Work V

Coming to the conclusion that I would never again want to work for someone like my best previous employer is exactly why I went into business for myself. That’s why last year I decided it was time for me to put my money where my mouth is. If I am capable of generating vast wealth for myself, even with an employer siphoning out his fair share, then I am capable of generating even greater wealth for myself when I don’t have to worry about the boss. This doesn’t make me unique – I wish that many more people would come to similar conclusions. So far, it is working. I’m actually a lot further along that I imagined I would be by now. It’s not exactly an income yet, but it promises to be a good one eventually.

Ultimately, I became completely disillusioned with the whole myth and illusion of steady income. There is no such thing as job security, only the illusion of job security. When you are working for yourself, you work and you may or may not have work to do and income next month. Similarly, when you are working for someone else, you work and you may or may not have work to do and income next month. So why bother working for someone else? If you are able to generate $XXX income working for someone else, imagine what you will make if you don’t answer to someone else, and if they aren’t taking their share of your earnings. I’m hesitant to even take on employees, and would prefer to sublet work to others who are self-employed. If I do get to the point of hiring, I can think of several people who would be great to have working for me, including some of my old coworkers.

Work IV

When I was let go from my job, I made the comment that the owner had fired the wrong people. I still believe that to this day. It is as if he retains employees based on his own sentiment and how badly that individual needs a job, and not by merit of the worker. Frankly, the aforementioned production manager is only one of the employees there that could never find another job that is nearly so good as what he has got. I don’t think the owner is running a business so much as a missionary. No wonder he was hurting so badly when hit by the recession. What the hell kind of business owner fires someone like me and hands those responsibilities to someone like that production manager? This is why the bubble has burst for me and I could likely never return to work there. How in the world could I ever work for someone that I knew made such irresponsible business decisions? And yet, it is also encouraging.

If he can make decisions like that and still say in business, then certainly I can be successful in business. I was not paid poorly, but I felt like I was worth so much more than I was being paid. I wasn’t bitter about that, it was something that I felt I needed to work into. Obviously, the business owner needs to make money from his employee’s labor. He had no clue how much money I was making for him, or how much he’s still making because of my efforts from over a year ago. Even if he ever realized it, he would never admit it because of his pride. Why would I ever want to work for someone like that?

Work III

I do miss my job old job. I miss my coworkers. They were some really great people. I deluded myself to think that I was part of it though. I foolishly turned down other opportunities along the way because I felt like I was needed. I turned down other opportunities because they told me in no uncertain terms that my job was NOT in jeopardy. If things got too rough, we would all take a pay cut before anyone was let go. We now know that was utter rubbish. Although it is obvious that they were hurt by my absence, the owner is entirely too proud to ever admit it. I often mused to one or two of my coworkers that pride would be the thing that would take the company down in the end. I still believe that is true.

I had great ideas that were dismissed out of hand. I had ideas for designs on new products such as a multi-purpose modular compressor frame, as well as revisions on current products, like a soft-close system for a steel cabinet. Once I commented that a valving system needed a superfluous check in it so the end user wouldn’t blow out a vacuum gauge if he turned the wrong knob. That idea was quickly and quietly dismissed as being unnecessary, and yet the end user blew that exact gauge only a few weeks after putting the equipment into service. I had marketing strategies that may have very well freshened up sales that were largely ignored until someone else finally ‘came up’ with the same idea later. Several things that I was pushing for while there have since been implemented. Things that were well within the scope of my job duties that I was trying to get authorization from the owner on are improvements that have been made since my departure.

Work II

The pump is the heart and soul of the compressors that we manufactured. Our pump manufacturer was one of these notoriously unreliable vendors that nearly exclusively dealt with our production manager. We were several weeks past the promised deadline on quite a few pumps, and our production was jammed up because of it. They were not answering the phone, nor were they replying to email. So, we headed over to their shop to see what was going on. There were many apologies, and many excuses, and the sad, sad stories rolled uncontrollably. The manager at the shop promised that we would get pumps soon. They just had some bad luck with some of their vendors, and that was keeping them behind.

Afterward, the owner, my boss, asked our production manger and me each what our impressions were of our visit. The production manager said that he felt like they really were being straight with us, and that we would have new pumps coming in soon. I said the guy was lying through his teeth and just trying to get us off his back. It was the same old song and dance that we had come to expect from these idiots. I said he was full of it, and that we wouldn’t see pumps for weeks still. I said it in pretty much those exact words too. Guess which of us was right?

So, the owner made the decision to let me go because of budget cutbacks, and gave my inventory management duties to the production manager. There are parts like part “ABC”, that I stocked for the company, a few thousand dollars worth at a time. The vendor in question had been trying to push for me to stock more and attempted to push minimum quantity orders on me, but I resisted and negotiated, and maintained the level. At this point, the company stocks at least two to three times my previous annual salary on part “ABC”, because they have no one to negotiate and be a diplomat to those vendors. Sure, in many ways they’ve been able to continue to reap the benefit of my labor. And, that in itself makes me feel bitter towards them.

Work I

At this point, it’s been a little over a year since I was dismissed from gainful employment. I really did like my job. The business owner claimed that I didn’t, but he was wrong. There are things that I did dislike about my job, but it was really the best time I ever had working for someone else. I was up early the other day, couldn’t go back to sleep, and was laying in bed thinking about my layoff and the surrounding circumstances.

I was in charge of inventory management, vendor relations, and all things shipping. Out of the hundreds of vendors I was working with, procuring thousands of parts and raw materials, obviously I had a few ‘problem’ vendors. But, when vendor X’s purported lead time on a $5 part was two weeks, and I knew that they may not have them in for six months, it only made sense for me to stock that part for a six-month projection on usage. I was good at that. Other vendors which the company had dealings with for years prior to my hire were notorious for their lack of reliability and flakiness. And yet, in building relationships, I was able to get quite reliable service and quick response times from them. Still, there was no hope for other vendors. I identified these and cut them out like a cancer, often finding replacement vendors that could sell us the same products for significant savings. I was quite easily earning my own salary in savings to the company alone on an annual basis, with that much in residuals as well.

The production manager had weaseled his way into taking on several of the vendors, and frankly was doing a crappy job with them. His hand-full of vendors were nothing but trouble with rare exception. Toward the end of my employment, I was attempting to take these back from him so that I could give them the same treatment. This was a difficult task, as most people in the company were completely enabling his behavior. Also, the vendors themselves had a good-old-boy attitude and would usually refuse to talk to me, as if he had me circumvented on an explicated basis. One of the last steps I took in this process, right before my dismissal, was when I went to visit our pump manufacturer with the production manager.

Hopeless?

Quoted from John Farnam’s email with permission:

31 Jan 11

Insurmountable odds?

Earlier this month, a single Indian Gurka soldier (retired) foiled an armed
robbery attempt, involving a large criminal gang. There were forty of
them! He also prevented at least one forcible rape. The Gurka himself is
okay, but three robbery suspects are DRT. At least eight others were badly
injured. The balance fled!

The Gurka was aboard a train in India when the robbery attempt took place.
He sat silently while the gang snatched cash, rings, jewelry, cell
phones, etc from terrified passengers. They threatened with knives and pistols.
But, when several robbery suspects attempted to rape a teenage girl, the
Gurka sprang into action! With consummate skill, he employed his
stock-and-trade weapon, the famous Khukuri blade.

The bandits were no match for him!

With blinding speed, he dispatched them as if they were chickens. Who
could, fled for their lives!

In the process, the courageous Gurka suffered a knife wound to his left
hand, but was otherwise okay. None of the other passengers were seriously
injured.

Unlike in America, the Gurka’s bold actions were praised by government and
media alike. He is officially recognized for the hero that he is, not
denigrated, castigated, and remotely psychoanalyzed as would be his fate over
here!

Good show, Bud!

Lessons:

Unlike so many these days, this Gurka knows right from wrong! He knew he
had to act, and he knew he had the skills, equipment, and heart necessary to
prevail. The last thing these bandits expected was forceful resistance.
When it came their way, they couldn’t handle it!

He (1) sized-up the situation, (2) made a plan, and (3) exploded into
action.

He neither hesitated, nor dithered. He swept his mind free of clutter and
focused completely upon the task at hand.

When he made the decision to act, he attacked with all he was worth,
holding nothing back.

With consummate skill and daring, and with superiority of purpose, he
became a precise, seamless whirlwind of motion- unbeatable, unstoppable. To
their horror, these bandits found themselves completely outclassed!

“Never tell me the odds!”

Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford), Star Wars, 1977

/John

A lesson I’ll add to that: Don’t screw with a Gurkha.

Time to Whine a Little.

So, we went down to visit LawDog and Phlegmmy over the weekend. A wonderful time was had by all. You can read about it many places on the interwebtron. As a less than exhaustive list, try here or here or here for example. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which is why I ate more of that particular meal than any other variety of eats. Nom nom! Saturday, the weather was beautiful. The local B&B met the high expectations that they set up with our previous dealings with them. Sunday, it was significantly colder, but we still had a great time. It was with much heel-dragging and hesitance that we decided that it was time to leave on Sunday evening. The drive home was uneventful, and we were relieved to get back to our own bed.

When I woke up on Monday morning, I felt like someone had spent the night working me over with a bat or a 2×4. Everything hurt. I was feverish, had body aches, and generally felt like warmed-over crap. I spent some time on Monday trying to get some work done. There was research that I needed to do on dummy guns for some of my upcoming projects. I had to return emails. I struggled through it bundled up in some of my warmest clothing. It was not pleasant, and I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I usually do in that amount of time, but I was a trooper and struggled through it anyway. That night, I overrode the heater to leave it blowing hard, and the blizzard hit.

The snow here wouldn’t be that big a deal to other locations. But, we don’t get blizzards in Oklahoma. For the couple times we ever get any amount of snow, it wouldn’t make sense to spend tax dollars to keep equipment at the ready for this type of storm. Yesterday, most of the state was completely shut down, and there was no getting out anyway. Even if I had felt up to digging out the car, the wind was so gusty and the snow was so powdery that whatever I scooped out would have settled to exactly where I scooped it from. It was pointless, so we resigned to stay in. Then, yesterday evening, our heater went out. The temperature was less than 10-degrees out, and we had no more central heat. We had no wood burning stove, working oven, or even space heaters. So, we made do by boiling pots on the stove, turning on every incandescent and halogen bulb in the place, running the washer, dryer, and dish washer. Remarkably, our little home stayed over 50-degrees all night, even with outdoor ambient hitting the thermometer at around 2-degrees F. And, the hot water froze up. I was looking forward to that hot shower this morning, too.

Jennifer says that I was feverish in the night, but it was the first in the last few days that I didn’t feel feverish. This morning, I fortified the water heater cubby with blankets and we shined my halogen work lamps in that room. After coffee, I shoveled out the car and made arrangements with some friends from church to borrow several space heaters from them. I dropped by a couple of stores and brought wares back home. The electric heaters have made a huge difference in our situation. We thought we had seen a small trickle on the hot water to the bath, but that may have been hopeful thinking. The water tank extends up into the attic and I have much reason to suspect that the pipes on top of it are frozen. I believe if we can get those thawed, we’ll be back in business.

I don’t have much of an idea what’s wrong with our furnace. I know that when it tries to kick on its circulation fan, it makes a buzzing sound and nothing moves. I don’t know how serviceable those fan motors are or if that really is the problem. For all I know there’s a squirrel jammed in the fan. I do know that the unit is old and its days were limited in the first place. It is more than likely original to the house, which was built in 1974. If it comes down to it, it couldn’t possibly be terribly difficult to replace, but we’re in no position to put that kind of money down at the moment. I’m remarkably at peace with all of this, considering the challenges. I don’t know if that has to do with the fact that we’re so much better off now than we were this time yesterday, or because I still feel like crap and don’t really care about much besides my immediate comfort.

One way or another, I’m looking forward to things improving. Everything feels like it’s been hanging on a webwork of very thin threads for the last year. Now, we find ourselves in a position where it looks as though we will have to stretch ourselves yet again. Not cool. Not fun. I feel like I’ve pushed myself too hard today, but I did make some headway for the household in the process. Now, I think I will get in the attic with a blow dryer and see if I can get that hot water to flow. It doesn’t look like anyone else is going to do it, so I may as well.

UPDATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The hot water did come back. Before Wee Bot went to bed, he was able to take a hot shower. This morning, Jennifer and I were able to enjoy one of our own. It had to be one of the top ten most appreciated hot showers I’ve ever had. I’m still not feeling 100%, but I’m feeling a whole lot better than I was. The other two in the household seem to be making a lot more progress than me in that regard. More than anything, I feel tired and cranky today, and sore. I can’t imagine I slept too well last night, just waiting for something else to go wrong. That would tend to lead to a crabby disposition. And, it is nice that I feel sore from shoveling snow rather than the sick body aches that came before. So, I’m thankful and feeling encouraged.

As to the heater, I’m not even going to mess with it until I feel good and it’s not single-digit temperatures outside. I’m fairly mechanically inclined, so I’ll likely poke around at it prior to calling a pro to clean up the mess that I make. I appreciate all the advice that has popped up in the comments here, and I will keep all of those in mind when I do jump in there.