Sunday, May 4, 2008

Are You An Invasive Species?

by Caren Crane

The old adage "bloom where you're planted" has its uses. I've used it on myself and to help friends at certain times. It can help someone accept a situation that is necessary, but maybe unpalatable. Like, for instance, a Dreaded Day Job (DDJ).

There is also a problem where I live - and probably where you live, too - with "invasive species". Plants or animals that are not indigenous to an area, but were imported. Usually, the results are unintended and disastrous for the native flora or fauna.

I've had a DDJ where I turned out to be an "invasive species". Let's call the employer "Company X". This DDJ was one I took because I had a family to support and needed medical insurance. Despite my best efforts to assimilate, it simply didn't happen there. I did my best to suck it up and play their game, their way. But for ethical reasons, I felt compelled to speak out about certain business practices at the company. I was an invasive species. For their own reasons, management decided I would never be happy there and excused me from employment. I wasn't sad about it. *g*

You see, I had already decided I was not a native plant in their shady garden. I required sunny, ethically sound soil in order to bloom. They got rid of me, but I had already decided that was not a place where I could grow and thrive. BUT, I had learned things there. Valuable things. The sort of things that made me ideally suited for the job I secured two weeks after Company X and I parted ways.

But sometimes you find out something more hurtful than simple incompatibility. You take a job or position thinking it will be perfect - a most natural environment for you. Then, after weeks or months of heartbreaking disillusionment, you find out things are not as they seemed from a distance. Despite thinking you were naturally-occurring flora in a veritable Garden Of Eden, you find out you are, despite your hopes and dreams, an invasive species there.

I sometimes feel like I didn't try hard enough at the Company X. That somehow, I should have been able to straighten things out there. But then, in my more philosophical moments, I realize that invasive species are only invasive when they are where they should not be. Plant them where they are meant to be and they thrive!

Have you ever decided there was a situation where it was in no one's best interest if you stayed? Ever left a place for greener pastures and found out they weren't all that green once you got there? In either case, how did things turn out? Were you really the invasive species you thought or did you deny some garden a reluctant, but potentially beautiful, bloom?


jo robertson said...

Love your topic, Caren, and especially your creative way of saying "excused from employment."

I'm sort of a chameleon; I seem to absorb the natural flora and fauna of wherever I go. I'm not sure that's a good thing, however.

There's one exception. I worked in a high-priced jewelry store once and hated every minute of it. Guess I'm not a bling sort of girl. That lasted about six months.

However, I do think highly creative folks "march to the beat of a different drummer" and often find themselves out of step with everyone else -- the invasive species, so to speak.

jo robertson said...

Hehehehehe, GR is gonna swim tomorrow with our temps in the eighties. Picture him with shades and a pina colada, lollygagging on a chaise by the pool.

Uh, not MY pool, my son's.

Come to me little bebe rooster.

jo robertson said...

Uh, I should confess that I posted Caren's blog and so had a distinct advantage for capturing the GR.

Hanging head in shame.

flchen1 said...


Well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do :) Glad the GR's getting a chance to lollygag by the kiddie pool ;p

Anyway, a very interesting topic, Caren! I'm trying to think back and recall whether I've had this experience... I think I'm a bit like Jo in terms of work experiences--I've sort of managed to make do somehow in the places I've been. Not sure if that's necessarily a plus ;)

One place I've always felt out of place though is playing sports of just about any kind--it isn't so much being made to feel unwelcome (although that's happened occasionally). It's that I didn't really have much of a sports background, and then by the time I was forced to participate in school, nearly all the other kids already knew how to play and I never got over that awkward feeling of incompetence, holding the bat completely wrong and just waiting for for that slow pitch to float towards me as I stared out at the outfielders all bunched up in the infield...

Ugh! Sorry for the tangent! Back to your regularly scheduled programming!

limecello said...

LOL Jo, you not only got the first, you got the first three!
Caren, this was a great blog. I haven't had many [or any? *knock on wood*] problems with jobs. Then again, I've always been a temp or part time. So I've got ample time for a sticky situation in my future.
I have, however, had such experiences in the past with organizations/groups. I've had to make some tough decisions - some that made people mad and hurt or affected not only myself but others, but it had to be done. I've had a "excused from" experience [outside of work again] - that shouldn't have happened, and I'm still not 100% over it. :X

Carol said...

Hi to everyone...

Well!...insider trading on that birdy eh! LOL

I've done a bit of housecleaning for different ladies in my time!
and had to "excuse myself" from a couple of them!
Generally the ladies are wonderful...but a couple have been either "snobs or slobs".

Cheers to all.

Margay said...

When my girls were in grade school, I worked as a paralegal for a real estate law firm, which I had believed was going to be the job of my dreams. It started out as a three-titled law firm, then a two-titled, then suddenly, only one. It didn't take long to realize that the reason the other partners dropped out was that they couldn't work with the woman who owned the business - and neither could I. So I found a job in an insurance company, one I had always wanted to work at because a friend did and I'd heard great things about it. Sure, maybe if you're very high up on the food chain there. Me, I was just plankton and before I could be devoured by the bigger fish, I left. I ended up working at a computer start-up that my brother-in-law told me about (he worked there, too) and it was the job I always wanted. I loved it there. But then 9/11 happened and the company started laying off staff. I was in the first round to go. But it was a great experience while I had it.

Helen said...

Good work Jo he is going to love the pool have fun with him

Great post Caren I actually haven't had many jobs only two the first one in a bank when first left school and I always enjoyed that except for one boss we had for a while and he soon got transfered then 10 years at home with the children and where I work now I started there washing dishes and have worked my way up to cash centre superviser I have been there 18 years and our dept is great and I just go with the flow because I am easy going and I like peace but I do enjoy the work I do and the people I work with are great. I don't think I have felt like an invasive species but there have been a lot of people come thru that have felt like that and end up leaving.
Have Fun

Caren Crane said...

Jo, congrats on the GR and thank you for posting for me!

I think there's something to being adaptable. It certainly makes life easier. And honestly, I've worked retail, fast food, as a waitress, as tech support for customer service - lots of challenging jobs. Never had a problem.

I never thought I would work at a place where I had an ethical problem with the company. Just goes to show, you can't tell what will happen.

I don't think I would have been comfortable in a high-end jewelry store either, Jo. Those place make me feel awkward when I'm trying to BUY something, much less having to put on their cloak of snootiness. *g*

I hope you and the GR have fun at the pool. Watch him, though, because he likes to wait until you're dozing in your lounge chair and then splash you. Naughty bird!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Fedora, I know this sports phenom of which you speak. Whenever I was up at softball or kickball, the pitcher would signal everyone to move in from the outfield. *g* Sports are not my thing!

Well, none of the ones that require hand/eye coordination. I enjoy things like kayaking, hiking, windsurfing. You know, solitary endeavors that have no objects hurtling at your head!

I admire people with athletic ability, but don't think everyone needs to have it. After all, someone has to cheer them on, right? Go, invasive species! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Limecello, I know that of which you speak. I have never feel more like an outsider than in some of the school groups I've tried to join. PTA was one where I had to just realize I would never, ever fit in. But hey, I'm a great media center volunteer. *g*

Even Girl Scouts, which I LOVE and have done for 10 years now, is kind of a stay-at-home moms club. They will have required trainings that are only offered on, say, Tuesday morning. Huh? So, working moms need not apply?

I have often felt out-of-step as a mother who works full time and feels no need to apologize for it. I would not be a good SAHM!

Caren Crane said...

Carol, I can only imagine what you have run into! I have someone come in once every two weeks and we try so hard to make sure things are put away and not out of control when she gets here. You know, so she can do her job! *g*

I also have to say that since she's only here every two weeks, I do lots of interim cleaning. But I've known people who have a cleaning service who do NOTHING to their homes. They figure they are paying someone to clean, so they do nothing themselves. Eew!

My oldest sister cleaned houses for a while and she said there is a night-and-day difference between the clean folks and the "it's your job" folks. I am not surprised to hear you had to excuse yourself from a few households!

I do love to use the "excused from employment" phrase. Because really, it's not like I loved that job and was longing to stay. Those people were slimy! Plus, they gave me severance pay. What does that tell you about them?

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Margay, it must have been horrible to find out your greener pasture was full of cow patties! It's amazing how great they can make a job seem before you take it. I'm often surprised to read job descriptions for positions at my current employer. Man, those jobs sound awesome - until you realize exactly what they are. *g*

It's great you had your dream job for a little while. I had a job I adored when I worked as a support engineer for customer service. I loved the CSRs I worked with and the job, though demanding, was interesting and fun. Unfortunately, it was a limited-time position and I was eventually rotated out to a job I despised. But it was nice while it lasted!

Caren Crane said...

Helen, you have bloomed where you were planted. I think it's great you have grown into your current position. Isn't that a wonderful feeling?

It's interesting, too, how you can sometimes tell with new employees that they simply will not work out. Sometimes we have people come into our department and we can tell in the first few days that they will not be happy with what they are doing. Usually, they are overqualified and simply mark time with us until they can post out. Best for them to move where they want to be and give us a hiring do-over.

I have to say, I love the job I have now. Well, as much as I can love any job. Great co-workers, interesting diversity of things to do and no micro-management. Plus, the company is ethically sound! What's not to love?

Caren Crane said...

Ooh, I have to run off and get ready for church. I'll see you guys after!

Joan said... rascal you!

I guess I've bloomed where I've been planted....probably because of all the MANURE that's been thrown on me over the years.

I confess I've been at the same garden for all of my professional life. By the time I thought I might look at something else I was chained by "benefits of established employeement".

It's a choice, I know and I've had a few managers over the years who tried to weed my invasive roots out but I'm stubborn. They are gone. I am not.

But in a moment I will be looking at my lottery numbers. Then they can say "goodbye kudzu!"

Anonymous said...

Verra interesting topic, Caren! I never really thought about it that way! I have only had one really horrible job experience. It was my first waitressing job, at a hotel restaurant, and everything about it felt wrong. The staff was mean, the guests were mean, I got hit on by the cleaning staff, and there was this really odd transvestite guy in the midst of a sex change in the kitchen who made weird comments and leered at me. Then on MLK Jr day, I overheard some of the managers making racist comments. I wish I could say it was purely my ethical backbone that made me quit, but really, it just felt like a relief to have something I could put my finger on, some tangible reason to quit. So I did. Walked out less than two weeks on the job. I felt really terrible about it, actually, because I'd never quit a job before, but it was definitely for the best.

Fedora, I am totally with you on the sports thing. My husband is mystified by this. I have no interest in sport, no skill at sports, and even when my adorable kids are on the field I have a hard time forcing myself to sit through games. Isn't that horrible?

margay, I've known a few law firms like that, and they usually implode after a few years. I'm glad you made it out alive!

jo robertson said...

I KNOW!! Limecello, I kept posting hoping someone would jump it, but no luck. Hmmm, maybe our readers are having too much Saturday night fun?

Kirsten and flchen1, you are my new best friends. I too hate all the sports hoopla. I go to Sydney's soccer and t-ball games because (1) she's a girl and (2) she's a monkey-girl and the best girl athlete I've ever seen. But that's it!!!

Oh, man, it's church day. Thanks for reminding me Caren. Hmm, wonder if my daughters are singing at their church? Maybe I'll go there today.

flchen1 said...

Let's hear it for the cheering section! So true, Caren--we can't all be the star athletes! ;) (Yes, if balls are involved, I'm pretty sure I'm one of them is going to connect at some point to my head--and no, I've never played soccer...)

Kirsten, I'm not sure if our kids are possibly doubly cursed--my husband isn't exactly gifted in the sports arena either... We're encouraging our kids to at least try stuff right now in hopes that they won't have similar hang-ups ;)

doglady said...

Hey, all is fair in love, war and wooster nabbing! After the Derby I am sure he could use a little pool time. I was so terribly saddened to hear about Eight Belles. What a tragic waste.

Put me in the non-athletic club, ladies! Unless the sport is conducted on horseback. I was a pretty good player on our intramural field hockey team. I think it was my Native American background coming out as if you put a stick in my hand and tell me to go after someone I am pretty good! But for softball, football and other athletic endeavors forget it. And things like skating? Do the words HOG ON ICE mean anything to you?

I really related to this post, Caren. After I retired from singing and my husband died, necessity forced me to take a number of jobs where I KNEW I was the invasive species. The bad thing is, I am one of these people who can do a great efficient job in something I hate, at least for a while. And that damned work ethic my father drilled into my two brothers and me makes me an employer's dream. I am always on time and will work sick. I hardly EVER call in sick. I once walked eight miles to work, got up two hours early to do so because my car had died the day before.

I have left three jobs for ethical reasons. One in which I kept the legitimate books and another girl kept the "other" set of books. When I found out what was going on I left. Two weeks later the IRS locked the doors.

The next ethical dilemma came when the son of a MAJOR businessman in a Mississippi town was under investigation for a big drug importation. My boss wanted me to say Sonny boy had never come to the office and that he (my boss) had never been to the local airport. I turned in my resignation that day. Fortunately they never subpoenaed me. A year later my former boss went to prison for conspiracy to import a huge amount of cocaine thru the local county airport.

I think the worst part of being the invasive species is being made to feel YOU are the strange one. At my current job I get all kinds of comments about my education, my travel experience, my writing AND the fact that I READ during my breaks and lunch. I refuse to dumb down my vocabulary to communicate with my coworkers. I don't use "big words" to put on airs. I use them because that is the way I talk. I worked hard to become who I am. I was lucky in that my parents ALWAYS expected us to learn everything we can. I was lucky as a child and later as an adult to travel the world, to see other cultures and to learn to respect those cultures. I hear people condemn all Muslims because of the actions of some fanatics and it makes me see red. I hear ignorant and racist remarks - by people of ALL colors, not just white people and I shake my head.

Then there are a few people who say "What are doing working at Wal-Mart? You're too smart for this." I'm doing what everyone else does. I am making a living. Even smart people have to eat! And smart people with a herd of dogs had better bring home some dog food!

Oh and I did try teaching for over five years. Turns out I was an invasive species there too. I expected my students (high school and college) to apply themselves and to see the importance of education. I expected it of their parents too. The kids weren't the problem. The parents were.

Christie Kelley said...

Well I had a nice comment to add here but my wireless decided to disconnect just as I was signing in.

I definitely have experienced both situations at work. I had to leave one company because they were closing their operations center. I hated to leave because I was thriving there, loved the culture, the people, even the product.

I left to go to another company in the same type of field, similar type of company. Oh man, was I an invasive species. This was a WMD company. And by that I mean white male dominated, not weapons of mass destruction. Funny how the acronym is the same. I actually lasted seven years there and hated almost every minute of it.

Interestingly, my husband started at the same company a month after I'd started and while he didn't love it, his career thrived there. Must be the WMD thing :)

Terry Odell said...

First: I saw this post and was immediately reminded of our tour guide in South Africa who kept calling local flora "Alien Trees" to the point that we were ready to try to get them all green cards (no pun intended). However, I looked it up, and it's a legitmate expression.

Onto your subject matter...
I'm never invasive ... I never seem to fit in well enough to 'invade'. I tend to sit on the outskirts of all the sub-cliques, even when I officially "join" a group.

Maybe that's why I'm enjoying the more solitary life as a writer.

Terry Odell said...

Oops -- realize I didn't clarify -- the "Alien Trees" were those plants that weren't native to the country, just in case it wasn't clear enough in my post.

Caren Crane said...

Joan, you and Helen are truly examples of blooming where you are planted. You realize, of course, that these days it is almost unheard of for people to stick at the same company throughout their career!

These days, kids graduating from college expect to only be at a job for a few years. Like, five years max. It is true in many fields that the only way to move up is to switch companies.

You, Joan, are an exception in that you have managed to stay at the same place and advance up the ladder.

I think those people you outlasted were the invasive species, not you! You are the one showing up and tilling the soil every spring. Guess that means you'll get to enjoy the benefits of the harvest. Or the pension plan. Whatever. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Kirsten, I'm proud of you for lasting two weeks in that environment! I know what you mean about quitting, though. It's so against my nature! I think that's why I had stuck with my horrible job for 8 months. Well, that and health insurance. *g*

And YEAH on joining me and Fedora in the cheering section! The most onerous task for me as a mother so far was suffering through 4 seasons of soccer with my son. Maybe it was 5 - it's all a blur now. I HATED going to games. I detested the screaming, fanatical sidelines coaching (from obviously-athletic parents). I tried hard to be a good soccer mom but it was NOT ME AT ALL.

The happiest day of my life was when my son told me he didn't want to be signed up for soccer when the new season rolled around. It still gives me a thrill to think about it!

Caren Crane said...

Jo, join us in the bleachers! We may not watch the game at all, but just have a picnic or something and talk. *g*

So far: Caren, Fedora, Kirsten and Jo. Anyone else joining in?

Caren Crane said...

Joan, I meant to say you can't possibly win the Powerball from yesterday, because I'm sure my lottery pool at work has snagged this. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Fedora, my children are doubly cursed as well! My husband and I enjoy and do well at things like rock climbing, rappelling, kayaking. He is a little more coordinated than I am with balls, but not much.

Astonishingly, our daughters both play on the church girls' basketball team. They are not star players, but do lots better than I expected. They seem to really enjoy it, so good on them! Maybe they won't have the sports-phobia I have. *g*

I'm sure your kids will love sports as something fun to do. Don't you think there are a lot more opportunities these days for kids to play in non-competitive leagues? I am always astonished at the rec league teams we have. When I was in elementary school, it was like you had to be born with a ball in your hand to do anything. There was no chance to play and simply LEARN the game and the techniques. Good for our kids!

Caren Crane said...

Wow, doglady, you have had some real opportunities to be glad you were not like those around you! What an incredible challenge for you.

I think it would be quite hard to have a set of accomplishments like yours and be content with a small life in a small town. A sad fact for many of us, regardless of where we live, is that when you get outside the city, not only the towns but often the tolerances get smaller.

It's astonishing, really, to hear people speaking about things or people (or religions or nationalities) with overt prejudice. But it happens every day. I'm sure you get to hear quite a bit, given your employer and the attendant customers.

God must think you capable of being a great change agent to place you in such circumstances. I can't wait to hear what change you have wrought at Wal-Mart!

Caren Crane said...

Christie, I would love to think that the WMD is a thing of the past. Truth be told, the company I work for has quite a bit of GOB (good ole boy) politics going on. That is still pretty prevalent in the South. Most executives are men and the men all play golf together and deals are made on the golf course. That sort of thing. It's not overt, but it's there.

When I started in engineering in 1990, that field was still getting used to accommodating women. I worked with some men whose language was incredibly offensive. But, they were basically nice guys. I grew up surrounded by super-macho GOBs, so these guys didn't bother me. Still, it was a stressor I didn't appreciate until things really DID change (when I moved to another department) and it was gone.

Though I was still at the same company, it was like night and day!

Like you said about your husband, there were men who started the same time I did who positively THRIVED there. It was primarily because they were male. The women, blacks, and Asian Indians I worked with were not given the same salary increases or promotions. Sad but true!

Caren Crane said...

Terry, you have found a way to be like the Gamma girls described in "Queen Bees and Wannabes". The ones who "float" between social groups, never joining, but able to get along.

That is a great way to be! No matter how the wind blows or what happens, you can be okay because you're not vested in what happens.

Can you think of a position where you would be deliriously happy and totally engaged?

I swear, if someone would send me to Fiji to check out resorts, I would be insanely happy to do that work!

Terry Odell said...

Caren - after spending the last decade or two working my way DOWN the career ladder, I'm not sure a 'job' would make me delirioulsy happy -- although yeah, I could handle checking out cruise ships, I think.

I also do volunteer work for our local Adult Literacy League, which is tremendously rewarding.

But since I've only recently taken up writing, I think I'm more than happy learning the craft and spending quality time with my characters.

terrio said...

I never heard "bloom where you're planted" until I lived in Arkansas. And I was definitely not indigenous to that area. I made the most of it for as long as I could but found a way out in '04 and took it.

It wasn't easy for the first year and a half or so, but I've found my garden. And it's even better for being so hard won.

Great blog, Caren and rooster-napping is so beneath you, Jo. LOL!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


*AHEM* all you have never been "invasive species," that is because Aunty has made a life long occupation of being one! LOL! I can think of four or five instances off the top of my head where I was "excused from employment" because I a) questioned why things were being done the way they were, b) I did not "fit in" c) BOTH! I'm sure I could think of more instances if I tried. :-P

I guess "working for the man" was never my strong point. And speaking of WMD and GOB, both are still very much alive and thriving in state government (probably every other government level too). One of the most successful women I knew personally in state government, only started moving up the ranks AFTER she took up golf! Something that would never work for a non-athletic, sitting in the bleachers with the rest of you, kind of person like me!

LOL, Terry about the "Alien Trees!" We heard a similar lecture from a park ranger on Oahu, but guess where the trees she esp. hated came from? Yup, South Africa!

Jane said...

There was a time or two where I quit a job even though I didn't have another lined up. In one instance, I got along with my coworkers, but I hated the job, which was stressful and I just couldn't take it anymore. I often wonder if I made a mistake leaving, but then I remind myself that I would have lost my sanity if I stayed.

Trish Milburn said...

I have to admit that the place I've always felt out of place is at bars. I mean, it's okay in hotel bars at conferences when I'm hanging out with friends, but when I was younger and going out. All my friends drank, but I never did, so I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Donna MacMeans said...

Fun post Caren! I guess I tend to be the weed that grows on people as I've never felt that out of place in an employment situation.

I was definitely the invasive species though when my family moved from Maryland to Ohio. I was in the Sixth grade at the time and it seems all those kids grew up together. They all had elementary memories together. I was different. I didn't even talk like them, nor did I know the first thing about Indians (apparently Ohio history taught in elementary school is serious about their Indians). Eventually I connected with other invasive species - other kids that moved into the area - and we formed our own little weed patch.

Anna Campbell said...

Ah, the invasive species! Sadly I have been that more often than not. I tend to do things my way and it's often a way that achieves the results I want but it doesn't make sense to people around me. I have had SOOOO many jobs, especially when I was younger. But one great side effect of it all is that I got to meet a lot of people from different backgrounds and learn about a lot of different things. It's all stood me in good stead when I'm writing. Yeah, I haven't experienced the Regency personally but with so many varied work experiences, I certainly have circumstantial experience that I can transfer back to a historical context. It's really funny - I've had a friend up visiting for the weekend and both of us were talking yesterday about how tough it would be to go back to a dreaded day job (she's been away from a DDJ for about ten years and I'm into my fourth year). Both of us have settled into our eccentric ways of doing things that very much suit us, but oh, mamma, if we had to fit in with a boss again, it would kill us!

Caren Crane said...

Terry, we obviously need to team up and begin total domination of the travel writer market. *g*

Really, I am one of the least ambitious people ever when it comes to "careers". I go into every annual performance review praying they won't ask me, "Where do see yourself in five years?" The answer is always, "Writing books full time so I don't have to come in here anymore." SO not the answer managers are looking for!

I'm not sure why we buy into the whole "onward, upward, more" thing we are sold. Isn't it enough to do a job to the best of your ability and pursue your passions in your off hours?

It sounds like you enjoy your work with the literacy organization. I imagine that is very fulfilling. I hope someday to get to do that, too. When the kids are grown, of course, and I am no longer on perennial taxi duty. *g*

Caren Crane said...

Terrio, I'm so happy you found your Laughing Place! (Remember that from the politically incorrect 'Song Of the South'?) Yes, the bloom where you're planted thing sometimes is good advice and sometimes makes you wish someone would come down your row with a bottle of Spectracide! *g*

Even with the ethical problems in my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad job, there were things I enjoyed (the delightful customers) and invaluable work I did for them (documenting their completely-undocumented programs and creating user guides). I felt good about that work when I left. Plus, to do it I used tools that proved important in the job I have now. So, the bad times had a point to them and I can say I am glad I was there.

Caren Crane said...

AC, welcome to the bleachers! Since you're joining us, I suppose we must have daiquiris now. *g*

I find I am NOT shocked nor appalled to find you have been 'excused from employment' Aunty. I, too, find working for The Man taxing. I have never worked for state government, but I have a friend who does in Nashville. She says it is the most frustrating, boring position she has ever had. But, like Joan found, the benefits quickly become too good to leave. Yes, the WMD and GOB network are in full play there!

I suppose it's a good thing I have no ambition for the DDJ, because even if I took up golf, it would only be dangerous for other players and hapless bystanders and would, doubtless, be detrimental to my career. Never underestimate how BAD I am at sports!

Caren Crane said...

Jane, self-preservation is definitely the way to go! I tell you, when you find yourself in the wrong pasture (say, the one with the rampaging bull), your best bet is always to GET OUT, even if there is no safety net. Good on you for being brave enough to save yourself!

Have you found a green pasture now or are you still looking? What would be the ultimate sort of happy work environment for you?

Caren Crane said...

Trish, I think it's rare for young people to know themselves so well. Good job being true to yourself! I felt far too at home in bars, yet not at all at home at the PTA meeting. I'm sure this points to a huge and gaping deficit in my character, but have learned to accept it. *g*

Actually, the place where I always felt MOST at home was in a library - any library. I inhale the slightly musty smell of books and feel steeped in tranquility. I seriously considered studying library science until I worked in the college library for a couple of years. I figured out being a librarian apparently required a certain gravitas I seriously lacked. So, sadly, no library studies for me!

I could have ROCKED the library.

Nancy said...

Congrats to Jo on landing the GR. Consider it your reward for posting. Of course, now that I know that's "in bounds," as it were . . .

Have fun in that nice swimming weather!

Caren, I was an invasive species in my first "real" job. I just didn't fit there, and it was a small operation, which made the not fitting harder. I left after 8 months. The last DDJ I had before teaching was a "greener pastures" issue. The job wasn't what I'd thought it would be. Though I lasted almost 2 years, hoping that time and traction would build up the kind of opportunities I wanted, the grass never did become as green as I'd hoped. I finally realized it was never going to unless I wanted to make a part-time job a more-than-full-time job, and not wanting one of those was the reason I was working part-time anyway.

The teaching, for me, is a fairly green pasture. I just occasionally have to step around weed clumps. Or cow patties, if we're using the pasture analogy.

Carol and Caren, my sister-in-law worked as a cleaner for a while. The job provided her with a very close and not always flattering view of what people were really like.

Margay, I love your plankton and fish analogy! I hope you've found another job that works out as well as the one that didn't last.

Limecello, sorry for the lastest "excuse." I hope the next experience is better.

Fedora, your experience with softball tracks mine with a game I still consider horrendous, "newcomb," and with soccer. If you have bad hand/eye and worse foot/eye coordination, soccer is not the game for you. Wearing the scoliosis brace at least got me out of PE and saved me from the soccer field.

Caren, after I became a SAHM, I admired the moms who took their lunch hours to come to school and help ice cupcakes or set out drink cups or whatever. Since the boy got big, I'm not good at being a SAHM, though, unless I'm writing. Otherwise, since cleaning's not my thing, I become bored rapidly. Even reading doesn't fill enough time. So you'd think my page output would be higher. Hmm. It must be the teaching.

Kirsten, I think waitressing must be one of the hardest jobs in the universe. I put all the "working directly with the public" jobs in that slot. One summer at an amusement park and one as a temp convinced me that I did not want one of those jobs and would not be good at it.

Pam, I'm glad you squeaked out of the spot with no serious trouble. How unpleasant!

Helen, it's great that you have a spot that suits you so well.

Caren Crane said...

Donna, that's awesome that you banded together with the other invasive species! If you can't join 'em, beat 'em, I always say. *g* Really, though, there is no choice when you are the "outsider" in a clannish community.

I think many of us know a community of this sort. The kind where even after you live there for 47 years, you're an "outsider". Fortunately, I live in an area known for its mixing and mingling of people from all over the country and the world. In our little part of NC, we are quite a melting pot. My husband is an NC native and its sort of an oddity in our little area. But get thirty miles out of the city limits and we would be outsiders for life - who talk funny. Communities are strange and unknowable things!

I'm glad you found a group to hang with, Donna. Imagine if you had been the only one! You would have been that girl who talked back to the voices in her head. I'm afraid no amount of knowledge about Indians would help that!

Caren Crane said...

Anna, you tapped my secret fear! I'm afraid that when I start to write full time, it may not last forever. If I had to go back to a DDJ after that, I think it would kill my artistic soul! (How's that for worrying about the ending of something that hasn't even started yet?)

For 20 blissful months, I worked part time. I worked 25 hours a week and still accrued vacation and had benefits. I negotiated it and it was Heaven! I went in at 6:00 and left at 11:00. I had time to grocery shop, cook, clean and write before the kids got home from school (but still got to talk to adults). Heaven!

Then my husband was laid off and I had to go back to work full time. I swear, I went through the full grieving process for the life I left behind. It still makes me sad to remember! But the full-time job I went to was the one I adored as tech support for Customer Service.

So, the door closed, but the window opened. I never could have predicted that!

Caren Crane said...

Nancy, I loved it when I was working part time and got to be a helper in the Media Center. Again, a LIBRARY! I also volunteered in the Media Center at the middle school when I was laid off from my engineering job. The librarians and I were all so sad when I had to go work the DDJ!

I dream of being at a place in my life where I can go shelve books for fun again. *g*

Nancy, I was the world's WORST waitress. I can do many things well, but waiting tables is not one of them. I was, however, always great as the drive-thru cashier. Back in the day, it was pretty much a one-woman show (unlike today when one person takes orders, one takes money, one fills orders). They only put the best cashiers on drive-thru. It was challenging, fast and fun! Even the cranky people were fun. I have no idea WHY that was fun for me, but it was.

I also loved working the circulation desk at the library. I took evil pleasure from telling people they owed fines and couldn't graduate until they paid. Bwahaha!

Caren Crane said...

Terrio, I saw your post from yesterday saying you are working on you business degree. Bravo! Any idea what sort of business you want to go into? I think having, you know, ambition is very cool!

I also saw Susan Seyfarth talked yesterday about being the rudderless third child. Um...that was me, too. *g*

terrio said...

Caren - I work in contracting right now and it's nice because it pays well, but I'm a planner/organizer kind of person. Not that you'd know that to look at my house, but we won't mention that.

I really would like to go back to some management position that has something to do with music or stage or something artistic like that. I'm like the linear, non-artistic mind behind pulling off something artistic. Does that make sense?

Christine Wells said...

Caren, I feel your pain on that one and knowing you, I think you would have had a darned good go at making things work at the Shady Dan.

One of my first jobs as a student was at a relatively exclusive clothes store. I was enthusiastic and willing, but I couldn't quite reach the fever pitch of excitement the other girls had over the clothes. Every time a new range came in, the manager would take us through everything, explaining the fabric, the cut, what went with what, etc. The others would rhapsodise over it all as if it were Christian Dior haute couture when, yanno, it was just a pair of wool slacks. Then they kept asking me to work a couple of hours at a time on the other side of town during exams and were horrified when I finally explained to them that getting good grades in my law degree was more important to me than wool slacks. They didn't call again and I got a job as a research assistant which suited me a lot better. I can see their point. There were hundreds of students panting to work for them, so they didn't need me. And we were never going to see eye to eye on those slacks.

Anonymous said...

Trish, I'm totally with you on the discomfort in the bar. Not only do I not drink, I also have asthma, so I cough whenever I am around cigarette smoke. And to top it off I have always been an early-riser, without much stomach for late nights.

Makes for one big nerd in high school and college.

doglady said...

You know that old prayer "Dear God, Let me show you that winning the lottery will not ruin me." ?

My prayer is "Dear God, Let me show you that leaving Wal-Mart and writing full-time for a living will not ruin me!"

A degree in library science might be one of the few reasons I would dive back into academia full-time. And I would only do it so I could have a job more conducive to writing.

I got out of veterinary technician work after five years because I could not take stupid, careless, unconcerned owners any more. I worked in the animal emergency clinic and I got to see so many injuries that were the result of owners' stupidity. If you own a dog or cat you need a fenced in yard or you need to keep the animal inside. Period. So many times owners would hear how much it would cost to take care of survival injuries and say "Put him down. I can go to the pound and get another one." There is no polite way to say it. It just pissed me off. I can't tell you how many times I called around after these heartless people left and got someone to pay the bill so the animal could be saved and then called all my animal rescue friends to find a home for the animal. There was one vet I worked with who ALWAYS did whatever he could to save a dog or cat after the owners had just dumped it. Sometimes I saw the good side of people, not often. When people would call relatives for money or max out credit cards or do anything to pay for their animal's medical care. After a while the bad ones outnumbered the good and I had to quit.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hi, Caren! You always have the most interesting topics!

I really can't say I've ever had a job where I was simply unable to endure the corporate or social culture. No skill of mine--just lucky.

However, I will offer up this: You know how in Jr. High we all longed to be part of the in crowd? The cool kids? The rich kids? The good looking and/or athletically talented? As my life meanders along, every now & then I actually find myself hanging out with those kids. And you know what? I almost always, to borrow your wonderful phrase, excuse myself from their company. Because I find I don't like those kids, not even now that we're all grown ups. People who haven't ever been outsiders just don't interest me that much. Being "outside" even temporarily seems to leave a mark. A depth of character. An deep empathy for the underdog. A really gorgeous sense of humor. People who haven't been *that kid* just don't have it. And that makes them a little, well, boring.

Isn't it funny how life turns around? :-)

Caren Crane said...

Terrio, did you say you were a DJ at one point? Surely you could parlay that into some sort of music-related business thingy. (See how much I know?) I think it would be great to be the backbone of a successful artistic endeavor, making things happen behind the scenes.

Hey, maybe you can working in management for a publishing company and be our ambassador for them making decisions that make sense to us! *g*

Caren Crane said...

Christine, your story about the clothing store really hit with me. I, too, worked at a clothing store (not high end AT ALL, just basic mall stuff) while in college. The other girls were baffled that I was studying engineering. If they were in school, they were studying things like business and education. You know, suitable things for a young woman who fully intended to get married and quit work to be a SAHM.

Hm. Yeah, not me. I think any sort of real interest in grades or education falls a bit flat with the "in crowd". I'm sure those girls who worked at the shop own many pairs of nicely cut wool trousers now! But you have a law degree. *eg*

Caren Crane said...

Kirsten, never fear! I inhaled enough smoke and closed enough bars for the both of us. Which really gained me nothing except some interesting memories and a few great stories. I'm glad I did it, though, or I might be having some real mid-life crisis. I know myself well enough to know that I needed a bit of wildness when I was young!

Dang, I'm glad I did it then and not NOW when 10:00 is seriously bedtime!

bamabelle said...

I've worked a few jobs in the past where I was an invasive species lol. I tried to make nice with the natives for as long as possible, and eventually found a more fertile planting ground. Like you said, we learn from everything we live through. I guess kind of like plants, all the um, fertilizer that happens makes us grow stronger. :)

Caren Crane said...

Oh, doglady, I'm sure your prayers will be answered. In time. Maybe not your time, but time. At least that's what I keep telling myself!

I realized that as of last month, I've now been writing for seven years. Seven. That's a long time and a lot of books! Nothing to do but keep going and trust that eventually things will happen for me as they're supposed to. I know they will!

Isn't working in veterinary medicine depressing? I always admired my father's ability to take people's horribleness in stride. I'm sure I would not have been as tolerant. It's good that you removed yourself from it or it might have done a number on your ability to create happy endings. We are glad you started writing so we can read your happy endings one of these days!

Caren Crane said...

Susan, so awesome that you don't need the cool kids! The funniest thing for me was my 20-year high school reunion. Man, the "cool kids" had not aged well for the most part. Lots of us nerdy types, though, had really grown up well!

We're glad you were an outsider nerd girl like most of the rest of us, Susan. It gave you that wonderful, sparkling sense of humor that is so great to read!

Gillian Layne said...

Caren, I have NO doubt we'll see your name on the cover of a book, none at all. I love that "nothing to do but keep going." It's the truth, isn't it?

My twelve year old middle daughter is going through a really difficult I-don't-fit-in time in middle school now. Boy, does Susan's post ring true. Anyway, she heard something on TV the other day and immediately took it to heart, even telling me I should post it on my computer.

"Life is short. Be happy NOW." Isn't that great? Not always easy to do, but so true.

peggy said...

i worked as a waitress one i hated that job.
people were so rude.not careing how
hard the job

Suzanne Welsh said...

Okay, first I loved the post, Caren, even though I'm commenting so late.

And while I sympathize with you and fedora on the sports thing, I actually got even more than once for all of us. See. I run really, really slow and I throw like a girl. BUT I hit like Babe Ruth!! hehehe

So, it was great fun to be on a mixed team in a mixed league and my first time to bat, the outfield would move in. I was a girl, a chubby one to boot. My teammates would just snicker because they'd seen me hit during practice.

So in comes the outfield. The pitcher just sort of gently lobs the ball over the plate.


Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over their heads to the fence. hehehe. Poof, I'm on second and the guy they walked before me? Yep, he scored!!!

Next time up to bat...outfield remained OUT!!

Cassondra said...

Caren, sorry this is late. I missed getting to the blog yesterday. Love the topic though. Been an invasive species most of my life, but unfortunately, I haven't "taken over" the way a lot of invasive, non-native plant species do. (Okay I'm very "native plant" oriented and design landscapes with natives as much as possible, but would like to be more "invasive" in some areas)

I've been invasive in that I didn't really fit in, but could adapt fairly well. As I've grown older though, I'm finding I don't adapt as well, and need more particular types of environments to thrive. Maybe it's just a matter of knowing myself better, or becoming less tolerant of unpleasant work conditions. I dunno. I like knowing myself but I think adaptability is a very good thing, so not sure my loss of "invasiveness" is good, especially in an arena like publishing!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, Gillian, thank you for your sweet comment. I hope an editor hears that whispering through the ether! *g*

I'm so glad you're daughter heard that motto and took it to heart. Twelve and thirteen are ROUGH (but I found twelve rougher). Tall, gangly, quite unattractive and totally uncomfortable with my stretched-out self. Ack! She has my sympathy.

My youngest is now 13-1/2, so I'm glad we're past that most horrific middle school stuff. Next year she'll be in high school with her sister. Fun for me? Hm...

Caren Crane said...

Cassondra, I think you're spot on. You know yourself and don't have to settle. I think that's what I've learned as I've gotten older. I'm good and people should appreciate me. *g*