Writing courses for me weren’t very beneficial - but why did I pursue these courses? Was I looking to become a famous author? Of course I was.
I have enrolled in three writing courses, the earliest I recollect quite clearly, and humorous to say the least. The first one was three years ago. It was during the summer months, we gathered at a fine hotel downtown in a fairly large room, however, only a few people showed. The speaker wore Bermuda shorts and donned a Hawaiian shirt (I was suspicious at this point thinking this was possibly a time-share sales rip-off gathering, expecting free tickets to Marine land). But, it was a writing course, only problem was the guy bragged endlessly about his publications, including his book tours, offers from publishers, “too much work with too little time”, he kept stating. I sat perplexed thinking, why was he teaching a course in my little city to a group of 7 people? He continuously stood in front of the overhead, so his figure was on the white board. He loved this white board, used assorted colored markers for stats (stats for writing?). Also, PowerPoint pie charts seemed to appeal to him, but not to all of us who would have given anything for a pillow at this point (boring!). I learned nothing from this “wealth-of-knowledge” person and a waste for my $69.50 + tax.
My next course, about a year later, was inside our downtown library, taught by a woman who was the editor of a farming newsletter. As she was speaking, my mind was wandering (I do this often-a major flaw in character) thinking, how much could you write about to include in a 2 or 3 page farm weekly newsletter? I suppose it would be of interest to farmers. The course proceeded nicely; we were split into groups and given mini assignments. The only negative was that the instructor appeared to have run out of material, thereby killing two hours at Arby’s, chomping on two orders of roast beef sandwiches, working on an assignment to present to the class in the last half of the day. Overall though, I did take away some knowledge.
My third course was put on by a fellow who looked like Perry Mason. He co-authored a book (forgot the title but something along the lines of “Writing the Perfect Novel”). The book had a picture of an orange peel as a smile on the cover, which I found a tad odd. The session was only scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a few people chastised for arriving at 9:10. The most inviting part of this session were the huge jugs of ice water, as somehow at presentations I always become thirsty. The seats were most uncomfortable reminding me of classroom seating, and this was a hotel; so most disappointing. This aside, the session was a total waste of money and time, as this bozo stood there mostly reading exerts from his “book”. I was surprised he didn’t have a stack of his books in the wings ready for purchase, already autographed for quick delivery.
Brand new to all of this writing quite a few years back, I still had the smarts to know this guy was shoveling hogwash. He probably paid to have “Perfect Novel” published.
My last and final attempt at a course was with the local college. I was excited about a 4-week online course, but as luck would have it, I needed a student code to register and hounded the college with phone calls, and all to no avail.
So, forget the courses, I will plod along on my own. My intention is not to have a career in journalism; I enjoy this as a hobby and don’t want to contend with deadlines and such.
Actually, not to brag, (yes, I am) I have been published. And so, where does this leave me now? Donning my Collections hat by day, a couple of writing credentials at hand, and having a helluva time writing for fun in my blog.
The 1-10 Items or Less Scam. Evidently people can’t count. The 1-10 items cashier was designed to allow customers with fewer items not to be penalized and standing in a line where other customer had 20-30 items. But you forever have someone who doesn’t play by the 1-10 rules. It’s not a crisis if they sneak 1 or 2 extra items, but it’s the moron who starts unloading his basket of 15+. The cashier reminds this person, who goes into the whole “confused’ routine, but still agrees to process his order. I suspect a scam and I deduce other customers can be found all over town committing “THE 1-10 ITEMS SCAM”!
Self-bagging at the “lesser expensive” grocery stores for me is nerve racking to say the least, and requires great talent, at which I do not possess. I am slow bagging my groceries and will acknowledge it. I typically get that smile-hurry-up look from the cashier that I am holding up the line, as she processed the customer behind me, and waiting for the next customer’s groceries after that. Meanwhile, I’m sweating profusely. All of this over groceries? My wish is to return back to the olden days when they bagged your groceries in nice paper bags; sometimes even carrying them out to your car.
Well try this on for size – how about getting your arm wedged in the drug store’s blood pressure apparatus. Yep, you heard right.
I went to my drugstore to have a prescription filled. Whilst waiting I became bored looking at the vitamin section and spotted a portable blood pressure machine. Glancing at the instructions, I thought this was a fine idea and could compare these numbers with my doctor’s machine.
Having arms that are chubby to say the least, I stuffed my arm into the circular cuff. Instantly, after pressing the green button the cuff inflated at a rapid pace. The cuff was becoming tighter and tighter, and my arm was becoming redder and redder. I yelled for the pharmacy assistant, but incapable to offering help, paged the store manager. “Would Bob please come to the pharmacy immediately”. Bob arrived promptly, and even he was powerless to remove my now crimson arm. I felt so trapped – I was so trapped. He raced to fetch some tools, returned to unscrew the cuff – and phew! finally I had my arm back.
Throughout these moments, a small crowd gathered, whispering at what was a comical situation. I was so humiliated, and not at all flabbergasted if my BP was 250/150! I’ll only permit my doctor to take it after this lesson.
Moral of the story: if you have a fat arm don’t stick it in uncertain waters!
I always longed for streaks in my hair, admiring other women who had them. Not the big adventurous type, I kept putting it off. Then one day, I glanced in the mirror, saw far too much gray and made a decision right then and there to take the plunge. Previously, I had been dying my hair box-style from the pharmacy shelves; a true pain-in-the-neck practice.
An older woman downtown owned this small hair salon. Cutting my hair on a regular basis for some time, I was impressed with her knowledge, and booked an appointment for streaks and color. I discovered that in today’s society they are not called ‘streaks’, but now ‘highlights’. Hey, I was a teen in the ‘70’s. I phoned prior and quoted $48.00 for color and highlights. I thought this a little low in price as phoning around everyone else’s price was higher. But, I was used to this woman’s talent and went with her.
Arriving, I repeated, “$48.00 for BOTH”, she replied, “NO, that’s just for permanent color”. Then she said, “I’m feeling generous today, I will do both for $48.00”. Hmmm, bells should have gone off…was this too good to be true?
She applied the color, which turned out very nice, dried my hair, fluffed it up a bit and now was the time for the highlights. Here goes… She began parting my hair on top…just on top, first mixing this white goop. Then applied these foils, but only on top, and only down the middle. I really didn’t question as I thought, maybe this is the way you do highlights. The foils were in place, she applied the goop, and I did ask, “what about the sides”, she replied – “this is the way I do it”. And so, I waited and waited for the goop to do its thing – read a couple of ho-hum magazines chiefly ignoring the models with trim figures, placed under the dryer and waited some more. The time had come…drum roll… She removed the foils and TA DA! I didn’t observe at first, but did deem it too blonde. Subsequently, more blow-drying. I kept staring, my eyes as big as saucers, and was almost in tears. Fluffing my hair up and all excited stating, “aren’t you excited with your new look?” UUUUGH – no. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – I LOOKED LIKE A SKUNK! I HAD A MOHAWK!
I don’t know why, but I paid my $48.00 bargain and ridicule quickly leaving the salon. Wondering if it was perchance just the mirrors in the salon, I sought to assure myself that perhaps I really didn’t look this way, and took every opportunity to gaze at my reflection in store windows. EEEK, yes, this was genuine and gruesome looking.
My husband, arriving home to find a wife with a whole new look, found a woman with brown and blonde hair resembling a skunk with a Mohawk, and in tears.
So my next move: to refurbish this baby. Should I do the pharmacy box color, or play safe and visit a different salon? I knew better than to approach the ‘bargain lady’, and instead phoned a few salons crying on their shoulders recounting my disaster. Two salons both advised that using box color to patch up the blond would result in green hair!!! Oh gasp! Also, my $48.00 bargain would have resulted in $175 to repair a possible green hair touch-up.
To conclude, the new salon did an excellent job and although the procedure took hours, the blonde chaos was repaired, re-colored and lastly my hair highlighted properly. I was thrilled.
Medical Form: Marital Status? How many years married? Exposure to hazardous materials? Blood transfusions? Family history: Stroke, tuberculosis, liver problems, heart attack, asthma, colon cancer, high blood pressure, nervous breakdown, diabetes, arthritis, alcoholism, kidney disease, migraine headaches List of medications Previous x-rays including: EKG, MRI, CAT scan. Where have you travelled in the past 2 years? Drink: Alcohol? Coffee/Tea? Tobacco: Have you tried to stop? Do you wish to stop? Do you wear a seatbelt? Women: Gonorrhea, syphilis, AIDS, other
I am unaware if any of you have ever had the pleasure of a visit to a walk-in clinic. I’m not reproachful of this practice, I mean when your family doctor leaves his/her office for the day, and the cough that you ought to have called him/her about earlier sounds as if you are ‘barking’, this is the only option you possess.
Walk-In Clinic Pros – You are attended to speedier than at an ER, and the procedure of a triage nurse, killing time in the outer waiting room for hours and escorted to an awaiting bed and lastly assessed, are eliminated.
Walk-In Clinic Cons– If x-rays, stitches or an admission to hospital is required, you will ultimately be sent to the hospital ER.
Upon entering this clinic, I am greeted by a young receptionist who mutters something in limited English, and shoves a clipboard at me attached with a 2-sided information sheet. This sheet appears to contain 1,000 questions which embrace teeny-tiny boxes to tick off. It’s mandatory to list diseases from long ago including a test for leprosy?
I complete the form as assigned, digging out some information from my wallet and sometimes guessing at others, and feeling as if I just accomplished an exam. All of this information gathered for a cough? I understand they have to be cautious – but gonorrhea or a nervous breakdown?
Other people waiting eye one another other, wondering if he/she will be the chosen one to proceed next. Throughout this visit, I assume two doctors are on duty by the constant switch of rooms, and of course the male and female both in white coats tip me off as well. Whispers can be heard, others saying amongst each other that they were here long before the lady who just got called.
Misbehaved children run back and forth, screaming loudly, a female finally motioning for them to halt. They do not heed warnings and continue. A few other people also claim a ‘barking’ cough, but most people in this room seem to hold tissues to their nostrils representing a cold. Sometimes the tissue catches a sneeze, most times not. Magazines are aged and dog-eared, and subjects such as gardening, wine and the Hollywood tabloids don’t peek my interest. A television is on, but the sound is mute, for which I am grateful. Rooting through my purse passes some of the time, discovering bits and pieces here and there. I’m puzzled as to why I am carrying so many gum packets and pens. Also, two calculators, can’t quite figure that out. An old shopping list pops up, as well as, a yellow sticky note with two phone numbers on. I scratch my head in bewilderment at these numbers. Interesting.
At least during this visit I was lucky enough NOT to sit alongside someone who wishes to chat away the time. I’ve been through enough experiences with people who care to share a little too much about themselves, and fail to realize it’s a one-sided conversation with me on the other side continually saying “uh-hum, oh is that right”.
Three hours have passed now, my name is finally called and I am ushered into a very tiny room. The room is sparse (possibly a theft precaution), but is equipped with the standard “bed”, and a few jars of cotton puffs, swab sticks and tongue depressors (not big ticket theft items I wouldn’t think). The wait is short and a female doctor enters. She quickly scours my medical ‘quiz’, centering in on my ‘non-smoking’ status. I guess that is a positive. The other information on the form doesn’t appear to matter. Maybe it will be for future use? I am quickly examined, assessed and prescribed a cough suppressant. Two weeks later I’m ok.
The first real hurdle to jump, after the e-mail or mailed resume, is the call for the actual job interview itself. This is followed by the nerve wracking wait by the phone to see if you got the job. Personally, I feel the wait is worse. Antacids could be used at a time like this for quick relief.
Walking doggie is put on hold, so are showers, phoning friends/family, cupboards remain empty due to fear of leaving the house, and each time the phone does ring the heart races and diving across the room for the phone becomes the norm. Hopes are thwarted when it’s a telemarketer selling carpet cleaning or hubby wondering what’s for din-din.
Suddenly, your mind is swirling. You question the references supplied. Did your last boss really think you were a worthwhile employee and did the bang-up job you thought you did? And the previous references; were they the best choices, and will they remember you? People forget other people fast. Out of sight, out of mind.
Then you begin to question everything else. I should have been quicker with my answers, maybe not mentioned I was a non-smoker, and perhaps shared more of my strong points rather than my weak points, and then the biggie: rehearsed the all important question – “why should we hire you?” That one is always a toughie. You don’t want to appear boring and hand them a pat answer such as: “I am a hard worker and dependable”. Possibly something such as this: “I have unique skills, am energetic, a team player (I think this is phoney, but employers love these words) who is energetic and committed to any task that my come my way”. Also, “I have good attendance, am punctual and a good sense of humor”. This may be a better sell.
I do know that you should always ask something at the end of the interview, however, someone told me they asked about the interviewer’s family picture on her desk. The interviewer became all red-faced and went into detail about the family photo and who was in it. That would be a no-no. Also, carry copies of your resume and references. Do research on the company. No limp lettuce handshakes. No blabbering on and on – just answer questions short and sweet. No bragging – nothing worse than a braggart. Make sure cell phones are off. Complaining or putting down last boss – MAJOR NO NO. Someone asked an interviewer about his comb-over (stupid, and what purpose did it serve?). Should I call and bother, or not call and bother after the interview? Your decision.
Remember, you are interviewing them too. Is this a place YOU want to work?
You leave an interview at times with the notion that you could have done better; ought to have said this/that, possibly laughed more at something humorous the interviewer said (even though it wasn’t), and the brain just sees no end to it all. Suppose you simply have to sit back, maybe make some tea, stay calm and unhappily wait for that call.
Good luck to all who are waiting for that call. I waited for “that call” countless times. Not pleasant; but I did eventually land a position.
By the way: I’m not in H.R. or a job counselor; just wanted to relay some tips.