Monday, September 2, 2013

I Took a Job -- A Little Whine

Good morning. As the title of this post implies, I am now employed. However, there's no pay involved. You see, I took a job at my daughter's school as the new "gift card coordinator".

It's a volunteer position for the PTO, something I never ever wanted to join. (Because as you all know, joining the PTO is like going back to high school -- somewhere I never wanted to be in the first place.)

I've been thinking lately that I did need to find a "real" job. Don't get me wrong, I consider myself self-employed. Same as when I was a self-employed caterer. But back then I always had something in the pipeline for the slow winter months between Jan 1 and Easter before things started picking up again. I was thinking this time, I would find something part-time, maybe office temp to keep me afloat until I can get the next book out. I mean, I am a pretty good typist and know my way around a couple of computer programs.

Anyway, over the summer, the school posted their volunteer positions and I kept seeing the "gift card coordinator" job not being filled. My friend Tina (our daughters are in the same class) was leaving it because she was going to be the new PTO treasurer. I just naturally assumed one of the other women who helped her was going to do it. But no one filled in the little box.

So I did. My only real thought about the position was that it would look good on my resume if and when I ever did join the real world again.

HA! Hindsight is 20/20 as we all know, and last week I had my first two training sessions. It's a lot more involved than I ever thought. A lot (A LOT) more political than I ever dreamed or aspired to (I now am sitting on the Executive Board of the PTO with a vote mind you), and a way lot more hours than I ever planned on donating.

I was at school, both Wednesday and Friday for 7 hours. I didn't bring a lunch because I thought it would only take a few hours. It's a lot more complicated than just filling orders and checking off boxes. There's math involved. MATH my friends, and let me tell you now, math and I are hardly on speaking terms. My personal checkbook has never been balanced in the 30+ years I've had one. I mean, I do know how to add and subtract, multiply and divide, but balancing, yeah, not so much. I'm willing to let a few pennies slide into the ether. (My accountant despises me.)

And for the love of Mike, I had to learn the different terminology of what Tina calls the "brain". (The reconciling sheets that need to match perfectly with the numbers in the columns.) We have In-School Sales, Great Lakes sales, (where we get our gift cards), buy-out sales, (people who don't want to participate but we need to account for them as well), percentage totals, credit sales, (which the teachers are always getting credits to use), not to mention we have local vendors who participate who aren't in the "system" so they're on a whole different page.

Don't get me wrong, I can do this job. I was in charge of a $3 million dollar budget when I was chef at The Stone House Inn. I had to account for every purchase and sale back then. But it's been a long time.

And because I now hold a position on the PTO Executive Board, I've already been blindsided by the politics. (There's a fight raging over taking the microwaves out of the cafeteria for the kids to use. I'm already pressured to cast a vote to bring them back.)

Can I back out of this? No. I said I would do it. Do I want to? Hell yeah, I want to run for the hills. My perfect schedule of dropping Monster off at school and writing all day is gone. Granted the "job" only encompasses two days a week, but because I'm the "new" coordinator, I've already changed the order form and pick-up policy as well as the days we "work". There are a whole lot of things that need to be done that don't necessarily get done on school time. (Calls to other volunteer parents, scheduling the volunteers, writing the column for the weekly newsletter about "new" vendors that arise and "specials" the company provides.)

People are looking at me differently. Not only because I wear my "good" clothes for this "job" (I mean, I need to be "professional" and not just some shorts and t-shirt writer mom) but because people assumed because I was friends with some of these women in the first place, I got the job because of that. Which isn't true. And because I now hold a vote, they assume I'm going to side with those who are fighting the system. (If it warrants it, I'll cast a vote for what I think is in the best interests of the children. I mean that's why we're doing this to begin with, right. It's not about us, it's about them.)

I had just started a new manuscript as well. Richard's story which has been sitting on the back burner for oh, about 7 years. His book was a shambles, and in doing some research the last few weeks before school started I realized I had to throw most of what I'd written away and start from scratch. I've been really excited to get him going and now...this.


Obviously, I wasn't.

Tell me -- Have you ever made a choice to do something to help out and then realized you have just screwed yourself over?

Anne Gallagher (c) 2013


Maria Zannini said...

I couldn't do that job--not if it involved politics.

But I applaud you for doing it for the right reasons. Someone's got to think of the kids.

Laura Pauling said...

It's always nice to help out at school. You can take your turn and then step down. That does sound like a lot of hours. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Maria -- They purposely DIDN'T tell me until AFTER I started the training. Both the director at the school and the last Coordinator KNEW I didn't want anything to do with the position because of politics. BUT, it is for the kids, so I might as well just shut my mouth and do what I need to do.

Laura -- I'm trying to keep the hours to half days. I think the only reason it's so long now is because I'm training. And the people who are training are all friends so they have a tendency to "gab" a lot. Once I really take over, there won't be anyone in the office so I can just do it. You know.

Bish Denham said...

Now you know why nobody checked the box. :)

Liza said...

Yep. I agreed to fill in for a time to cover two unexpected vacancies. Now I am working 4.5 days a week trying to squeeze in writing time. That wasn't in the plan. But...things happen...

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Like Laura said: that does sound like a lot of hours! I always do poorly in office politics. I wish you the best of luck. Look at it as literary research and use it in your novels.

J.L. Campbell said...

I can't help wishing I'd read this before I went and gave the Home/School Association president my cell number today. I said I was willing to 'help out'. Now I wonder what on earth I've signed up for. :(
Oh boy!

Hope you get more time back than you bargain for.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Sounds dreadful. This is volunteer?? Yikes. I like your new headline photo, btw. Haven't been around much of late. I have indeed screwed myself over, and over. Looking forward to winter. How about you? Are you in this for the year???

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- LOL. Yes, that's what I'm finding out. I have total strangers coming up to me and saying, "Aren't you just the bomb for doing this. It's soooo hard." We'll see how it all shakes out.

Liza -- I know. I feel bad for you. BUT, big but, at least you're getting paid. I'm not.

Roland -- Oh the politics! Don't get me started. Yeah, research. I'll tell you it's just like in high school. Only we're adults. Ha!

Joy -- Oh no. Sorry. I've already told them how the program is going to work now that I'm in charge. Some of them aren't happy, but hey, I'm in charge. I can run things as I see fit. If not, they can find somebody else.

Yvonne -- It's not quite dreadful. YET. Maybe a little daunting, but I think once I get the hang of it all I'll be okay. Once I get rid of some of the leftover baggage things will run a lot smoother and I'll be able to keep my old schedule for writing. And yes, it's for the entire year. And yes, I can't wait for winter. Or at least cooler weather.

Rula Sinara said...

It's the politics that get me. I can't handle politics. It's one of my top stressors. That (along with no spare time) is why I do 'from home' volunteering, like sending in supplies. I also try to help with the occasional class party.

Anne Gallagher said...

Rula -- Funny you should mention class parties...I would rather do this than class parties. Talk about being back in high school.

But the politics is easy for me to ignore. The way I look at it, I don't have to tell anyone what I'm doing or voting for. If they don't like it, they can always find someone else for the job. Right. And that's not likely.

J.B. Chicoine said...

Oh my ... as if there isn't already enough stress in our little cosmos. Makes me want to climb into a shoebox and pull the cover. I guess all we can do is try to sift through it all and focus on the positives. Either way, kudos to you for stepping up!

Sarah Ahiers said...

That...sounds horrible.

But i love your new blog look!!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Have I ever said I'd do something then wished I hadn't? Yes, and like your example it usually involved something at my kids' schools. Ugh, worst mom ever at being "involved"--that was me.

jabblog said...

It sounds as if you're the right person for the job, Anne, but the hours . . . Volunteers are worth their weight in gold.

Linda G. said...

If anyone can do the job, it's you. As long as you're doing it because you WANT to, and not because you were roped into it. Also, sometimes getting really busy with other things has a positive effect on writing--you get productive in one area, and it spills over. You know the old saying: "If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it."

Good luck juggling! :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have. Always...

Nicki Elson said...

heheheheh...oh, sorry, was that out loud? See, I'm on the other side of this PTO business now (as in, the second my kids moved on to middle school I cut the cord and never looked back) and it's all a lot more funny from this angle. All I can tell you is that you WILL survive it, not only that, I'm thinking you'll thrive at it. As for the politics, you've got a healthy perspective - maybe some of that will rub off on the others. When I got my first full dose of what PTO moms were like, all I could think was, "So THIS is what sorority girls do when they get older." Just think of all the great new characters that are going to start playing in your head. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Bridget -- Hey Thanks. I know, I mean, really, what was I thinking? Like I don't have enough to do already.

Sarah -- Thanks. I think I decided to change it because I know I won't be going back to the beach anytime soon.

Karen -- Believe me, I could win the worst Mom award. I've never had a birthday party for the Monster. Truth.

Janice -- The hours are horrendous. I wouldn't mind volunteering if I liked what I was doing.

Linda -- I think once the "training" is over, I'll be better with time management.

Andie -- Must be a girl thing. We think it's easy and then find out, not so much.

Nicki -- OMG. So that is where sorority girls go! LOL! Yeah, this job I think is only going to last one year.

Talli Roland said...

Yikes, that sounds like a lot of time for a volunteer position! I am forever agreeing to things when I shouldn't. I'm getting better at saying no.

D.G. Hudson said...

Politics sneaks its nasty head in many places: the job site, classrooms, sports.

After two years and bringing in two new ideas (benefitting the kids) that were implemented, I'd had enough of school politics.