Random Things I’m Good At

Well, today has just been a bizarre day. Our closer is out sick, so another closer who was on days took the closing, bumping me to a day shift to cover her morning. We usually have a truck come Friday mornings before the store opens, but it was late today. Like, really late. Around four hours late. I guess it got stuck in the loading dock of the first store it went to for the day, and they had to unload everything off of it into that store, and then transfer it all into a new truck somehow to be delivered to other stores. So instead of running around unloading boxes off of skids like I love to do, I was on cash for most of my shift.

I finally got my schedule straightened around for next week, though. Kind of….. Well, one co-worker isn’t able to work days anymore and was on days all week. I was closing most of the week and was able to switch a bunch of shifts with him so he could have my nights and I can have his days. This finally cleared up some time in my schedule to get in to see my doctor, the one week I can’t have an exam. Go figure, eh?

The rest of the day so far has just been peachy keen. The bras and cat ears I ordered on clearance arrived, and everything fits perfectly. The always adorable Bowser Kitten is nicely curled up on the bed, which is not sporting some snazzy grey flannel sheets. I’m almost done the second season of Bob’s Burgers. And I made a big pot of soup yesterday, and am going to slice up some beef really thin in a bit. I’m going to marinate that beef for about an hour in whatever random stuff I decide on last minute. Then I’ll sear it, add a bit to some hot soup with an egg on top, and use the rest for some fancy-ass sandwiches for myself and the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend. He always seems to like when I do random stuff like that in the kitchen. I have no clue what I’m really doing, but things turn out pretty damn good most of the time. It’s just one of those random things that I’m really good at sometimes: grabbing random stuff from the kitchen and somehow turning it into a delightfully edible meal. I make a mean casserole, some pretty good marinades, and have yet to mess up a chicken dinner.

Earlier this week I gave you a list of things I’m just plain no good at. Once again, this is inspired by YouTube Queen Jenna Marbles, who did a video about just random things that she’s always been awesome at. She recommended making a list of things that you’re really freaking good at and taping it to your wall or sticking it to your fridge. Everyone has those days where everything sucks, and you hate the world, and you just want to smash everyone you meet in the face with a shovel. Days like that it’s nice to have a reminder that not everything sucks, that there’s a tonne of things out there that you’re good at and that add value to your life.

So here is my list of things I’m actually pretty damn good at.

1. Halloween Makeup

Yes, I know this is a pretty random thing. But around Halloween, I upped my festive game and started painting my face up a bit to go with my ever-growing collection of tiny festive hats. I did green witchy eyes for Witch-tastical Wine Wednesday, a pirate hat and some smokey eye for Thursday and Friday, full-on cat face for Cat Saturday, a stitched-together doll look for Sunday, some red eyes for Devil’s Night on the Monday, and Chucky from the Child’s Play series (from Bride of Chucky forward, where he’s all stitched back together) on Halloween itself. I did all of this with just regular makeup, with a few last minute eyeshadows from the dollar store. No Halloween makeup, no makeup kits, nothing fancy. Just some eyeshadow, lipsticks, and eyeliners to work with. People ranted and raved about the makeup job I did most of those days, for some reason.

For most of my looks, I just looked at a bunch of pictures on Pinterest. Last year, when I did the spooky doll with giant eyes (where you draw your lower lid farther down on your cheek and throw fake eyelashes there), I watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials to figure out parts of it. It really wasn’t that hard for me to get the hang of.  A few other people I know saw the job I’d done and tried to do the same thing, but just couldn’t get it right. Apparently taking eyeliners and some cheap eyeshadow and turning myself into a patchwork doll is a real skill of mine. Which leads me to my next point…..

2. Helping People Find Good Things About Them

One of my favourite regulars came the day before Halloween to say hi and check out my makeup for the day. Her, the work BFF and I were chitchatting about my makeup and how I did it, and she just blurts out, “I wish I could do that! I’m not good at anything!” Well, a few more minutes of chatter and I found out that not only can this woman knit and crochet, but she’s done a whole freaking lot of it in her time. I let her know that I have been trying to learn both of those skills for years, and could never get the hang of them. She left with a smile on her face, laughing about how she was more creative and “fancy” than the “tiny hat girl”.

I just genuinely like to point out things that people are good at somehow. I compare people to fictional characters to point out common awesome traits, flat out compliment people for random things I notice and make sure to tell the people closest to me what I like about them as often as possible.

3. Excel Spreadsheets

So I took a class in Microsoft Office more than a decade ago when I was in college. Most of it was pretty basic, but Excel was really kicking our asses for some reason. I could grasp the whole “enter numbers into a spreadsheet” thing that we needed to do to pass the class. It was all the other things it can do that were messing me up. Like I could throw in formulas, and make charts and graphs, and colour-code things, and all sorts of fancy-ass stuff. It was too much for my little brain to handle at the time.

Fast forward to university. One of the professors I’m working for asks me to do a little data entry for her. Somehow this newer version of Excel suddenly makes every tiny thing a billion times easier for me. I inputted her data, ran her numbers, made a few charts and graphs to show a few things, and even made everything look super pretty. When I graduated, I took some Microsoft classes at a local computer centre. I got my advanced certificate in Microsoft Excel, which I later found out is equivalent to a Microsoft Level 3 certification. In other words, I learned like everything there is to learn about Excel.

Sometimes just for fun, I play with Excel. It’s one of the nerdier things I like to do in my spare time. Lately, I’ve tried using OpenOffice software too, and am trying to get used to the difference between that and Microsoft. I don’t know why I just really like spreadsheets.

4. Multi-tasking Relaxing

This drives the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend crazy sometimes. I can curl up on the couch with a snack, a puzzle book, a reference book, my phone, my tablet, a notebook, a pen, and still watch some Gordon Ramsay without missing an insult. To top it off, I can do this all with a drink in my hand and find it relaxing.

I just have a lot of little things that I find relaxing. I love to read. I love to play games on my phone or on the tablet. I love Buzzfeed quizzes, and Chive albums about cats, and cryptograms. I love being able to write things down off the top of my head to work with later. All of these things, in some way, relax me. So why limit myself to just one thing at a time? If I find it relaxing to do a cryptogram, and then play some Homescape, then make a few notes for the blog, then that’s how I’ll relax. I call it Multi-tasking Relaxing.

5. Cryptograms

My grandpa taught me how to do these when I was a kid. Every day there’s a crypto-quote in our daily newspaper, and he’d do it. These puzzles are where you replace all of one letter with another letter, for all the letters. I know, that’s a horrible explanation. Like the name “TheFailedGrownUp” becomes “SrpXctvpbOzmqyHg”. Every letter is replaced by another, and you can see that both ‘e’s became ‘p’s in the cipher.

This is the type of puzzle that the Zodiac Killer used to write to the San Fransisco Chronical and to the SFPD. He used symbols in place of letters though, sometimes using more than one symbol for each letter. His finally cryptic letter has never fully been deciphered. I’m nowhere near his level of these, but I’m still pretty good. In fact, somewhere in my parents’ basement is the medal I won from a cryptogram competition in 7th grade.

Yes, I have a cryptogram medal and love to make spreadsheets. Shut up.

6. Watching Security Camera Footage

Ok, I think I’m good at it because I just love catching shoplifters.Well, that and the fact that when I use the security cameras, it almost feels like I’m really putting my Criminology degree to work. When some of my coworkers get suspicious of someone acting all weird in the store or hanging out in the areas of the store all the pros go to in order to stash things in their bags or clothes, they call me into the office to track these people down real fast. I can track down people in seconds, follow their movement through the store, backtrack on their prior movement, and even bookmark data and write up all the reports for the police.

For me, it’s fun. I love standing there at the screen, clicking from view to view, controlling the time bar. I’ve caught people shoving things in their backpacks, their purses, their shopping bags, their coats, and even their pants. My dream at this point is to catch someone in the act and get on the PA system of the store:

Attention shoppers. Please be reminded that shopping carts and baskets are provided for your convenience. Please you these and not your reusable bags. Please do not shove product down your pants, like the gentleman in the whiskey aisle is doing right now.

Also, could the gentleman in the blue jeans, red hoodie, and black ball cap please remove the four bottles of whiskey from his pants and place them on the floor in the corner where he is currently standing in the back corner in the whiskey aisle. An associate will be by with Clorox wipes and rubber gloves to disinfect all bottles and bring them to the back to check for any contamination. Thank you.

We have a few regular shoplifters, some of whom we even know by name at this point. I would love to catch one of them like this someday!

7. Holiday Spirit

So you know I have a small collection of things to wear on my head for Halloween. It’s my way around the store’s dress code. My manager loves it and loves the fact that customers are so into it too. People come in just to check out what I have on for the day sometimes.

I do this for all holidays if I can, but especially for Halloween and Christmas. No, I’m not one of those people who turn on the Christmas music before the kids are even done trick-or-treating; you’re thinking of my mother. The woman has something like 14 indoor Christmas Trees, a big one on the porch, and every type of decoration imaginable. And this is after my parents’ basement flooded, ruining 7 or 8 giant bins of decorations. I’m not that hardcore. In fact, I don’t start decorating until the end of November. Every year for my mother’s birthday near the end of November, we go on a Christmas Homes Tour out in the county with my sister, aunt, and cousin. We look at homes all done up with fancy decorations, stop at a really cute church for fresh baked goods and to see no less than 40 nativity scenes on display, move on to a winery for samples and cookies, and end the day at the coolest random store full of random things. I do some Christmas shopping, we buy a lot more wine, and then I come home to the always waiting Bowser Kitten and Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend for the night.

The very next day, Christmas season starts for me. We pull out the tree, throw on Christmas shirts and Santa hats, do some arts and crafts, and watch National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. Hell, I can recite the movie for you if you haven’t seen it before. I have more cranium accessories for the season, and can’t wait to pull them out. I even got some leftover Halloween hats to transform into Christmas hats!

In my little pile of Things Technically Allowable by The Corporate Dress Code, I also have a St. Patrick’s Day hat (which makes me look like a fat Magenta from Rocky Horror Picture Show), a broken Easter egg headband (I will rebuild it, stronger and better), and maybe half a dozen pairs of cat ears for those in between times when there isn’t a holiday coming up but it’s Saturday and you want to celebrate Cat Saturday. Basically, I go all-out.

It’s not just headgear either. I watch the movies and TV specials for the season. I get little gift bags for my co-worker’s younger kids. I pile on all the cheer I possibly can into each and every holiday. Some would say I use the excuse of holiday cheer to hide the fact that on the inside I’m a dark and empty pit of despair who sees no reason to get up in the morning most days. But what do they know?

8. Entertaining Myself

If I could stay at home and just daydream all day, I’d be perfectly happy. Standing at my till, at work, I dance around and sing to myself.  I can doodle hours away if I need to. Give me a few free hours of nothing, no matter how little there is around me to do, and I’ll find a way to keep myself amused.

I have spent an entire slow night at work, after all the facing is done and I’m left on cash alone while the shift leader works on paperwork or orders or whatever goes on in the office at night, just standing around running imagined scenarios through my mind. I create worlds, and characters, and entire stories. I imagine my life if I had done even one tiny thing differently. There is no limit to what my mind will do to keep me entertained when there is nothing else possibly left to do.

Well, that’s a very short list of some of the things I’m good at. Other quick things I’m good at include: learning drink recipes, differentiating between chip brands while blindfolded, making lists, playing fetch with the somewhat puppy-like Bowser Kitten, walking, making schedules, and collecting beauty products. Is there anything you’re particularly good at? Go write it down! Make a list, keep it ready for when you need a pick me up! True, when a day has fully gone to shit the idea of being good at solving cryptograms alone can’t help me. But seeing that on a list with a bunch of other random stuff, knowing that there are things I can do that others around me can’t, is a huge ego boost when I need it most.

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Night Shifts Are Bad For My Health

The end of the day yesterday, our manager on duty cornered me while I was cashing out. When the schedules for the next few weeks were made, one of our co-workers’ availability was wide open. But now, he can’t work morning shifts at all. Well, guess what he was scheduled for every single day. I had one morning shift this Monday and finagled a second one on Tuesday (lost an hour, but it’s still a day shift). But thanks to last minute scheduling changes, now my only closing shift for the entire week is Wednesday night.

I took next weekend off, for my mother’s annual birthday Christmas Homes Tour and to put up our Christmas decorations. November 18th will be my first day off since October 17th. I’m doing those 30 day stretches again, it looks like. It’s nice, banking some hours while I can. With all the last minute schedule changes lately, I’ve maxed out my hours a few times, and come damn close a few other weeks. I’m hoping to max everything out as much as possible between now and Christmas before our slow season starts in January. I figure I don’t need many days off now, considering how many I usually get the beginning of the year. I can go from a 30-day stretch to only getting 3 or 4 shifts a week.

The one thing I hate about these stretches is the fact that, for most of my shifts, I’m a closer. I help close down the store at 9pm every night, finish up all the closing duties, and then head home. With this shift, I spend the majority of my day at home, then head to work just before the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend finishes work. I get home just in time to finish eating dinner with him and then head to bed (or he heads to bed and I stay up a bit to unwind). I know, it sounds great: being home all day, running in for a shift, coming home to dinner and AAB. I hate it though.

When it’s every now and then, a closing shift is great. Even when I have to do a week of closings to be second in command (I’m training to be a shift leader), I don’t mind it. It’s when it is every single day, over and over again. It gets especially rough on me when I’m doing 30-day stretches, and more than 20 of those days are scheduled to be closings.

I don’t have a car right now. That means taking the bus everywhere. When I work days and need to head out somewhere after work, I don’t have time restraints to stick to. The transit system in this city is just horrible. If I want to get out to one of the major shopping areas in the city, I either have to take one bus that comes to the depot area about a 20-minute walk from my house, and then ride it for close to an hour, OR I can take another bus downtown, transfer to another bus that sometimes goes to the airport and has to go through some of the worst traffic jams in the city making it constantly late. Either way, I’m on the bus for more than an hour for what should be a 15-20 minute drive. And the buses don’t come all that frequently, either. If I want to go to the boot shop we use to get my work boots, I have to walk 20 minutes to the bus stop, ride the bus for an hour, wait around for close to an hour for the next bus to come around, ride the bus home for an hour, and then walk 20 minutes home. That’s about 3 1/2 hours out of my day, just to buy a pair of boots. And those buses are never on time. If I miss the bus, that sets me back close to another hour. I can’t chance that when I have to work in a few hours. If I’m doing this after work, though, then I really don’t give a damn. So I make it home an hour later. Oh well, I’ll pick up a frozen pizza and a salad instead of making a homemade meal.

That’s another issue with the closing shifts. AAB wasn’t much of a chef before we met. He ate a lot of Chinese take-out and what other people cook. When we started dating, I used to have to throw things in the crock-pot before work if I wanted anything other than frozen pizza or take-out for dinner with him when I came home from work. Some days, with the cleaning up after everyone around here and the writing and the always adorable Bowser Kitten looking up at me with those big kitten eyes and demanding cuddles, I just don’t have the time to do that. Already today I’ve had to do a sink full of dishes, sweep up a metric butt-load of leaves in hallway and dining room, put away my laundry from last night, and I still have towels to grab from the dryer and a slowly growing pile of stuff in front of my dresser that needs to be put away. This is on top of the usual sweep/vacuum/mop/scrub crap that I do daily. I have absolutely zero willpower to take random things and magically turn them into a meal in the slow cooker today.

Luckily, AAB has gotten about thirty million times better at the cooking. He’s no Gordon Ramsay, but that’s only because he doesn’t have an accent or randomly take off his shirt or walk around in a speedo. Aside from the frozen pizzas we eat weekly (usually with his amazingly doctored frozen garlic bread with fresh cheese), he’s moved on to frozen pierogies (with sauteed onions, bacon, and cheese), vegetables with a fresh cheese sauce, tuna casserole, an entire small ham, chicken with mashed potatoes and stir-fried veggies, and a whole hell of a lot of soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. The only problem with all of this is that most of these are heavy dishes, with few veggies. I love each and every dish he makes like crazy, but I already eat like crap when I work nights. Coming home to a giant dish of cheddar-smothered carbs is the worst and most delicious thing ever!

You see, when I work any other shift but a closing shift, I can eat so damn healthy. The best is when I get a full day shift, the whole 8 1/2 or 9 hours that includes a lunch. I make big Tupperware bowls of salad, chopped veggies, hummus, Tofurkey (the shredded imitation chicken that you heat up in a frying pan with a little oil is like crack for me), whole wheat pasta and brown rice, and giant bottles of water. The best I ever ate was when the work BFF and I did our midnight shift (which we’re hoping to get at Christmas too). I was basically snacking on an entire cucumber a day, eating salads with whole grains and some Tofurkey or mushroom meat for my dinner break, and snacking on soup and salad before work. I was drinking less, eating better, moving more, and hitting my steps goal like 3 hours into my shift. I was like the healthiest person alive that week! Ok, so I drank a Rockstar Pure Zero to start every shift, but I was also chugging water and drinking green tea and sometimes a fresh juice from the cute fattoush place in the plaza. Working these full-day shifts or a steady midnight, where I’m constantly moving and putting things away and getting stuff done, is like the greatest thing ever for me.

Closing shifts…… they’re like the total opposite. When I work closings, I usually go to bed a little after AAB. I stay up, drink wine, and just sit on the couch watching TV or doing Buzzfeed quizzes on my phone. I don’t move or do anything. When I’m home all day, I’m cleaning and writing, which usually involves a lot of sitting down, or a lot of standing in one place and scrubbing something. I don’t go out, I don’t take walks, and I don’t eat very well. I’ll have some leftover pizza, or some soup, maybe some chips or something like that. Closing shifts don’t involve a whole lot of stocking shelves or unloading pallets usually, so I spend the majority of the shift standing at my cash register, dancing around a bit just to keep moving. I’ve actually walked in place at times, just because it’s the only way I get to move around at all. Sometimes I’ll get stuck on cash for an entire shift, barely moving around. I have to run out to the dollar store for a soda just to get some steps in. And since it’s dark when we leave, someone always gives me a ride home. We have to reject the sale of alcohol to a lot of angry young people for either not having an ID, or for already being drunk. These people live in this neighbourhood, and so do I. I don’t want to be walking home alone and run into a group of people I pissed off earlier in the night. So I get barely any walking in.

Like I’ve said before, self-motivation is not my strong suit. If I don’t have to be up early, I usually won’t get up early. When I don’t work until afternoon, I’m not getting up with AAB at 6am. Even today, when I knew I had a bunch of stuff to get done, I stayed in bed for kitten cuddles until almost 10am.  Working closings, I stay up too late drinking red wine and wasting time doing nothing. Then I sleep in, frantically try to get things done around the house, and run off to work to stand around behind my till and listen to the Kitten Crew debate about whether Joe or Nick Jonas is totally “bae”. It almost seems like a waste of a day sometimes.

And knowing I have to leave by a certain time to go to work sometimes gives my brain excuses for me not to start new things. On days when I do wake up early, I’ll tell myself that I’m going to get everything I need to get done by 11am so I can start learning how to knit, or walk down to the Multifoods for mushroom meat and be home in time to grab my things and leave for work. But my brain will just shut that down. Why rush things? I could run my ass off all morning scrubbing and washing and sweeping and mopping, and have no time to relax, or I could take my time and take a few breaks to read Not Always Right. Some days it’s like I get absolutely nothing done. I keep telling myself not to bother starting things because I could just run out of time to finish them before I have to go to work. Then I’ll be all miserable because I couldn’t finish what I was working on, and that will ruin my shift. Sounds pretty stupid, eh? But that’s what my brain tells me sometimes.

Maybe I just stress myself out with these damn closing shifts all the time. Closing shifts mean I’m not moving around much, I get maybe an hour in the entire day to see AAB, I don’t get to wind down on a walk home, and I eat like crap. Working constant closing shifts just makes me feel like crap. I hate it. I am so glad I picked up a hand full of day shifts for next week. Now my weekend will start early Friday afternoon, and AAB and I can have a proper night in together. We can have time to watch a movie, make dinner together, play fetch with the always playful Bowser Kitten, and unwind together.

I know it’s unreasonable to expect to get the best shifts all the time. But shouldn’t it be just as unreasonable to get the worst shift all the time?

I’m Pretty Bad At A Lot Of Things

So we’re a little short staffed at work right now. A certain coworker is off sick, and the three newest girls all have exams this week, which means we have to pull in people from other locations to help us out. Sometimes this is fun. We have about a dozen stores in this county, and we pull in people from all over. We get to learn about how other stores in other areas work, the differences between the stores, and we get to make friends with all these new hires so that we all have a little group to hang out with at training events and holiday parties.

And then there are times when we get stuck with a worker like we had last night.

Usually, this gentleman follows us around the store, talking non-stop. He leaves the cash registers unattended when his sole purpose in being there is to work the damn register. Sometimes, he tells people we have products we don’t have, or he directs them to the opposite side of the store a certain product is on because he saw something he thought was similar there. Last night a woman asked for the peach schnapps. Instead of asking us where it is, or going down the aisle labelled “Liqueurs”, he sent her to the Christmas display on the opposite side of the store. Why? He saw the holiday peppermint vodka there and to him, that’s basically a schnapps so everything should just be there.  We tell him constantly to just direct customers to us, or to ask us where something is if he’s not sure if we have it. Last night he wasted customers’ time looking for a whiskey that we don’t even carry because he was sure it would be in a certain place that it’s not.

Last night was beyond anything I’ve ever had to put up with from him, though. Not even 30 minutes into this man’s shift, a customer had to come and track me down while I was working in the back of the store. She wanted to check out, but there was no one at the registers. So I came up front, opened my register, and had to handle a small stream of customers. The entire time, this gentleman was just wandering around the store, pretending to be cleaning when all he was doing was basically facing up the very front bottle on each shelf. Anyone who has ever worked retail in their life knows that if you’re not long-arm facing, you may as well be sitting on your ass in the office taking a nap.

When our shift leader came back from her dinner break, she pulled him aside and told him that we needed him to stay on or near cash at all times. We don’t want to keep the customers waiting, or make them wander the store looking for an associate. Usually, when someone comes to help out at a different store, they get their duties from the shift leader or manager on duty, and then do what they’re told.

Well, this grown-ass man decided to regress to the maturity of a 5-year-old. He planted his feet behind his register and decided not to move the entire night. He threw garbage on the floor, let carts and baskets pile up around him, and refused to move an inch even when the store was empty. The most awkward part was the way he treated us, though. When my coworker or I would come up to the front or run cash, he would turn his body away from us and very dramatically stare at the wall.

Now, I didn’t say or do anything to piss him off, but he gave me attitude like you would not believe. When I told him he could go on his break, he snapped at me and made it sound like I was some sort of evil bitch who made him stand still all night. When our shift leader told him to stop being childish and just do his job, he told her she has an attitude. Then he announced that he was never working at our store again, and I did a little happy dance.

But through all of this, I just couldn’t be mean to him. I mean, when he gave me attitude I called him out on it. But I couldn’t yell, or even talk sternly to him. I had a shift leader there, so my confrontational skills just flew right out the window. Confrontation is something I’m really not good at unless I have to be. Actually, there’s a lot of things I’m really not good at. As you know, getting through university without student loans is one of those things.

For some reason, people don’t like to admit that they’re not great at everything, and they hate admitting they are flat-out bad at something. Jenna Marbles made a few videos of things that she’s just really not good at. After the first one, people bugged her about being down on herself and she had to make a video of things she’s awesome at to make them stop. Admitting that you’re bad at things isn’t something you should be ashamed of. It’s a natural thing. No one is amazing at every single little thing they do. So here are some of the things I’m really not good at.

1. Self-Motivation

Every few months, I get into that “I can do ALL the things” mood. I pledge to myself that I’m going to write for 2 hours a day, work out a bit every morning, eat healthier foods, drink less wine, drink more tea, and chug water like it’s the only thing that can keep me going. And every time I do this, I fail at ALL the things in about 36 hours. I work out sporadically and walk everywhere and haven’t done a week of full workouts in a few years. I eat a lot of veggies, and eat like half a cucumber and a large salad a day, but can still throw back half a small wheel of brie, a Twix, two glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon, and some form of potato (fries or chips usually) as a snack. I have a tonne of tea at home (like an entire cupboard of teas), but still grab a Coke Zero if I have it rather than turn on the kettle.

Once, I decided to start bullet journaling. After the first week, I had already failed. I just could not stay motivated enough to brain dump or reflect on my day every single day. Even little things like “I’m going to read more and work my way through my bookcase” turns into “I’ll check Not Always Right regularly while listening to I’m Sorry Dad in the background if I have time”.  I just cannot stay motivated on things that I can’t see results from quickly.

2. Keeping Up With The Cleaning Around Here

I made a cleaning schedule once. There were things like “scrub out the bathtub every other day”, “mop the kitchen floor weekly”, “change the sheets every Saturday” on there. I keep up with the bathtub mostly, but only because the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend comes home from work filthy so our bathtub gets putting grody if we don’t clean it often enough. I sweep and mop when I can, but the big things just seem to get pushed to the back of my brain and forgotten sometimes.

I need to start the fall cleaning soon because there’s a lot of things that need to get done because I don’t do them regularly. Windows need to be washed, mini-blinds need to be repaired, furniture needs to be vacuumed and steamed, and walls need to be scrubbed down. We get 5 or 6 people living here at a time, and most of them are short-term rentals who stay a few months and then leave. I don’t get a lot of help around here with the cleaning. AAB is getting a lot better, scrubbing the kitchen after cooking and helping keep up with the sweeping and mopping. There’s still a tonne of stuff on my cleaning to-do list that I just never seem to get done.

3. Relaxing

This drives AAB absolutely insane. I do what I call “Multitasking Relaxing”. We’ll curl up in the living room when I get home from work, ready to watch some TV or YouTube videos, eat dinner, and just relax. For him, that means lounging on the couch or the floor and watching the TV. For me, it’s curling up and watching the TV while I catch up on Instagram and read the news on my phone, play a game or two on the tablet, make notes for writing projects, maybe read a chapter or two of a book, lotion up my feet and throw on fuzzy socks, and update my day planner for the week. I can’t just sit there and relax.

The only time I can just relax is when I’m beyond stressed, almost to the point that I can’t function anymore. A few months back, I did back to back 30-day stretches at work, followed by 27 days of work in 30 days. On top of that was job interviews, showing the house to prospective renters, family drama for me, family drama for AAB, a wedding in AAB’s family which meant meeting a whole lot of his family, and having to tear apart bedrooms and cupboards to clean them for new renters. When I finally had a whole day off, I just laid in bed until after 1pm. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t play on my phone, I just laid there with Bowser Kitten and did nothing. Then, after a shower, I watched Netflix and laid on the couch the rest of the day. For dinner, I ordered Chinese food so I wouldn’t have to cook or move. When I tried to move, it took every ounce of strength for me to do so. I was just done with everything. THAT is the only time I can fully relax when the stress has taken hold in such an extreme way that having nothing on my calendar just destroys all motivation to even move.

4. Hitting 10,000 Steps A Day

I walk everywhere. Some days, it’s just to and from work. Others, it’s all over the damn city while I run errands. I try to keep my phone on me at all times since my step counter is on my phone. Most of the time, it just doesn’t work like that.

Most days, I probably am hitting that 10,000 steps mark, or coming close to it. Problem is, I’m not totally tracking it. I leave my phone on my desk while I’m running around the house getting stuff done. One day I threw it in my sweatpants pocket while I cleaned, and I hit just over 2,500 steps. That was just from cleaning, too. On laundry day, I can add another 300-400 steps to my day. Running to the store, or running out to grab a coffee, or running to my coworker’s place for a few minutes can add another 1,500 steps.  But instead I throw my phone on the desk next to my computer, and none of this gets logged. When I look at my steps counter for the week, or for the month, I’m 10s of thousands of steps short.

But they’re there somewhere. Maybe. Possibly. We’ll never know (unless somehow I find the money for one of those FitBit things someday).

5. Watching New Things

I’ve watched Daria in its entirety about a dozen times so far. Same goes for old episodes of the Simpsons. I have a collection of 90’s movies I love that I’ve seen a hundred times over. And I’ve seen the first two seasons of Twin Peaks 5 or 6 times now.

I just can’t get myself to watch that new third season. I have a few dozen shows and movies in my Netflix list that I’ve never seen before, but I still throw on old episodes of anything with Gordon Ramsay in it when I come home from work.

I just can’t sit down and focus on new shows sometimes. Maybe it’s the whole Multitasking Relaxing thing. With things I’ve already seen, I know basically what’s going to happen. I don’t need to pay close attention. I can do four things at once and still enjoy it. But something new required focus, it required paying attention, it requires putting down my book and my phone and the tablet and engrossing myself in the new thing. It’s something I just can’t get into most days.

Being bad at these things isn’t a bad thing. I love admitting that I’m bad at things. I love finding more things I’m just awful at. There are a lot of things I’m good at, and I discover new things all the time. Knowing and admitting what I’m bad at helps me find new things that I’m good at.

What The Devil……

The always enchanting Bowser Kitten is taking the day off from being a cat today. Instead, he has crawled under the big heavy blanket on our bed and has become a big blue bed slug. I tried everything to make him happy today, too. I laid in bed an hour longer than I wanted to so he could sleep on my leg while I wrote and looked over my to-do list for the day. I put out his favourite classy cardboard box I sniped from work (it’s from the very limited edition Canadian Club 40 Year whiskey. I couldn’t afford $250 for a bottle, but I sure as hell could manage a free cardboard box from it from the discard pile). I put all his favourite toys out on the bed, put a few treats in his box, and even put all the Pillow Pals on the bed, so it looks like a 6-year-old sleeps there instead of two 30-somethings.

Maybe he’s just depressed today. I mean, I did have to spray him 3 or 4 times already with the water bottle for getting into things he’s not supposed to. Why does he keep trying to eat plastic bags and onions? Or maybe he’s still traumatised from Halloween. I love the holiday. He seemed to like it until the Trick-or-Treating started. He wore his cute little cape and played with me in my Jake the Dog costume. But as soon as small children started coming to the door, he freaked out. He hid around the corner and would only peak his head out to see what was going on.

Speaking of Halloween, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before (like yesterday) that I like to wear odd things with my work uniform. Nothing that technically breaks the dress code; just cute little accessories that customers will notice. On Saturdays, I wear a pair of cat ears to celebrate “Cat Saturday” or “Caturday” with some of my customers. I like to buy headbands and add stuff to them, like festive decorations or tiny top hats. And at Halloween, I love breaking out the devil horns.

At least, I used to love it.

Most people really seem to enjoy my little head adornments. Most of my regulars love trying to guess what I’ll be wearing each day, and a few have even made friendly bets with each other on it. We chitchat at the till about other terms we could use outside of the holidays we could use to keep me in tiny hats all year round. The crowd favourites so far are “fascinator” and “jaunty chapeau” by the way. There is even one customer with a Very Small Child who got a few tiny hats for the kid and brought her into the store so we could compare! These people get the fun and wacky nature of the hats, the very brief distraction from all the stress and hustle and bustle around us to just laugh at whatever I have on my head.

There’s this very specific, not so small group of people that just ruins all of this. Every single one of these people has been male, with almost all of them over the age of 50. They’re classy looking individuals, well dressed and normally well-spoken. They buy moderately priced beverages and just seem like your average older man. They could be your dad, your uncle, your neighbour. And to them, me wearing a headband with festive adornments on it is an open invitation for them to make disgusting sexual comments to me at my counter.

Normally Saturdays would be my favourite day to work because I wear cat ears and all my favourite cat ladies come into the store. They tell me about volunteering at cat shelters and fostering kittens and taking cats for walks in kitten strollers. It’s just a fun experience that I look forward to every week. But that’s ruined as soon as one of these older gentlemen comes into the store.

Oooh, hey there pretty pretty pussy.

Can I pet your pussy?

Has someone been a naught little kitty today? Do I need to punish that pussy?

These are some of the milder ones I’ve heard, too. I’m not sure if these guys actually think I want to hear this crap from them, or if they just don’t care. They seem to genuinely think that I should enjoy being spoken to like that, like I wore cat ears on my head that day just so they would have an excuse to make pussy jokes. What’s worse is, if I don’t play along and talk about along the same disgusting vein as them, they get insulted!

Well what do you expect me to say when you’re all dressed up like that?

Dude, I am literally wearing the exact same thing I wear every single day to work: my uniform. I’m in black jeans, black steel toe boots, and my light blue baggy buttondown shirt with a t-shirt or tank top underneath. The only thing different about today than any other random day throughout the year is the cat ears on top of my head. The CHILDRENS cat ears. Somehow a headband with two little pieces of felt stuck to the top of it suddenly makes my uniform sexual, like I’m walking around in a latex catsuit with a giant sign that says, “Please, sexualize me” hanging around my neck. I’m not doing anything differently than I would normally do. I’m not pawing at customers, reaching for their zippers and fondling them through their pants. I’m standing behind a counter, asking people if they collect Airmiles and giving stickers to small children who are out shopping with their parents.

These men honestly seem upset that I’m not giggling at their comments and blushing while batting my eyelashes at them all flirty and thankful for the attention. If I give them anything less than a giant grin and a wink, they feel the need to tell me how I’m insulting them. I’ve had men lecture me on how “the customer is always right” and “this younger generation is so damn sensitive”. The number of times I had to have one of those disgusting comments followed up with the phrase “back in my day” is just mind-numbing.

It’s not just the cat ears, either. Devil horns seem to bring the perverts out of the woodwork too. Again, I’m wearing all of these things with my regular, everyday uniform. Hell, sometimes I even have a big baggy fleece jacket over that, so I basically look like a giant shapeless black blob with a funky headband.

Oooh, someone’s a horny little devil today.

Damn honey, you’re making me horny!

Someone’s feeling naughty today, aren’t they? Someone need a spanking?

Feeling a little evil today? I can think of a few dirty things we can do to help with that.

Seriously, my headband is not some sort of secret code meant just for you to signal that I want your dick. No, wearing a silly piece of a costume with my uniform isn’t some sort of flashing beacon to show that your perverted comments turn me on. It’s a headband. Just. A. Headband.

These guys seem to get all bent out of shape if I shudder, or make a creeped out face (which I can’t help when the comments get real bad), or actually say something to them about it. In all my years of doing this, only one customer has ever apologized for his comment, and that one was an honest slip of the tongue. We were actually talking about the stupid comments I get, and how mad they make me sometimes, when he said something along the lines of “ya, I can only imagine that if I said something like that, you’d get all evil and spank me or something”. After some blushing and sputtering, he was able to say that he meant to say “slap”, but we had talked about the spanking comments so much that word just slipped out. He apologized, and that was that.

Most of these dudes have a serious problem with me being bothered by their gross, disgusting sexual comments. Almost every single one of them has told me not to get upset at them, that it’s my fault their mind is “in the gutter” because I dressed so “provocatively” and “guys can’t help themselves” because “boys will be boys”. Again, I am wearing very loose-fitting clothing and steel toe work boots, with only my face, neck, and arms below the elbows showing. And I dress like that every day at work. These same guys are usually at least semi-regulars at the store, and see me dressed like this year-round. They never comment in the summer, when I wasn’t wearing any headbands or ears or horns. They don’t comment when I run into them during non-working hours when I’m in my usual jeans, tank top, and a flannel shirt (which shows a tonne more skin than my uniform and would be a much better fit for their “provocative” label). It’s just these damn headbands that a handful of these guys seem to think excuses their disgusting behaviour.

Yes, it’s only a handful of guys. Their whole “guys can’t help themselves” and “boys will be boys” argument is pure crap. I have a tonne of male customers who manage to see me in my uniform daily, with my little cat ears or tiny hats and whatnot, are they are able to be just normal regular customers. I have male customers who are able to comment on my cranium accessories without making me cringe internally. They say things like, “I like your ears” or “hey, cool costume”, or “my kid sister would love that hat, where did you get it”. Most customers just say things like “I like your hat”, or “cool ears”, or “you have something different every day, don’t you”. Some say nothing at all and almost seem to not notice them.

So why does this one small group of men seem to think that they are entitled to make comments that clearly make me uncomfortable? What is it that makes them think that it is perfectly alright to make sexual comments to a random cashier in a store, when it obviously makes her uncomfortable? And what are they expecting to come from these comments?

I would like to be able to get through my workday without fighting the urge to throw up in my mouth because some older dude decided that I’m wearing a tiny hat because I want to hear about how not tiny his dick is. In what world is it acceptable to go into a store and tell a random cashier about your genitals? And the worst part is, it’s not like we can really do much about this. Now, my manager is pretty damn amazing. If he finds out someone is treating his staff in a disrespectful way, he takes care of it. He has banned people from our store for us before. But the guys who feel that they’re entitled to tell me that my headband makes their dick hard are the same pricks who would send off an email to corporate with some over-dramatized story of how a cashier was rude to them and made them feel uncomfortable, all while leaving out any details that make them look any less than a perfect angel. I know that my manager would have my back, but I’m still afraid for my job if I speak up. These guys have a way of thinking the world revolves around them, and like remind others that they should act accordingly.

Now, I want to know what these assholes would do if someone came into their workplace and talked to them the way they talk to me. Can you imagine what they’d say if walked into their office and said something like, “damn boy, those khaki pants really show off how tiny your dick is” or “why you gotta wear a tie like that? You’re such a damn tease”. They would have security throwing my ass out of there so fast, it would make your head spin. So then why is it ok for them to talk like that to me? I hate using this argument (because we’re all people and all deserve respect, no matter how we’re related to men), but what would they do if someone was talking to their mother/daughter/sister/wife like that?Do you really think they’d laugh it off and excuse it?

Well sorry mom, but he obviously thought your bifocals were seductive. Maybe you shouldn’t dress like such a whore?

What do you expect, working the counter at a donut shop? Your brown uniform shirt and all that coffee is obviously going to excite men. You just need to learn to smile and take it as a compliment, sis.

Don’t forget my mother is coming this weekend hun. And don’t let Mr. Jenkins comments bother you. He’s an old man. I’m sure he meant “you look like a tart, and I want to shove my dick in your butt” in the nicest way possible.

Of course not! So then why do they think it’s ok for them to say this shit?

Well, what do you think Sunshine? Is a pair of dollar store cat ears an open invitation for sexual harassment? Should old men be able to talk to cashiers about their genitals and the dirty things they want to do to them? Can men talk to random women like this, just as long as they make sure to tell them that “back in my day, women took this stuff as a compliment and never complained, no matter what we said or did. You kids today are too damn sensitive”? Or am I completely justified in being utterly disgusted with these dirty old men and their harassment?

Being a Grown-Up Child

Today has been a weird day. I got up 11 hours ago, and am just now sitting down to my first “meal” of the day: stale Ritz crackers with discount cheese and lunch meat. I had a morning shift today, which meant an early morning. Usually, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend’s alarm starts going off around 5:30am and he’s out the door by 6am. This gives me an hour power-nap before my 7am alarm. Today, I just couldn’t nap though. Tried to make coffee, but the coffee maker did that thing where it fills the filter with water but doesn’t let the water drain into the coffee pot. So, I came out of the shower to find weak-ass coffee-ish water all over the floor and counter.

No time to make more coffee, since I had to go through the cupboard to gather up non-perishables for a charity event I completely forgot about. Made it out the door a few minutes early so I could stop and grab a Monster on my way to work. Once again, the Perpetually Absent Coworker didn’t show up, and may not show up for the rest of the week. This sent everyone into a panic, trying to rearrange schedules and cover shifts.

Instead of sitting down and relaxing on my break, I did my grocery shopping and sliced up half a cucumber to eat at my till. Had the usual menagerie of the strange wandering through the store today. Walked home in the rain, and was able to rest long enough to take a quick poop before it was back out into the world. Ran donation to campus for that charity event, caught up with an old friend, walked home in the rain again, and then scurried around the house trying to get a day’s worth of cleaning done in 17 minutes. Pretty sure I failed, but the dishes are done.

And now I’m sitting here with my plate of discount stale food, watching an old Daria episode and typing while the ever fierce and powerful Bowser Kitten watches me from the bed. I am finally sitting, trying to massage my plantar fibromatosis with an 8lbs dumbbell. The Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend should be home any minute now, and I’m going to try and cook him a dinner amazingly awesome enough to match his amazing awesomeness.

This is a pretty average day, I guess.

Some people think this is a weird day to have, considering I’m 35 years old. I worked 5 hours today, had to walk to and from work (and everywhere else), didn’t feed myself, and spent the bulk of my day getting yelled at by customers because we’re in the middle of our postal code survey at work and they think it’s part of a government conspiracy. I don’t have some high powered job like everyone thought I would at this age. I’m not a lawyer or a professor, I don’t have a nice office or a comfy desk chair I can spin around in and wheel down the hallway. To a lot of people, I’m not a real grown-up.

That’s why I call myself The Failed Grown-Up. You see, there are people out there that think that life has to follow a very specific, linear plan in order for it to be successful. You go to grade school, and then high school. You work hard, get good grades, maybe get a part-time job. Go to college or university, buy a car. Graduate. Get a “real” job, fall in love, get married, buy a house, have babies. Then it’s work until you grow old and retire, then rest and relax until you die. Anything that strays from this very neat and organized little path is wrong.

I used to think like that, on and off. I worked hard in high school, got pretty good grades. After I dropped out of university and went through the period I call my Dark Days, I jumped back into school and went to college for the program that would get me a “real” job the fastest. I threw myself into the “find a job that will pay for me to relax and die someday” mentality.

The fact that I didn’t stick with that path seems to really bother some people. The funny thing is, it’s not the people that matter most to me. My parents are fine with my life choices, as long as I’m happy, healthy, and can keep a roof over my head. AAB and the Bowser Kitten fully support me in my retail life and my writing projects. Actually, the people closest to me are perfectly fine with what I’m doing. Ok, some of them have that “really, isn’t it time to grow up and give up the whole writing dream” mentality, so I just don’t tell them that I still write.

Customers that come through my line at work seem to have a problem with it, actually. I’ve had a few dozen parents point to me while they tell their kids some variation of, “See, that’s why you stay in school. You don’t want to wind up with a nothing job like that when you’re older. Study hard, stay in school, get a real job, not like this loser here.” I have had people tell me to my face that I’m a loser for working retail past the age of 25. People roll their eyes at me when I try to explain things to them about products as if I can’t understand scotch or wine on a budget like mine.

That’s one of the downsides of being a Failed Grown-Up. Other people seem to think that they’re somehow above me because they work in an office, or are married, or have kids, or own a home. It’s like they’re so damn superior because I’m on the other side of the counter while they pay. Some of them are outright mean about it at times, too.

How do I counter that? Being a Failed Grown-Up, I have quite the collection of childish things. For two whole months, I wore Halloween accessories at work, and I’m not talking pumpkin earrings. I had tiny top hats on headbands, cat ears, devil horns, a black veil, even a pirate hat and bandana. I brought toy swords and knives with me and had a parrot skeleton on my shoulder sometimes. We have some pretty weird music being pumped through the store, so when I’m at my till I bounce around and dance to it to keep everyone entertained.

People take issue with my appearance, too. When I was 19, I chopped off all my hair and dyed to fire engine red. I had 21 piercings in just my ears and dressed all in black. When I went to visit my dad at work, he made me wear mum’s bright coat and a toque to cover my hair. His co-workers laughed and told him it was all a phase. Someday, I’d become a Real Grown-Up, take out all my piercings, and let my hair grow long and natural.

Well, I’m down to 13 piercings in the ears (and one in my nose). My hair is still short and red, just not as bright. The bright burgundy I have now makes my eyes look bluer, and the haircut I have is easy to work with and maintain. I am damn adorable, and people notice it. There is no one way to look like an adult.

Now, this whole Failed Grown-Up thing isn’t all sunshine and roses. One of the reasons I’m in the situation I’m in now is because I went back to school so late and without any research into it. I didn’t look into the cost of a degree, backup plans in case I couldn’t get the job I wanted with that degree. I didn’t bother looking into scholarships or bursaries or really doing anything to make going back to school more affordable for me. I threw myself into it and took out student loans. Those student loans, with the job I have now, will most likely haunt me for the rest of my life.

Thanks to the overbearing loans, I don’t have the money for things. AAB and I are raising our fur-child Bowser Kitten in a house where we rent bedrooms. We have random roommates coming and going, and have no control over who we live with. We can’t afford to buy cars, or a house, or any sort of real assets. We each have a computer, a phone, and we share an iPad we got secondhand refurbished. We can’t afford vacations, or to even really take time off work to just be together. To make ends meet, I am at the half-way point of a 30-day stretch at the store, and he works almost 60 hours a week sometimes over 6 days every week. We don’t have the luxury of time that others our age seem to have. I would love to move into a small house, get a second (and maybe even third) cat, start a family (with a human baby or two, not just cats). That’s not something that’s possible for us right now, though.

Would I change things? Maybe, a bit. If I could, I would go back and apply for this job much earlier than I did, so I’d have higher seniority and better pay. I would’ve applied for more free money (scholarships and bursaries) while I was in school, and saved more of my loan to put down as one big loan payment. I wouldn’t have taken on so much credit card debt. But I can’t change those things now. I can only accept them and move forward. I push forward every day, not to make up for the mistakes of my past, but to live my present and future in a better way. Yes, I’m paying off my debt and saving up for a new place to live. And yes, walking everywhere and relying on public transit in a city that was made by the auto industry really sucks. But things could always be worse.

So even if you stray from that well-thought-out-plan you had to make you a Real Grown-Up, Sunshine, don’t let it get you down. It’s not the path you take that makes you a grown-up. It’s what you do with whatever is on your plate that defines you. So go out there, and be the best you that you can be. That’s what being a grown-up is all about.

A Little Research Goes a Long Way

I know people have been asking you this since you squeaked out your first words, and you’re probably sick to death of hearing it, but what do you want to be when you grow up? Any idea?

I wanted to do two things, Sunshine: I wanted to write, and I wanted to work in criminal profiling and research violent crimes.  They both seemed like the ideal career paths for me. I mean, I wrote all through my teens and early 20s (and then just gave up hope on everything for a good 10 years before trying to give it another go). And I’ve been reading true murder novels ever since I stole my first one from my mother’s bedside table in the 5th grade.

So, in my mid-20s I decided to go back to school and start working towards that whole profiling and research career. I studied Criminology (got my BA.H in that one) and Psychology (my second degree, just a BA), worked as a research assistant for a while, and obsessively read books and papers on murderers. I talked to a professor who was a former RCMP officer (those police officers in Canada that the rest of the world seems to think rides horses all day while they wear bright red jackets and doofy hats), and he told me all the steps I needed to get into the RCMP for a research position.

Dumbest fucking move ever.

You see, he hadn’t been an RCMP officer for a while now. Things change over time, like the qualifications for different positions. He told me I just needed my BA.H in a social science, preferably something where I studied crime (hence the Criminology), and a background in research. He sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

One simple Google search would’ve shut that down real freakin fast!

You see, in order to get the position I wanted, now you have to first BECOME an RCMP officer. Not only do I have no want or desire to do so, but my eyesight is bad enough that it disqualifies me from the position. Like, it is impossible for me to ever get this job, ever.

If I had realized this while I was still in school, there is a metric crapload of stuff I would’ve done differently. For starters, I would’ve done a little bit more research into what jobs my damn degree qualified me for. I would’ve gone for more career counseling, volunteered with different organizations, looked into addition certificates and courses to help me out. I would’ve switched to a double major in something else, got a minor or two to fall back on. Maybe even got a part-time job to fall back on once I was out of school (but that’s a whole other post).

As it stands, I have two degrees I got specifically to get me a job I can never have. They don’t qualify me for much specifically in the town I live in. I work customer service in a ‘spirits dispensary’ who would prefer I don’t name them in blog postings. I have tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt from those degrees, plus credit card bills falling out my ass crack from trying to live on 4 hours work a week for months without falling behind in my rent and other bills. And I have to pay this all off with the CSR wages I’m making now, NOT the profiling and research job and salary I had been working towards.

And this was all totally preventable if I had just sucked it up and done a bit more research.

So, as I say way too much to be healthy for my self-esteem, don’t wind up like me. Do a little work towards the work you want to do.

Check Out the Education Qualifications

If you have a job or career in mind, know what you need to get in order to get hired. You wouldn’t expect to just show up on a movie set one day and say, “I’ve never acted, written, produced, or directed in my life, and I have a degree in forensic science. Let me direct your next big budget movie”, and to actually get the job. Some places or careers require schooling, while others prefer you get experience for yourself.

Want to be a teacher? Find out how much schooling you need for that, what courses and majors you need, how many years you’ll be in school. Want to write? You could go to school for creative writing, or you could just write constantly. Neither one is wrong, but they’ll both take you down different paths. Same goes for other creative pursuits. You may be better off just creating content than getting formal school sometimes, while in some situations an education might give you that little something extra that could land you a position.

Have a Company or Position in Mind?

Study and use LinkedIn like it’s your lover: learn it inside and out, make it the best it can be, make it feel appreciated and wanted. LinkedIn can help you get an in with a company, meet people working there, find out more about the company’s culture.

Most businesses have a website these days too. Ever think to look at it? You can learn a shit-tonne from half an hour browsing a company’s website. Find out what they do, their mission statement, who works in positions you’re interested in, who is in charge of hiring.

Find Out Every Step Needed to Get That Job

I knew I needed to get that honours degree. I had no idea I needed to become an actual RCMP officer, which I physically can’t do. A lot of people see that you need to become an officer before moving on to a different job and give up altogether. They’d rather not spend 5 years working in a remote northern community, far from home and everything they love, dealing with criminals and violence and such, to get a desk job doing research. Hell, even if my eyesight didn’t disqualify me from the job, I probably wouldn’t have gone for the officer position anyway. I was just over 30 years old (and still am, btw) competing with people in their early 20s for a physically demanding position, which I am in no physical shape to hold. I’m a desk job person, not chasing perps through vacant lots and hopping tall fences kind of gal.

There are a gazillion different things that a job could require from you that could wind up being a dealbreaker. Believe me, it’s better to know what these are before you throw down $60,000 in borrowed money for a degree that is going to do you no good once you’ve realized you can never get the job you were getting that degree for.

Basically, you need to go and power up The Googles, as my mother calls it. Start researching shit. Look into the jobs you want, the companies you want to work for, the schooling you’re doing, the people you admire. See if what you want is even feasible, and see if it’s something you can definitely be in for the long-haul.

Don’t wind up like me, Sunshine. I kinda love-hate my job most days. It would be great if not for the crushing debt of the schooling and living I did over the last 10 years. I could make a living off of it if I didn’t have all these damn bills.  Make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as me, Sunshine. Do your damn research. Plan shit for the future.

How Not To Keep A Job

Good morning Sunshine! Hope you’re having a nice, relaxing Saturday morning. I’m on day 17 or 30 days straight of work this month (unless we wind up going on strike on the 26th, then I’m not technically working if I’m on the picket line), and I’m going right goofy.

For those of you who are new around here, I make my living by professionally peddling the Devil’s Brew in a government-owned retail establishment in a Canadian province (I think putting it that way works around my “social media” clause in my contract).  It may not be the greatest job, or have anything to do with what I went to school for, but it a great fit for me right now. I work with pretty much the greatest staff ever. Other stores have told me they’re jealous of our store, because we all get along so great and we’re like family. This job also gives me time to figure out my life, which I need to do very much so right now. And even though I hate people, I seem to like working with the public.

We have two busy seasons, where people buy a metric shit-tonne of alcohol – Christmas, and the summer. We get a few seasonal workers to come in at these times, kinda round out the schedule and make sure we have enough people on staff every day to keep the store open.  Usually, for a store our size, we would get 4 or 5 people to come in and help. This year especially, we needed that many people due to the possibility of a strike and the public’s usual “what do you mean you may be closed for a few days??now I need to buy CASES of booze to make sure the world doesn’t run out!” panic/ But this summer, through some combination of new management and some sort of curse, we have one. We have The Kid.

The Kid must have interviewed really well, because he’s never had a job in his 22 years. He’s never handled money, or touched a cash register, or dealt with the public. The product of helicopter parenting and a God-complex, The Kid believes that he is the be-all and end-all of cashiers. He even once dubbed himself a “cashier ninja” for his ability to hold up a line while he stood there staring into space and adding numbers in his head (we had to remind him that the cash register does all the adding for him, without uncomfortably staring at customers).

Now, I know that everyone has to start somewhere. The Kid doesn’t want to just “start” though. In his own mind, he knows everything and no one can tell him what to do.When I was just starting out as a cashier at my first job, I brought a notebook and pen and actually took notes on everything I had to do. Hell, even when I started THIS job a few years ago, I brought a notebook and pen to my cashier training and took notes on everything I had to do! Not The Kid, though. He knows everything, even though he knows nothing.

It’s only been a few weeks since The Kid first graced us with his cash-ninja presence, but it feels so much longer. Everyone but him seems to realize that he probably won’t last much longer. The only reason he’s lasted this long is because we are severely short-staffed as it is and we need bodies in the store.

Basically, he’s a walking manual for How Not To Keep A Job.  Here’s just a few of the thrilling lessons he’s given us so far:

1- Stand there. Don’t offer anyone any help. See your coworker with the huge line-up? Don’t let anyone in her line know that you’re open too. Just watch her struggle. Customer has his hands full and needs a basket? Just stand there and watch him drop glass bottles on the floor while there’s a pile of baskets next to you.

2- Stare. At everyone. Customer, coworkers, managers. Don’t say anything, just start at them.

3- Don’t think, just talk. If people are offended, it’s their own fault. Some great random phrases to get the conversation started with your customers: “Wow, you were in here yesterday too. You must be a huge alcoholic.”, “I can’t tell if you’re pregnant or really fat. Should you be buying coolers either way?”, “You’re smelly. You should go take a shower, or not look homeless or something.”

4-Don’t listen to your coworkers. They’re not trying to help you. Sure, they’re telling you what you did wrong and then showing you how to do it properly. And yes,  they’re being very patient with you. Ok, and they keep having to remind you of the same things over and over and over again. Easy things like, “Before you try to log on to a cash register, go sign in and grab your till. You can’t just walk up to a register and start using an empty drawer” I mean, all of this SOUNDS like they’re trying to help you. But they’re not. Don’t listen to them.

5- Go that little extra mile to put a personal touch on things, even if it means breaking all the rules. Coworkers told you to hit “assistance” button when you have a big line or need to use the bathroom or it’s time for your break, so that they know you need help and can come out there and help you? Screw that! You don’t play by conventional rules! Just abandon your post, wander into the back, tell them personally that you need help. That face-to-face contact is sure to impress them!

6-Make sure your coworkers know you’re on to them. Be loud, be forceful Don’t worry about their feelings; they have none. Yell right in their face if you have to. Make sure they know you are smart, and you know everything there is to know about their job, so you really don’t need their help. In fact, they should be asking you for help!

7-You know how every workplace says they have their own policy for breaks? Well, they’re lying because those policies don’t apply to you. Have a huge line-up? Just walk away and take a break! Supposed to buzz for someone to come relieve you for your break? Why bother? Just walk away whenever you want your break! Supposed to take 15 minutes? I’m sure you can reason out a way to take more! “Well by the time I sat in the office for a bit, and then went to the bathroom, and then sat for a few minutes, and then heated up my food, it was 4:15. So technically my break didn’t start until then.” See, just outsmart them!

8-The same goes for the end of your shift. Sure, the boss says he’s the one to tell you when to cash out and finish up your shift, but you know better than him. He says it only takes 5 minutes to do that? You take 25 minutes! Coworkers try to tell you that’s not how things are done? Well screw them! You know better than them! Just ask your mom, who has probably already checked in on your at least once during your shift and is waiting in the parking lot for you 45 minutes early just in case someone is mean to you.

9- When in doubt, get your mom. No one wants someone’s mom not to like them. Have your mom tell everyone how stressed you are, how you stay up at night crying about your job after the second day there. Make sure she tells everyone what a good kid you are, how smart you are, and how special you are. Everyone will listen to your mom and automatically love you.

10- Do things your own way. Sure, the register adds up all the prices you scan, but isn’t it just more fun to add up all the numbers in your head, even if it takes a few extra minutes per customer because you have to scan so slowly? Damn skippy it is! When the boss tells you to stop doing that (apparently it distracts you from stupid things like taking payments, and making change, and checking ID’s to make sure you’re not serving a 15 year old when the legal age is 19), stop for the few minutes he’s watching you, and then get back to doing what you love! Remember, your way is ALWAYS the best way!

 

This is just the short list of things he’s done THIS WEEK. And that’s not counting all the stupid comments he’s made to us. The concept of keeping the doors locked until we opened so that customers couldn’t come in was well beyond his comprehension. He also doesn’t seem to quite realize that “seasonal employment” means that he’s employed for the season, no matter how many times we explain it to him. He has flat out demanded we order him full-time staff uniforms and get him his own locker (instead of the one marked “seasonal staff”).

And I know I sound like a bitch for complaining so much about The Kid. It’s gotten to the point that he’s already made the most patient workers there snap from frustration. Last weekend, I kept rubbing my temples every time he said or did something unbelievably dumb or rude. And I don’t mean he hit a wrong key on the register, or accidentally gave someone an extra dollar with their change. I mean, his 15 minute break was almost 30 minutes; he mocked out plain-clothes security guys for not standing next to him all night to make sure he was safe (which apparently makes them lazy); he refused to ID people, and then refused to log the few ID’s he got in the system (it’s just logging that yes they had ID and what kind they had, for legal purposes). This was on top of his rude comments to staff and customers, his refusal to help anyone with anything, and his flat-out mocking of certain staff members and shift leaders. By the end of the night, I had my nervous twitch back in my left eye, and I had rubbed off my eyebrows and most of my outer eye make-up from rubbing my temples so much. And I’m one of the patient ones, too! Already this week, he’s had multiple private meetings with the boss about the things he’s doing wrong, and he’s almost been fired more than once. And I have one of the most patient bosses ever! Sweet little old grannies have come into the store, dealt with The Kid, and have almost resorted to purse-swinging violence!

He’s worked all week, as we’re trying to prepare him for our own brand of personal hell called “Dealing with customers who are trying to prepare in case we go on strike, and are acting like it’s the coming of the apocalypse”.  We’ve kept him on the early morning shifts to avoid him having to deal with the night rushes and the after-work/pre-party crowd. But tonight, a Saturday night when we’re already short staffed and have a tasting in-store, we also have The Kid with us. I already have my spiked rootbeer chilling in the fridge, and a big bottle of Chilean Cab Sauv staring at me from the counter.

This is going to be one hell of a long summer!

What about you, Sunshine? Have you ever had a coworker who you knew just wasn’t going to work out? Someone who drove you bonkers? Or maybe you’ve dealt with someone like this before and found a way to make it work?  Drop me a comment below, let me know how you handled things…… or let me know the worst of the worst stories you have about that coworker (we could all use a bit of a giggle).