July 2009

My main concerns these days:

Did I have enough protein to keep me going until my break?
Are my shoes comfortable? –REALLY comfortable?

Once you have surrendered to the fact that you no longer work a “sit-down” job, you have to prepare for the day like you would prepare for war.

I found it amazing how the whole “protein-thing” actually works. It is obvious to me and my stomach if I do not eat a high protein meal or snack before going to work. I’m famished in less than half the time if I’ve relied on carbs for energy. So, my main meals on work days always revolve around protein. Eggs. Tuna. Peanut Butter. Beans. Nuts. If I don’t have at least one of those foods before I go into work, and then another on my break, I can’t function because of hunger. And in that mode, I start eating junk. Junk fills you fast, but leaves you hungry for more… not to mention, it really works against that whole, “hey, this is not so bad, at least I’m dropping a few unnecessary pounds!” So, protein up before a greuling day on your feet.

And for goodness sakes, wear comfortable shoes!! Really comfortable! I found that even my “kitchen clogs” are uncomfortable after standing and walking in them for 8 hours. Shoes that I would consider comfortable normally, need to pass the 8-hour test. I have shoes that are considered “pro-chef” shoes, that are comfortable to start out, but after many hours, actually become heavy to lift your feet in!

My recommendation is: Change shoes every couple of days. Have a couple pairs and switch off. Seems like if your feet need to react to a different footbed every so often, they fair better. My most comfortable pair of shoes at the moment are Merrell Hypno Trail Running shoes. They are as light as a feather. The bottoms are made of “sticky rubber” (aka slip resistant) and the toe area has tons of room. My most uncomfortable are my trusted kitchen clogs! They have the required “slip-resistant” bottom, and flex soles, but feel so darn heavy by the end of the day, I can hardly stand it.

Insoles can help. I’ve found the gel inserts to make a difference. Even if it’s only in the heel. You just have to be careful that when you place an insole in you shoe that it doesn’t then make the fit of the shoe so tight that it creates another problem.

…and luckily, where I work, they have a “shoe compensation!” $50 towards any shoe with a slip-resistant bottom, every 6 months.


OK. Fine. So, if this is my lot let’s move it.

Well, first off, let me tell you… an 8 hour day of standing up with only 1 fifteen minute and 1 thirty minute break, is a killer for anyone, but if you’ve gone over the “big hill” –GOOD LUCK. I actually wore a pedometer to work one day. I logged in 4.5 miles of walking! That includes stairs (all of my department’s back-stock is 2 flights up), and heavy lifting.

The pluses? Forget the gym membership. I’ve lost 9 pounds and went down a size! My arms are toned and can successfully heave massive sacks of compost into the hopper with the best of them. “Snacking while working” is not an option. For that matter, neither is that relaxing cup of ‘jo. When it’s your shift, the curtain goes up and you’re on. Customer service with a smile!

Yesterday, I decided to share my thoughts with whomever feels like sharing, as we go through this horrible stage of life together.

As I stated in my “welcome” post,  I’m no quitter, but I know when to say “when”. I have roughly 50+ versions of my resume. Each one laboriously crafted. Complete with buzzwords scan-able by computer run HR departments. I have .pdf versions, MSWord versions. Versions with dates. Versions without dates. Versions that are specific. Versions that are generic. Versions that are SO ambiguous –yet interesting– you’d think I  might at the very least score an interview. Nothing.

I had had a good, long run in the advertising business. Nearly 20 years at a top tier shop doing national advertising for Fortune 100 clients and then 10+ successfully running a freelance design studio. Unfortunately, my clients started to be slowly eaten up by larger companies or driven out of business, or “pulled the design in-house”, or “decided to use someone cheaper”. My bank account dwindled, my phone stopped ringing, and most of my email is junk. I can’t even apply for unemployment benefits because that’s not how it works. So, I decided to “deal with the situation” and do what had to be done to keep a roof over my head and food on the table.

Get a job. Anything. (as in ANYTHING!) So, I considered what I might be good at. What I might actually enjoy trying. What I used to do in high school. What I might be interested in… Then I had to consider “benefits”. The pay is going to be pitifully low, so there HAVE to be benefits. I do not need a discount on, say, fancy clothes, when I can’t afford to go anywhere. So, I focused on “food” since I actually have a bit of a food background anyway.

When times were good, I had the opportunity to earn a professional chef’s diploma. I found myself particularly interested, and good at, pastry and baking. I joined the Boston Culinary Guild as a pastry chef and made specialty cakes (and still do, on occasion). I went to Paris for one week to bake with a Master Chef at the Ritz Escoffier and earned a certificate in boulangerie. Most recently, I studied artisianal chocolate-making with a French Chocolatier and now make and sell chocolates –seasonally.

So, I thought I might have a chance of landing some sort of position in a food related business. I won’t name names, because I am grateful to be employed, however, I was NOT prepared at all for how difficult it would be to land a position at the bottom of the food chain in a high-end grocery store!!! I applied 8 (eight), EIGHT, times before I finally got it together and went to a job fair which finally landed me my first of 3 interviews. THREE INTERVIEWS for a job at the BOTTOM of the pack, in a grocery store, for a mature, responsible person with a food background.

Yes. I got the job. But… with 6 weeks probation that, unfortunately for me, turned into 10 weeks probation due to the fact that I am an adult with family and had some “issues” to deal with. Even with my “food” resume, the fact that I had 30 years as a working professional, I started at the bottom of the pay scale with every other employee. The bottom. Less that 1/10 of my former “hourly” rate.