Thursday, July 26, 2012

7-11 My Lucky Day

It was my lucky day -  the first day of the next part of my life.

The company I worked for for 30 years had closed its doors.  I had stayed on for a few weeks to set up the liquidation site, but that's all done now, too.

I had never been unemployed for more than a week, so I had to be very strict with myself.  There would be no unscheduled moments of the day.

Fernanda at 4pm
By 6 am I'm reporting to my workplace -  but first, Coffee! The only place open at that time of the day is McDonald's - Steve and Mary are both sleeping in, so their places are closed - I know how much Steve needs his beauty sleep... But coffee at McDonald's  - it's not such bad coffee, and it's only $1.00 there, even for a large. And the kids behind the counter are too sleepy even to give you the stupid look.  So, with my coffee and my briefcase in hand, I head to my office - it's actually my wife's office, at the shopping center, but she doesn't get there until two in the afternoon, so don't tell her, OK?   And there, I spend the first four hours of each and every day checking job listings, filling out applications, and updating the resume.
About 90 hours of work

For those of you who haven't looked for a job lately, the shaky clipboard application on a folding chair in front of the personnel office window is a thing of the past.  Online applications are the way it's done now, checked by robots as they are submitted, so that everything is filled out properly. Good thing  about the on-line applications - at big places where there are multiple openings, you can apply for multiple jobs at different times, and be ignored by six or seven people at once, or maybe they even have robots to ignore you, to save them the trouble.

There are robots which read your resumes that you upload as *.pdf files, and the robots sometimes fill out much of the application for you.  They're not to good at getting the information in the right blanks, though, so check their work thoroughly!  I've imagined myself working at lots of places already, and trying to get those places to imagine me there as well.  There was a nasty scam where they created a really attractive job description, and as soon as they had your informatioin, your mailbox fills up with online college recruiters.

Morning View
My web page clients were happy.  I finished everything in-house the first week I was off.  Check out and

And,  betting against myself, I'm beginning to market retirement facilities for daytime music jobs, something I've never been able to offer,  before.  I enjoy playing piano for skilled-care centers, and the residents appreciate my musical tastes more than most other audiences.

So, that's mainly what I've been doing.  Applications and then catching up on stuff around the house later in the day.  I've applied about 10 gallons of Thompson's water seal and nine gallons of paint, 1000 lbs of scalloped paver edge, 10 lbs of Liquid Nails, and 12 lbs of Alex,  in the past two weeks.

I've never been out of work for so long, and I feel funny about being places I never used to be during the daytime, afraid someone will ask "Got the day off?"  But nobody really cares; I should get used to it, and enjoy some of it.  Weekends are different, too.  What are we resting up from?  That's why I've got to be so strict with myself about keeping the hours, and keeping the hours productive. And I'm steering clear of Facebook and Twitter for now, because it's so easy to turn minutes into hours there.  I desperately don't want to become one of those unkempt slugs sitting around Steve's place all day, looking coolly down their noses at someone who comes into the joint with paint on his shirt. They love humanity, but hate people.

So, here I am treading the fine line between sanity and self-respect. I'm writing this because it's raining when I was planning on painting, so the time was an unexpected gift from God.  Thanks!

Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Things I Didn't Say, Today

Sunday morning.  It promised to be less than 100 degrees today, but I was taking no chances based on past fallacious forecasts.  I got up at 5 am, and I was determined to get the outdoor work done before it got hot out.  My wife was still sleeping, so I had to get out on the wrong side of bed.
I arrived at the job site.  The Beautiful Pagoda needed to be treated with Thompson's Water Seal.  It looks innocent enough from a distance, but once you arrive at the top, you can see that on top of the beams between the pillars holding the whole thing together, a row of joists (there are ten) supports a row of 20-foot long pieces of 2 x 2 treated lumber - 37 individual pieces.  And it all was very dry, thirsting for the 5-Year Protection of Thompson's Water Seal.  Believe me, we've got so much goddam wood that I hold Mr. Thompson personally to that Five-Year thing, and will not re-apply the Water Seal a minute before that five year period has expired.  
Best to start at the top, so that everything drips downward.  The gravity here in Wisconsin is simply overwhelming this year.  I think it's something to do with El Nino.  The 2 x 2 was adequate to support my more-than adequate weight.  But the gravity was very intense on my knees, so I decided to negotiate the job sitting down.  I perched cross-legged on top of the 2x2s, painted three rows, then hopped along to the left, and when I reached the other end of the 20-foot piece, I moved backward, and hopped back to the right.  All in all, just like a little typewriter. Ding!  I must have negotiated about twelve miles on my dupa.  Usually when I work with treated lumber I end up with a nasty sliver, usually under my fingernail.  Well, this time, I got the sliver, but not in the finger.
So, when the fat sow across the street gets out on her front porch and starts pointing and laughing at me, in a mean, cigarette-tainted voice, I was simply not in the mood for levity.  I did not scream to her "I'm closer to heaven up here on the Monkey Bars than you'll ever be, and I've got more than three teeth, too! And I don't sound like a tubercular hyena when I laugh!  ..."

And, when I had finished the job and was heading across KK Avenue to get a coffee at Steve's (10:30 am, my first coffee of the day), the one thing I was hoping not to hear was a lecture on Street Safety.  And yet, some fat ass with a white moustache and an annoying womanish whinny of a voice started to lecture me on waiting for the "walk" light.  I felt fully capable of being able to discern something as large as an automobile, and I didn't tell him that "I don't need the advice of some sissy-voiced walrus who can't cross the street without help from the government.  Look both ways before crossing, you nitwit!".  

And things got worse.  There were people standing around the order desk at Steve's, I presumed that they were waiting for their orders.  I stood by the pastry counter, where you're supposed to stand, to get waited on when your turn comes.  And some little goateed 3g texter, standing on the other side of the register -  got waited on before me with all his #$%# chai with extra espresso shots prepared a certain fussy way, with a sprig of free-range basil, no doubt.  I just wanted a black coffee, and I wanted it now. I didn't tell him "Don't you know, you poor ignorant fool, that the line forms over here?"  Instead, I got behind him, where the rest of the line seemed to be forming, for today.

In front of me was a little girly-boy, he looked kinda like I did in the days when I got beat up a lot, and his mommy.  Mommy told him that he liked the Belgian waffles -- he just wanted to use the bathroom.  He headed for the restroom, and of course it was locked - as any idiot knows, the key for the restroom is kept at the checkout counter.  He returned and found out about the key, while his mother was ordering the Organic Belgian Waffles.  I waited patiently - the Belgian Waffle Experience playing out in slow motion, standing between me and my coffee.

All the while, some dimwit was explaining to someone else in line that he had "taken it to channel 6 and channel 12, and so, they'd have to listen to his side now, in view of his having the media in the palm of his hand.  I had heard this word-for-word screed so many times in my Customer Service days, and was definitely NOT in the mood to hear it repeated again.  No matter what species the insect  chewing at his rectum, I did not care to hear about it.  Not today.  I had been up six hours without coffee, my head was still spinning from the dazzle of the sunlight, and my sliver was hurting.... and, luckily, just as I was about to lose it altogether, my turn in line had arrived.  

Coffee in hand, I fled back to the job site, and enjoyed a new start to my day sitting in the shade on a half-empty can of Thompson's Water Seal.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Notes from the Wasteland

It happened suddenly, not gradually.  Within a span of two weeks my entire work-life experience was demolished. My employer for the last thirty years announced that the business was ending operations, the fixtures and assets would be sold, and that was that!   Outside, a WalMart had purchased the entire block, with the exception of our building and the gas station on the corner.  Here's how demolition sounds from inside the building:  Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!  For comparison, here is how excavation sounds:   Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!  And construction:   Bang! Boom! Shake! Shudder!   DO YOU KNOW, there are machines designed to do nothing but shake the ground?  Just to make the dirt settle to meet code! It was like being aboard the Enterprise when the shields take a hit. Get me outa here, Scotty! Those dinosaur-size machines even tore up the road in front of our place.  No sidewalk!  How am I going to get to the gas station for a Bratwurst?

And there were the Hardhat Guys pacing around continuously all with uniform yellow vests and hard hats.  They all walk at the same relentless marching speed.  I half-expected to hear them chanting "Oh WEE Oh! Wee OHH, Whoa."
And so, all the things near and dear to us, my beat up old 1970s Modular Yellow Desk where I spent thirty years rendering exemplary and astonishing service in the Sales Office. For Sale!
And the old clock that ground our lives to bits:
Industrial photography can be fun:
And then there was the web site I created, and we all worked on it to list everything that we could possibly sell.  Check it out:
Using Microsoft Excel, I found a way to convert the parts department database directly to HTML tables that could be listed on web pages by just cutting and pasting.
And I invented an Excel table that wrote batch files that created HTML pages en masse:
Altogether, because this is "old-school" HTML structure, we created over 1100 HTML files on the site.  It's a Low-Tech masterpiece.  Pure raw power, and no frills. Altogether, according to the backup records, there are now 4200 files created for the liquidation project.

And then there was the marketing.  We're selling ourselves by postcard, by drive-by banners, Craig's List, Ebay.

I was inspired by the way one Ebay user advertised his pallet racks: 
... but I couldn't get Jane (not her name) to pose for the photo.  A few times, we almost sold her accidentally.  "Jane, get out of that pickup truck this instant.  You have to stay and work on the inventory!"
And so, what's next?  We're almost done listing and sifting, and are steadily selling everything, but soon the time will come....
One good thing - last time I checked, the future was still all there!
Happy Independence Day!
Thanks for listening and contributing. I'd love to hear from you.