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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Yes, You Really Do Need To Show ID

Well, today is a bust. I woke up feeling like death, dragged myself out of bed, and went to work. I am sore all over, my head is pounding, my neck is stiff and sore, and to top it all off I have cramps that could cripple a giraffe. We were also short staffed at work today, so I couldn’t even leave early. I have felt like falling down all day. Cases of coolers that I can usually throw around two at a time felt like they were filled with cement today. I could barely lift things, let alone be of much help doing our Monday afternoon load.

Luckily for me, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend took the day off work today. He usually does four or five 10-11 hour days a week, one day of 8-10 hours, and a 5 hour day on the weekend. So, sometimes when Monday rolls around he’s just too damn tired to get up.  Instead, he stays home, watches a little tv, and just relaxes. But today he saw how sick I feel, and he’s been working at home all day. I came home to a freshly scrubbed kitchen. He even cleaned out the toaster and the microwave. The bed is all made and looking extra comfy for when I collapse after I finish typing this. And the ever playful Bowser Kitten looks like he’s played plenty of fetch today and will sleep well during my nap. He basically did everything I do in a day (except for the writing part) and is still going to make dinner, let me nap, and take care of me all afternoon and evening.

Having him around really cheers me up on days like today. On top of feeling horrible, I also had to deal with customers. For the most part, this usually goes ok. They put their item on the counter, I scan it, they pay, we say goodbye, and they leave. But sometimes, asking people for ID throws a wrench in our little routine. For the most part, people have no issue showing me their ID. There are always those few people out there who make a big deal out of it. Too big a deal, if you ask me. They seem to think they know my job better than I di, and frequently lecture me on why they don’t need ID. Or they huff and they puff and whine and pout and generally waste everyone’s time. Actually, there’s a whole lot of different things people do when it comes to ID that either really pisses most cashiers off, or gives us a damn good story to tell our families at Thanksgiving when they say, “Wow, your job is so easy. Must be nice to not have to deal with any real drama or work, eh?”.

And yes, I had someone say that to me last year at my parents’ New Years Day party.

1. I know the rules better than you do.

We get trained over and over about the rules when it comes to IDing people in our store. We’re told repeatedly about the consequences we could face if we don’t ID people properly. We know that corporate pays mystery shoppers just to come in and see if they get ID’d, and if we don’t ID them we could get in serious trouble. So for those of you who are wondering, all the different reasons we can have for legally asking you for your ID are as follows:

  1. You brought the product up to the counter, or are paying for the product, and look like you could be under 25.
  2. We saw you touching the product in the store while you’re shopping with someone else, they are buying something, but you are with them.
  3. We see you give money or any other form of payment, like a debit card or credit card, to someone who is buying booze.
  4. We hear you ask someone to buy you something.
  5. We hear you tell someone which product to buy.
  6. You came in as part of a large group, where multiple people are all picking up the product, talking about products, and it is all part of one large purchase.

If you bring a bottle up to the counter, put it down in front of the cashier, and your friend is paying for it, you both need to show ID. We actually had a guy last weekend put a bottle down on the counter in front of one of my little Kitten Crew cashiers, and his friend pulled out his wallet to pay. When she asked them both for ID, the one who carried the bottle up right in front of her said, ” I literally never touched it.”

She. Watched. You. Put. It. On. Her. Counter. Dude.

Luckily, this was the sassiest member of my little Kitten Crew. She can take abuse from customers, stare them down, and talk to them in a totally deadpan manner. She stared this dude right in the eye, grabbed the bottle away from him, and said: “I literally saw you put it down on the counter, so now I literally need to see your ID or you can literally just leave now.”

We get a tonne of young people who take a fit and claim they know the rules better than we do. We’ve had young kids claim they are the children of police officers and lawyers, so obviously, they know the law better than we do. They get right in our faces, try and taunt us, tell us their father will hear about this. They go the full Draco Malfoy.

If we ask you for ID, it’s because we had one of those 6 reasons above to do so. We’re not backing down. Once we ask you for ID, legally you have to show it to get your purchase. Once the words “I need to see your ID” leave my mouth, you’re showing me your ID or you’re leaving empty-handed.

2. No, you don’t need it.

Seriously, people tell us this all the time. We ask for ID and they say, “you don’t need that”.

Look, if we didn’t need it, we wouldn’t ask for it. You’re not the one who decides if I need to see your ID or not. If we have a reason to see your ID, we’re the ones who decide to ask for it. It has nothing to do with whether you think you need to show it.

3. Why would you threaten us?

One night, I had three guys all shopping together in our store. They were talking pretty loudly, so all of the cashiers knew they were shopping together. Like, we heard them talking about how much each of them was paying the other one to buy the rum for the three of them for the night. One of them grabbed the bottle, brought it half-way to my register, and then handed it to his friend who put it on my counter. I asked all three of them for ID.

Only one of them had it.

The one gentleman asked me a bunch of questions, very calmly and honestly, about why he needed ID, and what he should do the next time he comes in shopping and forgets to bring his ID with him. The other guy was nowhere near as nice. At first, he just kept insisting he didn’t need his ID. Then he basically took a sidebar with the friend who did have an ID. They whispered to each other just off to the side of my line, and then came right back up to my till. Then buddy had the nerve to look me in the eye and say, “I don’t know these two guys. I’m not with them. I don’t need ID.”

Seriously. He walked in with his two friends. He shopped with his two friends. He very loudly talked about giving his friend $15 towards a bottle of rum. Then he carried the bottle of run halfway up to my register before giving it to his friend to bring up. And suddenly he’s never met these guys in his life?

To make what turned into a very long, drawn-out, expletive-riddled story much shorter, I denied their purchase because they didn’t all have ID. I did what we’ve all been trained to do. Of course, this didn’t sit well with them.

These boys yelled and screamed at me, tried to convince me to sell to them anyway, and were just a general nuisance for a few minutes. I told them to leave, and that they weren’t being served by any of us there that night until they all had their ID with them. This didn’t sit well with them. They slowly walked back towards the door, still yelling at me. Once they got to the door, the only one in the group who actually had ID stood there staring at me. He stood there just pointing at me, and suddenly yelled out that he was going to “track [me] down and fuck [me] up”.

Want to know how you make sure you are watched by management and security in a store for the rest of your natural life? Threaten an employee.

I don’t think these guys realize, but they are being watched ridiculously closely any time they walk into any of our stores. Security knows their faces. We all do by now. All any of them have to do is step out of line in the slightest way just once, and they’re banned for life. You can’t just go around saying you’re going to track people down and mess them up and expect there to be no consequences.

4. We don’t take pictures of ID

I had a coworker who had the greatest reply to this once. It was so great that years later, we use this reply regularly. And I do mean regularly. Even on a slow weekend, the front end gets this situation a handful of times.

Someone will come into the store. In this situation, it’s usually a member of a small group of people. This group will walk around for at least half an hour, with a shopping cart, with all members of the group putting things into the cart. When they’re asked for ID at the counter, at least one person in the group will pull out their phone. They didn’t actually bring their ID with them, but they did take a picture of it on their phones. I mean, it’s not like pictures can be manipulated by modern-day technology or anything, right? A picture of a passport or license should be good enough.

No. No, it’s not.

As my coworker once said, “If all you have is a picture of your ID, then all you’re leaving with is a picture of the booze. Sorry.”

5. We don’t care if you let your kid drink at home

Seriously, we all drank underage at some point. Ok, except for my mother. She waited until college before going crazy on the cherry whiskey and orange juice. But my friends (and siblings, and their friends) drank underage. But back in my day, because I am ridiculously old and can say that, we knew well enough to give our money to our of-age purchaser before they went into the store and told them what to get us without walking in with them and yelling, “Oooh, this is what I want! Buy me this!”

My parents knew we drank underage. Like most of my friends’ parents, they said they would rather we do it at home or at the home of a friend (with trusted parents somewhere nearby) than stealing booze and hitting up a bush party somewhere. When I really really wanted a bottle of Crown Royal for a party, and I had the money leftover from babysitting, my dad went out and got it for me. I didn’t have to go to the store with him and tell him what I wanted. My friends and I knew that if we were mature enough to drink, then we were mature enough to know what we wanted and give someone the money to get it.

Ok, so our parents knew better back then than to bring some whiney, hormonal teenager into the liquor store with them to pick something out. Dad basically said, “Am I grabbing something for you? Or do you have a 19-year-old friend who’s going to buy you booze behind our backs anyway?” Dad didn’t let me get the cheap gut-rot stuff. He sat me down and taught me about responsible drinking. Then, mum told me the story about the college party she went to where she and her friend had too much cherry whiskey and orange juice. The grass never did grow back properly on her neighbour’s lawn where she threw up. If watching your mother roll around on the floor doing her impression of 19-year-old her rolling around in the back of her friend’s boyfriend’s van doesn’t scare you into drinking responsibly, nothing will.

The point is that my friends and I didn’t walk into the store advertising that our parents were buying us booze, and our parents didn’t let on that they were buying for us either. If we did get the privilege of going into the store with them, it was a “blow this and you’re drinking Kool-Aid at parties until you’re legal age” kind of deal. I wish I could say that kids these days keep screwing this up, but it’s the parents I take issue with.

I have lost track of the number of parents who have loudly yelled across the store, “Honey, do you want whiskey or vodka for your prom party tonight?” while talking to their very under-age child. Again, if we think you’re buying it for someone who doesn’t have ID proving they’re of legal age to buy it themselves, we can’t sell it to you. It’s called a “second party purchase”, and a cashier could actually do jail time for that.

So when you’re yelling across the store, or we hear you say something like, “Just grab what you want and bring it up to the counter”, legally we need to ID your kid. And really, we don’t care if you let them drink at home. Seriously, we don’t. If I had a kid that age, I would let them drink too. I want to teach my kids about responsible drinking, the consequences of drinking too much, and the legal restrictions put on the sale of alcohol. And part of that means not obviously buying for your kid right in front of me.

Look, if you come in and buy a bottle of whiskey, I’m going to assume it’s for you. If you buy 12 bottles of whiskey, I’m going to assume you’re buying gifts or stocking up on something. Any of those could be for your kid, and there’s not a damn thing I can do about that. But the second you let your kid pick out that whiskey in my store, we have a damn problem, Brenda!

6. The drinking age here is 19

The next province over, the legal drinking age is 18. You still have to be 19 to buy alcohol here.

I’m in a border city. In Michigan, the legal drinking age is 21. Many many American young adults trade in their stars and stripes and freedom from ‘Merica to come to the Great White North and drink legally in bars. When those 19 and 20-year-olds go back across the border, they still have to be 21 to buy alcohol there.

If you’re a student here from another country, or on vacation here, or visiting a friend, or on an international quest for love, or doing whatever the hell you’re doing that brought you to my store, and you’re from a country that has a lower drinking age, you still have to be 19 to drink here. End of story.

7. No, I won’t seriously ID your 5-year-old

When someone comes in with little kids, I like to joke around with the kids. I ask them for ID.

You mean you don’t have anything? Drivingt lisence? Fishing lisence? Boating lisence? A lisence to kill? What about a health card? A sick card? A feeling a little pukey but still want to go to school card?

What can I say, it’s my schtick. If your 5-year-old grabs a can from your basket and tried to put it on the counter, I know you’re not buying it for them. While they’re not allowed to touch anything in the store, I know they’re just trying to be helpful.

When people bring their 17-year-old kid into the store, let them pick out something, and then let them bring it up to the counter, do you have any idea how many of these parents yell something along the lines of “What, would you ID my 5-year-old if I brought them in with me?”

8. We’re IDing you because we have to, not because we want you

The Kitten Crew probably gets this more than I do, but even I get this sometimes. And I’m really damn old, remember?

If I ask for your ID, it’s because I need to legally verify that you can buy what you’re trying to purchase. Not because I want to sleep with you. Seriously.

That’s just what I can think of off the top of my head right now. And that head is freaking pounding. I think it’s time for me to lay down with the always snuggly Bowser Kitten while AAB finishes dinner for us.

So is there anything else you have to deal with when IDing customers that I missed here? Leave a comment, or drop me a line at TheFailedGrownUp@gmail.com.

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?

Co-Workers Can Be Like Family

It is so freaking loud here today! The city bought up a bunch of the houses in this area over the years, and they’re geared-to-income housing for young families who have fallen on hard times. It’s actually pretty great, having new kids coming into the neighbourhood all the time, the park behind our house actually being used. One of the neighbours started a small youth group for kids who are at risk of falling in with crowds that glorify drugs and gangs, and he’s had some pretty great successes over the last few years. And aside from the kids playing in the park, this is probably the quietest and safest neighbourhood in this university-student-majority area.

Except for today.

This week the city is doing yard maintenance on all of their properties in the area, to get them ready for winter. Most of the homes in this area are pretty old and have giant trees that people planted decades ago. In fact, the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend’s Kick-Ass Mom grew up around the corner from here. The trees here are massive and completely cover entire yards with ease. And today is the day every single one of those trees is getting trimmed back for winter, with extremely loud chainsaws.

The poor ever fuzzily and currently terrified Bowser Kitten has taken up residence among his Pillow Pals on the bed. Nuzzled in among the giant Pikachu and little emoji plushes is this little black cat face with great big green and yellow kitten eyes. He jumps out from time to time to eat, or poop, or to go to the window and stare at the workers. But for the most part, he’s planted himself on the bed to hide.

While my poor little fur baby is trapped here, listening to the grind of the chainsaws for hours on end, I will get to escape for a few hours to work. I know, most people want to try and escape from work. I am blessed, though, with pretty much the greatest group of coworkers I could ask for. Even then people who have moved to other stores, or only spent a short time at our store, have been pretty much the most awesome people from our district, plopped down in our little world for a time to increase the awesomeness in our lives for a time.

At my store, we’re pretty much like family. There are even nicknames for little groups of us: my Kitten Crew is the newest batch of hires, and are all young girls in their 20’s who are just adorable and a hoot to work with. There’s one Amazon with a soft voice that reminds us of Hooks from the old Police Academy movies. Sometimes out of nowhere, she will say the most random things that you don’t expect to hear from that tiny voice, and it makes you do a doubletake. There is the OG-Kitten, who was hired a year before the others. She was the first kitten after she tried to play-fight me during a slow break on a Christmas Eve shift. She punched lighter than the fierce Bowser Kitten does, and the name sort of stuck. And then we have one hilarious young woman who is totally deadpan most of the time, especially when customers are rude to her. I’ll explain the laws about who needs photo ID next week in an entirely separate post, but for now, you need to know that if we see you touch the alcohol, then we have to ID you. A young man physically brought a bottle up to her till and put it down on the counter so his friend could pay for it. When she asked him for ID, he said he  “literally” never touched the bottle. Completely straight-faced and deadpan, she looked him dead in the eyes and said, “Ok, I literally just saw you bring this up and literally put it on my counter. Now you literally need to show me your ID or literally get out of my store. ” I almost fell down laughing watching her handle that.

Then there’s my crew. We moved locations across the plaza a few years ago, and there’s a small group of us who were all around at the time and still work at this location. We worked two stores at once, stocking one and selling off the other. We got a crash course in planograms, set up the new store so it looked perfect for the opening day, staffed a tiny store that was 80% empty shelves and 20% pissed off customers who couldn’t get their booze, and worked the opening day of the new store surrounded by higher-ups in fancy suits patting themselves on the back for all of their hard work in opening the new store. We’ve been together for years, and have grown extremely close to each other. We call ourselves the OG Crew since we were around before this store even technically existed.

We have others working at our store who kind of falling and out of groups, or who are in multiple groups. There are a few girls who worked at a store across town together and now work with us. Our full-time staff is kind of a category of their own. Of course, management is a whole different category, but out manager fits right in with us. And together, we’re like one big happy family.

The truth is, most of us see each other more than we see our own loved ones. I work a lot of closing shifts, which means I don’t ett hoe until around 9:30 pm.  AAB works from 6:30 am until somewhere around 5pm, depending on the workload they have that day. We see each other for 15 minutes in the morning while he’s getting read, a few minutes when he pops into my work most days to say hi after his shift, and 15-45 minutes at night. Combined, we’re lucky to have an hour together some days. At the same time, I work 5 to 8 hours most days, and get scheduled with the same people on shift for a week or more sometimes. And it’s like this for a lot of people, not just those of us at my store. That’s why it’s so important to have good people to work with.

Now I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that we all became Instant Super Best Friends the very second we each met. In fact, every time we got a new person at our store, we were a little wary of them for a bit to see if they fit in with us. A few months ago, we were talking about what we each thought of each other when we met for the first time, and I admitted that I really didn’t like my now work BFF when she started. Her dad is an assistant manager at another store, she was transferred in to replace a friend who moved over to another store, and she was younger than me. I’m the child of the store! A few shifts after we first met, though, we had the fateful Mug Full of Cake shift, which changed things forever.

One of our co-workers made a chocolate cake for everyone. She was always baking stuff for us. Since we didn’t want to just grab plates of cake and put them in the office, we threw some cake into coffee mugs and kept them at our till. That, combined with exhaustion (we were each working multiple jobs) and caffeine, gave us a case of the giggles. When BFF tried to check s boy’s ID, it flew out of her and hit the poor kid in the chest. That was enough to set us off for the night. I actually collapsed on the floor in a fit of giggles after that.

Since that day, we’ve signed up for all of the strange shifts that lead to mild exhaustion together. Last year we did both a 6 am planogram shift, and a 6 am stock shift for the Christmas season. We got to be a little bit goofy before customers were allowed in the store. And the two of us being on the shifts together helped us to deal with some of the more impossible co-workers we’ve had, who always seemed to be on those shifts. Having a work BFF there during those strange times made things like being banished to the walk-in fridge seem almost funny.

The very best, though, was this year’s planogram. Instead of our usual “take everything off the shelf, wash shelf, move a few bottles 3 inches to the left, put everything back on the shelf” that we do pretty much every other year, we had an entire re-design of our store to do. We had all of our spirits on the walls on either side of the store, with the wine in between them. Well, corporate decided that all the spirits should be together on one side of the store, to make it easier for us to watch for shoplifters. This means taking everything off the walls AND the shelves at the same time, scrubbing everything down, and moving every single bottle around the store. For this, we were given a “midnight” shift: from the store closing at 9:15 pm until 5:45 am. 8 1/2 hours of just the two of us, alone in the store with the radio cranked and our nerves frazzled. We learned a few very important things about life on those shifts: vegetables are lighter than Big Macs and help you stay awake; most radio stations play the same 5 songs over and over and over; there are no popular songs right now about postal workers, Harambe, or nudists pissed off that their friends are selling clothes, no matter what I thought I heard in the lyrics; everything gets funny around 3am; and the best and strangest commercials come on right when everything starts to get funny. This shift gave us the emergence of Cheryl.

You see, towards the end of the week we had to change our regular radio station to something different because we could only take hearing Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill” so many times in one week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song. But after hearing it 37 times in a week, you start to read far too into it at 3am. This new station played some pretty strange commercials in the middle of the night, but the one that caught our ear was an abstinence-only commercial.

It started with a bunch of kids saying what they wanted to do with their lives.  GO to school, become a doctor, get married and have kids, travel the globe, all the usual things. Then an announcer comes on at the end and says, “Notice none of these kids said they want a teen pregnancy?”.

Well, at 3:30am, that was enough to set me off into some strange impression of a PTA mom with a pregnant daughter.

Well, except for Cheryl. That’s why they cut her out of the commercial. You know, her brothers never gave me this much trouble. Ok, the one had the clap a few times, but he never came home all teen pregnant! Not that there’s anything wrong with her condidition. It just means more love around this house, which we need since that damn husband of mine can’t manage to crawl out of his bottle long enough to have dinner with his family.

Oh, but you should seen how Karen and her little clique are acting about all this. You know, for the whole six years my boys were at that high school, my almond blondies took home “Best Baked Good” every year at the PTA bake sale. But this year, Karen was all, “Oh, almond blondies? I thought you would’ve made tarts, like you did when you made that daught of yours!” She’s just jealous! I’m going to be the cutest, youngest looking grandma ever, while she’s tripping over those sagging boobs that she wears Dr. Grompkins did not lift or botch last spring when she went on her “sabbatical” to the family cabin to recover.

This whole Cheryl thing has taken on a life of its own. I should really write it down someday, in its entirety. There’s a whole cast of characters, soap opera-esque dramas, a puppy who can balance cheese on her nose, everything! And my work BFF totally encourages this. In fact, she feeds into it, telling me to keep going. It’s how we stay entertained on long shifts when everything seems to go wrong. And that’s why it’s so important to have someone as awesome as her in your working life. I’ve had shifts where everything goes wrong, and so has she.  I had the Scary Customer Guy come in and threaten me and stab at me a bit with his pen, to the point that I broke down and cried in the office. She once set up a shelf, only for it to completely collapse and smash a few dozen bottles of wine and beer. But we were both there for each other on those shifts and managed to get through them ok.

She’s not the only one to keep me sane on my shifts. We’re like a little family at my store. When someone loses a loved one, we pull together and get them a card and send flowers to the funeral home at the very least. When my mother was so sick that we almost lost her a few years ago, my co-workers made sure that I was eating and sleeping and taking care of myself. A few of them called and texted to check in on me, and one even brought over a lasagna for me. We make group trips to the movies together, invite each other over for drinks, and have all seen each other more than a little drunk at some point. Sometimes we ever call each other after work (and after a glass of wine or three, depending on the shift) just to catch up and bitch about things.

We still fight and get pissed off at each other. But every family is like that. In the end, we get so mad at each other or at certain situations because we care, and we know there’s only so much we can do to help each other.

I know it’s not always possible to have a work family like this. Hell, in all the jobs I’ve had I’ve never had this before. I’ve had close friends at work, but nothing like this.  It’s always important to find someone at work, even if it’s just one person, who you can bond with. The people at work, they understand your work-related problems. They know what you go through on a day-to-day basis at work. And sometimes, just knowing that you have at least one person on your side during a shift from hell can make all the difference for you.

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?

NaNoWriMo: Happy November!

Well, Halloween is over. I wore tiny hats, devil horns, and various animal ears every day for the last few weeks at work. The past week or so, my makeup got gradually more and more “festive”. I got to be a witch, a bloodied patchwork doll, the devil, multiple cats, and Chucky from the Child’s Play movies (costume is taken from The Bride of Chucky and beyond when he had the stitches on his face). The always adorable and fierce Bowser Kitten wore his little cape and cowered in the corner whenever trick-or-treaters came around. I got all of my fun out before the first of November, so I can thoroughly enjoy the stress that comes with this day.

You see, a lot has to happen in the next few weeks. We’re still showing the bedroom downstairs and looking for a new roommate. Two of the roommates I have right now are silent nightmares. Between the fruit flies, the smells, and the lack of internet money coming my way (account is in my name), that’s enough to drive a sane girl crazy, and I’m not even that sane to begin with!

Add to that a bit of seasonal stress. My mother has been bugging us for Christmas lists for a little while, and today is the day that the bugging goes Full Throttle. I have to start looking for Christmas gifts for everyone else and need to order stuff online soon if it’s going to get here for Christmas. Things at work start to get busier, and it wears on everyone. I mean, it’s great that I maxed out my hours this week (we’re only allowed 40 hours in the payroll system each week), but I’m doing that over 7 days. I’m looking at another 30-day stretch at work, in the beginning of our busiest season. New rules with scheduling might even mean that we don’t get the 5X 8-hour shifts a week we usually get closer to Christmas, and might get spread out to 7 days a week then too. So, I’m looking at ZERO days off this holiday season, and have to start planning accordingly.

The little things start piling up this time of year, especially with the lack of time off. I burst through the inner thighs of my work pants yesterday, and my steel-toe workboots very badly need to be replaced. My schedule is constantly changing at the drop of a hat, so I don’t have time to hit any stores not in the plaza I work in. That means no mall, no clothing stores, no boot shop, and no international grocers for my mushroom meat. I have some deep cleaning around the house to get done. My plates, mugs, and cutlery are constantly going missing and suddenly reappearing filthy and crusted in old food in the sink. Our bedroom is a mess, there’s baking to be done, I have student loan repayment paperwork to work on, work training piling up, holiday crafting to start, and a precious kitten who has just discovered squirrels exist outside our bedroom window.

And then you add in NaNoWriMo.

Apparently, November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal: write every single day in the month of November on the writing project of your choosing, and reach at least 50,000 words. It doesn’t have to be a full-out novel, it can be anything you wish. And this year, my blog is the anything I wish.

You see, I keep meaning to update this blog. I have ideas, I write things down and throw them in a little file folder to go back to later, but then later never seems to come. I keep putting other things before my writing. I’ll think I have a great idea for a post. But then I’ll see a sock on the floor, or realize I haven’t’ re-watched every episode of Daria in months, or I’ll find a make-up tutorial or a 10-hour Vine compilation or a video of Cher blinking for 10 minutes and get distracted. I put everything ahead of my writing, and treat it like a hobby I only get to indulge in every once and a while.

Well, NaNoWriMo doesn’t let me do that. The whole point is to find the time to put writing first. 50,000 words in one month is only 1,667 words a day if you write every single day. I can ramble that much a day no problem. This isn’t going to necessarily be my best writing, and there will more than likely be quite a bit of shit-posting going on, and I’m fine with that. The whole point for me is to get back into writing every day, to get those topics off the Post-Its and onto the screen. It’s about getting back into curling up at night with my notebooks and writing down ideas I had during the days, organizing my paper scraps into a folder and actually doing something with them. It’s about getting the ever-fuzzy and precious Bowser Kitten and the Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend ready for the stress that comes with me getting back into writing.

Ah yes, the stress. It’s not like it’s going to be a breeze to get through this. True, I can babble on like crazy if I need to hit my word count. I’m a natural born babbler, who can talk anyone’s ear off if given the chance. It’s one of my superpowers, actually. A creepy guy hitting on you? Here, let me annoy him away with my incessant whining. Extra stinky customer following you around the store? I’ll explain the difference between wine grapes to him in as many words possible until he just wanders off. It’s a gift, really. Problem is, I can’t harness this power for good most of the time. Yes, I can ramble out loud. It’s putting it all down on paper or computer screen, in well-thought-out and meaningful words that stumps me.  It can take me multiple tries to sit down and get a paragraph out if the words just don’t want to flow out of my skull.

And finding the time to sit down like that is hard when your schedule is more of a possible guideline. My manager, who is pretty damn awesome in every other way, isn’t the greatest with schedules. Come to think of it, all of the managers we’ve had at this job have had scheduling as their major weakness. Maybe, just maybe, they should be covering that at their “management meetings” instead of how to win friends and influence people yet again. The schedule goes up 4 weeks in advance. It will change a minimum of 7 times before it becomes the schedule for next week.  Once a shift is 7 days away, the manager has to get your approval before changing it on the schedule. Between sick calls, hockey practices, kids’ recitals, a coworker with a major health issue, and the days getting shorter and busier, our schedule board is a mess of Post-Its and pen marks by the time the week starts. My 4 hour Sunday shifts usually wind up becoming 7-8 hours. My “day off” is suddenly a regular work day. This past Monday is a great example of the craziness that is our schedules:

I was scheduled to work 4:15pm until 9:15pm. That’s my usually Monday night closing shift I get scheduled for every week. At 8am, my assistant manager called me. He has a bad back, sneezed too hard and pulled a muscle in his back. Could I come in 9:45am to 2:45pm instead to cover for him and help unload the delivery truck for the day? Hop out of bed, run for the shower, inhale some coffee, and slap some red lipstick on my eyes (it was Devil’s Night, so I was wearing devil horns and red makeup to work like I do every year). Stop to grab an energy drink on the way to work, and make it there 10 minutes early to throw on a uniform shirt and smooth out my apron. Perpetually Absent Co-Worker is sitting in the office, talking to the manager. Two minutes before the store opens at 10am, the two take off to the coffee shop for a “talk”. Fifteen minutes later, they’re back and the Perpetually Absent Co-Worker announces he’s leaving for a few weeks to attend to his illness. That 2:45pm leave time became 6:15pm, giving me an 8-hour shift. My full week of closing shifts became mostly morning shifts peppered with a few closings. My just under 30 hour work week became 40 hours with all the schedule changes that were made since the schedule was first put up.

Having an ever-changing schedule like this makes it hard to do things. I’ve been meaning to make an eye doctor appointment for months, but never know when I’m going to get called into work. I can pledge that I’ll get up early every morning and write for an hour before I get ready for work. But “early” is different for a morning shift than it is for an afternoon shift. If I’m scheduled to close the store, there’s no way I’m waking up at 5:30am to write for an hour, which is what I’d have to do for a 9am shift. But if I plan on working a closing shift, but get called at 8am for a day shift again, there goes the whole “writing for an hour before work” idea.

You have to add to that the anxiety and depression I battle. Finances and schedule changes are two things that trigger them. If I’m not getting enough hours, cue a panic attack! In the back of my mind, I’m constantly worrying about bills and groceries and being able to feed both me and the Bowser Kitten this week. It’s damn near impossible for me to concentrate on writing with all of this flying through my head. But then on the flip side is working too many days. I have no problem doing a 40-hour work week. When I had midnights or mornings of 8-hour shifts, I loved it. Working a 5-day 40-hour work week is great for me. It’s when that work week is 7 days, and the hours aren’t quite at 40 hours. I do 20+ day stretches, picking up the odd extra hour here and there to get closer to that 40-hour mark. Even doing 7 days a week, my biweekly paycheck is barely over 60 hours. I had a day off in the middle of October. With the Perpetually Absent Coworker being on leave, it looks like I probably won’t get a day off again until the middle of November, when I booked the weekend off for my mother’s annual birthday celebration at the Christmas Homes Tour. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a day off earlier that week like I was scheduled. But even at that, I don’t have a day off scheduled again until mid-November. I’m guaranteed to have a 26-day stretch, which could be turned into a 30-day stretch if my mid-week days off are taken away. All of that time, without a day off to get things done or just zone out from everything, gnaws away at my mental health. Without a day to recharge fully, I’m like a 6-year-old smartphone: I can recharge all freaking night, but that charge is only going to last a few hours at best before I’m just drained.  And when I’m drained, I wind up sitting at my computer and watching Vine compilations or old episodes of Friends instead of writing.

So, this is not going to be an easy month. But bring on the stress! Bring on the 20-day work weeks, and the construction paper Christmas crafts, the creepy roommate who smells like old bologna and who hoards old socks. Bring on the tears, the papercuts, and the massive amounts of shit-posts. I just have to keep reminding myself that while getting up and writing every single day is going to be rough, it’s going to be rougher on you Sunshine since you’re the ones who have to read all this mindless brain goop I’m posting.

Happy NaNoWriMo!

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).