The Vine: November 11, 2009
So I have my first "real job" and suffice it to say, it's not going well. I'm 26 and have had a wealth of jobs, from retail to reception. But this is my first job where I have an actual position and don't spend my time answering phones and ordering supplies for others and I think it could be a springboard to something better.
The thing is, it's a hard job, it's a small company with only about 10 people and new hires are thrown right in, no introduction, no training, and when I say no training I mean no training. Every day is busy, there isn't one moment where there is no work to do.
I feel like I mess everything up. I can't do a single thing without there being some stupid mistake that I should have caught. Forgetting to include a date on a letter, a typo, forgetting to include an important fact, and sometimes big mistakes. I feel like I can't do one thing without someone I work with pointing out a mistake I made.
The real problem is I don't recover from these mistakes very well. I beat myself up about them, I'll spend hours, if not the whole day, in my cubicle freaking out about my mistake and convincing myself that I'm going to get fired and then freaking out more because I cannot afford to get fired, and then, due to the freaking out (internally — I don't ever say anything out loud) I can't focus and make more mistakes.
And I can't talk to my boss about this, he isn't the pat you on the back and tell you it'll be ok type of boss, he's nice, but more like the boss who says, "Life's a bitch, we're all busy."
In terms of the mistakes I know that I just need to take my time and triple-check everything. The real question is how do I stop being so hard on myself? How do I keep one typo from ruining my entire day, how do I just let things go without feeling like I have to punish myself in some way for what amounts to a stupid mistake that was caught before it even became a real mistake, as the only people who saw it were the people I work with?
I just want to be able to actually not care instead of pretending I don't care while simultaneously making myself sick with worry over nothing.
I do like the job and don't want to quit, not yet anyway
It seems like I addressed a very similar question last month.The therapy may or may not come into play for you, but first, you need to understand that your anxiety is heightened because you feel that this job is more significant, and your performance more relevant, than at jobs in the past.It's probably not something you think about consciously every minute, but it's pretty much the first thing you thought to tell me in your letter, so clearly it's an issue.You take it seriously, which is not a bad thing at all in and of itself, so your first task is to acknowledge that that's a factor, and stop beating yourself up for worrying about your job performance.
The next task is to start compartmentalizing so that you can get through your to-do list without getting stuck in your own head.As I suggested in the previous letter, keep a list of the day's mistakes.At the end of the day, write a report on them for yourself.The purpose of this is not to castigate yourself further for making mistakes, which we all do a hundred times a day; it's to take control of the anxiety by looking at patterns in your mistake-making, and identifying strategies for improvement and mistake prevention.
Your list for next Tuesday, for instance, might include all typos, dropped words, and misdialed phone numbers — things you messed up on because you were in a hurry.That suggests a strategy of slowing down, proofreading, double-checking facts, and taking a few extra minutes to get it right the first time.
You should also talk to your boss — but it's not a conversation where you should seek comfort or compliments.It's a conversation in which you present a list of functions or tasks that you would have liked some training on, and ask for some help on learning the ropes.You should have the same chat with co-workers who've worked there longer than you have; you don't want sunshine blown up your ass here, you want information on how to do the job better.You probably should have had training, but you didn't, so you'll have to train yourself.Do it.Take control of the problem.
Not everyone can just not care about making mistakes at work; it's not realistic for you to set that as your goal.(And your boss isn't likely to appreciate an overly laissez-faire attitude towards screw-ups either.)But you can keep it from interfering with your work, by figuring out how to minimize both the mistakes and the time they eat up in your head.View that as part of your job description, and do it each day.
I really don't know what to do about this one. I'm currently studying in China and overwhelmingly the experience has been great, but I'm suddenly completely out of my depth here.
Recently two of my American friends have been having problems with sexual harassment and sexual assault. A couple of our classmates from Tajikistan moved past "creepily over-attentive" to "borderline sexual harassment" to "sexual assault/attempted rape" in a matter of two weeks. I personally haven't gotten anything past the "creepily over-attentive" stage from them, and I think my "don't fuck with me" glare and my unwillingness to deal with them once I got the creep vibe from them spared me the worst of it, but I also clearly have a vested interest in seeing that this matter is dealt with.
But…how? We can't prove anything. My friends are worried that if we tried anything it would just make matters worse. They're worried since the two or three main guys who have been a problem are within this larger group that if we make any sort of stink about their behavior that they might get violent. I think things are escalating anyway and I'd rather act now than not act and have someone get raped (if that hasn't already happened). Within the Chinese legal system, I doubt there is very much we could do, especially since we're leaving in two months, but my inclination is to see if we can get them kicked out of the program.
But again, we can't prove anything. And since nothing has happened to me directly, I don't feel like I can go against their wishes not to make a big deal about it. I don't fear for my personal safety, which might be really stupid, because I don't have any interaction with them outside of class. My two friends went over to their apartment for dinner, which is where the sexual assault/attempted rape took place, and are participating in the international student volleyball tournament, which is where most of the harassment has continued.
The only person we could really take this to is our resident director, who manages the five American students on campus, and we're all really close to him, but I don't know what he might be obligated to do if we report it. I just don't know what to do. If I ask my parents, they'll freak out and probably contact the resident director anyway, and my adviser from school, while being an excellent person to get advice from, might have similar obligations to contact someone and start a process that my friends don't want to happen.
I know there isn't any good solution for a problem like this, but how do I protect my friends and myself AND not let these pathetic excuses for human beings off the hook?
There is a special hell…
Isn't it possible for one of you to ask the resident director, or the head of the university program, a hypothetical question about how these things get reported and dealt with?Can't you tell someone in authority that, while you don't want to name names just now because there's the possibility of reprisals — and that you guys feel unsafe is on its own probably grounds for the program to look into the situation, at the very least — you wonder what would happen if you reported an ongoing campaign of harassment and an attempted assault for which you have no proof.
I mean, at least get the minimum of information.A significant portion of your stress over the situation is coming from the fact that you don't know what would happen, or how your creepy classmates would react.
And as to that, well, obviously you and your friends need to avoid them.Sit as far away from them in class as you can manage.Do not spend any social time with them outside of class and do not react to anything they say.Document everything they do.If they take the harassment into the volleyball venue, report it to the organizers and get them barred from the premises.Don't go anywhere by yourselves; make sure somebody else always knows where you are.Guys like this thrive on the intimidation — basically controlling where you go and what you do because you're afraid.Once that titillating reaction is no longer on offer, they often move on.
I understand that your friends don't want to risk it, but if you have any real basis to believe that the larger group could become violent, you need to report that, and at the very least, you need to learn what the policy is on matters of this nature — and to take safety precautions.I do suspect that a stated willingness to dime them to someone in authority will back them down, but if you guys aren't comfortable with that, you should at least know your options.
So it's a cat question. How long do you have a take care of a stray kitty you took in before you can tell the newly surfaced "owner" that she can't have him back?
Here's the story: All summer, there's been this cat living under my bird feeders. I assumed he belonged to someone, and chased him away. I live in the middle of a mid-sized town, a few blocks from the commercial district, so everyone has a postage-stamp yard and there's traffic, etc. — not a great place to have an outdoor cat, but for some reason people do.
About five weeks ago, said cat approached me as I got out of my car, which I thought was weird because he had no reason to think I was friendly. He meowed and rubbed against my ankle, and when I went to pet him, I realized I could see every rib. It's against my policy to feed strays, but he was just so friendly and so sad looking that I gave in and started setting out bowls of kibble, which he devoured twice a day.
A week or so later, the temperature dropped. With nights in the forties, it also began to rain, and became quite raw. After a couple days of this, kitty came to my back door, and cried to come inside. I brought him up to the bathroom till I was sure he used litter okay, and then moved him to a bedroom.
Later that week, I took him to the vet. She agreed he appeared to have been abandoned — although he was neutered and clearly loved people, he had fleas, worms, ear mites, and scratches on his body from fighting something. (Oddly, we have raccoons and groundhogs in our tiny yard.) He got his vaccinations and other medications, and I took him home.
I took a photo, and put flyers in mailboxes for blocks around, as well as on Craig's List, trying to locate the owner, with no luck. So a friend of mine offered to take him, and I gratefully placed him. (I have two already, and three would be cat overload for my place.) My friend named the cat "Romeo," as he's quite the little lover — always begging for a cuddle. My friend has never had a cat before, and has really fallen for the little guy!
Last night, another neighbor emailed me to say she was chatting with neighbors up the street, about seven houses away from me, who think it's their cat. (How they missed the flyer is a mystery.) A dark part of me wanted to pretend I never got the email, but I got over that and sent back a note explaining the whole situation and asking if she thought the previous owners might agree to let my friend keep Romeo — it's not right to keep the previous owner worrying, but on the other hand, she was clearly a crappy pet owner and Romeo is so happy now! I'm pretty sure the previous owners will put Romeo back outside to fend for himself again, which isn't good for him where we live, and also means he'll be hanging out in my yard again. (The birds he chased away all summer are just now coming back — yay!)
So I think I need to take a walk to the neighbors with a photo and beg to keep the cat if it turns out that he's hers after all. But here's my question: What if she says no? We've only had him indoors for three weeks now. Putting aside all concerns about the cat, I have spent over $200 on vet bills and another $100 on litterbox, litter, food, and other supplies to set up the cat at my friend's place, since he was doing me a favor by taking him. Can I point that out? I don't want to get all judgy with the previous owner, but I need to tell her the cat was in bad shape when I found him. She has a two-year-old and perhaps the cat has simply fallen off her radar in terms of care-giving, but who knows? Maybe she thinks the cat was fine as he was.
I also don't want to create a lot of drama on the street — we're all pretty friendly with one another. (These people just moved in last winter, so I don't know them as well as I know other neighbors.)
Any guidance you or the readers could provide would be tremendously appreciated!
WWSD (What Would Sars Do)
Dear Sars Would Do Nothing,
…Do nothing, for now.You explained what happened to the other neighbor; if the previous owner believes that it's her cat, she can contact you herself.It's not as though you snatched the feline off her front porch and placed him with a friend that very day, giving the real owner no chance to find him.The cat had gone off the rez ages before, you got no response to the flyers…I wouldn't make excuses for her.If your toddler is so high-maintenance that you don't have time to read your mail and notice a flyer for a lost cat?When…you have lost a cat?Come on.Weeks went by.
I've had indoor/outdoor cats, and if you actually give a shit, you notice when they don't show up for dinner once, so I'd wait for her to contact you.If she does, ask her to describe the cat, and then tell her with as little affect as possible that, yes, that could be her cat — but the cat you found had visible ribs, had clearly mixed it up with other animals, didn't want to stay outside in the cold, and cost several hundred dollars to vet, feed, and re-home.And then just sit there and do not say another word.See how she reacts.
Nikolai was a somewhat different situation, but if someone had emailed me weeks later all, "I saw the photos on your blog and that's definitely my cat," I'd have been like, not anymore he ain't, dickhead.Do valid excuses for letting this happen to a pet exist?I'm sure they do.Do I really want to hear any of them when the cat has already found a new home?Not particularly.If she really cares about the cat's welfare, she'll leave him where he is.
The short version: wait for her to contact you, and if she does, don't make any promises.Tell her what you just told me, and hope she talks herself out of expecting to get the cat back, when she did nothing in the service of that for weeks on end in the first place.
Tags: cats Nikolai workplace