Tag Archives: family

Yuletide Greetings!


yule-walpaper

Happy holidays to everyone!

My family and I are leaving tomorrow to return to the hills of Appalachia. I’m both excited and saddened. I’m excited to see my family and friends, but I’m also saddened at the prospect of seeing further proof of how much the area has changed. And the change has not always been good.

My heart clenches whenever I return home and see that a beloved business has shut down, natural landscape has been destroyed to build rental and commercial buildings, cleaning efforts have been de-prioritized in some areas, and the nightly news reports lament the growing drug traffic in the cities and shadowy hollers of the hills.

THEN, my spirits are always uplifted at the generosity of Appalachian people, the richness of Appalachian food, and the shared pride in how we have all survived, regardless of how things have changed.

Enjoy your friends and families this holiday season and may your new year be ripe with blessings and abundance.

The Evil Empire


The company I have been discussing in previous posts, my soon-to-be-former employer, is the eCommerce juggernaut Amazon.

I used to love this company. I fully bought into and accepted the vision of what we were continuing to create 12 years ago. Like I’ve stated previously, I began having concerns in the past 6 years, specifically in how employees are treated. We expanded so quickly that we quickly hired many managers and decision makers who never fully internalized the vision in terms of employee relations.

Not long after I started with the company in the Huntington office, Jeff visited and spoke to all of us. One of the things he said that had always stuck out in my mind was that retailers were missing that mom-and-pop store feel. It’s something that he, that we, wanted to perpetuate in how we treated customers. And at that time, customers meant both external and internal. Things have changed.

I’ve seen a lot, I’ve heard a lot. Hell, as a cog in the machine, I’ve been a part of some things that I didn’t entirely agree with at the time. I’ll have to live with that. I was in denial. I would think, “Surely this is not what it looks like. There has to be more to the story than what I know. Anyone who has read a leadership 101 book knows that you will never be successful if you treat people this way. Employees are not loyal to a company, they’re loyal to their direct managers – and if the manager mistreats the staff, things begin to fall apart.” Well, that is what has been happening because although any good manager knows these things, there’s no place for it in the current Amazon climate. As I’ve stated before, the current leadership style is that it’s acceptable to be an asshole to your employees.

These things had to hit me square in the face for me to realize it. The first nudge was a couple of years ago.

Those of you who have followed my book, 80% of the proceeds of “The Source” go to Megan, a child who has survived leukemia twice. What I haven’t broadcast (except on my radio interview on The Rudebuoyz on WMUL) is that Megan is my niece. Her mother, my sister, used to also work for this eCommerce juggernaut as a manager. Her career with the company came to an end, involuntarily, when she over-extended her FMLA because she was taking care of her 8-year-old child who was being treated for cancer. What kind of company does that? Sure, it may be legal. Sure, it’s not against company policy. But is it an ethical or moral practice? In my opinion, abso-freaking-lutely NOT.

I had an emotional crisis at that point. This ugliness happened to my family. I wanted to rage against the machine then. Yet, I had convinced myself that I needed to trudge on, for the benefit of my own daughter, so I could provide the best I could for her – and ultimately use some of my income to help pay for Megan’s medical bills. Well, I’ve already discussed how non-competitive my pay was in the Seattle market. I’m sad to say that I’ve only been able to send $300 to help, along with the meager royalties from book sales. Still, $300 is better than nothing, right?

Then I was hit with it directly, as described in What Did You Like Least About Your Job. It took me getting broken to accept the fact that this company that I have loved for so many years actually views me and other employees as expendable.

I get it now. Message received. The Universe knows that sometimes I need to be hit between the eyes with a 2 x 4 before I clearly see things for what they are. My Third Eye is bruised, and I’m tired of being treated as less than what I AM. I’m also tired of others being treated the same way. If you are reading this, know that you are worth so much more than you realize – don’t let anyone ever try to convince you otherwise.

Still, I was broken. The great thing about this is that I now get to take the pieces and re-create them in the image I want, not the image someone else tells me to accept.

“Rise. Rebel. Resist.”

The Decision


Help message written in blood

When I put in my notice on October 20, 2014, it was actually something that was a few months in the planning…sorta.

The company I work for changed sometime within the past four to six years. I have some ideas on why it changed, and I’ll explore those in another post. For now, I’ll just say that I was growing increasingly uncomfortable with the direction we were headed, particularly in regards to the working atmosphere.

In May, my husband and I began discussing plans to relocate to Chicago. Being in Chicago would put us closer to my family and his sister’s family. We even set a timeline – once our daughter finished her first year of school in June 2015, we would move.

Then things at work got astronomically worse. The bad environment that I had observed in other parts of the company came to rest directly on my shoulders in the form of a new boss. It was not just an issue of having a bad boss, it was an issue of having the worst employee interactions I have ever had in my entire professional career, both with this company and other companies – and I used to work for Wal-Mart, which is known for treating employees badly.

Although we had planned for me to leave the company next year, my experiences over the past six months, my interactions with one person in particular, are what influenced me to make the decision to leave right now, at this point in time.

For those who know me personally, I have never left a job without having stable employment waiting for me at the end. This time it was different. After reading a particular e-mail, I walked into my boss’s office and gave notice. I couldn’t wait until I found other employment – it wasn’t about ending a job, it was about saving myself. My doctors have even documented improvement in my conditions since I gave notice, further proof that quitting without a “plan” is sometimes the healthiest way you can take care of yourself.

I don’t regret the decision one bit.

A Glimpse into My Hell


red+devil+crystal+ball

October 17, 2014 was the last straw. It was the last time I received a communication that was condescending, seeking to “remind me” or “educate” me on how to do my job. Something I’ve known very well for twelve years.

This was just the latest example of what I had been struggling with for almost six months. I ended up crying uncontrollably, from anger and defeat, talking to my husband on the phone, desperately saying, “Please, can I quit today? I want to quit today. Can I? I can’t take this anymore. I’m better than this.”

It Was Nice Knowing You


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A scream not of terror, but of relief. On October 20, 2014, I gave notice at the office job that I’ve had for twelve years. Actually, my twelve-year anniversary will be the last day with the company, November 25, 2014.

The good news is that I will be taking a couple of months off from the corporate drag and focus on my writing. I will FINALLY have the energy and will to complete “Mining the Dark.” My ability to complete my own projects will be astronomical once I don’t have these other distractions.

The GREAT news is that I will devote much of this time to my daughter, spending the holidays with her and being more present at her school.

This time away from the grind will also allow me to continue my path to healthy living.

In a nutshell, I cannot wait for this next chapter to begin.

Expect more on these topics over the coming months as I continue to process the impact of it all, and how my life is getting better because I said ENOUGH.

Great prices! What about the workers?


When a company grows, it’s usually a good thing. However, there is the real possibility of too much of a good thing being bad.

I’ve seen people run companies like a Wall Street portfolio. Diversification is key. When you diversify, you’re not investing all of your money in one thing…one thing that could ultimately fail. Creating different sides of the business, and even acquiring subsidiaries, not only ensures that you will strengthen your main business, but you will also have reach into many other businesses as well. You can do this by breaking off parts of the company under different names, and as long as you don’t focus too much on one side of the business, you don’t risk the hackles of anti-trust lawsuits.

Add to this an intense focus on retail growth by worshipping your customer base, and you have the recipe for building an empire.

But to what human cost?

When you live in a consumer culture, investing in customers is a no-brainer. It’s simple when the average individual has been socialized from birth that buying random products that in no way fit any real world need, all in the name of proclaiming a socially constructed status that says, “Hey! Look at me! I’m cool, and important, because I have all of this STUFF.” Well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that loyal customers will continue to pay to buy their fictional happiness and the fat-cats at the top will continue to get fatter.

How are customers impacted? Well, they have it good for a while. With a focus on low prices, customers can buy even MORE of what they don’t really need. But think of this, as the company grows, becomes better at its various business interests, what will this do to the market in the long run? What a lot of people don’t realize is that the tendency of capitalism is toward monopoly. You may ask, how so? Think of completely free, open market competition – no holds barred. In any competition there are winners and there are losers. Our government has recognized this, and this is why we have anti-monopoly laws. But even when it doesn’t come down to just “one company,” the consumer choice will become fewer and fewer.

So what of the company that has diversified its business? Surely it couldn’t corner the market in every side of its business dealings. However, when one side of the business does well, that spendable income can be used to boost the competitiveness of other businesses. And when all of the businesses focus on having the lowest prices…well, we’ve already talked about the tendency of capitalism and competition. 

All of this culminates in one company being able to corner multiple markets. As a reasonable people, what do we think will happen when said company controls market share and the competition either folds or just cannot keep up anymore? Quite simply, once a business controls the market, they can then control the price of products with little regard to having the lowest price because they have the only price 

Even if prices do not go up because the business wants to maintain consumer loyalty, how can the business continue to remain relevant, particularly if new competitors come on the scene? There are multiple ways that companies cut costs, mainly by controlling overhead. What is one way to control said overhead? Workers. Either by outsourcing the work to cheaper labor or by underpaying the non-union workers that are currently employed. A very easy way to do this is if the workers actually BELIEVE in the cause, so much so that the idea of lower pay or perceived mistreatment does not even enter the collective mind. Corporate enculturation. Enslaving the masses is easy to do when they’re willing to be enslaved, or better yet they don’t even recognize they’re being exploited.

When thinking about big companies that do things such as this, one very simple thing to do is follow the money and ask who benefits. Do consumers benefit? Absolutely. Do the shareholders benefit? Sure. Upper echelons of the corporate structure? Without a doubt. What about the workers? All the way from the front line to upper management (below VP level). If long-time employees struggle to take care of their own families and are urged to be “happy” with minimal increases (if any), is it really worth it? Even more so, what about the conscientious consumer? When thinking customers learn how workers are expected to overwork themselves, put the company before family, manage any illnesses that come about because “customers” come first and be content with this mission when annual take-home income actually decreases…aren’t those the seeds for boycotts? You would think that someone in PR is thinking about these things…and of course directing the company to provide a few more crumbs so that the working masses do not revolt. 

When health care and mental health professionals speak of seeing trends with a particular company in that multiple employees are patients because of stress and anxiety-related illnesses, surely there is something more that needs to be investigated.

As consumers…as employees…as decent individuals, we need to start asking these questions. And for the love of all that is holy, if you find yourself in a situation like this, and there’s no union…start educating yourself quickly. Remember, if it’s bad in “good times,” just think of the outcome when times are rough. It won’t be the company’s elite that has to lower their living standards…it will be the workers.