The Beginning -Complex Tales ~ Early Evening Thoughts

I had promised a number of posts ago, to start telling the “complex tales” about where I’m working. I’ve found my life once again full of delightful (and some not-so-delightful) people who can make my day more interesting than I ever thought possible.

Several weeks ago, when I hired on ~ one of the problems was maintenance…or rather the lack of it. We tried Toby in the job – and that didn’t work out. I did have someone that lived at the complex who was versed in some of the skills that were needed, so it was decided to give him a try.

One of the first things anyone managing or doing anything at an apartment complex learns is how to drill a lock. Yes, sometimes you have to change locks for legal reasons (usually having to do with an eviction) and there is no key. It is not difficult to do – unless you don’t do it correctly.

It was the end of the day, and R said that he would drill the lock for me – we were taking possession of an apartment that someone had vacated before the police were going to arrive. As he had never done this before, I showed him where to drill (there are two places) and how deep to drill (drilling for oil will only complicate the process). He repeated the where and the what for ~ and I started on my way home. I had to walk to the train to had downtown and then wait for a bus to carry me home. I had no sooner gotten to the train station when the first call came from R. Disaster evidently had struck.

I turned around and headed back to work. I arrived to find a very frustrated newbie maintenance man, metal shavings all over the porch – and a lock that looked as if it had been hit completely in the middle by a meteorite…there was a one and one half inch crater in the center of a three inch lock.

Now we are in a mess. The purpose of drilling in two places is to get the pins to loosen and eventually drop off and the lock gently, quietly and sweetly comes open. If not, you have to continue drilling in a circular pattern around the lock hoping that the screws from the inside will eventually drop out and you can twist the lock open.

Literally 12 ~ yes ~ twelve holes later, one of the screws drops – but the lock pins are holding strong. I now have a newbie maintenance man with steam coming out of his ears and if not-gentle conversation from him could have melted the lock ~ it would have.

I decided that the time for direct action had finally arrived. I really didn’t think the second screw was going to drop, the pins were there for the duration and I really didn’t have anymore time to mess with it. Since the drill was made of metal – I delivered several strong blows with the side of the drill to the lock casing ~ and the second screw dropped. And we were home free…except for the 2nd lock. Looking at R I asked if he was OK doing he next one. He assured me he was and with a quick motion of the drill, he began. It was success!!

I took out the sword of management and dubbed him “no longer newbie” on the spot…and again wended my way home. I also would never admit to him that the first lock I ever drilled on a vacant apartment ~ we ended up kicking the door in because I made such a mess of it. I have SOME pride left after all!!!

—more to follow

All That Glitters ~ Early Evening Thoughts

The decision to move was not an easy one to make. I had accepted a new job with a company that rents apartments by the week. While an interesting concept, and one that seemed to have validity, I was concerned about the number of managers the property had been through in the last period of time. In “digging” into the situation, I decided that it was something I would be able to handle and something that I could make work.

Any position with short term rentals, be it apartments or hotels, the speed at which things happen can really overwhelm managers. In the weekly rental “game” – you will do in one week what apartment managers do in four weeks. There is little or no room for “sliding” on revenue ~ there is not place to easily work with someone when they become behind on their rent. This was one of my major concerns. I have always been a manager that was concerned about revenue protection. To me, it is much more profitable to work with someone to get the money owed than to immediately do an eviction and have the lost revenue while an apartment sits empty and the process of eviction wends it course.

The decision was made that the process would work, and that I could make a “go” of what was in front of me. Fortunately, time has proved me correct (so far) and my collections and revenue are where they need to be.

The push was to have me move on-site. This is a situation fraught with peril. Once tenants know you live on-site, they have a tendency to call you for any situation minor or major. Of course, the major situations are important. The fact that the door of the cupboard over the sink isn’t closing tightly isn’t.

I have a friend who managed a very large complex and lived on-site. She actually issued to tenants a “blood, flood, fire” memo. She told them that if they knocked on her door after 8pm in the evening – it had better involve blood, a flood or a fire. Otherwise, it was going to involve blood…and very quickly.

The move itself to the complex should have been quite simple, however ~ being me ~ it was anything but simple. The first load was on Saturday, and all seemed well. Then the skies opened up and the deluge began. (Maybe the heavens were trying to tell me something!) It was decided that the rest of the move would occur on Sunday. This was a good thing – as it gave me a little more time to prepare.

As one of the loads was heading down the highway, one of my craft bags opened up and there was a trail of glitter flowing from the bed of the pick-up truck. I informed the people helping me move, that the first person who made a comment about fairy dust was going to be hurt ~ badly!!
Then came the saga of the dresser. It was too large to be lifted over the obstacles in the way and appeared too large to fit though the doors (which seemed to be designed for those hiding doors you see in old movies). Finally, with much swearing and sweating it was ensconced in its place and all was well.

Unfortunately, my apartment now looks as if it is the remnants of a garage sale – and I have much to dig through and sort through. I think that by Friday I will be able to find some clothes to wear and maybe even some dishes to eat off of!!

And When Lighting Strikes ~ Late Night Thoughts

This has been an interesting three days. Saturday, I decided to drop by a favorite “watering-hole” for a VERY gentle libation…I was having coffee, believe it or not. While talking to a dear friend who is the bartender, I noticed a friend I hadn’t seen for several months. We starting talking and when we got to the “And what are YOU doing?” part ~ he told me that he had starting managing an apartment complex.

We discussed that for several minutes, and then he let the thunder roll. “We’re looking for another manager, do you know someone who might be interested?” Avoiding the temptation to jump up and down and squeal, I casually mentioned that I might be interested. (me being someone, by the way, that’s been out of work for a “bit”)

“That’s great,” was the reply, “the boss is right over there, let’s talk to him.” Talk about being struck to almost silence. So, off we went to chat with the boss. He turned out to be quite the business man, and VERY business oriented. We talked for awhile and I found out more about the job. I said that I was very interested. He wanted to meet on Monday to talk further. I gave my friend my new phone number and thought that was the end of that. I’ve had these kind of job suggestions on bars before – and they come through about as often as “let me have your number and I’ll call you next week.”

Sunday evening, I got a phone call to confirm that I was indeed going to meet with them on Monday and to finalize the time and place. At this point I was speechless ~ but wait ~ there’s more. (including the lighting strike!)

When I went down today (Monday) I did know they were getting rid of the current manager of one of the complexes … what I did not know…….

When we arrived at the complex, my friend and I were outside looking at some work that needed (definitely) to be done. The “big boss” went inside, fired (terminated) the current manager – who knew it was coming – and after he’d cleaned out his desk – came out, called me in and informed me that I was now the manager. THAT’S when the lighting struck. You see, I’ve been looking for work ~ but when you reach a certain … ahem … age, finding a job is not that easy. Ageism is quite alive and well – although no one really talks about it ~ and it would NEVER be the reason they give for not hiring someone. However, I have very firm spiritual beliefs – and I knew that at the right moment, at the right time – I would find something. Little did I know it would be within 72 hours.

Before you “fuss,” that kind of change-over is VERY common in the apartment industry ~ I’ve had it happen to myself as well…although not quite that quickly. Unfortunately, when it happens that way, there is no kind of hand-over of information. In this case, I’m not sure he would have been able to hand over much information anyway. And as I began to undo the piles of “stuff” – the former manager had brought many of the problems on himself.

The apartment complex while somewhat small (60 units) is none-the-less, going to be a real challenge over the next several days.
I have uncovered and unearthed that payments were incorrectly posted, not posted or even worse – leases not completed. Not a good sign. The stacks of papers that made little or no sense, were another less than promising sign. When I tried to rent an apartment that was listed as being vacant – but was actually quite occupied, was probably the final straw. (Oh, yes and I had to turn on all my charm when the tenant of the apartment got home from work and one of her neighbors casually mentioned someone was looking at her place to rent … let’s just say she arrived in my office in “high shriek” …but let chuckling at the end.)

Having been through a “clean out your desk” situation myself, I have always tried to be supportive of people who have gone before. Not after that incident. I had my excuse for any problems I couldn’t immediately solve. “I’m still trying to solve what the previous manager did … I’ll get back to you.”

The issues at the complex are going to really occupy my time for the next few days. For example, I’m going into the office tomorrow morning at 5:30am to see if I can sort out the postings on the computer program and compare them to the hard copies.

I know for a fact, that I will not post here until Friday – so be patient with me. I will be back. And some good thoughts would be most appreciated. And trust me, I will have a wealth of stories to tell you when I get back on Friday!!! And probably from then on as well!!!

–Egyptian libation bowl
–the Gordian Knot by J. Tonkin

I owe ~ I owe ~ So it’s off to work I go!

Some people were blessed with having today off as part of the New Years holiday. Others were not so lucky. If you have ever worked for, or currently work for a large company, you will relate to these new terms for the 2007 workplace.
(thanks to Donna for sending these my way!)

Essential additions for the workplace vocabulary:

BLAMESTORMING: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found,” meaning that the requested document could not be located. “Don’t bother asking the boss . . . he’s 404, man.”>

ASSMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

SALMON DAY: The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.

MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.

SITCOM(s): Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

SWIPEOUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.

IRRITAINMENT: Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. Reality TV is just one prime example.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking the crap out of an
electronic device to get it to work again.

ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file employees. The adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls,subdivisions.

CRM – Career Restricting Move – Used to describe ill-advised activity. Hitting the reply all button on that personal e-mail or trashing the CEO while your CEO is within earshot is serious CRM.

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake.

CROP DUSTING: Surreptitiously farting while passing thru a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust; leads to PRAIRIE DOGGING.

An Elegant Time Waster ~

It’s Friday…and the Friday before a holiday no less; and you’ve got to be at work. You have to appear to be at work anyway. The folks at eyemaze have come to your rescue. They make some of the most elegant, frustrating and at the same time enjoyable short games I’ve seen. None of them take long to play – but can take a LONG time to “master.”

Since they offer NO explaination for their games, I’m going to offer a little help…. When you click on the link at the bottom of this post, you will be presented wth this:

The objective of the game, in it’s devilish simplicity, is to drag each of the ten items to the cube in such a way that they “max” out and complete the puzzle. Yes, there is an order to them. Yes, there is a surprise at the end if you max out all ten items. Yes, it is possible to complete. No, I will not post the solution. I have been known, however, to supply the solution via e-mail – .

As you face the holiday weekend, enjoy this moment … and prepare for the moments to come!!!

There is a tip system on the game, which would allow you to send the desgner a dollar or two if you enjoyed the game ….

And You Thought You Didn’t Want To Go Back To Work ~

While some people were blessed with today off, others have to head back to work and act as if they enjoyed it. There are, however, some jobs that I’m not sure anyone would be able to pretend they enjoyed ~

The World’s Worst Jobs

1. Diaper sorter
One lucky woman in the US spends her day sorting through thousands of used baby diapers before they are bleached, cleaned and reused. Cleaning one nappy every two seconds, the colourful contents often drip onto her shoes. No matter – she merely uses the next nappy to clear up the offending spillage and moves on without even a pause for thought.

2. Animal masturbator
Researching animal fertility or artificial insemination poses one rather obvious problem: how is the sperm extracted in the first place? Researchers who want animal sperm have a number of less-than-attractive options at hand. Electroejaculation involves a rectal probe being used to send pulses of electricity through the ‘lucky’ animal’s nether regions. In the case of gaining semen from dairy bulls, an artificial vagina known in the trade as an AV is commonly used (now you know what to spend Aunt Maud’s Christmas voucher on). Apparently, bulls soon learn what’s going on and follow instructions. Digital pleasure, which is used on pigs and even turkeys, involves the animals being administered a more, er, traditional method of relief.

3. Pesticide drinker
According to an old Discover magazine, you can get up to $200 a day for testing pesticides. No US laws govern such practises, and an industry spokesman commented, “It surely kills fewer people than drinking alcohol does and it also pays the victims, rather than having the victim pay.” We can’t help but think he’s missing the point.

4. Flatus odour judge
While odour judges might be used by dental companies researching the efficiency of toothpaste or mouthwash, one Minneapolis gastroenterologist recently paid two brave souls to indulge repeatedly in the odours of other people’s farts. 16 healthy subjects volunteered to eat beans and insert plastic tubes into them. The gas was collected and inhaled by the odour judges.
Remember that next time you want to complain about a funny smell coming from the office fridge.

5. Isolation chamber tester
“Imagine taking a car trip cross-country with your family. Now imagine that it lasts for months on end, that you can’t open the windows, and that you can never get out of the car.” That’s how Marc Shepanek, NASA’s Deputy Chief for Medicine in Extreme Environments once described the severe psychological challenge that astronauts face on long-distance space missions. But at least they’re going somewhere. Just imagine the torture of the men and women picked to test the immobile isolation chambers on the ground. At NASA, space engineers responsible for on-board life-support systems regularly spend months at a time in uncomfortable captivity to test the equipment. Extra cash? No. Still not convinced? You try recycling your own urine for drinking water. Then repeat it a dozen more times over the next 91 days. Exactly.

6. Carcass cleaner
Natural history museums display clean white skeletons or neatly stuffed animals, but their field biologists drag in rather less attractive specimens, commonly carcasses ripe with rotting flesh. Each museum’s on site taxidermist has his own favourite technique for sprucing his specimen up to display standards. One zoologist swears by his preferred strain of flesh-eating buffalo-hide beetles, while Jeppe Møhl at the University of Copenhagen Zoological Museum deposits sperm whales and dolphins into vast empty tanks and lets nature take its course. Finally there’s the old Fatal Attraction boiling method which is useful for samples that even the bugs won’t touch. It’s an approach favoured by archaeologist Sandra Olsen, who can only say of boiling down tough old hyena paws: “It felt like inhaling the gases would literally kill us” Luckily for her it merely gave her a lung infection.

7. Sewage plant gate cleaner
Working in a sewage treatment plant is a grim proposition at the best of times. But some lucky individuals are plucked from obscurity to scrub the gates that filter out all the ‘material’ from the water as it passes through the plant’s cleaning cycle. Not so much ‘diving for pearls’ as ‘diving for – well, you get the idea, right? I put this in the same category as the sewer divers of Mexico City.

8. Asbestos remover
The developed world now has a clear understanding of the risks of being in close proximity to asbestos (lung cancer, heart disease, skin complaints, infertility) and it is no longer used as a building material. Luckily, it is now uniformally being removed – sometimes by individual. One poor soul explains, ‘All day I crawl around in dirt, grime, and spiders in my underwear inside an air-tight suit wearing a very uncomfortable respirator. Millions of asbestos fibres float around me, getting in my hair and eyes. I would be a prison guard any day of the week over an asbestos remover. This is by far the worst job in the world.’

9. Endangered species ecologist
Think your job is pointless? Can’t see where you’re going or why you even bother turning up to work anymore? Try being an Endangered Species Ecologist. The lush island of Hawaii (okay, it sounds pretty good so far, granted…) has 34 bird species on the endangered list. Half a dozen of these feathered friends haven’t been seen for decades, but faithful scientists don’t have the heart to declare them extinct. Futile much?

10. Taxi driver
The job you’re most likely to be murdered while doing. Enough said.

So now, you have ten reasons to say to yourself: “My job could be a lot worse, and I know just what to put in the suggestion box for the boss to take on as a new vocation.”