Tag Archives: work

About Wearing Industrial Breathing Masks or the Fine Line Between Hammer and Pen.

Brick(s)

Often, I’ve thought that it you devoted your life to doing the things you love then the money would follow. Last month I wrote a test. The test was three weeks in duration. The final grade was fantastic.

Come the middle of June I’ll begin testing again. This time however there is no fail safe… nothing to fall back upon.

I quit my part-time job in March. I began working for my bother and dad shortly thereafter except for three weeks in May when I devoted my time to online endevours. These last 10 days I’ve been working 8 long hours per day as the 2 family home we own and are working on has sold before it’s completed. Now, I’ve worked many full-time jobs in the past but never had a shop to tend to and the work I was doing was not, both physically and mentally demanding. Office jobs may be mental but they certainly do not get you up and moving around.

I sat down last night and gripped my pen as a hammer; my paintbrush as a chisel and my mouse as a plaster sander.

Good Grief! My fingers are manly and calloused. My shoulders hurt incredibly as I spent four hours today sanding the bathroom ceiling, walls and baseboard, then priming them with BIN; an industrial cover-all-stinky-ass-paint-primer-sealant.

Yesterday I scraped the two bathtubs with a razor blade removing years of built up dirt, grime and cocking revealing the enamel underneath. The day before that I hauled demolition mega garbage down two flight of stairs.

My bother jovially nick-named me Clean Up Crew. I call him the Stupid Foreman. Oddly enough he is a smart foreman at his day job. We dawned industrial breathing masks this past Saturday and sanded the shit-out-of the century old hardwood floors with industrial sanders that I couldn’t fathom operating. I was the clean up crew.

We are so close to being finished. :) I haven’t written much about the renovations and sometimes I ask myself why and maybe the answer is because I like the work…

I have nothing nasty to say.

I’m payed reasonably well and can sit and take a break when needed. I get to do varying jobs apprenticing as a mason, carpenter, painter and lastly a labourer AKA Clean Up Crew. And I’m supplied with proper safety gear to wear when needed.

Burning Bush Leaves

I’ve been working outside in the garden but alas it remains too cold for planting most vegetables and herbs as the rain has been heavy. I expanded the garden plot 2 feet by 30 feet. It took me five hours of chopping grass root deep then cutting… no yanking it out then falling and hauling it away to the compost pile. Next, my mother and I dug another 8 inches down and sifted hundreds of pounds of gravel out of the soil which in turn had to be piled elsewhere. Once we ad some black earth, sheep and cow manure, compost and lastly the greenery the Doyle garden will be well on it’s way to growing.

One year has come and gone since I landed back in Saint John on May 29th, 2007.

And I’m not looking back.

Photo Credits – both captured by me last weekend. You can see the beginnings of the 2008 garden here.

Now for the Positive and the Smiling Woman Portrait

It wasn’t all gloom and doom where I worked. There were times and days when things were good and not so bad. Here is a list of positively great things associated with where I was employed.

Smiling Woman

1. I paid one of my student debts totaling $3700 off in full in the six months I worked there.

2. I am in awesome physical shape from the physical labour. Only another $18,500 to go!

3. I worked with some great people; people who made me laugh; people who worked as hard as I did.

4. They gave me a part-time job when I needed one.

5. I was surrounded by art supplies!

6. Everyday I was inspired by art, prints, photos and oddities customer’s brought in to have framed.

7. I got to cut glass.

8. I learned to be efficient in the time frame I was given for varying tasks.

9. I got to use air powered tools!

10. I met and spoke with many local artists weekly.

11. They were understanding when things got rough for me while nearing the end of tapering off Paxil last November.

12. They gave me time off (unpaid) when my grandmother passed away.

13. They are marking me off as a good employee because I gave written notice.

14. If I ever want to work for them again I am always welcome to come back.

15. Finally, having this job gave me the confidence to know that I can work and do a good job at it.

For the next three weeks I’ll be working with my Dad and brother renovating a building they own. I’ve worked with them before and enjoy doing so. I’m a good worker and when able to have always given a hand. Women are just good at paying attention to the small details that men may miss. Now don’t go attacking me for saying that but I know my Dad and brother and you don’t. They do fabulous restoration work. I’m so excited. This building is near 100 years old.

So, if you know of any part-time work email me or leave a comment on this post. I am open to all types of work. The summer is coming and I’ll be planting and maintaining a huge vegetable garden again. That in itself is backbreaking work. A part-time office or contract work at home gig would be grand.

And to clarify why I choose part-time over full-time work. I need time to write, draw and paint. Without doing those three things I do and have become very sick. I stay healthy this way which is better for me and also great for the people who employ me.

The smiling woman semi self portrait will be available in my art shop later today. She is looking a little magenta though. I must rescan her.

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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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Go in with a Positive Attitude

Boxing Day Pic of me

On my way to work yesterday I was complaining about having to go to work to my father, dreading the uneasiness (not the work itself) that seems to have rested over my place of employment. When we arrived at the store I opened the passenger door to get out and my Dad says to me “Go in with a positive attitude.”

I did. I smiled said thank you for the lift and entered that giant store happy. And later that night I left that giant store happy.

I truly am growing tired of being uncertain… when in fact my life is fantastic. I am surrounded by people who love me. I have a job related to arts. I am blogging. I am creating new art and meeting new people both online and offline with whom I connect.

All of these things combined make for a beautiful life.

Who are we to continuously complain without doing anything about what we are complaining about. Think about that.

The picture above was snapped by my mom using my camera on Boxing day during the yearly gathering at my Grandmother’s place. She turned 93 on Christmas Day. If she can keep going and smiling so can I.

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Peak Season Hazards at Work

The situation I find myself in has become a burden. Work has become a life threatening burden. I’m pissed.

At about noon today I felt myself get so angry I wanted to kick the living daylights out of something, anything, kill it, shred it up and devour it. I hate that feeling. I hate that feeling of being so out of control that you lose yourself in the moment.

It was all I could do to stay calm, talk only to co-workers and regress my anger towards one of two new managers today. I work with glass every day. EVERY DAY. BIG FREAKING SHEETS of glass. These sheets of glass I cut down to fit custom ordered frames. We have a steel garbage can on wheels to dispose of any unused pieces into. All of the employees in this store use this framing department glass can to safely dispose of glass or other sharp items than can CUT you, your family or friend. We framers where goggles and also dawn protective hand gear when cutting and handling glass in the frame shop.

Fuck we are so mismanaged. Our store manager quit late last week. Our assistant manager got hit in the neck with a Christmas tree box and is still quite ill. I don’t blame her for quitting. It’s a zoo where I work. The company policies make it impossible to do a good job. I do not earn enough money to compensate with the stupidity of two new replacement managers. Are they even managers. NO! They are freaking managers in training. Do they care? NO. They make the big money. We make minimum wage, give or take a few dollars. I am using every fiber of my being right now not to pick up the phone and call Health and Safety. *Ralph is so fucking dumb with his rosy cheeks and grin. I feel for the department managers. They are a gift sent from heaven right now up silently warring against corporate evil.

My hands are swollen from handling dirty cardboard early this morning at 7AM. Our cutting instruments do more damage than actual cutting because of the STUPID COMPANY safety policy mechanisms on the cutting knife. My feet continue to swell from being on them for 10 hours. Fuck. I’m not scared of hard work. Never have been. I want to work. BUT when you are a labourer you at least get paid **19 bucks an hour to do your job. I earn 9. Nine dollars. Was $8.75 but just got a 25¢ raise. Woot. I can afford to do…

nothing.

So Ralph or John break a frame around noon today. CRASH throughout the store. The music is off in the store. EERIE silence. Glass breaking. There might be 200, 300 people shopping in the store at this time. OK. Breaking or dropping something is no big deal. It happens all the time. You simply pick the broken pieces up, dispose of it, record the SKU number and go about your day. This has nothing to do with the Christmas rush! I’ve worked retail before. MANY fucking years either part-time or full-time. I know all about it. RALPH is dumb and placed my safety and integrity at risk. He also placed your safety at risk. Ralph or John broke a framed piece of art. No big deal.

FUCKING dude(s) left the metal glass bin in the center isle where your little sons and daughters can walk by and easily rub there hands along for over an hour today. THAT IS A BIG DEAL! We are so freaking busy right now in that store. We are very lucky none of the public was hurt. I shouldn’t have to look after one of the so called managers on my wage. I’m not being paid to do so. IT should be the other way around. I shouldn’t have to think about them at all. I went and gave RALPH a piece of my mind, telling him you can’t leave sharp glass laying in the main left center isle. He just smiled dumbassidly. The other framer, my posse backed me up. No one cares right now down there. No one cares. Moral is low and it makes me sad.

I’m exhausted. Today was the breaking point. Another co-worker came looking for the glass bin which should have been placed back in the frame shop after the broken glass had been cleaned up. This coworker met me in an isle carrying broken Christmas ornaments. She asks “Where’s the can?” I answer I don’t know. Then think… “Is it out back?” in the stockroom it’s home away from home where the glass get disposed of by the shipping/receiving guy. She says No.

I take the glass from her and go searching remembering RALPHhhhhhhh had taken the glass can. He never returned it. I felt my stomach turn. I should have went with him to retrieve the can after he was done using it. BUT was so busy in custom framing I could not and honestly forgot about it after dealing with the umpteenth person asking about whatever they were asking about.

I am so tired you guys these past few weeks. So much is going on behind what you read here on this blog that it is all I can do to stay sane. Having an art education where I work means nothing. It means an average 25¢ to 75¢ more than the average joe off the street earns per hour as I found out about three weeks ago. That man has since been fired since I said I was giving my notice and after a few of the other department managers noticed his antics also. I just happen to be the first employee to voice my concern not so much over his wage but over his lack of honesty, integrity and plain down right VILE attitude towards people in general. How could he earn almost as much as me when he did nothing! I hate it there. I’m beginning to hate men in general. I find they have no fucking clue lately.

The women and two good men (***tom and harry) in that store work very hard. These other two men (Ralph and John), as hard as they may think they are working, are not cut out for the job. And maybe I’m not either. Maybe I should re-consider leaving.

I hate having to work so much not to even meet poverty standards in Canada. The only reason I’m not living on the street is because I live at home with my folks.

Maybe this is just a bump in my life. I started to make mistakes at work today. I measured custom orders wrong and cut orders wrong because they have me doing toooooooooo many different jobs that I can’t concentrate on a $500 dollar order which I feel is more important than unpacking $5 fucking freight. I’ll unpakc the freight. No problemo. BUT don’t get angry when custom orders don’t get complted in time for Christmas. We are severely understaffed. MAYBE if the company payed it’s current employees an itsy bit more we would work the extra hours needed to make up for the lack of bodies supervising the store.

I’ve been practicing leaving my work at work. That’s not working so well these last few weeks. We get a new manager again come the New Year. I keep holding my breath hoping that she will be good, fair and honest.

I was so happy to see the framing manager start her shift this afternoon. She is solid.

There are those of you who read this blog that know who I am and where I work. You most likely are close to this situation. None of this is directed at you for you are in the same boat as I find myself in. And I think you are a doing a fabulous job. You are the reason(s) I stay. You are great to work with during these dire times.

I wonder what would happen if we, the workers decided to unionize. We definately would get fair wages for the work we do. All of us regardless of education or not. What would happen if we went on strike during peak season! YAH!

I’ve been holding much back here on this Blog of mine. I don’t think I can censor myself any longer. An artist censoring herself is like taking a fish out of water and leaving it to die, rot and stink in the sun.

Time to live and come clean!

*names changed
**standard UNION labourer pay in New Brunswick
***names changes – both great guys!

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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.