Thursday, April 23 – Friday, April 24

Not much lost ground

My workweek at the regular job came to a quiet end on Thursday. A few last-minute snags, but nothing that prevented me from skedaddling out of there at normal quitting time. Which was good, as staying late on the last day of the week ranks very low on my list of life’s pleasures.

After more or less goofing off for a few hours I headed into the Major Home Improvement Retailer for an 8 to midnight shift. Quite a bit of freight had arrived during the day, but it wasn’t yet allocated by department.  So, no packout. I spent most of the shift trying to restore some semblance of order to the cleaning-products aisle. More so than most other parts of the MHIR it seems to attract untidy customers who leave the shelves in shambles. Worst of all are those who open bottles of liquid cleaners to sniff, and then can’t be bothered to screw the caps back on securely. If that’s you, do the world a favor and jump off a cliff.

Friday was my much-welcomed day off. Unlike last week, when I was still recovering from a 4:30 to midnight midweek shift, I was quite energetic. After doing errands and other stuff during the day, I went to hot yoga at 6:30 with quite a sense of hope. I really wanted to do well and make up for missing last week.

I did. To my mild surprise the session went remarkably well. I had no stamina issues, my balance was fine, and I really think even my flexibility was slightly better than last time. As I said later on,

I believe that I’ve made more progress in two months at this place than in over a year at the other center. Whether it’s due to the more structured Bikram approach or the moral boost of the friendlier atmosphere I don’t know, and in a way it doesn’t really matter.

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 8:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 20 – Wednesday, April 22

Settling into a routine

The schedule reshuffling at my regular job, which was supposed to last a couple of months, came to an end after just two weeks. I found out Monday morning – very early in the morning – that I won’t be spending a single day at each worksite but will instead be spending two days at each one, as had been the case. Workloads will be adjusted as appropriate. It’s fine by me. The old system had worked just fine, and the two new sites that were added under the one-day cycle were a bit inconveniently located.

As for these three days, they were busy but tolerable at my regular job. No difficulties in finishing up by the normal quitting time. On both Monday and Tuesday I worked 8 to midnight shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Mostly freight packout, nothing too bad. Wednesday I wasn’t scheduled and had thoughts of going to the gym, but instead we went to P.F. Chang’s. I was sorry to have skipped the gym, it’s not like I have many opportunities during the week, but the fish with chili sauce quelled any misgivings.

Published in: on April 26, 2015 at 5:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 16 – Sunday, April 20

A week without yoga. Drat.

Now that I’ve started going to the new hot yoga center I’ve resolved to go on a regular schedule. At least once a week, twice if possible. Falling away from a regular schedule even once or twice can be the start of a downward spiral. Well, this week turned into a week without yoga.  And there really wasn’t much I could have done to change matters.

All day on Thursday I was at a very low energy level thanks to Wednesday’s extremely long workday. I was hoping that I’d be able to finish up early at my regular job. If I were able to get out by 1, which seemed at first like a reasonable goal, I would have a seven hour break before going into the Major Home Improvement Retailer at 8. Time enough to recharge and maybe even get in a quick gym visit. Of course that didn’t happen.  Enough things came up to keep me at work until 2:30. My between-jobs break was reduced by 90 minutes, which may not seem like much but made a big difference. I was still somewhat dragging when I went into the MHIR for my 8 to midnight shift. Which, it should go without saying, was definitely not an easy shift. Mountains of freight, that’s what awaited me and occupied almost the entire shift.

Thanks to my decidedly non-relaxing Thursday, not to mention the week in general, I simply didn’t have the energy to go to hot yoga on Friday. Not to mention that my feet in particular were very sore. Mostly Friday was a recovery day, though I was able to make a gym trip in the early evening for some bench pressing. I did surprisingly well: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 6 × 205, 6 × 225, 4 × 235, 2 × 245,  1 × 255. It’s been too long since I’ve gone as high as 255.

Saturday was a beautiful spring day, so I figured that my MHIR shift would be busy. And I wasn’t wrong. As I was working 3 to midnight I had time during the day to do a bunch of errands. I suppose. I _could_ have gone to a morning hot yoga session, but my shoulders were a bit sore from the prior day’s benching and in any event I hate morning exercises. You can’t imagine how much I utterly loathe them. In any event, I got all the exercise I could have wanted during my shift. Even at 3pm there was a constant flow of people buying garden supplies and it didn’t let up until dusk. I hoisted more bags of mulch, topsoil,  garden soil, lime, fertilizer and so on than I ever imagined existed. The department was understaffed, so I also had to go into the inside garden area on a regular basis to help customers in there. What’s more, for most of the shift I had the department phone with me, and kept fielding calls.

On a better note, after the store closed at 10 I got my first hands-on forklift lesson. Generally it takes three lessons in total, though some people manage with two. Somehow I don’t expect to be one of them. While most of the controls are fairly intuitive, steering the contraption is a nightmare. Instead of a car-style wheel there’s a flat disk with a knob. Turning the machine requires spinning the disk several times in the desired direction. It’s not easy. The fact that the rear wheels are the steering wheels makes it all the more complicated. Everyone finds it hard at first yet manages to figure it out. There’s no reason to believe I will be any different.

Sunday was an odd day. I was working at the MHIR, but only from 6 to 10 in the evening. It was almost as if I didn’t know what to do with myself all day. I made a gym trip, but my shoulders were still achy (Saturday’s work hadn’t helped), so I just did some seated machine rows, 5 × 8 at resistance level 14 of 18. Not much, obviously, but it was better than nothing. As for.the MHIR shift, it was short but not what anyone would call sweet. There was a lot of freight to be packed out, which was surprising because there aren’t deliveries on weekends. What it turned out is that so much garden freight had arrived during the week that much still remained. Oh joy.

Published in: on April 23, 2015 at 12:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 13 – Wednesday, April 15

Not running a marathon, but working one

People usually don’t like Mondays, but Monday was by far the easiest day of this 3-day stretch. I mean there was like absolutely no comparison. I worked at my regular job, nothing out of the ordinary, and wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. With a free evening I went to the gym, having been away too long, and had a decent session. It began with T-bar rows : 5 × 8 × 115. Then it was off to Hammer Strength shoulder presses, 5 × 8 × 100/100. Finally, I did some additional rows on a machine whose name I never can seem to remember, 4 × 8 at resistance level 14 out of 18. It didn’t seem to be a particularly difficult or useful machine, but as a supplement to the T-bar rows it was okay.

On Tuesday I worked my regular job at a site off the Sunrise Highway where I hadn’t been in over a year. While it had always been a bit disorganized things must have gotten much better during my time away. Everything was neat and orderly and my day went by quite well. I was happy as I left, figuring that my evening shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer was only four hours long (8 to midnight), how hard could that be?

Extremely hard, that’s the answer. An absolute mountain – no, make that mountain range – of freight had arrived during the day and I spent almost the entire shift on it. What made this especially bad is that much of the stuff wouldn’t fit on the shelves and therefore had to go into the overhead storage bays. What made things even worse is that I had to hump all of the boxes up a ladder. Usually anything over about 20 pounds can be left on the floors, and after the store closes at 10 an employee using a mobile lift platform goes up and down the aisles handling them. Tuesday was different. With the vast volume of freight it wasn’t possible for him to service the whole store and naturally enough I had to do everything. Among the things I had to carry up the ladder were at least 20 cases of bug spray, each one of which weighed 45 pounds.  Not fun. Not fun at all.

Speaking of things that weren’t fun, Wednesday fit that bill very well thank you. My 4:30 to midnight shift at the MHIR meant that I’d be working from 7am to midnight with only a two hour break. As the regular job was pretty easy I was thinking for a while that maybe I could get out by 1 or 130. Even just a extra hour’s break would make a big difference.  Lo and behold, a big boss decided to show up and I had to stay until 2:30.

Thankfully, the MHIR shift wasn’t too bad. Okay it was bad because it was so long, but the nature of the work wasn’t too bad. No freight,  for one thing.  I was still really beat during the last hour or so and shudder to think what it would have been like had there been a huge amount of freight like the day before. One good thing is that I have no more long weekday shifts for at least the next two weeks. Mostly I’ll have the 8 to midnight ones, which needless to say are much more tolerable.

One thing about which I wasn’t too pleased is that my forklift certification is being further delayed. The trainer won’t be working the same shift as me until Saturday, and there’s no guarantee that he will have the time to spare then. If it doesn’t happen on Saturday I’m going to have to speak with a manager about maybe shifting around my schedule one day. For something that shouldn’t take long it’s turning into an endless quest.

Published in: on April 18, 2015 at 3:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 9 – Sunday, April 12

Mulch on the brain

Thursday was my last two-job day for five days. Actually it was more like a job and a half day, as I finished up very early at my regular job, and was out by 12:30. Normally I can’t leave before 1:30 even if I’m done with the day’s tasks and have to find ways to keep myself occupied. Thursday was a rare exception.

With several hours before the start of my shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer there was more than enough time to go to the gym. Of course I didn’t go. I wasted time doing other, mainly trivial stuff until there wasn’t enough time after all. This has to stop. As a sort of cosmic punishment for my laziness the MHIR shift was miserable. More plant racks had arrived during the day, and they all had to be wrapped in landscape fabric for weather protection. I spent most of the 8 to midnight shift outside in the cold rain, to the point that I barely could move my fingers. Served me right.

Friday was my very much appreciated day off. I didn’t do much of consequence for most of the day, which was fine by me, and at 6:30 went to hot yoga. While mostly it went well, there was one setback. About halfway through I ran out of gas and had to sit on my mat for two or three minutes before I could resume. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break, indeed several other people in the session did so, usually for longer than me, but the fact that it was the first such incident in at least a few months rankles me. Hopefully it was just a consequence of having worked so much.

As for Saturday and Sunday, the word “mulch” dominates all discourse. Not only was it the first really nice weekend of spring, but it was also the big mulch sale at the MHIR – two dollars a bag for Scotts Earthgro mulch, a dollar less than usual. As many people buy 20 or 30 or more bags the savings can be substantial. I worked 11:15 to 7:45 on Saturday,  8 to 5 Sunday,  and spent the vast majority of each shift in the outside garden area hoisting and lugging countless bags of the stuff. Mulch is tricky to handle because when you go to lift a bag you don’t know in advance how much it will weigh. Bags hold two cubic feet, and while they normally weigh about 25 pounds they can be as much as 40 pounds if the moisture content is higher than normal. This lack of predictably makes mulch handling difficult in a way that I can’t really describe in words but is very real. We went through 2,000 bags on Saturday and at least as much on Sunday. Given the low price mulch isn’t much of a revenue stream, but it gets people into the store where they often buy other things. While all the mulch handling made for a physically exhausting weekend each shift zipped by in no time flat.

On a rather worse note, it was much too busy for me to get my forklift certification test. The trainer asked for my schedule for the upcoming week and said he would make time for it. He said that it would be better on a weekday evening because I should be able to do the road (so to speak) test in one of the aisles. If the store is crowded the tests have to take place in the receiving area. That makes for a less realistic training environment.  Still, I just hope that “later” doesn’t somehow turn into “never.” Things have a funny way of turning out like that. Or maybe I’m just worrying too much.

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 6 – Wednesday, April 8

A tolerable start

Back from the week off from my regular job, on Monday morning I began the new system that I will be followed for the next two months (though I suspect it may end up permanent). Instead of spending two days at each of four worksites in the course of a two-week cycle, I will have six sites in my rotation. Four of them will be one-day sites, I will go to them on Mondays and Tuesdays, while two will be two-day sites, for Wednesdays and Thursdays. Both of the two new sites will be on Tuesdays. The idea is that I won’t have as many tasks to accomplish at the one-day sites, though even before starting my skepticism level was high.

This new system did not get off to an auspicious start on Monday. While I was able to finish by the normal time I had to rush like crazy. More worrisome, it is the easiest site on my rotation (which needless to say is why it’s first). I was concerned that Tuesday’s site would take much longer, which would not be good as I was scheduled for an 8 to midnight shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.

My fears were not realized. Tuesday’s site, which I hadn’t been to in several months, may have been larger but somehow seemed less complicated. I worked at a normal pace and had no trouble finishing on schedule. The only downside was that the site is near Exit 57 on the Expressway, so getting there meant dealing with some rush hour traffic. It wasn’t too bad, but of course that can change at any time. Wednesday was my first day at a two-day site and went just fine. I actually was able to leave about 30 minutes early.

As for the MHIR, I worked 8 to midnight on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Both were tough shifts. There was what seemed like a towering mountain of freight to pack out on Tuesday, while on Wednesday it was more of a jack of all trades deal. On both evenings I had to wrap outside plant stands in plastic sheeting to protect the plants from the wind and the unseasonable cold. It was tedious work, and on Wednesday a cold rain made it all that much worse. I also.had to spend 45 minutes in the rain on Wednesday cutting shrink wrap off pallets of topsoil and mulch.  It was every bit as miserable as it sounds.

Another thing that’s rather miserable is my gym going. I could have gone easily enough on Monday, but I was lazy and wasted too much time. Tuesday I had several hours between the two jobs but again didn’t go anywhere near the gym. At least I had an excuse, as we went to Bobby’s Burger Palace,  always one of my favorite stops. Wednesday I was just too tired.  What with the busy season at the MHIR there’ll always be some excuse for not going.  I’m going to have to be a lot more.diligent.

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 4 – Sunday, April 5

Easter weekend was half-busy at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. As you might guess, Saturday was the busy day, hopping at a pace that would make the Easter Bunny jealous. I worked noon to 8:30 and hardly stopped for a minute. Maybe it was the upcoming holiday, but customers by and large were in happy or at least agreeable moods. There were sourpusses here and there, but not like usual. Sales were quite strong, especially for outdoors and patio items. One consequence of being so busy, and in a reasonably pleasant atmosphere, is that the workday just rocketed on by. It was only in the last hour of my shift that time really slowed down.  It’s surely no coincidence that the last hour was also when the customer flow really slowed.

I worked only a 4-hour shift on Easter, which is standard practice. To make things extra nice, I got paid for eight. At least during by 2:30 to 6:30 shift the store was quite slow. Had I been working eight hours it would have seemed endless, but four was tolerable. Working until 6:30 meant that we had Easter dinner at 7, but the roast leg of lamb was most definitely worth it!

Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, April 2 – Friday, April 3

Two in a row!

For once, I had two days in a row completely off work. It’s still my off week from my regular job and I wasn’t scheduled either day at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Being an industrious sort I of course spent each day doing useful productive things and … okay, there’s no use exaggerating, I mostly goofed off and did nothing whatsoever productive. Considering the ghastly number of hours I will be working over the next two weeks – 57.5 and 56 – there is absolutely no reason why I shouldn’t goof off. Anyway, I got my car’s oil changed on Friday, that should count for something, right?

And there’s more. For the first time ever since I took up hot yoga, I actually went to two sessions in two days. Thursday I went to the 7:30 session and Friday to the one at 6:30. Both were “express” sessions, meaning they were 70 minutes rather than the normal 90. That does not mean they are easier, however; each session has the same number of positions as a normal session, but is faster paced. I did well, with continued steady progress. It’s probably going to be hard to go more than once in each of the upcoming weeks, especially as I want to make it to the gym as well, so I might as well take the opportunity when I can.

Published in: on April 6, 2015 at 3:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 30 – Wednesday, April 1

Too little is worse than too much

So I began my week off from my regular job, though I worked 7:30 pm to midnight each day at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. One definitely nice thing is being freed from the tyranny of the alarm clock. Or phone alarm app, to be more accurate.  It will be especially tyrannical when I have to get up at 6:15 for my regular job after having worked at the MHIR until midnight the preceding evening.

Speaking of the MHIR, Monday’s shift was one of my worse ever. I had thought there would be a big freight shipment to pack out, but it got delayed for some reason. What that meant is that I had basically nothing to do for the two hours after the store closed at 10. I must have swept the aisles 20 times! Time of course moved *very* slowly. Thankfully there was plenty of freight on Tuesday and Wednesday.  It was hard work at times, with boxes and boxes to be carried up ladders,  but that was infinitely preferable to having nothing to do. Wednesday’s shift was enlightening because I spent part of it with a worker who has been with the MHIR for years, and she answered some questions I had had about scheduling. Basically, management often uses schedules as a reward, the more reliable and hard-working you prove yourself to be, the more hours you get. Makes sense.

I went to the gym in the afternoon on both Monday and Wednesday. Monday’s session went well: T-bar rows : 5 × 8 × 125. Overhead presses : 5 × 8 × 80. I went to do bench presses on Wednesday but a sore shoulder brought the session to an early end: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 4 × 205, 4 × 225,  2 × 225.

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 6:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, March 28 – Sunday, March 29

“Working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer” pretty much sums up both of these days. About the biggest difference is that I worked a later shift on Saturday, 12:30 to 9 to be specific, while Sunday was an earlier shift from 8 to 4:30. Saturday was a cool rainy day with even some late-season snow while Sunday was much nicer. What that meant, not surprisingly, is that there were many more customers on Sunday than there had been on Saturday. In fact I had relatively little to do on Saturday, at least for the first half of the shift, as the garden department’s staffing level was at its higher springtime level. With a manager’s permission I was able to spend an hour completing my online training for forklift licensing. With that done I just have to arrange for about an hour of on the road (so to speak) training with one of the store’s three trainers and I’ll be ready to go.

Sunday was quite hectic. Even though there were several people in the department for most of my shift, the nonstop customer flow kept me busy. There also was some freight to pack out, which is unusual for a weekend. At 8pm I came back to the MHIR for the annual meeting. It was a bit anticlimactic because the bonus checks that were supposed to be distributed at the meeting actually had come out on Friday. There were several cakes and pies and cookie platters, and naturally enough I had too much.

Published in: on April 1, 2015 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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