Tag Archive: overtime


…get out of The Woods.

But let’s back up. A few weeks ago Jimmy, the boyfriend of my neighbor Angela, sold me a window unit air conditioner that belonged to his recently deceased mother. I put it in my bedroom window and have been sleeping better than I have in years.

This is the third summer I’ve lived in this apartment complex. It was built in the 1950’s, presumably by workers on loan from the local chapter of the Special Olympics. On the ground floor there is a single unit that has heat and A/C, similar to what you see in hotel rooms, but older and less efficient. The bedrooms are upstairs, with no A/C, and windows that slide horizontally rather than lift up. Of course hot air rises, so the ground level unit doesn’t do jack shit for the bedrooms, and putting anything in the window requires a solid understanding of architectural physics. Essentially, I placed the window unit on the window sill, one bracket pushed up against the wall and the other against the sliding window. I slid a piece of plexiglass into the window frame to weigh down upon the unit. I then filled in the cracks with foam insulation tape and covered almost everything in duct tape for extra security. Fun times.

The first summer I lived in this complex was bad, but mostly bearable. Last summer had several days that topped 100 degrees, with nights when it was still in the 80’s until dawn. I got physically sick on numerous occasions, getting headaches, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. It was then that I hatched the plexiglass idea, and I was determined that this year things would change. And it’s been great – like I said, I’ve been sleeping like a baby and things seem wonderful. Or they did, until the other day.

I got a letter in the mail from my landlord saying that window units were not allowed. Friday morning I called up to the office with the intention of telling them how secure it was, and how I didn’t have to drill any holes or do any modifications, so therefore didn’t violate anything in the lease. Evidently none of this matters as much as how a unit looks hanging from the window. To quote the property manager, “If everyone had window units hanging out this place would look like the hood.” Nevermind the fact that it is the hood. I offered to pay a fee, but they still wouldn’t budge. I told them how last year I was physically sick from the heat, but he assured me that since there are 190 units and only two have installed air conditioners, there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to cope with the heat like everyone else. He said that one option some people choose is a portable A/C, but those typically cost around $300, still require feeding a tube out the window, and don’t cool nearly as well. When I brought up those objections, he had the audacity to suggest I should start looking for a new place. Three years as a tenant in good standing, always paying my rent on time and never causing any problems, and that was as close as he would come to a compromise. So I told him I would find a new place, but I planned on leaving the unit in the window until I move out. He said that if that was my choice, then they would send a notice and I would have seven days from then before they began the eviction process.

This long phone call ended up making me late for work, but it didn’t matter. When I got there I was still so worked up I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I told my manager what had happened and asked if I could just take the day off to calm down and look for a new place. I came home and hit up Craigslist and started searching. I ended up going to a rental office downtown and applying for a trailer in Woodfin, so in 3-5 days I should find out if I’m approved or not. Then I went by the complex I nearly moved into before this one to see if they had any open apartments. There was a note on the door saying the office manager would be gone until Tuesday. Then I went to my bank to see if I qualify for a personal loan, so I won’t have to do a cash advance on my credit card to pay for a new place and a security deposit. I’ll most likely find that much out on Monday, which will determine what I’ll do next.

My roommate was pretty pissed when I told him all of this. Not that I really care about his feelings anymore. He constantly uses and consumes everything of mine without asking, and he is quite possibly the most disgusting person I’ve ever lived with from a personal hygiene standpoint. But he is a pretty nice guy, so I’ve done my best to tolerate his shit and convince myself that the problem isn’t him, but my own OCD. So I told him I would pay for this coming month’s rent to help him out and not leave him in a bad place on such short notice. Tomorrow morning I’ll go down to the office and give them a check dated for Friday, which is when I get paid. I’ll find out the absolute last day I can keep my A/C before they start to evict me, and take it down at the last minute. Hopefully by then I will know where I’m living next, maybe even have the keys to a new place so I can sleep in a cold bedroom there instead of sweating it out here. After work and on my only day off I’ll do a bunch of packing and moving, and if I need to a friend has agreed to let me store some non-essential stuff at her place.

Also tomorrow morning before work I will call a few other places that weren’t open on Friday. There’s a string of “affordable housing” complexes in town, most run by the same rental agency, which is only open four days a week. The main ones I’m interested in are the apartments I mentioned before that I almost moved into, and a complex they just built in the River Arts District. The place I almost moved into had a waiting list, and by the time a unit came open I had just signed a lease at my current place. Hopefully they have something open right away this time, because it would be pretty much perfect. They have two bedroom units starting at $345 (only $70 more than what I’m currently paying) and the complex is really nice. It’s also right off the highway, so it might even be more convenient than my current location. The complex in the River Arts District is around the same price for a one bedroom, but a two bedroom is about $50 more. And then there’s the place I applied to Friday. It’s a trailer park, which isn’t ideal, but the location is good. The price is a little more, and a quick drive-by revealed that these are pretty old trailers. They couldn’t show me the inside because the tenants hadn’t moved out yet, but hopefully I’ll find a way to see it on my lunch break or something one day this week. As long as the inside looks okay I don’t really care about the outside, and if the other places have waiting lists this might be my only option.

I’m so sick of living with people, so that’s a distant last option. I replied to a Craigslist ad thinking it was for an apartment, but when I got there it became evident it was a room for rent. The guy seems pretty cool, but he’s older and the place smelled like smoke. He also has a big dog that doesn’t like new people. If that wasn’t enough, I just don’t think all of my stuff would fit in the available space. Today I attempted to go see a trailer out in Candler, not realizing just how far away it would be. I found the street but couldn’t find the trailer. The guy had said to call him if I had any trouble finding it, but I didn’t get any cell phone service from the second I turned onto the street until the second I decided to give up and turn back onto the main highway. I don’t like the idea of a half hour commute to anything, and not getting any service would make life inconvenient on so many levels.

After giving up and heading home, I decided to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart in Weaverville before doing my laundry. On my way home it began to pour, and all of a sudden my car wouldn’t get out of second gear. I put my hazard lights on and turned off the highway onto Merrimon and drove 30 miles an hour the whole way back home. I braved the rain and popped the hood, but didn’t see anything unusual at all. I waited a little while to see if the rain would stop, and eventually decided to just head to the laundromat. This time my car drove beautifully, so I have no idea what its problem was. This is the second time in two days my car has done something like that. Yesterday on the way to work my brakes squealed. Then they suddenly stopped and it braked normally. I attempted to take it to the shop just to get it looked at rather than take a chance, but they were too backed up to do anything because of all the people bringing their cars in before the 4th of July. So yeah. My car is weird. But I already knew that.

And that’s pretty much where I am now. I’m sitting in my cool, air-conditioned room (for now) not sure where I’ll be in a week’s time. I’ll still be working crazy hours at my shitty job, but I’ll probably be having to cut into them for a while so I can look at places and sign leases and all that good stuff. And hopefully I’ll have a car that will take me to all of those things without any hassle. If I have to bring my car to the shop, the only option is to bum a ride to and from work. By the time I get off work the last bus has already departed the station for Merrimon, and in the event I move into one of those places in Woodfin, the bus doesn’t go that far anyway. Maybe I’ll finally get a fat check from unemployment. Maybe I’ll get approved for that loan. Or maybe I’ll give up and decide that I’ve had enough of Asheville and its low wages, high rents, and hot summers. All I know is, I wish I could find this Murphy guy and teach him a few laws of my own…

 

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Disclaimer: No American in their right mind (aside from Miss Piggy) should ever refer to themselves as “moi.”

Yesterday made two weeks at my new job. So far I pretty much have all the same complaints that I mentioned in my last post. I put in slightly over 50 hours last week, which was pretty exhausting. But at least the paycheck will be nice. My feet have mostly gotten used to the hours, but this was my “long” week (only one day off) and no matter how you slice it that’s rough. My next day off will be Thursday, but I’ll have next Sunday off, so it won’t be quite as bad as last week.

On Tuesday I had an interview at an animal hospital. I think it went really well, fingers crossed. She said the next step would be to set up a “working interview” where I’d meet with some of the higher ranking people and then shadow an assistant for an hour or two and observe everything they’re doing. Evidently in the past they had a pretty high turnover – they’re an emergency animal hospital, and I guess a lot of people didn’t realize they’d be seeing dogs and cats that were hit by cars and had other life-threatening issues. So they decided to start doing these working interviews so people could see exactly what they were in for and weed out those who probably couldn’t handle it. I think I could. Especially if it gets me out of retail. They’re looking for mostly second shift, which is from 4pm to midnight – essentially perfect for my body clock. It would most likely start as part-time and transition into full-time. If that’s the case I can see if my current job would let me cut back to a few days a week so I can do both. If not then I’ll go with part-time and make it work until I either find a second job or transition into full-time hours. She said that someone would contact me in a few days to schedule my working interview, but as of today (Monday) no one had, so I called up there on my lunch break. I spoke with someone who said he would talk to her sometime today and they would call me back either tonight or tomorrow night. Nothing yet, so hopefully tomorrow night I’ll hear from them.

This past Thursday, in addition to being my day off, was my birthday. The big 3-5. Or as I like to refer to it, my “seventh annual 29th birthday.” Nothing too eventful happened. I did some grocery shopping; a card came in the mail from my parents; I watched a movie; I got birthday wishes on Facebook from people I haven’t had actual conversations with in 15+ years. Fun times.  When I returned to work on Friday I bought myself a little present – a purple Silvertone Strat copy that we had for $129. We get a 30% employee discount, and a part of me has missed having a guitar with a whammy bar, so I figured why not. I spent a big chunk of last week tuning all the guitars and seeing how they play, so even though this guitar was pretty cheap I had a good idea what I would be getting myself into. I really like it, even though I doubt I’ll use it that often. But after the past few months, I feel like I deserve a little treat.

In other news, I finally settled upon a concept for my piece(s) for the “Rock Show” at Zapow. I have a collection of oddly shaped frames that I’ve been waiting for just the perfect time to use, and I think this might be it. One large one will be a painting of a Marshall amp head. A small one will be a drawing of a humbucker pickup. And a small frame with three small openings will feature a “pedal board” consisting of three classic effects pedals. Basically, taking my recent technology theme and applying it to the technology used to make rock music. I figure everyone else will be doing portraits of rock stars and cartoons of head bangers and band logos and whatnot. I need something that will fit with my distinctive styles, and I think this works perfectly. Now all I need is time to work on it.

And that’s pretty much where we’re at right now. Time to wrap things up and force myself to sleep so I can be up before the sun tomorrow morning. Oh joy!

 

A Week Of Work

So I have now been employed by Alan’s Jewelry and Pawn for a week. I’m still training, but I’m not sure how long I’ll stick around. It has its good points and its bad points, much like any job. But the bad seem pretty overwhelming to me. I have a few major complaints…

1. The hours. I knew going in that it would be over 40 hours a week, and I don’t have a problem with that. What I do have a problem with is how those hours are arranged and what you can and can’t do during them. The shifts are enormous – typically from 8:30 in the morning until 7:00 or so at night. One week you work five days, the next week six. During those shifts you get two fifteen minute breaks and an hour lunch break. The only problem is there’s no break room, nor anywhere to sit at all except for the stairwell, and unless you’re on one of the above breaks, you’re not allowed to sit there. You’re also strongly encouraged to limit water and bathroom breaks to the absolute minimum.

With no break room, lunch becomes a wasted hour that ends up costing more money than it’s worth. No one wants to sit in a stairwell for an hour, and the summer heat makes sitting in your car unrealistic. That leaves going somewhere as the main option. Going home is cheaper than going out to eat, but either way I’m wasting gas. I’d much rather take another fifteen minute break and leave 45 minutes sooner, but that’s not an option. Also not an option: moving your days around, switching shifts with coworkers, or getting any time off around Christmas. So basically it’s 45-50 hours a week, spent on your feet, with very little water entering or leaving your body, and if you don’t like that there’s really nothing you can do about it.

2. Everyone who ranks above me tells me to do things in a different way. It’s pretty much impossible to know if you’re being trained correctly when the answers you get to your questions are completely different depending on who you ask.

3. I’ve barely been able to do what I was hired to do (sell musical instruments). I understand there are many departments and many different types of products and transactions, but it’s a bit frustrating when you take a job specifically to focus on something you like, only to spend more time learning other things. I’ve spent entirely too much time messing with guns and jewelry (our two biggest money-makers, neither of which interests me even a little). I’ve mostly gotten the hang of the pawn/sell process, bill pays are easy, check cashing isn’t too hard, and walking the sales floor is like every other retail job I’ve ever had. Why can’t I do those sorts of things when there’s no one in the music section and when I get someone asking about guns or jewelry or power tools or whatever else, find someone who knows about those things? There’s something to be said about workers who can cover all the bases and do a variety of tasks, but the Industrial Revolution was built on specialized labor.

4. The pawn business is crooked as hell. We base what we pay for things on what they sell for on eBay, giving about a third of what they go for in decent condition. Then we turn around and sell them at scarcely less than full retail. We pride ourselves on being a place where people can bargain, but we refuse to come down too low. Today there was a man who bought a $20,000 diamond who was also interested in an XBox 360. The store manager told me to treat him like the most important customer I’ve ever had. When I pulled out one of the 30 XBox’s on the shelf and he asked how low we could go on it, I assured him we would give him a great bargain. Then I asked the store manager how low we could go, and he told me to take 20% off the sticker. The “most important customer” who just spent $20,000 can only save about $15 on his video game system. Something seems a little off there. And we haven’t even gotten to the crazy interest rates on loans and the many fees for check cashing, bill pays, and using a credit card.

So yeah… those are my main complaints. I’m sure the money will be good (they still haven’t told me my exact rate of pay) but I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’m still keeping my eye out for something better, and when I find it I’ll jump. Speaking of which, tomorrow night (night?) I have an interview with one of the animal hospitals I applied to. They’re a 24 hour hospital, and luckily the person in charge of hiring veterinary assistants works night shift. She called me and we played phone tag for a while before I finally got to speak to her the other day. I’m hoping she likes me, and that they give their assistants full-time hours. If so I’ll definitely take the job, even if the money isn’t as good. If it’s only part-time hours, I’ll talk to my current job and see if it’s possible to cut down to part-time. If not I’m not passing up the opportunity to do what I’ve been studying the past few months, so I’ll settle for part-time and try to find a second job, possibly going back to the gas station if I have to. One way or the other I will have a job I like that pays well, even if it takes a little work to get there.