Awkward Tater’s Conference Report

Last week I wrote about being awkward and attending conference. I am now back from the conference and thought I would report back on how I did with the social aspect.

When I arrived at the conference and headed into the keynote speaker, I hovered a bit while talking to someone I knew while waiting to see who was arriving and where they were sitting. I use the same strategy when I attend our all day staff development day for work. It’s always a mistake to sit and just go with the luck of the draw with who sits next to you. I can be a disaster. I did resist the impulse to go sit with the people from my library system, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t really talk to the handful of people who sat at my table. After the keynote, I attended the welcome reception. I found my friend from my branch and mostly talked to her and her husband, but I did venture over to talk to the conference chair who I know from working on the committee in the past. I did not succeed in mingling more than that.

The next morning I was up early to work the registration table. It gives me the opportunity to see everyone as they check in, but not an opportunity to really talk to people.  I did have a short conversation with a couple of the people working with me and found a new coffee place to try while in town. Most of the rest of the day was spent in sessions and didn’t leave a lot of time to talk to people. I did chat with someone I know from previous conferences while in line at the bar and someone I have talked to via email about a project I’m working on. My pub quiz team was full of people I already knew.

Not much to say about the last day. Someone I worked with on a statewide committee years ago happened to sit at my table at the closing keynote and we said hello. That was about it.

I didn’t talk to anyone who could have any impact on my career. There were several CEO’s there, but never the opportunity to say more than hello as we walked past each other. I did better about talking to people I met before but didn’t really make an effort to meet new people. I have an even bigger challenge with this next month when I go to a national conference in DC.  It will be harder to only talk to people with whom I already have a connection. It’s either reach out or stay quiet.

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Awkward Tater Goes to Conference

I leave tomorrow for a conference for work. This is the conference I’ve gone to every year for a long time. I spent years on the planning committee for the conference. I used to be the guy in charge of writing the pub quiz every year until I gave it up when I had other official duties and lost it forever. I’m still an active member of the steering committee for one of the divisions. I hope to be back on the conference committee next year. All of the above means that I will know plenty of people at the conference. You would think that would make it easier for me to mix and mingle at the social events. If you think that, you would be wrong. I am still a socially awkward introvert and it’s still not cool.

I’ve never been good at the social part of the conference. I’m terrible at using the conference as a networking opportunity. I did better at the conference I attended in the fall. I introduced myself to the new CEOs of two local library systems. I ate breakfast at a table with someone from Utah and contacted her later for information we had discussed. Maybe I can carry that over to this conference. It would be especially useful as I am getting closer to actively seeking employment elsewhere. It would be nice if people on the interview panels remembered me as the guy they met and liked and not the weird guy who stands quietly in the corner at the reception. It’s never good to be the weird guy standing quietly alone in the corner. It would also be nice for leaders at my current place of work to see that I am known and liked by others in the profession. Maybe it will make them care more about the possibility of losing me. I doubt it, but a man can dream.

So, tomorrow when the keynote is over and the welcome reception starts, I will make an effort to not just grab some food and look for people I know. I will make an effort to meet new people without being weird and awkward about it. I will do the same at the other social activities. Look for my post next week where I will talk about my failure to do this.

Changing Goals

More on the topic of goals today. I was asked yesterday about goals and specifically asked if a certain job was my goal. It would have served me in the short term to just say yes, that is my career goal. Did I do that? Of course not. My problem over the years is that I am apparently unable to play the game that needs to be played to get ahead. The thing to do there was to say yes, my career goal is to be X, please hire me to do X. And yes, that is a current career goal. I would like to do X. I would be good at X. I don’t think there should be any question that I would be good at X. But is that my end goal? I really don’t know. Maybe. Maybe I get hired to do X and I’m very happy doing X and I want to do X for the rest of my work life. But the thing is, goals change. Life changes.

Maybe my wife gets a new job and we have to move. Doesn’t matter what my career goal was, now my career goal is to find a decent job in the new location. Maybe I win the lottery. Nw my career goal is to quit in a way that will not alert people that I won the lottery. Maybe I’m so good at my job I’m offered the chance to move to a higher level job and it is something that excites me. Now my career goal has moved up the ladder. Maybe I get a notification that a job I didn’t even know existed is open and it is the perfect situation for me. It would be hard to have that goal if I didn’t even know it could be a goal.

So, I guess my goal is to stay aware of opportunities, take chances and go for those opportunities when they arise and to know which opportunity is the right one for me.

The One Where Tater Makes a Decision

If you are a regular reader of this blog, I’m sorry, but also, you know that I wrote recently about some “not resolutions” for this year. One of those involved making a change in my day-to-day life. In this post, I will talk about why my first major decision of 2019 was to opt not to make a major change in my day to day life.

I have talked before about how I feel that God has spoken to me in various ways, sometimes with a song. Early this month I had a very strong feeling that I was being told that this is the year that everything changes. I’m going to think positive and assume that these would be positive changes and that this is not just wishful thinking on my part. Last week, I was in Florida with my family. Thursday, we took a day off from the parks and relaxed at the resort. Thursday morning, I went to the tennis courts with my son. Standing on the courts in my summer clothes in January with no stress in my life, I felt more at peace with life than I have in a long time. After tennis, we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the pool. It was during this time, that I received the call that interrupted the peace. It was a call from a place where I had interviewed before Christmas. It was a job offer. A very generous job offer.

At first glance, it seemed like this is what I wanted. It was a chance to make a change in my daily life. It was a chance to make a change in my daily life and make more money. It would definitely make this the year that everything changed. It was hard to focus on talking to the HR person about everything while on vacation so I asked if I could be back in touch after I returned. I had a few more days to decide if this is what I really wanted. I tried to focus more on enjoying my time with my family than dwelling on the offer, but it would sneak into my head whenever I had a chance to relax. Eventually, it would be decision time.

Ultimately, it came down to this question: Is the short-term gain of more money and removing myself from a bad situation more important than my long-term goal of retiring when I hit my 30 years(6 more years). Also in the long term thinking – is it worth resetting where I stand with vacation hours, probably doubling(or more) my commute and going to the one place in the state where I know no one? Eventually, I had to admit that blowing up my long term plan for a short term gain would not be smart and I opted to stay put for now. There are some opportunities for change coming that would not mess up my long term goals and would not result in major changes in location. If those don’t pan out, there are plenty of places I could go that would keep my long term goals intact. I just need to be patient and not make a rash decision.

I can get back to that feeling of peace sooner rather than later if I can be patient and wait for the right place to jump.

Some Dumb Tuesday Tater Thoughts on Sports and Work

This season in football I’ve heard the following:

You can’t bench Joe Flacco. He’s a Super Bowl MVP!

You can’t fire John Harbaugh. He won a Super Bowl!

I can’t believe the Packers fired Mike McCarthy! He won a Super Bowl! You don’t do that to a Super Bowl winning coach!

Imagine if this was real life. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that my place of work could never fire me because I won an award a while back.

They can’t fire Tater! He won an Out of the Box Award once! You don’t do that to someone who won a bonus award!

I imagine if I had become mediocre to bad at my job the fact I won an award once would not shield me from being let go. I also can’t imagine anyone would actually care if they did. How did professional sports become a place where past wins shield you from current failures? You are hired to win games. If you can’t win games, you shouldn’t have your job. That’s just the way it is.

Other ways sports business would be weird in my life:

X Library System has traded Tater to Z Library System for a box of bookends, a cart with a bad wheel and an incompetent intern. We’re not sure who got the best deal.

The bigger branches could become the majors and the smaller branches the minor leagues. Librarians are moved up and down based on performance. I’m pretty sure I would be exiled to the far reaches of the minors forever.

Just some dumb Tuesday Tater thoughts.

When One Door Closes

We’ve all heard the expression “When one door closes, another opens” In my experience, that has not been the case.

In my experience, all the doors are closed all of the time.  In that case, there is the saying that when a door closes, a window opens. Unfortunately, in my case, the windows typically have bars on them. For me, for 19 years, they were literal bars.

In some cases, when the one door closes and another opens, that open door is a trap and you should avoid it. Sometimes closed doors are protecting you from something worse on the other side. Unfortunately, you probably won’t know it was a trap until you are on the other side and the door has closed behind you.

Doors can be a tricky thing. You can spend years looking for that open door, wondering why the doors aren’t opening for you without realizing that perhaps the doors are protecting you from what’s on the other side.

So, be careful. Every knock on the door isn’t opportunity. Sometimes a closed door is a good thing.

Welcome to Tater After Dark

Welcome to Tater After Dark where I write now because I have time to do it without having to leave for work. Of course, I started so late now I’m rushing to finish before my wife gets home.  This post is not nearly as exciting as the title makes it sound. It’s basically some rambling thoughts about a few things.

  1. I posted on Facebook this weekend that my early New Year’s resolution was to stop joking about finding a new career and actually look for a new career. I started a little of this process today interviewing for a job at another system. As I move forward in to the new year, I will consider looking outside the library profession and possibly move on from the library world if I find the right situation. It would have to be the perfect situation as I would be giving up being less than 7 year to retirement. I just know that things need to change and I can’t just sit around and hope the changes will come. I have to try to make the change myself.
  2. I watched the last Rick Grimes episode of The Walking Dead last night. There are spoilers after this sentence, so stop reading if you haven’t watched. While I agree that the announcement of Rick Grimes movies cheapens the whole “last Rick Grimes episode” thing, I did like what they did and what it will be going forward. I l know people think it’s cool to not watch the show anymore, but I do still enjoy it. I think they found a good way to write Rick out of the show without killing him. I like the time jump and I like the idea of seeing Judith as a kid who has only ever known the zombie world. I think the show without Rick can be better and I look forward to seeing what they do with it.
  3. I was looking on Twitter today to see if there was any news about the Ravens firing John Harbaugh. They didn’t and I found a lot of people saying they didn’t think they should. I disagree. I know Harbaugh won a Super Bowl, but 4 sub par years in a row is too much, The team needs a change. Status quo isn’t getting it done. You don’t pay millions for mediocrity.
  4. Time change was yesterday. It’s now cold and dark. It’s also rainy. If it’s going to be cold and dark it might as well snow. Cold, dark and rainy sucks. I need to put up the Christmas tree to add some festivity to this cold, dark and rainy world. I’m sure it will go up the day after Thanksgiving like normal. I also want to go look at Christmas lights and really enjoy the season this year. It might be time for me to head back up to 34th street in Baltimore. I would also like to go to NYC for a day to enjoy the decorations there. I need festive.

I hope you have enjoyed Tater After Dark. Stay tuned tomorrow for some other random post and a random time of day.

Exploring Career Options

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 is 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 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.

My Week In Review

This is a different week in review than I normally do. Generally, my week in review focuses on what I read and watched over the week. You would think a week of constant rain would lead to an increase in reading and watching, but I can’t think of one thing of note I read or watched during that time besides the one book: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara.  It was an interesting book and a quick read(all day rain on Saturday helped with that) but was not written in a style that I love. The rest of the rainy days I read some more and watched TV, but nothing of note. We finished the latest season of Lucifer and watched multiple episodes of the recently canceled Code Black, but I think I watched more Parks and Red than anything else. It was a weird week as far as reading and watching goes.

My main takeaway from the week are the multiple signs that seem to be pointing toward change for me. I said in a recent post that one option after my daughter goes to college next month is to not make any major changes, but I’m starting to think that I will be leaning in the other direction. Of course, I will need others to help me in making that change. I need the right job to open up in the right place or the winning lottery numbers. I would prefer the lottery and sometimes it seems the odds of my winning the lottery is higher than the odds of me getting the perfect job(have I mentioned how much I suck in job interviews?) It might also mean that instead of an outward change what I need is an inward change. To learn to be at peace with my circumstances. That might be my only option. All I know is that all of the recent signs seem to be exit signs.

Then again, maybe all the rain just made me more depressed and all I need is time in the sun.

From a Savage to an Amazon?

The news reported this morning that Amazon is offering the opportunity for people to start their own business delivering Amazon packages. It’s possible to start with only a $10,000 investment. When I was looking it up just now, I saw that there is also the Amazon Flex option to be a “gig” driver, more like an Uber type set-up. I was just saying recently how much I miss having a job where I’m outside and on the move all day.

One of my first jobs out of college was working for the Cincinnati Post delivering papers to street racks and stores. It was a summer job before I started grad school. I arrived in the morning, picked up my morning edition, drove around the city delivering them, ate lunch and then picked up and delivered the afternoon edition. Instead of driving to each rack, I would park on a block, grab all the papers for that area, and run to each rack or store to deliver them.  I was in very good physical shape that summer. My day ended when I delivered my last paper, so the faster I worked, the more free time I had. I had no benefits, vacation or holiday time, so it wasn’t the best job, but I really did like being on the go all day. Whenever I leave the branch for a meeting and I’m driving mid-day, I miss being out in my car alone all day. So, when I see jobs like the above, I’m always tempted to make the big jump from professional librarian to delivery guy. I would probably find soon enough that this type of job is not great for an old guy like me, but the temptation is still there.  I also think the job seems attractive because your interaction with other people is limited. That sounds really nice.

I’m not going to quit my job and become an Amazon guy. I will continue on as a Savage assistant manager, but for a day I will long for days alone in my car listening to the radio. It was a simpler time.