It was such a simple plan…

Took yesterday off from work to get the car worked on because they couldn’t fit it into the weekend and it made for a nice three day weekend which I’ve not had in awhile. Not a big deal, right? Then it got complicated really quickly. First there’s one part they need to finish up work on the car that they don’t have in stock so it’s supposed to arrive today. Then it turns out that my daughter’s friend who was staying the night last night needs to go home today earlier than we had expected so a car needs to be available in the afternoon so even if I were to drive into work today I’d need to leave early to be back in time to get her home.

OK, not a huge problem, I’ll just work from home today. So I set my alarm for 7:45AM so I can be logged in by 8AM and I get up and creep downstairs and power on the PC to find that I can’t connect to my work machine. Which is really odd because I was able to connect last night to send out the email saying I’d be working from home before going to bed. Turns out the office had a minor power outage around 6:34 this morning so my PC is off. It’s always embarrassing having to ask your boss to power on your work machine so you can… work.

So it may be Tuesday officially, but it’s feeling a lot like Monday.

Why I will miss my boss…

Me: I’m updating my resume. What’s my official job title here?

Boss: What do you want it to be?

Me: Um…

Boss: Because we can make it whatever you want if you think it’ll help. Usually you’d be referred to as a Systems Engineer.

Me (pondering the possibilities): Well… never mind. Systems Engineer works just fine for me.

Besides, I don’t think anyone would buy the idea that my real job title was “Most Awesomest Employee Ever to Grace the Company Tech Support Wonder Dude.”

Once more into the earnest hunt for a job.

I had a meeting today with my boss and his boss to discuss the status of my temporary position with the company. Turns out the company is about to implement a rotating co-op program that’ll have them bringing in college students on a regular basis to do what I’ve been doing and that program is probably going to be implemented in a month’s time or so and once it starts up my position will come to an end. Unfortunately they don’t have a full-time position to offer me as I had been hoping for. A smaller local branch office is rapidly growing smaller and it probably won’t be long before the full time PC Tech they have there will be moved up here.

I’ve not been pursuing other opportunities seriously in part because I was hoping this one would go full time. I love working here and I’ve learned a great deal in just the six months I’ve been on the job. My boss has been trying to get me in as a full time employee so I’m sure this is as much a disappointment for him as it is me, but I’m grateful to have had the chance to work at all given I was unemployed for 10 months prior to this. I took a bit of a gamble by not searching for something else and it didn’t pay off as I’d hoped. It’s time to polish up the old resume and get serious at looking for other opportunities.

Fortunately the company I work for is run by some decent folks and they’re not just patting me on the back and saying “sorry we couldn’t keep you.” The representatives that handle off-site contract employees are looking to see if they can find me something to do and my boss is contacting a web development team within the company that’s been overwhelmed with the website to see if they could use my skills in that area. Most of the company’s web pages are static and I have an obvious background in dynamic content systems. So there’s always the possibility I might just transition to a new role within the company, but I’m not going to count on it either.

Wish me luck.

News Flash: The world didn’t end in a watery death yesterday.

So the promised meteor fragment that was supposed to be the catalyst behind 200 meter high tsunamis failed to make an appearance yesterday, which isn’t much of a surprise, but we did get some semi-serious thunderstorms in our neck of the woods last night that managed to knock out our power for 4 hours or so. Right as I was in the middle of banning an asshole from visiting the blogs here (that’s a whole other story in itself). We ended up going to bed by 11PM only to have all the lights and the TV in the living room suddenly spring to life at 11:30 or so scaring the hell out of the cats and waking everyone up in the process. Ah, country living. The power in Brighton goes out fairly often compared to when we lived in Canton. Of course at our old address a good portion of the power lines are buried which goes a long way to keeping them intact. Out in the country someone sneezes too close to a power line and it could be days before they’re back up and working.

The job will probably be pretty slow today as it’s the Friday before a three day weekend and a lot of folks here have opted to make it a four day weekend. I’ve got one more PC I need to set up for our new office out near Seattle and then the whole lot can be shipped out today, but beyond that I expect things are going to be pretty quiet. Not that I’m complaining as it means I’ll probably be able to knock off a little early. So that’s what my day is looking like, how about you guys?

Ford takes an ax to itself.

In a strange way the news that Ford is about to downsize in a major way makes me feel a bit better that I got laid off last year…

DETROIT – Ford Motor Co., the nation’s second-largest automaker, said Monday that it will cut 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and idle 14 facilities by 2012 as part of a restructuring designed to reverse a $1.6 billion loss last year in its North American operations.

The cuts represent 20 percent to 25 percent of Ford’s North American work force of 122,000 people. Ford has approximately 87,000 hourly workers and 35,000 salaried workers in the region.

Earlier Monday, Ford reported earnings of $2 billion in 2005, down 42 percent from last year’s profit of $3.5 billion. It was the third straight year the automaker has reported a profit, but gains in Europe, Asia and elsewhere were offset by a loss of $1.6 billion in North American operations.

That’s a lot of folks out of work, many of whom will be here in Michigan and that can’t be good for any hopes of turning this state’s economy around. The fact that it’ll be happening over the next 6 years will help spread out the pain, but Michigan’s Wixom assembly plant is due to be shut down by 2008. I drive by that plant on my way into work every morning now that we’ve moved out to Brighton.

I’m no big fan of Ford’s products and my experience working for the company didn’t give me a lot of reason to change my mind after seeing the decision making process used at the company, but I have a lot of friends that work for Ford so I have no big desire to see the company go belly up anytime soon. Here’s hoping most of them manage to avoid being laid off like I was.

Job Watch: 1 down, 4 to go.

I’ve been hoping that this would be the week I finally landed a job. What with no less than five different possibilities all pending I figured this week would be the week that it happens and it still might be, but not as of today. First off I’ve still not gotten the offer from my old contract house that I know is supposed to be coming along. Not sure if they’ve changed their minds since I last talked to them or they’re still busy with year-end benefits issues, but the call still hasn’t come and I’m getting to the point where I’m not even worried about it anymore.

One of the new contract houses I’ve spoken to recently is responsible for two of the opportunities I’ve been waiting to hear on and one of them, going to work for a major banking chain that’s based here in the Detroit area, had me in for an interview on Tuesday afternoon along with about 9 other guys from the same contract house. The interview was one of those short 15 minute jobs where it was less about your qualifications than what the job entails and what your people skills are like. They had seen my resume and had no doubts I could do the job—which was basically a two month contract to do PC renewal at three of their major office locations—they just wanted to make sure, in the literal words of one of the interviewers, that I didn’t have 14 million piercings across my face. I don’t, but I do have a shaved head and a beard some have likened to Saddam Hussein’s. That didn’t seem to be a problem at the time of the interview and I answered their questions on my people skills with examples of how I’d deal with various situations. A telling moment was when they were explaining how they knew there were ways that you could tweak the renewal process to make machines load stuff faster or put up witty splash screens and they didn’t want us to engage in that sort of thing because anything that deviated from the process they had established would put other processes at risk and so on. I piped up and said, “You have a standardized process for support. Makes perfect sense. Deviation could result in breaking other applications or the support systems you have in place. I’m quite familiar with standardized installations.” The guy interviewing me practically jumped out of his chair with excitement saying that I was the first person in the two days they’d been interviewing that used the word “standardized” and could explain why it was a good thing. So, naturally, I thought I’d be a shoe-in for the job.

You can imagine my surprise and amusement then when I got a phone call from the contract house today and was told that the bank had decided to pass on using me on the contract because I had “too much personality.” That’s a first in my career. I’ve been turned down plenty of times, but never because I had too much personality. Now the rep I spoke with today wasn’t sure if that was what the bank actually said or if it was just the interpretation of the account manager who was handling it, but that was the reason he was given. It seems quite a few of the folks this contract house sent over didn’t get picked up which is odd considering that last year when they had a similar cattle call every single one of the people this contract house sent over did get hired and several are still working there. But that’s OK because this same contract house has a pretty strong relationship with a local energy utility and I’m on the short-short list (one of two people being considered) for a position with them instead which I should be hearing about within the next day or so.

Additionally the potential job down in Ann Arbor, which would be great from a commute standpoint once I move in with my in-laws in Brighton, has scheduled me for a 11AM interview this Friday. I’m also still waiting to hear back on the Server Administrator position I interviewed for last week that would be the best paying out of all the jobs so far (at least out of those that I know what the pay rate would be). So while I missed out on possible job I still have four other possibilities pending. I just need one of them to hurry up and decide if they’re going to hire me so I can get some bills paid up. The drama continues….

Good News/Bad News on the job front.

The Bad News: Just talked with my old contract house and they weren’t available to get the position changed to full-time and a higher pay rate.

The Good News: The original part-time $15/hr position is still a go and they’re willing to interview me if I’m interested.

I told them I was still interested seeing as it beats the hell out of nothing at all. If I continue to freelance with Compeople then perhaps I’ll be able to keep my head above water. My lease renewal is due at the end of this week and I was kinda using whether or not I landed this job as a deciding factor on if I should sign up for another year. As it stands I’m not sure if I should or not. My rep tried to cheer me up by telling me that part-time jobs often go to full-time inside the company before too much time passes, but that’s little comfort overall when I’ll be lucky if I earn $16,000 a year if it doesn’t.

So I’m still searching for a good paying full-time job some place. Or a winning lottery ticket. Whichever comes first.

Good news on the job search.

Just got a phone call from the contract house I was working for during my time at Ford Motor Company and it turns out they’re in need of a support guy internally and they wanted to know if I was still available, which of course I am. This is very exciting mainly because I’d be going back to work for a company I absolutely loved working for in the past and I’ll have the same benefits plan I was already happy with. The pay rate will likely be close to what I was making when I left Ford and it’ll be full time. They were quick to caution me that it would be a lot of grunt work—restaging PCs, replacing toner cartridges in printers, etc.—but that’s what I was doing before Ford made me a planner and I loved my job during that time.  Originally they were looking to hire someone outside the company for a part-time position that would pay considerably less then what I’ll likely be making, but my representatives in the company pushed very hard for having the team consider me as I’ve been out of work for so long and I’ve been an excellent employee for four years previously.

Interestingly enough I’ll be working for a man that I’ve known casually ever since I was 15 years old or so. His BBS system was one of the first I ever called when I got my 300 baud modem for my old trusty Commodore 64 and, some years later when I was running my own BBS on my Amiga, this same fellow was working at Oakland University and set me up with a UUCP account so I could import USENET newsgroup feeds into my BBS. I’ve only met him in person maybe four times in my life, but he’s a name I’ve bumped into and worked with indirectly every so often for some 23 years now. It’s kinda neat to think I could end up having him for a boss soon.

Anyway, the team is still working on getting the job changed to allow for a full-time employee and a higher pay rate so there’s no guarantee that I’ll actually get the job just yet, but it’s looking pretty good. I could hear back as soon as tomorrow or as late as two weeks from now, but it’s the best development to come along so far and it has raised my spirits no small degree. Keep your fingers crossed, this may finally be the break I’ve been waiting for.

Things went well…

… at my Best Buy interview this afternoon. The position I interviewed for would make me a floor salesman in the PC area, a natural fit, and would probably pay around $8 to $9 an hour to start. A far cry from what I used to be paid, but better than not being paid anything at all. The possibility of advancement is there and wouldn’t necessarily require a lot of waiting as they just moved a bunch of people into the Geek Squad which is why the PC area is in need of salesmen. Some of those guys had been with the company a month or two. The gentleman I interviewed with has a Physics degree as of 2001 so he can totally relate to that whole gotta-get-the-work-wherever-I-can situation that I’m in. If nothing else, the atmosphere of the store and the crew seems to be a good one with the supervisor telling me he tries to keep things a little goofy. “Goofy is good,” I said, “I can do goofy very well. Just ask my wife.” I should hear within a couple of days if I’ve got the job or not.

Jonathan at Compeople has said that if I land a job at BB and can provide him with my weekly schedule then he’ll see if he can’t work some freelance jobs in around whatever BB has me working. Jonathan pays considerably better than BB does, but BB has more hours to offer. Between the two and Anne’s daycare job we just might be able to stay afloat long enough for the tide to change.

Well, it’s an interview at least.

Got a call a few moments ago from the local Best Buy store. They want to interview me on Thursday at 5PM for a possible part-time position on the Geek Squad. I was hoping for full-time, but apparently they start everyone off as part-time and they’re gearing up for the Holidays so it’s possible I could go full-time in short order. No idea what the pay rate will be, but it’s a moot point anyway as any money is still better than no money. With it being part-time I may be able to land a second job someplace else to see if I can’t make ends meet. I’m just pleased I’m finally getting to go on my first real interview for an actual position someplace in almost 8 months time. I have no idea if I could make a career by advancing through the Geek Squad ranks at Best Buy, but it’s a start and it’s still within my skill set. If nothing else, it keeps the wolves at bay for at least a little longer.

Also heard from Jonathan at Compeople, which is the company I’ve been doing freelance work for whenever they’ve had overflow, and he’s passed my resume on to an insurance company that’s looking for a network administrator to hire full-time. He spoke very highly of me and how, if he had enough work to justify it, he’d hire me full-time in a heartbeat. So perhaps that may produce another interview before too much longer. If you’re in South Eastern Michigan and you need some help with your computers either at home or your small business then give the folks at Compeople a call as they’ve been very helpful in keeping my ass afloat.

There’s always the chance that Steven Spielberg may happen upon this site at some point and be so impressed with my rugged good looks and spunky attitude that he casts me as a primary character in his next big project and I become an overnight celebrity as well, but until that happens at least it looks like I’ll be working someplace for awhile.