Monday, July 27 – Wednesday, July 29

I played hooky. 

Monday was the easiest day of the four. I started a new 2-week work cycle at my main job, and it is much easier than the last one. No comparison at all. I was able to take my allotted 15-minute break and half-hour lunch without worrying at all that I’d be able to finish in time. In fact I was done about 90 minutes early, though I had to occupy myself for a while until I could leave. In the evening I had another machine session at the gym, though this time a bit longer than I’ve been doing.

Tuesday and Wednesday were something different. I spent both days working on a special project in Nassau County. It wasn’t too bad getting there and back, via the Long Island Expressway, the Northern State Parkway, and  (briefly) the Meadowbrook Parkway. The fact that I had to be at the worksite at 6:30 rather than my usual 7 meant that I had to leave very early, but also meant that I beat the worst of the traffic. I left around 1:30 each day, which also meant that traffic wasn’t too bad. Each trip took a bit over an hour, for which I’ll be paid. The work itself wasn’t bad, a nice change of pace.

On Tuesday, I worked from 6 to 10 at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It wasn’t bad, even with the extra driving that I had done. Mostly customer service stuff, with a bit of freight packout. Actually, I did next to nothing for the first 40 minutes. Right as I clocked in the department head asked me to get bolt cutters and cut off the padlock on one of the propane cages on the side of the building, as it had become jammed. He said that he would get another lock and meet me at the cage.

I got the biggest set of bolt cutters from the tool room and cut off the offending lock. It took more than a little elbow grease but the powerful cutters won out. I then waited for the DH to come out with the new lock. And waited. And waited. I couldn’t leave the propane cage unlocked and there was no one else around. I couldn’t call the store because I was charging my phone in the break room. Fortunately, although it was hot out, the cage area was in shadow so I wasn’t baking in the sun. It was a great relief when the DH finally came. He had been involved with helping a customer and hadn’t realized that I had already gone out to the cage.

Wednesday presented quite a different story at the MHIR. I  was supposed to work from 4:30 to midnight after putting in seven hours at the special project in Nassau and after driving a total of about two and a half hours. Counting driving time I’d be going from 5:15 in the morning until midnight with at most two hours off. Not going to happen. Reluctantly, as I rarely do such things, I called in sick to the MHIR. You have to do what you have to do. Although I had Wednesday evening more or less free I didn’t go to the gym. Too weary. We did make a shopping excursion to Whole Foods, though to my disappointment there wasn’t much in the line of free samples.

Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 1:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, July 24 – Sunday, July 26

Friday was a nice easy do-nothing day off. I made a conscious effort to do as little as possible. Okay, that doesn’t mean nothing; I made a late afternoon trip to the gym for some back and shoulders machine work. I haven’t set a hard deadline for returning to a more focused free-weights routine. It depends, in large part, on my work schedule. If I’m working 50+ hours a week between the two jobs it is difficult to follow a strict gym routine. With the busy season at the Major Home Improvement Retailer nearing an end, especially after the August 4 inventory, my schedule shouldn’t be quite as tough. If I’m in the 44 to 48 hour range there will be more time and energy for the gym and for hot yoga too.

Saturday was a long shift at the MHIR, 8:45 to 5:15. Fortunately I had gotten a new pair of shoes that are quite easy on my feet, so I wasn’t limping around in pain at the end of the shift. Although the store was busy, Garden was well-staffed for most of the day so it wasn’t too bad. Sunday was just a 4-hour shift, 1 to 5, and especially after Saturday it seemed to zip right by.

One thing I did after work on Sunday was finish up a book I’ve been reading, In the Kingdom of Ice by Hamilton Sides. It’s about the USS Jeannette expedition to the North Pole in 1879. Needless to say they did not get there, and only about a third of the expedition members survived. It’s kind of hard to tell whether the explorers were brave, or foolish, or both. More likely both. I leaned a couple bits of trivia: one advantage of leather outdoor clothing is that you can eat it if things are really desperate, and speaking of food, roast sled dog is not very tasty. Now you know.

Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 1:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 20 – Thursday, July 23

Thankfully it got easier 

Monday and Tuesday were tough days at my main job. No glossing this one over. Each day I had to hustle like crazy to get done on time and barely was able to take a lunch break. My allotted half hour was more like ten minutes on Monday and maybe fifteen minutes on Tuesday. It was frustrating to be so swamped, and even a bit depressing. I can’t really say why I thought that way. In the past I’ve been at jobs in which I didn’t always have enough work to keep myself busy. Believe me, that situation is far, far worse than being busy, even extremely busy. And then of course there are some people who don’t have jobs at all and wish they could be busy.

Wednesday and Thursday were more of a return to normal. I worked hard but it wasn’t overwhelming. It really was a happy medium, albeit one that doesn’t necessarily happen too often. Enjoy it when it does. I’m just glad this very tough 2-week work cycle is over. It looks as if the next one shouldn’t be too bad.

Wednesday was the only evening of the four during which I was scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. I will be getting more hours during the next two weeks, in part due to the prep work for the annual inventory on August 4. Wednesday’s shift was 5:30 to 9:30, one I haven’t worked too often. I spent most of the shift waiting on customers, as the store was quite busy, though I was able to do some freight packout. There’s a big push to get the receiving area as empty as possible before the inventory day.

I made it to the gym twice during this stretch, on Tuesday and Thursday. Both times I mostly did machine work, no pushing to the limit or anything. Once the MHIR inventory is done, my work hours are going to be more predictable and I plan to get back to free weights and a more structured program.

Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 18 – Sunday, July 19

Whoops! I was scheduled to work an unusual shift on Saturday at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, 12:15 to 4:15. It’s relatively uncommon for shifts to begin or end on the quarter hour. So around 11 I checked my schedule to make sure it wasn’t actually 12:30 when I was supposed to start.

It wasn’t. My shift was starting at 12:15 … on Sunday. I should have been in at 9:30. Of course I went rushing in, and everything was okay. Mistakes like this happen a lot, and there are no consequences so long as there aren’t a lot of repeat mistakes. Of course I did lose two hours’ pay. It wasn’t a bad shift, mostly regular customer service stuff.

You’d better believe that I made sure of my Sunday schedule, 12:15 to 7:15. Before starting I made a rare morning trip to the gym, again just machine work. As for my shift, the key word was HOT. I spent a good part of it outside in the broiling sun, flagging for another worker who was using a forklift with extension blades to move several display sheds from the side of the store to the front. It was slow, painstaking work, as we had to use timbers to make a base for each shed. Even when that was done I didn’t get to spend much time in the gloriously air conditioned indoors. For some reason the heat didn’t stop customers from flocking to the outside garden area and there were constant propane exchanges. Yet somehow I didn’t melt.

Published in: on July 22, 2015 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednssday, July 15 – Friday, July 17

Buzz buzz

These were a pretty uneventful three days, for the most part. Wednesday and Thursday were relatively easy days at work. Easier than the two prior days, which came as a mild surprise as the worksite for Wednesday and Thursday is generally a bit more challenging than the one earlier in the week. It looks as if my fears about the current two-week cycle were mostly unfounded. It is difficult, but not quite the nightmare I had feared. It helps that I’m not working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer until the weekend.

Friday was an interesting day off. We went to a lavender farm on the North Fork, not far from the end of the road at Orient Point. Quite a feast of the senses, but the most interesting part was seeing the absolutely vast number of bees buzzing around the plants. The expression “busy as a bee” really struck home. They were so busy with the plants that they didn’t bother anyone.

I made gym visits on both Thursday and Friday. It looks like I’m in a phase where I’m doing mostly just machine work without too much concern about specific weights. I actually had been going to do one-arm dumbbell rows on Friday, but I somehow had twisted a side muscle and decided to stick with the machine stuff. It’s just a phase.

Published in: on July 22, 2015 at 12:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 13 – Tuesday, July 14


I knew well in advance that the work cycle at my main job that began on Monday was going to be difficult. What I did not know in advance was just how difficult it would be. That became crystal clear almost as soon as I started on Monday morning. In two hours I had made less progress than I usually make in an hour. Oh joy. For a while it was looking as if I’d never finish by my usual quitting time, which would mean that I’d have to call for overtime authorization  (and hope that I wouldn’t get voicemailed). Fortunately it didn’t come to that, but it wasn’t easy. I had to skip my 15-minute morning break and took just ten minutes for lunch instead of the 30 minutes I’m supposed to get. Even so, I finished right at the deadline. Too close for comfort.

I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer in the evening, in fact my next hours aren’t until Saturday, so I made a fairly lengthy gym trip. I concentrated on bench press, with some decent results: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 4 × 205, 2 × 6 × 225, 8 × 185.  I was glad to have gotten two sets of six at 225, haven’t done that in a while. Maybe next bench session I’ll try for eight. I also did some lighter machine work for shoulders.

Tuesday was another challenging day at work, though a bit easier as I had more of a handle on my tasks. I still worked right to the deadline but this time was able to take normal breaks. It makes a big difference.

I went to hot yoga for the first time in too long, attending the 5:30 session. The studio owner led it, and one thing I liked is that she knew my name even though I’m one of probably a few hundred members and have only met her on three or four occasions, none within the last couple of months. As for the session, it was, well, hot. Hotter than usual, according to the instructor. Getting through it was really tough, not just from the heat but also because it was my first session in a month. It also was a full 90-minute session rather than the 75-minute “express” ones I usually attend. There are the same number of positions but more rest time between them. That might sound good, but the extra 15 minutes in the heat more than counteracts any benefits of the longer rest periods. Still, I made it through, somehow, though on a couple of occasions I had to sit out a bit. As did many other people in the crowded room. I’m glad I went.

Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 3:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 11 – Sunday, July 12

What’s that poem … water, water, everywhere?  That was my weekend. I worked both days at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, and most of the time I was on plant watering duty. And on Saturday it started very early indeed. I was scheduled to come in at the ghastly hour of 5am, an hour before the store opened for business. No one actually got in until 5:30 due to a mixup between two of the managers over who was opening. Everyone still got paid from 5, so it was fine by me.

I spent about three hours watering all the plants on the front apron. Plant watering sounds easy, but when there are hundreds and hundreds of plants it becomes quite time consuming.  Once that task was done I did regular customer service stuff for a couple hours. But then the representative from one of the plant nurseries complained that the annuals in the inside garden area were too dry, so I had to spend about 90 minutes watering them. Before I knew it was 1:30 and my shift was over. I’d like to say that I made good productive use of the rest of the day, but of course I didn’t.

Sunday was more reasonable in that I worked a nice dignified shift of 11:30 to 3:30. No more having to start at some insane hour.  This time I spent the entire shift watering the plants. It was quite hot and the plants were absorbing water like crazy. In fact, under MHIR rules if it had been just a few degrees hotter there would have to have been two people on watering duty. It wasn’t easy working in the heat and I was very happy when the shift ended. I had been planning on making a quick gym visit after work, but I was just too worn down.

Published in: on July 17, 2015 at 2:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, July 9 – Friday, July 10

Return to the routine 

On Thursday I went back to my regular tasks at my main job after two days on the special project. It was a welcome return. While I didn’t mind the special project, after more than three years on this job I’ve gotten to a point where I enjoy predictability. And routine, though it’s a closely related concept. Having become this way probably has some disadvantages, but I’m not concerned. It helps that things don’t usually change much. Actually that’s not entirely true, in that every two weeks I start a new cycle, but even though the cycles may be quite different my ways of handling them are much the same. If that makes any sense at all.

In any event, the day went by quickly enough, and with no work that evening at the Major Home Improvement Retailer we went out for burgers at Five Guys. Always one of my favorites. Friday was my day off, and I didn’t do too much. Just enjoyed the day.

I made it to the gym both evenings. On Thursday I just did some upper-body machine work. Friday was tougher, with one-arm dumbbell rows, 6 × 8 × 95/95. Not bad. Then I did Life Fitness leg presses, 5 × 8 × 370.

Published in: on July 13, 2015 at 12:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, July 6 – Wednesday, July 8

Some variety is better than no variety

My work at the Major Home Improvement Retailer these three days did not involve anything remotely approaching variety. While I worked slightly different hours each day, 5:30 to 9:30, 4:30 to 11 and 5:15 to 9:15 respectively, the work was pretty much the same. Help customers, reshelve returns, pack out freight. It wasn’t that the work was bad, and except for Tuesday the shifts went by quickly, it’s just that there was quite a sense of deja vu. While I’m mostly a creature of habit I do appreciate some variety.

Fortunately, things were a bit different at my regular job.  Monday was an ordinary day, but I worked on a special project the other two days. It wasn’t the sort of thing I’d ever done before. While both days were fairly hectic, I was glad to have the chance to do something different.

Published in: on July 11, 2015 at 3:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, July 4 – Sunday, July 5

Working on the Fourth of July really wasn’t so bad. The department heads at the Major Home Improvement Retailer had a barbecue for employees who had to work that day, with some surprisingly decent stuff set up in the breakroom. I worked 11:15 to 7:45 and partook of the BBQ on my lunch break. It was a surprisingly busy day, too. One would not think of the Fourth as a big shopping day, but it is. Oh, I also got extra pay for the holiday.

Sunday was a bit of an odd day because I wasn’t working until 8pm. I don’t usually have all that time off on a Sunday. I didn’t go far during the day because I knew traffic would be bad, though I went to the gym (just some upper-body machine work). As for the MHIR shift, it was only four hours, but there was a lot that had to be done. Seasonal display changeovers meant that I had to move a seemingly endless amount of patio furniture out of the display area.

Published in: on July 10, 2015 at 4:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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