Background Checks & Fingerprinting – The Waiting Period

So I think I mentioned I was hired for a job with the local school system, and while it sounds great and all, I realized something…

This is more or less a waiting game.

You see, I still haven’t started that new job promised me the week of Easter. And, as you can imagine, I’d like to get started sometime very soon if possible. In fact, I called today to see what the hold-up was, and I was told… nothing. They’re simply waiting for all the background checks to come through before they decide to tell me whether I’m actually going to start or not.

Now here’s the thing: I know that unless my identity has been stolen, I should have zero criminal records of any kind. And they can check INTERPOL if they like, but to my knowledge, I’ve committed no international crimes during my various visits overseas.

So what’s taking so long?

I’ve already submitted all my personal information and agreed to their terms and basically signed my life away. I paid $45 on a fingerprinting test as well, which is rather irritating when you think about it. I don’t see why I had to pay to do something they have people do on a regular basis, but that’s really neither here nor there. There should be no hold-up.

In fact, I was approved for government clearance to access student loan files in a previous job faster than they’re getting back to me.

I get it, I do. We have to protect students and access to personal information. But I’ve never done anything in any previous jobs that makes me untrustworthy. I simply do my thing, and I do as I’m taught. That’s all. There’s no reason for me to do anything else because I probably don’t have time for that.

As they say, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

And, yes, I’m a sistah, according to one of my old clients at the call center, so I can clearly say that.

All that said, I’d like to get this show on the road. It’s getting to be a long and tiring process for me to wait for information. And when I called today, I was told that they had no information on me either and the lady would call downtown to find out what was taking so long. Did she call me back? No.

Fernando’s beginning to think I should apply for another job since this one is taking so long to get processed. But I was so hoping this would work out.

I guess sometimes things don’t always go as planned. But either way, it would really be nice to start earning money again. Especially with my funds dwindling as they are.

We’ll see if I get a call back tomorrow or not. My guess is probably not. And here I am with lots of things I need to accomplish and no money to do it on.

I’ll be back to let you know if they ever get my information processed and get me started. Until then, I’ll be rereading The Chronicles of Narnia and debating about putting my story up on Wattpad. (I’ll let you know about that, too!)

RaeNez

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The Perks of Part-Time

I mentioned in my last post I wanted to share a little of my vision for this blog and where I see myself going with it in the coming months. Now it’s time to share some news and give you that information. So, with no further ado…

I got a new job!

Yes, the turnaround on that was remarkably short, and I feel incredibly blessed to be able to tell you this. And as of right this moment, I haven’t started said job. I’m still waiting for paperwork to be processed. However, I’m incredibly hopeful that will be taken care of quickly and they’ll clear me to start working within the next few days.

What does that mean for me, my work, my writing, and this blog?

Well, first of all, it means income, a huge blessing considering how low I’ve been running these last couple of weeks. Fernando is thrilled about my new opportunity because it will take some of the financial pressure off of us, and that will make things much simpler for us.

Second, it means a shift in my work-life balance. This is totally different from how I have been working in the past. Normally I look for full-time jobs and positions where I can maximize my income, advance in the company and work diligently until better opportunities come along.

This isn’t that job.

In fact, this is entirely different, and I think it will make my work-life balance so much better in the short term and long run that it will positively affect a lot of areas in my life.

I say that because this isn’t a position I pursued. Inadvertently, yes, but this time around, no. Let me explain.

I got a call from the local school system about a resume I put in before Fernando and I were married for a clerical position that never panned out. The woman worked in a different department entirely and needed clerical help, wanted to interview me for a part-time position, and asked if I was still available. I agreed to the interview.

I came in and sat down for a chat, and before I knew it, I was really interested in the position. Not only will the position be a clerical one at 28 hours per week, but I may, upon proof of my performance, have the opportunity to split those 28 hours between clerical work and a higher paying position–specifically ESL teaching!

So when I got the call that I’d gotten the call, I was pretty excited. It’s with the county school system, which means it’s through the state. So even though the state is pretty adamant they don’t want to hire anyone more than 28 hours because they’d have to pay for insurance (thanks Obamacare); there’s the potential for a higher paying job within the criteria of 28 hours per week.

I’m looking forward to this opportunity, though, because it opens the door to a number of things I haven’t let myself consider.

  • I’ll be able to spend time on my novel writing and work on publishing some of it after doing rewrites and edits, which will be a great exercise in moving towards being a real author.
  • I may get back into a full-fledged TEFL Certificate course (120-hour accredited online program) and earn my certificate to gain more traction in the ESL teaching community and market myself better.
  • Fernando and I are even talking about both of us going back to college (he for another bachelor’s, me for a master’s), which would be a crazy risk to take but totally worth it, right?

All of this said, the job will allow me to do things to promote myself as an author, explore job options I might not otherwise explore, and be present in my marriage with Fernando.

And this makes me very happy indeed. 

I think the key to keeping up with my blog is simply to have and make time for it. You’ll see in the coming weeks that I’ll be posting about the books I’m currently working on. I’ll be writing about the plans I have to market myself, and I’ll be adding news links to this blog.

Fernando is also talking about making me a real author website once he’s finished teaching himself HTML.

How cool would that be?

In the meantime, I think I’ll take Dobby the House Corgi out for a walk and work on some writing, some reading, and maybe do a bit of dabbling in photography. Because in the end, anything I do to learn how to market myself is better than nothing, right?

– RaeNez

P.S. My mood might be slightly buoyed by the fact I tried my hand at a Paleo recipe last night that turned out fabulously. I made DIY chocolate bars (similar to Hershey’s chocolate bars) from unsweetened cocoa, coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and (the best part!) sea salt.

Mouthwatering!! And, yes, I chopped them into bite-sizes, just like Hershey’s… I could get used to this. 🙂

How NOT To Conduct A Job Interview

I know I’ve talked about a number of different topics on this blog, and in the coming posts, I plan to tell you a little about my plans for the blog, my work life, and my writing. However, I wanted to touch on something that happened recently.

As you’re probably aware, there are a number of job related websites out there that are available for job seekers to search for jobs. These sites can run the gamut from compiling job listings from all over the web a la Indeed to allowing you to post your resume in a semi-public forum to use for applying to jobs and to allow potential employers to see your information and contact you.

Examples of the latter would be Monster and CareerBuilder.

I’ve posted my resume on both websites in the hopes it will speed up application processes. However, this has an adverse affect as well. It leads to what I’ll call the Wild Goose Chase.

The Wild Goose Chase occurs when I get a call from someone who “has my resume on file” and would like to interview me for a position they have available. Typically they give me very little information besides a company name, an interviewer name, and a date/time for the interview. Sometimes they even tell me there’s an actual position available!

Here’s the thing about this type of situation: if they give me a company name, I usually end up wracking my brains trying to remember when I applied to their company in the first place.

But I digress.

Recently I had just such a situation come up and found out the company was an insurance company. I’ll stop here and say that I’m immediately suspicious when I hear the words “insurance,” “sales,” or “agent” over the phone. So the fact they called out of the blue, “had my resume on file,” and had positions immediately available wasn’t giving them much credibility in my eyes.

That said, I did take a moment to ask whether this was for a sales position or something else. The woman told me they had “management” positions available in the office and other office positions available. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt and came in for the interview, which I was told would be with a woman named Vicky.

Great.

I showed up a few minutes early and noticed other people entering the building. I figured it could simply be people returning from break. Then I got inside, and a woman seemed confused by my name, told me to sit and “someone” would be with me shortly. I sat next to a woman who seemed in the same position as me. Another man came in who appeared younger than me and was told the same thing.

I started feeling irritated.

Then a woman and a man exited the offices from the hallway with a couple of people in tow. They were shown to a conference room where I glimpsed a room full of other people similarly dressed. I realized then they wanted to do a group interview.

Let me be very clear about something: group interviews really only work if you’re a big company (i.e. Apple) or you’re a low-budget sales company who doesn’t have the money to pay for the labor to interview individual candidates.

Oh wait. The latter doesn’t work.

I got walked back to an office with a woman who didn’t introduce herself, so I’m going to name her Shamequia because I feel like it and because she was painfully white. Yes, that may sound racist, but it’s not. I’m just making a point that it would have certainly helped if she’d had the courtesy to introduce herself.

So Shamequia and I sat for maybe five minutes, but it was probably more like three. In that time, she told me I was there to go through a presentation with Vicky about the benefits of the company. I was not there to be interviewed for a position in the office because there wasn’t one open, in fact. And yes, it was all agent positions. That was it.

But, she said, have no fear, because this, my dear, is not high-pressure sales!

Really? Because it sure was starting to sound like it. And with your lack of professionalism, you’re really making me want to walk out that door.

She wanted to get up and take me straight to the conference room then and there, but I stopped her and asked her definition of high-pressure sales (which she’d already said was being in a position where you didn’t have to twist a person’s arm to buy insurance policies they didn’t need). She looked at me kind of funny.

Then I said my definition of high-pressure sales was quotas, commission-only pay, and setting your own sales goals. Her face got a bit pinched, and she evaded my question by saying all my questions were great and would be covered in the presentation and I should really “give Vicky a chance.”

Oh sure. I’m here already. Let’s go sit through something I clearly am not suited for.

So then we walked to the conference room where a number of women were seated. I was handed an application, sat down, and began filling out the application. A man came in a few minutes later, and before I knew it, Vicky and another gentleman came in. I was still working on my application as was the last man to enter the room.

Vicky began by introducing herself and then pointing out the two of us filling out applications. “You can fill those out later,” she said. When neither of us stopped, she repeated, “Fill those out later!” Really? Manners, lady.

She introduced her colleague as French (he sounded Southern) and dubbed him Jean with some ridiculous sounding accent of her own. Through her presentation she called him Jacque and Joel. Again, I have no idea what his name actually was. For all I know, he could have been Frank.

I get the impression the only name I needed to know was Vicky.

She began talking about the company, the usual blah blah history, blah blah money, blah blah. Then she started on the spiel about what insurance sales had done for her life. At this point she stopped and told us she didn’t want to tell us her story because she didn’t feel like it. Excuse me?

I’m afraid I didn’t hear you correctly.

Captain Picard disapproves.

I came all the way to your office on the other side of town to hear you tell me your foot hurts and you’d rather not tell your fabulous success story? Talk about professional.

Let’s just say I tuned out at that point. I started watching the guy across from me instead. His body language was incredibly put out, and I was positive he was irritated by the presentation as well. It was fun to have a silent partner in my frustration.

By the time all was said and done, Vicky told us her salary, which, let’s face it, makes little to no difference in our lives. Quite honestly, when the owner of an insurance sales company tells future potential agents her salary, it’s like a human dangling a bone three feet above the head of a dog that has a broken leg and can’t jump. We know we aren’t starting there. You’re just tempting us unnecessarily.

She handed the remainder of the presentation over to Jean/Jacque/Joel, who botched it merrily. He’s 26, has never had a full-time job before, and quite clearly knew nothing about effective presentation skills. He could easily have put me to sleep. He got caught up on one point and chewed it up and spat it out like it was golden. I thought he was slightly moronic to emphasize the point so dramatically, but what do I know.

His point? You should always pay attention and listen to your mentors in the business so you can learn from them. Really? He also said that while he was younger than some of us, he knew more about selling insurance with that company than any of us.

No kidding, Captain Obvious.

That said, he tried. And by the end when I wanted to strangle him, I didn’t. He did tell us to stay for a second round of interviews if we were still interested. (I can tell no one’s worked with him on his sales skills. He should have assumed interest and created expectation for the interviews, but whatever…) He said if we weren’t interested to pick up one of Vicky’s cards on the way out and give her a hug.

A hug?? You don’t go give strangers hugs, dude. Not even here in the South.

He left the room, and I and all but one person headed out the front door without a glance back.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to conduct a job interview.

– RaeNez

What a Difference…

…a few weeks makes.

I know I’ve been absent, and in absentia, you may have thought I’d retired my keyboard and blog. However, these last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity for me. It’s been amazing the amount of things I’ve accomplished in a short period of time.

Let me explain.

I finished out a two week notice at the Call Center Xtroardinaire, and it was one of the craziest two weeks I’d had. Mainly because I was too excited to care much about anything other than being able to leave soon and very soon. Of course, I was professional about it. I did my job and did it well. I did everything as I was supposed to.

Even though my supervisor kept telling me it didn’t matter and I could do what I wanted.

I suppose they’re not used to caring if people do anything for their last two weeks.

Perhaps they’re not used to getting an actual notice.

Either way, I stayed the course, I worked my time, and I quit early. What? I mean, I left early on Friday, my last day, after I had my exit interview.

My exit interview went surprisingly well. I even had the opportunity to kindly mention some of the supervisors who clearly hated their jobs as I left. (Take that, Ms. Jerk who rarely smiles  and even more rarely takes questions from reps!)

Then I turned around, got up Monday, and went to the new job. And wow. What. A. Difference.

I wound up in shock after learning some silly little things.

First: I get dual screen monitors. Yes, that’s redundant. No, I don’t care.

Second: I have a laptop. Yes, I’m typing this from said laptop. It’s fun.

Third: I get to do blogging for work. Woot! Not here, of course… but it’ll be such a blast to write for the company even if it does have to do with techy things I don’t quite understand. (You know, like “the cloud” and why we need it.)

Fourth: I get to have Nerf dart wars with my coworkers. Who wouldn’t love that? And it’s during working hours.

And this is only what I’ve learned within the first two weeks of working there. I’ve trained. I’ve already started taking calls. And, yes, I’ve had clients hang up on me. I’ve had people get haughty and impatient with me. But, you know, it’s not too bad. I can deal.

And when in doubt, Nerf it out. Or, you know, just shoot a technician. Because it’s their fault if a customer’s calling back about a ticket, right?

So… this new job thing? It seems like it might be just up my alley.

As for the old job, I’m still keeping tabs on the people I worked with. I mean, they’re my buddies, and I miss them. I did find out Call Center Xtroardinaire is adding 10,000 new accounts in the next month and has decided it’s a great time to announce they’re cutting back 15% of their workforce. They announced this the Tuesday after I left.

As you can imagine, I’m rather glad I’m gone… because I’m positive I would be cut had I stayed.

I’ll be posting more updates soon, but for now, Fernando is waiting to go get dinner. And a hungry Fernando is a dangerous thing!

– RaeNez

Pending a Two Week Notice…

…I will be leaving the call center.

Yes, the final piece of news from this incredible week of things that have changed my life and turned my world upside down is that I have received some amazing news as of Friday, March 1st.

You’ll recall from a previous post that I mentioned having a final interview on the 1st with the company I was so excited about before. They had me set for an interview on Friday morning, so I took off work using holiday time I’d earned and went to the interview hoping the people I interviewed with for a second time would like me as much as the first people had.

I interviewed with three different people this time. One was the woman who is already in place in the position I’d be coming into. I’m assuming she would be in charge of training me and would likely be the person I’d report to as well. She said they were thinking about how they could change the position and add some different responsibilities to it, and since it’s a relatively new position, I suppose that would be a fun transition to come into for me.

The second person I interviewed with was another woman who was very energetic, and although I wasn’t quite sure of her role in the organization, I enjoyed her immensely. She had a great personality and was a lot of fun to talk to.

And the last person I talked to was the marketing coordinator, a young man who I recognized from a church I’d attended before. He didn’t remember me, but we had a connection through a prior job that I’d done because he knew the owners of the company. He was fun and energetic and made me smile to listen to him talk.

Overall, I actually thoroughly enjoyed my second interview and felt very pleased with how it went. I loved meeting these people and felt more than ever that the company was one I’d like to work with. No company is perfect, obviously, but it would be such fun to work in an environment with people whose personalities are big and loud and fun like this one.

After my interview, they took me to the area in the building that I’d be working if I got the job. I got to say hi to two of my friends who worked in that department. I chatted with them and was asked about wedding planning details (of which I’ve done nothing). And then I left, wondering how soon I’d hear back from the company.

I had a lot going on Friday anyway. Fernando and I were spending most of the day going out and about. I had a doctor’s appointment to follow up on my ear infection from a couple of weeks ago. I needed to pick up my engagement ring from the jeweler because they were fixing the setting since I’d noticed the diamond was loose.

Anyway, we went to IHOP for a late lunch or early dinner, and I got the call around 4 pm. It was the president I’d interviewed with offering me the job. I was shocked, thrilled, so excited I was nearly bouncing in my seat. Fernando grabbed my hand from across the booth and held onto it to keep me anchored.

She gave me the decided salary, which was well beyond what I’d anticipated and such a wonderful figure I would never argue with it. She explained they would include all the benefits of a normal package including insurance options and 401-k options. The company even has a 401-k matching plan after you’ve worked there a certain amount of time.

She asked when I could start, and since I’m being good, I said I could start after giving a two week’s notice at work. I told her March 18th would be an excellent start date for me. I explained I could submit my two week’s notice tomorrow and be done within the next two weeks. She agreed and stated she would put that in as my start date for the job. I’m expecting the offer letter this week.

And now I start yet another adventure!

I can’t even believe how crazy this has been. Within the space of a week, I’ve become engaged and gotten a new job. Now to get through the next two weeks and begin this job while working out the details of planning a wedding.

So what do you say to all that? Do you think I’ve had a crazy week after all?

– RaeNez

What a Crazy Month

It’s now officially March, and as a wrap up to February, I just want to say that it’s been more than a little exciting, crazy, nerve-wracking, romantic, and overall exhausting.

But it has got to be my favorite month in 2013 so far, and ladies and gentlemen, we’re only in the third month now. So that is a very good thing. We’re on course for this year to shape up to be one of the best years I’ve had in a very long time.

Yes, I’m still working in a call center. Yes, I visited HR twice in the last two weeks to discuss conditions on the job that have yielded very interesting conversations with people who probably don’t know much about working in a call center. Yes, my stats are generally going downhill in a job that has frustrated me to no end.

I’ve never been happier.

The last week alone has been full of all kinds of things that have turned my world upside down, and I want to take the right amount of time to go through all of them in the correct order because it’s important that you understand just why I’ve been away so long and just why it’s been so crazy for me.

Suffice it so say, dear readers, your writer is ecstatic and busy like a bee and thrilled to bits and pieces to be involved in things that will likely leave her busy for the next several months on a rather important project.

However, let’s rewind a bit.

I think I mentioned that I’d been praying for an interview with a company after I had a phone interview with them. If I didn’t mention it, well, that’s part of what happened over the course of February. If I pulled out my calendar, I could share with you the exact date, but either way, I had a phone interview for a position that sounded relatively mediocre when I first read the details of it but would at least get me out of my current job.

The phone interview enlightened me, and the remaining details sounded more promising. That resulted in an in-person interview with the management team. Now for this particular company, they’ve been going through some growing pains, and that has resulted in something that left them without a management team for the department the position I interviewed for was in. Have you got all that?

I went into the interview and interviewed with the CEO and president of the company because they are the acting management team for the department.

The CEO and president.

Whoa.

I was a bit intimidated, but they were incredibly personable. It was an hour and a half long, and they asked me questions going all the way back to high school. (Wow!) When I began asking them questions about the company, I was struck by how much they loved what they did and how passionate they were about the industry and the company mission. Not to mention they have an internal mission to make the company a place where people love coming to work.

I can definitely get on board with that.

I had good and bad feelings at the end of the interview, and I was so hoping they’d let me know if I’d advanced enough to be able to come in for a second in-person interview, which would be the final interview step in the process.

It took a week before I heard back from them, but they emailed me last Friday (meaning February 22nd) to say they liked me and wanted me to come back for a second interview.

Can you imagine how thrilled I was? I hadn’t been so excited in a long time, and I was starting to hope for the possibility I might actually be able to get a better job.

I set up the next interview for March 1st.

And that, my dear readers, is my first update. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much news, but you’ll be hearing much, much more about this last week within my next few posts!

– RaeNez

Scheduling Blues & Valentine’s Recap

Well, I’ve been away several days, and it’s been an exciting and busy few days to say the least. I’ll start by saying that on Friday (yes, I’m bypassing Valentine’s for a moment) we had a meeting at work. That’s always a danger. It was even more of a danger because it was with our outbound collections team only instead of the entire call center team.

The meeting began with the management team informing us we’re going to a new schedule. Now while it isn’t pleasant for me, I wasn’t as upset by the changes as some people were. It’s not like I can complain anyway. They do what they want, and I simply do as I’m told, right? Right.

Our current schedule is a Monday-Thursday 9-hour shift and Friday 4-hour shift. You can see why some people were upset. They cherish their 4-hour Fridays. As do I. It’s one of the few days I’m really able to see Fernando, after all, since his crazy schedule as fast food assistant manager keeps him busy on 10-hour shifts five days a week, he ends up taking off Fridays and Saturdays to see me. So we get my half-day Fridays and all day Saturdays and most of Sundays.

If we’re lucky, we’ll see each other at various times during the week. But that hasn’t happened often lately due to our schedules.

Now my schedule will be changing starting in a few short weeks. It’s going from the above to a straight 8-hour Monday-Friday shift. They determined this was the best option to get the most call outs done and get things taken care of in the timeliest manner.

I have no quibbles with leaving an hour earlier. I’m not too chuffed at losing my half-day. I’m just rather tired with all the changes. It’s every other week we’re having a meeting about changing this or that policy. Or perhaps we’re getting an email at least once or twice a week about being able to accept or deny new pieces of information for customers when they apply for different programs. Then there’s the constant change in seating arrangements. I feel like I’m back in high school, moving desks because the teachers disapprove of so-and-so sitting next to so-and-so or whatnot.

In fact…

I had to move my desk to a desk literally not two feet away from where I was sitting. It wasn’t a big deal. They had me move on Thursday. And while I’m not really complaining, I find it amusing that I was moved.

You see, I didn’t ask to be moved.

Evelyn did.

She has severe asthma, and it’s been acting up terribly in our prior seating arrangement next to the supervisor. We were seated directly under a vent that constantly pumped out air (whether warm or cold) that would irritate her asthma and cause her to cough uncontrollably. Honestly, it was an OSHA issue more than anything else. But she was going nuts trying to get over the coughing, and she had requested to be moved to a seat where there was no vent (a seemingly impossible task in our large facility).

She requested to take over the resident “bro-ski’s” seat because he sat in an area that wasn’t as heavily hit by vents. Now “bro-ski” is an okay guy, but he’s not someone I talk to a lot, and I’m not particularly a fan of his. Evelyn took him aside and explained her situation and asked him nicely if he’d consider switching seats with her. His response was, unfortunately, predictable.

He told her in no uncertain terms he would raise cain if she tried to get him to move.

Well, strike one.

Then my supervisor came up to me on Thursday morning after I noticed her speaking to “bro-ski” and asked if I would move. She told me she knew I wasn’t really interested in moving but asked if I’d be willing to. I said I would, end of story. I mean, they’d move me anyway, so I had little choice in the matter.

That afternoon our systems went down completely for about an hour. It was great and glorious. I couldn’t take calls. It was a really beautiful world. And that’s when I moved. I took over another “bro-ski’s” desk who was out sick that day, and that’s when I realized what had happened.

In order to pacify “bro-ski,” they moved me so that his “bromance” with our other “bro-ski” could continue unhindered by distance. And of course, because the “bromance brothers” are the “teacher’s pet” types in the call center, they get pacified in their desires.

I know that’s very sarcastic and all, but you have to understand the call center life is one of those things that is very similar to high school. You have the teacher’s pets who suck up to the supervisors and get what they want. You have the cool kids who band together and get to do special things because they’re cool and they can. And then you have people who don’t really fit and just try to make it without getting in trouble.

There’s more to it than that, but I’ll likely do a separate post about how the call center is just like high school.

In short, I got bumped for the “bromance” duo, and I’m not altogether unhappy, just amused at the irony of favoritism.

In other news: I am hoping and praying for a favorable review of an interview I had Friday afternoon with an amazing company that I’d love to work for. I won’t say much here now, but I had a phone interview with them last Thursday and arranged for an in-person interview with them Friday afternoon. And now it’s a matter of waiting for them to call me this Friday to let me know if I get to go on to an executive interview, the next step in their process. I’ll definitely keep you posted on how that goes! Be wishing me lots of luck!

Finally, I have to say I had an excellent Valentine’s Day with my dear Fernando.

He surprised me big time, and though the women at work were wagering on how many bouquets I’d receive and whether he’d propose or not (to both of which they were disappointed), I was frustrated by the end of the work day. The flowers rolled in, and it was a riot of roses in the office, but none came for me. And what really frustrated me wasn’t the lack of a delivery but my co-workers’ constant jabbing at me about how I hadn’t gotten anything yet and how something much bigger and shinier must be waiting for me at home. (Or as one co-worker put it, I must have a “butt naked man” waiting for me.)

By the time I went home, I was annoyed and ready to call it a night and just go wherever for dinner and not even bother with all the hoopla surrounding Valentines, even though I’d made Fernando a card on Sunday and gotten him chocolate-covered strawberries the day before. So when he showed up at my door dressed nicely with his hands behind his back and told me to pick a hand, I was taken aback and felt annoyed with myself for being annoyed.

He brought me chocolates and a beautiful bouquet of red and pink roses and the sweetest card. I think I liked the card best. Probably because he wrote me the most wonderful note, and I’m nothing if not won over by a few lines of ink on paper. I almost cried but didn’t and instead hugged him and didn’t want to let go to get dinner.

We went to a seafood restaurant here in town and got a delicious meal. I got a nice fish that wasn’t too fishy tasting with a lemon caper sauce and au gratin potatoes. He got filet mignon and lobster and steamed broccoli. And it was all just lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed my Valentine’s Day with my first Valentine.

I’m not going to make a huge deal out of it, but he was incredibly sweet, and I adored him for it. And now here’s hoping all the good vibes from Valentine’s allowed my interview Friday to push me toward the potential for a new and better job in a company that seems to be really amazing and, more importantly, cares for its employees and wants them to enjoy coming to work.

What a difference that would make!

We shall see. And I will definitely keep you posted.

– RaeNez