Category Archives: minimum wage

I Quit My Job RANT

I quit my job last Saturday giving the store manager one week’s written notice as a courtesy per New Brunswick labor laws. My last day will be this coming Saturday.

I feel thwarted of success there. This will be my only vent, rant and annoying post regarding this decision. I am fully aware that my writing negatively only perpetuates any negativity surrounding my aura. We all need to let go of it somehow for without doing so will surely lead us down that lonely road of past coping skills and delusions.

There is no truth in staying somewhere when you are not happy. No happiness in trudging through the motions with no reward. And certainly no reward earning one dollar over minimum wage with 17 years arts related experience.

I feel the calm of solitude ebb around me and it feels soft and nice, not fearful and anxious. Surprisingly, this afterthought, well may it last beyond tomorrow.

When you work at a job there are things that make it feel worthwhile, worth getting up in the morning to go to work for. A happy customer is always nice, especially one that has been wowed by a molding you chose to frame their painting in. Another is knowing you do a good job and actually enjoy doing custom picture framing. Another is having great co-workers to work with. But none of these things mean anything when you are not rewarded financially for your efforts put forth and will only be given another 29¢ per hour at your year end review, if that.

I’ve been rewarded in many ways at my job. One being that I get to scrub public toilets every night that I am scheduled to work. And only custom picture framers get to scrub the john. We are a special lot of picture framers you see. Another is not being able to eat my lunch at lunch time because there are too many customers and only one custom picture framer. There is a difference between choosing to not eat lunch because you are not hungry and customers asking why your hands are shaking.

Do you know what it is like to be doing backbreaking labour unpacking box after dirty box from China stocking shelves upon endless shelves? …and then throwing the cardboard into a cardboard compactor that smells like rotting vomit.

This store will hire a person to mop and POLISH the floors but not the toilets and sinks. They tell you, you need to earn your hours to work in the frame shop but then they tell you to stop production at 8:00 and go and scrub the toilets until 9:00. How is scrubbing toilets earning valuable time custom picture framing time? Fuck.

They have the audacity to schedule you from 9:00 to 5:00. Great. That is fine. I have always believed in a full days work. Honestly. You get an unpaid half hour lunch and one paid five minute break when scheduled to work that shift. But then they schedule you from 9:00 to 5:30 and you get another break on top of the lunch and initial break. I always had a hard time with this one. It’s like schedule me the extra half hour you twit! A worker is much more productive when she can step away from her work every two to three hours.

I threw up twice at work last Thursday and continued to work. I had been going to work feeling sick to my stomach for weeks, months? I couldn’t keep up with what was expected of me. Each week a new task, a new paperwork assignment, a new toilet to be cleaned was being added to my task list of things to do. My wage was not being increased to meet these new demands even though I was required to do “it” all in the same amount of time.

You know, close to THIRTY or more employees have quit working where I work since mid-December. The store itself employs thirty people. I have been through six managers, four of which were the Store manager.

I asked for a raise three times only to be met with “Well, we would all be living a better life wouldn’t we if we all made a little more money.” Fuck. More than a raise I wanted a standard schedule. A reliable schedule where I knew the days and hours I was expected to be at work. I can be scheduled to work anytime between 9AM to 9PM, seven days per week. All I wanted was a set three or four days that I was scheduled to work. I didn’t even care if it was night shift or day shift. Just the same god damn shifts week in week out so I could plan my life accordingly.

I am good at what I do. I proved it. I won the framing contest. I sold close to $200 an hour during the contest week. When you finally realize that regardless of how hard you work, good you are at what you do and how happy your customers are at the end of the day you still need to pay your bills.

And I’m worth more than minimum wage.

When I was hired I was not told I would be cleaning toilets nor was I told I would be cleaning the staffroom, stocking shelves or throwing away ungodly amounts of recyclable material. Janitors earn more than minimum wage where I live. I have a skilled trade. Sadly 10 years ago when I emplyed at this same trade I earned only $1.25 less than what I am earning where I work now. I don’t understand it and I’m done beating my head against a brick wall trying to make sense of corporate garbage.

My last day to work is this coming Saturday. Tomorrow I will write about the positive. Yes, my friends there is a positive to working where I have worked and it will be written and saved in pixels for generations to read!

Muahahahahahahaha

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The Happy Custom Framer Rant

I wrote Earning about a dollar more than minimum wage per hour when the Canadian dollar is worth a quizillion dollars on world markets today in my last post. And yes in is hard because it is the only negative aspect to the job I do four to five days per week.

I work as a custom picture framer at an art and craft supply store. I love my job. I frame original art, photographs, memorabilia, prints and certificates. I cut glass, matting and get to use air tools! Custom framing is an old trade of mine that I learned shortly after graduating from high school in 1991. I apprenticed as a picture framer for a local photographer for a few months to help with the Christmas rush. Later after graduating college in 1996 I began working as a custom picture framer for a local artist framing his prints and the odd job that came through the door. I work their for 14 months full-time.

Both of those times I earned about a dollar more than minimum wage. The thing is this, minimum wage has NOT risen a dollar in the last ten years. Ten years ago in 1997 minimum wage was at or around $6.30. Today minimum wage is $7.30 in New Brunswick. Go figure? Ten years… 10¢ a year it increased. Sad but very very true.

As for where I presently work, it is an OK job as far as jobs go. I work with 90% women which is awesome. I get to avoid the general public as the frame shop is it’s own entity. I work with the public but only those who want custom framing or those who believe we are the customer service department even though the whole back wall is covered with a thousand frame molding examples.

I get a good discount on art supplies. Yay! Enough said.

The biggest reason I chose to make a switch from graphic design to picture framing is simple; I burnt out BIG TIME from stress, relentless deadlines and working 50-70 hour weeks, week in – week out. This all lead to addiction. That lead to recovery and this Blog.

About two years ago I decided to continue freelancing, accepting the odd contract job here and there. That has been good and not so good as I completely flipped out earlier this year doing a small job for Scott. Maybe it was all the other insanities going on around me and needless to say Scott and I came to an agreement and all is good between us.

Thinking back to when I began college I chose Applied Arts over Fine Arts. I didn’t think I could make any money as an fine artist. As an applied artist I thought I could, because p.e.o.p.l.e, ADVERTISING will never disappear! Today I wish ADVERTISING would die. I wish I could stomp on it until all it’s edged frayed and every coat of varnish and 4 color press ink faded into smithereens. Your head can get damaged by all this when you are working against your heart year after year after year. I don’t care how good I was at it and at one time I was very good. I was best when sipping GHB hourly, sadly, gladly…

I don’t remember a time when graphic design didn’t make me want to puke. God. These words I’m writing feel cleansing yet they read harsh and unforgiving. I don’t want to forgive the Advertising industry. Thanks to you, I can analyze an ad, know why it works or doesn’t work, who the target market is and how to fix it if it needs fixing.

My ex listened to me every time the TV was on and a commercial aired. This design lingo would spit out of my mouth about what font they were using, colour scheme jargon, spit blargh… I couldn’t read the newspaper anymore. I could spot misaligned paragraphs, kerning and leading errors, copy mistakes and spelling errors. How could I be so good at something and have it make me sick to my stomach and worse be so scared to apply for a big professional job in that industry.

I’ve uploaded a measly amount of design work to this blog as I still retain some anger not at anyone in particular. Think Adbusters and what they stand for. I like them.

Money should never be a driving force in anything you do. It will freaking kill you. And when you are an artist trying to be a designer placed in the wrong communication firm can lead to your death or timely demise in that industry.

There are many Design jobs that come up here in New Brunswick and I’m qualified to do most of them and most of them would pay two to three maybe four times more than what I earn as a custom picture framer. I’m just not there anymore. For one thing I can’t sit still for EIGHT hours a day. I need to move. Out West I applied for one particular job. I got an interview. During the interview she said she received 400 applications. I ask her how many people she has interviewed. She says she’s interviewed 10. I happened to be one of those ten. I get called back for the second interview and then the third only to be told she hired the woman who had a kid. Not having kids as a young woman is another rant for another time.

I have to laugh right now. Hahahahahahahahaha Such is life eh?

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How do you clean your mind?

I began, a few moments ago, thinking about how I wished I could remove my brain, throw it in the wash with detergent and later dry it outside on the line in the crisp autumn air.

I can’t literally do that though and that fact irks me especially after a day like today.

I am only able to wash my skin if dirty, exercise if fat and eat if hungry. The mind is different and yes, every one of those things affects the mind indirectly but they cannot immediately rid it of dirt.

This got me thinking about drugs and how I crave them during moments of high stress. Yes, moments, for the urge can pass to instantaneously fix the sleepiness, stupidness or inattentiveness. On days like today though the moments turned into hours and the 15 minute break worked for about 15 minutes upon my return to working. I know, I know there will be days like these.

I wish I had that little bottle on days like these. I wish I had my magic potion. I wish I could sip it into oblivion and be unaware of my own existence, only conscious of other’s insistence.

Today I found two pennies.

Friendly considerations

bedbug.jpgTwo of my friends Nadine and Dan from New Brunswick arrived in Vancouver on Saturday afternoon. They packed up their car in Freddy and had begun driving across the continent (Canada) arriving in Vancouver 15 days later. Wow! I’m so happy to have them both here staying with Eric and I until they settle in. Yes, this isn’t just a trip it’s full-on-move-to-the-big-city from small-town New Brunswick.

The issues they are facing are similar to my own when I arrived here three and a half years ago; namely, finding a place to live and applying for jobs. This is NO small feat to accomplish in Vancouver. When one goes about searching for an affordable, livable and decent rental property or apartment one is met with having to give your life story, credit and banking information and on top of that competition for the precious few places where one can actually afford to live in. Being from out of town does not make this search easier. The questions are endless. If you work at a minimum wage job here in Vancouver you make $8 an hour or $16,640 yearly. Not bad. However, a one bedroom apartment will cost you between $700 to $1100 to rent. If you can’t afford that rental price you are stuck renting a room for between $300 to $500. There is also a bed bug epidemic.
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