February 15, 2011

Future's Uncertain

Anybody on Facebook who reads me knows by now that I'm changing jobs. You also know that one of the reasons I'm changing jobs is because the current job I'm in hasn't paid me since Christmas. I'm not worried it will come so that's not the issue, but I don't see things changing in the construction business for some time and it isn't going to get better soon. There will be the usual spring-summer increase in projects, from which if I don't get the full pay Friday (my last day) I will get it in time. Can't think about that right now though.

I'm doing something I've been thinking about for a while now.

When we were first married my wife was a check-out person at a local food chain and I worked in a print shop. Both of us had to go to work to support ourselves as soon as possible so college wasn't something I ever finished or she even started until well into our married life. Eventually MrsRW became a nurse and from there she's been escalating her game to where she now trains hospital staffs in advanced medical record keeping something-or-other that takes her on the road for one or two weeks a month. I, on the other hand, went from printing to operating a CNC to the unlikely position of sales and made a lot of money during the building boom.

Now that the building boom has turned into the bubble bust you have companies competing for for a smaller and smaller list of jobs. Until the backlog of unoccupied, foreclosed homes gets whittled down new construction (which the company I'm with relies on) will probably not come back. All we're doing now is homes for the super-rich who don't care what the economy is doing, or low-margin renovations. Hence my pay situation.

So I'm going back to the printing world. As in presses and cutters and folders and collators and staplers and gluers and all that kind of thing. It's been about 14 years so there will be a curve through which I will have to re-learn the trades but I figure in a couple of weeks I should have it down. I was lucky enough to have experienced the computerized breakthrough equipment in the industry a little bit before I left it, so I'm hoping I don't look like a complete idiot once I hit the floor again. I started in this trade at 19, and worked for three different companies for almost 25 years - 19 with one before they closed the plant. So it's a bit like coming home.

It's not as lucrative as the job I'm working right now - when I get paid at all - but it will be steady and for all you working people out there the opportunity for "time and a half" looms pretty large around Easter and Christmas. That's because the company I'm working for in two weeks prints and produces fliers, brochures, newsletters, cards, pamphlets, and all manner of paper products strictly and 100% for the Catholic church in America.

Okay you stop laughing now.

Apparently they can't get enough people. There's more work than they can handle and they just added six people. The place is huge and there are three shifts. I'm starting on the overnight shift which works 2 13 and 1 14-hour days in the middle of the week with a 4 day weekend Friday through Monday. It sounds intense, I know, and I'll have to change my internal clock (I've worked 3rd shift before), but the thought of a 4 day weekend offsets any of the other concerns.

I got the job through networking. I know a sales person for a Catholic book publisher who knows two women at a church who use the products of this company and after I'd sent in my application they sort of bombarded the place with recommendations for me. I'm working on sending flowers all around, don't worry!

This sort of makes the point, though, that Monster.com and CareerBuilder and Indeed.com and Snag-A-Job and all those other job sites I've been sending resumes through for the past six months (sometimes 2 a day) and NEVER GOT AN ANSWER FROM have been particularly useless and pointless for me all along. As many times as I sent out applications (and some of these jobs - with my national sales list of builder guys that I know - were perfect fits... oh well) there were never any responses except for bogus multi-level-marketing schemes (read: PONZI). Without a network you got nothing. In my case it was a small group of Catholic church ladies who started a little campaign in my behalf. Well, after the impetus of my friend in the Catholic publishing world.

So I start March 1 and I'm kind of excited because after years of sales and customer service, where your "product" basically has to be made out of thin air, I'm going to once again have my 'product" right in front of me; physical, tangible, and right at hand. It's kind of like that old scene in Coal Miner's Daughter where Loretta Whatshername gets famous and her hick husband goes to work at a car mechanic's and is contented. I've heard people say it sounds like a step down... and though there is a (temporary) dollar hit until I get up to speed I just don't see it that way. I think folks like that are really snobs. Honest work is honest work. I think folks who have a problem with that need to check their luggage on that one.

Now I don't think this will have much to do with the blog here, and I know it's not going to stop the other writing. Plus I've already scaled this down to once a week with determined intent. But who knows? A guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

Let it roll.


B.E. Earl said...

I think that's pretty awesome even though I did laugh at the Catholic Church thing.

Gia is going through something similar right now, and I went through it about 8 years ago. Left a pretty well paying position as a vice president at a bank to do my own thing and work from home. It hasn't been nearly as lucrative (not even close), but I'm not working 80 hours a week or suffering stress-induced heart attack scares any more.

Step down? Fuck that! A step in the right direction is more like it.

sybil law said...

I think it's fucking awesome!
And you're right - it almost ALWAYS comes down to knowing someone, somewhere, to get a job. I hate that everything's online now, anyway. You can't see all my charm online! (That was a joke.)
I really love it, RW, and I am so happy that you found a place that will pay with regularity. Imagine that! :D

SK Waller said...

This is so cool, I can hardly stand it. Good for you! I think (hope) you'll be much happier away from the desk job!

Love the video. My band used to play it (I played the bass).

Gino said...

the only job i ever got without knwing somebody is the one i've been at for 18yrs (so far.)

looking for other options. a guy cant make a living around here anymore where my living was once reliable and sufficient.

enjoy the new ride. it may be just what you needed.

Avitable said...

I'm your friend on Facebook but I had no idea. I don't follow your every post on there like some type of stalker, so I'm glad you blogged about it.

And networking is absolutely the best way to find a job - could've told you that, especially how useless big job boards are for anyone except a small few.

Good luck with the new job. I hope you don't catch on fire just from handling that much Catholic material.

Tug said...

Yeah, I don't see this as a step down either & getting paid regularly? Awesome!

I've been looking, and it's tough out there. Being a boss is overrated, but since I do have a regular paycheck, I can't just jump the ship right now either.

Much luck to you, I think this is great!

JLR said...

I could not agree more with your "honest work is honest work" statement. If the work is honest and you do it the best you can, then you have something to be proud of. I wish more people felt that way.