Another Year of Tater

I turned 52 yesterday. Does that mean this is the beginning of year 53 of Tater? I think so?

Last year I wrote a post about being on the other side of 50 and things I wanted to change. I looked at that post this morning and I think I did pretty good even though most of my year was in the midst of a pandemic. Here is a look back at that and then a look forward to Tater at 52.

51 for me is time to find a career where I can be content until my career days are over. – Still a work in progress. Eventually I will go back to a job. I don’t know yet what that job will be.

51 for me is the time to stop letting others steal my joy. – Still a work in progress. I did cut ties with the people that were the biggest issue, but I still let people have way too much control over my joy.

51 for me is the time to cut ties with people and places who don’t respect me and my contributions. – Done! 25 years in a place where I brought innovative programming. leadership and loyalty and got nothing(but a paycheck) in return. 25 years of seeing less qualified people promoted over me. 25 years and they show no concern when I bring major issues to HR. 25 years of being a replaceable, unimportant cog. All over. I am now 2 months removed from a very toxic work environment and life is good.

51 for me is the time to forget the fear of the unknown and take that leap. – I took the leap into the unknown. It’s still scary. I don’t know what comes next. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’m sure at some point I will admit defeat on the writing and get a job. I just don’t know what that will be.

So, looking forward to Tater at 52. What will that bring?

Hopefully, within the first half of the 52 I will get the vaccine and life will return to something close to normal.

I will do my best to complete whatever my memoir will look like even if I know it will never be published.

I will spend some time trying to find other writing opportunities.

I will find ways to volunteer and give to those less fortunate.

I will figure out what my next step is career-wise Back to libraries? Substitute teacher? Grocery store? Gig work like Door Dash? Substitute teacher seems like a good choice. Some control over schedule, holidays and summers off.

Tater at 52 is a transition year. Transitioning from pandemic to post-pandemic. Transitioning from unemployed to employed. Transitioning to a new way of life. I need to be willing to give myself time and grace.

Here’s hoping for a much better year than the last one.

Some of My Random Jobs

A long time ago I did a post about my first seven jobs and then I updated and reposted it over the summer. After staring at my laptop for a good fifteen minutes and looking at blog ideas, I decided I would write about some of my jobs that did not make the list of seven first jobs. Jobs are on my mind these days as I work on an attempt to write a memoir of my time working in the jail. That was my longest stretch of time at a job. Here are some other things I have done.

Telemarketer for American Heart Association – I don’t remember when this falls in the list of jobs I held. I don’s remember how long I did it. I know it was a very short time and I was in college. I called people to ask them to be the American Heart Association person for their neighborhood and solicit donations from their neighbors. I remember that one of the neighborhoods on my list is where my girlfriend lived. I called her house and they still refused to sign up. I was very disappointed.

A Job I Didn’t Keep – Selling Knives – I was desperate for a job when I was in college. A sales job came up while I was in communications. I went to the orientation and it was selling knives. It was one of those things where they expected your entire life to be about the knives. They said they expected us to go out that weekend and sell. I said I had a wedding that weekend out of town. They told me to take the knives and try to sell them to family members at the wedding. I said no thank you and left.

Summer MissionaryI wrote about this summer here. I spent the summer in Inez, KY working for the Baptist church. My official job there was going door to door telling people about a new church that was being built. I also helped with Vacation Bible School, did some awkward speaking at church services, and lead the singing at a youth revival. I had a roommate and partner for the summer. He didn’t really like me. I got the impression he thought was was “holier” than me. He was probably right. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost friends on Facebook for the same reason.

Distant Learning Office at UK – This one is briefly mentioned in the first seven jobs post. One summer when the library did not have the budget to keep me on fulltime my supervisor got me a job here. I spent time binding books to be sent out to remote students. I did other random office tasks. I remember one day I had t write printed on a bunch of boxes. After a while, I had written the word so many times it looked wrong. I had to have a coworker look at it to assure me I had written it wrong on all the boxes.

Market Research – This one came after the last job on the list of seven. I was delivering newspapers at the time I interviewed for this one. I liked the newspaper job, but I had no days off and was expected to work major holidays. My interview here was immediately after I finished my route. I had to stop at a gas station restroom to go from ink covered guy in shorts and a t-shirt to interview ready guy in a suit. I got the job on the spot. I spent my days calling doctor’s offices trying to get them to do an interview about medications. I grew to love the job and was good at it. So goo at it that my boss called me in one day to tell me they were giving me a bigger raise than they generally give people because I was so good. I loved the company. Once a month was stopped everything and had a party. They supplied food and booze and we could dress as casual as we wanted. We had a company picnic at a local park. We had an elaborate Christmas party on company time. I miss working for private industry. I had good friends there. I probably would have stayed even after getting my library degree had my wife not been transferred to DC.

Temp Library Jobs – When I first got to the DC area I got jobs through a temp agency. I worked in the library at a law firm near the White House. I would eat lunch in Lafayette Park while looking at the White House. I worked for a week at the World Bank.

And then I went to prison.

Day One of a New Life

As regular readers know, I left my job recently. I had been with the same organization for 25 years. I had been at my current location for a little over 4 years. I was unhappy with my situation before the pandemic and it was much worse after. After months of talking about it my wife finally agreed it was time for me to get myself out of a bad situation. My last day was December 12.

I had already decided that my first week out of the job was going to be a week to relax and refresh. I planned to do little more than read and watch TV. My kids also both came home the Monday after my last day. The week was a mix of reading and watching TV with my kids. I had planned to be off work December 23-January 3 when I was still working. I didn’t really need to worry for a bit about what my new life would be like.

Now, it is that day. January 4. The day I would have returned to work. The day I start to ease back into some sort of routine. The day when I no longer feel I can justify not getting some writing done every day. At the very least a blog post. Hopefully, some work on writing about my life in jail. I do have some excuse for not going fully into a new routine. My daughter is still home for a bit so once she is awake I will spend time with her. My wife is in Kentucky with her mom and will be there until at least next week sometime. I won’t really know what my new normal looks like until my daughter is back at school and my wife is back home.

It will be hard to establish a routine until then. I need to work to make sure I am not completely lazy during this time. It would be too easy for me to relocate from the bed to the couch every day and spend my days doing nothing. Even if I don’t accomplish much writing I need to accomplish something each day. Some sort of cleaning. A load of laundry. Exercise.

It’s the first day of my new life, but it will be another two weeks or so before I really know what this new life looks like.

How to Ruin a Moment

This will be much more detailed about work than I would ever write before. More brave now since I’m almost done.

I wrote about how yesterday was party day. I also wrote about how my last week was not a normal last week because I keep getting calls about decisions on things that will happen after I am no longer working there. Here is a snapshot of how someone tried to ruin my moment yesterday. Is it narcissism? They hate that yesterday was about me and they couldn’t take credit for any of the good things people said about me? Maybe.

Yesterday was a work from home day. I did work on the schedule for next week even though I am on on the schedule. I get a phone call about payroll stuff. I try to explain it to them and tell them there was a post on our intranet before but it seemed to be gone now. They tell me to find the post and email it to them like I’m their fucking secretary or something. I explain again that I did not see the post but this is what it said. More on this comes later.

My party is in the afternoon. The first few minutes is all about this person and their inability to ever do Zoom properly. The next hour is great. There is a slide show that starts with a video message from a friend from my old branch. There are plenty of pictures of me from my time at work. There are quotes from coworkers. After the slide show, people said nice things about me. Former coworkers were there. One all the way from Oregon. It was much more than I expected for someone who is not officially retiring. I worked an extra hour on Monday, so I clocked out soon after the party and should have had a nice afternoon basking in the glow of the nice things people said. It was not to be.

Soon after I get a call again. About random stuff. No reason for the call except to assert their power over my life one more time. Rambling talk about an upcoming event. Wanting to go over the schedule that they should have done in the first place. Talk about meetings scheduled the next few days(both on times I should be off. No respect for people’s personal time) to decide who is taking over my duties. I’m gone in four days. Shouldn’t this be done already? No longer my problem. Talk about their needing to quarantine and how they won’t work from home like others and will just take the entire time off. Like I give any fucks anymore about their schedule. And then, finally, I think it is over.

I take the dog for a walk. I’m listening to me Spotify playlist. I’m enjoying time outside. Phone rings. I really should just refuse to answer, but I answer anyway. Back to the payroll thing. They didn’t just do what I said they should do. They looked at my employee’s timecards and didn’t see where I did it and tries to make it my problem and tells me I need to contact payroll. I finally convince them otherwise. I finally get off the phone and get one more text to tell me they finally figured it out.

I watched the slide show again with my wife to try to get back the good feeling of the day.

Now I have this to look forward to: meeting this morning to discuss reassignment of my duties. Four hours in branch and then the last meeting of my mystery book club. Tomorrow a work from home day with a staff meeting where they will talk about things that don’t matter to me anymore. A meeting on my day off with my staff to once again talk about reassignment of duties. 9-2 in branch Saturday and I’m done. I’m sure numerous annoying phone calls mxed in.

First thing I do when I am officially done? Delete contacts and block certain numbers

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Party Day

I think today is the day my departure from work will start to feel real. Today is the day of my Zoom farewell party. Today is the day people from across the system will show they like me just enough to log into a Zoom call to say goodbye. I did receive four nice messages via email and Facebook yesterday from former coworkers wishing me well. I found a gift from my current coworkers in my email this morning. It is everyone loves Tater week.

I feel like I could relax and enjoy it more if I worked in a normal place in normal times. Generally by the time you get to Tuesday of your last week you are mainly saying goodbyes and wrapping up a few final things. In my reality, I’m still getting phone calls about decisions on things that will happen after I’m gone. I’m still getting phone calls where someone is telling me when they think they will be out next week. I’m still being asked to work on the schedule for next week. At least on that last one they acknowledged that at this point they can’t really make me do anything. I’m not saying I don’t think I should do work. I just wish I was on site doing work that is immediate and not still doing work that should have been passed on to others by now. I have two meetings this week to discuss who is going to do my job starting next week. I gave them a month’s notice. How are they just now accepting that I am gone?

I had my exit interview Friday afternoon where I was honest about my work experience with certain people. If things go as usual, certain people will probably be told what I said before I am gone and my last week will be even worse. I hope that won’t happen but the past tells me that the odds are good that HR will tell the person about the complaints and make things even more awkward and stressful.

It’s only a week. Five more days and then I am done. No matter how bad it might get I can get through it.

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up?

My memories reminded me that I once took a career aptitude test after saying I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. Back then it was just a fun idea for a post. Now I feel like I should do it again and take it more seriously. A lot of writing jobs on the list, but I really don’t feel like I’m good enough to actually write for a living. Maybe I need to take another test and see what it might show. Maybe I should stop thinking about a new career and just focus on a job that will give me something to do and some money but that I can forget about when I go home.

I said in a comment yesterday that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. That’s not technically true. I want to be retired. That’s easy. I was asked if I had ever taken a career aptitude test, so I just took one. These are the jobs I was matched with  at last 4 stars with some thoughts on each.

our Top Matches

I have no musical talent, so while I might have the personality that fits being a musician, I do not have the skills.
Photo of Editor

I can see this. I think I have the skills needed to be a decent editor. Now I just need someone to hire me.
Photo of Author

I would love to be an author, but I don’t think I have it in me to write a book. I guess I could be a decent essay writer if I took the time to work on it.
Someone told me in college I should do this because I was a good listener. I did not listen to them and did not explore that career.
Photo of Journalist

I think this one fits my writing skills more. I took a journalism class in college but did not pursue the career.
Photo of Copywriter

I’m not sure what a copywriter does. I should probably find out.
Photo of Blogger

I am already an unpaid one of these. Anyone want to pay me to do this?
Photo of Sociologist

I did take some sociology classes in college and liked them. I could see this being a good fit.
Photo of Proofreader

I’m really bad at proofing my own blog posts. I’m not sure this would work.
Interesting that librarian was way down the list as a three star match. I’m not looking for a career change. I’m too close to retirement for that. Maybe I should have done this when I was stuck in jail for 19 years.

A New Chapter Coming Soon

I am 10 days away from my last day at work. I’ve been in the same profession with the same organization for 25 years. Now, in 10 days I will be ending that long chapter of my life. It reminds me of these lyrics I posted before

Wherever you are, whatever you did
It’s a page in your book, but it isn’t the end

Next Saturday is not the end of my book. Next Saturday is the end of a chapter. I will then turn the page and start a new chapter. I can work on becoming the Tater that works best for me. I can work on becoming the Tater that doesn’t dread the start of a new day. I can work on being the best Tater for the people I love. I don’t really know who the next tater is yet.

The first couple of weeks hope to be the Tater who detoxes from his current experience by doing nothing more than reading and watching TV.

After the holidays, I will see how Blogger/Writer Tater works out for me. Blogger/Writer Tater will spend the morning writing and working on a book about his jail experience and then the afternoon cleaning/cooking/volunteering.

At some point I might decide I need to do something that actually pays money. At that point maybe I try to become Substitute Teacher Tater or Gig Worker Tater. I like the substitute teacher option as I like working with teens, it has flexibility and I get the holidays and summer off.

I will still stay subscribed to Indeed and Glassdoor job alerts. Maybe a job pops up that seems perfect for me and I go back to being some sort of Full Time Employee Tater. Hopefully, in a full time job that has a normal Monday – Friday 9-5 type schedule with limited contact with the public.

At some point, Mrs Tater will retire and then I hope to become Traveler Tater.

The best part of writing a new chapter? It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

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Every End is a Beginning

Regular readers of the blog know that I have been in an unhappy situation. I felt stuck. I was depressed. I knew I needed a change but I wasn’t sure if I was able to make a change. Today, I have news.

I started talking to Mrs. Tater way back in June about the possibility of me leaving my job. I was unhappy before the pandemic. I was even more stressed and unhappy during the time I was working completely from home. I knew then that things would not be great for me when I did return to in-person work. I was correct. Most of what I liked about work was gone. All of what depressed me about work was still there and magnified. I started to feel physically ill at the thought of a new work week. I was depressed. I started going to therapy to deal with it. I knew deep down I would never get right while in this situation.

I had talked to my wife several times about it. I had pretty much given up hope of her being on board with me leaving my job with no landing spot. It is a giant leap of faith for someone to be OK with losing part of the household income for an undetermined amount of time. I wrote up a plan for how i would spend my days and how I would try to spend my “sabbatical” trying to write something that could be profitable. I did admit that I am 99% sure that I will not find a way to make money writing, but at least I would have the opportunity to know for sure. Then there were weeks of nothing. I would occasionally ask about the email and she would say she had not had a chance to consider it. I was losing all hope.

Sunday evening we went for our daily walk. I decided to bring it up one last time as I was already getting more and more stressed out about the end of the weekend. As we walked and talked she surprised me by saying that she agreed that leaving my job was the best thing for me to do. I made sure several times that she was really saying what I thought she was saying. She was telling me to leave my job. I called my kids when we got back to the house and they were both happy and in support of my decision. I texted my brother and sister to tell them. They were also happy and supportive. I told a small circle of my friends. Same story. I guess they all understood how unhappy I was.

So, Monday morning, while feeling like I was going to vomit, I wrote and sent my letter of resignation to my boss and HR. After 25 years with the same organization and years of doing the safe thing I took a leap to the unknown. As of December 12 I will officially have no job. I am taking a chance on myself that I will find the right place for me moving forward and that I have not doomed myself to never finding another job.

Life is too short to be miserable.

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Exploring Career Options

All of these look more attractive every day. I’m still working on #6 being an option.

I am contemplating my next step in life and exploring career options. Below are some careers where I think I might at least get a call back for an interview. It’s still iffy as I don’t seem to have marketable skills.

  1. The guy who scoops up roadkill – Bonuses: Outside work, multiple interesting lunch options, always a need for the position.
  2. Shoveling elephant poop at the zoo – Circus is no longer an option as they have retired the elephants. Too bad. I always wanted to run away with the circus. I might have if it wasn’t for all the damn clowns.
  3. Flagger Force – Outside work, but too much responsibility. Daydream too much and you might cause an accident. I’m not ready for that level of accountability.
  4. Spinning ad signs on the side of the road – Too clumsy and no rhythm. I would fail at this job.
  5. Putting flyers on people’s doors – Great for me as long as I’m not expected to talk to people. I’m all done talking to people. Bonuses – outside work, good exercise.
  6. Kept man – I’ve succeeded in the part where I find a woman who makes good money. I have failed at the part where I convince her to pay for everything while I live a leisurely life.
  7. Telemarketer – I’ve done this before and I didn’t suck at it but see above about people.
  8. Professional cheetah walker – I have the experience, but unless the zoo needs one it would require relocation to another continent.
  9. Professional blogger – If you are reading this, you likely know why this is not an option.
  10. Clown – I’m creepy and people don’t like me, so I’m almost there. This might be the winner.

Why I Was in Jail

I wrote this one a LONG time ago(2008!) and was thinking about how I ended up where I am. This is part of it. The explanation for my long stint in jail. I really think I would have been better off if I had stayed in jail until I retired.

I’ve always loved reading and that likely explains why I like libraries, but has little to do with why I am here.  I decided when I was in 6th grade that I was going to be a teacher.  After that decision was made, I never really thought about doing anything else.  I went off to the University of Kentucky and declared elementary education as my major.  The first couple of education classes were great.  I enjoyed the hour here and there that I spent in the classroom and had good grades in the education classes.  When I got to the semester before student teaching, I was spending 2 days a week at an elementary school.  I quickly realized that I didn’t like kids enough to spend all day in a room full of them and also that I wasn’t very good at teaching them.

The year before this, I needed a part time job.  I put in an application to work at the university library and received a call to go talk to the head of the periodicals department.  She  asked me to go get my application from the library administration before the interview.   The library administration told me my application had been pulled by the circulation department already, so I headed over to get it from them.  The circulation department head told me then that he wanted to hire me and that I would be happier working there than I would in periodicals.  Not really caring about the department, I said OK and accepted the job.  After a year there, I became the Sunday night supervisor.  I really loved the job and the people in the department.

When I reached the crisis point of knowing I could never be a teacher, my adviser saw how much I loved the library and suggested I look into getting an MLS.  I discovered that I was only a few credits away from a degree in communications, so I switched majors, got the BS in Communications and when on to get an MLS from the University of Kentucky.

I worked in market research for a year while getting my degree and started looking for a library job when it was time to move to Maryland for my wife’s job.  My first two library jobs were with a temp agency.  I was placed at a law firm across from the White House for a couple of weeks and then did a week at the World Bank.  My one and only full time job offer was with the Maryland State Correctional System as a contract employee.  I spent a miserable year there and then started looking for a new job with benefits.  I interviewed several places and ended up back in jail, this time with Howard County Library at the county jail.  Thirteen years later, I am still in what at the time I thought would be a nice in between job before getting out of jail for good.

As for why I am still here, part of it is that I have not been offered any other jobs I have applied for in the system, but also because I really do believe I am helping people each and every day.