Stress: It’ll Make or Break You. (Hint: Make isn’t fun either.)

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There’s always another curve-ball it seems like. It’s always one thing after another, or at least that’s what it seems like this week. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep a brave face on, to keep the smile going.  It feels like I’ve been asking for a break from the Universe for years now, but that’s how it goes.

After my surgery, I was positive that things would get a bit easier.  I mean, hell, I wouldn’t be admitted for sleepovers at my favorite hospital every month.. so that would be a bonus? While that’s absolutely true, I haven’t had more than a couple bad days with my Crohn’s Disease since, life just throws one more thing at me after another.

So surgery happened, and then the headaches/migraines started. MRIs (and the different variations of that I had done) showed nothing. The doctor ran all the neurological tests, and nothing. Tried some pills, and after a month and change, I occasionally get a day where I only get a headache for part of it.

I finally start getting used to the headaches, and learn how to “head them off” when they start, and start altering my lifestyle to maybe get rid of them all together. Stress makes everything worse, so why not lower stress in addition to exercise (hello weight gain from new headache medicine) and eating better. Things are looking up!

Until my car takes a big giant shit on that plan. My transmission hates me, so after it started slipping gears, I took it to my mechanic, who despite my insistence that I just had one done, blew $150 and gave my transmission a flush. That didn’t work, so I took it to a well-known transmission joint. They kept it for a week, changed out the valve body and a couple of other things.. and nada. So I took it back again, and for the tune of $1500 to $1800, they are fixing it. They said it would be a week… that was more than two weeks ago.

We rented a car for the first week and a half, but after running dangerously short on money (and hello beginning of the month, also known as *ding* your mortgage is due) we returned it.. after being told, oh, it’ll be done by Monday at the latest. Well, that was this past Monday.

While all of this is going on, Ryan’s job runs out of work. So when we need the money the most, we’re relying on my income and side jobs. It kind of works out, I was able to drive his truck to work this week a bit, but of course the side jobs come out of the woodwork on days I have to work.. so I was out of luck. Thankfully Ryan’s brother lent me his car, which was a life saver. Lets just say I was having an anxiety attack before he offered.

It doesn’t help that the guy snaps on me whenever I call for an update (because they have YET to call me to let me know what’s going on). So after a long day at work, where my office is SEVERELY understaffed temporarily (of course, while all of this is going on.. seriously, I must have some bad karma or something) and I’m running at stressed-the-fuck-out, I get to call this guy, and get snapped on, when I’m just looking for an update on when my life might get easier.

Then add into that, my daughter’s school is nothing but a pain. School starts on Tuesday, and of course, they have yet to send out ANYTHING about transportation or, I don’t know, school supplies or even her teacher. I’ve been trying to arrange a bus to pick her up from daycare, and it’s a major pain in the ass. Meet and Greet is on Monday (and I have no idea who her teacher is) and I promise this right now, if I go in, and they don’t have transportation set up, I will have a melt down.

All of this is going on, and it takes a toll on you. Ryan and I have been fighting like cats and dogs over the stupidest shit, just because we’re both so stressed out. It’s hard to remember that the other person didn’t cause this. Then, I find myself snapping on Noodle over stuff I normally let slide.. and then apologizing to her and beating myself up over it for days. It’s not easy, and I’m just waiting for a call that something else has gone wrong.

I’m trying to focus on the good things.  Like we both *do* have incomes, and mine is stable. Noodle got to go to the summer camp at her daycare, so instead of dealing with me being stressed out, she got to go mini golfing, to the water park and beach and to a festival. While I beat myself up about this being a stressful summer, I have to remind myself, Noodle’s had a pretty good one! I have to remember, I have my house, which thankfully didn’t incur any damage in that tornado that plowed through town last week. As of now, my car is being fixed, even if it’s a major inconvenience at the moment, in the years past, we didn’t have cars, or relied on one. Of course, even though my body isn’t completely okay, my Crohn’s is damn near in remission for the first time in just under a decade.

I’ve got to remind myself, while things are stressful right now, I’m damned lucky to be sitting at home, writing, with a cup of tea, a sleeping child, and my dogs (and asshole cat) lounging on the couch. They could be a lot worse, they have been a lot worse. We are lucky.

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Positively Negative

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What’s the saying?  If you think positive thoughts, positive things will happen or some shit like that?  Let me just start out by saying… that’s crap.  At least when it comes to anything that could possibly involve other human beings.

I am stressed out.  What’s new?  Things at home are actually really good, it’s mostly my work that’s starting to get to me.  With the exception of one night (and tonight) that I ended up having chest pains, I have been working 60 hours a week for a bit now.  When you look at my salary broken up among those hours, it’s… well painful to say the least.  Add that to the time I’ve lost enjoying the summer with my daughter to paperwork and phone calls?  Covering someone else in the office?  Helping out?  Yeah…. no.  The boyfriend and I had to have the come to Jesus talk, discuss what’s right for our family as well as my own well being… and I need to figure out some changes.

It’s just super frustrating.  I start out each work day in a positive (albeit sleepy) mood, but without fail, some person has to fuck up my day.  I swear, I’m not meant to work with the general public.  I’m not sure how I survived all those years in sales without being convicted of homicide.  I highly dislike being in a position where someone else can fuck up my shit.  I know, “but Sarah, you don’t have to let them” … that’s horse crap and you know it.  This is why being self employed always appealed to me, but how do you start your own business when some other company takes up your time? 

That, and well… what business could I start that has nothing to do with other humans?

Right.

At this point I feel like I should apologize for doing nothing but bitching in this post.  Whatever.  I’m burnt out and stressed out, and ready to walk.  Blogging is my outlet, so tough shit.

Just some how got to keep trucking, with out throwing myself away.  Just have to find my balance between work and home and more importantly how to say no (in all aspects of life) and speak up if I feel I should. 

Time for some tea and to listen to these thunderstorms.  Got a long week ahead of me, including seeing my pops and Remicade, which is perfect timing since I’m running to the bathroom more times than I’d like and my joints are on FIRE.

Here’s to Monday being a bitchface, and here’s to the next day.

Cheers.

Frustration and Insomnia

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These past couple of days have been really frustrating for me, to the point where it’s keeping me up at night.  I haven’t had insomnia in years and quite frankly, I’m not too happy to be reunited with this old “friend”.  Everything has just been so incredibly hectic lately, both at work and with my family.

One of my family members is in hospice right now, and while we’re not super close, it has hit me pretty hard.  Not just because I’ll miss him, but because it’s reminding me of my mother.  Saying goodbye on Friday was painful, not just because of the impending loss of life, but because I know the pain his direct family will feel.  I remember it from when I was a kid.  Watching him in his bed brought up a lot of memories I didn’t really want to remember.  I’ve been trying to drown out those memories with great memories of him.  My favorite was the summer we spent at his house (my mother had passed and my dad had to work).  We’d get dropped off in the morning and picked up at night.  I remember sitting on the porch, watching him mess with the guitar.  I thought he was so cool, I even bought him (a really girly haha) earring because he was the only guy in my family who had his ear pierced, and sure as shit he put it in and rocked it.  I’m trying to remember that, and that’s how I will remember him, not ridden with cancer.  Yeah, I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around the whole situation and battling the memories of my mom being sick and worrying about his family.  I’m just.. yeah.  Out of words.

Work has been… well… work.  It goes through waves, it gets really hectic and we get behind, and then it gets better and we’re on top again.  The stress from that on top of my family issues and my (3 week) cold has just really got me down.  I was reminded how much I appreciate my “work family” though on Friday.  One of our CSRs called off (despite it being hell week) on Thursday and had already planned on being off Friday through Monday, so on top of it being super hectic, I had to do her job as well.  On Friday, I was just having a super hard time (mostly getting my brain prepared to go to hospice that evening) and, for lack of better terms, I was a hot mess.  My coworkers did their best to help me out and let me know that they understand.  Small favors with the literal work, and dealing with my moodiness and rapid breaks.  On my drive down to hospice I realized (yet again) how grateful I am for the people I work with.  Sure, we all get on each others nerves and we’ve had our bumps in the road, but every last one of them has proven time and time again that they’re just a different extension of my family.

Today I’ve calmed down a bit.  Caught up on some work I left behind Friday afternoon ( I left early to beat rush hour to get to hospice ), went shopping with the boyfriend and kid and relaxed.  Tomorrow I’m going to take the monkey kid bowling, she’s been asking to go for quite a while now.  I think some hang out time with her will definitely cheer me up.

I just have to remember to keep my chin up.

Hello Whiskey

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I am extremely burnt out right now.  My brain just doesn’t want to function anymore, it just wants to go to bed and curl up in a ball.  I’ve reached the point today where thinking is taking much longer than it should.  Simple problems that should be easily solved, I can’t even ponder without getting distracted.  Mister Brain says it’s time to quit and go to sleep.

A good portion of it is due to work.  Shit is just crazy at the moment, and I’m not sure when it’ll get better.  I spent the better portion of today getting screamed at by customers and grumped at by installers.  I actually cried at work today… wait for it… because I had a NICE customer who told me to stop apologizing and that she understood.  Ahh, the wonders of customer service, nothing like being screamed at for 8 hours to remind you how little faith you have in humanity.  So yeah, there’s that.

Then of course some negative news within the family.  Negative news that makes me want to cry, and makes me remember old memories of my mother being sick.  Of course that’s been lurking in the back of my head all day, as well as concern for those affected and a feeling of helplessness.

I don’t know.  Thankfully things in my home are pretty calm, so I have a refuge here.  I just feel like I’m stretched too thin and that I am going to snap soon.  So I’m off to eat some breakfast for dinner and to curl up with some wine.

I’m strangling you with a smile…

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I’ve worked in customer service for almost 14 years now, and the one thing I can most definitely say about the experience is that people can sure suck the life out of you.

Don’t get me wrong, despite my huge dislike (hatred) for the majority of the human race, I am really good at what I do.  I was even better at sales believe it or not but the commission was too weird to live off of.  On the really bad days, while getting screamed at by some random customer for things I can’t control (read: weather – seriously people?  Hold on, let me just stop the snow/rain/hail real quick.) I can do it with a smile.  The catch though, that co-workers and friends have long figured out?  90% of the time, if I’m smiling, straight up grinning at a customer, I’m envisioning strangling the ever living hell out of them.  It’s like a coping mechanism to save what’s left of my battered sanity.

Customer service has shown me two different kinds of people.  One breed is thankful, even when something goes completely wrong with their order!  They are understanding and realize that you are one person, in an entire company, and cannot possibly be responsible for every little thing that goes wrong.  They say please and most importantly, they thank you for you time.

The second breed?  This is the vapid, greed driven, self-centered consumer.  This person believes that they should be more important than *all* the other customers.  This person will ridicule you for whatever step you have taken to make their life easier.  Earlier install date?  Not good enough.  A call, every single solitary step of the way?  You didn’t communicate enough.  An offer to sell your soul and become a personal servant?  You obviously didn’t put your heart into it, what kind of customer service is this anyways?!?!? [facepalm]

Sadly enough, no matter where I have worked, whether it was as a grease monkey, selling computers and gaming consoles, to a care giver.  The second breed of customers always seem to be more numerous than the first.  So I decided, fuck it.  I’m making a list.  Even if only .000000000000000000001 % of the internet reads it, maybe it’ll help.

Tips to be a Good Customer:

  • Remember, you are not the only one on the planet.  There area always other customers and guess what?  You may think you should be the most important, but so do half of my other customers.
  • We realize that spending money is hard for a lot of people.  Yes, we realize *how* much money you spent.  Just to let you know, no matter how much you spend?  Someone else will spend more.  We will try and help you out and do our best by you as we can, but reminding us that you spent x-y-z isn’t helping your case… just making you look like an arse.
  • If you’re calling into an office, the person who answers the phone most likely has had no part in anything that may have pissed you off.  Chances are, you’re yelling at someone who has no idea who you are, what you want, or what you bought.  Worst case scenario?  You just reamed out a 18 year old receptionist who is now sobbing in the bathroom.  Good job.  Just because someone answers the phone, doesn’t mean they are at fault.
  • “Please” and “Thank You” will get you a lot further than yelling.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone out of my way for the customer that is just genuinely nice.  Throw in a “have a nice day” or even a “you too!” when I say it, hell, you’re my favorite customer!  Guess who I’m going to bust ass for!  Yell at me?  Eh.  Join the ranks of every other unhappy customer.  I’ll do what I can, but not always to make you happy, sometimes it’s just to make you go away.  Above and beyond?  Well see.
  • Be understanding.  If an installation/repair/improvement cannot be made because it is a. Not Possible b. Dangerous or c. Not what you have paid for, try to understand that.  No one wants to put their coworkers in harms way and sometimes it’s just not feasible to complete a certain task.  And lastly, lets face it, if you haven’t paid for it, you might not get it.  (See above bullet point.) Try to understand where we are coming from.

 

So, I spent the last half of today getting screamed at at work.  Some of the complaints?  Totally valid.  The worst?  I got blamed for distressing someone’s pet (by the way, I’m not a veterinarian, I work in the granite industry) and ruining a whole week of someones life.  While I sat there getting screamed at I just pictured myself strangling them.

I did have one customer though, between a mistake of my very own, and a mistake of her husbands, we missed her installation date today.  Instead of screaming, she accepted half of the blame, and accepted my apology for mine.  After telling her I’d do my best, she thanked me for my time, genuinely thanked me.  You know what I did?  Busted. ASS. She is now taken care of, and one of the happiest customers out there.

 

Which customer do you want to be?

 

Frustration

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So today was a day of hindsight.  You know the phrase… hindsight is 20/20.  I could’ve kicked my own ass all the way to the moon and back, all day, every day, for the next fucking week.  I just wanted to smack myself on the forehead and be like “What the fuck Sarah! You knew better!” all day.

Numero Uno.

Awhile ago, my coworker got a promotion and her position opened up.  I thought about it and in the end I decided I didn’t want to go for it.  A particular part of that position I wanted nothing to do with, even though I wanted to learn the rest of it and I love(ed) my current job.  So I declined to apply and started helping out where I could.  After a (long) time, we finally started interviewing for the position and it was filled.  I kind of winced when I figured out who had gotten it, but whatever, I just wanted to do my job.

Well, now I wish I had just gone for that position.  The things I wasn’t sure I was ready for, I’m now doing.  The guy who got the job, isn’t catching on too quick, and most of the customer service issues that should be handled by a “manager” of sorts, end up falling to me.  I’ve been trying to keep my chin up, the best I know how, but it’s getting frustrating.  I understand that it takes a while to be trained but honestly, most of the issues I’m coming across, should be common sense issues, or even customer service related.  I’m trying to be understanding.

Today though, I think I hit my breaking point.  A minor situation went south really fast, and the new guy ended up yelling (and being completely rude and unprofessional) at a customer.   One of my coworkers and I listened with our jaws on the ground.  I mean, what do you do when your “manager” is spazzing out?  We decided to take it to the next manager up right away.

The only reason the situation was controlled, was because myself and 2 other coworkers played damage control.  One of those coworkers is also new and handled the situation BEAUTIFULLY, the other one was with the customer and smoothed over the situation for the company the best he could.  So while I’m sitting there, explaining what to do and at the same time trying (and failing) to catch up on my own work, I just kept thinking, “I could do a better job than him, this situation shouldn’t have gotten this far.”

I don’t know, I really want to trust my (gen) manager’s judgement, but all of us are struggling pretty bad right now, and none of us seem to have any faith in the new guy.  However, he’s supposed to be my direct manager but he gets so incredibly worked up over the littlest things, and now, for the 2nd time, has lost his cool with a customer.  There’s a point where I stop being frustrated and start being scared.  Is this how it’s going to be now?  Am I just going to keep covering for him and handling his problems?  Is damage control going to be part of our job duties when he gets too flustered?  The issue today was such a minor one and he completely lost it.  How can I trust that he will be able to lead the office when he tweaks out over an issue a quarter as frustrating/serious as what I tackle daily?

I don’t even understand how the position is laid out either.  How can someone be an installation manager, when they do the spreadsheet for the shop and have no industry experience?  He has no idea about installs, the routes, the guys or the job.  I always thought the installation manager would be the person who makes the routes, handles the problems and has a one on one relationship with the installers.  (Ie: Me) I could’ve totally understood hiring someone just to do the data entry for the shop, but this new layout in the office doesn’t click with me.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t get to choose.

The part that made me furious?  Is that after the whole incident, after we cleaned up the mess, he ran around the office complaining that the customer called him rude.  All of us just stared at him, he had to have told the story 5 times, just to be met with blank stares and awkward chuckles.  I couldn’t wrap my head around how he thought his response was appropriate.  I am the one who has the notorious hatred of people, not to mention the short fuse, and I have NEVER spoken to a customer, much less a complete stranger like that.  While of course we did the best to head the customer off before she went to corporate, I can completely understand why she wanted to.  Much more importantly, if I was talked to that way by ANYONE, I would go directly to their manager and raise unholy hell.

I don’t know what to do.  I am going to talk to my (gen) manager on Friday when she comes back, but I guess the answer that everyone is predicting I’ll get is “it’s just a matter of training”.  I just don’t even know where to start, he is supposed to have awesome customer service experience, but he really doesn’t know how to handle problem customers (of any sort) or do well under stress, it’s like he never worked in customer service at all.  However, I’m scared that if I bring any of this up, that I’ll just upset the manager because he was her choice.

All I do know, is that without the other new girl, the one who rocked it today, I would’ve already lost my mind.  Finally, I’ve hit the bottom though.  I can’t handle it all, I can’t do two people’s jobs *and* tackle the crap the new guy can’t handle.  I’m really burnt out, and just regretting not going after that position.  To be completely honest (and this is coming from the girl who goes to work with bowel obstructions), if I didn’t adore the other girl and my reg and gen managers so much, I’d call off tomorrow.  The mere thought of dealing with everything plus the new guy tomorrow gives me a migraine.  Top it off?  Tomorrow I’m doing it alone.  It’s going to be a long day of biting my tongue and praying for more coffee.