Monday, January 25 – Friday, January 29


This is going to be a very short, compressed entry. During these five days I had the worst week at my regular job in the three and a half years I’ve been there. Due to a gathering of factors there was an overwhelming amount of work, resulting in my having to work extra hours each day with almost no breaks to speak of. Just when it looked as if things were finally under control, more tasks would pop up, all demanding immediate simultaneous attention. Oh, and I had to work Friday, my normal (and sacrosanct) day off. It was exhausting.

Only one Major Home Improvement Retailer shift, a 4:30 to 8:30 on Wednesday. Naturally enough I had to rush there from my main job, couldn’t even stop at 7-11, but at least it was an easy enough shift. Snow removal was done by then, with the warmer weather having helped a lot, so I did a variety of duties. Easy enough, which was about all I could have managed.

Let me tell you, I am very happy this workweek is over!

Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 3:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 23 – Sunday, January 24

By the time I got up Saturday morning the snow was coming down heavily, and it was apparent that the original forecasts of 8 to 12 inches would be doubled and then some. I really really did not want to have to work, but being scheduled from 9 to 5:30 at the Major Home Improvement Retailer I answered the call of duty and made my (very slow) way into work. The roads were definitely not in good shape, with the snow coming down at a rate faster than the plows could handle, but somehow I made it to the store.

It was very quiet with a capital Q. Several of the employees scheduled to work had decided to play it safe and stay home, and there were only a few scattered customers braving the storm.  Unlike the case during my last shift, the prior Wednesday, there was ice melt galore, however snow shovels were sold out. A couple of people actually bought plastic transfer shovels, the sort you use for moving gravel or sand, figuring those were better than dirt shovels. While for a while it looked as if the storm was abating, but noon it had regained its prior intensity and then some. Finally, the manager on duty announced that the store would be closing at 2pm. Getting back was no picnic, but I made it, and needless to say stayed indoors for the rest of the day. Even better, although I left over three hours before the scheduled end of my shift, under company policy I still got paid  for the full shift.

Sunday was an 8:30 to 4 shift, although I had to get an early start to dig out my car. With the storm having ended around midnight the plows had been to work and the roads were at least semi-decent. The store was moderately busy during most of my shift, with the normal staff on duty, and as a nice touch the manager ordered pizza for everyone. For the last few hours of my shift I was assigned to snow removal duty in the outside garden area. Fortunately, I was not using one of the two store-use snowblowers, I hate using those contraptions, and instead did some good old fashioned shovel and wheel barrow work.






Published in: on January 30, 2016 at 3:38 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, January 20 -Friday, January 22

The storm, and then the calm before the storm

Wednesday was a surprisingly easy day at my main job. I was in what is usually the most difficult of the four work sites on my rotation, but it went just fine. Quite the pleasant surprise.  I’ve noticed that when workdays are surprising, it’s seldom  in the pleasant direction, ha ha.

I worked 6 to 10 at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Wednesday evening, and true to form it was a less-than-pleasant surprise. With a major snowstorm in the forecast there was quite a run on storm supplies.  The last couple of snowblowers sold right before my shift began, snow shovels were selling at a steady pace, and pallets of ice melt were gone almost as soon as they were put on the sales floor. Around 8:30, the manager on duty asked me to use my newly acquired forklift certification to bring down a pallet of rock salt from the overhead storage.  Sure, I said, eager to demonstrate my newfound skills.

My eagerness did not last. As a bit of background, the aisles at the MHIR are not all of the same width. The main aisles around the perimeter of the store and through the center, as well as those in the outside garden area, are much wider than those in the interior. All of my prior forklift operations had been in wide aisles. The rock salt pallet which was my mission to retrieve was, needless to say, in an interior aisle. Even worse, the aisle in question had patio door displays, in other words expensive fragile items.  I was able to maneuver into the aisle but soon got more or less wedged in place. It didn’t help that an employee who worked in that department kept admonishing me not to damage any of her merchandise.  Believe me, I was trying very hard not to. I finally told the spotter who was accompanying me, the paint department head and an experienced machine operator, that he had better take over. It was perhaps a small bit of consolation that even he had some trouble retrieving the pallet. For the time being, I’ll be sticking to the wide aisles.

Thursday was a fairly easy day at my main job, no trouble getting out right on time. I made a supermarket stop on my way back, and not surprisingly the store was packed with panic shoppers.  Nothing like a snowy forecast to bring out the survivalist in everyone. I’m sure the MHIR was having a rush on winter supplies, but I wasn’t there to see it.

Friday was the calm before the storm, with the forecasts getting more and more dire. I wasn’t too thrilled about being scheduled at the MHIR on Saturday, right when the storm was projected to hit, though one good thing is that my route to and from the store is mainly flat. After doing some errands during the day we went to California Pizza Kitchen for an early dinner. Yes, it’s a chain, and therefore I should be looking down my nose at it, but I really like their ‘za. So there.


Published in: on January 27, 2016 at 2:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 18 – Tuesday, January 19

Oh lovely

It’s funny. The last two-week work cycle at my main job had been tough, but I figured that the one starting this week would be a lot easier. What preliminary information I had on it certainly supported that belief. When I actually got to the first worksite on Monday morning, however, I was in for a big surprise. The workload was much heavier and more complicated than I had been expecting, and I was more than a little swamped each day. On Monday I stayed 30 minutes past usual quitting time despite having skipped my morning break and having taken only ten minutes for lunch. For some time I really thought I’d be staying two or more hours late, which creates all sorts of headaches in getting overtime authorization, but fortunately things finally fell into place. Tuesday was better in the sense that I finished on time, but once again I took only a very short lunch break.  I’m hoping that the rest of the cycle is a bit easier as I become more accustomed to my tasks.

Published in: on January 22, 2016 at 2:59 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, January 15 – Sunday, January 17

Finally using it for real

Ah, Fridays.  My one day off each week, and, as such, something I treasure. Sure, I’d prefer to work five days a week like most people, but as that isn’t really an option given my two jobs I have to make do with a one-day “weekend.” It’s not the end of the world. This Friday was like most of them, a fairly leisurely day off with no pressing obligations. We went to an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant for lunch and it was surprisingly good.

Saturday was, as usual, a workday at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. It was a full eight-hour shift, 10 to 6:30, but it seemed much, much longer. For reasons utterly beyond my comprehension management had scheduled several people in the garden department even though there wasn’t much to be done. I found out that a big freight shipment had arrived on Friday but it had been fully packed out by the time I arrived. Drat. About the only thing that kept me from going totally bonkers is that I found out I had to do a 45-minute computer training session to complete my forklift certification. It was as dry as dust, as the computer training tends to be, but at least it was something.

Sunday was a seven-hour shift, and while for the most part it was uneventful I got to use the forklift “for real,” in other words not just in training. I moved a couple of pallets in the outside garden area, and one of them, Duraflame logs, was quite challenging because it was poorly secured and unstable. After a few rough moments I managed to do it, and the second pallet, one of topsoil, was much easier. Most satisfying.

Published in: on January 22, 2016 at 2:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 11 – Thursday, January 14

Low key? I like it!

I’d have to say these four days were among my easier ones in quite some time. After my very busy week last week, this one was much calmer. None of these four days were at all difficult at my main job. Each day I was able to take my full allotted breaks and still left on time. In fact, on Tuesday and Thursday I actually got out quite a bit earlier than usual. Next week will be a lot more challenging, but after this easier week it shouldn’t be too hard to handle.

As it’s now well into the slow period at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, Thursday was my only midweek shift. I’m now going to be averaging about 16 hours a week, which is still pretty good and more than last year at this time. But it’s not overwhelming, which is a relief. One thing I found out when I got into the MHIR on Thursday evening is that the store manager had been fired on Monday. No one had any idea, not even the sort of people (who exist in every workplace) who always seem to know everything. There certainly wasn’t anything in the store’s performance numbers that would have justified such a drastic move.

I guess I’m getting back into Lazy Mode, as I only made it to the gym once in this period, a 35-minute elliptical session on Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday I ended up doing other things after work, and of course Thursday was the MHIR session.


Published in: on January 17, 2016 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 9 – Sunday, January 10

Saturday was not one of my better days at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. I worked almost an 8-hour shift, 11 to 7 with my usual half-hour lunch, but it seemed at least twice as long. In its infinite wisdom the MHIR had scheduled several people to work in the garden department even though this is the very slowest time of year in the department. I mean, it’s good that people were getting hours, but with four or even five people on duty in garden at each point during my shift there just wasn’t much to do. With only slight exaggeration I can say that I spent most of my shift just walking around the aisles looking for customers to help. While the store was quite busy, it’s nothing that two people in garden couldn’t have handled. At least I got ample exercise, though my feet were sore enough by shift’s end that I decided against making a gym trip.

Sunday was much better. Although I worked a shift of similar length, 12 to 8 in this case, it was far less tedious. In part this is because there were never more than three people in the department, more often just two, and in part – bigger part, to be sure – it’s because I had a lengthy training session on the forklift. This time it got pretty advanced, as the trainer had  me retrieve pallets of joint compound from the overhead storage and put new ones in their place. Retrieving pallets is harder than putting ones into the overhead, as I had to get the forks aligned just right well overhead where it’s hard to see.

I really thought I had more sessions to go, but the trainer told me that I had passed and he signed a certification form for me. So after a long quest, I am now an officially licensed forklift operator, though I will still have more practice sessions.  Once I get more adept I’ll go for licensure on two other machines, the sit-down forklift (the one I trained on is called the reach, you stand up when operating it and it’s much more maneuverable in store aisles than the regular version) and the aerial lift platform.

Published in: on January 13, 2016 at 3:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, January 7 – Friday, January 8

One job was enough for today

Thursday was a very, very tough day at my main job. One of the toughest in recent months.  It wasn’t so much that I had to work well beyond my quitting time, about 90 minutes extra, or that I was able to manage only a single, 10-minute break all day. It mainly was that I had to work at basically some superhuman warp speed to get everything done. I don’t like having such volatility in my workload, fortunately that doesn’t happen too often. It also was fortunate that I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer in the evening. I was quite worn out from my shifts there on Tuesday and Wednesday, and one more shift – especially after such a tough early part of the day – would have been nearly intolerable.

Friday was a very welcome day off. I didn’t do too much in the morning, and in the early afternoon we went to the newly opened Chik-Fil-A in Port Jefferson. It was only my second visit to a CFA, the prior one having been in Tennessee in late 2014 during my drive back from Florida. There’s something about their chicken sandwiches which make them so unlike the dry-as-dust versions seen elsewhere. Later on I went to the gym, and rather than doing weights I decided to use the stationary cycle for 30 minutes.

Published in: on January 12, 2016 at 12:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 4 – Wednesday, January 6

Back to the old grind

What with the holidays being over, Monday marked my return to my main job after my 3-week vacation … okay, unpaid vacation, which one could argue really isn’t a vacation at all. Semantics aside, the time off was a much appreciated opportunity to recharge one’s proverbial batteries. I’m not sure how I could have coped without the break.

As for my return to work, it was a Return with a capital R. Things had been pretty easy in November and December, with my leaving before normal quitting time most days. It doesn’t look like that will be the case for a while. This new 2-week work cycle is very demanding, with a whole host of tasks each day. Each of these three days I had to work almost nonstop for my shifts, with just a brief lunch break. Understand, I don’t mind being busy, it was just the pressure to finish on time that was a bit unaccustomed. I think the next work cycle will be a little easier, and of course by then I’ll be more used to the process.

I worked both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. On Tuesday, a 6 to 10 shift, I had another forklift session. This time the trainer had me out in the actual store, not just in receiving, and he had me put a couple of pallets (containing insulation rolls) into overhead  storage racks. This required some careful judging of distances, but I managed it okay. The hardest part of this lesson was maneuvering the forklift in a couple of the narrow interior aisles, but despite some initial trouble I finally was able to manage okay. One or two more lessons and I’ll be good to go.

Other than the training interlude, both shifts were quite exhausting . There’s a week-long project called “Power Packdown,” which involves taking as many boxes as possible from the overhead storage racks and packing out the products on the sales shelves. Doing this involved incessant trips up and down the rolling ladders. It was slightly easier on Wednesday, when I worked 5 to 10, as I was able to use  an electric ladder for a couple of hours.  Still, I’m glad this is just a week-long project.

Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 4:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 2 – Sunday, January 3

The last two days of my three weeks off from my main job weren’t really days off, as I worked both days at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. I’m going to have to get back into the pattern of thinking of Fridays as my (one-day) weekend and Saturdays and Sundays as work days. Anyway, Saturday was an 8-hour shift and it seemed to last forever. You know, one of those days when you check the time, then check it again an hour later but only five minutes have passed. Garden was fairly busy, but with four or more people on duty at any given time things did start to get a bit tedious. Fortunately I had about two hours of computer training to do. Otherwise I probably would have gone batty.

Sunday was only a 4-hour shift, 1 to 5, but it was far more interesting. It was my first on the road (so to speak) forklift training session since a very brief one months ago. The trainer had me operate the forklift in the receiving area, which was pretty much empty as it was a weekend and all the previous week’s deliveries had been packed out. At first he had me familiarize myself with the controls, then drive forward and back, and finally make turns.  It was tough controlling the contraption at first but after about 15 minutes I was getting the hang of things. It takes some time to get used to the idea of rear-wheel steering, but once I did it became more intuitive. After about 45 minutes the trainer had me pick up some empty pallets and add them to a stack. That actually went better than expected.

Other than work, it was a fairly low-key weekend, nothing special to report. I originally had some ideas about going to the gym but naturally enough I didn’t go. Whether this is laziness or something else I don’t know, but it’s not a good state of affairs.

Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 3:52 am  Leave a Comment