Monday, December 15 – Wednesday, December 17

The gym, the subway, and trees

Monday was for the most part a recovery day. After all the work I had done in the Major Home Improvement Retailer’s tree lot over the weekend, I was seriously drained. As in “barely able to walk” drained. At first I had been considering taking advantage of my day off to do my Christmas shopping at the Union Square market in Manhattan, where I go every year, but I simply didn’t have the energy.

By late afternoon I had regained enough strength that I went to the gym. Having missed so much gym time during these tough weeks at the MHIR, it was hard to know where to start. I finally decided to do machine work for a while, a few weeks maybe, and then move back into more conventional stuff. I did machine chest presses, flies, and cable pushdowns, not paying too much attention to the particular weight settings. Basically I just went by what seemed reasonably challenging.

Tuesday it was off to Union Square. The weather looked somewhat threatening when I left around 10, but according to forecasts the rain was supposed to hold off until late afternoon. After dealing was moderately heavy but tolerable traffic on the Long Island Expressway, I arrived at the supermarket parking deck in Queens where I know, from past work assignments, that it’s okay to park for the day. From there it was a fairly quick walk to the 46th Street station on the R train, which goes right to Union Square. Slowly, that is: one thing the R is not, is fast.

After a successful shopping excursion at the (absolutely packed) marketplace, I got back on the R for my return trip. My timing was good in that the rain held off until just as I was finishing, but bad in the sense that the train was packed to the gills with rush hour beginning. The ride back to Queens seemed endless, but that probably was just a perception from all the crowding. What unfortunately was not a mere perception was Expressway traffic on the way back. Not good, that sums it up quite succinctly.

Wednesday was a quieter day at first, as I busied myself with various things but didn’t do anything of consequence at first. I was planning on going to the gym in the late afternoon, but that changed when I got a call from the MHIR asking if I could come in for 5:30. Unscheduled shifts of that sort are uncommon and I was hardly about to turn down the extra pay. I ended up working until ten, being quite busy with freight and helping customers and even handling some trees.

Published in: on December 19, 2014 at 6:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, December 11 – Sunday, December 14

I (barely) survived the tree lot.

Thursday was the last day at my regular job prior to the three-week break, not to mention the last day under the current rotation of seven work sites.  I was hoping that the district manager would stop by and let me know what my new four-site rotation would be, but that didn’t happen. I will get a call or e-mail over the break with the new assignment. It really doesn’t matter where I’m sent, but nonetheless I’d just like to know soon. Call me curious. The workday itself was very easy, over before noon, and while I’d like to say the rest of my day was busy and productive I in fact did next to nothing.

Friday was mostly a do-nothing day until the late afternoon, when I had to make a quick trip into Queens. I was very worried that traffic would be a horror show like it had been a couple weeks ago, but to my delight it wasn’t bad at all. A few slow stretches on the Northern Stategh!) Parkway in western Nassau, and they weren’t too bad. It took me a little over an hour, compared to almost two and a half hours (ugh!) last time. Getting back was even quicker.

Saturday and Sunday were not among my best days. I worked eight hours each day in the tree lot at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and it was almost nonstop chaos start to finish. This weekend was the last big push for trees, and the customers kept coming and coming. With the Christmas tree inventory getting low, indeed with the big trees for cathedral ceilings being sold out completely, many customers were a bit difficult. They often were unhappy when I said there were no more deliveries on the way, which should hardly be surprising for such seasonal items. I suppose I shouldn’t complain; most people were fine, especially those who came with children. And at least I wasn’t indoors for long with the lights and decorations, many of which are sold out.

By the time I was done on Sunday afternoon I was utterly drained and sore. All those hours in the tree lot were draining, but hey, I survived. Next weekend I might deal with a few trees, but based on what I’ve heard there aren’t likely to be many.

Published in: on December 17, 2014 at 4:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, December 8 – Wednesday, December 10

Rain, snow, it’s hard either way


And so begtoon my last week at my regular job before the 3-week year end’s break. I still don’t know where my work sites will be when I come back in January. In a way it doesn’t matter, as they’re all reasonably close and don’t differ that much in terms of difficulty, but the sooner I know the better. I will find out either by telephone or e-mail.

I spent each day at two sites, which I had grouped so as to minimize travel time. It hardly was necessary to do so, as the work was very easy. With one fairly minor exception I was able to finish up in about two hours at each site. Things should be quite different in January, with two days to be spent at each site (and with more to do).

While I spent Monday evening mostly recovering from my hard weekend at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, I went right back on Tuesday and Wednesday. Each one was a 4:30 – 10:00 shift. That’s a tough shift not only because of its length, but also because as a “closer” I had to clean up the garden department after the store closed to customers at 9. What’s more, after 7 each day I was the only employee in garden. I had to cover not just the tree lot but the remaining parts of the department both inside and out. Not easy, believe me.

As for the trees, Tuesday’s heavy rain meant that there weren’t too many customers, but also ensured that I got thoroughly soaked whenever I waited on one. I kept running back to the inside area, where there was a great deal of freight to be packed out. Not to mention a decent number of customers looking at the lights and decorations. Wednesday was busier in the tree lot as it was snowing. I still got soaked, if not quite as quickly.

Published in: on December 12, 2014 at 7:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, December 4 – Sunday, December 7

Trees, trees, and more trees

Thursday marked the last day of the year at my main job, not counting the week of the 8th with its special clean up work. I had another talk with a manager about the full-time managerial opening. What I heard only reinforced my decision not to seek it. In addition to the drawbacks I’ve already noted, the job has a strange combination of significant responsibility with limited authority. Thanks, but no thanks. The workday itself went by easily enough.

Later on Thursday I worked the 4:30 – 8:30 shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Once again I was assigned to the Christmas tree lot. There was what I’d describe as a steady flow of tree buyers, enough to keep me busy but for the most part not overwhelming. The one downside is that there was only one other employee on duty in garden, and she was quite busy with the indoor decorations and lights. Still, she was able to come out and assist me a couple times, for that I was grateful.

Friday was ostensibly my day off, but it scarcely counted as such as I was constantly running back and forth on errands. No rest for the weary. Still it beat work, though ironically enough I was not completely free of Christmas trees: we went to a cut-your-own tree farm and got a relatively small but nicely shaped Douglas fir,

Trees returned with a vengeance on Saturday and Sunday. okay, maybe “returned” is the wrong word as they never actually went away. I worked a full shift at the MHIR both days, 1:00 – 9:30 on Saturday and 10:30 – 7:00 on Sunday. As it was raining heavily all Saturday I wasn’t expecting there to be many tree buyers, and in fact had been half-expecting my shift to be canceled. To my surprise there actually were quite a few tree customers, maybe three or four each hour. Not enough to keep me occupied at all times, so I helped inside on freight packdown and waited on customers.

Sunday, you ask? Suffice to say that the tree buyers were out in full force. I worked nonstop on trees for almost my entire shift. Tying trees on top of customer vehicles was the hardest part. My pet peeve is people who have large SUV’s that could carry the trees inside, but want them on top because otherwise they’d have to vacuum up needles. Tying a tree on top of a high vehicle is NOT fun. At least I got some nice tips, and except on a couple occasions there were several people on duty in the tree lot.

Published in: on December 9, 2014 at 12:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, December 1 – Wednesday, December 3

I forgot how tough it is

Monday was a fairly easy day at my regular job. This was slightly surprising, as it was at one of the busier worksites, but it was one of those days when everything seemed to fall into place. Funny how those things happen. During the day I found out that there was another managerial opening, one that the company has been having some trouble trying to fill. I got the impression that it would pretty much be mine if I wanted it. After some consideration I decided against applying. The pay would be very close to what I’m now making if I do a typical 16-hour week at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and while I would be working fewer hours each week to make the same amount I also would have to drive into central Nassau each day. It would be combined wwithy hard if not impossible for me to keep working at the MHIR, which would not be desirable as I sort of like the place, and in any event I dislike keeping all my eggs in one basket.

Speaking of the MHIR, I was there for four hours on Monday evening, and it was tough. Constant work in the tree lot combined with down stocking products, assisting customers, reshelving returns, you name it.  I even did some online training. The four hours left me pretty well beat out and with throbbing feet.

Tuesday was somewhat more complicated at my regular job, lots of minor issues, though Wednesday was a comparative breeze. On Wednesday I formally turned down the managerial opening, letting my current manager know I wouldn’t be applying. I do not regret this decision.

Wednesday at 6pm I went to hot yoga for the first time in too long. As my feet were still sore I took aspirin before going. It was tough, very very tough, though somehow I made it through. The instructor was someone I’ve never had before, pleasant but very hardcore. Unlike the others she called zero breaks during the entire 90 minute session. After her, the other instructors should be a breeze!

Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, November 27 – Sunday, November 30

No turkey,  lotsa trees

Thursday was of course Thanksgiving,  which fortunately was not a workday thanks to the Major Home Improvement Retailer’s distinctly civilized decision to remain closed. Thanksgiving dinner went well, even though we eschewed the traditional turkey in favor of roast leg of lamb. A much better choice, if I may say so. Friday was mostly a goof off day.  Needless to say I had zero desire to participate in Black Friday shopping sprees.  I was going to go to the gym but figured I’d go instead after work on Saturday.  Big mistake.

As for Saturday and Sunday,  they’re kind of a blur. I spent eight hours each day in the Christmas tree lot at the MHIR. Eight extremely busy hours, as there was a nearly non stop flow of tree buyers. Between the trimming and the wrapping, and especially tying the trees onto cars, it was exhausting and surprisingly dirty work (washing tree sap off one’s hands is no easy feat). It goes without saying that I had zero energy for the gym.

Published in: on December 2, 2014 at 3:07 am  Comments (1)  

Monday, November 24 – Tuesday, November 26

And I’m supposed to do what? 

One downside of working two jobs is that it’s hard to find ways to occupy myself when I’m not working. That’s exactly what happened to me on Monday and Tuesday. I have the week off at my regular job, and I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, so combined with Sunday this meant three days in a row completely off. I haven’t had that state of affairs since I went to Florida in early October,  and that really wasn’t the same thing.

It would be nice to say that I found productive ways to occupy myself, but that would be a partial exaggeration.  Monday I just sort of diddled around without doing much of anything.  Tuesday was a step up. I bought most of the stuff for Thanksgiving dinner. This included a nice big turkey, as well as … actually there was no turkey, no one really likes it and we are having roast leg of lamb instead.

Wednesday was much busier.  I went to Briermere Farms in Riverhead to get one of there best-anywhere pies. It was, not surprisingly,  jammed, with long lines. I had wanted to get a boysenberry pie but they were sold out of that and most other varieties.  I was able to find apricot, which actually works out well because it’s one of my favorites.

Later on Wednesday I worked a 4:30 to 8:30 shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  It was a busy four hours, with more customers than I would have expected for Thanksgiving eve, and a considerable amount of prep work for Black Friday. Speaking of which, I saw the schedule for Black Friday and it seemed like I was one of the very few people not scheduled for that day. Presumably that’s because I hadn’t updated my availability to show that I would be available that day. I am working Saturday and Sunday, as well as a lot of hours over the next two weeks. Oh,  and I finally got to cut the base of a tree (two, actually) with the chainsaw.

I went to the gym on Tuesday evening for some upper body work. Bench press: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 6 × 205,  5 × 225, 3 × 225. Three times people asked me if I was almost done. Unique Fitness has only two flat bench stations, which is way too few. I then did overhead presses, 4 × 8 × 90.  On Wednesday morning I returned for a quick session.  Dips: 4 × 6 x bodyweight.  EZ curls : 8 × 70, 3 × 8 × 80.

Published in: on November 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, November 22 – Sunday, November 23

This weekend was a change from my usual weekend routine. I worked on Saturday at the Major Home Improvement Retailer as usual, but for the first time in several weeks I did not work on Sunday. It was hard to figure out what to do with myself!

Saturday’s shift was from 10 to 6:30, which I’d say is one of the better weekend schedules. No need to get up early, and finished at a reasonable hour. What with Thanksgiving approaching the store was busy for most of my shift. I alternated between moving and setting up seasonal displays, and assisting customers. Maybe it was the split nature of my duties, but the shift went by quickly.

My experience in the Christmas tree lot was the one discordant note. All throughout the shift I’d been hoping that I’d finally get the chance to handle a tree. Finally, about 15 minutes before the end of my shift a couple bought a tree. With a mixture of trepidation and confidence I took out the chainsaw to trim the bottom of the trunk …. and couldn’t get it started. The customers, who were clearly getting impatient with my bumbling, finally took the un-trimmed tree. It was embarrassing, and only became worse when I took a second look at the chainsaw after they left and realized that all I had needed to do was press a safety switch. I was very angry with myself, the only small consolation being that it was the first time in my life I had ever handled a chainsaw.

Sunday was a fairly lazy day, as I tried to get accustomed to having it off. I made an early afternoon trip to the gym and did some back work. Barbell rows: 3 × 8 × 185. T-bar rows: 3 × 8 × 115. Standing calf machine shrugs: 4 × 10 × 330. Later in the evening we went to Smokey Bones BBQ for burgers, which were very good.

Published in: on November 26, 2014 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, November 19 -Friday, November 21

Traffic follies

Wednesday and Thursday were the last two days at my regular job prior to the week off for Thanksgiving.  Based on how absurdly easy the first two days of the week had been I wasn’t expecting any challenges.  I actually was wrong, at least as far as Wednesday went. It was a nearby work site that’s usually easy enough,  but this time there seemed to be one complication after another.  Nothing I couldn’t handle, just time consuming.  In sharp contrast to Monday and Tuesday, when I finished up very early and had to find other things to occupy myself, I actually left shortly after my usual quitting time.  Thursday was very easy, which is just as well as I was at the most distant of my work sites, about 30 miles to the east.

Wednesday evening I worked a four-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.  It was my first weekday evening shift in about three weeks, not counting the shift in which I was reassigned to hardware.  It was pretty different from my usual weekend shifts as after the first 30 minutes I was the only employee in the garden department.  Weekend staffing is greater.  While the store wasn’t really crowded, it was busy enough that I really had to rush around for much of the shift. The garden department’s physical size, with indoor and outdoor areas as well as a greenhouse,  meant that I had a lot of ground to cover.

I was figuring that I’d go to the gym or maybe hot yoga on Thursday, but I got lazy. Okay, Friday then. After doing not much of anything all day I found out around 3:30 that I had to make a quick drive into Queens. No big deal, I could complete the round trip in less than three hours and have plenty of time for the gym.

How wrong I was. The drive into Queens,  which normally would take me just over an hour,  took more than two and a half hours. Even though I was going against the main flow of rush hour traffic the Long Island Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway were absolutely jammed. All I can think of in terms of an explanation is that falling gasoline prices are encouraging people to do more driving. Whatever the reason it was after nine by the time I got back. Normally I still would have had time for the gym, but we went to a birthday dinner at a Korean barbecue (in the process exhausting my repertoire of dog meat jokes). It was quite good, but rather expensive.

Published in: on November 24, 2014 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, November 17 – Tuesday, November 18

Divided session

Monday marked the beginning of the second to last work cycle of the year in my main job. After this week I’ll be off for the week of Thanksgiving, then back for a week to complete the cycle, and then there will be one week of cleaning up any unfinished tasks. Thursday, December 11 will be my last day until after the first of the year. Of course I’m not getting paid during the three weeks off, though I knew about this all along and in any event I should be getting quite a few hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.

Whatever the case, this cycle is going to be very easy. I was done by noon on Monday even though it was the start of the cycle and was at a worksite that’s usually among my more difficult.  Tuesday was even easier, and I was finished before 11. Of course in each case I had to find miscellaneous chores to occupy myself,  as I can’t leave before 1.

On Monday evening I went to the gym for what I planned would be a lengthy session. I did some bench presses: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 6 × 205, 2 × 4 × 225.  Right after the second set at 225, as I was about to start a cooldown set at 185, I got a telephone call that lasted about 20 minutes. By the time I was done my muscles had tightened up and I knew it would be inadvisable to continue.

But I wasn’t about to be stopped for long. I returned to the gym late on Tuesday afternoon and finished my upper body work. First came overhead presses: 8 × 80, 4 × 8 × 90. I then did something easier, namely cable pushdowns,  5 x 8 × 50. To finish the session I did some dips, for the first time in forever, 4 × 6 × body weight.  In addition to the weights, I also ellipted for 20 minutes.

Published in: on November 21, 2014 at 1:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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