Assist Like a Boss

Guides

We’ve all been through those lean times when bills don’t all fit into the budget. Some of the most popular ‘advice’ I’ve been given in such times was, “Contact the companies you owe and request an extension or payment plan…” It’s an incredibly frustrating way to live, but sometimes it is necessary. Over the years, I’ve noted that companies have caught on — and they didn’t get into business to do anyone favors.

A friend was a new Navy Spouse. Her husband [read: military sponsor] was deployed — it would be months before he returned. All household bills were in his name, though he had added her name to the appropriate documentation before leaving so she could control them in his absence. In 2012, her power was unexpectedly shut off. The company required several forms of identification in order to speak with her. She complied and they still declined to grant access to the account information which would explain why she was behind in payments despite making regular payments. After about 2 weeks of her being without power, I decided to contact the power company myself. I wasn’t even on the phone for 5 minutes before I was able to hang up and phone my friend with answers to questions she’d asked all along.

Things were almost too easy. We were lucky to get the information [and my friend went on to correct the issue]. But how… how did I get them to give me what I wanted? I don’t know how everyone else handles their business, but here is what works for me.

  1. Know your rights and the rights of any individual you’re assisting. This includes legal rights.
    • Avvo – members can post questions free of charge, which are often answered by lawyers.
    • Nolo – general legal research tool
  2. Have the details. I recommend using notes. If circumstances are ‘messy’, try writing them out and prioritizing to a single ‘most important’ question to focus on.
  3. Don’t doormat yourself, but do utilize polite, gracious bulldoggedness. You’re calling with concerns only they can help. Should they decline, remain calm.
  4. Always maintain your smile, even on the phone. Remember, you always have the option to calmly hang up, breathe, and call back later.
  5. Maintain professionalism as you work with others — you may be dealing with sensitive information; acknowledge that. They’re trusting you.
  6. You could be anyone. The representatives of these companies don’t know you. Be considerate of that. Somehow, me phoning on my friend’s behalf seemed more legit to the power company than her paying hundreds of dollars to get them multiple forms of her identification.

I hope these suggestions help someone else. If they do, please let me know!!

To the Mother of All Loss

Personal

One final shuddering breath as you shatter.
Droplets pool against shimmering fragments.
You can’t decide whether you’re wounded or crying.
That was the moment you stopped.
Freshly broken, the soil reverberates where once a pulse.
Memories are filling your arms with sweet visions…
Sing. Softly, a lullabye. Willing the facade into permanence.
Denial is lying to you.
A sudden movement, the dream dissipates.
Awake to hunger, run to her…
…but she is no more.
Silent screams rip through your already tattered lungs as they bleed.
Vomit; your organs heave reality before you.
Breathless, you challenge the mortality of — well, everyone.
But then you freeze…
…tiny fingers dance through your hair.
Broken, you drag your pieces back
Glass shards stabbing relentlessly as you return to nucleus.
You’ll never be the same.
One final shuddering breath as you shatter.
Glitter for a new mosaic.

wp-1463550900504.jpg

My sister-friend, Cheryl, has suffered several miscarriages. In 2013, she and TJ, her spouse, were blessed with a little boy. In 2015, they had a daughter, fondly dubbed Itsy. 3 months later, Itsy’s short life was claimed by SIDS. Cheryl is working to create a nonprofit for mothers suffering childloss. This poem and artwork are dedicated to them.

For more information on the nonprofit, please visit their Facebook page.

What Color is Your Parachute? 2015

Book Review

Today, I’d like to share a book with you that has been helping me a lot in the last couple months. First, though, I’d like to say a few words on how I came to read it — or force me to accept that details are boring and read on ~_0.

When I was 18, I had no experience, or so my no-longer-potential-employers told me. But no one ever really laid it out for me, this business of job-hunting. There was of course, the popualrized briefing on filling out an application at any job anywhere and accepting it as your profession happy or not (To Be Loved comes to mind). I’ve taken 4 resume classes to date and had my resume reviewed by multiple hiring managers and professionals. What Color is Your Parachute? 2015 by Richard N. Bolles reaffirmed my most recent course on the subject as well as further expanding what I’d been taught there.

As a young adult, I was once punished as my family were convinced I had sabotaged several interviews; they couldn’t understand why no one had hired me yet. To this day, I’m not certain what they thought I had done to botch my opportunities, but at the time, they seemed to believe I’d somehow purposefully made myself look bad during interviews. {You’ve caught me! I walked into the interview, slipped the hiring manager a $20 and whispered, “Pretend you’re interviewing me, refuse me the job, smile piteously at whomever drove me and we’ll call it even.”*}This book put self-sabotage in a new light for me in showing that it need not be intentional to occur. Perhaps I did self-sabotage, but if that’s the case, I did so unwittingly. Now I can work to discover hurdles I create in order to overcome them. This knowledge puts me back in control.

More importantly, I tend to think of job interviews as society’s control-freak way of bending me to it’s will, as opposed to the conversations they actually are. The moment I sit across from an interviewer, I’m no longer myself, I am my my resume. And it’s wrong. So wrong. Before reading this book, my resume looked like the silliest mess of a divorce you’ve seen on live TV court. We yelled at each other. Things were said. We’re that on-again-off-again couple. Resume writing is still a nasty internal war, but I have actual weapons now, and a method which zaps the threat out of interviews and those conducting them.

My obsession here is that Parachute’s focus is skill-based, in respect of personality differences as opposed to diagnosing a problem (real or imaginary) with the individual and implementing ‘proven’ one-size-fits-all methods to re-acclimate them to the job market. Multiple job search techniques are described, explaining their effectiveness or lack thereof. The choice is in the hands of the seeker.

I highly recommend this book! Just for fun, if you’ve read this book (or others within the What Color is Your Parachute? series), comment below, telling us a little about your personal findings you wish to share. Perhaps your Holland Code, or personality type if you researched them and how this book helped you?

My notes: I borrowed this book from my library, so I couldn’t write in it. I still did the excercises on my own paper though, and got a bit creative with my flower, demonstrating the ‘A’ in my Holland Code AES. I’m an INFJ personality type. I’ve worked from home as a homemaker and crafts artisan with an Etsy shop just over 7 years. Since I’ve been out of the professional scene so long, I am currently working through the various types of interviews while doing personal community outreach (to show my knowledge and skills) and seeking employment. My goal is to become self-employed (consulting in a variety of areas, mentor / coach) with a working knowledge of my area’s resources to better assist clients.