Monday, December 28, 2015

Loving the Job

   When I was in my 30’s I applied for a teller job at a bank in the Philippines.  I was required a large amount of deposit to qualify.  I could have asked my parents for the money required however, my pride did not allow me.  

   Fast forward, I was 55 years old when I arrived in America with nothing but a resume.  I was surprised that I got hired without any difficulty.  My first job was Admin Assistant in Louisville, Kentucky.  My boss, Judy was a 59 years old American who owned and managed the small realty company.  The minimum wage was $8 hourly but she offered me $12, I didn’t even ask for.  It felt so good to have gotten above minimum wage ‘fresh of the boat’.  With that salary, I bought a car in installments.  It took me an hour and 10 minutes to drive the 60 miles daily from Loretto County where I lived to Louisville, Kentucky.  I enjoyed every minute driving along Bardstown Rd.  I felt comfortable in the all American, all women office.  

   In 2007, the US was at the threshold of the mortgage crisis.  The first to get hit were the realty companies.  We were managing condominium home owners’ associations.  When foreclosures hit our clients’ members everything went south.  Our company closed.  I was devastated. 

   I started the job search the very next day.  The one thing that gave me confidence was the fact that this time I have an update in my resume that says I have been hired in the US.  

   I found a wanted ad in the newspaper, Executive Assistant in a bank.  It said to apply on line.  This I felt I could brave.  I won’t have a real person in front of me.  It would not be too humiliating if I got rejected.  I did the on line application.  It led to an on line test which I must have passed because I got a call from the bank’s Human Resources.  I didn’t think much of it.  I didn’t know that call was already the interview.  The next call told me to come in for an interview with the Executive I would be assisting.  I gave my best answers.  HR called two of the bosses in my resume, one of them in Manila.  I still could not believe I would get a bank job in the US when I couldn’t get one in Manila so I accepted a lower paying, smaller company offer.  After I’ve been working two days, I got a call from the bank’s HR that I got the Executive Assistant job.  I didn’t know what to do till someone told me I can quit the 2-day job since jobs here in the US are ‘at will’, which means they can fire me any minute and I can quit any time too, no advance notice required. 

   Hence the journey of the next four years began, on the seventh floor of a corporate center in 4th St., Louisville, Kentucky.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

More Thrift Tips

   Unless your last name is Trump I bet you could use a little discount on the following items that we spend on every month, i.e. hair color, dry cleaning, soda and once in a rare while, plumbing which could cost a lot.  

   To save on hair streaks or highlight, it would be better to do it yourself by using Revlon Frost & Glow.  Although the box instructions would say mix the entire content, there's no sense in using an entire box for a few strands.  Mix just enough for what you need in any plastic container.  Keep the unmixed left over in the box for future use.  A box allows me five applications on shoulder length hair style.  This brings the cost of one application to a fifth of the box price.  This also goes for root touch up of your regular hair color.  A box of hair color gives me 2 root touch ups to cover gray.  This brings the cost down to half.

   Use Febreze to dry clean coats, hats, seats, etc.  Spray generously (soaking wet) on the inside of leather coat then use furniture polish wipes on the leather.  For fabric or faux fur coats, spray until totally wet inside and out, then hung to dry.  The coat should be good as new when it dries. This should save you the expense of taking the item to the cleaner.  This also works for fabric upholstery.  For delicate fabrics test on a small hidden spot before doing the whole thing.

   If you are one of us who can’t live without soda, then it’s already part of your monthly expenses.  If fluid intake is limited by a medical condition like patients on Dialysis or just to save left over soda without it losing the fizz, invest on a soda can cover from Amazon. That way you can split one can in two drinks or more depending on your preference.  

   Laundry bleach has been known to put holes in fabric but is harmless to plumbing pipes.  If your shower or sink drains are slowing down as if it's getting clogged don't call a plumber just yet.  Try laundry bleach.  As the label says it removes soap scum and grease.  Allow two hours after the drain has been used before pouring down the laundry bleach and give it another two hours before using the drain again.  This might save you costly plumbing work.    

   Keep saving, we can’t all be rich.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Loving the Boss

   Beth got her first job in 1971.  She was given a two hour product knowledge lecture and sample sales pitches.  She was required to dress nicely, wear makeup and do cold canvasing.  She was to sell membership to a discount card.  It looked like a credit card except that it granted no credit.  The card holder got 10% discount on every purchase from associate merchants.  The minimum wage at that time was a whopping Php120. a month, she received Php60. every two weeks, which was perfectly feasible since the jeepney minimum fare was 30 centavos.

   She was 19 but looked 16 because of her petite frame and small face.  She was not even asked for her marital status.  Her boss, Vicky assumed she was single.  She was actually a college dropout, still reeling from a fast track marriage and a quickie divorce Philippine style (no papers to sign, just a simple verbal agreement between the two parties).  The job may seem insignificant and the pay paltry but companies were not hiring teens with no employment record before food chains like McDonald's arrived.  

   Beth looked so young and innocent so that boss Vicky and her office mates warned each other that a kid is present when making jokes and conversation with sexual content.  Until one day Beth blurted out how it can be done sitting on the toilet sink.  The ladies all looked at each other and burst out laughing.  From there on Vicky and Beth hit it off.  It turned out Vicky was also separated.  She showed Beth her condo where she lived alone.  They talked about men mostly.  After a year Beth found a new ‘husband’ and quit her job.  They never saw each other again.  Beth never forgot Vicky.

   Beth's second 'marriage' went south after three years.  She got a job as a saleslady at a photo finishing service and camera sales store.   That was before cameras went digital.  She had a bad crush on her boss but she wasn’t his type.  He was dating another saleslady, the one who danced the Hula during the office party.  The Philippines did not have sexual harassment law.  Beth left the company after 18 months.

   Her third job was with a trade magazine as Media Sales Representative.  It was a small operation.  The office was on the ground floor of her boss’ home.  The copies were given away free.  They printed just enough copies to be visible then claimed an exaggerated amount of circulation to advertising clients to justify the advertising cost.  It was a rip-off but her boss was a nice guy.  However shady, this job got Beth her foot on the door of the advertising industry.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Grandma (Lola) Eugenia

   My mother didn’t go out of the house much but she took me to visit my great grandmother Eugenia every so often.  We used to bring her Chinese food from a popular panciteria.  And my mom always said it was amazing how Lola Genia, as we called her, (Lola means grandmother) could eat heartily at her age.  At 89 years old, Lola Genia lived alone in her big house in Imus, Cavite.  Her husband died before I was born.  She refused to live with anyone of her four children.  She owned a sizable rice field and received income from it.  Now, that’s an independent woman.

Battle of Imus Monument
   Lola Genia was born in 1873.  She first witnessed the ravages of war in Cavite when she was 19 years old. The Philippine Revolution against Spain was launched in 1892.    “The Battle of Imus, or the Siege of Imus, was the first big battle of the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonial government in the province of Cavite…The resulting decisive victory for the Filipino revolutionaries in Imus very much alarmed the Spanish government in the country. Following the conflict, they attempted to subdue the revolutionaries in Cavite province with the twin battles in Binakayan and Dalahican weeks after the battle in Imus.”

   She was 68 years old when World War II commenced in Europe in 1939.  By this time, her children have all married.  She built an underground air raid shelter  beneath the floor which was elevated four feet from the ground.  “Japan launched a surprise attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Initial aerial bombardment was followed by landings of ground troops both north and south of Manila.” (U.S. Library of Congress)  By the time the war reached the Philippines, Lola Genia had the air raid shelter ready to protect her children, who all came back for safety and stayed till the end of the war.  Now, that is called foresight. 
Sample of Air Raid Shelter

   My parent’s, mine and the succeeding generations owe our lives to our matriarch, Lola Genia.  Her rice field was handed down and liquidated to benefit all three generations of heirs, mine included.  

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