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  

Wednesday, March 25 – Friday, March 27

So I’m supposed to manage that schedule,  how?

Oh joy. On Wednesday,  as is routine,  I got my schedule for two weeks ahead at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, meaning for the week starting Monday, April 6. Now keep in mind that’s the week I will be back at my regular job following a week off. I will be getting 29.5 hours at the MHIR that week, which when combined with the 28 hours of my regular job will make for an excruciating 57.5-hour workweek.  Don’t get me wrong, that will mean some very decent money, but how I’m going to last through such endless hours is another matter entirely. Another thing that puzzles me is why I’m getting so many hours at the MHIR.  We’re getting into the busy season in the garden department, but there also are several new people. Indeed, when I worked 7:30 to 11 on Wednesday evening, there were two other people in the department and really not much to do.

As for my regular job, Wednesday and Thursday were easy days to close out what was an easy cycle. It look as if the next cycle, to begin after the week off, will also be fairly easy, though I can’t say for sure because some of my worksites may be different. In theory that shouldn’t matter, but in practice there’s a getting-used-to factor that has to be taken into account. One thing I do know for sure is that the cycle after that one is likely to be quite tough.

I went to hot yoga on Thursday at 5:30 and had a good if not outstanding session. My endurance and flexibility are on a steady rise, but my balance wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be. Still, it was much better than it had been six months ago. I really like this new studio,  it’s friendlier than the other one and the more structured Bikram practice is more to my liking.

Friday was my day off, and we had a most enjoyable lunch at Bahama Breeze. I’m not much of a midday drinker but my mojito really hit the spot. In the evening I went to the gym for bench pressing: 6 × 135, 6 × 165, 6 × 185, 4 × 205, 4 × 225, 3 × 235, 2 × 245, 8 × 185. It was the first time I’ve gone as high as 245 in a while. I had been tempted to go for a single at 255 but decided not this time. Next week, as I’ll be off from my regular job, I’ll have ample opportunities  for the gym and yoga. The following week, with my very long hours, well that will take some planning.

Published in: on March 30, 2015 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, March 23 – Thursday, March 24

Multitasking, sort of

No one can ever accuse me of having been lazy on Monday. It was basically a nonstop flurry of activity for over 12 hours. It started out with a surprisingly busy shift at my main job. Surprising because the same work cycle that was quite tolerable last week proved a lot more challenging.  My guess is the different work site is the main factor.

After a too-short break it was off to the Major Home Improvement Retailer for a 4:30 to 8:30 shift. It was much more tolerable than the endless weekend shifts. Four-hour shifts seem way shorter than 8-hour shifts, way shorter than just half the length. And even beyond that I just didn’t mind the shift as much. Clearly, my weekend fears of becoming disillusioned with the.job were exaggerated. After getting out at 8:30 I actually made a fast gym trip, doing Life Fitness plate loaded dips, 5 × 8 × 270.

Tuesday was an easier workday at my main job even though I was at the same work site. In fact, I was done so quickly I had to poke around trying to look busy for over an hour, leaving early not being an option because a big boss was on site.

I had been planning on going to yoga in the evening but we got sushi instead. Hey, I like yoga, but sometimes there is no substitute for sushi!

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 7:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, March 20 – Sunday, March 22

Eight hours of exhaustion

This wasn’t one of my better weekends. Okay, Friday was my day off, and wasn’t bad.We made an early afternoon trip to the Whole Foods in Jericho, right off Exit 41 on the Expressway, to get some dry-aged beef for the.evening’s dinner. There wasn’t any available in the more local store.  It was a somewhat slow drive on the way back due to some late-season snow. But that evening, the aforesaid beef was excellent, so much better than the non-aged variety. And some of the cats *may* have gotten little.bits of it.

Also on Friday I made a trip to the gym, a somewhat limited trip as I was a bit achy from the prior e evening’s yoga. Still, I did some back and T-bar rows: 5 × 8 × 115. Hammer.Strength shoulder presses: 4 × 8 × 100/100.

Saturday and Sunday were not particularly good days. I worked full 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer each day, and while they weren’t particularly difficult shifts they seemed absolutely interminable. Time just dragged. I don’t things were this way, however I do not believe I’m becoming frustrated with the job or anything. It probably was just something with my mindset or things of that nature.

Published in: on March 25, 2015 at 7:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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