Thursday, May 28, 2009

What goes up must come down

Have you ever noticed that things can go TOO well and somebody ends up pissing in your Wheaties just so that everything stays in perspective?

Allow me to start from the beginning. I won tickets and meet-and-greet passes (back stage passes) from the local radio station, 104.7, WIOT, for the Bret Michaels concert at the Omni in Toledo Wednesday night.

I followed the directions and did what I was supposed to do (be at the sound board after the show to go back stage). I showed up at the sound board and nobody knew anything. Jenn and I spent an hour and a half walking around asking Omni employees, security, Bret's personal security, even Bret's personal body guard Big John if they knew anything about it. Nobody knew anything at all. And although there was a WIOT van parked in the lot, there wasn't an employee to be found ANYWHERE.

SO, I didn't get to do the meet and greet because apparently nobody communicates at the bar, in the security detail, or at the radio station. I didn't really care because I had met him Tuesday night at the Mud Hens game. But Jenn was really looking forward to it, and she didn't go on Tuesday.

So that's one hose-down, courtesy of WIOT. I sent them a respectful e-mail about it today, but they didn't bother to reply and explain themselves. Just more proof to support my opinion that they give away these "meet and greet passes" as a public relations prank and have no clue -- or no intention -- of following through. As long as they get their listeners to think they are cool.

It wasn't even a great concert. It was a bunch of drunk 20-something blondes girls trying to push their way to the front to try to make out with Bret. One gal even tried to push past me. I stood my ground and wouldn't let her past me. She said "I'm just trying to get to the stage." My response was "you and 2000 other jack-holes in this bar. You can go behind me if you want."

She called me a name. It starts with an F and rhymes with "trucker." I smiled. Maybe I am. But I'm not going to let a pretty face, skimpy shirt or short skirt convince me that someone can push their way in front of me. Solly Cholly.

Photos of the concert appear above. I also posted video on YouTube of songs that I either have never seen Bret perform or only seen him perform a couple of times. No, I don't have any of the WAY overplayed songs like "Every Rose" or "Something to Believe In." To find my videos, search YouTube for the username "iawlfan." That's me. I hope to add more video soon.

On the up-side, Evan "graduated" from pre-school tonight. That was fun, even though I think the entire idea is a little ridiculous. Evan looked handsome in his graduation cap. He was funny to watch as he kept smacking the "tassel" out of his face with his diploma. His mom cried. His grandmothers cried. I had fun. Photos of that also appear above.

And then I got home and got hosed again. My old boss called me around 9 p.m. to chat. I have caller ID and I answered the phone expecting a discussion that started "can you come back to work on Monday." Instead, I got "I decided to hire the old part-time guy who left for another newspaper instead. I thought he would be a better fit in the Perrysburg office. I didn't think anyone in the newsroom would fit up there." He said it had nothing to do with my ability, but everything to do with personality fit.

I asked him if he was legally allowed to hire someone from the outside instead of bringing back an employee who had been laid off. He said he didn't ask for a legal opinion but thought this was the better choice. I was nice. But I intend to ask for a legal opinion of my own.

I could say more, but I'll save it so I don't get in trouble in case this has a legal course of action available.

For now, I'm a proud papa who is pissed off and pissed on. In the meantime, I'm keeping my hopes up (but not so high they will be dashed again!) for the second interview.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bret Michaels in Toledo, interview

The only news I have right now on the job front is that my interview Tuesday went extremely well. I have it on good authority that 12 people are being interviewed. I know that if I make the cut, I will go for a second interview June 3. The job would start June 8. This should move quickly, and I have a good feeling about it.

On Tuesday night (same day as the interview), I went with my brother Lance and sister-in-law Kristy to see Bret Michaels sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame at a Toledo Mud Hens game. We were able to get fantastic seats just outside of his VIP box from family members who will remain anonymous but VERY MUCH thanked. One of those family members got us in the proper place, got us great seats, and gave us a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium. That was a lot of fun.

Here are some photos from the meeting. Lance got a part from his Poison Tribute motorcycle signed. I got a CD cover signed.

At the bottom of this entry, there is a video I shot of him signing autographs and singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The concert at the Omni is tonight. I will try to post photos of that tonight or tomorrow...depends on how late Kaleb decides to stay awake tonight.

Rock on.

And thanks again to those who were able to make this happen!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Big day, big news, big week

There is a LOT of stuff going on this week, so here are the highlights.

We went camping this weekend, so I picked up the weekend mail today (Monday) and found out that I passed the Civil Service Test in Findlay, with a score of 94 percent. Yeah for me!!! That means that I go on to the next step and take the computer portion of the test on June 2.

I also take the Civil Service Test for the Perrysburg dispatching position on June 17.

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I have a real interview for a position with the Wood County Educational Service Center. The last time I had an interview, I was offered the assistant manager position for the Peebles position. I am cautiously confident, but not cocky about my chances.

In other non-job-related business, I won tickets and meet-and-greet passes to see Bret Michaels, and the concert is Wednesday in Toledo. I'm looking forward to that.

On Thursday, Evan "graduates" from pre-school. Photos likely to be posted from both the concert and the graduation.

On the home front, Kaleb is crawling, standing, "cruising," holding himself steady with one hand, and by my guess is only about two months away from walking. He also happens to be teething, so he is one fiercely grumpy gus.

Wish us luck all around!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Keeping my fingers crossed

Since it has been a month since Chris passed away, it doesn't look like I'll be returning to the Sentinel. My former boss said he would let me know "in two weeks or so" whether it was a possibility or not. That was a month ago, so I assume the answer is "or not."

In the meantime, I have kept my hopes up and my options open, as I have applied for three really great jobs...well, two really great jobs, and one pretty good one with great benefits.

I have applied for dispatching positions in Findlay and Perrysburg. I already have taken the civil service exam for the Findlay position. If I pass that (and I will - call me cocky, but I know I will), I will have to return June 2 to take a computer test.

I take the civil service exam for the Perrysburg dispatching position June 17.

The other job I am applying for is secretary for the Wood County Educational Service Center. I would rather be a dispatcher, but basically, any state job would be good.

Currently, I still am at Peebles. I got that promotion, which is nice, but it's still hurting me because any money I make there just gets taken out of how much I am supposed to get from unemployment. So why do I continue to do it? First of all, I am hoping that I will find a full-time job soon and will be able to stay at Peebles to supplement our income.

PLEASE keep your fingers crossed for the dispatching jobs. They are GOOD state jobs that would represent a 25 percent pay increase for me from my old job. That would be a wonderful shot in the arm for this family.

We need all the help, prayers and crossed fingers we can get. We have been doing well, but when we feel like this bumpy ride called unemployment has smoothed out - when we start to see light at the end of the tunnel - the bottom gives out, and it turns out that the light at the end of the tunnel is another train. We keep getting hit with nasty surprises, so the sooner I find a job, the better.

Take care, thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Safe at work with mixed emotions

I'm back to work, and I know I am safe there, but it is with mixed emotions that I am there.

I started working at the new Peebles store in Bowling Green on April 20 with 29 others who were all trying for the same 10 jobs. We all knew going in that only 10 of us would survive the final cut, but I went in feeling pretty confident. I had already turned down an offer to be the assistant manager at full-time status.

My reasons were boss and family know those reasons. I won't go into them here, but those reasons were fully explored, fully fretted, and over-discussed during a course of three days and two sleepless nights. I had all of their support in that decision, and felt confident in that.

Tonight, I'm kind of kicking myself.

April 20 started with training: Videos, rules, paperwork, boring, snooze, ugh, and hoping it will just end. On April 21, I was one of four guys who helped unload a full semi load of product. And when I say full, I mean full...we opened the door and boxes fell out. I haven't been that tired since I re-roofed my old garage when I lived in Cygnet.

The balance of the last two weeks have consisted of getting those boxes unpacked, setting up racks and displays, and placing product, rearranging, and changing everything to make it look perfect.

On Wednesday, my boss pulled me aside and asked if I would be interested being "third key," which is like a managerial supervisor position. I still don't have all of the details. Again I asked for some time to think about it, and I discussed it with Jenn and dad. In the end, I decided that I didn't want to turn down yet ANOTHER opportunity for additional responsibility.

If nothing else, it looks good on my resume. More importantly, it gives me an opportunity to work on my managerial skills, further prove my trustworthiness to even more people, and...let's face it...make more money.

I am still looking for a full-time job, but I'm pretty happy about this decision. Once I find a full-time job, I will be able to do both, which is the end goal. Until then, bills will be a little tight. But one part-time job is better than no job, so I'm very pleased.

So what's up with the mixed emotions, you ask? Well, as we all know, nothing is perfect. I was working tonight, and I had no fewer than three unrelated customers ask me if I was a manager or that they thought I WAS the manager because 1) I looked and acted like it, and 2) because I knew what I was doing.

The first time, I was pretty proud, and thanked them for their kind words. The second time, the little red flag went about a fourth of the way up the pole. The THIRD time, that red flag was completely unfurled and I started really second-guessing my decision to turn down the full-time assistant manager position.

I went to my boss and asked her if she ever felt like kicking herself for what might have been a bad decision, and she knew exactly what I was talking about. She then proceeded to tell me that the regional manager, who worked side-by-side with us for the last two weeks, had told her that I would have made a great assistant manager. She told him she offered and that I turned him down, and his response was "oh, THAT'S the guy!!!"

That story also explains why when the corporate guys toured the store on Wednesday and wanted us to move all of the wall displays down about 10 inches that he came to me first and told me he wanted me to handle "a big job," and then proceeded to watch as I enlisted the help of several other people to get the job done quickly...since he told me at 4 and we were all supposed to leave at 6. He was testing me and my leadership abilities.

It also explains why, when my boss offered me the "third key" position, he came in the room during our meeting, basically interrupted the discussion, asked me if I was willing to relocate, and told me I could go really far in the company.

That was a heck of an ego boost for me, but also kind of a kick, because I could have been a step ahead already.

Come to find out that all four members of the set-up team he brought in all individually told my boss that they thought I would make a really good assistant manager.

So all of that is one reason for the mixed emotions.

But there also is part of me that doesn't WANT to be a manager, or an assistant manager. That part of me had a hard time tonight watching two really good guys get cut from our team as part of that "whittle down to 10." I understand the reasoning for both of them - now that I'm third key, I'm in the loop about a lot more things - but they were still good guys, and one of them really needed this job. I hated watching my boss let them go. It was awkward and uncomfortable, and having recently been on the receiving end of the "we have to let you go" speech, I felt really, really bad for them.

But it makes me realize how lucky and blessed I really am, and I can't take what I have for granted, as I do all too often.

Another thing eating at me is that there is a slim chance that I may return to the Sentinel soon. One of my co-workers there died on April 17, for reasons that we still don't know. He was only 44. He went to bed one night and simply didn't wake up the next morning. I have been told that there is a chance the Sentinel may replace him...and maybe not. But if they do, I have been promised that I will be his replacement.

Oh good...I get to replace the well-respected guy who I looked up to, who taught me how to report the issues I reported, who died. Can you appreciate how all of that could make me uncomfortable? I feel like a vulture just waiting to benefit from the misfortune of others. I know it's not really like that, but that's how it feels.

The rumor mill is running rampant about my "imminent return," but I have no guarantees of that, and I am not getting my hopes up until I hear one way or the other from my former boss. He told me he would let me know about 2 1/2 weeks after my co-worker died. That means I should know sometime next week. I'm trying not to think about it. I want to go back, but I'm afraid to. I'm afraid of being layed off again if things continue to get worse. It's not the Sentinel's fault. Newspapers all over the country are laying off and making drastic cuts.

In the meantime, I also also have a few other projects pending that could turn into good additional part-time or temporary jobs.

I just take it one day at a time and hope for the best.