Wednesday, June 15 – Friday, June 17

Easy days

Days like these three offer a welcome break from my usual schedule. My main job was nice and easy on Wednesday and Thursday, being at the end of a work cycle, and I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being busy, but there’s a difference between “busy” and “hectic.”

Speaking of the MHIR, it seems like the turnover rate in the last six months or so has reached epic proportions. It’s always been higher than in many other businesses, that’s the nature of retail, but nothing like what it’s been. Every time I go in for a shift I see workers I’ve never seen before, and many people who’ve been there for months or even years are leaving. I really don’t know why this is so. Working conditions haven’t deteriorated or anything. Very strange …

Friday was, of course, a day off from work. We drove into Queens and then took the subway into Manhattan for a brief visit, and while that part of the day went fine the return drive was most definitely not. Traffic everywhere, moving at a crawl if at all.

Published in: on June 22, 2016 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, June 11 – Tuesday, June 14

Return to normalcy, with a delay

After all that’s been going on over the past few weeks, I was hoping that Saturday would be the day that things finally got back to normal. I was scheduled for an 11 to 7:30 shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer and was really hoping for a regular routine day.

Of course, nothing of the sort happened. I had been feeling very tired and weak as I went into work, and literally within a few minutes of starting my energy was ebbing at an almost frightening rate. If I can just make it until my break at 1, I said to myself, I’ll be able to “recharge” enough to make it through my shift. By 12:30, just 90 minutes into the shift, it became obvious I wouldn’t last until 1, in fact I could barely stand upright. In a last-ditch attempt to salvage things I took my break at 12:30, figuring that going early would be okay if it enabled me to get through the shift.

No dice. When my 15 minutes were up I knew I’d never make it through the shift, so I sought out the manager and told him I had to leave. Staffing in the garden department was quite high, so I’m sure they managed without me. Not that I was any good in my present shape. It probably was the flu that I had, it was bad enough that I basically lay around for the rest of the day and wasn’t able to eat anything at all. Sunday I was quite a bit better, and probably could have made it through my scheduled 6-hour shift, but in an abundance of caution decided to call out. What that means is that my next paycheck on Friday will be for a grand total of two hours of work. Mercedes or BMW?

Monday and Tuesday were much better days. I was back to full strength, or close to it, and had two busy but tolerable days at my main job. It really was good to get back. Not that I’ll be back for too long, as I have the week of June 27 off due to the upcoming holiday. It actually works out well, as I’ll have to make another quick trip to Florida to handle some business issues. On Tuesday I had a 6 to 11 MHIR shift, and after an extremely hectic first hour it was a pretty decent, steadily paced shift. Yay.

Published in: on June 17, 2016 at 2:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, June 1 – Friday, June 10

The whirlwind

It seems like “normal” life last occurred months ago. You know, my old routine of working at my main job Mondays through Thursdays, occasional shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, trips to the gym … okay, maybe not the last of those, given how bad I’ve been about going, but you get the idea. All that seems like a distant memory given what’s happened.

Wednesday and Thursday, June 1 and 2, actually were fairly normal days. Having returned from the cruise and the post-cruise decompression period in Seattle, I worked at my regular job both days and had 4-hour evening shifts at the MHIR. In a way, the MHIR shifts weren’t really normal, as I was assigned exclusively to plant-watering duty both days. There are a lot of plants on display on the store’s front apron, and watering them is a very time-consuming process. Unraveling the tangle of hoses took much more time than it should have.

On Friday, I found out about a family issue that required a more-or-less emergency trip to Florida. I spent the next few days in a constant flurry of telephone calls, and we flew down on Monday morning and returned Friday evening. That makes two round-trip flights in the space of a few weeks, something I’ve never done before. Believe me, it was a trip I really did not want to have to make, but there was no choice in the matter. At least now, things should get more or less back to routine.









Published in: on June 13, 2016 at 2:25 am  Comments (1)  

Friday, May 20 – Tuesday, May 31

Thoughts on the cruise ship experience (and the Emerald City)

So I’m back. It was a 7-day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, which left Seattle on Friday, May 20 and returned on Friday, May 27. It stopped in Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria. We then stayed a few days at the “green” hotel Olive 8 in downtown Seattle to decompress before the journey home.

Observations, in no particular order:

  • Almost all of the crew members on the ship were friendly and helpful. It did not seem like a forced friendliness – “be nice to the passengers or you’re fired!” – but the genuine real thing. Most of them are from India, the Philippines, or Indonesia, with some Caribbeans, South Americans, and Europeans. I am sure that the absence of Americans is no mere happenstance.
  • The buffet restaurant, the Windjammer Cafe, served decent food but was often way too crowded. Getting a table was quite the challenge. The formal dining room was very very nice, excellent food and top-notch service.
  • Electronic message boards on all the decks and a daily newsletter list all of each day’s activities on the ship. It looks as if there are countless things to do, but then you realize that a significant percentage are just ways to sell you stuff (“Jewelry blowout sale!”) That being said, there was no shortage of actual things to do.
  • The onboard Internet service, which costs $20 per device per day, was something you’d expect from one of those 1980’s modems, the type where you’d put the phone handset on the modem.
  • We didn’t see much of Juneau, just the port area, where we rode on an aerial tramway and I walked a bit on some trails. Skagway seems to exist for no other reason than the cruise ship tourist trade. During the 7-month off season the population drops to 500 and almost all businesses close. Victoria was a gorgeous city, and is the only place in Canada where palm trees grow.
  • The boarding/disembarktion process at the Seattle cruise terminal looked chaotic, with lines everywhere, but it was controlled chaos and things moved surprisingly fast.
  • Downtown Seattle is nice, with apartment living definitely the up and coming Thing, but oh those hills! It really is one of those cities where I wouldn’t mind living. There were a lot of skells, but that’s not surprising given that Seattle was the home of the original Skid Row. And the Monorail is a very short ride, but fun.
  • I thought it was bad when we had to be at Kennedy Airport at 5am to get the Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle. Trust me, that is nothing compared to getting an overnight (“red eye”) flight from Seattle back to New York, leaving at 9:30pm and arriving, with time zone changes, around 6:15 in the morning. It was brutal. Never again.


Published in: on June 1, 2016 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment