Posted in Just a Thought, Story Time

Top Secret: Co-Workers

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So, today, I just wanted to talk about office shenanigans.  Now, let me put this disclaimer out, these are strictly the musings of the writer.  There is no evidence-based research behind this.  These are my random experiences.  Now, if any of these cases appear to resemble specific people, places, or things, I can neither confirm nor deny their likeness as being a part of this post.  So, let’s dive in.

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At some point in our work experience, we have come across people, and we have created long-lasting friendships and partnerships.  This post is not about them.  Consider this a humorous take on the, often, the stressful and irritating behavior of our co-workers.  Now, many of us find ourselves working in jobs (yes, jobs) that meet our basic needs but may not necessarily fulfill us.  However, we continue to hit the snooze button in the morning and trudge in to report, disgruntled, unhappy, and miserable.  Now, there are also many people who wake up without an alarm clock ready for another day to do what they were born to do.  Guess what most of us have in common? Co-workers!  Our co-workers come in all shapes and sizes, but there are those “special” co-workers that get under our skin just by opening their mouths, and others that make the day better.

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Space Invader:  Those who have no concept of personal space.  They will walk or stand too close and open closed office doors without knocking.  They stand over your shoulder (creepy) and insert themselves in conversations they have nothing to do with. They want you to think they know more than anyone else. Every conversation is not open for group discussion, and, no one is always right.

Storyteller:  Don’t be fooled by the friendly demeanor and appearance of this person.  They often bring gifts, coffee, candy, ink pens…you get it.  They are quietly buttering you up, waiting for you to tell them anything they can repeat to someone else.  Many times, this person pulls double duty, fulfilling multiple irritating roles, all at the same time.

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Tattler:  The tattler may be related to the storyteller.  They often bare gifts and will pretend to like you.  As soon as they think they have some juicy info, the tattler takes any information to anyone they believe will view them as the hero for carrying the tale.

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Investigator:  This person always asks questions (often irrelevant to the job).  Instead of just carrying the tale, they want to gather more information to aid in proving or disproving the lie.  They don’t always bring the tale, but they are famous for shutting people down.  They find the holes in all the stories and they don’t care about hurting people’s feelings in the process.

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Weak Link:  This person will appear to know nothing and do nothing, but they will be at work every day, taking up space.  They are carried, continuously, by everyone else on the team.  They offer empty, distracting, and meaningless conversation, sprinkled throughout the day.  When they receive an assignment, they stretch it out for as long as they can.  One day, they will be your boss.

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Cold Steel:  This person doesn’t break or bend.  On the surface, they are cold as ice.  Don’t ask them unnecessary questions.  DO NOT make them repeat themselves.  They will bite your head off and cut you with their evil eye.  (On the inside: Some of them are softies, but don’t test that theory).  They know their stuff, but they don’t waste time on foolishness.

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Mama/Papa Bear:  This person is the unofficial caretaker for all employees.  They know when you’re pissed, sick, or just, generally, not feeling it. This person can be cold steel, the enforcer, and many others if you rub them the wrong way.

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User:  This person will come in for work and refuse to acknowledge your presence.  As soon as they need you for something, they come up smiling and laughing, only to dump more work on you.  Often, it would have taken less time for them to just complete the task than it did to close the distance between your desks.

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Goofball: This person comes in, speaks to everyone.  They seem nice enough, but they are always joking, laughing, and distracting people from working.  They always seem to be moving around, and it’s a wonder they get any work done.

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Loner:  This person does not engage in any conversation.  They keep their head down, they don’t speak, laugh, or smile.  The only way they will engage with you is if work is involved.  They are not mean, just uninterested in unnecessary connections.

Enforcer:  This person knows their job, your job, and the boss’s job.  They will put you in your place when you’re wrong (sometimes, making you feel like you’re in boot camp).  When the weak link begins their unnecessary dialogue, they shut it down.  They may engage in an occasional laugh, but they are efficient in their delivery of office justice.

Sidewinder:  This person is smooth.  Unlike the weak link, they will let you know that they know everything, but, they may often be caught doing nothing.  They are resourceful and can justify everything they’ve done.  They are your best option for finding shortcuts.

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The Chieftan:  Of course, this person is in charge (maybe).  They are aware that everyone around them is responsible for the outcome of their evaluation.  Many times, this person has no real idea how to perform the duties of their employees.  They are good at micromanagement, helicopter leadership-hovering around the employees, creating hostile environments, and running great employees away.  They, often, have limited concern for the well-being of their workers and will deny any wrongdoing. They are good at taking credit for the outstanding performance of others.

Go-To:  This person has heard it all, seen it all, and knows it all, but they are humble about it.  Most employees ask this person for help when they run into difficulty.  This person can find the needle in the haystack and boost your self-esteem, even when you just asked the same question five minutes ago.  When this person takes a vacation, the chieftan (and most of the employees) freak out.

Ole Faithful:  They are related to the go-to.  They are fraternal twins.  This person has seniority but doesn’t flaunt it.  They work to be a positive role model, but they can turn enforcer when pushed.  They are the people that could run a 30-person operation by themselves and make it look easy.  When this person retires, four people must be hired to replace them.

Hopefully, you enjoyed a laugh about these co-workers.  I wanted to try something a little different.  Work can be stressful, the important thing is trying to find the funny moments.  Even in the worst situations, we have to fight to find the silver lining.

Keep on pushing,

 

Visionary Trailblazin’

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Posted in Story Time

Domestic Violence

This month is National Domestic Violence (DV) Awareness month, and I wanted to share a little information and resources. Even with the rising number of DV events, flyers, and campaign information, some still have a limited understanding of the depth of this topic. The National Domestic Violence Hotline shares definitions, resources, and other helpful information (and graphics) that promote education, awareness, and safety for community use.

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Shelly was an outgoing girl in college; she had everything going for her. She was a generally happy person. She had pretty good grades and had developed a great system to balance her schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Shelly had been eyeing this fantastic guy. He was attractive, seemed nice, and they took classes together. She was intrigued by his views, shared in classes, and loved that he had fun while excelling at school. After eyeing each other for weeks, she decided to ask him out. They dated for a few months. Let’s call the guy Vaughn. Shelly worked part-time, and she loved showering Vaughn with gifts, in the beginning. As they settled into their relationship, Shelly began to change. They had their first argument, and Shelly started talking down to Vaughn, calling him names, and demeaning him. Vaughn tried to tell her how she made him feel, and she told him she would work on it. They would make up, and Shelly said it wouldn’t happen again. A few weeks would pass, and she would begin complaining about him spending time with his friends. He would try to reason with her, but there was no reasoning. She would accuse him of cheating on her and demand that he stay. “If you love me, you would stay with me. Your friends will be there.” If Vaughn left, he knew what was coming when he returned. Shelly graduated from putting him down, to isolating him from friends and family. Finally, she advanced to physical abuse, slapping and punching him when he said the wrong thing. Yes, I know everyone reading would leave right? NO! There is someone (man, woman, boy, or girl) stuck in a situation just like this. Unsure or afraid of what to do.

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It is more common than you think to feel the love and caring of a person who seems like a dream but suddenly, you’re in the middle of a nightmare. So, many people are made to feel crazy about events. Their significant other making them feel as if they have dates, times, and conversations mixed up. Others face challenges with isolation from family, friends, and the things they once enjoyed. Still, others endure and still face verbal and physical abuse. Some have even lost their lives. So, how do what do next?
Many people assume that domestic violence is only a concern for women. Wrong! The issues surrounding domestic violence do not discriminate. Whether you’re old or young, black, white, brown, purple, or yellow, you could potentially be affected. The importance of knowing what DV looks like is the goal of the awareness effort. So, what does it look like? The National Domestic Violence Hotline defined DV as behaviors that may involve physical, mental, or emotional harm. So, it’s not just about physical acts of violence. This means it could include intimidation and fear tactics, any attempts to deprive someone of doing what they want or keeping money away from someone. Now, if you still haven’t guessed it, DV is about the perpetrator gaining and maintaining power and control over the victim. I have included some resources at the bottom for you to view on your own.

Domestic Violence wheel

The story was just a spin on some of the definitions found on domestic violence. It is interesting to consider the idea that jealousy, verbal put-downs, and attempts to make a person feel bad about spending time with other friends and loved ones remain a reality for so many people. I have heard people say, that will never be me only to find themselves trapped the web of physical and verbal assault. There is nothing scarier than being in a situation that makes you feel stuck and out of options. So, let’s get educated and become aware of the risks.

Resources

https://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse-defined/

https://www.breakthecycle.org/blog/it%E2%80%99s-national-domestic-violence-awareness-month

 

Posted in Story Time

Online Education

Hello friends,

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This week I was considering my upcoming graduation, and I thought it fitting to talk about adult learning and finding the right school. When I graduated from high school (many moons ago), I knew I wanted to attend Howard University. I planned out my entire life, including living in Washington, D. C. until I completed a Bachelor of Arts in English Secondary Education, followed by a Master of Education. Well, luckily, I was accepted to Howard University in the 90s. I went to school for one whole week, and I was so overwhelmed by how large the school was and being away from friends and family. I called my dad, and back to Richmond I went. I had also applied to Virginia Union University and began the same degree program.

Unfortunately, I spent more time with my friends than in class. Fast forward three years, and I had done no more than waste my money (and my parents). I cut our losses and enlisted into active duty, United States Army. At the time, I guess I thought I was rebelling and proving I was an adult that could take care of herself.

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Post-secondary education is not for everyone, and neither is the military. I mean, come on, 5:00 a.m. is a tough pill to swallow. On top of that, drill instructors are not the warmest people in the world (when they are working, of course). Somehow, I survived basic training. I was a swimmer, so adjusting to running, getting used to working with people from all over the globe, all while being “trained” in the hot sun of Missouri, made me re-think my entire decision. I met some awesome people, and I learned a lot about myself.

I loved singing and making people laugh, and I would sing and imitate my instructors for my “battle” buddies all the time (when the drill sergeants weren’t around). So, one day, during a scorching day, we were unable to train. We were all waiting in the shade for chow, and one of my buddies decides to brown nose, telling our female instructor that I always made them laugh by imitating her. I was mortified and terrified, all at the same time. Then someone chimed in, “Oh yeah, and she sings cadences just like you.” Instant pucker factor. Of course, she wanted to hear it. If I refused, I would have gotten stronger (literally), real quick like. So, as she stared me down, I stood up, took a deep breath, and did my best imitation. She laughed, and just as I was feeling relieved, she said, “Real funny private. Now, sing the National Anthem.” I think my eyes bulged further than possible, but I complied. She even clapped afterward. Of course, I still had to get strong. When she was done, my arms felt like spaghetti. The silver lining, the people who brought my extra skills to her attention, had to push, too! Ha

I ended up singing the National Anthem for my basic training graduation. I got an order to go to Korea, and my military career went on from there. I had always thought about going back to school, but there was still some reason to keep putting it off. It took over 15 years to decide to return to school finally. I decided to finish my degree but agreed after many challenging experiences that social work might be a better option than education. I earned a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree from Virginia Union University. It was difficult for many reasons, one, I am, by no stretch of the imagination, a spring chicken. Returning to school is difficult alone, but returning as a seasoned, non-traditional student was a stiff learning curve. The professors expected more from me, and there were days that I truly wanted to say, I don’t need this foolishness.

After graduation, I landed a fantastic position in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It wasn’t until I realized I needed a Master of Social Work to advance m career further that I considered returning to school. Unlike my first school experience, I now had a family of my own. Now, my motivation was being an excellent example for my son and working to increase my ability to care for my family. I applied at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). When I, initially, started school, everything appeared to be going well. I was getting great grades, and, then, life happened. I began to notice that work became more demanding, my son’s school work started getting more robust, and my grades suffered. I wasn’t going to quit working, and my son will always be a top priority. So, I left school. I knew I wanted to finish my MSW, but, I could not see a clear way of getting it done.

I started to second guess everything I did. It took me another year to decide to go back to school. I didn’t think I had many options. I started researching schools that offered accredited social work programs. I knew I wasn’t going back to VCU. It didn’t fit in with everything going on. So, I saw an ad for Walden University. I requested information. I spoke with an admissions representative, but I still wasn’t 100% sold. I talked to my husband about it. I talked to my mom, and finally, I decided, it’s now or never. On-line school can be a challenge. It requires time management skills, planning, and dedicated time for assignments. In the beginning, it was difficult (and there are still some challenges), but it has been a rewarding experience.

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I was pleasantly pleased with the support available from my advisors (less than 24-hour responses), financial aid, and the assistance of staff and my fellow students. I am in no way saying that online education is better than brick and mortar, but I am saying that as a busy adult, with a family, and full-time employment, the right online education program provided me with an opportunity to advance my learning and my career. There are so many grant opportunities for students, adult learners, and career switchers with a desire to return to school, and below is a short list of educational resources and programs that may assist those wanting to return to school. Like I said before, school is not for everyone, and there are certification programs for trades and businesses. Go, get your dream!

Until next time,

Visionary Trailblazin’

https://www.ed.gov/category/subject/adult-education

https://www.fastweb.com/…/non-traditional-adult-and-returning-student-scholarships

waldenu.edu

vuu.edu

https://www.ashford.edu/

vcu.edu

Posted in Story Time

Back to School?

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Labor Day Weekend!

As summer vacation winds down, many parents, teachers, and students struggle to wrap their minds around the dreaded first day of school.  As the parent of a rising ninth grader, I am lucky to have any hair left.  I have wondered if other parents feel the same anxiety.  This year is different.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I pride myself on not being a helicopter parent, hovering so close that I almost suffocate myself, but I am a little stressed.  We are braving puberty and adolescence with minimal battle scars.  However, this is the most extensive school supply list in history.  Everyone wants a three-ring binder, dividers, rulers, glues sticks, NON-click ink pens, no mechanical pencils, printer paper, 4G USB drive (some teachers have the nerve to inform me they will not share space with other teachers) …you get the picture.  My son is pretty healthy, but, as I read this list that resembled the instructions for a 10-15-page essay, I had a flashback of preparing for a 10K ruck march/hike.  Is the goal preparation for his metaphorical journey of life while preparing him to compete in a CrossFit challenge?

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Today, I stopped, took a breath, and enjoyed just spending time with my family, doing what we do best, laughing and picking on each other.  My son says he’s a little nervous about the first day of school, but he is NOT displaying any distress signals.  So, yep, you guessed it, Mom was flipping out for no reason.  When I asked him something about how he felt about the upcoming day, he asked, “Do you want to play some Rayman with me?”  In my mind, I’m like seriously.  Then, the lightbulb went off.  I was spending a little much-needed quality time with my family, but focusing on something that will not change.  So, I decided to get back to the moment.

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We went shopping, caught up on one of my son’s favorite Youtuber (#Berleezy-don’t judge me), saw the movie A-X-L, and went swimming.  So, today, instead of getting our steps in, we did laps.  We caught Indiana Jones and just enjoyed being together.  At the end of the day, we all need to take a step back sometimes and enjoy the moments.  Just keep pushing.

Until next time,

Visionary Trailblazin’