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Job thread got me started: hardships overcome

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  • Job thread got me started: hardships overcome

    Apologize in advance, but here's the story...
    BS in Environmental Studies, best pay/jobs I had: hiking around in the woods all day surveying streams for the Bureau of Land Management as a GS-5, and being hired as the Watershed Coordinator for a watershed assessment in the Siskiyou National Monument at 21.00/hr.

    Unfortunately, those were all short-term jobs while I was going to school.

    I moved after graduating, leaving behind a job offer to do a watershed assessment for the City of Ashland, Or. at 26.00/hr.

    The only job I've had in the last 3 years was working as a security guard at a local (Oregon's largest private) farm and food-processing plant--I moved up to Pest Management (kill all the creatures I love and wanted to protect) and from there into the lab as the microbiologist. Got through a wicked summer season working 10+ hrs a day, no overtime (farming loophole), during the worst e.coli outbreak (not O157:H7) in their corn and spinach lines that they had seen in years, and that was also the year the California spinach killed some people.

    The pressure on the new guy with no micro degree was incredible. I'm so glad I had my science background; I kept all my SOPs and records perfectly, and everything spotless so they knew it wasn't my error. An outside lab actually reproduced my results using computer-aided micro counts, confirming the unreal numbers I was giving them. And then, when the Summer was over, and I had found the problem out in the plant after doing weeks of detective work...I was accused of being culturally insensitive and busted back to rat-killer, half-time.

    When we were told we couldn't use our stools to sit while doing the few lab tests that allowed us to do so, the sleep deprivation and stress took over--enraged I fumed over the reasoning that, apparently, sitting on a lab stool in a lab while bending over a microscope makes you look like you're not working hard enough. I had paraphrased what Cesar Chavez had said about fear of job loss making exploited workers accept unfair working conditions (OMG, did I see some things there) and the silly Hispanic-American girl I worked with took this to mean I thought all Mexicans were lazy cowards. No other witnesses, so her word against mine (actually, they didn't even ask me for my half of the story).

    I won't go into what the next 3 months were like in a company of 70 caucasians and 450 hispanics, but I just kept being me and one by one they all realized I didn't feel the way she told them I did...but it was hard. I made myself not say one bad thing about her. I had to go to a shelter and ask for toys that Christmas because I couldn't buy anything for my boys, who had been so good all year. Oh, God, it was a hard year.

    Finally, I made it out, my wife got a much better job at the EPA (contractor for data entry) and I came home to homeschool ( full-time and keep house. I spend all day with my two wonderful boys, we do chores, play boardgames and go for walks during our breaks, and my wife comes home happy as a clam because she had a boring day at work (that's her ideal) and she didn't have to make dinner.

    We've never made more than 27k/yr. in our 14 years of marriage, and we still live paycheck to paycheck, but we have 4 different funds going for buying a house someday, an IRA, good benefits and great health.

    I'm often sad for the potential I thought I had when I graduated, and know that it still may mean a job, but right now, I'm glad I had such a multidisciplinary degree--I can teach my kids anything, from art to polisci to chemistry.
    Looking back, I can't imagine how I got through so much stuff (college is a whole 'nother story) without losing myself to the grinding poverty and times of despair. I don't understand it, but God was somehow working me through something to make me see a side of life I needed to experience. Now a new one has started, but I know I can get through it too.

    God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, love and a sound mind.

    Thanks for listening. What's your story?

    Living proof that "Teamplay ensmartens the idiotest of us!"


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  • #2
    Re: Job thread got me started: hardships overcome

    Woh. That story is crazy. I can't believe you have such a tough degree, just to get hosed like that in the working world. No stools at work? Those employers were idiots. Most people don't believe it, but there is such a thing as reverse discrimination. I've felt it before growing up in San Antonio, where being caucasian, I was in the small minority. Hispanics (who I have found MANY to be very racist, especially towards african-americans), can say anything they want about any race/culture and totally get away with it, but how dare I even suggest that I've felt discrimination in the slightest. It's happened to me before. I haven't gone through anything like you, though. As much as I can't stand the ACLU, I'd be tempted to bring them down on that plant if I was you. Could mean a nice anti-discrimination lawsuit. Sounds like they deserve it. Props to you for being so appreciative of what you do have, though. You're a person of strong will and character. I'd +Rep ya if I could.
    "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire


    • #3
      Re: Job thread got me started: hardships overcome

      Man, I can't say how much will it would take to endure that. I'm glad to see you made it and are happy, thats really what counts. Being happy is worth than any monetary benefit.




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