My Trajectory

I'm struggling to remain satisfied in my role, I'm under-empowered for my character and abilities, but there's no asking for guidance or training, the politics suggest I'm merely a peon, unworthy of their knowledge. While I know differently, I've given up on telling the powers that be that I'm ready, willing, and able. There's just no point... here.

I need to move on, and I will when the right role comes around. I need to find the spirit and enthusiasm to apply to jobs this weekend. I need something new.


Monday morning...

I'm here, ready to serve my employer, but where are my responsibilities? Sure, I fix what's broken, get people and technology working, but what else? I was told there would be flying cars... No, not really.

I was told I'd be handling account management to some extent, I was told I'd be responsible for more, including rights management, and such, but... when? I was told I'd be working on the PC Image, but I have yet to see that either.

I cleaned up the messes here and things are running smooth. If this is all there is, This is not a fulfilling experience. I've had moments of happiness, and I've loved this role, but it seems that my co-worker simply doesn't want to share the tasks, make me part of the solution.

So, what's next for me if this is my trajectory?


The ebb

The company that employs me has a higher demand for manpower at tax time. Today is the last day of tax season and so this week marks the ebb of the employee flow. It strikes me that these people must find something new to do for the remainder of the calendar year, and leaves me wondering what their plans are.

I, frankly, hate job hunting. Are these people employment sadists? No, I think not. They are accustomed to contract work, quietly departing without a whimper or a tear. They simply vanish into the dust and chaos of our lives. This is the nature of tax, but wouldn't it be grand to make this seasonal work fit your life. Taxes from January through May, Outdoor work through September or October and 2 months of the Christmas rush. Can one live like this?

I may not be the one that tries, but perhaps this suite of roles is a way of life for some.


I love my job...

I do. I love my job. That doesn't mean I don't have days when it's difficult or frustrating to be at work. The last week has been less than ideal, I'm intermittently busy and feeling less than ideally healthy. This is my worst-case scenario for a week. I also have a co-worker who refuses to hand over responsibilities, either for  his own feeling of self-worth or perhaps a subconscious resentment of me, my skills, my positive attitude. I don't know, but I hope he figures out I'm here to help.

The job is great, it's the politics that are best avoided, that and the anti-American sentiment that ripples through this once Canadian organisation. There's a distinct lack of communication, and a raft of other issues, but this is normal. My time at Lafarge North America was a perfect example of the chaos of big business. It was baptism in truly BIG business, even though I worked for Microsoft (Canada) years ago, MSFT was not big business then, it was a fraternity, campus-like, and fun.

Loving your job is a choice. You can regard the demands on you as a burden or a blessing, but employers can regard you in the same way. There's no such thing as "job security" these days. The best you can do is commit to the role, do your best, and be happy with how things are. If you are truly dissatisfied, you can choose to move on. I do NOT recommend jumping out of a role without being there a year, and when you do leave, you need to leave on the best possible terms. No rants.

The sad reality is that business these days owns you, your only right is the right to leave. It remains up to you to stay positive, and your spouse, friends, and family owe it to you to help you remain positive and committed. They should not be berating your employer, or you for not finding a better one. Only positive energy, prayers, and outlooks will help make the burden less.


Being Fat

You do not choose to be overweight, you become overweight through a process of putting others before yourself, potentially depression, and an over-commitment to everything else in your life. In my case, I did not become overweight because I didn't care, but because I didn't care about myself enough. It could easily be due to self-esteem issues, but even when you're not perceptibly fat it can become a weight around your neck if you are labelled fat, out of shape, etc. Your slight departure from the perfect world of a B.M.I. safe weight becomes an anchor, or worse.

It's a journey you don't know you're on, until it's too late. You may the the sort that can rope in that stray 5 pounds, or you may be like me and simply be too involved with life to notice you've gained 20, 40, or 60 pounds... it can sneak up on you.

I was a big kid, not overly fat or obese, but it seems that family told me I was, though it may have been someone projecting their own struggle with their weight on me. My family is full of big people, men and women that have descended from big people. I recall one picture of my great grandmother on my Dad's side who looked like my Uncle Ed, in a dress. The big nose, the weight problem, the battle is ages old. Is it heredity? Yes, but it's more than that. Society has given us a jobs, roles, and responsibilities that are sedentary in nature. I developed software solutions for 15 years, this means you sit at a computer and coerce a machine to do what you want it to. There's not much movement in that. I gained 230 pounds in that same time. I could suggest that my problems started before that, when I married someone who really didn't share my interest in cycling, something that was keeping my mind clear and my body salvageable.

As I focused on salvaging my failing marriage I tried to bring my wife into the realm of cycling, riding to the point of being tired, past the limit you think you have, and she was not a fan. This ended fairly quickly, and after 7 years of stress and trying to change me so she would be happy with me, so was the marriage. The stress had only just begun.

Eating as an anti-depressant is not new for me, I'd gained about 30 pounds over my marriage, and divorce doesn't make it any easier, but this was nothing compared to my life after the "dot com" crash (~2000). I had a couple of good years in a world of technology under-my belt, but when the tech jobs dried up, I was looking for work and I tried "Roadside Assistance" (towing) on... That's a low-paying job if you're honest. While making  next-to-nothing I was granted an audience with the Ontario Courts courtesy of my ex-wife and the Family Responsibility office. You don't know stress until you're told you'll lose your license if you don't pay the full-amount of child support ($1200+)... I barely earned that as it was. That was the end of driving, and the beginning of weight-gain... I went from ~250 to ~300 pounds in a few months while trying to work without a license. I had a very supportive girlfriend who drove my to a dispatch job with the towing company, and a boss who did all she could to help me earn a living. It wasn't until I got the case heard and settled that I was able to leave towing. I was back to development, a favour from a friend, and then a job (~2003). I was back in technology, but the stress was over.

In retrospect I could have spent my time working out, but that seemed self-serving and I was trying to provide for my kids, work was it. I stabilized, but found myself out of work again, and trying to maintain support payments, without my parents that wouldn't have been possible, but work came my way again, though I weighted ~330 now in 2006. In 2009 I was again out of work... my weight increased to ~360... then last year on another hiatus from employment I peaked just above 380 pounds.

Three Hundred Eighty!

Then I took a new job, but not as a programmer, as desktop support. This job has me on my toes!

Have I solved anything though? No, not about me, my curse. No, I've created a scenario when I must be active to succeed in my role. This serves a purpose, but it is not solution, but a side affect, an affect of a loss of ~10 pounds in a month.

What needs to happen is a more drastic change, but consider this...

My day [ideally] begins at 4:40AM, waking up and getting out to walk the dog (the dog is a new addition too), this is a short walk because I need to be in the shower by 5:45AM and I need breakfast. By 6:05 I'm out of the bathroom and I'm out the door at 6:20AM... I return home ~6:10pm, make dinner for myself, my daughter, and spend an hour catching up with external-to-job things (~7:30pm). I walk the dog, then head for by ~9pm.

I live by the motto, "Happy to help, any time." I really need to find time to help me.

I need to make "me" a priority.


Employed! Now to Fix My Child Support.

Child support, I have always maintained, is a responsibility. If you are not the primary custodial parent you owe it to your kids to work hard to ensure your kids have what they deserve. The issue is some people have a problem with that word "deserve."

I don't, but I do have concerns about the attitude of the courts. In fact I can safely say I am wary of and distrustful of judges, but still I try to work out a support amount that's fair and reasonable based on my income, something I am honest about with my ex-wife, and the Canada Revenue Agency. So I truly resent when a judge tells me I haven't earned enough money when I dedicated my life to earning as much as I possibly could.

That aside, I am very happy to be employed again. Three weeks in and I'm getting my bearings and making a difference. It's a busy office, and a demanding role, and I'm not telling my ex-wife where I work, period. She's played games before, filing court actions rather than discussing things. The FRO knows I'm working and I'm paying the last agreed-upon amount reliably and I am 1 month ahead for safety's sake, but I do need to address my recent changes.

I'd like to get my finances in order, then look at the new value as one based on last year's income rather than some interim amount. My income last year (while on Employment Insurance) dropped by 27%, I reduced my support by much less than that when you factor that my daughter moved back in with me last September, but that doesn't matter much, what will matter is coming up with a fair deal this year, and not letting my ex-wife try to steam-roll the deal with unexpected expenses for my daughters, such as Hypnotherapy or Dental work that I simply cannot afford. This year, no deal unless I'm satisfied that the expenses are reasonable and necessary.

So, the deal I'm looking at is based upon my income last year, period. There's been no discussion of extra-ordinary expenses to date, so I will disregard them. I'm waiting on my tax forms to arrive (due by February 28th) and from that I can put together an arrangement. She can take it or leave it, and leaving it means we head back to court. My intent is to be fair.

Neither of us want this, but If I need to take that path I'll start with a new Form 15.


The Parents

You love your parents, or you should in an ideal world. They brought you into the world, raised you to the best of their abilities and taught you everything you needed to know to survive in this world. Well, that's the game plan people we expect from people with children, but...

My parents love me, there's no question about that, and it's good to assume they do unless they abuse you. Even then it is entirely possible that abusive parents love you, care about you, but just have a really messed up ide of how to show that love. I'm not going to talk about my experiences as the youngest son of 5 children, the one that was a "whoops," and is 12 tears younger than my next sibling. I am also not going to blame them for the way my life turned out, because frankly it turned out fairly well, albeit not stellar career-wise.

Parents get the messy end of the stick most of the time, even when they're as perfect and dedicated as possible, it happens that some (most) children have the impression that parents don't understand, when they actually do. don't worry, teenagers are programmed not to believe parents.

My father is the patient sort, he's kind and thoughtful. I think it's where my "nice guy" personality comes from. He's always ready to help others, do what he can to make things better for someone, including his family. He was always working when i was kid, I'd spend time at his shop, his typesetting business, I would be left to my own devices, playing, riding my bike and prentending/dreaming around the industrial mall. I felt useful when I was able to help, shooting some text for paste-up on the Headliner machine. This was the age of the phototypesetter, The few computers he had made loads of micro-confetti as they were fed or created punched paper-tape as the data source. Yes, before thumb-drives, there was magnetic media, but befor that there was paper. While this was not the extent of spending time with my Dad, this was likely the most memorable. I don't recall much prior to age 4, though pictures tell of great fun at the family cottage and Christmas.

Once I started school my mother went back to work, I think she resented this, but My Dad's company wasn't making as much money as he'd hoped and by the time I was 8 the company was shuttered, debts paid by the sale of that family cottage and life went on. My mother and father fought quite often, and I suspect I was to blame. I was not a good kid it seems. I was difficult, and... let's just say I paid for being special.

My mother...

A couple who loves each other should forgive each other... it's unfair that sometimes only one half of that forrmula has the capacity to, but this is a reality. To persist in denigrading a spouse over issues year over year is abuse, it is pushing someone to react and the only reactions that are acceptible are divorce or death. My father will eventually, it seems, choose to escape this abuse through his own death (natural causes). Then what will she do? Who will she use to bolster he own significance in the world? If she uses family, though she already assumes all men treat women like property, she will find herself very alone.

I'm a bad son... I know some of you are saying this, but you don't know her.

Don't assume i don't love her, I do. I simply wish she'd stop abusing my father's good nature. It was her need for control, her frustration with me that drove a wedge between my father and I when I was young. He was left to punish me because she couldn't eny more, she wasn't strong enough to hit the target when she needed to inflict pain out of frustration, anger, or resentment. Unlike my father I wouldn't endlessly accept abuse, perhaps this is why I ended my marriage. Perhaps I just don't enjoy conflict. And no, I do not expect complacency in a spouse or partner. I expect intelligence without greed. My idea of a relationship is that you both commit to making the other happy and support them, honestly, through life. You can be critical, constructively, and your intent is to make life, this crazy world, a little better for each other. You won't always agree, but you'll find common ground because that is what you will both seek.

I'm a parent... I'm sorry (to my children) that I couldn't have endured as my father has, but I am not him. I would have been divorced or in prison long ago if I'd remained... There's one other option, yes... giving up on your own self-respect and becoming a shell of yourself. That would be worse.


Going back to your roots, with humility.

Let's not consider this cliché, but I am sitting in my parents' basement at the very desk I did my homework on as a child, roughly 25-35 years ago, and I'm considering my options when it comes to career goals. I can tell you that while I had an unexpected and fortunate opportunity to play the role of a BlackBerry evangelist yesterday showing off my technical prowess and product knowledge, the reality of my employment situation is never far from my mind.

While I have to "irons in the fire" there's no telling if those either of those irons will become a horseshoe (a job). While I face the potential reality, I am also hopeful. I recognise in myself the capacity and potential to be a real asset to their technical staff. I have the skills and experience to really make a difference, and sooner or later someone will notice, though if later, they may recognise it in the seat of a GO or Brampton bus driver.

One must have humility in these times. The young must have all the high hopes and eagerness to get out there and replace the older generations, but there's no reason for the old guard to shuffle off quietly, they have a responsibility to share their war stories, admit their faults and inspire the young to be ethical and determined in their quest.

 I love talking to young people, though I do not feel old per sé. I'm 45 and I have a great deal to give. I have technical knowledge, workplace experience, sound ethics, and quite a bit of reality to share with the young folk so they will not make the mistakes, or will at least be more prepared than I have been. Many of my errors, career choices, began right at this desk, the first one being not going to college. I recognise now that going through a proper post-secondary institution, going to all of those classes and getting the degree is essential if you don't want your fall-back to be working at McDonald's. It's not that working there is a bad experience, it is simply a minimum wage role that is hard to survive on in this day and age. When you get older you must embrace humility, live with and on less.

(to be continued)