First, the art. In honor of the president’s visit to Vermont, I’m posting this portrait I made back in ’08. I may or may not have posted it here before, but here it is again, or for the first time. For fellow Adobe Photoshop junkies: it’s a 300 dpi pds with over 200 working layers. for everyone else, it’s a 24 x 36 poster, and the only remotely patriotic thing I’ve created since my crayon portrait of the White House back during Carter’s inauguration. My style’s changed a little since then.
Welcome to Vermont, Mr. President. Have some of the Cherry Garcia while you’re here.
So, the rest of the big news is that I got a new job. I’m now a call center rep at a bank; I’m the one you call up to complain about your overdraft. Compared to the stress of the Arbors, this is total nirvana.
I literally fell apart. On Saturday, October 21st, I had to go home early due to an anxiety attack. While reading the morning news to the residents, just like I’d done for a decade before, I suddenly couldn’t do it anymore. I was shaking all over. The next day, I lasted until the mid-morning sing-along, but had to leave midway in tears. I managed to hold myself together long enough to leave the floor and get myself to the conference room, where I prayed and waited for someone to come and take me home.
The next two weeks are blurry to me. I know I did little else but cry and sit on the sofa. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t do anything but weep out the stress. Wally was the lifesaver; he took care of me, paid all the bills, did everything for me. At the end of the two weeks, it was clear I couldn’t go back.
After a while, I began to recover, and I fell to applying for jobs furiously, sending out dozens of applications in a week. Then, I answered the general call for seasonal workers at Vermont Teddy Bear Factory. What a lifesaver – literally! After a brief disaster training in the Call Center, I was able to get a position in the Art and Embroidery department of the Pajamagram warehouse (called the Emerald City by VTBF). The festive atmosphere, the honest, straightforward work, the fun people and the fun product all lifted my spirits. If you live in the northern Vermont area and you need a job during December or the first weeks of May or February (Christmas, Mothers’ Day, and Valentines in other words), then consider giving them a call.
So I quality-inspected and folded pajamas, and eventually learned how to fit embroidery hoops onto the pajamas prior to personalization. It was fun, and I learned a satisfying kinetic skill, and met some fascinating people I would never have met otherwise. It didn’t pay much, but it was good work and the money was enough to take some of the load off Wally’s back. But, sadly it was seasonal, and ended December 23rd. I was welcome to come back the two weeks before Valentine’s Day, and I eventually did. In the meantime, I interviewed and updated my resume several times, and even got scammed by a fake credit bureau (they make you think they’re a prospective employer and get your information by saying they need it before they’ll interview). The folks at the bank’s call center were great when I called, and got the false charge off my card.
When, weeks later, I ended up interviewing for a call center job at the same bank, the prospective managers asked me what good customer service I’d experienced, I told them my story. Well, I must’ve interviewed well, because I left the building at about quarter to eleven, and by three in the afternoon, the personnel manager was on the phone, offering me the job.
I was ecstatic!
So I’m very happy now. I miss the Arbors and plan to visit soon (most likely on April 1st). I just paid my share of the bills for the first time in a couple of months, I like my co-workers, and the work is interesting and mentally challenging. For the most part, the customers are fun, too. And the ones who aren’t are gone as soon as they hang up. It’s beautiful. I have my own cubicle, which I’ve filled with my art and funny clips from cheezburger.com. I have to restrain my sense of humor sometimes, though, and so, along with the computer programs I had to learn (surprisingly enough, banking software is actually fun!), I’ve also had to learn a few important things, which I shall talk about in my next post.