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Posts in Category: Day Jobs


New Job

I have a new job at a bookstore café. They asked me to come in on Wednesday morning to fill out all the paperwork and get a tour of the store. I came in at 8AM, rang this creepy doorbell/buzzer, and was greeted at the front door by a custodian who wasn’t specifically familiar with the English language. He glared at me suspiciously.

“You work now?” he asked through a heavy accent.

“Yeah, I’m new,” I said. “I’m here to meet with Jane.”

He looked at me blankly, then motioned for me to come inside the store.

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The Audition

The first step I planned to take in my revised life roadmap was to find a job or career I can stand for more than 20 minutes. So far, the only job I didn’t want to leave was Tully’s, and while my sister offered to have me come and stay with her in Seattle and resume work there, Seattle sucks and $7.85 an hour without benefits won’t pay the pickle-man (I do not know what this expression mean; I assume the explanation involves gigolos).

As it turns out, in another life I was a highly skilled office assistant, and in still another life I’m a really big (if not particularly bright) nerd, so the prospects don’t end with low-paying retail jobs. I’d be decently happy in a job like this if the job pressure is at a minimum; I used to while away the hours at crappy temp jobs thinking about my writing, and then I’d come home and write. Or I’d wake up early the following morning and write for several hours. I tend to write better when I’m not fully awake.

But I need some fun in my life, but I have a complicated conundrum: I’m tired of staying at home, but I invariably dislike almost all people. What the hell can I do, aside from pulling weird office pranks that only I’m aware of, to both be (sort of) social and enjoy myself?

My return from L.A. happened to coincide with the departure of the bass player in a local Chicago band I kinda-sorta know. So, I thought, “I play guitar, I kinda learned bass, and I like this band—what could possibly go wrong?” I asked them if I could audition, and they took pity on me and reluctantly agreed.

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Temp(er)

A few years ago, I made a mistake. Not the first, and certainly not the last, but kind of a big one. During a summer of very few assignments, all of them pretty rough and obnoxious, I decided to give up on the exciting world of office temping. Sure, the jobs were—for the most part—stress-free and high-paying (when I left, I was making $19/hour to sit on my ass and occasionally type), but I got bored. I started playing bizarre pranks that only I understood and found funny; then I started pushing things and pushing things to see how far I could go before I got fired. When nobody even fired me the day I took a five-hour lunch, I finally decided it was time to quit.

I decided to move into the exciting, fast-paced world of retail coffee sales, a disastrous move if there ever was one. Sure, it was more exciting, but I had to work way harder for less pay. Also, I had to deal with—shudder—people. Furthermore, while I’ve been toiling in the miserable retail food-service industry, I’ve missed out on all sorts of extra office experience that could perhaps benefit me in, for example, finding a decent job upon college graduation.

I’ve been sending out my resume for weeks, rewriting it with lessening degrees of honesty, in an effort to make myself look like the cat’s ass, employment-wise. But, I decided, I need money now, so fuck it—I’ll go back to temping, gain experience, and hopefully luck out with a decent temp-to-hire position.

Step one: shove myself through the front door and get interviewed and tested.

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A Brief Example of Why I Don’t Like Any of My Friends

I’ve known Kelly since we were 12-years-old, but I didn’t really get to know her well until sophomore year of high school. We were in an awful play together, during which we spent the bulk of the time mocking everyone and everything around us while waiting to rehearse the combined total of five lines we had in the show. We’ve had ups and downs, friendship-wise, because sometimes she can be uniquely unpleasant.

Gradually, though, as she’s gone through college, she’s experienced more of the world, mellowed out a bit, and become an actual decent human being. Except when it comes to making plans.

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It’s Been Awhile

…but I’m back. Not exactly with a vengeance, but I still exist. Here’s a brief review of the past five months, for the folks keeping score at home:

  • A few weeks after my last post, I got a job as a cubicle drone (my favorite kind of drone!) at a reasonably large technology firm based in Chicago. Since then, I’ve been staring at invoices, contracts, and computer screens on a daily basis, trying to make sense of fairly incomprehensible numbers. I’m no math expert, but the tedium and repetition definitely helps my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
  • At this job, I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that precludes me from discussing the details if my job with any more specificity than what I wrote in the previous bulletpoint. After getting the job, I gutted this site. I thought I’d reinvent it with a semi-fictitious spin, portraying the adventures of “teenage Stan,” who has just started “high school” in a “new town,” and I’d turn my entire job life into one big hilarious metaphor. And then the site languished blankly for months because, let’s face it, I’m fucking lazy, and when I actually feel like doing something, it’s not writing half-fake blog stories. Fortunately for you, gentle reader, further investigation of the details of my NDA have revealed a loophole: I can’t talk specifically about my work, but I can ramble with all the incoherence and rage you’ve come to expect from this blog about the broader details of corporate life and my clashing with coworkers. Again, I wanted to metaphor this up so my secret identity wouldn’t be revealed, but at the same time, I hate my job, so if I get caught and fired for whining about my boss, fuck it. Hopefully I’ll have moved on before anyone discovers it.
  • I spent several days basking in the sunshine and humidity of Coralville, Iowa, with my best friend in the whole world, Lucy, and her new roommate who, a few weeks after my visit (and a few weeks after signing a 12-month lease), left the state (there was a warrant for her arrest after she decided not to go to court over a DUI charge) and sent an email stating she will no longer be paying rent or utilities, so sorry, Lucy’s on her own. This, traditionally, would be comedy gold, but I actually felt kinda bad.
  • In spite of my verbal cocky strut, I did not get into the band I auditioned for. No hard feelings on the surface, but I secretly said, “Well, fuck them anyway!” and have started compiling all the songs I’ve written in the past three years to record what I can only assume will be the worst album in the history of rock music. I may post some demos or outtakes if I feel they’re worth sharing.
  • One of the songs I referred to in the bulletpoint above details the tragic story of a Ukrainian drunk who is recruited by an undercover CIA agent to become a pro wrestler in America. It doesn’t end well. I am telling you this to illustrate that when I say “worst album in the history of rock music,” I am not just being self-deprecating.
  • My sister, Tracey, and her fiancé, Jack, finally got married. The ceremony was nice, in spite of the weirdness of Tracey trying to hook me up with her best-friend-since-sixth-grade. The classiest moment was when I drove them back to their hotel after the reception—they were blitzed, so I became the default designated driver—and I made a sarcastic comment about the Corner Bakery, to which my sister gleefully yelped, “My best-friend-since-sixth-grade loves the Corner Bakery, too!” Shudder.
  • I received a rambling, suspiciously desperate email from Hollywood, USA, saying that, despite my propensity toward quitting without notice, I am still a Valued Person for some reason, so would I be interested in doing some minor consulting in the form of giving notes on scripts that are faxed to me on a weekly basis? Gosh, why not? I assume that since they came after me, they might actually care what I have to say. Plus, a little—very little—extra cash. I’m finally taking an extremly tiny portion of that Hollywood pie!
  • I wrote the first draft of a novel, then stuck in a drawer. Now let us never speak of it again.
  • I went out with a woman from work who seemed nice, then dropped the single-mother bomb on me and believed I’d be a very pleasant surrogate pseudo-father-figure-type-guy. It was awkward. I still know how to pick ’em!
  • I got very tired of this job and decided, once again, to start looking for better opportunities. So far, nothing. Oh well, at least this time I’m getting paid while I look for another job.
  • As soon as I pay off my student loans (assuming I don’t spend any more money and don’t change jobs or pay rates, the second week in March!), I will take out more loans to go to grad school. These I probably won’t pay back. Serves the government right for trusting me!
  • Last week, a bird got into the office. It was weird.

Well, that about brings us up to speed. I’ll probably post again in five months or so.

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The First Known Motion Picture

The first known motion picture

“Produced by Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince at Roundhay House, Leeds, UK, some time before October of 1888.”

I found this very interesting. I’ve mirrored the movie because the NMPFT site was running slow.

More on Le Prince and evidence that this really is the earliest single-camera motion picture ever captured:

Roundhay Garden Scene, 1888

Photographic copy of paper prints from a film taken in the garden of the Whitley family house in Oakwood Grange Road, Roundhay, a suburb of Leeds, Yorkshire, Great Britain. Le Prince’s son, Adolphe, who appears in this picture, stated that it was shot in early October 1888 (he suggests 14October) as it shows Mrs Sarah Whitley, Le Prince’s mother-in-law, who died on 24 October that year. The other subjects are Joseph Whitley and Miss Harriet Hartley. They are plainly having fun walking round in circles, keeping within the area framed by the camera.

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Caffeine

Tomorrow, Monday, December 5th, marks four full weeks since I first attempted to very, very slowly wean myself off the wonder-drug commonly known as caffeine (more commonly known as “sweet ambrosia of the gods”). The first two weeks were easy enough: rather than consuming my normal 40 ounces of coffee, I dropped down to 32 (two 16-ounce cups, which makes it easier to divide than, say, drinking one 16-ounce cup, then adding another 4 afterward). I suffered almost no withdrawal symptoms and, in fact, felt an immediate reduction in the chronic heartburn that has seemed to plague me pretty much since I reached my all-time regular peak of 72 ounces daily (during that exciting 18 credit hour semester in the spring of 2004, which was followed by getting all the free coffee I wanted in Seattle.

The second two weeks started a little rougher: I switched from 32 ounces of coffee to a 16-ounce cup of coffee in the morning, and a 16-ounce of rank, fetid green tea around mid-morning. It was not nearly as bad as the 36 hours I spent caffeine-free in Coralville, during which time I suffered from chronic, violent migraines and rarely could pull myself off the full-body vibrating massager on the extremely comfortable couch. However, I did suffer from occasional, mild headaches every few afternoons. Those stopped by the end of the first week, and this last week has been just fine.

On Monday, I take it to the next level: no coffee, just 32 ounces of putrid green tea every day for another two weeks. My theory is that nothing will convince me to quit caffeine more quickly than having to consume that much green tea on a daily basis. At the end of this two weeks, I will take it to the second-to-last step: two weeks of green tea in the morning, followed by a delicious mint tea I used to peddle while working in Seattle. Two weeks later, I go to mint tea full-time, and, theoretically, I should be completely free of caffeine.

I love coffee, I love tea (I love the java jive and it loves me—that’s right, I know you all missed my trademark references to the 1940s jazz-pop catalog!), but I’m getting a little tired of the heartburn keeping me up at night and leading to generally unrestful sleep in the unlikely event that I actually can fall asleep. I’ve changed my diet in a variety of ways over the past year, and that helped slightly, but the coffee-and-green-tea switch produced a night-and-day difference within a few days. So it’s either consume so much caffeine that I never sleep at all, or cut it out altogether. I’ve made my choice.

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Utility Player

Motorola emphasizes team-building in all of its many departments, and what’s a team without a good utility player, the guy who doesn’t (necessarily) excel at any single task or skill, but he’s competent, even proficient, in many different areas. The utility player, if properly utilized (see that pun? I’ll bet you all missed those), fills gaps in the roster and creates a well-rounded, undoubtedly successful team.

By default, because I’m the New Guy with No Seniority, I’ve become the “utility player” of the office. And let me tell you, it kind of sucks.

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Mall Walker

Since I’ve started this job, I’ve gone for a long walk every day during my lunch three-hours. The campus is fairly huge, and it’s full of manufactured hills and shit, so I’ve done a few laps around my building and its parking lot, walking in the grass for maximum uphill-downhill workouts. A week or two ago it snowed, but the ground wasn’t cold so most of it melted by the time I got out there. A few weeks ago it was fairly cold and very windy, so I barely made it around once. Otherwise, I’ve had no problems. Until today.

Today it was cold. According to the thermometer in my car, it was 1° at noon. It snowed a bit on Saturday, so nothing has melted. One of my coworkers—who also walks around during her lunch—approached me today to discuss the weather situation. I told her I probably wouldn’t be able to walk; it’s just too cold. She agreed, then said, “Well, you could always go walk around the mall.”

That…actually wasn’t such a terrible idea. I contemplated it for a little while: am I really ready to take the plunge reserved only for retirees and confused shoppers? Would this be humiliating, or not too much because there would be so many people in the mall at that time of day? Although, with all those damn shoppers, will I actually be able to walk at a quick enough pace to get any real exercise? Maybe I should go someplace that’s also large, and indoors, but not quite so crowded. There’s a Target up the street that I run to sometimes on my lunch hour, and it’s virtually deserted. And pretty huge. If I went down there and walked around like an idiot, chances are nobody would notice that I was making a continuous loop around the main perimeter.

I kept thinking about this, even as I made the drive to Target. I started thinking about the possible humiliation of an employee noticing and calling me out. “Can I help you find something? No? THEN STOP WALKING AROUND IN A CIRCLE.” Not that this would ever happen, necessarily, but in my mind the possibility of public humiliation is far more terrifying than the inevitable actual humiliation (which occurs, roughly, seven times a day).

I got out of my car, and it seemed relatively wind-free, and, despite being 1°, it didn’t feel very cold. So, I decided, fuck going inside. I’ll just walk around the creepy semi-gated community behind the store and hope that nobody in one of the giant houses thinks I’m a hobo and calls the cops.

But the walk was pretty much uneventful, and the neighborhood was deserted. Unlike my neighborhood, which is teeming all day long with the varied activities of the chronically unemployable, the people in these gargantuan homes clearly had jobs.

And yet, the walk was nice and peaceful. Nobody driving like assholes through a nonexistent corporate parking lot; nobody else walking around and giving me funny looks because they’re walkiing to another building and I’m walking in a huge circle; no fight-or-flight instincts whenever I see a security truck drive by and instinctively assume they’re coming to chase me down for being some sort of Interloper. And no questions and strange looks when I come back from lunch red-faced and sweaty.

I doubt I will ever set foot in the mall to walk, but…I may make this strange neighborhood my permanent walk location.

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