Monday, April 27, 2009

If I'm going to work, I'm getting paid!

A couple of years ago my boss decided to retire. It was no surprise, we had talked about it. Although, with his retirement I had to make a decision: 1. Retire completely or 2. Create a new position. I opted to create a new position. The question was, how in the Hell to do it...

I had a degree (along with a zillion other people looking for new and different things to do with their lives). I was older (older than dirt). I knew I needed to keep my mind active and I also knew I had to be out of the house part of the day or else be charged, eventually, with murder or at least the manslaughter of my significant other who is fully retired. I was well aware that living joined at the hip with him was not the best thing for either of us.

I had time to make the decision during the month after my boss retired. That was a month I worked for the "Home Office"... shudder. As I worked for them I observed how other offices performed their tasks. I made notes and came up with a plan of action. As soon as my sentence was over (working with the Home Office group) I put the plan in motion.

I wrote to all the other owners of similar businesses and proposed an idea to give them an opportunity to hire me as a "floater" of sorts, to fill in when they needed help, or to train new folks. I had experience in all aspects of the business and could, run their offices for them, for a fair price. I waited for my first call. My significant other thought I was nuts. No one had done what I was proposing exactly before, so I was in virgin territory. I was sure this could be a very good opportunity for both me and the owners. I waited with no calls coming in.

After a month my first call came and I went to the office to help out. I had a blast. I was able to say, I would work when I wanted, for as long as I wanted. If that was OK then I worked, if it wasn't...oh well, too bad, their loss.

The problem I didn't anticipate was the number of calls I received looking for my help. I thought it was a good idea, I didn't realize it was a great idea. I became known as "The Buzzard". I sort of hovered over the businesses waiting to swoop down and work when needed. I kept myself up to date with all the new programs and software so I wasn't overwhelmed when I went to offices after a couple of week away. It's been pretty good so far.

I thought by doing this kind of work I'd have all kinds of extra time to volunteer or at least to learn something new, or join some public service organizations. What I didn't realize was some organizations take up more time than others. I also didn't know how some organizations can almost draw the life blood out of you if you allow it. Sometimes you don't know it's happening until it's too late. I got out in time.

I gave myself a year to see if I could do the work with the volunteer organization. The folks I worked with were very passionate about what they were doing. I was not. I was more concerned about the completion of projects then get on to the next project. They were more interested in tweaking and rewriting the same things over and over again. I felt as though I was trying to run through jello when I was part of groups trying to conquer the unconquerable.

I started to observe the folks in the groups and decided it was me, not them who was in the wrong place. I didn't fit in. I am very direct, blunt and sometimes a bit rude, especially if I think my time is being wasted. I figure I'm real old, I don't have a whole lot of time to waste, so get on with it... This was not the group for me.

I also observed only a core group of folks do all the work. I know that's the way it is in volunteer organizations, but I like to be paid. I was doing work and my payment was not in the form I desire. I want hard cash. I understand when you do volunteer work, the work should be payment enough. But I'm honest, it wasn't enough for me!

Control seems to permeate throughout the volunteer organizations I've observed. Someone always has to be the controller. There is usually a main controlling personality (and there's a need for someone in that position-for a limited time period). Then there are sub-controllers. They're the ones who head committees ( again, you need someone to avert chaos-to a point) Every one of the groups have folks who get drunk with power. It's really pretty funny to watch. I did like my position of observer, for a brief moment I thought I'd stick it out just to stay as, "the observer".

As I watched from my perch, I created names for those in controlling positions. I tried not to be catty, but I didn't win. I became so damned catty I was ashamed of myself. I didn't stop though I just kept it to myself. One I called Captain Hook, involved in everything and sometimes made others ineffective in his quest for the unattainable. Another I called, "Ms. I've been doing this so long, there's nothing new for me here". One of the many I really liked was named (in my head), "Ms. I'll do anything to avoid confrontation". That person was probably the one I will miss the most. Luckily that person will continue to be a valuable asset to the organization and keep it on the up and up.

During my time of observation, I found I was not doing things I like to do, like write. I found I was too tired, too frustrated or just too... to sit down for an hour or two to put words on paper. It took me several days to understand my participation in the volunteer organization was beginning to suck out energy and life from my soul. It sounds drastic and weird, I know, but it was giving me adgida and a big headache.

So, the bottom line...I don't work unless I get paid. I don't have the patience, nor the passion to work in a position that doesn't say "Cha ching!" at the end of the week...At least I'm honest.