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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

People tend to rise

In the olden days, when I was the controller of a division of a subsidiary of a major appliance manufacturing company I supervised an accounting department that had myriad responsibilities. Some not traditionally an accounting duty, but one my staff wound up doing because they were so darn competent.

Upwards of twenty people took care of receivables and payables, of course, but also payroll for five hundred, order entry, invoicing, domestic and international shipping, and even HR, when my payroll supervisor was found to be doing that job.

When I took the job I was employee number was seventy three or seventy four and I supervised four people. One of them told my boss, “She goes or I go,” so I built on that core of three. When I needed people I posted the job on the cafeteria bulletin board and interviewed everyone who applied from out in the factory.  

If they showed desire to succeed I’d hire them, train them, support them and watch them grow. Some former assemblers went on to supervise other employees; that payroll clerk who became payroll supervisor eventually used her education benefits to finish college and then become an attorney.

My boss asked me once how I’d managed to assemble such a crew and I smugly responded people tend to rise to your expectations. I thought it quite the clever deduction.

I listened to an NPR interview recently with Wes Moore, about his memoir, The Work. He came from hard times and through hard times in the Bronx and in Baltimore. Before he hit upon his working model of life, he said, he spent his time hurting people who loved him to try to impress those who did not.

His adult career essentially has been public service, and he has many years left to serve. In the interview he recounted visiting a childhood friend, who is in prison. In the visit he asked his friend if the two of them were the product of their environment. His friend replied, upon reflection, no, they were the product of their expectations.

And, I stand corrected. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Another weekend at the ski run

I remembered to take my camera today when I picked up Emily. I wanted to take pictures of the pipe stem legged preschoolers in fluorescent ski pants, learning on the bunny hill. They have finally graduated to coming down from the top of the hill, and they come down like a snaking dance line.

But, I parked in the wrong place.

So, I snapped folks coming down the “big” hill.

Not much color, pretty boring, until the fellows with white crosses crested the hill and brought a laden sled down. I asked Emily later if it was practice. She didn't know,  but there had been three that day. She works first shift.

My local fire district covers the ski resort, and I told her of some accidents I knew of from the years I clerked for them. The district runs on a shoe string, there being just under two hundred taxable properties in the township and real estate the only tax available in a township.

Steam could come out both my ears when the EMS team transported some young skier and then had the ambulance bill go unpaid for want of insurance. We’re talking a gainfully employed person who could afford ski equipment, or its rental, clothing, tickets. A smart phone with a ski app, no doubt, and expected the ambulance ride to be free. No budget excess to pay for that unexpected consequence.

Emily helps people on the lifts, helps them off, helps them stand up, stops them from doing stupid things.  She does not have the authority to “clip a ticket,” but may say to a youngster who looks as if he will jump off the lift to retrieve a dropped pole, “If you jump, I’ll have your ticket clipped!” Then she retrieves the pole, sends it up on the first empty chair and tells her squad leader to “keep an eye on that one.”

Emily’s thinking she’d like to learn to ski. I told her about the young woman in my department who took a lesson, went down the bunny hill, caught her ski, suffered a spiral fracture of one of those long leg bones. The bone was plated, the bone was pinned, she underwent electrical stimulation treatments or some such thing. For the eighteen months she continued to work she was generally in a walking cast. I wonder what became of her.

But, Emily wants to learn to ski. Told her it might be a fun thing for President’s day, her next day off school.

And when the sled was down the hill it appears the fellows with white crosses were on a training run.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

How to have it all

This is Vicki Boster’s Blog Hop weekend; she asked us each to write a little story and post it late on the 24th of January. I hope Blogger is impressed at its spike in postings for this twenty four hours.

The purpose of the weekend is to increase our individual readership. And I have a reason for wanting to do exactly that.

Quite simply, I am a grandmother with some retired careers and one I looked forward to retiring shortly and one I want to get up and running.

My very first job was in a university library in 1964. I told my cat, $3,600 a year, we’re rich! I moved along into manufacturing, became an accountant and retired that career in the eighties, to join my sister as an entrepreneur. I spent the next twenty years exhibiting our handwoven clothing at art shows in the east.

Every spring, if I could lift the hand truck into the van to set out for the first show of the year I knew I had another year in me. All went well until my hip let me down in 2003. On the way out the door to my hip replacement that fall I put my resume in the mail to my township trustees, who needed to appoint a new clerk. It was me, and I have been running for office ever since.

I’m in my third four year term, which ends in 2016. The perfect time to not run again. I would turn 73 on my last day in office and spend my last decade at my leisure. That was the plan, which did not include taking custody of granddaughters and a grandson just as I started this last term. (Those are my granddaughters over in the side bar!) My goodness, I do not know how young parents do it. The time commitment has not changed, but the money! It’s been a long time since I earned anything like that kind of housekeeping money.

I’ll run for a fourth term as township clerk, of course, but what if…. I needed a new alternative plan that did not involve asking local businesses to hire an all around good worker. I bought a loom to think at while I mulled it over.

And it came to me. I still know how to weave. I still know how to sew. The new mystery is how to sell. How to market. In the olden days selling meant explaining the joy of cotton clothing to people, making things they wanted to buy. It meant being in my booth at art fairs, talking to people, helping them try on shirts and jackets, smiling, being sure they had a good day at the fair. Art fairs are a very personal and social venue.

But I no longer have a hand truck, and couldn't lift it if I did. I cannot put up a booth; I could not even stock a booth by myself. I asked folks about Etsy, then opened an Etsy shop. Marketing is still “social”, but now it’s social media. Like the hand truck, I am out of my depth. I decided I must cast a pebble in the water and see what happens, thus the blog hop.

In the olden days we exhibitors would look before the gate opened how many were in line for tickets. My rule of thumb for a two or three day show was, a “gate” of ten thousand meant perhaps a thousand would look at my booth and perhaps a hundred would buy, and that was a good show.

And that is what I hope for this blog hop. No longer thousands, but a lot of new looks at my Etsy shop; the first picture in my side bar is a link. If a lot of new people look and like and even mention, there will be sales and then repeat customers. The pebble in the water.

Thanks for stopping, for looking, and for all your comments. I’ll be around to say Hello.

At my favorite loom, back in the 1990's.
LeClerc helped me date the loom to 1940,
three years older than I am.
Everything Old is New Again.