Friday, May 13 – Thursday, May 19

The Storm Before the Calm

I’ll compress six days into one entry because they all sort of blend together into a blur. In any event, I’m writing this entry using the somewhat dubious quality satellite Internet on the Explorer of the Seas. Which means that things finally turned out better.

Basically, the week leading up to the cruise was a brutal one, in which the Major Home Improvement Retailer worked me like a gallery slave (nothing like a nautical metaphor) and my main job was no piece of cake. Friday was, as normal, a day off, but it was hard for me to enjoy it given what I knew was coming. Still, I tried.

Saturday and Sunday were both full 8-hour shifts at the MHIR. Both were early starts, 7 and 8 respectively. I spent a good part of each shift watering the plants in the apron in front of the store and in the corral set up in the parking lot. Plant watering sounds easy but really isn’t. Many of the plants are packed tightly onto multishelf racks, making it difficult to get all of them. I also had to work around the customers and make sure that the hoses didn’t present a tripping hazard. When I wasn’t on watering duty I was dealing with customers and trying to get caught up with freight packout. At least the fact that the shifts were so busy made them go by at a decent pace. Funny how those time perceptions work.

Monday through Wednesday were three absolutely nightmarish days. The new cycle at my main job proved to be much harder than expected, hard enough that I had to stay about 30 minutes extra each day. While normally that’s not a huge difference, it was quite an ordeal these three days because each day I had to work 4:30 to 11 at the MHIR. Ugh.

As for the MHIR shifts, they weren’t too bad, mostly varied duties including more watering, they were just too long after all the time at my main job each day. I was left utterly drained. While there thankfully was no MHIR on Thursday, I had to scramble to pack and do all the other stuff prepatory to going away for 10 days.  This cruise couldn’t have come soon enough!

Published in: on May 24, 2016 at 7:25 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, May 9 – Thursday, May 12

A’s and B’s

I’ve mentioned that  I have A days and B days at my main job. The first of the two days I spend at each work site is the A day, and the second is (duh) the B day. Usually my work cycles are designed so that the amount of work on each type of day is roughly equivalent. Last week, the first week of the current cycle, I was able to rearrange things after a very tough Monday so that the rest of the week was more tolerable.

Not so this week. Never before in my almost three years with this company have I ever experienced such a vast canyon of difference between the A’s and B’s. On Monday and Wednesday I had to work almost entirely nonstop from about 6:30 (I came in early) to about 3:30 to have a hope of finishing the work. Like the case the prior Monday, it took hours before I could see any glimmer of progress. Now, in sharp contrast, on Tuesday and Thursday I took long breaks and still was done by noon. I know, the obvious question is why didn’t I just reallocate some A day work to the B days, but after doing some such reallocation last week I got the word from On High that it wouldn’t be possible any more. Ugh.

I had two four-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, a 4:30 t0 8:30 on Tuesday and a 7 to 11 on Wednesday. Fortunately Tuesday’s early start was on a B day at the other job, meaning I was able to have a bit of a break between jobs. Rushing from one to the other isn’t pleasant. Neither shift was especially difficult. Tuesday I did most normal sales stuff, inside more than outside, while I spent almost all of Wednesday’s shift watering the plants outside the store – a nice task for letting time pass quickly.

Published in: on May 17, 2016 at 12:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Friday, May 6 – Sunday, May 8

It was fortunate that Friday was my day off from work, because it was most definitely a low-energy day. Meaning I didn’t do much of anything, assuming you don’t count playing endless games of Doodle Jump. It also marked two weeks until our Alaskan cruise, adding to the sense of “wow, this is happening soon!” It’s funny, being that I’ve never been on a cruise before I really don’t have much of a handle on what to expect. Hearing about what the cruise experience is like is one thing, but actually going through it is the only real way to know. It was sort of like when I was going through the online forklift training at the Major Home Improvement Retailer – helpful, but absolutely no substitute for actually getting on the contraption and operating it.

Speaking of the MHIR, Saturday and Sunday were almost full shifts, but not quite. Each shift was seven hours and 45 minutes rather than a full eight hours. I can’t figure that out. Working five hours and 45 minutes as I sometimes do, that makes sense, as company policy requires a lunch break for anyone working six or more hours. But these two slightly reduced shifts are another story. Whatever the case, both were relatively tolerable as such things go, working mostly inside and making some decent sales. People are buying lawnmowers like crazy, I guess their old ones aren’t able to get through another season.

Published in: on May 14, 2016 at 12:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, May 2 – Thursday, May 5

It got easier. Whew.

Things weren’t looking too good on Monday morning. In fact, “downright putrid” might be a more accurate description. It was the start of a new work cycle at my main job, and for some reason – yes, I should have known better – I thought it would be relatively easy. Turns out I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Four hours into the work it didn’t seem like I had done much of anything. It wasn’t that I was slacking, it was just that there was so much work to be done it was almost beyond achievement.

Fortunately, things took a turn for the better. During the two days I spend at each work site I have tasks for the first day and different ones for the second day. With a couple of telephone calls I was able to  arrange for Tuesday’s tasks to be rescheduled for a later time to be determined. This meant that instead of working for 12+ hours on Monday I was able to take two days. It was a relief, believe me. The same thing happened on Wednesday and Thursday at the cycle’s second work site, though thanks to the learning curve it wasn’t quite as much work. Now, the downside of this arrangement is that I will have to deal with the postponed tasks at some point, in addition to my regular duties during that cycle, but as the expression goes I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Only one Major Home Improvement Retailer shift during these four days, 5:30 to 11 on Wednesday. It was pretty busy, thanks to the Mt. Everest of freight that had arrived during the day. As much of the freight didn’t pack out on the shelves I made what seemed like endless trips up and down the ladders putting the freight in the overhead storage bays. In particular, I had to carry 16 boxes of pool chemicals, 35 pounds each. Hey, decent exercise!

Published in: on May 10, 2016 at 1:57 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 29 – Sunday, May 1

Three days of, if not bliss, at least some degree of pleasantness. Friday was of course my usual day off, and as usual it was a decent, low-pressure sort of day. Saturday things were a bit more hurried as I had a regular 8-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, as lousy weather kept the customer count down and in any event mulch wasn’t on sale. I used the forklift a bit, in the process getting a bit more accustomed to the contraption. I was even able to bring down a pallet from the highest overhead rack, which is not an easy task. Lining up the forks with the pallet opening is quite tricky when the pallet is so far overhead. But I managed it.

Sunday was only a 4-hour shift, and as is usually the case with those shifts it seemed to zip by in a flash. Being the start of May was significant in an important respect. On May 20 we’re leaving on a  7-day Alaska cruise, leaving from Seattle. While this trip has been in the works for months, now that the month of departure has finally arrived it now seems like much more of an immediate thing rather than something in the future. I’m excited.

Published in: on May 8, 2016 at 2:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 24 – Thursday, April 28

Well well well, it got easier

It was a very good week at my main job. I was in the second week of the current work cycle, and while second weeks usually are a bit easier, in this case it was a lot easier. Attribute it to the learning curve, or just happenstance, whatever the case it was fine by me. In a rare event, I was able to leave each day over an hour before my normal quitting time. And that’s with taking my full allotted breaks. It was nice, but of course I can’t count on other cycles being this easy.

Monday and Tuesday were evening shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, 5:15 to 11 and 5 to 9 respectively. They weren’t bad, even the longer one on Monday. Now, if I hadn’t left early on Sunday and worked until midnight as scheduled, I suspect these shifts would have been a lot harder. Monday in particular.

One thing that’s been nagging at me is my absence from the gym. I haven’t gone since early in the month. While it hasn’t been a financial loss, as I pay month to month and the most recent period was just expiring the last day I went, my laziness is another factor. Yes, I’m physically beat out most of the time from all the work I’ve been doing, but excuses are excuses. My current goal is that I’m going to resume at the beginning of June, right after we return from an 8-day Alaskan cruise. By then things will have quieted down at the MHIR, and with fewer heavy items like mulch and topsoil being sold the work will be less backbreaking. And hey, there’ll be a gym on the ship …

Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 2:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 22 – Sunday, April 24

You’ve heard the line: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Apparently I’m not among the ranks of the tough, because when things got tough while working at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, I couldn’t get going. Not that it was really my fault.

To backtrack a bit, Friday was a typical day off, dedicated to the fine art (or is it science) of doing nothing. Just the way I like it. Saturday, in unpleasant contrast, was a full 8-hour shift at the MHIR, 9:30 to 6. And what a nasty shift it was! While the garden department wasn’t super busy, no mulch on sale this weekend, it was a bit understaffed for most of the time I was there. What that meant is that I was running around here, there and everywhere, on more than one occasion trying to juggle two or more impatient customers. Had there been a mulch sale I honestly don’t know how I could have managed. What didn’t help, at all, was that I had a headache for much of the shift. It was a very long eight hours.

Sunday was my day of reckoning. I was scheduled to work yet another 8-hour shift, this time from 3:30 to (ugh!) midnight. During the last four hours I was scheduled to be on “garden recovery,” which basically means an extensive cleanup of the garden area. Not something I’d want to be doing until midnight. Further, I was scheduled to work almost six hours on Monday and four on Tuesday, in addition of course to my regular job each day. I just didn’t know how I’d be able to manage.

So I didn’t manage. Two hours into the shift I told the manager on duty that I was sick and had to leave. Hey, I actually did have a headache, granted it was the prior day. And I had enough accumulated sick time to avoid any lost pay. Really, it was the only way I was going to make it through this very tough stretch of work.

Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 18 – Thursday, April 21

Like night and day

I generally don’t say much about my main job, in other words the job other than the one at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, but a bit of explanation may be helpful. In each 2-week work cycle I rotate among four locations, spending two days at each (I don’t work Fridays). While I don’t have any control over the specific tasks I have to accomplish during the two days at each location, that being a corporate-office sort of decision, I do have some ability to decide on which of the two days I’ll perform each assigned task. What I try to do is even things out, so that the workload on each day at each location is about the same.

It doesn’t always work out that way. In some cycles, particular tasks have to be done on particular days, resulting in an imbalanced workload. That’s what happened this time. Monday was pretty easy, I was finished about an hour early even with my normal breaks. Tuesday, I had to stay almost an hour late even with cutting lunch short. Wednesday and Thursday continued the same easy/hard pattern. It would’ve been nice to balance things out, but i couldn’t do that. Next week will be a repeat.

Wednesday was my only MHIR shift, a 7 to 11 evening one. With the mulch sale finally done it was pretty quiet in the garden department, a nice welcome break.

Published in: on April 23, 2016 at 4:50 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, April 15 – Sunday, April 17

Friday was the calm before the storm. Or, more accurately, the calm before the Mulch Avalanche. My enjoyment of the day off was sadly tempered by the fact that the big mulch sale (5 for $10!) at the Major Home Improvement Retailer would still be in effect on Saturday and Sunday. I knew, one of those instinctive things you know with absolute certainty, that Saturday and Sunday would be very tough days. I was scheduled to work eight hours each day and knew that it would be mulch, mulch and more mulch.

My prediction was completely correct. On both days there was a near-constant flow of mulch buyers, and both days were utterly backbreaking. I have no idea of how many bags I lifted and hoisted over the weekend, but rest assured it was a high number.

Published in: on April 23, 2016 at 4:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 11 – Thursday, April 14

Good and bad

These days have been a combination of good and bad. Obviously not the optimal situation, but not the worst either. The good part is that my main job has been so amazingly easy this work cycle I sometimes think that I haven’t done enough to deserve my pay: “I’m getting paid for this?” But of course actual guilt would be misplaced, as I’ve done more than enough difficult cycles to outweigh this easy one. Speaking of which, I got some additional information about the upcoming one,  and while it’s going to be much harder than the current one it probably won’t be the nightmare I had feared. Hopefully.

As for the “bad” part, I worked two evening shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer and they were no walk in the park. Monday I did 7pm to 11pm, and for some reason was assigned to the freight team rather than garden. I’ve done freight before, and it isn’t too bad so long as there hasn’t been a big shipment during the day. It should go completely without saying that there had been a big shipment during the day on Monday. Of course there had. In fairness, the work load wasn’t overwhelming, it’s just that I was still worn out from the early weekend shifts and really was struggling for the last hour or so.

I had no MHIR shifts on Tuesday, which was very fortunate as I was full of aches and pains after three shifts three days in a row. We made a late afternoon trip to the Walt Whitman Mall – sorry, the Shops at Walt Whitman – a quite upscale mall about 40 minutes away. How  upscale? There were four cars on display in the center court, not all together, and they were a Lexus, an Acura, an Audi, and a Range Rover. No econoboxes allowed!

Wednesday was another MHIR shift, this time a long one from 5:30 t0 11. I was back in garden, which meant more bags of mulch to hoist and carry. Ouch. I also had to water the outside plants, which left me thoroughly soaked because the hose nozzle I had to use had a very leaky connection. Understand, just because the MHIR sells hoses and nozzles doesn’t mean we have decent ones for employee use. It’s like the old joke of how the barber’s kid has the worst haircut in school.

Fortunately I had no MHIR work on Thursday. By this point I was so full of aches and pains that I needed the evening to recuperate. Any plans to go to the gym, well they just had to wait.


Published in: on April 16, 2016 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment  

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