Deadly Cleaning

In this time of coronavirus, you are being told to disinfect everything except maybe the dog. They say dogs don’t get coronavirus. They say a lot of things. One thing they don’t say often enough is what to use to clean. (Below is a link to a NYT article about which cleaners to use and why. Read it.)

My own cleaning disaster was many years ago when I lived in a very old duplex in Oklahoma City. The house had lots of architectural charm but also boasted a well-used, gray-tinged bathtub that I decided to clean thoroughly. They say suicides often are found nude and I was nude but just because I was home alone and fixing to take a bath. Suicide by bleach and ammonia was not my intention, but that was almost the result. As I was scrubbing away with the bathroom door and window shut, I started to feel queasy, then dizzy, then plague-struck. Close to passing out, I crawled out of the bathroom and lay in the hall wondering what had happened.

It took me a while to figure out what had gone wrong. There was no internet for research in those days and no coronavirus. I thought maybe I had the flu, but my symptoms cleared up as soon as I had fresh air. Eventually, I learned that you are not supposed to mix bleach and ammonia. I have told many people about this deadly cleaning combination. Now, I am telling you. Clean to keep from getting coronavirus, but don’t clean and die.

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Listen and Learn

You asked for advice from a trusted source about how to get a job.  You were given good advice.  You didn’t follow it.  Why?  Because you didn’t really listen and learn.  You turned down your brain as soon as he told you to re-write your resumé.  You really shut down when he mentioned changing your hair or clothes or Instagram.  Maybe you should replay that conversation because last time you checked you didn’t have a job yet.

Your advisor told you to update your resume.  He didn’t mean just change the color.  Get help if necessary, but craft a polished, legible, accurate, scan-worthy, e-mailable, honest, paper-based resumé.  It won’t guarantee a job, but it may get you in the door for an interview.  There are some free sources for resumé-writing assistance, such as a college you recently attended or a literate working friend.  There are also paid services that will analyze or even fully re-write your current resume.  Choose a path and get that resumé redone.

The advice to redo your resumé was not unexpected and you didn’t take it personally as you already knew your paperwork needed an update.  However, you were taken off guard and a tad hurt when your mentor suggested you change your appearance.  You spend a lot of money on your hair and feel that it expresses who you are whether it is green or in dreadlocks or not there on purpose.  One’s hair does usually express a lot about the person wearing it which can be a problem when you are looking for a job.  For instance, you have an interview with a middle-aged woman who has a son with green hair who is also looking for a job.  She has begged her son to change his hair color thinking that it would better his chances for employment.  Now she has a tale to tell him about how she wouldn’t think of hiring a green-haired person like the one she interviewed today.  That would be you. 

Perhaps this green-hair tale is silly, but it has a kernel of truth.  People who interview others for jobs have their own set of biases and whether those biases are illogical or inappropriate is beside the point.  The interviewer’s biases exist and they may interfere with you getting a job.  When you are looking for a job, try to diminish any biases that the interviewer might hold against you, like your hair, the way you dress, even the way you sit.  This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your personality or values, you just have to lessen their possible negative effects while you are job hunting. 

Your advisor was not being overly critical when he gave you advice, so don’t be overly sensitive in considering it.  Turn your brain on.  Review that conversation about what you need to do to improve your chances of getting a job, then do what you were told.  You do want a job, don’t you?

P.S. If you are Billie Eilish and have green hair, then you already have a job.  No problem.  Not Billie?  Read this post again as it might help get you closer to her level.

Work Spouse

First thing: Do not acquire a work spouse. You might think you can handle it, but you won’t be able to and when you figure that out it will be too late.

There is a natural progression in the workplace that can change an innocent friendship into a battle between mutual enemies with one’s livelihood and reputation at stake. Perhaps you have seen this happen, maybe even participated in it yourself. If not, take this as a word to the wise and be aware of what can happen among and between co-workers.

When you have a job, frequently that job causes you to interact with the same people. This is the co-worker stage. As with most human interactions, you will get along better with some of these co-workers than others for a multitude of reasons. The more positive relationships can evolve into the next stage – friends. Male or female, older or younger, black or white or whatever color. At this point, the field is pretty wide open for being friends at work.

Friends often see each other outside of work. Company-sponsored bowling leagues or similar interests such as birdwatching can bring work friends together. Almost anything that co-workers have in common can result in meeting up outside of work which can be just fine. Co-workers can share activities, interests, even family outings, and become good friends.

Going beyond friendship and activities that involve others leads to the stage of companionship. This is where things can start to go sideways. The two of you spend time online with each other. You start having lunch with just the two of you. You may even meet up to have a drink after work. Nothing wrong with any of these activities in and of themselves; they just lead to a slippery slope and perhaps some suspicion from others.

You are halfway down the slope when you become confidantes and start to share things with your companion that you don’t share with others. Confidantes have a special relationship that no one else feels and that relationship tends toward exclusivity. The stage of being confidantes cannot be maintained at work. It can go forward to a sexual relationship or skip that stage altogether and go directly to the final stage – enemy.

If you do proceed to a sexual relationship, then there can be an interlude of excitement, forbidden lust, and even a twinge of love. This stage won’t last long. Someone will find out and it will all be lost. If you do both manage to keep your jobs, you won’t be friends any longer. You won’t be confidantes. You probably won’t be civil to each other if you continue to work together which is doubtful. You will be work enemies, if not personal enemies. Final stage.

To keep off the slippery slope, simply avoid going past the friend stage with co-workers. Keep it simple. Draw a line. Then don’t cross it.

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Therapy I

Therapist:  What will you have written on your tombstone?

Me: Time flies whether you are having fun or not.

Therapist: [snorting] That is a bit cynical, isn’t it?

Me: [silently to my self]  *Well, yeah…but it is true.*

She dissed my epitaph and she took my money.  I smiled but I didn’t return.  I am pissed and I am not cured.

Therapy is not a one-time thing. It is more like chemo without the physical aspects: painful, repetitive, and no guarantee of a cure. The anecdote above is true. I did not return to that therapist, but I have gone to others with varying degrees of success. If you choose to pursue talk therapy, then do it wholeheartedly, but not naively. Attend sessions with a person or group you respect for a specific amount of time, then with a clear head and calm heart assess if the process is helping you or not.

Image credit: Mary Engelbreit

Work Atmosphere

…to a remarkable extent, Google’s workers really do take “Don’t Be Evil” to heart. C-suite meetings have been known to grind to a halt if someone asks, “Wait, is this evil?” To many employees, it’s axiomatic: Facebook is craven, Amazon is aggro, Apple is secretive, and Microsoft is staid, but Google genuinely wants to do good.  (Source:  Nitasha Tiku, “Three Years of Misery Inside Google, the Happiest Company in Tech.” Wired, 8/13/2019.)

Can you define the atmosphere at your workplace in one word?  Okay, try three words.  If you know what the general attitude of your work environment is then you have taken a big step toward controlling your own attitude about work.  Performing successfully at your regular job or jobs goes a long way toward establishing your emotional health.  Showing up several days a week at a place that you subconsciously fear or loathe is not a good thing, emotionally and eventually physically.  If you truly experience fear at your workplace, it is time to change jobs.  Period.  If you hate your job – a common enough situation – then you should take steps to change.  Change jobs.  Change your attitude.  Change your level of performance.  Any one of these changes, some more challenging than others and none necessarily easy, will change the way you feel.

Take the first example: change your job.  This may seem the logical way out of a job you hate, but it may not be the best.  If you are not qualified or experienced in another field, then getting a different job is going to be tough.  If you get a similar job at another company, you may very likely end up disliking it as well because nothing has really changed except the sign above the door.  Review your analysis of the atmosphere at your current workplace.  Can you tell from the outside if the company you are considering moving to has a different atmosphere than the place you are at?  Job-hopping is not always a good solution to get away from work you don’t enjoy.

Second example: change your attitude.  Go back to your description of the atmosphere at the company where you currently work.  Now, do a little soul-searching and find three words that legitimately describe your current attitude toward life outside of work.  Do the words match up or are they distinctly different?  For instance, is your workplace sad or oppressive? Did you describe yourself as depressed?  There is probably a correlation.  Just as if you described your workplace as exciting and your attitude as optimistic.  The point is if there is an association between the attitudes of your work environment and your own attitude when you are not at work and that association trends toward the negative maybe you should work on the part you can control: your attitude. Make an effort to change your attitude about your job for one month.  Not the month in which you take a vacation or the most stressful work month of the year, like when the books close, the big show is scheduled, a new model is being released, or when the annual report is due – choose a regular depressing month at work.  Decide that you will make one beneficial, worthwhile contribution every day at work whether it is only saying or doing positive things in the break room, putting up some new photos or inspirational posters in your cubicle, helping the new hire navigate the system (whether this is in your job description or not), or even taking a walk at lunch instead of going to the same old deli with the same old co-workers and complaining about the same old things.  At the end of the month, be honest with yourself.  Did you make a valid and consistent effort to change your attitude?   Has your attitude toward your job changed?  If yes, you might try doing it for another month.  If no, you might try looking for another job or try number three.

The third example is similar to but not the same as the second: change your level of performance.  Again, choose a month in which to ascertain your success or lack of it.  Then go over your job duties, hopefully you have a written list of tasks you are supposed to perform.  You may even have scheduled goals for those tasks – daily, weekly, whatever.  If you have a performance checklist that your supervisor keeps, then this will be easy.  See where you get stars and where you get frownie faces.  Work on eliminating the frownie faces.  If you don’t have a performance checklist, then make your own.  Determine what you should accomplish at work each day/week and then keep track.  Obviously, the goal is to do all that is required of you competently and on time.  If you don’t do that, give yourself a frownie face.  The goal is to raise your level of performance as an evaluation tool for yourself.  Assuming you succeed in improving your work efforts, do a reevaluation of your attitude about your job.  Again, there may be a correlation.

Finally, if you have made a deliberate effort toward making one or all of these changes, do another evaluation of your work atmosphere.  What three words come to mind now?

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Name Day

I named this blog Maturation because it was the only word that I could afford that fit the situation. Maturation is a rather unattractive word for a sometimes unattractive experience but one that comes along regardless. You can’t stop maturation unless you commit suicide, have that Benjamin Button disease, or just stop trying to grow up and then no one will like you.

I wanted to name this blog “growing”, but that name was taken. (*Warning: that site is fake and will probably give your device a serious cold if not an all-out virus along with a free iPhone).

Back to the site name: I also tried to name the site “”, however that name is for sale for only 10,000 euros. Didn’t happen. Other synonyms for maturation include blossoming, flowering, ripening…none of which seemed to convey my meaning plus they sounded a bit fruity if not overtly sexual. Not what I was aiming for.

So I ended up with Still not what I want, but I can’t change it until September 30. Bear with me and just sign up for posts to be sent to you because the current name is a pain to remember and to type in.

*You were warned, but you tried it anyway…

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