Friday, February 29, 2008

My New Co-Workers.

Sarah is stupid. And I don't know if I would feel comfortable saying that if she weren't also bitchy, negative, and openly racist. But she is all of those things, so I am. The other day at work a customer needed something loaded into her car. This is Sarah's job, although she really, really doesn't want it to be- so when she was paged to the loading area she did not respond. The cashier asked me to please go find somebody, because the cashier cannot leave her station. I finally found Sarah in the very back of the outdoor area, with her back turned to me, hiding behind a stack of cardboard. She was texting somebody on her cell phone. And when I walked up and told her she was needed, she didn't bother to stop, or even to look up at me. Man am I glad I am not an employee of the Big Stupid Box Store. If I were, I would be bitter about having to do her job because she doesn't seem to do much of anything. But I'm not, so I just walked away.

Elizabeth is fantastic. She knows everything there is to know about plants. I am doing my best to soak up as much of her knowledge as possible. She is also very pretty. She has hair that is a natural red shade that those of us with dishwater blonde hair would kill for. She also has a lot of stalkers. Weird old men come in looking for her all the time. They ask her a thousand questions and never buy a thing. Needless to say she doesn't like it. I came up with a stalker-avoidance plan for her yesterday: When I spot one, I will wait for them to ask for her, then page her over the store's system. When she responds, I will pretend it is somebody else.
"Hey Dana. Do you know where Emily is?" I will say to her, ever so slyly. She will then know that there is a scary old man seeking her attention out in the garden section, and hide in the break room.

"What? Oh- do you know when she works again?" I will then say to no one, because Elizabeth will have hung up and made a run for it. "Okay, thanks."

I will then turn to the stalker and apologize for my lack of information, and then follow him until he leaves. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


You know how sometimes you take a few pictures, then put away your camera, then take it out a couple weeks later for a few more shots, rinse, repeat, and soon you have a whole bunch of unrelated photos jamming up your memory card?
Yeah, well, here they are. I often take pics with the intention of blogging them later. Here is a collection of those:

This is a shot of the elusive Giant Beaver of AGOI Pond. If only I had taken a moving picture, I believe this would bear an even greater resemblance to the now famous "Guy in a Furry Suit" Bigfoot film.

Above, and action shot, and below, the finished product. These are the kolackys that the b.h. and I made- what was that, like a month ago? Yeah. So I am a bit behind.

I took this while I was waiting at the car repair shop. Yes, that is Carl WIlson's fabulous book I am reading. Thanks to Jamie and the s.o. for letting me borrow it. For those of you keeping track (come on, you know you love memorizing what I'm reading) that's about seven books I've got going right now. This one just happens to be the most convenient for travel. I recommend it highly.

As it turns out, the rest of the pics I just uploaded are not that great. maybe I will go take some more.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I'm Not Organized.

Okay, third post of the day. I know, whatever. But I just took this picture of Wyatt, who is at least part feline, because he jumped up on the couch while I was folding laundry and promptly snuggled right in:

Needless to say, I abandoned my folding duties and tucked in next to him for a nap.

The Call of the WIld.

I bought a new bird feeder a couple weeks ago. It is much larger than the last one, and it holds a lot more seed. Also, because of the way it is constructed, more birds can feed at the same time. The result is that the daily bird party has gotten much larger outside our window. There are at least two (and possibly three- I think they have a baby) woodpeckers. These are in addition to the red-headed, Woody Woodpecker guy that I often see on the other side of the house. No bluebirds yet, but I suppose they might be out of town for the season. We have the usual cardinals and mourning doves, and a whole lot of others I can't yet identify. I love watching them. I often find myself stopping whatever I'm doing *cough* internet porn *cough* to look at a bird identification web page. I think I will have to get a book.

Damn. Now I have another hobby.


Apparently this is the week where I get all that irony that's been lacking in my diet. Last night, some asshole who had done laps in patchouli before coming downtown was wearing a "No Bio-Terror Lab" sticker.
One of the bands that played brought a big box of individually wrapped candies and left it on their merch table, so I ate around eight or ten Bit-O-Honeys in addition to my usual couple of beers. At the end of the night I felt like my teeth were wearing individual sweaters. I have a weird thing about sweets. I am totally picky about chocolate. I never eat any generic,foil-wrapped, holiday-shaped anything. I don't really like Nestle chocolate at all, though Butterfinger remains one of the best things ever created, in my opinion. I like Hershey's just fine, although any more I don't care for milk chocolate at all. And I can take or leave (though I almost always leave) Dove and Cadbury. I am a huge fan of both Lindt and Green and Black's, even though they tend to be a bit pricey. I would rather have a very small amount of very good chocolate than a whole mountain of the cheap stuff.
It's the same with cakes, cookies and pastries. I am rarely tempted by grocery store sheet cake, boxed brownies or packaged and chemical laden cookies.
But man, when it comes to Willy Wonka and his ilk, I can't seem to get enough. Smarties, Sweet Tarts, candy necklaces, Wacky Wafers, Laffy Taffy- you name it, I'll eat it. And last night I ate every Bit-O-Honey in that box. The other bartender, my good friend J, had also raided the box. At the end of the night, while we were breaking down the bar, he was walking toward me when he stumbled a little and stopped, looking like he might fall over.

"Are you okay?" I asked him. I knew he couldn't possible be drunk.

"I think I'm crashing from all that sugar."

Man, how do we survive this rock and roll lifestyle?

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Last night a woman with a mullet asked me if I "let them cut (my) hair that way on purpose."

A.J., three guesses where I was, and the first two don't count.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Weird Shit that Customers Do: Retail.

1. A young woman approaches me, asking where to find bird houses. Though I do not work for the Big Stupid Box Store, and I am not required to help customers, it is not (yet) in my nature to be unhelpful. I show her where the birdhouses are and go back to what I was doing. Minutes later, she approaches me and asks,

"Will you walk me to the parking lot so I can show her and see which one she wants?"

Um, no. I can't, and I wouldn't even if I could.

I decline and smile apologetically, and she leaves.

2. A customer approached one of the cashiers today with a question about fencing. She told the man that she didn't know the answer to his question (it was a very broad question) and that she would be happy to get somebody from that department to help him. He started shouting at her that "They just told me to come out and ask you!! And now you're going to shove me off on somebody else!!"

She was remarkably calm, and kept repeating that she simply didn't know the answer but that if he waited right here for just a minute some one would be out to.

"Blah blah blah!! Get off my lawn!! I'm old and scary!!" he shouted. At least that's what it sounded like. And he stormed out.

I am so new to this that i still find it mildly amusing. I'm sure that won't last.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SON OF A !!!!!!

So I got to my Incredibly Corporate Plant Nursery Job today at around 10:15. It was forty-five degrees and very, very windy.
My buddy L was already there. She was watering outside, and she did not look happy.

A quick explanation: My job is inside a Big Stupid Box Store, but I do not work for the Big Stupid Box Store. I work for the Incredibly Corporate Nursery that supplies the Big Stupid Box Store. So I don't answer to the folks at the Big Stupid Box Store, per se. But I do try to be helpful. Especially since my buddy L is working for them, and I took over her job, and she is very, very helpful to me (and I am very, very grateful to her. Plus she's super cool.)

Okay, so the deal is, Middle Management Jim, the very lazy guy who works above L at the Big Stupid Box Store, is in a bit of a panic, because apparently there is an impending visit from a Big Corporate Cheese, and he wants everything in his department to look perfect. In his mind, this meant watering. Even though we are in the middle of a drought, and it rained cats and fucking dogs the night before last, and even though I had already watered the plants that don't get rain just yesterday, and even though L had gone to the trouble to check all of the trees and shrubs in the area that had gotten so much rain thirty six hours prior, and found that they were, in fact, quite damp (well no shit), Middle Management Jim wanted the area to look "just watered." I suspect that Middle Management Jim is the kind of guy who got to middle management by timing his cigarette breaks just so, thereby avoiding any heavy lifting but getting back in time to be seen "finishing up" when the Big Guys get there. Ah, Corporate America.

Something that I have yet to mention previously (So little time! So little blogging!) is that despite having every possible tool available to us, not to mention at least one person on staff at the Big Stupid Box Store who can fix virtually anything, virtually every single hose and connector that we use in the nursery leaks. Horribly. Even the big watering can on wheels (affectionately known as "the egg") that we use indoors. The result is that whatever or wherever you are watering, water leaks down your arm, all over your pants, and most definitely onto and into your shoes.

The first day I met Middle Management Jim, I mentioned that I thought it was sending a bad message when we asked customers not to flush their toilets because of the drought and they could plainly see me leaking water all over the floor in the middle of the store. He kind of laughed and moved on to whatever he was doing, which I would assume (having worked there a full six days now) was either taking a smoke break or telling somebody else to do something that he should be doing himself.

So today, as I headed to the back of the outdoor nursery and plugged in the hose nearest the trees and shrubs, I was completely unsurprised to find that the fitting was leaking like mad when I turned it on. I stood there cursing loudly, the water spraying both my face and my shoes, and tightened everything I could find to tighten around the fitting, to no avail. Finally, I stacked several plastic containers of fertilizer on the table in front of the hose, blocking the spray so as to avoid soaking any customers, and went on about watering. After about twenty minutes, another employee of Big Stupid Box Store walked out several paces in front of Middle Management Jim, and remarked

"Wow. look at all that water being wasted!"

I smirked at him and answered, "Welcome to the home improvement store!"

MMJ arrived just then, made an exasperated sound, and immediately shut off the water. He began unscrewing the hose and examining the inside of the fitting. The other guy asked me where it was leaking.
"Is it the brass fitting or the plastic thing?"

"The fitting is fine. The leak is coming from under the plastic thing. And I already tried to tighten all of it, so don't bother." I was saying this for the benefit of MMJ, who ignored me and continued to do exactly what I had already done. He turned the water back on, this time with his face very near the hose. The result was exactly what you would expect, and MMJ cussed under his breath as he shut the water off, removed his glasses, and tried to dry them.

"Do you need this thing now? Or can you do something else while I fix it?" asked MMJ, acknowledging me for the first time.

"Well, I already watered all the back tables. You're the one on the schedule, so you tell me. How quickly do you need all of this done?"

I went off to do my actual job, which is not pointless and which I actually mostly enjoy. MMJ walked past me about fifteen minutes later.
"Incidentally," I said, as casually as I could, "I need to water inside today, and The Egg leaks very badly. I don't know how much you care, or when the Big Cheese is supposed to land, but if they walk through and I'm standing there in a huge puddle of water it probably won't look good."

"That's leaking too?" MMJ said, as if hearing this news for the first time.
"Well, I'll have to see if I can get this other one fixed first. It might not be today."

I never did get the go ahead to finish the unnecessary watering, but I did manage to water inside (water wasted: about five gallons) and do the rest of my job.

I also went to the accountant today. Doing my taxes used to be right in line behind going to the dentist on my Things I like To Do In My Spare Time list, but my accountant is hilarious. Just hearing him talk is worth the price of admission, but since he also leads me through the seven circles of IRS hell with nary a scratch (mental, anyway- the financial scars never quite heal) I consider it quite a bargain. The short of it is that we owe the State of Georgia several hundred dollars. Fuuuuuck. Luckily we have until April fifteenth to find that money somewhere.

I left the accountant and went back to work for an hour and a half. No sign of MMJ or any Big Cheeses. Sweet. I passed the rest of my day peacefully, then clocked out and went to pick up the b.h. from his New Day Job (not an actual "day job", but rather a service industry job that takes place in the a.m.).

We went downtown. He was going to band practice, and when he tried to call one of his band mates on the cell phone, he realized that the memory had been erased. All. Of our. Collective. Phone numbers. Gone. Fuuuuuck.

We stopped at the cell phone store. They were not terribly helpful. I dropped the b.h. off at a bar to meet his band mates. I rushed home to see if I had a paycheck. I did. Sweet. I ran down the road to the liquor store (never let it be said that my priorities are not in order), got a six pack of Dale's Pale Ale (my new favorite- it's in a can!! Holy good beer in a recyclable container Batman!!) at the Five Points Bottle Shop, ducked over to my bank to deposit said check, and stopped for gas (the second time in two days. Fuuuuuck.)

At the gas station, I got out of the car, donning my very warm hat and bracing myself against the wind. A guy got out of his car and said very loudly and very cheerily
"Hey girl!! I like that hat!! You're rockin! You look like a bunny rabbit!!"

He was large and bemulleted, wearing Rustler Jeans and very puffy, very white gym shoes. His mustache was nothing short of remarkable.
I thanked him and smiled and pulled my hat lower while I jammed my bank card into the gas pump. It wouldn't work. see cashier for assistance.

I looked up at the store. It was busy. The weird guy was in line, talking animatedly with everyone around him. I did not have enough gas to get to the next gas station. I pondered whether I cared.

Eventually I went in. The weird guy leapt over two other customers in order to open the door for me. He greeted me again. He remarked on my hat again, though exactly what he said now escapes me. He went outside while I was paying. As I left the store, he was engaged in yet another very animated conversation with yet another defenseless stranger. I opened the door for myself, and he commenced to cussing the other guy out for getting in the way while he was trying to open it for me. I went to my car. I pumped my gas. The weird guy came up to me and said that we could be twins, on account of our cars were both the same color, even though his had a spoiler. I nodded and smiled weakly at him. The gas continued to pump into my car at a glacial pace. I was silently thankful that I could not afford a full tank today.

"Are you married?"

"Yes sir!" I answered, thanking the gods yet again for the b.h.

"Aw okay, I don't mean any harm Here's my card, in case you know anybody needs a website or anything. I build computer systems, websites, do repair- basically anything you can do with a computer."

"Cool. Thanks!" I reached out and took from him a small, poorly copied, unevenly cut square of copy paper, with an unidentifiable logo in the corner and a list of services that the company provides. And then handwritten (obviously he forgot this part before he set the font, and why ever would that matter?) on the top was the name of the company.
I got in the car and carefully put it in the notebook I keep in my back pocket for just such an occasion. Sometimes weird people really make my day.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Degrees, Outside. Right now.
The weather has been unbelievably mild, which means we are sure to get smacked by an ice storm any time now. But for today, I will revel in my good fortune. After I put another load of laundry in, I'm heading back out to the garden. I promise I will catch up soon.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Scooter, Day Two.

Tuesday morning I got to "sleep in" until nine. I had to report to the store on the other side of town, so the drive was about fifteen or twenty minutes. I knew my friend L was going to be there - it is her that I am replacing at this job.
When I got there, L was nowhere to be found, but Scooter was already hard at work, and the faces of the other people in my department told me that he was in the same mode that he had been on Monday.
I will skip the gory details, but know that Tuesday was more of the same from Monday- with less cinder blocks and more stupid metal effing displays. Thing is, my job is "roots only"- if it doesn't grow, i don't touch it. But we did what needed to be done. In fact, because Scooter is so disorganized and scattered, I did and re-did the same very annoying tasks several times.
But a the end of the day, the clouds parted and L emerged for a room where she was training, looking almost as shell-shocked as me, and assured me that all would be well.
"I've never seen that guy before" she said of Scooter, "but if I had I doubt very seriously I'd be standing here right now."
My other new co-worker E chimed in "We're pretty laid back here. We'll be doing a lot of work, but not like that." She looked over my shoulder at the whirling dervish that is Scooter, and shuddered. "Don't worry. You'll be okay."
And after that, I was. I suffered through my last hour of work, being as polite as possible to Scooter while almost completely ignoring him. And when I got to work on Friday, I felt total relief. It's hard work, and I am certain to have some problems, but so far so good. Holy crap I think I like my job.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On Clean Underwear.

My father's older brother Ted had a massive stroke in 1980. I remember very little about that time except that many people at the hospital did not expect him to survive and our (very large) family rallied around and, when all was said and done he was in a wheel chair, half-paralyzed but as big a smart-ass as ever.

My family has a somewhat odd sense of humor. I never knew my dad's father, but my grandmother lived until I was twelve, and my strongest memories of her involve cigarettes and cuss words, and the kind of threats that would bring DFACS running if you were to make them publicly now. It's not that we're a particularly violent people, mind you. We simply enjoy a colorful vernacular.

Uncle Ted has had a very rough several months, and after being in and out of the hospital several times, he entered hospice care a short time ago. Last week my dad told me things were pretty dire, and it seemed that his death was imminent. His wife and children were with him round the clock, and when people would come to visit my aunt would tell my uncle (who had lost consciousness days ago) who had come, and encouraged everyone to address him directly, since he seemed responsive to voices even though he didn't wake up.

Two days ago, my aunt was going to run home for a bit. She told my cousins that she would be back very soon, and then leaned over my uncle's bed.

"Ted, I have been wearing the same underwear for three days. I have got to go home and take a shower."

She said (and is very happy to have had my two cousins there to confirm this, or she would have thought she'd gone crazy) that my uncle's eyes fluttered, and his mouth moved just a little.

He mouthed the words "Me too" and breathed his final breath.

I only hope that I go out with a wise crack. Nothing else would seem appropriate.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Scooter, Day One.

When I got hired at the new Plant Nursery Job, I was asked if I had any problem answering to somebody who was quite a bit younger than I am. I said I wasn't.
Peggy Plants said that was great, because the guy who would be training me was very young, but very good at his job.
"I just love him," she said enthusiastically. "He's one of my best employees."
"Great- no problem," I said.
"Now keep in mind that I don't expect you to actually keep up with Scooter. He's like a rocket. He's always like go go go- a mile a minute. I'm just having him train you because he knows his way around both stores. I don't expect you to be able to maintain that pace."

I got up at 8:30 in the morning on Monday, which was quite a feat since I usually go to bed between five and six and I hadn't seen eight in longer than I can remember. The coffee maker had failed to go off even though the b.h. had set it so that in theory there would be coffee waiting for me when I dragged myself downstairs, and since I had hit the snooze button I didn't have time to wait for a whole pot to brew. Instead I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and ran out the door.
It was about forty five degrees outside. I had a five minute drive to work (no, I can't walk. There are no sidewalks between here and there, and not enough shoulder to protect me from the trucks and SUVs on the highway). I got there early and walked in to the department where Scooter should have been. He wasn't there. The girl who was there had her makeup done in a style that suggested her trailer must have been very dark when she woke up. She did not know where Scooter was. I walked around to several different departments, and though everyone had seen Scooter already, nobody seemed to know where he was. I could not clock in to the computer (yes, I actually clock in now) because I didn't know how. I finally sat down near the computer and waited. Scooter came back at 9:07. I know this because that is the exact moment when I clocked in (See how that works? Minute by minute. Ah yes, corporate life again).

Scooter was, in fact, as spastic as I expected. He talked a mile a minute in a loud and yet mumbly way, mostly with his back to me, so that I caught only half of what he said. Immediately after I clocked in, he took me over to the indoor green house.
"the first thing you need to do is just come through here and see what's out of place. See this right here?" he asked, pulling a six pack of spinach from a shelf full of cacti. "Obviously this doesn't belong here. These go outside." He placed the spinach on the floor in the aisle and continued. He wound up pulling several small plants as well as a couple of decorated pots, a hanging basket, and a pair of garden shears. Each of these things was placed on the floor in the aisle in front of the shelf he had pulled them from.
"Is there a specific place where we put stuff that is out of place, or do we just go put it back where it belongs?"
"We'll get to that," he said, and walked away, leaving all of the items on the floor in the aisle.

Next was outside. He told me without much of an explanation that we were going to move "these roses onto that table" and then started moving them. I followed suit, and then a cashier asked him to go get something for her from the break room. When he got back, I was mostly finished, but then had to move a lot of them around because he hadn't really explained that there was a particular method. This was the theme for much of the day.

The heavy lifting started with metal signs and display racks, many of which were rusty and rather forlorn looking. When we tried to fit the top piece onto the bottom piece by way of a particularly dodgy pole, I mentioned that it looked rusty and that perhaps a bit of WD-4o would help.

"Nah, that'd take too long."

He walked off and came back several minutes later with a sledge hammer, with which he proceeded to pound the ever living hell out of the metal. A lovely sound, I assure you. I only wish I could be there at the end of the season when he has to take that thing apart.
I was not told anything about breaks until he decided he needed a cigarette. Then he told me to take "twenty minutes or so" and disappeared. I called the b.h. and tried to laugh off my general frustration.
When Scooter returned ten minutes later, he decided we were going to build another display rack for the plants. This involved me following him around while he measured and remeasured the distance between two other display tables, then placing cinder blocks on the ground at regular intervals. Or rather, he measured and I placed the cinder blocks. Then after I had stacked one row of them several high he mentioned that they should be uniform, pointing to the different patterns on one side of the row I had made.
" 'Should be' doesn't mean the same as 'have to be', right?" I said. I wasn't asking.

"Well, no. It's not really that big a deal. That's just how they like it."

When I ran out of cinder blocks, he asked a guy in another department to bring us more. We went onto another task.

"Should we move these pallets out of the way?", I asked as we went back into the greenhouse, gesturing at the empty pallets that were laying in the middle of the aisle, where an unwary customer might-

"Nah, we'll get to those later. We're just gonna be using more."

We wasted a few more minutes setting a cactus display. Then we went back outside to find two full pallets of cinder blocks, about five feet tall, waiting. Again I did most of the lifting while Scooter did most of the measuring. And again I had to stack and re-stack the blocks when Scooter had fouled up the measurement. At this point I was checking the time every seven or eight minutes.
Finally, we finished the table.

"Now that's how a display table should look," Scooter said proudly, surveying the fruits of my labor.

"Okay, what's next? Are we going to use that other pallet of cinder blocks?"

"Nah, we'll get to those later. Technically, this isn't even our job."

Long Pause.

New (2nd) Job
+ no sleep=
Many stories and no energy to share.
Must. Get. Beer... and nap.