Archive for Work

Railroad barons, Robber barons, and the Mafia…

Posted in Economics, Economy, Politics, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by urbannight

This started out as a Facebook comment that turned intoOld Monopoly a much longer post.  It is something I’ve kept meaning to write more about but for which I never get around to doing the in depth research.  Partly because I am not an economist or interested in economy.  I am interested in history and this is something I’ve been putting together in my head based on viewing of a number of documentaries and articles and books that were not specifically about the economy.  But the past decade or so has had me pulling these threads together into this concept that I think has a valid point.

In the fight to change minimum wage into people being able to earn a living wage if they work full time may be easier to understand if one understands that our modern economic system was developed by the same people who create the ‘trunk’ system of work compensation. Once upon a time, these people were called ‘Railroad Barons’. Not because their work on the railroads made them rich but because they way they made money made people think of the old ‘robber baron’s’ back in the Old Country. These were people with titles who took to robbing travelers and merchants crossing their lands in order to have an income.

Railroad Barons as a term came about because most of these people were in the business of building railroads.  But it included others that were not but practiced business in the same manner.  These were the people who came up with the idea of creating towns at their factories or operations and paying people in company script that had no value outside the company town. Then getting the families in debt to the company so they would never be able to leave their jobs and move away.

The government determined this was simply a way to try to legally enslave people and made company script illegal. Wages must be paid in legal tender.  The government seemed to be less concerned with the payment itself and more concerned with the fact that it limited mobility, trapping people.  They probably could have paid the employees anything so long as it would have been considered to have an equal, legal value, anywhere they wanted to take it so it could be used and spent in other places.  They could have been paid in pocket watches because they could be sold and traded for a relatively constant value.  Well, at least until the market got flooded with pocket watches.  But it gets the idea across.  These company scrip were bit of paper that held NO value once outside of the company town.

But in response to the Great Depression, these people changed the perception of their characters. They became known as captains of industry. They were praised for attempting to put some kind of organization and structure onto the economy. We called it capitalism and made a board game praising the concepts of making as much money possible off of others while trying to compensate them with the least amount possible without getting in trouble with the law.

Another reason that people don’t really realize that the Mafia came really close to taking control of the government back in the day is the reason that so many people were willing to work for the Mafia and to protect them. It wasn’t because they were family members. It wasn’t because these were people with natural criminal inclination. It was because, back at this time period, the Mafia in the U.S. took better care of its workers and their families than any other employer did. Older kids and young men took jobs doing stuff for the mob because the work was more likely to be steady, reliable, and better compensated and their families were looked after better than any other job in the cities they could have found, for the most part. Which may be a really sad thing to say.

Our entire economy was solidified and fine tuned by people so questionable that they made the Mafia look good. Think about it. This is the Free Trade Capitalism that so many people say is the best method of Economy.  It is a method that says anyone can get rich if they work hard enough.  This ignores the fact that unless there is an unlimited source of money, it is blatantly not true.  Given a finite source of wealth in the world, that means only so many people can get rich while most people never will, no matter how hard they work.  Free Trade Capitalism is best for funneling the most money into the fewest pockets.

I’m not saying that people should run out and become the exact opposite.  That isn’t any better.  What I’m saying is that our system isn’t all that and a bag of chips and the very roots of that system is why a living wage is anathema to what most people have been taught.

GRRRR- Pet Peeves for today . . . a rant in the making.

Posted in Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2014 by urbannight

Today I’m very cranky.  I am very grumpy.  I’m finding everything annoying.

When laundry from the dryer is still wet.

Drivers who don’t think rain and fog is a good reason to slow down.

People who drive with their lights off in rain and fog.

Having to slam on my breaks (three times) on the drive to work because people are driving crazy.

Zombie

Me before 10:00 am.

People talking in loud and energetic voices at 7:30 am.  I always enjoyed my quiet mornings before most of the staff got to work.  Only they have hired a very very very loud person for my unit who has my same start time.  I miss my calm, quiet, start to the workday.  Without it, it puts me on the wrong foot for the rest of the day.

Not being able to hear the callers with my headset cranked up because the loudest person now sits behind me.

Having tons of work but three of my co-workers spend half of the day in each others cubes  chatting.

Nosy people trying to get into my business while I’m trying to get work done, slowing me down and keeping me from concentrating.

Callers who don’t listen.  I asked for the city, not the road.  I asked for the DL, not the state.  I asked for the year, not the make.  I asked for my vehicle not your driver.  Basically, callers who answer my questions with completely different information.  Are they even listening to the questions?

Agents who call in a claim, ‘to get it started’, when they actually don’t have ANY of the info yet.

People who ask me how I am after I ask how I can help them.  That is not an appropriate response to my question.

People who assume I just asked them how they are when I never did.  Clearly, they didn’t actually hear anything I had just said to them.

Every time work provides ‘treats’ to the staff, it is cake and cookies, despite the aggressive ‘wellness’ program they have going on.  Wouldn’t fruit and veggies be better?  Talk about mixed messages.

Callers that are clearly insane.

The company using the same three horrible restaurants to cater special lunches.  The only saving grace is that the horrible Italian place does make amazing dinner rolls.  But I can only have one.

Everyone thinking that I like chocolate because ‘everyone’ likes chocolate even though I’ve spent years saying I’m not overly fond of it.

Constant headaches because the light levels in this office are insanely bright and the place is always too hot. (Although everyone else thinks it is cold.  I think they are nuts about that too.)

Hashtags.  I don’t mind tags.  I detest hashtags.  (I admit, I may be sinking to the level of irrationality.)

Photo for a Halloween hat. She may look witchy but I have no proof she is bitchy and can’t make a case for the words being equal.

Callers who won’t let me do anything to help them but won’t get off the phone until I solve their problems.

Books that have plot points that are never addressed by the end of the book.  Basically, every major motivating plot point in the novel I finished at lunch today.

People who use the word witch to substitute bitch.  I know enough witches who are not bitches to really resent that usage and find it personally offensive.

You know, I just want to boycott the rest of the week and read a few books, watch a ton of Netflix and do some cross-stitching.

 

Shocked and Amazed

Posted in Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 17, 2014 by urbannight

About a year ago, our work load doubled. We were ending the day with 40 things still needed to be done on a regular basis. Business was really picking up and they started to try to hire more people to keep up. It wasn’t just my unit that was busy and behind. Everyone one was overloaded.

The last time I was relaxed, about a year and a half ago.  And I was sick at the time.  But relaxed.

The last time I was relaxed, about a year and a half ago. And I was sick at the time. But relaxed.

Then around last November or so, the work load went up again, nearly tripled from what it had been originally. We were now ending the day with around 60 tasks waiting.

My baseline is when we had 10 to 20 tasks left over.  Which at the time was thought to be too high.  But the person who put the things into our workflow would dump a huge batch in about an hour before closing, which is only 30 minutes before the first batch of people leave for the day.  There was no way to get those items finished before closing.

The hiring to get enough staff for the new workloads hadn’t been done in a hurry so now we were REALLY feeling it.

Today at 8:30 am was the first day in over a year where my primary tasks were caught up. The bucket I work from was down to 0.

Zero.

Nothing.

Empty.

WOW.

That hasn’t happened in over a year. Over 12 month, probably about 14 months really.

I haven’t had to hunt for something to do in that long. I don’t really know what to do with myself. In order to try to find a different way to balance the clerical work loads, job duties were shifted and shuffled and moved around. In some cased, procedures have changed for work buckets from which I no longer pull. So I can’t just jump in and help with those. I am sort of at a loss this morning.

I need to find a topic to write about. Or work on photos but my camera died. Well, it’s ability to operate from a battery died. And I can’t afford to replace it until May 9th at the soonest.   The camera, not the battery.  I did that already.  The journey to find a battery made me realize it was probably time to just replace the camera.  Maybe I should clean out my desk drawers and re-organize. I’m not sure. If I didn’t have to stay on the phone lines, I would walk around the office to stretch my legs.

What I really want to do is a happy dance around the office. That that would look a little silly.

Homicidal Wooden Dollies

Posted in Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2014 by urbannight
Life is ... A happy skull smiling at you.

Life is … A happy skull smiling at you.

Sorry I vanished. I wasn’t having too good of a year last year and it just went downhill. I was rather afraid to turn it into blogging material because of the old idea that it could always be worse. I was afraid of making it into ideas and topics might result in the ‘worse’ becoming reality. I pretty much checked out of reality and entered the world of books. I spent a LOT of time reading.

I was determined to get back to this at the start of the year and was promptly in a major car accident. So this year is starting out with me being stressed out. I thought I might be ready to start writing about that nightmare accident until a friend from high school started posting photos from her own accident that was very similar. I found I still felt a lot of anxiety about it. I haven’t had accident nightmares but I’ve been having a lot of bad dreams about people trying to kill me. The race of wooden dollies trying to kill me with wax and lamp oil was particularly disturbing.

I don’t have as much spare time as I used to. Work loads have actually tripled. But I really want to get back on top of things again, this site being one of the things I want to start working on regularly once more.

One of THOSE days . . . .

Posted in Gaming, Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2013 by urbannight

At 8:32 am I’m resorting to a cup of coffee. I hate coffee. I’m that desperate. I’m unbelievably sleepy today.

It doesn’t help that we are expecting a major snow storm this afternoon. Half the people are walking around talking about leaving early. Schools closed preemptively. Despite the fact that the heavy show has been pushed back until 2:00 today. The light flurries have been pushed back until after the noon hour. The Winter Storm Warning has been pushed back to noon Thursday through noon Friday from 6:00 am on the aforementioned days.

Other schools were a bit smarter and are having half days. But maybe the whole day is better. Is it harder for working parents to deal with the whole day or the half day? I don’t know.

Anyway, I think it is going to be one of THOSE days.

There is a group of mostly clerical staff, with a couple of professional members, that seem to think it is a party day. In fact, they spent half an hour being loud yesterday and have already started today.

This is a point of contention. My unit is always getting complaints that we are too loud. But we are the phone unit. We are taking incoming calls to report losses or check up on claims all day long. We have to spend all day talking. It is our job.

These people are not phone people. They do have some phone tasks, a few are lunch time backups. Their loudness does not come from any phone work. It is coming from half hour long chatty breaks.

These built-up, over-sensasionalized storm days result in people talking all day and not working. Part of the staff is leaving at half day to get home before the storm hits. Several people said they would just take the day off. That means the rest of us will most likely have to stay until the bitter end.

I could also do without the dire build up on how awful the day is going to be, weather-wise, and the build up of hope for office closures, but then the weather ends up getting pushed back so that it only affects the drive home, if it even hits that early. These storms usually get pushed back to the evenings. It ends up being both a distraction and a let down.

Top it all off, there was some major guild drama and a lot of high-ranking, highly involved guild officers split from the leadership and quit the guild.

My raid leader started his own guild. Part of my team is still in the old one and part in the new one. Some of the guild officers left and joined his guild.

You see, the man who originated the guild, 8 years ago, (it is a massive organization crossing many games and servers and not like any other guild I’ve ever seen) wrote a letter and put it on the forums in which he stated whom he wanted to be his officers and why and went so far as to actually insult and threaten some of the very people he wanted to keep. Which is why some of the people he wanted ended up quitting.

He wrote stuff that totally went against everything he has said the guild stands for in every single guild meeting I’ve been to. It sounded so different from him that some people had originally thought someone might have hacked him or somehow gotten into his account. It also sounded very much like drunk ranting. But no, turned out he sent a draft of the letter to a senior officer who verified that this was the actual guild leader’s words.

I ended up staying late to read this letter and all the responses to it and the letters from the senior officers who found the entire thing distasteful enough to decide they had to leave the guild.

The result is that I am very tired today. I didn’t get enough sleep. I had to drive because my roommate normally has class on this night. When I asked about his classes getting canceled he turned the entire thing in to an argument and an exercise in semantics that I decided he just didn’t want to go in to work together. When I ran into him at work, he said he went to tell me that he did NOT have classes but I had already left. I was tired and hungry and not in the mode to play games. So yeah, I left so I could get to work early enough to get breakfast.

Now I’m sitting here, drinking nasty coffee, drinking Pepsi, trying to get rid of a headache, and trying to stay awake while working on various tasks. I can’t keep my eyes open and it is going to be a LONG day.

Friday’s Frustrations

Posted in Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by urbannight

Several years ago, no long after I was out of training on my job, the supervisor called all of us together for a meeting.  There were not very many off us, two in the room and one on a phone.  She worked from home.  He said people were making a mistake and he wanted to make sure every one understood how it was supposed to be done.

The Cause Code should always match the action of the Act of Insured/Adverse, which ever did the action that lead to the accident.  If the Insured rear ended someone else, it would be ‘struck unit ahead’.  If the adverse party rear ended the insured, it would still be ‘struck unit ahead’.  In both cases, the vehicle performing the action has struck the unit ahead of it.  So even thought there is a ‘struck from behind’ option, we wouldn’t be using it. 

He asked if we understood and we all nodded.  The he said, “If everyone understands then why aren’t you doing it?”  We were all to embarrassed to say anything.  Now this is significant because the supervisor is normally a pretty mellow person. I had never seen him this upset either before or after that one meeting.

I was the new person and I had been doing it wrong.  I felt really bad about it because I thought it was my mistake.  I felt as if we had been totally chewed out and it was my fault.  I nodded yes, that I understood, because now I did.  I left that meeting feeling about two inches tall.

It came up today because someone in the other unit was being trained by two people who were telling her two different things.  We realized that several of us were taught differently. 

Most of the new people were being taught to use the “struck from behind” option if someone else hit one of our insured vehicles.  The supervisor of my unit decided to send an email out for clarification.  The person who totally chewed us out a few years back said that if the other party hits one of our vehicles, then we use ‘struck form behind’.  Totally, opposite of what he said that day when read us the riot act, so to speak.

My anxiety levels are now through the roof.  I can’t sit still and I’m practically shaking.  I remember how I felt leaving that meeting and now it turns out I wasn’t just me, everyone had been doing it wrong.  And the other two continued to do it that way and I was the only one to ‘correct’ myself.  Only to find out that that was really that way they wanted it.  That there was no reason to have gotten chewed out like that.  I wasn’t doing it wrong after all and that horrible feeling I had after the meeting was all for nothing. 

I’m so upset about it that I can’t stop thinking about it.  I’m twice as jittery compared to my normal fidgetiness.  My left eye is twitching.  That only happens when I’m majorly stressed out.  I’m lucky my hands haven’t gone numb and curled up.  Have you seen the curled hands of long time coma patients?  My hands do that and sort of lock up when I feel a great deal of stress.  I can’t straighten them out until I relax.  It feels like there was no point to that awful meeting.  I feel like I need Goma Ae and Seaweed Sushi rolls. 

This was written Friday but not posted.  I did not have Goma Ae and Seaweed Sushi Rolls.  In fact, I do not remember what I had at all.  Oh, pizza.  At the movies.  My roommate had an even worse day and we ended up at the theater watching Red Dawn after work.  Nice violent movie with which to help one calm down.

Strange Brew – Carrots?

Posted in Entertainment with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2012 by urbannight

What does three bundles of carrots mean? What do they MEAN?????

Dreams are a strange concoction of events, movies, books, and random input in your life being sorted and processed by the subconscious.  I do think that dreams can have meaning and messages.  But these need to be interpreted in the context of your life, not from some kind of dream dictionary.  But sometimes a dream is just a dream.  Here was my weird one from last night.

I’m working late at work, to get some more sections done on a project.  We can work up to 2 hours over time a week in reality.  In my dream, this was not a limit.  I get the impression I was making up for some time off I took. (in reality, I’m out of sick days and I took an unpaid sick day last week.  I was also supposed to go in and work 2 hours OT Saturday and I was too sick to go.)

I wasn’t feeling well so I decided to take a bath.  Our cubicles were bigger and for some reason, instead of a desk section behind me, I had a bathtub and t.v.  I then fell asleep in the bathtub. (this weekend, I kept wanting to take a bath but took showers instead.  Sunday, I went to take a bath and decided a nap sounded better.  I slept about 5 hours.  It was a LONG nap.)

The cubicles have an extra wall section that is hinged and works as a sort of door.  I hear the cleaning crew come in so I get up and get dressed.  One of the cleaners asks me to call his pastor because they need some money for gas and baby food.  I call and leave a message.

It is very late yet there were a lot of people working.  There was an entire accounting department (that doesn’t exist) that worked overnight shifts. (I suspect this is from me watching way to many episodes of Supernatural, back to back, on Netflix almost every day.) 

I finish my tasks and turn around to find something on the floor inside my door.  It’s a mystery note from the mysterious pastor saying these people are not who they say they are and they are trying to extort money from him.  He had notified authorities but he was giving me a reward.  Pinned to it was 50$.  This seemed really strange. 

I tuck it in my wallet with the rest of my money (for some reason, all my money is in my wallet and not my bank) and put my wallet in my purse.  I’ve had a bad feeling about this from the moment they showed up. 

The rest of the cleaning crew is leaving and the man and his wife come up to my cube and she is not Hispanic.  (Okay, everywhere I’ve worked in the last 6 years has had Hispanic cleaning crews.  I’m not trying to stereotype.  This is just an element from my life experience in this city.)  She was also not part of the cleaning crew.  I’m feeling gratified that there are a lot of accountants around right now so I’m not alone with them.

She demands her money.  I don’t have ‘her’ money, but I do have a note the pastor left for them.  (Why he snuck in and out I don’t know.) It is just a folded bit of paper and I’m trying to find it in all my receipts and cash and stuff.  She keeps trying to peek around me and into my purse.  She can’t so she finally tells me to hive her my purse. 

“No. I am not giving you my purse.  You do not need to look in my purse.” (the only direct line I can remember from the dream.  She then gets all huffy and tries to act all official and like she is going to try to put me under citizen’s arrest or something.  (I watched The Watch, it was rather boring.)  I know she plans to rob me.  I just cock my head at her and tell her she isn’t touching me or my purse and that I am going to call the police. 

An accountant, hearing the argument, stops and hangs out near us.  She doesn’t believe I will call the police.  I pick up the phone and dial 911.  As I’m doing this, I notice there are several bunches of carrots on the floor.  I have no idea why they are there.  I’m pondering this as the 911 operator answers the phone and I wake up.

What an awful place to wake up.  I want to know what happened next.  I’m really confused by the carrots.  I really just want to know about those carrots.  Who care about what would have happened next.  I was ready to thow down with that woman.

I seem to be scaring people…

Posted in Entertainment, Hobby, Holiday, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2012 by urbannight

I seem to be scaring people at work today. In fact, they are grabbing their friends to bring them by to catch the reactions.

I don’t know why?

Am I not lovely?

Me and Yorick

Having a heart to heart w/ Yorick.

Hidden Goodness in Canceled Plans:

Posted in Entertainment, Gaming, Health, Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2012 by urbannight

This has NOTHING to do with the post. It is just a great fantasy, day dream, fantasy concept floating around Facebook. I may turn it into a stitch pattern.

What today looked like:
1. Get up 1.5 hours early to go to work early.
2. Forget to take all medicine before leaving.
3. Lose phone so you can’t call roommate and ask him to bring them to work.
4. Dental appointment and get the first half of a root canal done.
5. Find the missing phone.
6. Be hungry but have no desire to eat once the dentist stuff wears off.
7. Spend rest of the work day in pain w/ headache.
8. Game night gets canceled.
This is hidden goodness disguised as much sadness. It means I could get home, take blood pressure meds, take pain meds, and I can go to bed early so I can have a better day tomorrow.

Be Careful What You Ask For.

Posted in Life, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2012 by urbannight

How often do you feel this way? I do, often.

I’ve been wanting a project at work. There is plenty of work to do, but there is no mental challenge or stimulation.  For a while, that was great.  Several years ago I was severely burnt out from a job where the work conditions changed dramatically over several years.  It went from a job I absolutely loved to one I dreaded so much that I developed eye twitches and my hands would numb up and fingers fold up and I had trouble moving them.  Just the mention of my boss’s name was enough to cause my left eye to go entirely spastic. 

Do a job with no extra responsibility was great for a while.  But now I feel the need for more of a challenge but I’m not ready to leave for a new job.  This summer I said I would like a project and my supervisor took it to the office manager and they were going to figure something out. But things happen and the office manager forgot about it and the supervisor had to much on her plate with two people in the unit retiring and one quitting and then training three new people.  Not to mention, at the same time, her father’s health was deteriorating, he was put in a home, he was getting worse, and then the expected happened and he passed away. 

Life happens.  And major life events do affect what it occurring at work despite what employers would want to happen.  Its natural.  It is part of being alive and human.  To think otherwise in unrealistic.

So she sat down and had a meeting with each of us about what we are doing, how we are feeling about it, and what more we would like out of our jobs.  Again, I asked for some type of project to keep me more focused and engaged with work. 

After she spoke with the office manager, she gave me a project that had been briefly discussed in the past.  I actually had the impression someone already did it when I saw the fantastic binder the second new person got.  It turns out that manual was only for the phone part of the job.  The compiling part still needs to be done.  I was give 3 – 4 weeks to get the first draft of it done.  I get to write the compiling training manual. 

We have two compiling units.  Those of us who do the phones and compile the phoned in losses and the department that handles paper mail, faxes, and emails and compiles those losses.  They get more losses but we take longer due to phone interruptions.  Yet we find that we have the time to go in and help a little with the paper losses.  There was a meeting because the compilers for that other unit are not getting them done fast enough from the moment we receive them to getting them into the review flow to be assigned an examiner.

The customer service/phone unit I am in has 6 people right now, including the supervisor.  I was the only fully compiler trained on the one side of the company and SZ was the only fully trained compiler on the other side of the company.  But we never got fully trained on each others systems.  But we seem to get more turned in on my side than her side.  This means her side is usually caught up.  Two of the other people have been with the company a long time and they were only trained on the very basics of compiling as back ups.  Then we have two new persons.  One of whom has been fully trained on the phones and preliminary set up after a new loss call.  She is just getting started on compiling today. 

This means, most of the unit is only half trained.  We are generally so busy that training on more complicated claims is ad hoc.  This also because the supervisor isn’t completely trained on them.  So if they get something they don’t understand they often don’t have time for someone to walk them through it.  It ends up sitting there until I get to it.  What I don’t understand is why the two compilers in the other unit, both of whom were fully trained and have been with the company at least twice as long as myself in one case and over three times as long in the other case and who are both much faster than I am, keep skipping ones that seem ‘difficult’.  Many of the ones they are skipping are ones I find very easy.  I’m just slower at them. 

The result is they are not getting done fast enough because my priority is to get the ones done from my unit first.  SO the VP of claims decided to make those other claims our third priority.  That used to be helping out in the other clerical workflows to try to keep them caught up.  Because I used to be a backup for importing the new claims emailed in, I’m going to be doing that again.  Which is no problem.  It is easy. 

But now the VP of claims, after hearing about the project I was just assigned at the end of day yesterday, wants me to step it up and get certain portions of it done in a week to ten days.  Turning in individual sections as I finish them.  I dont’ have to do the entire thing.  Just the types of claims that the new people are finding too confusing and therefore skipping.  Part of the set up we do is initial determination of what units get set up on a claim and what type of coverage the units will be under.  This is surprisingly subjective at times.  There are cases in which certain variables can totally change things.  This is where some people are getting confused and start skipping things.

While I find some of them very easy, the minute details made the instructions very long.  The 2 hours a week over-time we had for a couple of months ran out.  But he has authorized me to have 2 hours OT each week to specifically work on this so I can get parts to him quickly and he can run through them with the examiners and figure out what needs to be tweaked.  On top of that, because I’ll be explaing coverage determination in it, once the VP accepts and authorized the final copy, it will be set in stone.  This is to help stop the nit-picking and arguing between examiners who disagree with each other on how coverages should be set up.  That is going to be the most challenging part of this project. 

So I got what I wanted and it turned into something they now want on the rush and at a high priority.  Be careful of what you ask for, you might get and get it in spades.

At least I won’t be bored. But it will be a much shorter term project now.  So what will I do after it is finished?