27 Things I Won’t Miss from my Job (and 5 Things I Will)

workI’m being laid off from my job next month, so I thought about what I will and won’t miss from it.

I won’t miss:

  1. Idiot coworkers
  2. Idiot customers
  3. Incompetent manager
  4. Jerkface department head
  5. Idiot temporary employees trashing the place
  6. Carl (there’s always a ‘Carl’)
  7. That guy that tries to justify the crappy things the company does
  8. Our crappy software
  9. Our crappy websites
  10. Our crappy apps
  11. Our crappy phone system
  12. Having to tell customer our crappy software doesn’t work because it was made in 1999.
  13. Having to tell customers our crappy websites, apps and phone system are down…again
  14. Having to tell idiot workers to do their jobs
  15. Telling idiot workers how to do the job they have been doing for years
  16. Workforce (mis)Management
  17. Waking up early
  18. Traffic
  19. Lousy parking
  20. Half-hour lunch
  21. Lousy places to eat in the area
  22. Timesheets
  23. 2% raises…when there ARE raises
  24. Shagnasty coffee
  25. Overpriced vending
  26. Having to bring my own coffee
  27. Insulting ‘contests’ from management

Things I will miss:

  1. The nice gal from Legal
  2. The ‘office mom’ (there’s always one!)
  3. The metalhead guy (there’s always one!)
  4. Money, but most importantly…
  5. Health Insurance!

300 Seconds #79: Job Separation Anxiety

Click here to listen to this episode!

You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 79, “Job Separation Anxiety,” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I’ve had a feeling of impending doom at work for a few weeks now.  During this time of year, we usually start getting ready for our ‘busy season’ by preparing training materials and hiring new people so that they’ll (hopefully) be ready for the onslaught of customers in the fall. While there has been plenty of training prep going on, our boss hadn’t scheduled a single interview.  Suspicious, to say the least.

Finally, for the first time since I have worked at the company, every person in our department was called into a meeting.  The meeting began with a sad-faced girl from Human Resources going into a spiel about restructuring, company challenges, new directions, blah blah blah.  Yup, here it comes.

She then threw the hammer down: The thirty people in the room (including myself) were all going to be laid off after a few weeks.  The department was being scaled back, so if we wanted to hang around, we would have to apply for one of the new positions.  After some questions and one wire-acre comment from yours truly, we were each given a packet of documents and allowed to go home to digest the news, if we wanted to.  Needless to say, everybody called it a day.  I didn’t envy the Human Resources gals their jobs, but at least they would still have jobs in a few weeks.

In my so-you’re-about-to-be-canned document packet was a fun corporate-double-speak letter that referred to my last day on the job as the ‘job separation date.’  Yeah, I’ll be certain to file that letter next to the ‘thirteen dollar bonus’ one from a few years ago.  Yeah, that’s right.  Thirteen dollars.  And people wonder why I hate my job.

I chuckled at their choice of words: “Job Separation.”  I guess it beats ‘Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya,” though.  This being Texas, I’m genuinely surprised they didn’t just toss us out right then and there.

In a sense, I’m a little disappointed in myself; I’ve seen the writing on the wall at other employers in the past, and I’ve been lucky enough to get out of Dodge while the getting was good.

I guess I’ll have to start paying attention to those updates from Monster and LinkedIn now!

This has been 300 Seconds, the next episode will be posted after my update my resume.  I am Eduardo Soliz, and if you’re looking for a software developer, help desk analyst, tech support lead, creative writer, copy editor, or maybe even a voice guy, shoot me an email at edsoliz@yahoo.com.  Whether you’re hiring or not, check out Eduardo Soliz dot com for more podcasts and short stories, and as always, I thank you for listening!

In Defense of Gordon Ramsay

1I had a ‘conversation’ the other day with The Boss about how I address people at work.  I am a blunt, no-nonsense person there and I do not suffer fools gladly (think Zootopia’s Chief Bogo).  I had made a simple request to some new folks we had hired.  Two hours later, I had not received any replies from them.

I walked over and made my request in person, only to be met with a blank stare in response.  Not exactly the best way to endear yourself to leadership.  I then got a little short with folks, which ultimately led to the ‘conversation.’

On to Ramsay, then.  I’ve had the pleasure of watching a few of his shows on the breakroom television at work.  Like many of you, I wonder why he famously gets so angry at the people on his shows.  I did a bit of soul-searching during lunch and realized something:  I got upset for the same reason he does.

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first) but like Ramsay, I have high expectations for people.  I like to think that the people that The Boss hires are good techs.  Given my recent experience, I’m reconsidering that, but that’s a conversation for another time.  Now, I am realistic: I don’t expect people to be kicking tail and taking names off the bat, but I should at least get competence.  Most of the folks on Ramsay’s shows (and on my team) should be professionals, and when they don’t work or do things the way professionals do, it is very aggravating, hence Ramsay’s wrath.

Mediocrity has become the accepted norm at my workplace.  While leadership seems to be okay with this, I have not lowered my standards or adjusted my thinking along those lines.  God help me, but I want to work with people that are great at their jobs.  If they aren’t there yet, I would like to help them get there, but if I can’t trust people to perform a simple task, I don’t know that I can trust them to do more complicated things.  Because of this, work is incredibly frustrating for me.

While I can’t explode in anger like Gordon Ramsey does, the next time I see him on the breakroom TV, I will certainly relate.

33 Things I Noticed During Jury Duty

1
#11 Too cool fur school!
  1. Despite what you are going to read, I am happy to do my civic duty.
  2. Indeed, I’ve been tagged multiple times in my life already
  3. Weirdly enough, working on a short story about a trial right now, go figure.
  4. Took a wrong turn, got stuck waiting for a train. Thank you, San Antonio.
  5. Not late, but there was a line for parking.
  6. Just realized I forgot to take my Vitamin C this morning, it would suck to have survived Comicpalooza only to catch ‘jury duty crud.’
  7. Dude behind me in line at the courthouse is standing just bit too close. Can I get a little personal space here?
  8. Forgot to take the change out of my pocket, officer got snippy at me in Spanish. THAT’S PROFILING MAN
  9. At least I don’t have to hear coworkers brag or whine about how Golden State blew it
  10. This beats work any day, fewer stupid people
  11. Felt cool to pin a white ‘juror’ button to my shirt.
  12. Can we  get a nice ‘register to vote’ sign to put in front of the bench? The one there is made from poster board and looks like some kid made it.
  13. That said, if the judge’s kid DID make it, I rescind my previous statement.
  14. Cell phone ringers going off should incur a fine or at least a kick to the shin
  15. Court cafeteria tacos ain’t bad.
  16. Lack of coffee started to kick in at about 10AM, took the first opportunity to grab a cup soon after
  17. Court cafeteria coffee ain’t bad either
  18. One panel called for an Eduardo (not me) and an Edward. THAT’S GOING TO BE CONFUSING, PEOPLE
  19. It wasn’t until 1045 that I got bored enough to start playing Fallout Shelter on my Android tablet.
  20. Or not, back to the jury room!
  21. Got called to a panel!
  22. I’m sorry, but wearing a baseball cap with a suit is THE DORKIEST  thing I will ever see.
  23. Gal that cut my hair a few weeks ago was on the same panel, small world!
  24. A two hour lunch break…thaaaanks.
  25. TVs are tuned to judge shows BECAUSE IT’S A COURTHOUSE GET IT HA HA HA
  26. Grilled ham n’ cheese hit the spot for lunch
  27. Okay, now I can play Fallout Shelter
  28. $1.35 for a 20 oz. soda? I may have to take one for the road!
  29. Back to the jury room, here we go.
  30. Waiting for a while after lunch, hopefully it’s a good sign
  31. Sent home at 2 o’clock, woo-hoo!
  32. WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO GIVE BACK MY JUROR BUTTON?
  33. Now to go wait some more while the oil in my car is changed! 😂

Dear Upset Employee:

So somebody else got that promotion instead of you and you aren’t happy because you feel that you should have gotten the nod.  I get it; I’ve been there myself.  But before you come to your bosses (including me) asking why you didn’t get it, ask yourself:

Can you honestly say you are the best at doing your job compared to everyone else?  If you have to think it over before answering, the answer is likely no.  Even if one person does the job better than you do, guess what?  They’re ahead of you.

Do you slack off?  Be honest.  You do.  I know that you do.  Heck, I do, too.  Everybody does and that’s okay, as long as you’re discreet about it.  Here’s the kicker, though:  If the guy next to you slacks off less, he’s ahead of you.  If he doesn’t slack of at all, guess what? You can’t slack off at all, either, unless you want to be second-best.

Do you give your superiors attitude or treat them with disrespect?  Don’t worry, you aren’t the first person to give me crap and I give my bosses crap too.  But I only do so when I have a good reason to.  Only when I was two hundred percent certain that I am right did I even think about going there.  If you throw back attitude at your bosses for no reason, we don’t want you in charge of people.  If you can’t respect the people above you, we’re pretty sure you are not going to respect the people beneath you.  If that other guy isn’t a jerk and you are, guess what?  We’re going to pick him before we pick you.

Do you take on challenging tasks?  It’s okay to go in over your head if you think you have a strong chance of success.  You don’t have to always succeed, and that’s okay, but you need to show that you are willing to go where angels fear to tread every once in a while.  If that other guy is kicking more ass than you are, guess what?  He’s the one we want.

So why did that other guy get the promotion instead of you?  They did their job better than you did, slacked off less than you did, give their bosses less crap than you did and kicked more ass than you did.  You didn’t get promoted because you weren’t good, you didn’t get promoted because the other guy was better than you.

myPhone

technology2There are a number of things that I don’t mind, but at the same time it’s sometimes fun to wave my metaphorical Cranky Old Man cane at the durn kids with their newfangled doohickeys and double-you-step music.

Case in point: Apple.  I don’t mind them.  I own a 2009 iMac and an original iPad mini.  Both are quite good at what they do, and I continue to use them.  Despite that, I like to thumb my nose at the ‘Apple guy’ in the office (there’s always one) and have back-and-forths with him about why I feel Microsoft is better.  As if in retaliation, my original iPad mini has been slowly inching towards obsolescence with each iOS update.  Recently, I was frustrated at not being able to play the neato new Fallout Shelter game for more than a few minutes without the poor thing crashing.

While the thought of getting a new iPad has crossed my mind, the thought of dropping a few hundred bucks on another one is not a pleasant one, especially since my Windows 8 tablet has proven to be quite capable, Microsoft Office notwithstanding.

Because of its creaky performance, I have been using the iPad mini as a hotspot more than anything else as of late.  I would use my cell phone as a hotspot, but Cricket Wireless has internet sharing disabled on my Lumia 530.  Jerks.  So I send a few bucks to Verizon, turn on the iPad’s hotspot feature, set it down, and then use my Windows laptop or tablet to get things done.

Which brings me to my next point.  I am, for better or for worse, married to Microsoft Windows as well as their ecosystem.  Windows 8.1, Word, OneDrive and OneNote have all served me well over the years and I have no reason to stop using them.

In spite of that, I have decided to get an iPhone for my next phone.  As I am not on a contract, I can make the jump whenever it pleases me, but more practical concerns such as home and vehicle maintenance take precedence. Nevertheless, whenever I am financially ready to make the jump I will be more than happy to for the following reasons:

  1. Apple makes pretty good hardware – My iMac and iPad have been pretty durable and dependable over the years.  I’ll likely have to get a case for an iPhone, but I’m pretty careful with my phones; I’ve never cracked a single screen over the years.
  2. Apps apps everywhere – This is the Achilles’s Heel of Windows Phone; the limited app selection wouldn’t be so bad if Microsoft would keep their own apps up to date.  The iPad version of Word blows the Windows Phone one out of the water, too.
  3. Accessories – Because I often get cheaper (or Windows) phones, cases and accessories are rare or nonexistent.  Stores seem to have three sections for phone accessories: Apple, Samsung, and one with a big sign above it for everyone else that says EFF-YOU.
  4. Microsoft is on board – The fact that I can get Microsoft Word on iOS and Android means no more Brand X Office apps.
  5. Hotspot! – I travel, and it would be nice to be able to fall back on my phone as a hotspot instead having to carry another device to do so.
  6. Android = suck, WinPhone = bleh, iPhone = ? Android devices have been craptacular for me over the years and Windows Phone trips at the finish line despite its nice interface.  I have never owned an iPhone so who’s to say I won’t like it?
  7. Get rid of iPad – I still only have my iPad mini for two reasons: to use as a hotspot and for work.  If I get an iPhone I can do without it completely.
  8. Updates for all! – With Android and Windows Phone, you are at the tender mercies of your carrier for updates unless you buy an unlocked device.  My Windows Phone is one update behind because of this.  iPhones, on the other hand, usually get all updates.

Of course, there is some bad with the good:

  1. Increased Cost – I am currently not on contract with Cricket Wireless and its been pretty sweet: $35 a month for 2.5GB of high speed data and unlimited minutes and texts.  To get an iPhone I’ll either have to pay a few hundred for the device up front or go on a contract again.  Either way that means more money.
  2. Durability – It is out of sheer luck that my Lumia doesn’t have a cracked screen given all the times I’ve dropped it (thank you Nokia).  I will definitely have to get a case to ensure my iPhone doesn’t meet an unfortunate fate.  It will remain to be seen if the iPhone is ‘Eduardo-proof’
  3. Apple EVERYWHERE? – Despite having an iMac and iPad, I am barely invested in Apple’s ecosystem.  Except for backing up my iPad I don’t use iCloud for anything.  That should stay the same with an iPhone…I hope.

I was on the fence about getting iPhone before writing this blog, but now that I’ve jotted down all the ups and downs, I’m all but certain I’m going to pull the trigger on one…eventually.  $35 a month for cell service is going to be really hard to give up, though!

A Touch of Office

windowsI purchased a Windows 8 tablet (ASUS VivoTab 8) back in January with the intention of using it as a laptop replacement.  On paper, it sounded perfect:

  • Touchscreen that Windows 8 can work well in
  • Full Windows 8 (none of this RT malarkey)
  • Improved Intel Atom CPU and better battery life compared to a laptop
  • Increased portability
  • Only $150!
  • Free Office 365 for a year

Let’s run down the list:

  • Windows 8 on a touchscreen is pretty good.  Heck, its actually great once you learn all of its little tricks.
  • A full version of Windows 8 means I can install some of my favorite (read: ancient) apps I use like WinAmp 2.9 and Microsoft Money 2000.
  • Remember Netbooks?  Those used the first Intel Atom CPUs and they were dog slow.  The newer one in the VivoTab is good for basic tasks and battery life has been in the 7-8 hour range which is what I wanted.
  • Even with a case, the VivoTab is remarkably portable.  Like my iPad mini, a 7-8″ tablet is the perfect size to carry around.
  • The price was definitely right!

And now we get to the device’s biggest problem:  Microsoft Office.  Because the VivoTab is capable of running the desktop version of Microsoft Office, that’s what you get.  That would be pretty neat, but Office is not optimized for touch on an 8″ screen.  Thus, I end up wasting time mashing its teeny icons with my sausage-fingers and fighting the interface instead of doing work.  Styluses are no help either, they make me feel like I’m trying to draw on the screen with a fuzzing crayon.  I bought a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard so I can get around Office more efficiently, but carrying them around and setting them up sucks some of that wonderful ‘portability’ out of the tablet.

Finally, Office 365 sucks horribly on this device.  It had a terrible habit of slowing down to the point where I could see letters being placed on the screen one…at…a…time every few seconds.  I would type out a full sentence and then wait for the poor thing to catch up before doing the next one because I didn’t want it to crash and potentially lose my work.  I got into the habit of saving very frequently for a few frustrating weeks before removing the craptacular Office 365 and installing my copy of Office 2010.  Needless to say, I have no intention of paying for Office 365 when the trial year runs out.

I really like my VivoTab 8, and if Microsoft could get around to making a version of Office that was suitable for smaller tablets, I would like it a whole lot more.

Oh wait, they already made one…it’s on my iPad mini!  /facepalm