Monday, March 15, 2010

Time flies when you are scanning your ass off.

This morning I finally got to do the CBLs for cashier. It took about 3 hours and then I was back on the registers. It was so busy from 3 to 6:30 that I never got my break. The Customer Service Managers (CSMs) are responsible for making sure everyone is covered for lunches, dinners and breaks and they just forgot me. It was fine because it was so busy I would never have been able to close my register to go anyway. I took my break at 6:30 and then clocked out at 7.

As I stated previously, this job is just not stressful. I guess if I had never handled money before that might be a stress point but I did in my teens and twenties and it's not as if you forget how to add or anything. You can't let the lines get to you, you just keep scanning, bagging and taking payment while smiling and greeting.

I was off the entire weekend and that was nice. My schedule is going to be Saturday through Tuesday from 11-8 (some days are from 12-9). Ed is bummed that I work every weekend but I do have Wednesday through Friday off every week and he gets Friday off every other week so we have that, anyway. I asked for this coming Saturday off for the Air Show! I am so excited to see all the jets. Love my jets!

On a sad note, I have a sister who is an alcoholic and she has started drinking again. She doesn't live in Tucson so I cannot do anything to help her. I can't honestly say that I would help if she were here because my tolerance for alcoholism is pretty much zero. My mother was an alcoholic and I do not react well to drunkenness unless I am drinking as well and I haven't been drinking much in the last year and a half or so.

What's interesting about all this is that I just had a revelation last week about my drinking. I have always considered myself an undiagnosed/undeclared alcoholic. I go years without drinking and then start drinking regularly and then quit again. But if I were to actually give myself the diagnostic test for alcoholism I would not be considered one. And the revelation is that I really am not. Alcohol has never interfered with my work, my personal life, or in any way, really. I don't really crave alcohol but I will say that when I do start drinking in a given night that I don't like to stop. That's what always made me believe that I was an alcoholic. So I guess I may have tendencies? Doesn't matter too much, really. The last time I drank was a couple of weekends ago when we had a friend over. I drank 3 beers.

I was discussing this with my younger sister who doesn't drink at all. What I told her is that on a day to day basis I want to be able to concentrate on reading so prefer not being drunk every day. So maybe I am just a bookaholic. I do still have a really hard time getting to sleep, though, so sometimes I wish I could have a drink just to get myself to sleep. I don't do it because I figure that's a really fast way to build a tolerance. I hate not being able to sleep.

This job is nice for the staying up late because I don't have to be ready to leave the house until 8:45 and I never sleep past 7 so I have all the time at night that I need to get sleepy. Of course, Ed falls asleep by 8 at the latest so we don't see much of each other in the evening...still, we work it out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cashier apprenticeship

I seriously like being a cashier.

Most of my family have been or are in a service industry and all of my employment has been service related. There are known sociological and psychological reasons for this so I won't go into the "why" of that.

Most of my adult employment (so not speaking of carhop and waitress years) has been in health care which happens to be one of those fields in which the odds of having a happy outcome and/or happy interaction with your patient/customer are low. That means that though the work can be fulfilling, as often as not the care provider will go home after a day's work feeling drained or depressed.

If, as I chose to do the last 10 years, you decide to take a step back and give service to the caregivers instead of being in direct patient care you probably won't have to deal with as many bad outcomes. That doesn't mean, though, that you are completely buffered from their pain and anxiety. Because of the complexity of the laboratory software that I supported, there were often times that I was unable to help with the problem either because of a defect in the software itself or because the need wasn't specifically addressed by the software as it was written. That meant that those ten years were still filled with angst and a referred pain (certainly felt when the client's frustrations with the limitations of the software became verbal abuse of the messenger/me).

So cashier world is so stress free in relation to what I have been doing for 30 years that I can only describe myself as chipper as I go through my day. Not that the job is easy; I am quite surprised by the complexity of the job, but it doesn't stress me at all. Once I become proficient at it I imagine the stress will be even less.

The only annoyance I have is that what I have learned so far is purely OJT (On the Job Training). There are CBLs (Computer Based Learning modules) for the position but the system hasn't yet acknowledged my job change so they are not yet available to me. They include training on the cash register, how to bag groceries, and other basics that would be really, really helpful. Especially I would like to get the training on bagging. I try to use common sense while bagging but, as everyone who knows me well would attest, I really like manuals and that includes manuals on how to do my job.

Physically the job is much easier than produce but I still am sore after standing for 8 hours a day and my low back wants to whine a bit. The store does have those floor mats that are designed to lessen the problem of standing for so long and I will probably start doing so abdominal strengthening to address by low back issues but otherwise I think there isn't much to be done. I think the most physically fit would still feel leg pain if they stood for 8 hours a day.

Tucson Festival of Books this weekend; Ed and I will be going tomorrow. And next Saturday is the Air Show!!!! I specifically asked for 3/20 off to go to it and we are actually buying VIP tickets for it. The tickets give you access to a covered area in which there is comfortable seating and refreshments. That means that we can walk around looking at all the static displays and not have to worry about finding a shaded spot, renting chairs, and then staying put until the show begins. As anyone who has ever been to an Air Show can attest, shade is at a premium on a flight line.

My oldest son, who is in the Army, and my daughter-in-law are still expecting my first grand-baby and are in the process of moving to Alaska. My daughter is going to finish her undergrad this semester and is in the process of applying for grad school while continuing to live with and love her poetry man. The twins are continuing as they have been; one in the Navy going to school to become a Fire Controlman (which has nothing to do with fire and everything to do with weapon systems) and the other working at Walmart and submitting his FAFSA to facilitate his college-boundness.

Ed's kids are also continuing as they have been; the oldest in Afghanistan with the Army, the middle son working on joining the Navy as an aviator, and the youngest in college while working part time as a photographer. So all is really right with our worlds (except for wishing that our troop was already home from Afghanistan). I will continue to update as I have information.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Change is good.

Last I wrote it was about how hard the work is. This weekend I realized that I am not physically up to doing it and I called the assistant manager to let him know...essentially I quit. I felt badly about it but really couldn't see a positive outcome from the heavy lifting.

I, along with some of my siblings, have badness in my back. I have multiple herniated disks in both my cervical and lumbar spine. Most days my pain level is at about a 2 or a 3 and I do not intend to have surgery for what is mostly just irritating pain. The herniations in my neck are the worst and my neck pain tends to give me more trouble than my low back but that doesn't mean that my low back is pain free; just that it is more constant and lower level.

I don't know why I thought I could successfully do the lifting that working in produce entails and it isn't as if I wasn't warned. I guess I thought it would be a little bit of the work when in reality it's the bulk of it. And my low back was definitely letting me know there was a problem with that. So I called in quit and though that was the end of it.

I received a call this morning from the personnel manager asking me if I was willing to continue working in a different position that doesn't require heavy lifting. I agreed to becoming a cashier and will be training for the next 3 days. There is still a little bit of lifting but nothing like in produce.

It never entered my mind that Walmart would invite me to continue working there after giving no notice and I was really impressed that they were willing to find a different position for me. The managers made it clear that they like me and want me to continue working there. That was very nice and really unexpected.

I will write about working as a cashier once I do that. Melissa did this job at K-Mart before she joined the Air Force and I know she hated it. We will have to see if I feel the same way.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

OMG this is back-breaking work

Tuesday, 3/2/2010: I am sore all over from working 2 shifts. Part of the problem is that I agreed to work two shifts almost back-to-back so that I could learn from the most experienced guy in the department. I worked 1-10 PM Sunday night and then turned around and came in at 5 AM Monday morning. Because I have such a hard time getting to sleep and require such a long wake-up routine in the morning that means I got approximately 3 and half hours of sleep between shifts.

The rest of my pain comes from sitting on the couch for five months and then doing a job that requires much lifting, pushing, pulling, walking, stooping, and more lifting. The job description that I signed says lifting up to 50 pounds. I don't believe anything I lifted was greater than 50 pounds but that certainly allows for some heavy shit.

And may I say that people buy way too many bananas? Keeping bananas stocked is going to be my downfall. Cases and cases of bananas...and more cases. The banana spot is the closest to the "back room" where all is stored. Whether this is by design I don't know but I am seriously grateful. On Sunday I stocked 10-12 cases of bananas and yet as I walked out the door at 10 the cases looked half empty. Good Christ stop buying all the fucking bananas!

Wednesday, 3/3/2010: Don't really have anything more to say about the job. I can only say that it amazes me that people do this for this kind of money. It makes me very sure that I will get moving on getting my fingerprinting done for my substitute teaching certificate. I don't know why I have been putting it off because I have wanted to substitute since I got back to Tucson. Just need to do it.

On a positive note, the physical demands of this job are good for me. If I can protect my lower back then the rest of the work will just be good for me. Right now I have to honestly say that I do not want to go back to work tomorrow.