Tag Archives: work

Could there possibly be an alternative?

Soooooo frustrated right now.

I do a little on-the-side consulting for my old company.  They have quarterly reports that need to be put together, and sometimes need a little extra help at crunch time.  I work from home, and make more per hour than I did as a full time employee.  The work is only very occasional, but it’s interesting enough to not be mind-numbing, and it provides me a nice little paycheck once in awhile.  It is, all in all, a nearly-perfect setup.

Except for the vendor that manages my payroll.  My old company has a policy of not making direct payments to contractors as much as they can; I guess it’s a situation ripe for fraud and embezzlement and whatnot.  So, if you are going to do contract work for them, even if you aren’t in a firm, you have to go through their sourcing firm, which gets a cut of your pay and manages your payroll.  Now, I negotiated it so that they upped my hourly pay such that I was still getting the rate to which we originally agreed, without feeling like I’m losing money to this sourcing firm, so that’s a good thing.  But seriously, for the money they’ve made off of me for basically printing a paycheck and a W2, I could stand a little better customer service.

First off, they do everything by email.  EVERYTHING.  Most of the time that’s fine, because their automatic emails that tell me my timecard was approved are clear and concise.

The problem is when I have a problem — which given my limited experience with this firm, has happened too much.  First, my direct deposit never got set up, as it turns out, because of a typo on the direct deposit form (my typo).  But — I never heard that they had a problem with the form.  I just started getting checks instead of direct deposits…. which I didn’t care much about anyway, because I only work about one week a quarter, so going to the bank every three months isn’t a huge burden.   And if you refuse direct deposit, you agree to pay a lost check fee of $35 if a check gets lost. 

And then a check got lost.  But I never refused direct deposit.  And I cannot even describe the hoops I’m being made to jump through to get paid for work I did three months ago, and not end up getting docked the stupid fee, and how it has been implied every way from Sunday that it is completely my fault that this happened.  I’m not saying I’m blameless, but a big part for this firm is the way they communicate problems.

It’s all by email.  And you know, if your email is anything like my email, you get a crapload of emails to sort through every day.  So, while the firm’s standard “we got your timecard” emails are clear and concise and are easily identifiable, the emails you get from them when there’s an issue are anything but.  Mainly, the problem is in how the emails appear in my inbox.  They don’t say the firm’s name in the sender information or the subject.  The sender is the name of the analyst who sent the email, so some random name I’ve never seen or heard before.  And the subject is to the effect of “RE: Claim #3X55QR9”.  If you see an email from a name you have never known to mean anything to you, with a cryptic subject line, well… if you’re anything like me, you think it’s spam.  BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT SPAM LOOKS LIKE.  They send these emails to you when you might be expecting them, like if you call to have a form sent to you, and they send them when you’re not expecting any sort of email from them at all, like, say, after you make a single typo on your direct deposit application and they need you to fix it.

This firm doesn’t seem to see this as a problem.  And when, today, I called to request that I not get emails when there are issues, the gal I’m talking to, ON THE PHONE, said “Well, then, how would we be able to let you know there’s an issue?”  Yeah, you see how you’re talking into that gadget on your head?  It’s useful for myriad applications.

So anyway, *I* have to go and fax them about three different forms, and they HAVE to be faxed.  Can’t email them, which I think is pretty ironic.  And I don’t have a fax machine.  So I have to use the stupid annoying free fax online applications, or walk over to my in-laws’ and use their fax machine. 

Argh.  Argh argh argh.

Second Shift

I picked up a little income-producing work this week. In a former life, I worked for a Fortune 100-ish company, as a data specialist in Human Resources. I didn’t do all that touchy-feely HR stuff, (but I had the training and certifications to prove that I could). My role in the last couple years of my employment was around being a data and analysis guru – I knew what data we had, where to find it, what could be done with it, how to do those things, and how to make it all pretty so someone who didn’t know all the aforementioned stuff could make heads or tails of it. In a nutshell.

As it goes, the work was a bit cyclical. Depending on the data, there’d be new data daily, or monthly, or quarterly, and that often meant I and my coworkers had work to do. The last year or so had brought about a TON of work that needed to be done quarterly. And, it seems, they got desperate. My old manager called me and asked if I’d like to freelance from home, putting together reports that no one really had the time to do for a specific group that was willing to pay me more per hour than I made as a salaried employee. It would be about a week’s worth of work once every quarter.

Kind of a hard gig to pass up, you know?

So I’ve been up to that all week. It’s been interesting – not because the work is all that challenging – but fitting it in between bedtimes and fevers and Frank’s car overheating and without the in-laws around to watch the kids at all (they are still in Aruba).

So, hi!

Right about last Wednesday, I decided we should all pack up on Friday and go to Buffalo and visit my family for a long weekend.

A bunch of stuff has happened in the last few days, nothing hugely groundbreaking, but mostly interesting.

I watched part 2 of Pride & Prejudice.  I enjoyed it a lot.  My BFF Amanda constantly soaks her panties thinking about Colin Firth in this movie, and yes, he was dashing.  Though… sorry Manda.  Just not panty-soaking-dashing for me.  But I can see why he would be for someone else, even if I can’t experience it first hand.  This was probably good, because I watched part 2 in the car on the way to Buffalo and since my minivan has leather seats, I didn’t have to worry about sliding off of them.

I was offered some work on – I think it was Thursday.  And, I accepted.  My old boss called to see if I would want to take on some once-a-quarter work that needs to urgently get done each quarter but is time-consuming for the full-time staff and nobody wants to do it anyway.  It would be about a week’s worth of work every 3 months, and the hourly pay is more than I was making when I was full-time.  It was really a no-brainer, and it is an excellent excuse to buy the laptop I’ve wanted to buy but had little justification of the expense.  Ahh, justification!

The visit to Buffalo was good.  My dad goes on these weird whims and this weekend was no exception.  We discovered he’s thinking of moving.  These seems to be partially fueled by his general and ongoing overwhelmed state for upkeep of the small 3 bedroom house we grew up in, and partially by the fact that “black people” have moved into the house next door.  Though according to all accounts the new neighbors are friendly and quiet and just generally good neighbors so far and my father made sure to tell this to me many times to try to dissuade me from believing he is a narrow-minded bigot.  Not that the fact that he actually felt like he needed to tell me this is evidence itself of the bigotry, but whatever.  It also doesn’t help when he ends the story with “Well, at least they are friendly drug dealers.”  [insert animated eye roll with slow head shaking here]  So, he wants to start looking at houses.  In the same neighborhood.  3 blocks away.  Umm, OK.  Since he won’t admit that at least part of his motivation is not because of preconceptions of his new neighbors, he’s planting it firmly on not wanting to clean the house anymore.  I don’t think he gets a couple things about this whole transaction – first, it will cost thousands of dollars to move to a new house, and second, he could hire a cleaning service for those thousands of dollars.

Dad also has that girlfriend, Linny.  A small part of me suspects there is talk of moving in together and that maybe she doesn’t want to live in my mother’s house.  That’s fair enough.  But geeze, just be honest with me, Dad.  I’m a big girl.

But besides that it was a good visit.  We saw my grandparents, and it was fun watching my dad and brother hang out with my kids.

Actuarial Widowhood

Frank is an actuary.  My father’s girlfriend has come up with the best way to describe this profession — he’s a legit bookie.  He does some sort of magic and figures out how much companies should pay/charge/make their employees pay for their health benefits.  OK, so maybe it really isn’t magic, but I’m not sure what it is.  Something with math.  And Excel.  And something called FAS, I think.

January is to him what March & April is to a tax accountant.  Busy busy busy.  Most companies close their books on December 31, so January means they all need to shuffle last minute for all the stuff they need to really, officially, close their books.  Stuff that only my husband, apparently, has the power to provide.

So, I haven’t seen him much this month, and neither have the kids.  We woke up this morning before Frank left for work and Lane thought it was so weird that Daddy was around in the morning.  (Granted, even when he’s not busy we usually are still asleep when he leaves — not because he leaves so early but because we sleep so late, for which I will make no apologies.)

But, there are plans this weekend.  Plans for his uncle’s birthday party tonight.  Plans to hang out with friends in Connecticut tomorrow.  Plans to eat dinner with his parents on Sunday.  We will see him, and it will be socially unacceptable for him to be on his laptop.  Hurrah!