Shift

Seems that the Bait & Switch store manager under whom I have labored quit yesterday.

Two points of interest.

1. She gave two weeks notice. What kind of manager has to give that kind of low-level indulgence?

2. I found out from one of her subordinates.

It’s  a reflection of why she’s going. Any normal manager at an establishment with fewer than 30 employees would talk to each person individually. How hard would it be to take everyone aside for a minute, and say, simply:

Hey, I just wanted to let  you know that I’m leaving. Best to hear it direct from me, and I want to thank you for your help and support.

Unworldly; unsophisticated; not classy, inelegant: any way you choose to think of it, this process is that of a bogan. Which, now I think about it, is precisely the zeitgeist of my place of employment.

Style

Finding my individual style of work took on a new urgency this week.

In the job just past, all I needed to do was to turn up. The paycheck arrived without much creativity or thinking on my behalf, although it wasn’t as though there was no pressure or need for action. The choices at that place were relatively few for most circumstances, which made life simpler than if I had to create choices and then decide upon them.

Another way to look at it is that in, say, a simple strategy computer game, one makes decisions, but there can only be a limited number, and thay have been thought out prior by the developers. The feel is one of choosing one’s destiny but the reality is that it is only a slice of all possible outcomes. Plus it’s a computer game.

Being in the business of making one’s own income means we do all of that. We create the game, we define the rules and, given enough time and experience, we can limit the choices down to the best ones if only to save the angst of choosing. Decision-making can be very stressful, a problem we can mitigate by reducing the number of decisions to be made each day, or reducing the number of choices on each occasion or both.

Now to find my own work style. I can be creative in spurts, but my preferred way of operating is more mundane: If this, then this, with the alternative of this. I’m relatively lazy and enjoy checklists and following rules, so this simple way suits me day-to-day. Neat and tidy makes me happy.

This won’t suit everyone, and so we each need to find what works strategically and tactically. My strategy involves short bursts of insight and creativity with the view to financial independence, whereas my tactics are to make implementing that strategy as simple as possible, with as few stressors as possible.

It can be done, but feels frustrating when you’re between both ends of that barbell. Onward ho, though, for there is no other choice.

Service. Not.

One always imagines reputations aren’t as bad as that. There are two sides to most stories after all, right?

Consider the United States Postal Service. This irredeemable dodo cannot be made extinct too soon. Taxpayers have no reason to fund this loss-making collective any longer. Why we tolerate desultory service, awful interactions and the air of a soviet five-year make-work plan is beyond me.

Can someone about to be made president make it a central platform pillar to declare open season on this steam-era excrescence?

Meanwhile

At the other end of the money spectrum from central bank foolishness sits individual craziness. My work colleague Luis is as good an example as any.

Luis is the definition of “working poor”. He’s currently on a work routine of, oh, around seven nights a week at about ten or eleven hours per shift. That gets tiresome, fast. And yet he cannot seem to get ahead, for reasons that are so simple it’s not funny.

He has no budget. That’s a reason for his pauperism in one sentence. All actions subsequent (concomitant?) to that compound his problems. His wife gives money to her adult children because they, likewise, are discipline-free. This means that instead of setting an example, Luis and his wife commit another generation to sub-standard lives.

The pain I feel most is when I see him with fast-food containers: soda cups, the remains of meals eaten at home before I pick him up to take him to work. Fast food companies make their products to tempt with convenience, hiding behind words like “combo” and “value meal” to make you think you’re on to a deal.

No. Fast food is expensive. The problem is that it fills a need, but acts like a habit. Planning, buying and cooking for a week in advance would likely make the difference between the poor house and some independence for millions of people. Even in the USA.

Instead of writing a menu and buying what they need from the myriad of cheap grocery outlets (they’re at Sam’s Club all the time anyway) they live from day-to-day. Much, much to their cost.

And now to the repossessions. Luis’s credit is completely shot to the point where he can’t get a car at even the shady “buy here pay here” joints. His second-to-last car was totaled in an accident (not his fault) but there are still funds outstanding to a lender. The subsequent car was repossessed because of failure to pay.

The story goes on. The story will continue. My recipe is to start small. Make the budget. Stop the expensive food as step one. Go from there.

Oh. Did I tell you that this weekend past he used his mother-in-law’s credit to acquire an iPhone 6S+?

Yeah. Priorities.