Friday, June 21, 2013

Address Change Day

In my last three days off as a bachelor, I had four separate to-do lists.  On one of those lists was a sub-list of places to change my address and/or cancel my service.  I accomplished most of this sub-list yesterday, which turned into Address Change Day. 

If you ever get an announcement like this from me, just shoot me in the head, because I've been invaded by body snatchers.

For the most part, things went smoothly.  My cable company, trash collector, bank, credit cards, Netflix, and post office were all easy and pain-free.  There were two snags, however.

When I tried to cancel my phone, the lady on the other end tried to talk me into freezing the account instead of cancelling it.  It's internet (VoIP) phone, so although I'm moving, I could take the service with me.  But I said that I'm moving in with someone who already has a phone, so I don't need to take the account with me. The lady said I could put my account on hold, and then if I decide to use this company again, I could re-activate the account without paying any activation fees.  Ok, that sounded good, so I agreed.

Then the lady explained that although freezing the account is no charge, I do have to pay $6 a month tax on it.  Uh, no thanks.  If it costs money, I'll just close the account.  Oh, she said, but I have a $20 credit, so the first three months would already be paid.  This is when I got a little testy.  "No, I'm not paying taxes for something I'm not using.  I said I'd just like to cancel the account."

She put me on hold for about 10 minutes, and then when she came back, she said, "Okay, your phone will be disconnected today...."

What the what?  When did I say I wanted to cancel it immediately?  "Um, no, not today.  You never asked me when I'd like to cancel it.  I still need it for the next week.  Can you cancel it at the end of the month?"

She tells me sure, she can cancel it at the end of the month.  All I need to do is call back then and they'll cancel it.

Let me get this straight.  You don't have a service where I request that you cancel an account at some predetermined date in the future? 

She put me on hold again, and then came back several minutes later.  She could cancel my service at the end of the billing cycle, which is July 15.  "That's fine," I say, conscious of the fact that I've been kind of a dick at times during the call.  It's two more weeks than I need, but whatever. 

Phone successfully cancelled (?)

My insurance company caught me completely off-guard.  Since I was out running errands, and my agent's office was nearby, I stopped in to make a quick change.  I just wanted to report my new address so they would send my bi-annual bills to my new house.  I have both car and home insurance with this company.

When I said that my house would be vacant after I moved, the nice lady I met with said, "[Our company] won't insure a vacant house, so let's not tell them you're moving.  Let's just say you're going to keep it as a second home."

What the what?  They don't insure vacant homes?  I need insurance for my mortgage.  Where am I supposed to get insurance if not from a company I've been with for 20 years?  I kept trying to ask this question, and the lady kept repeating that we wouldn't tell them I was moving permanently.  That's not the point.

If I weren't white or innocent-looking or clean-cut, would she be giving me all this wink, wink, nudge, nudge special treatment?  How can they simply not insure my home, when they've been doing it for four years?  Where the hell are honest people who can't sell their house supposed to get insurance?

It left me kind of baffled, and frankly, pissed off.  When the lady found out I was getting married, she was all, "Oh, congratulations!"  Then she started asking me stuff about my fiance, like what her name was, and writing it down.  "Is that spelled with a K or a C?" 

"Uh, why do you need that?"  I asked.

She said, "I'll just put it in my notes."

Uh, no, you won't.  This is creeping me out.  All I want to do is change my address for billing purposes. And if your company is going to continue to be assholes about this, you'll lose my account, and the potential account for our new house and my fiance's car, also.        


But other than that, it was a successful Address Change Day. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Next Time I Think I Suck...

Since I am resigning from the job I've had for 10 years, I had to send out an email to all the faculty at my college, letting them know that I'm leaving and that my position may be vacant for a while. Among other things I said:
If you have used my services for library instruction or sent students my way for reference questions, there will be a new person at the Reference Desk starting this summer. The committee is still in the process of filling the position, but I’m sure whoever they hire will do a great job of providing reference and instruction. (But feel free to remind the new person, “That’s not how Tim did it” as much as possible. :) ) 
The response I've received has been overwhelming. By my count, 28 people have responded (so far) to wish me well. But it's not only the number of responses, but the things they've said that has me feeling pretty good about myself. Some samples:

We are going to miss you Tim! 

You will be missed a lot. 

Congrats Tim on your new job, but you will be sorely missed here 

We will miss you! 

We will miss you. I always looked forward to your presentation in my Eng[lish] class. You were so good at explaining everything to the students and making them feel welcome to come to the library. 

Don’t goooooooooooooooo………. 

We will miss you and your expertise in helping our students--and us as well. Thank you for your diligence and professionalism with our students and best wishes in your new position. [Strangely, I don't remember ever working with this person.  They're the only one who responded where I thought, "Who is that?"] 

Congratulations Tim, working with you through the years has been a pleasure. The library will NOT be the same without you! ... And just to be clear: NO ONE....and I mean NO ONE will draw a stick person representation of themselves during a library presentation that even comes CLOSE to yours! 

I have enjoyed working with you and always enjoyed seeing you as I made my many trips through the [library]. 

Thanks for your help every time I sent a student to you or I had a question. Your smiling face will be missed and I'll be sure to remind the new person of that!!! 

It has been a true pleasure working with you at [My College.] I first remember you when I started teaching as an adjunct and the offices were in the upper level of the “old” [library]. You were ALWAYS so kind and friendly to me and as a newbie I truly appreciated it. This act of kindness has continued through the years and I will always remember you! 

Thanks for being such a great colleague--helpful, interested and interesting, always ready to share a laugh--I will miss you! 

Any time I feel like I suck and no one likes me and I might was well eat worms, I should come back and read this post.

Monday, June 10, 2013

25 Applications

I was on my 18th or 19th application when I decided that in order to get a job, I would have to apply for at least 25 positions.  I told myself this to take the pressure off.  Instead of treating each position like it was my last opportunity ever, my attitude was that finding a job is a volume business, and to get one you have to kiss a lot of frogs. So to speak. 

The magic number that I'd decided on was 25.  I wouldn't expect to get any offers until I'd applied for that many positions.

I hit that magic number a few weeks ago.  It wasn't half an hour after I'd submitted my 25th application when I received an email from application #23.  They wanted me to come in for an interview.

Eight days (and two interviews) later they offered me a job.


The library that hired me said they were very impressed.  After rejection after rejection after rejection, I don't suck anymore!  

Me, for one. 
The funny thing is, they almost lost my application.  The only reason I got an interview is that I know someone (Betrothed) who knows someone (her colleague) who knows someone (his wife) who works there.

A few weeks after I'd applied, I emailed Betrothed's colleague's wife and asked her if she knew anything about the position.  She said that not only did she know about the job, she was the head of the department and was in charge of hiring the position.   She was about ready to make a decision on it, but asked me to send her my resume first.

When I told her I'd already applied for the position a few weeks earlier, she went to their HR department to see if she could find my materials.  They weren't there.  Although I'd received a (presumably automated) confirmation that they'd received my application, she couldn't find it.  It had been lost in HRland.

She asked me to re-apply, and she was impressed enough with my resume and cover letter to give me an interview. And then a second interview. And the people at the interview were impressed enough hire me. And to think they almost never even saw my application.  I wonder how many of my other 25 applications have been lost?


When I started my job search I created a new gmail account that I would only use for professional correspondence.  I didn't want to use the address associated with this blog because I didn't want a potential employer to stumble on it and judge me for my politics, personal tastes, cynicism, or potty-mouth.  So I put the new gmail address on all my resumes, cover letters, and applications.  (The new professional address has "25" in it because that's my birthday.)  

Ironically, all the correspondence I had with my new employer has taken place with my personal email address, because when I initially contacted Betrothed's colleague's wife, it was an informal message.  And from there we just kept emailing back and forth using my personal address.  So in the end I didn't even use the special "25" email address I'd created for the sole purpose of finding a job.


Whenever I tell people about my current commute, where I live 50 miles from where I work and drive an hour each way, I'm always quick to point out that the commute itself is quite stress-free.  It's a straight shot on the highway with very little traffic. "It's not like living in Chicago," I say, "Where you could go 15 miles and it would take the same amount of time in bad traffic."  I swear I've made that statement dozens of times. 

Guess how far my new job is from my new house?  15 miles.  And guess how long the commute is?  About 45 minutes.  It's slightly shorter than my current commute, but not by much.  And it's in hellish suburban traffic, something I always said would drive me nuts.

But after getting rejected 24 times in the past year, I've been humbled.  When I first started my job search, I was brimming with confidence and verve: "Yeah!  I could be the Head of Reference at a major research university!"  Now my expectations are a bit lower:  "I hope I'm good enough to work 9 hours a week as a substitute librarian at a public library 30 miles away."


I really am excited about my new position.  The library itself is really impressive, huge with lots of great services and resources.  Even before I got the interview (and then the job) there, I used to look at the happy employees on this library's website and say to Betrothed, "I want to work at that place."

And soon I will.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

God and Lawn

I was mowing my lawn last week when my crazy neighbor lady accosted me over the fence.  She shoved a $5-bill through the pickets and asked if I would mow her lawn for her.  I said I'd be happy to mow the lawn, and she didn't have to pay me.  I refused her $5.  (Frankly, if I were doing it for the money, $5 would be pretty insulting.  But I understand that she wants to feel like she's contributing.)

My friend Abe Lincoln wants to know if you'd do me a favor...

I used to mow her lawn more regularly, but lately it's been hard enough tending to my own stuff, so I haven't been very attentive of hers.  (Moving, planning a wedding, applying for jobs, buying a house, selling a house, and spending almost every weekend in Chicago takes up enough of my time.)  Another neighbor does the large part of her front yard with a riding tractor mower, but it's too big to get into her tiny fenced-in back yard, and that's what needed mowing.

She knows I'm moving and getting married, and asked me about my house situation.  I told her we were buying a house, and she asked if it was a fixer-upper or if it was move-in ready.  I said the latter, and she responded, "Well, that's good, because I know you don't like to do much house maintenance."  What the what?  I just agreed to mow her lawn, and she's taking a dig at my homeowner skillz?  I know it drives her crazy that I don't spend 10 hours a day on my yard like she does.  Sorry, some of us have a life outside of our garden.


The conversation took a weird turn when she said how happy she was for me that I'd found love again and was moving on.

"God gave you a second chance," she said.

I nodded and smiled.  I agree that I'm very lucky and I am thankful for all the great things in my life.  I have more blessings than I can count. But do I believe that God gave me all those things?  No.  If I did, I could just as easily have responded to my rude lonely widowed neighbor lady with, "Yeah, it's too bad God doesn't give a shit about you."        

(When I told Betrothed this story, she said, "God didn't give you a second chance.  I did.")

But I don't believe God plays favorites.  When good things happen, it's not a reward, and when bad things happen, it's not a punishment.  It's just life.  Sometimes you're the lawnmower, sometimes you're the grass.  Or something like that.