Sunday, July 18, 2004

Carrying the baggage...

There’s a booth down the way from us selling t-shirts. My sister suggested she saw one that she thought was appropriate for me. "Zero to bitch in 3.5 seconds." Nice! I was a trifle offended, but I have to admit, it’s probably right on. More so than ever, now, during that "special" time of life!

I have always been "temperamental," especially at work. This is probably why I have such a stellar employment history. I tend to be somewhat anti-social, which is not an asset in the workplace. And I set very high standards of performance, for myself and those around me. When I don’t meet my own standards, I get frustrated with myself…and frustration is not one of my more attractive emotions. When other people don’t meet my standards, I sort of dismiss them because they don’t measure up. Not a way to win friends and influence people!

It’s funny--- most people get burned out by the physical difficulty of restaurant work. The hardest part of the job for me was always the social aspect. I could sling two pallets of heavy boxes around the kitchen after a delivery, or be on my feet "speed-baking" for an entire twelve-hour shift, and still go to the pool and work out for an hour afterwards. But after six or eight hours working behind the counter on a busy Saturday —schmoozing customers and being cheer-leader for my staff---I’d drag myself home, physically and mentally exhausted. But I kept at it, and I eventually got the hang of it.

Those were wonderful days… For the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was learning and growing, really stretching myself. And making positive bonds with other human beings. I felt like I was on top of the world. Unfortunately, I only had that for a small portion of the time I was out there in the big, bad, workplace---the years that I managed my little shopping mall bakery. When I left that job, and couldn’t find another that would "measure up", all that learning and growth completely eroded away. In fact, I think I’ve ended up worse off than I started out. When it all falls apart like that, you sort of end up feeling like you can never make any permanent, positive changes in your life.

I thought all that stuff would be behind me, now that I've chucked the idea of working for someone else and started my own business.  But, you pay for your sins... In the last decade of my working life, I became a "bridge-burner." I would get jobs that I hated, work there as long as I could stand it--usually not more than a year and a half – get fed up and quit. And when I am done with a job, I am DONE. I just want to get away and never have to deal with those people (the bosses, the other employees, the customers) ever again. So I generally don’t part friends with my employers. Not enemies, exactly, but certainly not on warm terms.

This is starting to hurt me now, when I could really use some friendly contacts in the business. For example, for the last few weeks, I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how I can get adequate freezer space for all the product I’m going to need for our biggest event next month. How nice it would be if I was on friendly terms with two or three of my ex-employers. I could just make a few chatty, "By golly Fred, it’s good to talk to you again" phone calls, and ask for a tiny favor. But no…as a result of my own prickliness, I am completely on my own. And feeling a little regretful that I have been such a burr under people’s saddles for the last ten years...


  1. I'm sure that burr was for a good reason. Maybe you could contact a local restaurant or supplier and rent space. Heck, why do you need to know them in order to ask. And, if you're offering money for the space, you'd think they would be happy to oblige. Do meat lockers exist anymore? That would be a great place to try.

    I'd love one of those shirts and wear it proudly! :-) ---Robbie

  2. I'm with Robbie, I'd be proud to wear that t-shirt.  I've been called a bitch so many times, that to annoy people further, I got to saying thank you every time I heard it.  I added that it just showed that I was getting my point across.  Re-establishing professional contacts is really as easy as a few phone calls.  The hard part is sucking up any personal dislike of former professional contacts.  What you have to remember is that is a professional contact, and that personal amiability isn't necessary.  You can be of benefit to your former employers and peers as much as they can be of benefit to you.  That's part of networking. Realizing that I don't have to have a personal relationship makes it easier to make those calls.  All you might get is a reference to some place that sells the equipment or service you need, but it starts re-building those bridges.  I've found that the last contact is the one that matters, and if you left someplace with a bad feeling about you, re-opening that door with pleasant professionalism can start clearing away any distaste they might hold.

  3. I used to be that way and also learned that it was good to be a hypocrite, hating them and muttering ugly things under my breath while I smiled and waved good bye.  We are guilty of bridge burning, just got to be selective about it.  Kristi

  4. Lisa, I have no idea how to help you with this one or what to say.  In so many ways, I find your honesty and your quest for perfection so admirable, but I certainly understand how in the business world if you burn bridges, well, they are burnt.  Perhaps you could somehow smooze some new contacts by offering them something in return (I don't know what, I'm just brainstorming here, and not having been in the work force myself in the last oh, 20 something years, I don't know how useful my 2 cents could be...)

  5. Try a school.  They are not in session or full swing right now, someone just may help you.  

  6. I feel your pain; oh do I feel your pain.  I cannot suck up for the life of me.  If it is not sincere, it cannot come out of my mouth.  I have paid for it too, in the military, in my neighborhood, at school, family, and my own business I had for a while.  I never could actually convince someone that they should forego their eighty dollars for groceries to instead buy one of my beautiful, strong, and heirloom quality baskets.  Needless to say, sales suffered.  Sometimes I do benefit from being honest, brown nosing can be overrated.  I have gotten things by going somewhere and simply saying, I really need some assistance, I am willing to pay, work, whatever, I just cannot be taken advantage of, can we bargain.  Sometimes I am shown the door, sometimes I get help I need.   A school is a good thought.

  7. such raw honesty in this post.....I tend to burn the bridges a little myself.  I can't help it.  I have a can use it....:)

  8. Mandy would love that shirt. I am a Saint....never bitchy....rofl

  9. I like your journal, visit mine sometime:

  10. It's interesting how we view different times of life as "growing" times.  I remember working in the food business, and I detested it with every fibre of my being.  Hardly a growing time.  I had a terrible attitude about those jobs. :-/

    I wouldn't worry about the "zero to bitch" part.  Women  who say that usually mean bitch with a positive connotation, as hard as it is to believe such a view exists.  lol  I think they mean "bitch" as in "someone who doesn't take any shit."

    Could I put any more profanity in a comment? lol

  11. Your ability to be gut level honest with yourself and with us just impresses the hell out of me.