through my working life.

  10. I have recently found your blog and enjoy it very much. I am glad to know where you live, I wondered also, like Steve. I live in SW Wisconsin in an area with many, many Amish and German Baptist families. I, too, embrace your attitude of kindness, many in this area do but there is an equal number who are disgruntled and peevish about the fact that Amish will not use electricity or have telephones but are open to accepting same when necessary. I don't quite 'get it' I guess, but I'm not Amish, so how could I? Their presence here is enough of a blessing; I admire their ability to adapt to a degree that is acceptable and beneficial. It's a wonderful thing you are doing for Rudy's family. I hope his surgery is successful. We have a clinic nearby that is researching, treating, and trying to find some relief for a genetic malady that is affecting Amish families in the area. An admirable undertaking and the community is grateful.

  11. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to work at some of the places of my past where I was laid off but I certainly would twist the screws a bit when it came to my compensation.

    We have a lot of Amish drivers in our neck of the woods. From the stories they tell, I'm pretty certain that I never could put up with what they do.

  12. Welcome, Diane. I wandered off to google the research. Very interesting. This is new for me, Ed. I guess it would depend on the people involved. I don't hire out, so I guess the difference would be both sides viewing it as kindness, not a business arrangement. As far as twisting the screws? Well. They are offering me a 75% wage increase in exchange for this 6 months. I'm okay with that. No screw twisting involved.

  13. Your schedule sounds packed and getting more so on Monday. I think being pragmatic and realistic is very important; it can be rare in a job environment. There are no Amish where I live, so I'm fascinated by any stories about them. When I visited a friend in Alaska several times, we ran into Old Believers in several areas. That was fascinating.

  14. Interesting. Re brain surgery being done overnight, my wife used to assist in brain surgery as an electrophysiologist recording from her electrodes placed directly onto an exposed and conscious brain. She told me two things of great interest, first that the brain has no feeling (weird for a big bag of nerves) so recovery is instant apart from the fairly minor flesh head wound (the skull also feeling nothing); and second that brain surgery is often far from delicate and precise, as in a surgeon saying "Oh let's cut out another bit and see what that does...". She remembers a conscious patient being made instantly happy and giggly, or weepy and sad, just by tiny changes of pressure on different bits of the brain. Weird things we are, us conscious brains.

  15. My company was purchased by Maytag to take advantage of our PC board production line. When through with the company they literally threw it to the wolves; sold it to our chief competitor in our original business. That competitor came in, fired management the day they came, worked the factory to the bone until all the technology was taken back to the purchasing plant, then fired them. I left before Maytag sold us out, but my friends still were there. It was so sad.
    My best thoughts to your Amish friends and the baby.

  16. The company that bought us specializes in buying companies in trouble and then making the decision whether they can be saved or not. We were 'not'.

    I do feel bad about it. Management decisions drove us deep into debt. There was no way to recover. In the end, I knew we were dying. It is sad, but there's nothing that I can do about it.

    PS: That PC board production. We have had one maytag washer, a front loader, high efficiency. The pc board when, was replaced under warranty and the second went in a few months. It was not under warranty and the cost to replace it was so high we simply bought another washer.

  17. Included in your schedule is a very major good deed. I hope the surgery goes well and your driving and city experience as well.

  18. The garage looks great, as does the greenhouse. I marvel at your and Tim’s skill. I completely agree with your assessment of this temporary work arrangement. It’s mutually beneficial and I’m happy for you. (And they’re lucky to have you!)

  19. OK, thanks for clearing up the mystery on your location! :)


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