The Opposite Of Service

April 24, 2009 at 11:59 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  As these things often begin, a valued customer calls.  She places an order:  a veggie pizza with bacon.  That makes it no longer a veggie, in my opinion.  In fact, it’s not even kosher anymore.
  "I want that well done.  And crispy."  Because "crispy" and "well-done" are two different things.  "The last two times I ordered it was not crispy.  If it’s not crispy this time I’m going to send it back."
  Oh.  She’s one of those.  I was already married to an impossible-to-please bitch once.  I said, "Well, often times, the steam from the pizza in the box will soften the crust."  This is true; do you not think I am an expert on pizza?
  "Well, I had it crispy once and I want it that way again."  Christ.  She’s frigid, but she managed to have an orgasm once as a complete fluke, and she wants those circumstances to be repeated.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to rub her up against the washing machine during the spin cycle with the exact right unbalanced load in it again.
  But this is far from over.
  "I also have a gift certificate for a free order of cheesy bread or cinnastix."
  "Those have been expired since January 1st."
  Thusly, it begins.  It wasn’t just what she said, it was how she said it.  I can read people really well over the phone, probably as good as a telephone psychic trying to do a cold reading.  In many cases, being the hypocrite that I am, I would have just given her the free bread.  But not today.  She tries a variety of tactics on me:  there’s no expiration date, this isn’t good customer service, I order alot, blah blah blah.
  I explain to her that yes, while there is no expiration date, in the real world nothing lasts forever.  I am sorry.  We go back and forth on this, and then I am done.  Then she begins to repeat herself.  This is another tactic, I believe.  Wear me down?  Good luck with that shit.  (Re:  19 years of marriage)  And I tell her.  "Okay, now you’re starting to repeat yourself."
  "No, I’m not.  That’s very rude.  This isn’t very good customer service.  Are you the manager?"  Good, escalate this.  Try to go over my head.
  "I’m the manager in charge, yes."
  She tries to appeal to my…I don’t know–sense of justice?  Or larceny?  Either way.  I interrupted her.  "Look, this is just a part-time job for me.  I have a day job.  I don’t have aspirations of a career at this–"
  And before I could finish, I heard her scoff and say, "Who would?"
  "–Anymore."  Then I processed what she just said.  It’s one thing for me to mock the job, because I own it.  But for someone else to, that’s just rude.  Touche, bitch.  Now try and get something free from me.  "I just do as they say–" which we all know is a lie "–and they tell me these are expired and we do not take them anymore."  That part, at least, is true.  I’m not making it up.  I don’t have to make stuff up when the rules are arbitrary and randomly enforced. 
  I blame the company.  They don’t really pay us enough to take care of the customer, they just pay us enough to want to argue with them.
  Eventually the phone call ends, with something along the line of her saying, "Fine!" and hanging up.  Angry sex is best.  I look down at the screen,however, and there is her order for the pizza.  Does she still want it?  Or not?  Should I call her back?  Hey, I have an idea:  YOU call her.  Anything I said was going to sound sarcastic whether I meant it to be or not…and at this point that would be the intent.  "So, did you still want the pizza, or not?"
  I’m not calling.
  Dina was still there, she heard some of the conversation, and I filled her in.  She said, "*I’m* not calling."  But she did look at the screen and said, "Oh, *that* one."  She’s a bitch, and she doesn’t tip.  She looked up the woman’s order history.  The last several orders all had free bread on them.  So, either she has a handful of the gift certificates, or–
  The most likely scenario is that she has one, and has never given it to the driver.  Nothing lasts forever, but the power to be a bitch is enduring.

  About a half-hour or so later, she calls back.  She was nice and sweet and her tone had completely changed.  "Yes, I had ordered a pizza a while ago and I was wondering where it was."
  I answered in kind, not accusatory.  "I’m sorry about that, ma’am.  The phone call ended abruptly before the order was finished, so I wasn’t sure–"
  "Well, yeah, we still want the pizza."  While I talked I entered the information from memory.
  "Okay, that’s not a problem.  You’re total is–"  whatever the hell it was; I don’t remember "–and I’ll get that out to you as soon as I can, okay?"
  "Thank you very much."
  "Thank *you*.  And have a good evening."
  So–she still ordered the pizza.  That means *I* win.

11 The Wide Grey Line Of Moral Ambiguity

April 24, 2009 at 11:54 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  A little of this and a little of that–

  I got a call on my cell from a number I didn’t recognize, but it was the local "314" area code.  I listened to the message.  Whoever it was, he laughed at my message, acted like he knew me, and said, "This is Tom, call me back."
  Who the hell is Tom, and where do I know him from?  Later I called, and the number was unavailable.  After that, he called me back.  Perceptively picking up on the fact that I didn’t know who it was, he said, "You don’t know who this is, do you?"
  "Nope."
  "Tom.  Tom Beach, from Domino’s"
  "Ooooohhhhh!"  Now I got it.  The supervisor.  The district manager.  The representation of "da Man."  We discussed two important topics–important to him, I mean–while I thought about the fact that this really wasn’t what I had signed up for.  *WHY* is a supervisor calling me *when I am off?*
  But I’ll leave that for the end, in the editorial portion of the blog.  We have a couple of odd things going on at work, and while none of it has been my fault, it has turned to become my responsibility to resolve since I’m the only grown-up in the store.
  First, the money.  Ah, the money.  Our store till, in theory, is 400 bones.  Usually it’s not because we borrow from it, creating an IOT–that’s "I Owe the Till."  For instance, currently I owe sixty bucks.  That’s not the problem..
  Kearbey needed some money the day before payday.  This is a normal thing and we do it all the time.  We’d give him the money out of the deposit, leave the deposit in the safe instead of driving to the bank, and then the next day when paychecks arrive, include his paycheck in the deposit.  Under normal circumstances, this is not a problem.
  The last few weeks have been anything but normal.
  I need to make note of the fact that although I mention Kearbey, none of this is his fault.  I am more certain of that than I am of any other information.  I do think that manipulating the money for him exacerbated the situation.
  A few weeks ago, I was going to give him three hundred, and then the next night they would give him the other 150.  Part of this was due to our volume–we’re not real busy–but also we have more credit card transactions, so even on a thousand-dollar night, we might not deposit over 300 in cash.
  I open the safe, and that is the moment I pinpoint our trouble:  I can see that we don’t have enough for the till, much less any sort of deposit.  "Dude, we don’t have the cash tonight.  At all."  Thinking that Stan or Dina or both knew about it but simply didn’t tell me, which was SOP, I made an "ideal" deposit:  I looked at what the deposit should have been, included the checks, and put some cash in it and some cash in the till.  I did not seal the bag, I did not take it to the bank.  I did not take the money, Sam I Am.
  Lots of creative bookkeeping went on the next several days.  I held onto it until Saturday, and took money from Saturday to make Wednesday’s deposit.  Same for Monday to Saturday.  Tuesday I called Dina and asked her about all of this…
  And she had no knowledge.  It all sounded like BS to me.  I’m still not sure who to believe.  Stan had no idea either.  The only thing I know for sure is that *I* didn’t take any money, I thought I was helping them by giving them time to replace it.
  I know this all sounds pretty odd, probably illegal, definitely unethical, and morally it’s a darker shade of grey than I care to be involved in.  In all my years as a manager, this is the most flagrant abuse of the system I have seen, and I have seen some shit. 
  I realized that I wasn’t helping by carrying the shortage in my deposit that I was hanging onto–it was kind of like floating a check:  each deposit was right, but they were about 4 days late getting to the bank.  The amount of money missing was initially 200 dollars.  However, once I confirmed with Dina and Stan that neither one of them had taken it (and confirmed for myself that one of them is a liar) I told Dina this:
  "It may take some time, but I can make the money come back.  A few weeks."  I’ll talk about that in a minute.
  But we didn’t have a few weeks.  Tom was coming down on her because the office was coming down on him because deposits weren’t being made on time.  And not just mine.  Everyone’s.  What the hell is going on here? 
  The shortage was small enough now that we could carry it in the till.  My sixty, plus the shortage was magically down to 117 dollars.  That leaves over 200 for the till, which is plenty, honestly.  Now, not only could our deposits be made on time, but just as important, I wasn’t solely responsible for repairing the damage.

 ~~ Damage Control~~

  Of course it’s not right, it’s stealing from the company–and I make no justification for it other than pragmatism:  it has to be done.  Later at night when we are down to one driver, if a carry out comes in and orders,  and if they pay cash, then that order does not get rung up, and the cash goes to cover the shortage.  If I can cover fifteen or 20 dollars a night, then in a few weeks it will have been "absorbed."
  The horrified and ethical among you might suggest that this is a slippery slope and I might continue to do this and pocket the money for myself.  I really don’t have an interest in doing that.  I–look, the only reason I would take the money is so I wouldn’t have to work so much.  But then I would have to work in order to take the money?  I’m many things, but I’m not a thief.  I do, however, take free food when I want to.  I don’t see the hypocrisy.  It’s all about loyalty.  Company loyalty.
  I don’t have any.

  Tick-tock

  Back to the call from Tom.  By this time, Dina and I had resolved the shortage to a containable amount within the till, the deposits would be right, and we would have transparency again.  Typically, being a supervisor is alot of backseat driving and hindsight.
  "Have you ever left a deposit in the safe?"
  "I have, in the past."  True, yet a measured response–because I knew this wasn’t the problem.  "However, Dina told me that we have had issues, and I am now and will take the deposits every night to the bank."
  He explained that the office was coming down on him about it; a tactic, I’m sure to try to get me on his side.  Next topic.  "What time did Dina leave last night?"  He meant Monday.  Mondays are slow.  She left about 5:30, shortly after I got there.
  "About 6:30."  Of course I lied.  But I didn’t say 8pm, which is how long she is supposed to stay, because, since he is asking, he knows something.  Otherwise, why would he ask?
  I texted Dina.  "Tom called me.  Yesterday you left at 630."
  I finally got to talk to her yesterday about it.  The money is starting to come back, or whatever.  Now the thing is her hours.  A manager is on salary.  A manager is on salary so upper management can get as many hours as they can out of them.  You KNOW how I feel about salary.
  Now I know that Dina is skirting the rules.  But that is her problem.  I’m not going to make excuses for her, but I see her point.  She has young daughters, and this job is not family-friendly.  When I finally left Domino’s management a long time ago, my wife at the time said that if I went back, we would get a divorce.  Knowing what I know now, I should have taken her up on it.
  Kearbey explained the Upper Management view.  She knew when she took the position the hours required, she could work her correct hours and cut other labor and profit more, et cetera.  I agree; like I said, I can see both sides even though I tilt towards her view:  If you are a salaried manager, one of your jobs is to see how few hours you can work.
  So, there is Dina’s side, and there is Tom’s side.  Here is MY side:
  (By the way, I know that I have already dug myself in deep here.  That is part of the point here is absolution.  The money issue, to me, is a separate issue.  For Dina, however, I think they are both symptoms of a larger illness.)
  My side?  I’m not in love with Dina or anything like that–and I told her that–but what little loyalty I have goes to her just because I know her.  I have no sense of loyalty whatsoever to this Domino’s franchise.  I just can’t make myself care.
  If Tom as a problem with Dina and the hours that she keeps, he needs to check on it himself.  I should not be asked to "spy" on her, or report back.  He said if I am caught covering for her, it will come back badly to me.  Really.  What are they going to do, fire me?  Honestly?  Is that the best you got?  The worst that they actually could do is offer me a promotion.  For the right money and right position, I would consider it.  Not as a store manager, obviously.  Maybe as a trainer, at 40k per year.
  That might suck me in. Then, there I’d be, sucked in.  But do you understand where I am coming from?  If I had voluntarily come forward and agreed to narc her out, that would be one thing.  But asking me and pressuring me–I don’t believe that’s right.  If you want to know her comings and goings, then sit outside the store and wait for her to leave.  If you ask me to spy, then you are splitting my loyalty and straining my relationship with her in the store.
  I understand that what she is doing is "wrong" according to your rules, however I don’t agree with your rules either, so I can’t be your hall monitor.
  We have a pretty sweet setup here in this store, all of us.  Dina only wants to work about 40 hours, and she does.  Stan wants to work alot because he gets paid overtime, and he does.  I want to work (if that’s what you call it) exactly what I do work, in the loosest sense of the word.
  Even Kearbey–Mike bitches about how things are run (again, using the loosest definition), but he realizes that the laxness also allows him to do as he pleases.  Hell, every night we work, after 830 is bourbon and coke time.
  And yet the store profits, as it had for the last six months, and as it hadn’t, coincidentally, the previous several years.  Notice that a little over 8 months ago, I started running shifts, and then we start to profit.  It may not be entirely my responsibility, but I can sure as hell put it on a resume.
  The thing is, I know–I *know*–that things here will not change.  Tom can’t make Dina change and start doing things right.  She will do some things different in some ways, and for a brief period, and then it will all slip back.  I know that the only way things will change is for a big shake up to happen.
  And that is my prediction.  I don’t know what the big shakeup will be, but we are headed for one.  Mark my words.

Fools In Love

April 21, 2009 at 1:38 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Saturday night at Domino’s, Kearbey asked if (or more or less told me that) a friend of his was coming up to the store with his kids to make some pizza.  They want to have the whole pizza experience:  come into the pizza parlor, make the pizzas, cook the pizzas, eat the pizzas, and run out on the bill.
  Whatever.  I said, "As long as we aren’t busy."
  They came in around 9 pm.  The dude is a friend of Kearbey’s and I never quite caught his name.  Jason, maybe?  His two kids were Briana and Blake, and the girlfriend was Lynne.  So, I treated them like I would have a girl scout troop coming into the store for a tour.  First I made many uncomfortable sexual innuendos, then I exposed myself…
  I had them wash their hands, admonishing them to not touch themselves or pick their nose during the pizza-making process.  They made four medium pizzas, which I’m sure was way more than they needed, but they would have leftovers for several days.  I helped the kids with the sauce, and did the dough for the two that wanted hand-tossed, and otherwise just supervised to make sure they did nothing stupid. 
  Of course, Lynne was right pretty, and she was shamelessly flirting with me.  I offered help and suggestions to her and the kids, but the guy–
  I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but he just annoyed me right off the bat.  I know you think I’m shallow, but it wasn’t just because he was a long-haired hippy freak looking dude with a hot girlfriend.
  For the pizza making process he wanted to "do it all" himself."  You know how long I’ve been doing this.  Watching him was like watching a armless retard play a priceless Stradivarius with his knees.  No, I’m not that good–he was THAT bad.  The kids and the chick took helpful suggestions from me, but he whined like a bitch when I tried to get him to choke up on the spoodle so he would have some control, for God’s sake.  "No-no-no-no-no-no—lemme lemme lemme.  Mine."
  He made a thin crust pizza and it was an inch and half thick from all the toppings he put on it.  It’s not going to cook right.  People think they know, and they really don’t
      [Like the assclown I remember from 20 years ago.  Some old black man came in the store, all smiling and proud.  He must have won the lottery.  Or maybe it was the first of the month.  Money was NO object to him.  Sorry about the racial stereotyping, but this is what he said and this is how he said it:  "I wants a LARGE pissa…wif….exxra…EVERTHAN."  No, no you don’t, I said.  Maybe you do want everything, but you don’t want extra everything because it wont cook.  It’ll be cold in the middle and the dough will be raw.]
                  understand how their poor decision making process affects both their life and their pizza.
  And of course we had to run it through the oven about one and half times, and I tried to save it by putting some extra screens under it to keep the bottom from burning while I tried to get the top to cook.
  Of course the whole time I am talking with them, and while they were both very nice, Lynne at least seemed to be able to take a joke whereas Jason wanted to take personally my sarcasm.  He seemed like one of those mellow, non-confrontational pacifists–and you know how much they piss me off. 
  Upon reflection, however, I realized what disgusted me about him.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  I wasn’t not jealous of him because of his hot girlfriend even though I did find out later that she was a gymnast (hmmmmm…..limber….), but it was their whole *thing*.
  It was that fresh romance, new love thing they had going on.  He had the thing where he felt he had to comment about EVERY LITTLE thing in some sort of CLEVER, FUNNY, way in order IMPRESS her with his OPINION and DEEP, THOUGHTFUL insight into the slightest of INANE subjects, like his son who LOVED BACON but didn’t get any bacon on his pizza this time ("But you’re the bacon guy, dude!") or his girlfriend’s half and half pizza and her odd choice of toppings (Look at your own weird shit, duder).   Other stuff, too, that I could no longer tolerate paying attention to.
  I hope I wasn’t like that when I was freshly in love.

  Meanwhile at home, the fresh love that Detroit and I share…hasn’t grown stale.  But I don’t like rye bread.  I ask for white.  I’ll take wheat.  Right now all we have is rye.
  We had a pissy little weekend.  I guess it’s over now, and I forgive her for being difficult to live with.  I forgive her for being difficult with which to live.
  I had some free tickets to a comedy show.  It would have been nice to go–you know, someplace as just a couple instead of taking everyone along like we’re the goddamn Clampetts.  Someone gave me ten tickets that were only good Thursday or Sunday, and Thursday is gone with the wind.  I talked to Kearby, and to my cousin, and we had tentatively lined up kind of a couples evening, subject to scheduling and babysitting.
  Detroit didn’t wanna go.  It’s a Sunday, she has to work the next day, she’s a party-pooper and a homebody.  She doesn’t want to go.  But she will, to make me happy.  Then she proceeds to give me the moody quiet cold shoulder the rest of the day, as proof that she’s willing to make me happy.  It’s going to be a fun night.
  So I call Kearby and Joey, and tell them each that we’re not going to be able to go.  I gave Kearby tickets, he could still go if he wanted to.  Joey was never sure he would have been able to, but would have tried if we were going.
  Now I had the self-righteous pity on my side.  I could logically now return the cold shoulder and silent treatment.  Detroit wants to know when we have to leave.  "We’re not going."
  "We can still make it."
  "You don’t want to go, we’re not going.  I already called people."
  She started again, and I said something like, I already put up with alot over it, so never mind.  And she said, so now she has to put up with it?
  I wanted to say alot of things, like, well yeah, fair is fair.  But most importantly, she got her way and I didn’t.  But I didn’t say anything, and I’ll be over it alot sooner than she would have been.  I get to be the martyr this time.

  I don’t want anyone to think we’re "having trouble."  Detroit, I’m sure, doesn’t like having our personal stuff on the air, but I’m an open kind of guy.  I mean, I can see where I was wrong in this too (a little), so it’s not a hatchet job on her even though it is her fault.
  We still get along, we still love each other.  After a while, we start to annoy each other also.  We’re not in that early stage of love anymore where we annoy other people around us with kissy noises, pet names, and baby talk.  Instead, we annoy each other with sarcastic comments, stubbornness, and silent treatment.
  Our love has evolved.

Part Down The Middle

April 21, 2009 at 1:31 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I go to the barber college to get my haircut because I feel, since I don’t have a full head of hair, why should I pay full price?  This is definitely an item that should be pro-rated.
  The GF and others have suggested that since I get it shaved down most of the way anyway, I should get one of those kits and just do it myself.  Well, I have this to say to you:  shut your pie hole. 
  I’ve never been to a hooker, and I’ve never been to a strip club or had a lap dance.  What other chance do I have to have a woman I don’t know put her boobs in my face?
  Of course, going to the barber college is like playing the lottery–it’s more likely that you’ll end up bleeding than getting laid.  I’ve had a wide assortment of people cut my hair at the barber college.  For instance, I’ve had lots of young black men whom I surmise are only doing this until their career in hip-hop takes off.
  I’ve had a few cute chicks, including one woman who was so short that even with me sitting in the chair she needed a stool.  Even so, she was a little tall to be the *perfect* height.
  I’ve had a gay man or two (but not at the same time; there was no manwich going on) and some other assorted oddballs, but this last time was the first time I believe I had someone who was legitimately mentally challenged.
  Now, I’m not going to make fun of the retard; for the most part he did a good job.  We didn’t talk much, which was fine with me.  He did mumble to himself a lot, in his strange language–whatever the native tongue of Retardia is.  He cut my hair, he shaved my ears, and then he trimmed my eyebrows.  He shaved the top of my nose (Exactly!  That’s what I was thinking!  What the Hell!) and then I swear he tried to stick the trimmer up nose.
  While he was trying to layer my nose hair, I bucked and brayed and moved my head away.  His fingers smelled like corn chips and boogers.

  I am totally due for a hot chick next time.

Technicality

April 21, 2009 at 1:28 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I just discovered this little thing on my computer at work.  Let’s see how interesting it is.  Keep in mind, I’ve been using this computer program for four years.  For the last two, we’ve had this upgrade.  I think.  At least a year.
  Okay, I scan the docs in.  There on the screen I see a list of them, and I can scroll up and down and see the individual pages.  Within the file, I assign the pages to various documents (Order-Title-Commitment, Policy and Docs, Escrow, things like that).
  It used to be that this program used OCR–optical character recognition.  A file would have three or four "target" sheets in it, and the OCR would pick them up, and then assign the sheets after it to the appropriate doc.  It wouldn’t always work, of course, but most of the time it did.  And then for some types of files we didn’t use it at all, like if they were all one doc.
   So then we get this upgrade, and no more OCR because there is some auto-assignment of some sort in the works.  Whatever.  It’s not here yet, so I do what I do.  I scan in the doc, I scroll down until I see the next target sheet, and then go back up one.  That’s the last page of the document.  Follow me?  So I hold "Shift" and press "Home."  That selects all of those pages that I can then assign to the doc.  It used to be I would press "CTRL" and the space bar, and it would put a checkmark next to all of those pages. 
  Except the first page for some reason.  I never understood that.  So it selects almost all of them, except the first one, and then I have to hit the home key to go back to the top, and press the enter key to get a checkmark next to it, and then I can finish the assignment (which is CTRL and ENTER.)  This is a lot of extra steps.
  On a very odd, rare occasion, it would put a checkmark next to all of them.  How is that happening?  Am I hitting some different combination of keys?  Finally, today, I figure it out.  The key RIGHT next to the damn CTRL key.  The key with the Windows logo on it.  It opens up the START menu.  If I press that with space bar, it checks ALL of the highlighted items, not–I repeat–NOT all of the highlighted items minus the first one, which is a patently unuseful application.
  Now when I do all of this, it’s pretty quick.  Way quicker than my normal typing speed, that’s for sure.  I did what I could to find all of the useful keyboard shortcuts I could.  There are a few things that I can’t get a reasonable shortcut for so I have to use the mouse–and it is an incredible pain in the ass.  The less you have to take your hands off the keyboard, the faster you are.
  When I see people reach for the mouse to click "Okay" instead of just hitting the ENTER key, I want to sharpen the keyboard with a file and then stab them with it. I could be over-reacting. 
  So anyway, since I found this out, this saves me about three successive keystrokes per document, of which there are three per file, of which I do many, many per day because it’s my job.
  This is important in terms of productivity and also my general desire for efficiency.  I change every computer I work with from double-click to single-click, and over the past ten years, I estimate that has saved me almost 17 hours of my lifetime.  That’s important.
  While this is not a major thing, it is important to me, both in terms of the fact that I learned something new…
  And the correct key was right next to the wrong key that I was using this whole time, over a year.

I Can’t Have Anything Nice

April 21, 2009 at 1:25 AM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
I have several things saved up to post, so you going to see…several separate posts. 

  Oh, yeah, so, Saturday, Kearby comes back from a run and says, "What’s the deal with your car door?"
  I had just been out there.  I looked at him with a puzzled expression.  "What, did I leave it open?"
  He saw my puzzled expression and raised me a quizzical one.  "Dude, somebody hit your car, bro."
  My look changed to disbelief.  I walked outside, and sure as shit, someone had hit my car.
  The mark was on the driver’s side, and it was low.  And it ran along BOTH doors.  Like someone was turning in or backing out next to me, and their low bumper just scraped my car.
  And they kept fucking going.  They continued to pull out, and they continued to scrap the side of my car.  Then they left.  Muh-ther-fuck. Shit.

Behind The Curtain

April 16, 2009 at 1:35 AM | Posted in The Corporate World | Leave a comment
  This may be seem disjointed and rambling, but there is a point that draws it all together.  I swear.

  The gas man came the morning and found the gas leak–praise the Lord–and then fixed it, and turned our gas back on.  I also asked him to do a couple of side jobs, but I’m wondering if he actually did them.  He says he did.  Maybe I should check.
  But all of this happened as a result of not paying the gas bill.  Of course, it was my sister who didn’t pay it, but I didn’t pay hers either, so hers got shut off as well.
  This goes to the subject of money, and not quite making enough.  I believe I have expounded on this quite enough for now, but you get the point.

  My friend Bunny warned me the other day, "I may call you later to vent–"
  And she did.  We both work here at the bank, but she’s been here a bit longer and is also more ambitious and aggressive.  She’s an AVP, an assistant vice president.  She’s also a manager of her department as well as a consumer loan officer.  She wears many hats, and she busts her ass with each one.
  Let’s see if I can condense this…hmmm…
  Currently she makes about 70k year.  manager’s salary, plus a manager incentive, plus a loan officer incentive for the consumer loans she closes.  Since she busts her ass, her incentive is quite a bit–and it’s more than her bosses want to pay her.
  Another position opened up, one that would allow her to be a mortgage loan officer.  This is the reason she came to work here.  LOs are the rainmakers, the gods.  They make one helluva lotta cash.
  Her immediate boss Chris, and his boss, Matt both told her these things:
  1)We can’t let you move into that new position, we need you here too much.
  2)We can’t pay you any more money to keep you here.
  3)We’re going to eliminate the manager incentive.
  4)We want you to become more of an analyst for other loans, which will cut your loan incentive severely.
 
  So, she’s so good at what she does that she has to stay where she is and make less money.  Probably a 20k per year cut.
  She went on to explain some of the details, some of the conversations with these people.  I knew some of this and could extrapolate the rest–but hearing the details was jaw-dropping.  She paused for a breath.   Bunny talks fast.
  I said, "I feel like I’ve had a glimpse behind the curtain of things I should not see." 
  She said this is what it’s like.  I said, "This is what it’s like at the bank you work at–" (again, we work at the same bank) "–at my bank, it’s all rainbows and kittens."  At my level, I see none of this. 
  Bunny is smart and experienced and not afraid to tackle the big boys.  She is going to find a way to move up, or she is going to leave for another place.  I don’t blame her.  But I’m not her.  I’m really not.  I can’t compete like she does, I can’t go-go-go like she does.  I just can’t.

  I had a conversation with a young man a few weeks ago about school and jobs.  He had me convinced that with my degree, gpa, experience and charm that I could easily get a high paying job in my field, and if I went back to school for my bachelors I would be a quadzillionaire with not-stop bitches on me.  Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.
  And I considered it, too.  Either my chosen field of computer networking, or maybe an mba and something in banking, or maybe accounting or a CPA–they make alot of money.
  Originally I was going to school for engineering, which is a bit of a rigid discipline.  And I don’t mean throbbing, hard, and turgid.  I mean structured and analytical.
  While I do have some of that in me, I’m not much on structure.  Just based on my GPA and my ACT score, this was what my high school guidance counselor steered me towards.  You know, the reason I feel betrayed by it is because I thought he knew me.  It was a small school.  He knew me.  Because I couldn’t articulate what I wanted very well (something in art) he had me convinced that the only jobs in art were as an art teacher.
  Well, that’s not so, and what I coulda shoulda woulda done is commercial art and advertising.  I would have been fucking phenomenal at it.  Don’t tell me I wouldn’t.  I–
  Combine this with some alcohol-fueled conversations I’ve had with Mike at Domino’s about our individual careers, and you get some occupational introspection.
  What to do?
  I can continue working here at the bank and at Domino’s.  What’s my goal?  Well, I want to make enough money working one job to only need to work one job.
  Isn’t that a cop-out?  What’s my REAL goal?

  I was going to start out all kind of wishy-washy and pensive, like, "Well, I’d kinda like to be published, I guess.  Or something like that."
  But that’s too mushy.  What I have is more firm.  Turgid, if you will.  Erect.  I know what I want, I just don’t vocalize it much.  Maybe if I did, if I visualize it, I can make it happen.
  "If you will it, it is no dream." 
  I want to be published.  I want to write my damn books, and get published.  I want to write across many different genres, because those are the stories I have.  I don’t *really* want to be rich and famous.  I just want to be famous …and be financially okay.
  I want to write books and draw my comic strip, and publish that also.  I want to do animation and win an Oscar for best animated short.  I want to create, and I want people to see it, appreciate it, and like it.  That’s what I want. 
  These other things, these other jobs–at best they pay the bills.  At worst, they are an excuse to keep me from creating.  I keep saying "Once I get done with this–" or that, or the other, then I can concentrate on writing.  The epiphany I had just now is that there is *always* this, or that, or something in the way.   I can and I need to work around it.  Even if it’s just a little every day, or every night.
  For a while I thought I differently, but now I realize the truth:  Good Lord, I’m not getting any younger. 
  Detroit said, "I don’t care what you do as long as you are happy…and the bills are paid.  Without that caveat, who knows what the hell I would do.  As I thought about this quandary while I was telling Detroit and her mom, I realized that in some of these high-pressure but higher-paying positions I don’t know if I would be happy. 
  Happiness comes from pursuing your dream, maybe.  At least I have one.  I should pursue it.  I talked about it enough.

Prayer And Apostasy

April 12, 2009 at 3:13 PM | Posted in Personal | 1 Comment
  I’ve been overwhelmed lately, and it has been weighing on me.  With so much to do, how do I do anything?  How can I choose from all of my priorities?  Tis a difficult task, to pick and choose.  Usually, I do nothing, and that is not a good thing.  Choosing nothing makes me a nihilist.
  But I’m not a nihilist, and I do believe in something, and lately I’ve felt the tug at my heart of it’s still, quiet call.
  I need to pray.
  I’m a bit rusty, because it’s been awhile.  I got to thinking, it’s much like my friend Winston, who is actually my dad’s friend.  I haven’t spoken to him since my dad died.  It’s been two years.  I should give him a call, I should–
  The same with prayer.  It kind of slips past you, and you realize it’s been awhile.  I’m sure I can do it, I just need the time and place and proper motivation.
  And motivation I now have.  Man, when things are going bad–that is the place I turn.  It’s not easy; it has taken me a while to get here.  But when I’m in trouble, when I have problems, when it seems like I’m being dog-piled on, prayer helps.

  You can call it what you want.  You might think of it as just some quiet time of reflection, or meditation.  That’s helpful.  Maybe you want to consider it a way to access hidden power deep within my own brain, and thence come up with a solution. 
  I like to think of it as a gift from God.  I can talk to him, and he actually listens.  I offer up some problems, open my soul for examination, and talk things over with him.  Sometimes he gives me a solution.  Sometimes he tells me to think about it some more.  Sometimes I get a little miracle, a little something for my effort.  Nothing big, just a turn when things go my way for a minute.  And always, I get the peace and calm in my heart.

  And you know, that’s all it takes to make me believe.

The Gas Man Cometh Not

April 10, 2009 at 6:28 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  I came home last night late, and it was raining.  I knew what to expect, but I didn’t realize the spectacle…
  In the rain, in the darkness, this large metal container looked like a giant ship that had run aground in a storm.  Now it sat, silent, immobile, and became a part of the landscape as the rain landed on it and responded with a metallic tinkle.
  Foreshadowing my future, it sat dormant at an angle and blocked the entire driveway in a menacing manner, as if to say, "None shall pass."

  As well with gas:  "None shall pass."
  The conspiracy theorist in me–the one that believes Oswald didn’t act alone and Cheney personally set the explosives in the twin towers–thinks that the guy from the gas company *could* have helped more but didn’t because it was close to the Easter Holiday and he wanted to get out of there, and besides, it was a woman (Detroit’s mom) so he figured he could bullshit her and then bolt.
  Maybe, maybe not.  The fact remains, we paid the bill yet have no gas.
  I called my go-to, Cousin Joey, and he called his guy.  His guy called him back today, finally, and said something doesn’t sound right with that story.   The guy said I should call the gas company and raise some hell because it sounded like bullshit to him.
  Of course, by now it’s 3pm on Good Friday.  The automated voice gently chides me for even attempting to get help right before a holiday, and connects me to an emergency line, or semi-emergency.  Or, just the assholes that haven’t left for the day yet.
  I don’t care to recite the conversation verbatim because it tasks me.  But I learned these things:
  It is not their job to help me.  (Taken out of context, this is more telling than I thought.)
  Ain’t no body fit’na help my sorry ass this weekend.
  I could schedule them to come and fix it, and be billed.
  When the tech came to turn the gas on, he also checks the pressure in the meter.  It wouldn’t hold pressure, indicating a leak in either a line or at an appliance–
  And that’s when I thought maybe I had the solution.  We’ll see if I’m right:  Chances are that it’s not in the refrigerator.  But as I run down the list of gas appliances in the house, I can think of a few obvious culprits, like the dryer, because of the flex-line, or the stove, because it is hundreds of years old.  I could possibly fix it myself.
  Of course, even if I fix it this weekend, it’s not getting turned back on until Monday, more likely Tuesday.  We are not cooking on Easter.  Not at all.
  "Is there anything else I can do for you today?" the chick on phone asked me.
  I scoffed.  "Why start now?"

In The Dumps

April 10, 2009 at 1:51 AM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
  Okay, this is Thursday.  I may not get to post this until I know more.  Let’s backpedal a bit:

  My sister and I swapped houses.  Of course, it’s not entirely legal with the city yet, so we haven’t switched over the utilities.  My gas at her house got shut off in February. 
  But it’s "loose"–the connection–so she still gets gas.  Bitch.
  Tuesday, her gas at my house got shut off.  Detroit’s mom, I guess sensing self-preservation is the better part of valor, agreed to pay basically all of it, over 500 clams.  Or bones, or whatever it is you call them.  Wednesday I take it all, pay, make the call, and they tell me:  "We’ll be there first thing tomorrow."  Shit.  I paid EARLY on Wednesday so they would be out on WEDNESDAY.  However, they had no openings, being too busy running around shutting other people’s gas off.  Bitches. 
  Thursday I get the call from Alex.  The gas man came around, but wouldn’t turn it on because we have a leak.  He didn’t say where, he didn’t look.  He just checked the pressure in the line.  Need a plumber or a magician or something.  Well, shit.  Now that has to be fixed.  Monday I had just paid for the main sewer line at my sister’s house (again, my old house) to be cleaned out.  Not because I felt responsible, but because she couldn’t afford it.  I can’t either, really, but I happened to have the cash at the right moment, and my good Cousin Joey knew a guy.
  And then I get this call.  So, I call Joey.  He knows a guy.  Another guy.  I need to call him back later.  If he can’t do it, I’ll call the guy across the street from me.  I know a guy, too.
  I’d like to take a shower sooner or later…

  In the meantime, this other guy I know did a favor for me.  Detroit tells me that she can’t park in the driveway because there is a big-ass dumpster in the way.  Surprise!  A big roll-off, just for us, and for free.  Do you know how much it costs to get one of these?  I priced the smaller ones at two or three hundred, and this is a big one.  How big?
  We can’t park in our double-wide driveway, that’s how big.
  Well, the driver cocked it in there at an angle.  No one was home, like there was supposed to be.  For free, I’m not going to complain.  I’m gonna fill that sucker up as fast as I can and get it out of here.

  But the main thing I have to take care of immediately is the gas.  I have to get our gas fixed and back on.  I just realized this weekend is Easter.  Oh, shit.  Without gas, we ain’t cooking.

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