Sir, Please Don’t Shove Bottles in your Pants

It’s been a long, strange few days. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend is worn out from his 10-hour days at work and just wants to curl up on the couch and eat pizza tonight. So instead of his usual experimentation in the kitchen, he’s making a frozen pizza and some garlic bread. Of course, he can’t just throw the pizza in the oven. He’s in there right now throwing on extra mushrooms and cheese, and grating cheese and garlic for the pre-made garlic bread. Even when he’s too tired to be creative in the kitchen, he is so damn creative in the kitchen!

I think part of the reason we’re not cooking tonight is because of the damn fruit flies in this house right now. I tried for weeks to get rid of them. I’ve scrubbed the kitchen down, gotten rid of any food sitting out, I even set up little traps for them with wine and dish soap. But they just keep coming from somewhere. Well, AAB may have found where they’re coming from. It seems that the roommate in the basement is doing more than just stealing forks from us. Every two weeks or so, we run out of cutlery and plates, before suddenly everything is clean and put away while we’re both gone. We’ve known that it’s him hoarding it all in his room. Well, it turns out it’s worse than I thought.

AAB went downstairs to do his laundry. There, in the laundry tub in the laundry room, is a massive pile of plates, cutlery, pots, and pans. They’re not washed, and some of them are not even rinsed. If he’s letting this sit out in the open, what the hell kind of shape is his room in?

I’m thinking that our biggest goal for 2018 should be to figure out our housing situation. I’ve been putting off making any decisions because I’ve applied for jobs in other cities. I don’t want to buy a house or sign a lease, only to get a job four hours away. This is getting to be a little ridiculous, though. I think it’s time to either shit or get off the proverbial pot. I mean, living with people who have such an overarching sense of entitlement is really starting to get to me. I mean, can you imagine moving in with other people, taking all of their kitchenware, hoarding them in your room covered in filth, and not even thanking them for letting you use them? Or how about not even asking if you can use them in the first place!

Ironically, that sense of entitlement is something a few of us were talking about at the end of my shift tonight at work. We were sharing stories about truly honest people who forget to mention the case of water on the bottom of their cart, only to return later to pay for it. I know, I didn’t think such people existed, but I work with one of them! People like her seem to be very few and far between, especially where I work. Standing outside the store tonight, we were going over the shoplifters we’ve caught on camera so far this week, and how many we possibly missed.

You see, a lot of the shoplifters we catch seem to follow a few different scripts. There is the “run in, grab and conceal the bottle, run out” kind. They’re kind of like the Smash’N’Grabs I witnessed when I was with friends in a convenience store late one in Detroit. That night, after the store had stopped selling beer and had just turned the lights off in the beer cooler, a group of kids came running in. Two of them grabbed as much beer as they could carry and headed for the door, while the other two smashed pop bottles on the floor as a distraction. This isn’t a new schtick, and it’s something they actually train pretty much any and all retail workers to look out for. Sure, their exit methods vary at times. Some run out claiming they forgot their wallet in the car. Others pretend they didn’t find what they were looking for and just head for the door. Some are in and out so quickly, you don’t even notice them at first.

Another popular type is the “bring a big bag and hide stuff in it” people. I mean, how do they think they’re getting away with this? Sure, they may be able to walk out the door, but that’s only because we’re not allowed to tackle suspected shoplifters anymore. We still have them on camera, and we document the crap out of them. When we have security in the store and they catch these people, they’re going down for every single theft we have them on camera doing. Some of these people are amazing though. I’ve seen people load bags up with hundreds of dollars worth of bottles and just walk out the door with a big grin on their face like they just got away with murder.

My personal favourite is what I like to call “The Pants People”. These people walk into a store and just start shoving stuff down their pants. It’s amazing just how much one person can fit into a pair of pants, really. These are the worst people to catch because if we get the product back it all has to be sanitized if we can still sell it. I’ve actually seen people walk in with elastic bands around the bottoms of their sweatpants just so they can fit more stuff in there without it falling out the bottom. Of course, this makes them easy targets to follow, considering elastic bands around your ankles is not exactly a huge trend this season.

What gets me with each and every one of these people we catch is the sense of entitlement they have. Most of the ones that we do catch with either security or police present just seem to think that it’s their right to walk in and take whatever the hell they want, without paying for it. We’re not talking about people stealing a loaf of bread to feed their starving family here. I have seen people who have the money to pay, sometimes with them in their wallets, and just not want to. More than once, I’ve seen someone get caught somewhere and then pull out the money for the items. They seem to think that if they just pay for it then and there after being caught, they’ll just be let go. The thing is, it doesn’t work like that.

Believe me when I say that I understand how expensive life can be. I have had to do without many times before. I’ve had to survive off of what I could get at food banks. I don’t have cable, or a car, or pricey electronics (aside from the computer I saved up for). I’m not out taking trips, or going on shopping sprees like some of my friends can do. I have to budget, and grocery shop at the dollar store at times. I haven’t eaten name brand macaroni and cheese in years because that’s a splurge for me. I know what it’s like to live paycheck to 4-days-before-the-next-paycheck. It sucks. But I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to get ahead even just a little bit. I know I’m not entitled to anything, the world doesn’t owe me a damn thing, and it’s no one’s job but my own to pay for my life choices.

Then I see these little Draco Malfoy brats coming into the store, shoving a bottle or two in their coat pockets, and pulling the “don’t you know who my father is” crap when they get caught. They seem to think that because their daddy is someone important, they can get away with anything.

Or we get the “well I’ve had a hard life, this is life’s way of giving back to me” shit-nobs who seem to think that because life didn’t go the way they planned, life somehow owes them. I have actually heard someone (not at my store, at a nearby drugstore while I was cashing out and security grabbed them) say that because they went to school for a certain career, and then couldn’t find work in that career six months later, the universe owed them for letting them waste all that time in school. Hell, if that were a good enough reason to steal, I’d be knocking over banks left, right, and centre!

It really just boggles my mind how people can rationalize something like stealing, making it seem like they have a right to do it. I get it, some people are in a place in life where stealing really does seem like the best option. Maybe they’re starving and are stealing food or something to sell for food. They could be in the throes of addiction, and can’t find any other way to pay for their habit. For them, stealing seems like the only option. These are the people society failed, the ones who need more social programs, the ones who need help. Still, that doesn’t give them the right to walk into my store and just load up their bag with whatever they damn well please. We need to fight for better social programs to help people like this, in order to stop people like this from resorting to theft.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones who have options. The ones who have the money to pay, but don’t think they should have to. The ones who do it for a thrill, or for a cheap night out. They’re the ones who pull the “don’t you know who my [relative] is” crap or pull out their wallet after they’re caught. These seem to be the majority of the ones I’m able to catch on camera, or in the act while on the floor at work. And these are the ones that piss me off the most.

I don’t know about you Sunshine, but I was raised not to take what isn’t mine. It doesn’t matter if it’s another kid’s toy, a product in a store, or credit for another person’s work. All of that is stealing, and it’s wrong. Why do these people seem to think it’s alright for them to do it?

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An Ode to Dollar Stores

Well, today is looking to be a strange day already. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend make a great dinner last night, with enough leftovers for lunch….. for him. Not realizing this, I let myself sleep in a bit, figuring I could use what would be my meal prep time for a nap and some writing. Instead, I had to make a mad dash around the house, attempting to draw on my eyebrows and cook up some sesame garlic tofurkey for two days worth of lunches. As it stands, I’m still running behind today and will have absolutely no time tonight to write or relax. Letting myself sleep in took away the time I needed to get pretty much everything done today. No time to stretch, or write much, or chit-chat with mum while she’s at work. I had to clean the kitchen, but could only do a half-assed job because there’s just no time for a full scrub-sweep-mop-scrub like I want to do. It was either fully clean the kitchen, or have to shell out of lunches for the next two days because I’m working weird shifts that don’t give me much prep time at night.

Usually, I don’t mind shelling out for lunches from time to time. The little plaza I work in has a lot of variety now for take-out options. In addition to the Tim Horton’s and Wendy’s we’ve had there for ages, we have a great little Vietnamese-Japanese-Chinese fusion restaurant, a tabbouleh place, and a brand new burrito joint. The only problem is, to get to any of these places I have to walk past either the Bulk Barn or a dollar store. Having a Bulk Barn around is bad enough on my wallet. You can’t run in there for just a little snack. You get the craving for a chocolate bar, the next thing you know you have a bag of broken nut rolls and need some bigger pants. Running in for a snack for me means coming out with some stevia sodas, dehydrated snap peas, some quinoa crisps, and a little bag of gummy candies to split with the work fam. And that’s if I don’t stop to get stuff for soup! I could drop a small fortune in there making gift bags for my coworkers for every holiday, getting a variety of kinds of rice, soup bases, noodles, and vegan substitutes like nutritional yeast, which I buy even though I’m not vegan and I love cheese.

At least with the Bulk Barn, I know there’s only so much stuff I can use. I know that there’s no use in me buying another $7 worth of chocolate when I’m trying to eat healthy this week and already have three chocolate bars in my fridge. And I know that my cupboard can only hold so much pasta, so there’s no use on stocking up on bulk fusilli when the cupboard is packed with rigatoni already. I have limits when I go in there (to a point). Yes, I will usually pick up yet another can or two of stevia soda, or grab a Pez dispenser for a co-worker. But I won’t drop the big bucks there very often unless I’m grabbing something I really need.

At the dollar store, I don’t have that sense of control. I can walk right past the Bulk Barn with no problem, even when I have time to shop. It’s almost like I’m physically unable to do that with a dollar store. Usually during my shift, I’ll run to the dollar store with the sole intent to buy a bottle of pop. That’s it, one bottle of pop. In the 45 seconds it takes me to walk to the store from my store, I’ll have somehow convinced myself that I need a small snack too. Maybe a small bag of cheap chips, or a Kinder Egg (for my American readers, Kinder Eggs are hollow chocolate eggs with a little toy inside that are illegal to bring into America for some reason). Walking into the store, the first thing in my sight is the seasonal things. That’s where I start to go wrong.

I know that I don’t need any more Christmas decorations. I have a bag full of tiny (and not so tiny) hats for work. We have two decorated trees. I even have a bag of candy to make into treat bags for my co-workers. Still, I take a quick walk through the seasonal aisle just to see if there are any new treats there. Somehow, I find two or three things I convince myself I really really need.

To get to the food section, I need to walk through health and beauty. It seems like there’s always something new there to try, and I usually end up loving what I get there. I started getting makeup remover wipes there for $1.25, instead of the $9 face wash or the $11 wipes at the drug store. Their bath sponges are amazing and cheap enough to replace as often as I need to. Hell, I even started buying makeup there on a whim. For Halloween, I needed blue and green eyeshadow and found an eyeshadow pallet for $1.25. This is quite possibly the greatest eyeshadow pallet I’ve ever tried. It’s a little harder to blend than the pricey ones I saw at Sephora, but they freaking stay on all day! I just got back from a hellacious 8 1/2 hour shift and my eyeshadow hadn’t budged or creased at all! So I have to check there to see if they have any new eyeshadows….. or lip glosses……. or makeup sponges….. or dry shampoo…….. or anything else they can possibly come out with that catches my eye.

By this point, I either have my hands full or have half a basket full of things. This is before I even hit the food section! I’ll try to grab just a bag of chips or some crackers to munch on. Then I’ll find half a dozen things we probably need at home: Rice-A-Roni, Cup-A-Soup, mini pizza crusts, discount Triscuits, Pop Shoppe soda in the glass bottles. It’s almost like they’re reading my mind, trying to figure out the best impulse buys for me. Then it’s through the candy section to get to the soda pop I came in there for in the first place. On a rough or really busy day at work, I can usually grab two or three things here just to give to co-workers. It’s amazing what leaving a KitKat in a person’s locker can do for their moral.

By the time I finally grab my soda, I’m up at the cash right next to the real impulse buys. I don’t know why I feel like I need peanut butter date energy bars, or a back scratcher, or foam nunchucks for AAB, but they wind up on the belt at the cash.

There have been times I’ve gone in there for soda and a snack and left with three freaking bags of things. A big part of me loves it, finding such a great deal on things. Another part of me, the financially responsible part, hates it. Yes, it’s always good to stock up on essentials like face cleansing wipes and bubble gum. But do I really need yet another piece of Tupperware with little sections in it? Or more pens with fuzzy balls on the end that the ever playful Bowser Kitten will attack any time I try to write with them?

This is why I pack a lunch for work. Today, I didn’t leave the store once in that 8 1/2 hours I was there. I brought food, and a book, and my soda pop from yesterday that I barely touched, and hunkered down in the break room for my dinner and my breaks. I didn’t spend a dime all day once I got to work.

Still, I wonder if they got any new eyeshadows in that I could use…..

More Praise for the Internet

Sorry lovelies, but today my head is just a giant pile of mush. I had a few glasses of red last night and the got assaulted with cuddles all morning by the surprisingly loving Bowser Kitten. It’s already after 11am, and I have done exactly nothing all day. I played a game on my phone, checked my Twitter, messaged my mum to see how dad is doing (she’s supposed to be at work, so I can’t just call), and have been hiding in my room from roommates all morning. Even the super snuggly Bowser Kitten is in a mood, burrowed into the blankets on the bed with only his little head poking out.

I just can’t wrap my head around anything today. I’m going over to-do lists, trying to get things done, but no one else around here gets anything done so I get side-tracked. This morning, I got up to make coffee around 9:30. Instead of my usual “put the coffee on, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, go grab coffee” routine I do most mornings, I had to wash a sink full of dishes, scrub old macaroni and some sort of brown sauce off the counters, and clean off the stove. My 10 minutes routine was more than half an hour thanks to that! And I seem to be doing everything in super slow motion today, too.

I think part of this is because I spent so much time looking at my schedule for work. They decided to open our store later on Sundays for the holidays, and the first night of this is the night of our Christmas Party. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are supposed to head out to the party around 6:30 with the work BFF and her fiance, but I am scheduled until 8:15pm. So I have to do a little finagling of the schedule, perhaps a little bribery to switch some things around and get an earlier shift. That’s my only 8-hour shift that week, so I can’t afford to just give it up. Actually, it’s one of the few 8-hour shifts I have in the 21 straight days I’ve been scheduled. Yes, after working a 30-day stretch and getting hell from my manager for working that many days, I take two whole days off just to be thrown into a 21-day stretch. If I hadn’t taken this past weekend off, then I would be working 53 straight days.

There are a few really crappy things that come with this. First off, in our collective agreement it states that we can only be scheduled 6 days a week unless we agree to pick up hours on that 7th day. I could totally go to management and tell them I can’t do all these days in a row, and they’d just give away a shift a week. But they don’t have to make up those hours anywhere on the schedule for me. That means I would be losing 5-8 hours a week just to have a day off. Another crappy thing is that I’m working 7 days a week, and still not being scheduled for 40 hours. In the past, I’ve had weeks where I’ve worked 7 days and not even gotten 30 hours! If I want to pay the bills, then I have to work all of these shifts somehow.

The weird thing is, my managers just gave me hell for doing a 30-day stretch! True, part of the streak was my own doing. When people needed shifts covered, or we knew in advance that we would be short on certain days, I volunteered to pick up hours. But I also did that with the assumption that the days off I was already scheduled for later in the schedule would remain as days off for me. I’d plan for a 14-day stretch, only to have my day off on day 15 rescheduled as a closing shift, give me 20+ days. Even at the very tail end of my streak, I was supposed to get days 27 and 28 off, but the manager tweaked that and gave me shifts instead! On day 30, when I made it known that I had survived yet another 30-day stretch, my manager said I can’t do long stretches anymore and have to take days off. Then he turns around two days later and schedules a 21-day stretch!

All of this scheduling, re-scheduling, and long stretches makes having a life outside of work nearly impossible. It’s already hard to schedule around my job since my shifts change so often. I can be scheduled to close at 4:15, just to get a call at 8am to come in at noon instead. Or I can get a highly coveted morning shift with the expectation to be out of there by 3pm, only to get extended until 6pm. And we just found out recently that the company as started to log everything you do regarding the schedule, possibly to use against you. Every time you request a day off, call in sick, refuse to switch shifts or come in early or pick up an extra shift…….. this all goes in a report they add to your annual review. They even log the reasons why you turn down shifts!  This makes scheduling anything else in my life damn near impossible!

Take, for instance, doctor’s appointments. It’s time for my full physical, something that I simply cannot ignore. We have a history of cancer in my family, and cervical cancer is one of them. I’ve had to have cryosurgery before, to get rid of pre-cancerous cell growth that was caught before it became full-blown cancer. It’s uncomfortable enough for me to make an appointment like this already, but my doctor left his practice and was replaced by a brand new doctor. My down-under exam will be my first time meeting this doctor! I have been trying to find the time to schedule this appointment for almost a month now, and it looks like it will be another few weeks before I know for sure I can have the time to do so without penalizing myself at work. I have a physical to book, moles that need to be checked, I haven’t had my eyes checked in 6 years and need to get new glasses, and I should probably see a dentist someday to check on that wisdom tooth that started coming in a little over a year ago.

What really gets to me, though, is that one of the only ways to really advance in this company is to learn French. Actually, not being bilingual is one of the things that has really been holding me back from getting a government position in my field. There are places around here where I could learn French, but it’s impossible to both afford this and take the time to make it to these classes with the way schedules are done. The work BFF has it in her file that she is only available until 7pm on Mondays and Wednesdays. There are 8 different shifts that the manager has given out on the current schedules that she could possibly work on these days. Still, since she’s not available to close, he doesn’t schedule her at all most weeks. Taking even a few hours off of my availability each week to take French classes could mean giving up 10-16 hours of paid work each week! I really can’t afford to do that.

That’s where the third great love of my life comes in (the first two obviously being AAB and currently hiding Bowser Kitten): the internet. Ever check out Duolingo? It’s free online language lessons! I haven’t been able to keep up with mine much lately, but I’ve been chipping away at them bit by bit. As you learn, you have the option to strengthen your skills and go over things you’ve previously learned. They even have a TinyCards page with little flashcards to help you keep up with your skills. Also, they have an app that lets you learn on the go. And it’s not just French you can learn on there. There are 27 different courses for English speakers to help them learn other languages!

Duolingo isn’t the only free online resource for learning, either. Go do a Google search for free online classes. There are a tonne of resources out there! One of my personal favourites (even though I have a hard time finishing courses sometimes) is Coursera. They have a tonne of courses that you can either take for free (just to gain the knowledge and upgrade your skills), or you can pay to take them to get official credits from schools around the world. You can specialize in things from every area of knowledge in their catalog, from marketing to teaching English as a second language.

Can’t find exactly what you’re looking for on there? Well, try out Open2Study, an Australian-based website that follows the same model. What I love about this site is that it features a lot of self-paced courses. The problem I have when taking online courses is that I’ll start one, get all excited about it, and can only go so far at a time. You have to do a little bit each week, which kind of kills my motivation. With my constantly changing schedule, and putting my writing before anything else online right now, I tend to just drop courses after the third week. With self-paced courses, you can do as little or as much as you want at a time. Have a day off? Laying in bed sick all day? Don’t feel like watching reruns of Friends on Netflix yet again after a long day? You can throw on a lecture video, pull up some online notes, and do just as much work as you’re feeling up to at the time.

One thing I’ve been meaning to look into more is learning a bit of web development online. I learned some very basic HTML way back in my MySpace days, but pretty much stopped there. Having some basic development tools is essential for a lot of jobs out there now. Web development is becoming the new “proficient in Microsoft Office” in resumes. There are a tonne of resources out there, which I haven’t really evaluated for you guys at all. Like I said, this is something I’m looking into, not something I’ve actually thrown myself into yet. Still, I’ve been going over the sites listed here in this article. I’ve heard of a few of them before, like Khan and Code Academy. Maybe one of you out there has a little more insight into which online sites would be best for someone looking to learn online, and would like to leave a comment for us.

It’s actually mind-blowing how much there is that you can learn online. Did you know Yale has free classes online? University of Toronto? MIT? I mean, how great would that look on a resume? “While employed with [XXX], I independently upgraded my skills by taking online courses through both MIT and Yale”. I mean, it just sounds cool. Like, I live in the little border town, working my little retail job, working on my homework for MIT. Need an excuse to get out of a social situation? “Sorry, I can’t make it to your Silly Sock Social and Spritzer Mixer. I have to finish a paper for that class I’m taking at Yale.”

And for anyone who doesn’t think that any of this free online learning is “official” enough for them (I’ve heard that complaint from a lot of people, actually), or you specialized education like a Masters Degree or a few university classes to finish your major, there’s something out there for you too. Almost every single university out there now offers some sort of online learning. All through my two degrees, I took at least two online classes a year, usually during the summer months. I was a Teaching Assistant for an online Sociology class for three years. For us Canadians, there is even an entire university dedicated to online learning: Athabasca University. This online school is a collection of majors, courses, degrees, and certificates from universities all over Canada. Most Canadian universities will allow you to substitute online classes from Athabasca for courses you’re unable to take physically at your school for whatever reason. It’s just a matter of filling out some paperwork and using the online classes kind of like transfer credits. You can pick up a few classes here, or do a full degree. I’ve looked into a few certificates recently that would go great with my degrees, and really add something to my resume!

I don’t know, I’m in one of those moods where I feel like my entire life is falling apart, and I need to do something to get out of here. Like I said, my schedule doesn’t allow me to take the time off to upgrade my education, so I’ve been looking into all of this online learning a lot lately. These classes are perfect for anyone who needs to do a bit of learning but doesn’t have the time to dedicate the same time each week to physically going to a class.

I do have some words of warning, though. Like I said, I took quite a few online classes at my university and was the Teaching Assistant for one course. I know how easy it is to blow off work for these classes. When I had to physically go into class and participate in lectures, go to labs, hand in work, then that pressure to keep up was the motivating factor in me getting anything done sometimes. With my online classes, I could put off doing any reading at all until just before an assignment or paper was due. I once took a course and didn’t even take the plastic wrapping off the textbook until more than halfway through the semester! Unless there is some sort of schedule to the class that makes you hand things in, or take tests and quizzes, and all of this is at regular intervals, then it is ridiculously easy to dig yourself an academic hole that is stupid crazy hard to climb out of.

So, is there anything out there that you need to learn? Always wanted to learn a little bit about Ancient Rome? High school Spanish teacher always tell you that you’d never be able to learn more than a few words of Spanish, and you want to prove him wrong? There is something out there for everyone online. You just need to know where to look for it.*

*Google. Google is where you look for it. Type it into the damn search and look for it.

Christmas Tree Day….. was yesterday

Well, it happened. I completely missed a day of writing yesterday. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I decided to actually sleep in since we both never get to do that at the same time anymore. We slept and lounged until almost 10am. I messaged my mother to see how her birthday weekend was going, and she tells me she just got back from the hospital.

My dad has issues with AFIB, a heartbeat irregularity that sends his heart racing to ridiculous rates. Before his heart surgery, my parents were on a first name basis with most of the EMTs in their area. Dad’s heart starts racing, won’t stop, and they have to call an ambulance. While he’s at the hospital, they fill him full of meds that are supposed to help bring his heart rate back down to a normal level. A lot of times, that just isn’t enough though. In those cases, they have to get the paddles and shock his heart back to a normal rhythm.  This is super dangerous though, and he’s actually died on the table while being shocked before.

So after spending a nice relaxing day with us girls doing her Christmas thing, mum goes to be at 10:30pm. By 1am, she’s wide awake and dad’s in an ambulance on his way to the hospital. When I talked to her just before 11am on Sunday, she hadn’t slept yet and hadn’t eaten since the day before. She was vacuuming and fixing her makeup though because my aunt and uncle were stopping by so they could all go see the musical my brother is in. Dad stayed home. When they all came back from the show, dad was in a bad way and they had to call an ambulance again. When I talked to her at 8:30 last night they were just getting ready to discharge him. She still hadn’t eaten or slept.

Well, I guess in the middle of the night, his heart started acting up again. They called his heart specialist first thing this morning and ended up heading back to the hospital a few hours ago. I’m waiting for updates as to what the hell is going on. The last I heard, they were getting ready to shock him.

While all of this was happening yesterday, AAB and I were setting up our Christmas decorations. A former roommate left behind a Christmas tree and some decorations, so we decided at the last possible minute that we’re going to have TWO trees this year. This meant a quick trip out to buy more lights, a stop at the dollar store to pick up decorations, and a quick run into work to pass out store-bought Christmas cookies. The always festive Bowser Kitten was a huge help, yelling at the trees so we knew they were there. We were afraid he might try to climb the bigger tree, but he hasn’t yet. I think he sometimes forgets he’s a cat and seems to think he’s a fuzzy little God and we put these things up for his tribute.

Yesterday, despite all of the health problems, is officially the start of the holiday season in my family. Some members started decorating soon, of course. My cousin has had her tree up for a week, at least. And my sister has to do her tree in stages, to let her cat get used to it so he doesn’t destroy things. She winds up having to start putting her tree up right after Halloween, to make sure her giant fluffball McLovin has ample time to accept it as part of his surroundings.

For the most part, the beginning of the holiday season is supposed to bring about joy and peace and happiness. We pull out decorations, throw on a Christmas movie or TV special, and listen to Christmas music all day. I put out some Christmas cookies in a tin on the table to munch on, order a whole bunch of Chinese food, and we watched old Home IMprovement Christmas episodes. Nothing screams Yuletide like Tim Taylor putting too many lights on his house to try and outdo a retired proctologist. This is supposed to be the beginning of cozy nights in with hot cocoa, watching Bing Crosby tapdance with Danny f’n Kaye, and writing letters to Santa.

But oh no, it’s the start of so much more than that for me.

You see, a few years ago I took an idea from Pinterest and tweaked it a bit. The pin said to write love letters to someone, but give them all of them at once in envelopes marked with when to open them. So you could write one for your anniversary, one for their birthday, and so on. I took that and wrote letters to my mother. We’ve always written notes back and forth since I was a little kid. So this seemed like the perfect gift for her. I wrote one for everyone’s birthdays; one for the anniversary of my grandpa’s death; one for her and dad’s anniversary; one for the anniversary of the day we moved into their house; and so on. When mum opened that gift, she cried so hard! She kept saying it was the best gift I have ever given her. She told everyone about this gift. It was the gift to end all gifts.

Except it wasn’t.

You see, it lasts for a year. Then, you’re out of letters to open. The following year, Christmas just seemed a little empty. She didn’t rant and rave about anything. It was like those letters made every other gift a huge let-down. So now, I have to have a new batch of letters every year.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s just a little stack of letters. How hard could it be to write them?

Well, one year I decided to loom-knit scarves for everyone. It was my first year of university and I was short on money, so I went the handmade route. I made loom-knitted scarves, and hand-beaded necklaces, and bought a few Fair Trade pieces for everyone. I had to research where to get things without spending too much, reteach myself to bead and loom-knit, and then manage to get all this crafting done during exams while surrounded by my roommates’ six cats and a ferret who all seemed to think my crafts were new toys for them. I stayed awake for a little over 50 hours before passing out on the living room futon, where I rolled over my crafting supplies in my sleep and sliced my arm open on the scissors I had left out. Between the studying and the crafting, I didn’t leave the house for 11 days unless it was to go write an exam or go to 7-11 for coffee and hotdogs.

That was easier than writing new letters every year.

I mean, I can’t use the same old stuff over and over again. I’m expected to come up with something new and fresh, something that will make mum laugh and cry all at the same time. I have to find that perfect combination of nostalgia and brand-new to make this gift as good as the original one I gave her years ago.  And this year, it’s going to drive me up the wall.

Not only do I have these letters to write, I also have gifts to get for everyone else. Thankfully AAB and I are awesome at getting gifts for each other. We consistently find the perfect combination of sweet, practical, thoughtful, and mushy by just buying a bunch of little things instead of one big thing for each other. The painfully scratchy Bowser Kitten just needs a new scratching post, since AAB is not a very good substitute. My Secret Santa at work was the easiest one of all. I was hoping for the work BFF, but instead got someone who no one else really knows well enough to buy for. But we’ve had some good talks about interests and Vines and the comedic geniuses of the VlogSquad and RyDoon. I ordered her present about 15 seconds after I drew her name.

Everyone else? I have no clue! No one is giving me any ideas, or suggestions, or feedback. Does my sister have festive pillows for her couch? Does my brother need new good Tupperware yet? Who knows! I never get any suggestions for my brother-in-law, whom I barely ever get to see, so he just gets a big basket of teas, chocolates, and nuts. I try to get my sister things she can use to relax, even though I have no clue what she already has. Still, without feedback or ideas, I’m expected to come up with creative and original gifts for people. I make gift baskets and am somehow expected to come up with the perfect combination of things that someone will want to use right this very second.

Work gets a lot busier at the holidays too. In a few weeks, I’ll be back on my beloved 6am shift with the work BFF. We haul carts and do stock and unload trucks and scrub floors with the radio cranked and the giggles on full. Then we caffeinate, eat the equivalent of a small veggie platter, and head back out to do customer service while I wear tiny festive hats. It’s hard work, trying to get everything done in the store in just 4 hours, and then helping customers and doing more stock for another 4 hours. And the mornings are ridiculous, having to get up around 4am to shower and make the coffee. Then after work, it’s back to crafting and writing those letters and loom-knitting and beading and cooking and baking and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning…………

Every year I think, “This is it. This is the year I finally snap”. I’ve come close a few times. My anxiety was so bad my final year of university, I couldn’t keep food in me. I had to spend two weeks at my parents’ place (this was in my pre-Bowser days), and the thought of rushing all of this gift-making and wrapping and shopping, while writing papers and exams, just to spend two weeks hearing “are you sure you want to eat that?”, it was almost too much for me. I existed on pudding cups for a while, while a family member constantly told me I should switch to sugar-free jello because it has fewer calories. I couldn’t keep food in me, and she’s worried I’m getting too many calories! This year, I can already feel, is starting to feel like that year.

I know that I need to cut back on the drinking for the holidays. I usually have a glass or two of wine at night before bed. Well, that needs to stop for these 6am shifts! I’ll also have two whole days off a week to get things done, after working a 21-day stretch to get to them. I have to start with some very careful planning, and lists, and maybe some new coloured pens and a fresh notebook!

Or, I could just go reheat some leftover beef egg foo young and start listing out dates and occasions for those damn letters for mum.

Day Off, Christmas Homes Tour, and Being the Family Outcast

Today was my first of two days off from my retail job, peddling the devil’s brew. Instead of staying in bed as long as possible, having all the kitten cuddles the always sleepy Bowser Kitten had to offer and then making a big pot of Christmas Coffee, I got up at 7am to shower and get ready for my ride. It was the annual Christmas Homes Tour out in the county today and every year we hit that tour for mum’s birthday. So myself, mum, my sister, and my cousin piled into my sister’s car and went out in the pouring rain to walk through strangers’ homes, gawk at their decorations, and then buy a bunch of wine.

Every year it’s the same thing: we see a bunch of different random people’s homes; stop into the same church to see the dozens of nativity scenes on display and buy a bunch of baked goods; hit the winery for a free sample and to shop; then to the garden store and novelty shop for a little Christmas shopping. We sit around together, catching up and munching on fresh baked goods made by little old church ladies and drinking fruit punch made from bulk store crystals, and then sip free wine and nibble on tiny cucumber slices and date squares and talk some more. For the most part, it’s quite an enjoyable day.

This year, this day fell right as I came off a 30-day stretch, as I mentioned yesterday. I was exhausted this morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. To top it off, the super cuddly Bowser Kitten mad made a beautifully soft next in the blankets around my knees. I had to squirm and slide out of bed in order to not disturb his nest. Hell, it’s 12 hours later and the bed still hasn’t been fully made!  I smoothed out the blankets around the nest but left it perfectly intact. Bowser Kitten is curled up in it at this very moment, in fact!

After literally dragging myself out of bed as to not disturb an already pissed off Bowser Kitten, I shower, poured some coffee down my throat, slapped on some eyebrows, and got my slip on boots ready to go. By the time our festive team assembled at my parents’ place (to cuddle their cats before we left), the skies had opened up and unleashed a torrent of rain that made it almost impossible to drive through at times. We had to make an emergency stop at a dollar store near our starting point of the tour to get umbrellas (and a few snacks for the car).

Riding around the county, dipping into our little snack bags of cookies, laughing about stupid things we’ve done lately, it was a really enjoyable day. I was really having fun, catching up with everyone, hearing all the gossip from that cousin’s side of the family that I’ve missed out on. We all bonded over our love of Christmas decorating, and the fact that I am the only one in the car who only puts up one Christmas tree every year (but I technically own two, thanks to a former roommate who left one behind).

Maybe it was the lack of sleep lately. Maybe it was the fact that I had to wake up pretty early on my first day off in 30 days. Maybe it was the fact that I had to piss of barely cheerful Bowser Kitten by leaving him home alone on my day off. Whatever it was, that creeping feeling that I don’t belong came faster this year.

Everyone else in the family seems to get along, and like a lot of the same things. They all follow the “there is a timeline your life is supposed to follow so you have things done at a certain point in your life” mentality. That was the first thing that opened the floodgates for the awkwardness today. My cousin was talking about her and her boyfriend, who have been dating almost 3 years now. She was saying that once you hit 30, dating is completely different and should move a lot faster because you have your life totally together. In her words, you have your life together once you’re in your 30s. You own a home or have a really nice apartment, don’t have any student loans left to pay off, are established in your career, and have time for hobbies and “grown-up things”. She’s in a book club, where they read Oprah-approved books and then sit around talking about how much they loved them. She gets up early on Saturday mornings to go to brunch with the girls. She counts calories, and every time she eats something “bad” she has to talk about how her diet is ruined for the day. And everyone over the age of 30 is supposed to do these things.

Now, everyone in that car today knows what my life is like. I’m 35 years old. I’m drowning in credit card and student loan debt I’m slowly chipping away at. I work retail, on my feet in steel-toe shoes all day, and rent a room in a house with a bunch of strangers. I am the exact opposite of everything she just said I’m supposed to be. But she still kept talking to me like my life is exactly like hers. Not just that, but everyone seemed to go along with it like I was supposed to fake another lifestyle for a day just to fit in.

I’m almost used to this by now. I always seem to get this weird combination of “good for you, not letting your age stop you” and “you still have to live up to our expectations of a person your age” from people when I make decisions in my life. And everyone has different expectations for me, but I’m supposed to live up to all of them. I am somehow supposed to live at home until I’m married, plus get a kick-ass apartment full of cool stuff from catalogues, plus cultivate my own style, plus date around and sow my wild oats while also being in a steady and monogamous relationship long enough to lead to an engagement and marriage so I can start having kids by my late-20s or early-30s. I am somehow expected to do all of this at once, in order to live up to a dream that various family members have for themselves, which then gets passed on to me.

This random “failing everyone’s expectations entirely, all at the same time” phenomenon is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interactions with my family. In almost every way, I am very much different from my family. I know, I sound like some angsty teen who wears too much black eyeliner and ironically listens to Marilyn Manson because he’s “hardcore” and “speaks to me”. This is something that I’ve come to embrace over the years, and most of the time it’s something I really enjoy. I’ve always been a little off compared to my cousins, and a little backwards at times. I’m a writer, a confused little lost girl who bounced from job to education to job, with ever-changing goals. I’m financially insecure, in a precarious place in my professional career, and just rediscovering my passion for writing and reading at the age of 35. Usually, I am perfectly fine with the fact that my choices in life have lead me to where I am, and I know that my current and future choices will lead me other places. But being in that car, listening to everyone talk, it just gets to me.

You see, there are a lot of fundamental things about me that are very different from the rest of my family. I come from a big group of Trump-loving folk, who don’t want refugees around stealing their jobs and spreading Sharia law with their ISIS influence. They think that anyone who gets welfare is just cheating the system to get free money for expensive food and trips (except for me, the time I was on it right out of school; I was the exception), and firmly believe that all refugees are being paid thousands of dollars a month by the government while pensioners are being given cheese vouchers and a swift kick in the ass. They want more gun, less diversity, more religion (as long as it’s their religion), and fewer immigrant workers. They believe that trickle-down economics will save the world, and that border walls can’t be built fast enough to save North America from the dreaded Mexicans.

Basically, they believe in the opposite of everything I do. There are tules at family dinners stating that no political conversations are supposed to take place. This basically means that everyone else is allowed to talk politics, except for me. The second I speak up, the conversation is labelled a “fight” and mum gets upset. I’m used to it. I just shut my mouth, keep my head down, and try to tune everything out most of the time. But when you’re stuck in a car with people talking politics, and you know you can’t join in because it will upset people is the weirdest feeling in the world. No matter how nice and polite I am, just the very act of saying something that isn’t in total agreement with them is enough to piss everyone off.

Ok, remember when you were a teen, and you thought the whole world was against you? You would lock yourself in your room, blasting your angsty-driven music of choice (mine was German industrial music and heavy metal; my sister was more of a Hanson-rebel), thinking that there was no one in the world who would understand you. You would slam doors, punch your pillow, scream at family members that they just didn’t understand you and they never would. Do you remember that feeling of being so totally different, so totally alone, that if felt like it would crush you?

Now imagine being 35. You know that you’re not alone in the world because you have people around you that you can relate you. You know that you’re not the bizarre, weird freak you thought you were when you were 15 when some overly-bleach blond douchebag would throw orange slices at your head on the bus after school. You’re a grown-ass adult who has a life and a mind of their own and is able to converse with people of differing views in a civilized manner. But being with your family is suddenly being that 15-year-old again. You’re a freak, a weirdo, a disappointment who has all these weird and strange ideas that they’ll surely grow out of once they finally grow up.

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post today. Sorry folk, my brain has closed down for the day. All I know is I just spent my first day off in a month being questioned about when the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend and I are going to get engaged and married (that’s not something we’re really looking into right now), why am I not pressuring AAB into proposing as my Christmas present, why would I even think about applying to jobs a few hours away (when there’s nothing outside of my own company that I’m both qualified for and interested in), why would I be looking at little 2 bedroom wartime houses in my area (when that’s all AAB and I want at the moment), and when am I going to “grow up and vote Republican” (because apparently other people’s Christmas decorations are entirely a Republican issue that I couldn’t possibly handle). It’s been a mentally draining day, I’m pouring my second glass of wine right now while I blast my “Angry Tunes” playlist on Spotify, and AAB is playing in the kitchen with some fish and asparagus at 8:43pm when I haven’t eaten a real meal all day. I am just done with everything for today. Being grilled like a 15-year old who came home 4 hours after curfew about the tiniest little thing today by a few family members just gets to me.

Tomorrow is my Christmas decorating day. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lay out the extra stress that comes with the Christmas season for me (since we all go through extra stress this time of year, no matter our beliefs, with holiday festiveness being shoved down our throats) and how I’m planning on cutting a few corners and doing more for me thing year.

Stayed Up Too Late Contemplating Fate Again

I did it again. As of 5:30pm today, I completed yet another 30-day stretch. The last few days have been hell, with sick calls and absent management (for legitimate health reasons, but it’s still stressful as hell). I basically ran on caffeine and cookies for most of my shift today.

I threw back 2 1/2 cups of coffee before setting off for work this morning. Our morning crew was not only a man down today, but that man was the main person in charge of the loads in the morning. Our assistant manager can zip a forklift around in tight spaces like mad, handle a load from pre-load safety checks right up to the closing paperwork with his eyes closed, and can throw boxes around like they’re full of air. He’s off today though because he had a slight heart issue yesterday while starting the load. Our next in line to take charge of the load fell down a flight of stairs at home and bruised his ribs pretty bad. It hurts him to even cough or laugh, let alone sling boxes around all day. Still, he was out there with the smaller forklift helping unload the truck. Of the other three of us available to help, only one has any experience actually taking skids off the truck with the forklift. I’m still being trained and have to have our assistant manager there to supervise me if I even try to do that, and my other co-worker hasn’t even been sent for her in-class training yet, let alone used the forklift yet. So right off the bat, we knew the load was going to take a lot longer than usual.

With everything taking longer, our breaks got pushed back. I jumped off cash long enough to run to the back to use the bathroom at one point and didn’t even make it back there before being buzzed back up front. But in the short time I was in the warehouse, the smell hit me hard enough to make me nauseous. A case of something broke in the middle of a full pallet, and there were mould and fruit flies involved. With my mould allergy, I couldn’t even help with the cleanup. Instead, I spent most of the day spraying old vanilla body spray in the warehouse to try and mask the smell.

I spent the majority of my 8 1/2 hour shift running cash, with a few breaks in the day to put away stock. We had more bizarre customers, a serious shoplifting incident further down the plaza requiring half a dozen police cars, and our manager was calling references and meeting with our potential new seasonal workers for this year. Between the constantly ringing phone, the constant questioning customers, and the need to keep checking security cameras to follow possible shoplifters, it was madness. I kept a napkin of Christmas cookies at my till, threw back a few energy drinks, and actually drank a whole Timmies coffee. I never get coffee at work because I usually drink it so slowly that it gets cold before I can finish. But today I just let it cool a bit and basically chugged it just to keep me going.

I wouldn’t have been so damn tired if I didn’t, yet again, start reading Insomnia by Stephen King. I have stacks of new books just waiting to be read and know I should work my way through them. But I once again saw this one staring at me from the shelf and thought “well a few pages won’t hurt me”.

I was very, very, very wrong.

For anyone who hasn’t read this book, it’s basically about fate and destiny. There are certain people in the world who are fated to do great and amazing things, and then there are the rest of us. Two characters are tasked with helping to save a random person from death because something they do will lead someone else to do something great. This entire premise gets inside my brain and takes hold, letting me think of nothing more than the idea of fate and the inconsequential people.

You see, I haven’t done anything phenomenally great with my life as of yet. I’ve gone through a lot personally, overcome a lot of obstacles, done a whole hell of a lot of schooling, and now work in retail and write this blog. I’m never going to be mentioned in any history books or featured on an Oprah special. Usually, I’m perfectly fine with that. In fact, most days I completely embrace the fact that I could move somewhere else and live in total anonymity if I really, truly wanted to. But this book just shatters that comfy cosy feeling of nothingness and throws me into a dark brooding pit of despair. I become a cross between a first-year philosophy major with a hard-on for Neizche and an angsty 90’s teen who just discovered Kurt Cobain. I want to curl up under the blankets for days at a time, cuddle the less-than-comforting Bowser Kitten, and write crappy poetry about lost love and the fact that the Starbucks barista forgot the whip on my lactose-free peppermint mocha frapp.

You see, I’m perfectly fine being nothing if that of my own doing. It is entirely my own choice to stay in my retail job, to not pursue more education at the moment, to re-watch the same shows and re-read the same books and do nothing anyone would call significant with my life right now. If that is how I choose to live, then I’m fine with it. It’s the idea that it’s my destiny to be nothing that bothers me. And that idea keeps evolving every time it pops into my head again.

What if it’s my destiny to do nothing? That would mean that nothing I have done, and nothing I will ever do would ever count for anything. I could never influence people, or make an impact on people’s lives. What if my destiny is only to walk down on a specific road, on one specific day just so I can bump into a random person and make them late for something? Sure, that could change their life completely. Me bumping into them and making them late could be the difference between making it to their bus on time or missing the bus and avoiding a fiery crash that would have killed them. Me making them late for something could mean that they wind up complaining in a bar about the bitch tripped and fell into them, and a fellow patron sympathizing with them, with that patron later becoming their spouse. Or their business partner. Me making someone late by tripping and knocking them down could mean that they tore their pants and had to run into a store to buy new ones, making them be in the right place at the right time for something that could turn them into a household name.

But then what about me?

That would mean that my existence is supposed to count for absolutely nothing, save for those few minutes where my clumsiness seemingly ruins a persons day for a bit. Other than those fleeting few moments, which would mean nothing to either one of us ever again, my life would be inconsequential and I would be a nobody. No matter how hard I try to make a life for myself, it would all be for nothing because my destiny is to be nothing.

That’s how this line of thought always starts. Usually, this is where it ends, too. It’s enough to depress the hell out of anyone, myself included. But it went well beyond that last night. Last night, my brain delved into the idea of soul mates and fate.

What if you’re fated a soul mate, but you’re not fated to end up together? I know, that makes no sense at first, but hear me out.

What if you have a soul mate fated to be the one true love of your life. All fate does is make sure the two of you meet and leaves everything up to you.WOuld you even know that’s your soul mate? I mean, I am a much different person than I was even 4 years ago, let alone 10 years ago, or in high school, or even in grade school. What if my soul mate was someone I met in high school, who I brushed off or I wrote off as an asshole way back then? I’ll admit, I was a little angsty bitch in high school. I was picked on a lot, had some good friends but basically shied away from most people and social situations, and closed myself off from others. I was like a giggly Daria Morgendorffer, round glasses and all. What if my soul mate was someone who was friends with someone who picked on me? There were a few people who I couldn’t stand because of the way they treated me, and I always figured their friends would treat me the same. I didn’t associate with my bully’s friends on the basis that they were friends with my bully, so they would probably treat me like he did. I even had a massive crush on one of his friends, and barely spoke to the guy. What if one of those guys was supposed to be my soul mate? And that’s just one of the dozens of scenarios that flew through my mind last night as I tried to sleep.

My mind drifted back to that “what if I met my soul mate and nothing happened” idea time and time again. What if I met my soul mate, and we were supposed to find indescribable happiness together? I mean the kind of happiness I’ve seen others find, the kinds you strive for in every relationship. What if I’m trying for that now, with the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend, and we’re destined to never have it? What if that feeling of true love and bliss was meant for someone else, and the closest we’ll ever come to it is just a reasonable facsimile thereof? This means that there is a chance that what I’m perceiving as happiness with AAB isn’t really happiness. It means that there is someone out there who could make me feel a thousand times better than I do now, but I would never consider that person because we were never anything to each other in our past.

This is what was flying through my head at 2am, which the super sleepy Bowser Kitten pawed at my feet. What if, as happy as AAB makes me, it’s not really happiness? What if it’s all an illusion because my chance at real happiness passed long ago and I never realized it.

All of this because I can’t help but read the same book over again every time I happen upon it. The strangest thing is, I keep that book on the shelf in the office. I have a whole shelf of Stephen King books that I keep together in there. But whenever I come across that book, start reading it, and these thoughts flood my head, it’s never on that damn shelf. Yesterday I found it with the stack of new books I keep next to the computer. I don’t know when I put it there, or why I put it there, but it was sitting there on the top of the pile, right under the gingerbread men I put there Monday so I wouldn’t forget to bring them on my Christmas Homes Tour outing tomorrow. There is a lot going on in my life right now: I’m getting back into writing and actually loving it; there are job opportunities popping up in other cities that I’m qualified for; there are issues with this house and the roommates here that are driving me to consider finally moving away.

Maybe this book is finding me, to make me think, to make me make some choices. Maybe it is fate, a sign that I’m not nothing and have to do something soon.

Or maybe the lack of sleep is making me damn loopy right now. Coupled with the 30-day stretch I just finished, part of me wouldn’t doubt that right now.

Do You Never Sit?

The last few days at work have been just ridiculous. Tuesday night after I left apparently there was the most dramatic shoplifting and arrest ever at our store. I don’t know the details, but it somehow involved random heroes trying to attack a security guard, a woman thinking she’s SpiderMan,  and physical threats of violence. We’ve had people from the surrounding businesses coming in the last two days wanting all the details.

Then last night, it was Asshole Night at the store. It started with one guy demanding we do a cashback on her credit card, no matter how many times I told him I couldn’t do that. I mean, even if I could just bill him for a random amount, my drawer doesn’t open unless there’s cash involved. Later a co-worker went up to a group of five guys and flat-out asked if all of them had their ID with them, since they were all shopping together, all touching everything, and very loudly talking about how they were all splitting the booze. Of course, when they got up to her counter, only two of them had ID, and they tried to argue with her. Everything seemed to go downhill from there for the night. We had the weirdest conversations with customers, the weirdest transactions, and a man who took three trips into the store to try and get cash back from what looked to be the bank card Moses carried in the desert for 40 days, only to get money from a cabbie.

And then today….. well, I was supposed to leave work before 3pm, and didn’t cash out until close to 6pm. Our manager is off sick with a heart issue. Then our assistant manager had a cardiac episode while he was unloading skids off the delivery truck this morning. One of our closers called in sick, we had to borrow a new person from another store, our next-in-charge woman (who has been doing the job of three people for more than a week now) was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and our closing shift leader (who is already a big ball of nerves) was on edge because everyone else was on edge. So I did the only thing my family taught me to do in a time of crisis: I fed people. I ran to the dollar store and got Christmas cookies, and pfeffernusse, and little holiday candies and chocolates, and made a big snack plate. I got a candy bar just for the acting manager. And I got soda and bells for me.

In all of the craziness of this week, there’s something that stands out in my mind. One of my co-workers has a chair at her register. She’s what we call a modified worker. She has issues with her wrists and her feet, and we accommodate that. She still works her ass off, though. In an 8-hour shift, she can unload a truck, fill the warehouse, do stock, and run cash. She regularly does more than the young new girls we have at the store. It’s just that she has to wear a wrist brace while running her cash register, and she can’t stand at the register. She has her own chair that she wheels out the start of every shift, and is willing to lend out to anyone who needs it.

Still, random people will regularly say things like, “Must be nice, getting paid to sit on your ass all day”. She hears variations of that all the time. A few weeks ago, the work BFF had a powerful migraine and had to borrow the chair. If she didn’t sit, she felt like she was going to pass out. But by just sitting, she was able to run cash just fine. In just the two hours we worked together that day, I heard two or three people make similar comments to her. We’ve had other modified workers at our store in the past, who are now at other stores, and they had to deal with a lot of the same thing. Even I experienced it last year around this time. I don’t know what I did, but I messed up my back something fierce. Even when I was sitting down, I was crooked and obviously in pain. Even moving to bag larger bottles was painful for me. And still, I got comments about me being lazy, about me sitting on my ass while everyone else worked. And those same people make comments to my co-workers to this day along the same lines.

I’d just like to know, do these people ever sit at their jobs?

Before I worked here or went back to school, I had an office job. I made a bit more money than I make right now, and I sat on my ass all day behind a desk. I worked on a computer, handled money, and talked to customers all day. Not a single one of them ever said that it must be nice to sit on my lazy ass all day.

My mother works for a doctor. She sits behind a desk all day, greeting patients, making appointments, and taking money. No one ever tells her that it must be nice to sit on her ass all day.

My father sold cars for many years. A big part of that job was sitting at a desk, doing paperwork. No one ever told him that it must be nice to sit on his ass all day.

We already get all kinds of bizarre and intrusive questions and statements from customers. Being a union store and government-owned, a ridiculous amount of people seem to think that we make $30+ an hour and get full medical benefits. In fact, we had a customer say that to us out of the blue not 10 minutes after we opened today! Our assistant manager (before his incident) and a co-worker were goofing off while they walked to the warehouse together to put some things away. A regular customer came in, saw them joking together, and commented that “it must be nice to make $48 an hour with full benefits just to goof around”. People are always up in our business, trying to make us justify our existence to them. In fact, the three of us working cash at the time combined might make that $48 an hour, with absolutely zero benefits and no guaranteed hours.

We have people that assume we make ridiculous amounts of money an hour. We have people that assume we’re all rich, and we’re all lazy, and we’re all too stupid to find “real” jobs. We have people who think that just because we work in a liquor store, they are automatically somehow better than us. And all of these people are quite vocal about it, making sure we know what they think of us at all times.

I can deal with the people who think we make crazy money running a cash register because it’s been made publically known that is not true. During our last union contract negotiations, everything was made public. People still ignored what was published, didn’t read anything about what we were fighting for, and came at us asking if we were happy now making $48 an hour. Those people, I keep telling myself, are a lost cause. They want to hate us, and want to blame us for the price of alcohol. They seem to think that if the government did things their way, things would be so much better and so much cheaper. They ignore everything they’ve been told and just rag on us every chance they get. In my mind, these people are a write-off. There is no getting through to them, so why bother trying.

It’s the people who see someone sit for a few minutes and assume that they’re some lazy piece of crap that really gets to me. Yes, my co-worker sits at her cash register. She has a medical reason and doctors’ notes that allow her to do so. In order to get that chair, she had to go to doctors, and get doctors’ notes, and get medically assessed. She had to go through a crazy amount of red tape just to be able to sit down because it is medically necessary.

I want to know, do these people randomly walk into offices and shame the people working there for having chairs? Would they like to come into our office in the store and shame our manager? He spends most of his day sitting in a chair at his computer, doing work. Is that acceptable to these people? What about secretaries in doctors’ offices? I would like to see one of these random customers go to the awesome forward-sassy-yet-kind secretary my doctor had and try telling her that she’s lazy for sitting in a chair.

I wonder how many of these people have jobs where they have a chair. Even if they don’t spend their entire day in them, do these people sit? My co-worker doesn’t spend her entire 8-hour shift sitting at her cash register. Like I said, she’s in the warehouse slugging cases of spirits around, and throwing cases on carts so we can put them out on the shelves. As long as we don’t stack the boxes two-high on a bunch of carts, she’s out there putting away stock with the rest of us. She’s one of the most knowledgeable people I know in our company when it comes to wines, and my go-to when a customer has a question I can’t answer. She’s on her feet and lifting heavy stuff for the majority of her shift, and only sits down because it is medically necessary. If she didn’t have to sit, if the pain wasn’t that bad for her, then she would probably spend a full shift out there on her feet. So how long does she have to be on her feet in order to be worthy of sitting?

This is just one of those things that really makes me mad. I hate when someone comes into a workplace and just talks down to the workers there. If someone needs to sit, let them sit. If they need to eat, let them eat. If my cashier somewhere has a water bottle, or a pop bottle, or a little baggie of chips, I don’t care! I mean, if she’s snacking on ribs and getting sauce all over my purchase, that would be a problem. But I have seen people freak out on cashiers because they needed a sip of water. I have had customers come up to my register while I’m taking a drink of water and flat out say, “Done your break yet? Gonna get a little work done today maybe?”

What really pisses you off at work? What do customers say to you that just makes you want to throw things at them? Drop me a line anytime at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com or comment on my posts and let me know.