Tool Time Bernie at Home at T.H.D.
By Bernie Bottens | Posted: 11/15/2012 10:00AM
I know that the vast majority of reading my column are unaware that I experienced a career change in June. I have made zero comment on that occurrence in this venue. That is not something that I wished to carry on my sleeve.
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However, now, all these weeks into the process of resume editing, resumes being sent out, and filing unemployment insurance claims, I have come to a point where I understand a few things that are worthy of sharing.
After the initial shock and all of the emotions that one goes through when one is “let go,” I picked myself up and started to move forward with the process at hand. After all, to be considered for unemployment, one must first apply. Then, a wait week must be experienced. Then, in the second week, the money begins to come.
But, the State has certain requirements in order for you to get unemployment. First, you must place that weekly claim by answering a number of questions regarding what you did or did not do that week towards finding a job.
If you did find work, you must report to them how many hours you worked and what your earnings were. Then, you must demonstrate, by providing the who, what, and when of the applications that you made. With that process behind you, the check is, literally, in the mail.
The emotions of being let go are interesting. The anger and the frustration are certainly real. In moving forward, I have been told by others that these feelings will be present for a long time to come. I agree. As this is my first experience in my nearly 60 year life, I can see that this will be the case. Facing a failure such as this is hard.
Balancing that frustration and anger is the support of family and friends. I know how tough this is on my wife, Carol. I see that and I struggle to bring this unemployment period to an end for her as well as for myself. Yet, she is very supportive and works with me as I explore my potential options.
I also have friends who call me regularly to check in and ask how things are going. Certainly, it goes without saying that this is a financial struggle for us. The State, in their infinite wisdom, provides help. But it in no way equals the comfort of my previous salary.
I want to hold up one thing that has been most healing for me. One of the first job applications I filled out was one for The Home Depot. After all, I call myself “Tool Time Bernie.” I have been a contractor, cabinet builder, wood finisher, and exhibit builder for most of my adult life. I have more than a few skills that could be of value to T.H.D.
This is the 21st century, however, and T.H.D. is big business. One applies on line and then somehow that application trickles down to the local level where store managers in my area can look at it if they have a need. I was blessed to have that happen.
The phone call came one day. T.H.D. wanted to do a phone interview and then, if that was successful in their eyes, I might hear from someone at one of the stores who would want to interview me face to face. One thing led to another and I was offered a part time position in hardware. That’s probably the best place for Tool Time Bernie. After all, in spite of my expertise in wood finishing, as a hands-on type of guy, there’s lots in that department that I can help out with.
But I must say that when I got the schedule to come in for my initial training that I felt pretty uncomfortable. Here I was, going from a regional company to a national company. I had worked for the regional outfit and had been well aware of the company goal statement. Contrary to having worked my hardest to meet the letter of that statement, I had been found lacking. Now, here comes T.H.D. a multi-million dollar corporation who couldn’t possibly care about Bernie on any level. I fully expected to have to really work my fanny off just to prove myself within my department let alone amongst the other 125 employees in the store.
Yet, I knew I could do that. I have professed on this very page that taking care of business and taking care of customers are the most important things an individual can do. To my surprise, that’s exactly where T.H.D and Bernie agreed the most.
I am pleased to announce that T.H.D. has a set of core values that, at least in my store, are lived, breathed and walked every moment of every day. In so many ways, I have learned that they are really serious about management taking care of employees, and employees taking care of customers. If those two things happen, everything else falls into place. My store demonstrates that day in and day out.
Our managers demonstrate respect of their employees. The store manager continually demands that of them. Employees in the store see that and mirror that behavior by showing respect for fellow employees. At the same time, we go out of our way to make sure that all of our customers receive drop dead service in our store.
I was in Vancouver, B.C. a couple of weeks ago presenting two sessions at the University of British Columbia. Carol and I had been out all day and returned to the hotel for the evening when I found a voice mail on my cell phone from my store manager. I had absolutely no idea why he would be calling me. That he would take the time to do so really surprised me. Worried somewhat as to what this call might mean, I phoned the store.
He had gone home for the day but the manager on duty said that the boss wanted to talk to me and that he would pass on that I had called to him. Five minutes later, my phone rang and I had the store manager on the line. He wanted to congratulate me for having been promoted from temporary part time employee to permanent part time employee.
The Home Depot, for me, has gained new meaning through its name. Instead of being a place where one goes to improve one’s home, I would suggest to you that it means that my train has reached the depot. My train has come in and it has come in at the depot in my home town. I’m home.
That may not mean that my journey is over. I still think that there is a place out there for Bernie where he can pursue his passions for woodworking and wood finishing. I still look forward to doing that again. But, for now, I’m home. It’s always good to be home.
That having been said, I need to move on now. I still have three resumes to find homes for this week. The State will want to see my unemployment claim if I want them to fill the difference between my T.H.D. hours and what the State allows. I know that we could certainly use the money until such time as I find full time employment. Time to get to work!
Until next time…spray on!
About the Author
Bernie BottensBernie Bottens (WoodworkingNetwork.com/blogs)writes and teaches on the subject of wood and wood finishing in industrial woodworking. He and his wife, Carol, live in Vancouver, WA. Bernie has been teaching wood finishing to shop owners, shop foremen, spray technicians and finishers all over Oregon, southwest Washington, and northern California for the past 9 years. Prior to that, he owned his own cabinet shop. His shop credentials include apprenticing and becoming a journeyman exhibit builder. Before that he taught in the public schools for 20 years. Bernie is the owner of Kapellmeister Enterprises, Inc. and Kap Coatings Consulting. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.