Pot by the Road (A Client Story)

I saw the pot on the side of the road.  Just sitting, all alone.  It looked as if someone had taken it out of a car and forgotten it.  It was March, too early for leaves or flowers if there were to be any on its’ branches.

I was back a few days later.  That pot was still sitting there.  I drove over and swung the car around so my passenger side door was next to it, parked, got out, opened the passenger door and tossed the pot it.  I drove home carefully that day, trying not to knock it around.

When I got home I found a shovel and planted the plant in there.  A few weeks later pretty dark pink blossoms appeared.  In the two years since, it gives me the same blossoms each spring for a few days.

Those blossoms remind me of the client I was seeing when I found that pot.

The client was a third party referral and third party payer, something I appreciate because I know once the contract is signed and then I turn in my hours, I get paid.  Yet by the end this one brought more of a story than I was expecting.

My client lived in a condo complex off of a main artery that had a gated parking lot.  They didn’t drive so they didn’t have the pass code to the gate.  No problem, I waited for someone to come in and park in the unmarked spots.  No one bothered me until one day a man started following me from the building to my car and was threatening to call the police.  I thought it was because of the gate but I quickly realized he thought I was pimping.

I had the municipality’s non-emergency police dispatch number in my phone less than five minutes after I was home that day.

A bit of background: due to the third party arrangements, the client’s guardian squeezed every minute out of me they could get and refused to take less than an hour and a half at one time so I just made the sessions two hours to lessen the amount of times I would have to go.

The next time I just parked on the street and wedged myself through an opening in the gate.

Driving home I would have the windows rolled down.  The condo had a very interesting smell and my significant other would comment when I walked in the door.  Those clothes were immediately stripped off and in the washing machine.

The longer I was with my client the more I found out that helped some things I had observed make sense.

When I talk about my 85% to 90% success rate, this client was one of those I don’t know the outcome or outcomes.  I was summoned after they had failed their licensing test the first time and met the usual resistance.  They had certain expectations and their guardian had others.  The meticulous notes I found in the book and paperwork were not my client’s.  The second time their score went up yet it was still under what the State was requesting.  We used up the hours right before they were scheduled to take the test a third time. I left my client with a detailed, written instruction list of study tips, review tips, piles of organized flashcards, a notebook with notes, and a message of it is up to you to study for this.

I called the third party for a followup but never received any.

To this day I still don’t know what happened with them.  I wonder when I go by the area where they live, if they are still there.

I hope life has treated them well and they passed on their third try.  I think of that when I see the pink blossoms in the spring.

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Underappreciated Day

November 3 has been marked as “Housewife’s Day”.  It really should be called “Underappreciated Day” or something similar.

The site where I was reading about it, called “Days of the Year” (www.daysoftheyear.com) talks about how the origins are unknown.  What is this, a treat yourself day before the winter holidays break loose?

Again, again, and again there are statistics about the uncounted for hours and monetary value of house work.  Notice that the day is not “House Keeper’s Day”, that would mean something totally different.  Also, this excludes the men who stay home to care for their families as well as LGBT families.  Additionally, it leaves out the people who take care of ailing or sick family members.

House care and house work is a boring, tedious part of life.  Ask any child or adult who does chores.  Yes, some people thrive on chores and laundry yet most people cannot deal with the chaos that uncleaned houses brings.

As an EMT, walking in the front door of someone’s house immediately tells you what kind of person you are going to be dealing with.  I’ve seen plenty of houses where the person has given up and they don’t care.  There are also many, many people in less affluent areas where the houses are sparkling clean inside and you want to tip toe across their floors so as not to dirty them.

Also, my clients who are in transition come to me with the societal bias that their caregiving work means nothing towards their paid work and/ or professional skills, especially on a resume.  I spend a lot of time talking with them about what they have done and in most cases do.  People undervalue caregiving and daily maintenance work and what it takes to do this kind of work.  People are running households on budgets comparable with those of a small business.  People are leading civic groups and raising money for community projects that otherwise would not be funded.  People are running small little mom and pop enterprises.  All of this at the same time as being labeled a “housewife”.

So, the next time someone asks you “What do you do all day?” the answer should be “Let me show you my list”.

Life Hack: Don’t Fluff Your Resume

I spent three well-spent hours with a client today putting together their resume.  Fluff came up in our conversation more than once.

My client is currently working for a student recruiter and is screening applicants.  They told me how people like to fluff their resumes, especially for certain industries that require a certain amount of experience.

Don’t fluff your resume.  You will be found out.

Would you like me to bore you with the details of how I’ve been helping people with resumes for over 20 years now?  I told my client how tutoring English turned into this.  I need help with English.  Oh, and, can you help me with my resume?

People like to fluff themselves up.  It’s a human trait we don’t discuss that often or don’t care to discuss.  Yet that is why applying for work takes weeks and very drop of blood in your body.  Your future employer wants to make sure you are not fluffing yourself up.

Yes, I have heard stories from clients about the coworker who is the stripper cum banker and my client is like: How did this stripper cum banker get the job?

They fluffed and got lucky.  Or maybe their references lied.  Or maybe…..I don’t want to think about it here.

Fluff your pillows, your sheets, your hair, your cat, your dog.  Don’t fluff yourself.  Everyone has war stories to be shared while swigging a cocktail or smoking a cigarette outside with your coworkers.  Share those.  We’ve all had our share of the experience from hell.  Heck, fluff that story yet don’t lie.  Fluff won’t ease your landing in other piles you are going to find yourself landing in.

 

Daily Prompt: Tether

via Daily Prompt: Tether

This has been sitting in my hold pile for a while.

Tether.  This word always make me think of tethering a horse and not being able to go anywhere.

Currently the State of Connecticut, where I live, and the Town I live in, have both (as of my writing this) as of yet to pass a budget.  There is a lot of talk where the money that is needed will eventually come from.  Not one person wants more taxes and the politicians are really digging around to find ways to tax, like on cell phone bills and usage, within the State.  (One proposal I read.)

The taxes may come from things we are tethered to whether we want to be or not.  I can’t have my business, run it, without my cell phone.  I know I speak for others as well.

I know we all feel tethered at times.  Life is responsibility and responsibility is life.  Responsibility tethers us, there is no way around it.

Are we horses?  No.  Can we untether ourselves?  Yet then the question is at what cost and at what cost to ourselves and others?

All the Single Ladies (The Extra Woman)

Before picking up this book, I had never heard the name Marjorie Willis and after reading the book, I understood why.  Ms. Hillis is one of those “hidden” historical people that unless you study a particular area and era inside and out, you will never hear of.

I’ve read plenty about the Roaring 20s and the pre-World War II era.  Plenty.  This era of American history fascinates me and in some ways our society today is a lot like it as much as things have changed.  For example, Prohibition is still here except now it is with items such as marijuana and not alcohol.  The effects are similar and at the same time but farther reaching.  This is for another time.  Another example is Wall Street and society was shaken to it’s core again in 2008.  Yet sometimes the question bed, did we really learn?  How much of what we have is still only on paper?

Marjorie Hillis wrote several books, her best known at that time being Live Alone and Like It. Ms. Hillis wrote for the single woman of the 1920’s and managed to sell products, known today as cross-promotion, for major retailers at the same time.  Ms. Hillis managed to ride out the Great Depression and continued writing for many years, even after she married at an older age for the first time.  The author, Joanna Scutts, paraphrases the book and goes into the historical context surrounding Ms. Hillis and her works.

10/10 for helping your mind to bloom.  A must for feminists, Women’s Studies, Jazz Age enthusiasts, and history buffs.

Day 4: Pedal to the Metal

Day 3 I posted an oldie but goodie.  Let me know if you want the link.

For Day 4, another part of what I do is the pedal to the metal, so to speak.  This occurs in many ways, including advocacy for the client’s self and advocacy for client.

People can be their own worst enemies, and this is true for everyone, no matter what walk of life or no matter how popular and outgoing a person is.  If you can’t advocate for yourself, even with a simple “yes”, and/ or advocate for others, it is a necessary skill to have and to build on.

People get aggravated when I ask for a sit down conversation or some kind of face-to-face, even if electronic, meeting.  The more I can talk to you, the better the outcome.  The more I know about you, the more I can help.

Don’t hide yourself away from the world.  The more people know of you and about your skills and talents, the better.  An hour invested in sitting down and talking with someone, even if the business connection doesn’t work out or things take longer than you want, it was worth it.

Never be afraid of putting your pedal to the metal.

 

30 Day Challenge: The Tide is High

A relative of mine has a favorite saying that “water finds its own level”.

Find your tribe and they will find you.  This is true in life and with running a business as well.

I had a 20 minute conversation a few months ago where a potential client wanted to know why they should choose me over one of my competitors.  It was one of the toughest phone calls I’ve ever had as a business person.  Yet in the end, they paid me for the time I spent with them which was above and beyond what I normally do and I was grateful and the 20 minutes was well worth it.

Quick aside: people will call you when you are least ready.  So, always be ready.

One piece of advice I give to business newbies, and I received this as well in the beginning, is don’t feel you have to take every client.  Yes, I made that mistake in the beginning and learned the hard way.  Everyone wants overnight but even after doing this for over 20 years, there are still people out there who don’t know about you and your best friend is word-of-mouth.

And yes, the people who will want to work with you will respond.  So be yourself because phony is exposed really fast.