What A Difference A Day Makes

I got paid yesterday. The first paycheck as a Core employee for the company I’ve been a Contractor for since February.

Since I’m motivated by money, this was a big deal to me. Working in Payroll and Finance, with close partnerships in the HR and Benefits departments, I made sure to get set up right, right out of the gate.

Ten percent direct deposited to my savings bank.

Ten percent to the 401k, more than maxing out the company match.

The rest direct deposited to my household spending account.

In November when the next Offering Period for our Employee Stock Purchase Plan begins, I want to slide another ten percent into that – assuming the stock doesn’t blow up this quarter. Employees buy at a 15% discount, so it’s always a good return, but with stock prices depressed across the market I admit that I’m sad I couldn’t participate in the current OP.

Anyway, after setting myself up in what I deemed an optimal scenario, I was happy to see that the direct deposit to my household spending account still covered my rent in one pay period. I’d been worried.

There was also some concern over my direct deposit set up. My household bank is a credit union, which is famous for randomly declining purchases. This usually happens with online purchases, but in the back of my mind was a worry that this would be the time they reject an ACH deposit.

This is my life, after all.

That secondary worry could be in part because of my secondary account. It’s an online bank, so things are a little different with them. “Different” meaning some organizations just won’t do business with them. I’ve found that out the hard way a couple of times. Once while trying to set up automatic payments for my car loan and again when setting up direct deposit with Robert Half-Ass.

Both bad scenarios. So when my alarm went off at 7 on Friday morning, I logged right into my credit union’s app. No easy feat with my old and still-sleepy eyes. But I was greeted with relief. Relief that increased by a full factor when I switched over to my online bank’s app.

I’d also been overdue in my rent this month because of the timing of my start as a Core employee and the final pay shenanigans over at Robert Half-Ass. But my landlord is pretty chill – and I think appropriately grateful for having a consistent tenant.

Anyway, because of that relationship with my landlord, getting him trued up for August was a priority. Ergo, by 7:01 my household account balance was $4.

That was depressing. Not as depressing as the immediate realization that my paycheck two weeks from yesterday was going to have to go to September’s rent to avoid being late.

Ugh. If I’m going to have a bank account like a poor twenty-something, could I please have the body to go along with it instead of this decaying bag of fat water I’m stuck in?

Sure, just get on the Peloton and stay out of the bar.

<looks around> Did you just hear something?

But in a display of one of my favorite things – an Attitude of Gratitude – I admitted that I still had my savings. On top of that, I have Angela, which means I can make money doing deliveries any evening I choose.

Very lucky, am I.

All of that is a very long introduction to the text I received from mom later that afternoon. She and dad were calling a breakfast meeting. It’s funny because I’d been B-reeling how to reach out to them to tell them I missed our weekday breakfasts when they come to town for doctor appointments.

Smash cut to this morning when I sidle into the Dockside and sit down in the center of my side of the booth without realizing there’s two menus and setups on my side. When mom points it out, my first thought is “Weird”.

Don’t get me wrong, most of my thoughts are weird, but in this case it was the actual adjective, since we’re never a foursome. The Dockside peeps know this.

This is what I’m thinking about to the point of distraction. Which caused a delay in my normal defenses when mom joked that they had invited someone they wanted me to meet.

I blinked a few times to mentally switch gears and catch up. Then I announced that my brother was joining us and ten minutes later, he obliged my prestidigitation.

Ten minutes after that my mom announced she couldn’t wait any longer and pulled two envelopes out of her purse and dropped one in front of each of us.

Then she switched them around.

And then back.

Our names were on the envelopes, making that scene imminently enjoyable.

Yes…grandpa’s probate finally closed! I’d talked myself into the likelihood that my uncle had either fled the country or mom and dad decided to use the money – their money, not mine or my sibs’ – to move into town.

You can tell my brother and I are related because neither of us opened the envelopes.

After another ten minutes or so, mom called us out on our withholding. Inside the envelope was a handwritten note:

Wait, that’s not right. Lemme try again, I know I kept it…

From $4 in my checking account yesterday to holding a check with as many zeroes over the course of breakfast at a greasy spoon? Like the title says…what a difference a day makes.

My hands were actually trembling. My usual wit-on-tap was tapped out. There, in that corner booth of a Portland-infamous diner a rare thing occurred: I was speechless.

Mom wanted to know what we planned to do with the money and I had no answer. I’d been looking forward to them sharing enough to allow me to pay off the credit card debt I hate carrying. No one was impressed when I tried to float that answer as acceptable.

I do know it’s not quite what I’d wanted to put down on a condo when I was kicking that around last year, nor would I buy in this market. It is nice to at least know what I’m not going to do with this windfall.

I’ve been sitting on this for a few hours now and I still don’t know what the right answer is. This is pretty life changing money when received in a fairly out-of-the-blue envelope. I think I’m going to lean into something that came out earlier in this post and transfer 75% of it into my savings account once the funds are released. That’ll leave me enough in my household account to pay my bills off and take a respectable chunk out of what I still owe on Angela. My savings account has à la carte investing, so it might not be a bad idea to put it there and just…not know what to do with it for a while.

Gotta go, can’t see through the tears in my eyes.

What A Difference A Day Makes

Austerity…and Everything After

Feel free to cue up some Counting Crows while you read along, if you’re inclined to give a nod to this post’s title inspo – August and Everything After.

If not, no worries. It just popped into my head last night in a near-literal fit of frustration.

I’d gone into the weekend feeling victorious, namely over finally getting paid the balance of my last week of work before transitioning to a Core employee with the company I’d been assigned to for nearly six months.

Knowing the rhythm of their processes, I know when I get an email saying my paystub is available, my direct deposit hits the next day. Since I got that Friday, I was expecting the deposit Saturday morning. I was just a little surprised when it didn’t land, and left curious as to whether that was a systemic issue or whether good, old RH had one more petty fuck you left for me.

Regardless, I’d planned this weekend to finally get some real time in with DoorDash for the first time in weeks. I think the two weeks I’ve been back from the desert, I’d averaged about 4 hours a week. I just don’t like it!

Just disregard all that foreshadowing.

Admittedly, I’ve been letting the looming of my grandfather’s estate settling allow me to shirk my 35 delivery per week goal. And the damn thing never seems to close – despite the original June estimate back in January! Last I heard was almost three weeks ago when dad told us the attorney said it was time to write checks. My inclusion and my siblings’ is strictly a matter of my dad’s generosity, him committing to share his share with us. For me, it’s moderately life-changing money, regardless of whether it’s equally divided or something just under the reportable threshold.

Anywho. Not having expected Robert Half-Ass to find its wallet at all, let alone in a conveniently timed fashion, I knew this weekend was going to be a rather austere one. In past similar instances, ie: pretty much the beginning of any month this year, I’ve pretty much lived off my Apple Wallet. That’s where my DoorDash earnings deposit. Unfortunately, no ATMs in my area seem accessible via their card-less technology. Go figure.

But I manage. I can always order food and grocery through my Apple Wallet, there’s just no real going out in that first week situation – although, I did discover that Regal Cinemas of all places has a functional card-less point of sale. So, that’s nice. If there’s no movie showing that I want to see, then there’s always new movies I can rent/buy through Prime if nothing grabs me on the streamers.

What I’m saying is, even though it’s tight sometimes, it’s still pretty good to be me.

This weekend, of course, I’m finally motivated. I know I’ve got another week to go before my first two-week paycheck arrives. Further, I was kind of daunted by the prospect of having to budget for two weeks versus getting paid weekly, having just adjusted to that weekly schedule versus the daily pay I’d been used to the last three years.

It wasn’t my strongest beginning. Friday night was tough, after a longer than normal Friday at the day job. When I saw the pay was just base-plus-$2, versus the usual base-plus-$3 I get when I drive, I decided to save my mojo for Saturday night. Why? I don’t know…at the end of the day, it was a $5-10 issue, depending on how long I stayed out. But I stayed in.

I hit the road last night at 6, after buying myself a pop and a lottery ticket. My first order was a two-fer with a total of 3.3 miles for $19. I usually like to stay over a $10 per-delivery average, but it was such a short distance, I took it as a win and shagged it.

Plus, these things usually net up a bit when all is said and done. Especially when an order comes through a secondary app. Even if it didn’t, though, I’d be on my “second” order in about 20 minutes since these first two deliveries were so close.

Except…forgot whose life I was living.

The first pickup was a block from where I accepted the orders and they said they needed a “couple minutes” to finish up. Not surprising, since I’d been so close.

Twenty fucking minutes later…I’m finally on my way. I pick up the next order in less than 90 seconds and am on my way to the drop offs – which are conveniently around the corner from one another. Unfortunately, what I hadn’t realized was that there was a Portland Timbers match last night. These two apartments were two blocks from Providence Park.

What I’d assumed would be the start of a $50 hour finally ended 40 minutes later. As I ended the second delivery, I was accepting the reality that I’d need another delivery set up like my first to finish my first hour in my usual $30-35 range.

Except the app kept reverting to the prior delivery instead of completing and taking me to the Home Screen.

That’s more like my usual life. After I’d crossed the Willamette River that divides the city’s west side from the east, I had pulled over to call support. I’d unsuccessfully tried to complete the order for 10 minutes – Portland is small, you can absolutely cross town on a Saturday evening in 10 minutes – so it was time to get some help.

After 15 minutes on chat waiting for someone to get to me, the chat had ended itself. Fine. I called in to the driver support line. That call started with a recording telling me there was high call volume so they were prioritizing active deliveries. Also fine, since I’d been unable to end my last delivery.

Then the system ended my call. So much for getting into the queue based on a technicality.

Worst part? I didn’t even get paid for the deliveries I did until hours later when I was comfortably stoned on the couch.

That prompted me to try signing in again, not that I was going anywhere. It still failed, so I put it away for the night.

I tried again this morning. Still nothing, and the only troubleshooting I can get to without signing in says, “Just keep trying!” Thanks, Dory.

The support line is still hanging up after the same pre-recorded message, so I’m sensing it’s a bad weekend for a lot of people.

And DoorDash.

But that’s all had a rather disabling effect on my day. This weekend I came into feeling motivated is ending with me not showering or brushing my teeth today until 3 pm.

I did somehow manage to whip up a concoction and eat a 1/2 pound of pasta – but managed to hold off til noon before diving in.

Eat your feelings, Xtopher.

I’ve watched two Harry Potter movies today – save your TERF comments, I’m watching the movies to feel good, not endorse the author’s anti-trans mentality – and suspect a third is coming.

And while I feel like I’ve survived a hardship and tomorrow I’ll wake up with more than $15 in my primary checking account, I’m not feeling a strong sense of relief. Most of my bills are “late” or actually late at this point. I prefer to pay them as they come in if they aren’t on autopay. Autopays are bouncing back – thank gawd they aren’t considered overdrafts! – and the balances on the bills I haven’t paid yet are now larger than the check I’ll get on Friday, so I’ve got to prioritize bills instead of clearing them out.

And given the time of month – I swear I didn’t mean to riff on TERF bullshit there – were in, my next check has to be for September rent. On top of that, I suspect it’s time Myrtle saw a vet, given the size of the puddle I came home to after last night’s abortion of productivity. That couldn’t possibly be a good sign. Or a cheap fix. But at least I’ve talked myself back from my comments to the Silver Fox last night – something along the lines of “Myrtle lives outside starting tomorrow”. And, no…I do not have a yard.

Grandpa’s probate attorney needs to find his damn checkbook. At least this slog of a weekend is almost over. Take that, Sunday Scaries. I’m looking forward to Monday!

Austerity…and Everything After

Victory Is Mine!

I spent a lot of time last week trying to decide if the burden of being right was truly the pain in the ass that it was seeming or just the cost of living in this self-service gaslighting state of affairs that is America today.

That did provide me some solace in the form of nostalgic thoughts I had from back when being right was fun and exciting. Knowledge was a pursuit, a validation…an overall positive attribute.

<sigh> The good, old days.

The issue?

My final pay from the temp agency I’ve worked with for off and on the past four years fucked up my final paycheck. Having nicknamed them based on the quality of my engagements with them –

– I can’t say that I was surprised. But I should admit that I was also impressed by the commitment they showed to delivering poor quality work with this particular fuck up.

I mean, honestly, it had to have simply been an epic string of comfortably employed idiots crossing my path because no truly stupid American could coordinate such fuck-uppery. Still, mad props to the recruiting team that assembled this melange of morons.

Quick (that’s a lie) backstory:

There was an app update about two months ago now. It was kind of a big deal, since for temps, all work is remote from your “employer”, regardless of whether you’re in an office setting or working from home. All of my timekeeping was done in the app.

The big change in this update was the prompt to indicate whether you worked onsite for their client or from your home. But it was easy, just record your time each day, then when you review at the end of each week, you’re given a slider for each day to toggle to remote or on-site.

Now, when I was offered this role, it was with the understanding that it would be about a 40/60 split. I was prepared to work Tuesdays and Wednesdays on-site and the rest of the days from home. However, COVID had other ideas and since Washington state – where the offices were located – was under an indoor N95 mask mandate, so the company was letting anyone who could work remotely do so.

When that mandate was lifted, my division’s (Finance) leadership decided to try a one day on-site return to office. As the COVID exposure communications became more than weekly, we were told to only come in if necessary. For me, that’s nearly never, so I’ve been working from downtown Portland, Oregon for most of my history on this assignment…I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the office in six months now.

And that’s exactly what I told the industrious stranger from Robert Half-Ass that emailed out of the blue about six weeks ago asking about my remote indicators from my recent timesheets. Well, not the six month part, it was just four-plus back then. This person I’d never heard of before said she appreciated my response and it was just some internal stuff for reporting and such.

Anyway, smash-cut to the not too distant past when the conversation about converting me to a Core employee was happening with the company I was assigned to. The timing was setting up to occur the same week I’d planned to be working from the high desert during the week of my family’s annual trip. I’d committed to the arrangement thinking I’d burn some of my Sick Pay that I’d accrued with Robert Half-Ass by taking a few days off before I transitioned to Core status with the old/new company.

Except

When I submitted my timesheet for what was my final week of work with Robert Half-Ass, I received an error message from the app that I didn’t have enough Sick Pay to cover the two days I had requested.

<checks app>

I mean, I’m no MIT grad, but I still knew that 8+8 equaled 16 – and that 16 was less than 18, so I was confused. Mind you, I never understood Common Core and wrote it off as nonsense, but was open to the idea that it was valid and the people who tried explaining it to me were all idiot, no savant.

But I digress.

My timesheet was telling me I only had 6 hours of Sick Pay available despite what the app that timesheet lived in was telling me. I checked my last paystub and it said I only had 6 hours, so there was a disconnect somewhere. Then I noticed it said “OR Sick Pay”. That prompted me to say “Fucking Robert Half-Ass!” to my empty home, since I immediately knew that the question I had helpfully answered a few weeks prior had fucked me over. More to the point, the Robert Half-Ass go-getter had done so after making whatever internal updates that she thought necessary. Clearly, I was going to need some help resolving that on Monday, which is a bummer since when I submit my timesheet on Friday, I usually get paid on Tuesday. Wednesday at the latest.

But Monday had other plans for me and my job ate my life that day. Tuesday morning, I got an email from yet another Robert Half-Ass employee I’d never heard of sending me an Urgent Reminder to submit my timesheet. I reply back with the backstory and she tells me she’ll look into it. She gets back to me a little later telling me to call the I9 team so they can figure out if I should be accruing Sick Time based on Oregon or Washington law.

I mean…A) you do it. And, B) as I understand it, I9s are the forms used to record proof of employment eligibility in the United States, not any particular state and therefore shouldn’t have anything to do with what state I work in or whose employment laws I should be following.

But, ok. I call and they say it’ll take 24 hours to get a response. Oh, and also that Sick Pay isn’t portable, so when I move, I lose it. They’ve never heard of merging accrued time from different policies. They remain unimpressed and utterly unconcerned when I stress that I didn’t move, one of their cohorts toggled a switch and changed my work location.

Again, my assignment was to a WA-based company and it was known that the majority of work would be from my home in Oregon when the assignment started. If something needed to be changed, it was because someone set me up wrong from the get-go. All I did was accept an assignment and show up every day.

Definitely, fuck me for that.

Wednesday I get a “Second Urgent Reminder” from the same nitwit, despite my telling her it would be 24 hours before I got an answer from the people she directed me to. When I remind her of this – after the 24 hour window has closed with no follow up – she suggests I delete the Sick Time from my timesheet and she’ll submit a manual timesheet for my Sick Time. She also asks if I’ve called customer service, which provides me with a good stretch for my eyes as they simultaneously bulge out of and roll back in their sockets as I read this.

I tell her I’m not editing my timesheet, because then I have no record of my original document. Plus, I’d be submitting an inaccurate document and attesting that it was accurate by doing so. I tell her that my trust in her outfit is nowhere near strong enough for that level of faith. I can literally see them using my timesheet against me as justification to drop the whole matter.

The customer service people get back to me and are empathetic to my situation and promise to get me some help…as they tell me “No”.

The next day, I’m told again to submit a false document. “Hell, no” is still my answer, but they force my worked hours through the system without client approval so I can get those hours paid before the weekend. Over the next couple of days, I get three more responses from the same customer service mailbox, all from different people. The first is a solid, although phoned in affirmation of the “No” I’d received earlier and the other two are “Super-duper sorry for the delayed response, but it looks like someone else helped you!”

Did they? I seem to have missed the part where someone did something helpful.

I tell the original Urgent Reminder lady that if my Sick Pay isn’t paid or set to be paid on Monday, which would be two weeks late, I’m filing a Wage Claim with the Bureau of Labor and Industry.

Of course, it isn’t resolved and of course Monday also has different plans for me, again. But on Tuesday I am still on radio silence, so I fill out a Wage Claim on the BOLI website and submit screen shots of the different Sick Pay balances and the email thread asking about my work location.

I also forward the BOLI claim confirmation email to the Urgent Reminder lady, the Industrious Half-Asser that changed my work location without telling me and the customer service mailbox.

Feeling petty, I start off with “As promised” and then take the opportunity to remind them of the germane factors in their fuck up. Then I close with something like…well, I’ll throw in a screen shot because I won’t do it justice from memory. Hold please.

I particularly enjoyed the “maybe this will help you find your wallet” part. Like I’m a cartoon mafioso holding someone up by their ankles and shaking change out of their pockets.

Three days pass, nothing. I briefly debated following up with a message pointing out that not even apologizing for the position their internal dumb-fuckery put me in and continuing to carefully avoid admitting any wrong doing whatsoever demonstrates what low-caliber individuals these people are. Successfully, I resist. I know I’d also end up putting something in there about how misguided it is to choose loyalty to an organization that openly demonstrates how little loyalty it had to the mules whose efforts fill its corporate coffers.

Idiots. Remember, American culture is self-service gaslighting…the hell with right or wrong, what can one get away with?

Friday is the day I get a call featured in the picture above. She’s using her “Look how friendly and helpful I’m being!” voice, which I repeatedly remind her I’m not buying.

She promises me that she can get me paid.

…if I will only go in and edit my Sick Pay out of my timesheet.

I flat out ask her why everyone has such a hard-on about my timesheet. Her response is a series of unimpressive sputters and assurances I cannot take to the bank. But if I’ll just do it, she can get a deposit for my Sick Pay set up by the end of the day. She even promises to put it in an email for my records.

I acquiesce, telling her I’ll take her email but I’m also taking screenshots of the before and after on each of the days on my timesheet I’m being made to edit before they will pay me. That oughta partner up nicely with my and her phone logs to give me the comfort to edit the timesheet I’m not ever submitting. The worked hours have already been paid without me submitting the damn thing, but Robert Half-Ass simply cannot pay the Sick Pay unless it’s not recorded on my timesheet.

Fine. Gotta love that logic.

It’s done and our call ends after I implore her to dig deeper into who else this has happened to, because there’s no way I’m the only temp assigned across state lines in a border city like Portland. If it hasn’t happened to someone else yet, it’s just that…it hasn’t happened yet. By the time it comes up, perhaps the employee will have accrued enough time in their new policy to cover a sick day – I’d nearly gotten there, only two weeks away since in either state we accrue 1 hour of Sick Pay for every 30 hours worked.

She told me that was above her pay grade but she’d send it up the ladder. Oh, that inspired confidence. So I reminded her that they weren’t paying me my earned time off without BOLI holding a figurative gun to their head, so I had zero doubts she’d pass anything on to anyone without a figurative gun to her head nor would they do anything about it unless they were forced to.

Sure enough, a few hours later, she sent me that email. You know what she started it with?

“As promised”. The very words I started my email to them with when I confirmed my Wage Claim submission with them. Isn’t that pettiness cute? She quoted me back to me.

In a show of appreciation of that shitty attitude, I’m leaving my Wage Claim open and pursuing penalty pay – which is capped at a cool 100% of the unpaid wages. It won’t hurt them, but it’s the principle.

Someone really should have showed a little professional mortification over this whole shitshow.

Victory Is Mine!

The “Literal” Treatment

BMW has entered the chat.

A chat I don’t want to be involved in, anyway.

Certainly a chat I don’t want brands I value to seek to be involved in, either.

But this is America. We ruin everything.

And as hard as we fight to not be inclusive, except when it comes to money, there are exceptions. Companies in America gotta get everyone’s money – so they’re gonna at least act inclusive.

One of my favorite examples of this is corporate rainbow-washing every June for Pride month. And then the month ends…

It amuses me – this observation, but it doesn’t bother me. Not because I think The Gays, collectively, have become unworthy of anyone’s support or pride (which is true) but because it’s also such an stupid American cultural reality. It’s the End of Christmas Morning Phenomenon: “Is this all I got?”

So, yeah. Complain, please…that you got a spotlight for a full month, you ninnies.

Anyway, then there’s BMW entering into a courtship with what is arguably America’s largest and most diverse subculture. Actually, it might be the unacknowledged dominant culture.

Idiots.

The “sub”culture, not BMW. They might be geniuses.

What are they doing?

Pandering to the group of Americans who ignore the squiggly red line under words they type…because spell-check is wrong, not them.

Those idiots.

How? Just how does a multinational – global, even – manufacturing company target an audience like this?

Believe it or not, it likely didn’t involve anything as spectacular as running head-first at full speed into a wall or ripping whip-its before sitting down to develop content. Very likely, I’d imagine it was rather organic.

Picture it. The setting: HR. Aaand…scene!

That’s it. Can you picture HR without the mental image of the employee it conjures being a ubiquitous Karen?

That’s all it takes. Someone who embraced the rampant misuse of the word “literally” so long that a dictionary gave the fuck up and rewrote its definition to align with the misuse.

You think they’re gonna hire people who would demand a high level of detail from themselves in their work? I’m talking in any department, too, not just in advertising.

I just don’t want you walking away from this post laughing at stupid creatives in stupid corporate America. I want you horrified, chagrined and slightly frightened of how pervasive the problem is.

Oh, you want to actually know what got me going on this? Not that the pic at the top of the post didn’t bury the lede, but…check it:

The caption says “Your BMW Has Our Undivided Attention” – italics are my addition, for emphasis…in case you’re one of them and don’t know it.

Call me crazy, but to me, undivided implies focus. Presumably, that guy is wrist deep in my BMW.

His hands are inside my car.

Where are his eyes?

Where?!? What are his eyes focused on?!?

Not watching what the fuck his hands are doing, that’s where.

So the collateral that BMW sends me to earn my business by demonstrating their attention to the service they provide is a picture of them not providing a commensurate level of attention to the service they provide.

Got it. Yeah.

Don’t mind me. I’m just over here observing shit.

What really bugs me is that I got this in the mail on a Saturday. My day off. Well, the one that overlaps with USPS service.

My day off from running payroll for a laser manufacturing outfit.

That’s five days of me seeing people that manufacture lasers but can’t manage to remember to punch back in from lunch. So I spend a good deal of time each week being surprised lasers work as intended, given the poor performance our employees have at such an entry level job expectation: making sure they get paid accurately for their time by punching a damn time card.

But, hey…if our lasers work on potentially nothing more than dumb luck, maybe that BMW tech will manage to not fuck up my car while giving it what passes for undivided attention while working on it?

Or I’ll pop the hood on Angela one day and find a windshield wiper where there should be a dipstick. Which scenario seems more likely?

Figuratively more likely, by the way. I know a windshield wiper would never literally fit where a dipstick belongs.

The “Literal” Treatment

This Is My Life…

I’m bellied up for a lil post-Thor: Love and Thunder beer at my usual watering hole. Just, y’know, minding my own amidst the flyby conversations that happen to me here.

The perk/curse of being a regular.

I’m not complaining – this time.

But that ancillary type of conversation has its hazards.

For instance, when I walked in, the bartender asked how I was doing.

Me: Oh, y’know. Holding steady.

Him: <looks confused>

Me: <waits>

Him: <laughs awkwardly>

Me: <purses lips…here we go>

Him: What?!? You are not. <laughs again>

Me: What do you think I said?

Him: You’re not old!

Me: I said, “Holding steady”, not old and steady!

Him: <laughs raucously and minces off>

Hey, at least he didn’t question my sure-footedness.

But with that…we were off to the races. Before I even finished my first beer

Still working on #1, and yes…that’s Him in the background. 🤭

…we’d had another incident.

He has a habit of nattering incessantly verbally processing while he works. He was making a drink for someone and telling himself that something was missing. After his second verbal prompt, I jumped in to help.

Me: What are you on about?

Him: It’s missing something and I can’t. quite. <looks at me> Bitters!

Me: Glad I could help.

Him: <cackles> Nono, it wasn’t…

Me: Just. Don’t.

To be fair, there is a cluster of six bottles of assorted bitters just on the other side of my beer. I’m still taking credit for the alley-oop, though.

Im convinced that this would not happen to anyone else!

This Is My Life…

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I got a call from my boss yesterday afternoon. She gets me. Here’s how the pre-call planning went via Microsoft Teams chat:

Boss: Hey!

Me: Quit screaming at me.

Boss: Call me.

Normally, my neurotic ass would immediately spiral with that enigmatic command. But like I said, she gets me. We have a…rapport.

She starts our conversation off with “Guess what?” Even though her tone suggested good news, that opener is cryptic enough that mentally I replied, “You need me to bring back my laptop?”

It was just the opposite, though. She told me that the CEO had finally signed off on my Offer Letter.

I probably added a “finally” retroactively where there was not one in reality.

Seriously, though, it had taken three months to get my Offer Letter put together and approved. I know this because I found it hard to take her seriously when she asked if I was interested in converting from a contractor to a core employee…since it was April 1st.

When I pointed that out a couple weeks later during our weekly touch base, her response was, “Wait, did you mean it when you said ‘Yes’?!?”

And this is why we get along.

I probably could have shared my thoughts on this surprise (to me) development with my boss. Thoughts like, “Thank gourd for The Great Resignation making employers desperate enough to hire a grumpy old bastard like me!” or “You could hire millennial or Gen Z folks for less than me…if you could actually hire anyone from those generations”. (Sorry, Vee!) Actually, I’m confident she would have beat me to the punch on that last part.

Anyhoo…she’d warned me it was gonna take a while. “We move slow”, she had admitted. She did not undersell that.

I just never imagined it would be a longer process to complete than the tenure I had as a temp with the company at the time she had issued that warning. I’d gotten the exploratory offer at two months.

Two weeks later when she’d “updated me” about my salary expectations, I’d told her that was faster than I’d expected. Two weeks after that, she’d confirmed that HR was starting on my Offer Letter.

Ok

Five weeks later I hear that my Offer Letter was on the CEO’s desk for his approval and I’m all, “Eureka!”

Three weeks go by. Mind you, a week after I heard the CEO had it, his Admin called me to check on some expense reports “he’d” submitted.

I had patted myself on the back for not quid-pro-quo-ing his expense reports and just told her that I process expense reports on Fridays. It was Thursday…so the next day I reimbursed his $25,000 from four months worth of expense reports. Before the day ended, the Admin was back in my inbox telling me “she’d” completed the last two months of reports, so I added another $15k to his reimbursement before beer:30 that day.

You know how you know someone makes too much money? Not just that they can get by submitting expense reports only twice a year, but that they can do it by letting an average of $7k a month ride.

Oy.

Anyway, I’m glad I coughed up his dough because it took a scant two more weeks for the Offer Letter to find its way back to HR. No telling how long it would have taken if timing hadn’t worked out like it had!

But someone was impressed enough with me to throw a couple extra percentage points on my salary from what my boss had said she’d try to get for me – which was less than I’d asked for, but more than I was making as a contractor, so I wasn’t mad. But seeing it come back just a shade off of what I’d asked for made me feel it was worth the wait.

Mind you, this is still a 45 hr/week base at about 60-65% of what I made last year driving with Lyft. I’ve been doing some DoorDash deliveries to help bridge the gap, too – but that’s another shituation. I can max out at about a dozen hours on a good week with DoorDash, that’s about half as many hours as I drove for Lyft and on a good week I earn about a third of what I made driving for Lyft.

All that boils down to me working more than twice as many hours this year over last and maybe making 75% of what I earned driving <30 hours a week for Lyft. Since it’s July, I don’t think it’s premature to declare that this is gonna be a financially tough year.

But the first six months of this year have helped me get back into a budget mindset. Between that and the 16% bump I’m getting converting from contract to core, I think I can stare down the balance of the year without having to steal from my parent’s present retirement fund.

Anyway…here I am, the guy who swore he was done working for Da Man back in 2018. Didn’t quite make it five years before I found something that appealed enough to me that I could sell myself back to an outfit long-term.

Maybe this company is the conversion therapy I needed to take away the shitty taste my last few professional roles left in my mouth.

I don’t want to shock anyone – I have more than a few older readers – but, yes…that was me sounding optimistic. I apologize for not warning you ahead of time.

My Kind of Conversion Therapy

I’m Tired of Always Running

Dark title, eh?

Worry not.

I promise, it refers only to an earlier post I was working on that I accidentally discarded instead of saving. Apparently, that means something else in WordPress-land than deleting. There’s articles dedicated to recovering deleted posts on their FAQ page – which boils down to “go into the trash tab and hit ‘restore’”, however, nothing on recovering something you accidentally discard versus save.

And why are those two buttons so damn close, anyway?!?

Anyway, that post was depressing, hence this post’s title.

Well, that and the subject matter.

I recently heard an interesting factoid about how much Kate Bush has earned off of streaming royalties since her 1986 hit Running Up That Hill was featured on s5/ep1 – or is it season 4? Can you tell I’m not watching?

In two months she has earned $2.3 million off of streaming royalties. For that song alone.

Ok, let’s set aside that that is probably more than she earned in a year during her heyday and focus on the reality that her most recent 60 days’ earnings is only for streaming royalties! It does not include actual sales or what Netflix paid her for the usage rights originally.

And I couldn’t be happier for her. I think it sets an example of what talent and fame are for a new generation. Or two. Generations who are increasingly conflating talent and fame with pervasiveness and infamous.

Which reminds me of a conversation from earlier about an invasive species of snails, but that’s a different hill.

I’ve been on Kate’s hill in some way, shape or form for about three years now since Meg Myers released a cover in ’19. I thought at the time that it was an impressive homage, staying true to the original – and I loved that about it. Hearing the original now – when the remake had barely faded from my local station’s rotation reinforces that faithfulness and also the reality that it was still just a copy.

I love that the world has lost its mind for this song like a certain college-aged person I used to know. Although, not everyone agrees…

From a chat with a Gen Z musician on Social Media…

I love that this song is number 1 in 2022, eclipsing its number 3 performance in 1986.

I love that Meg Myers didn’t just pay homage to the original by staying true to it in her remake, but also that she and Kate Bush look like they could be related. And that their photographers clearly studied with the same professors…

Kate.
Meg.

Maybe that’s just me.

But after the massive step(s) back our country has taken in the last 10 days from 2022 to 1972 or 1950 or 1868…maybe there’s hope of at least dragging us back to the late 80s. Because reading the news anymore makes me yearn for a life that modern-thinking.

I want my MTV.

At a minimum.

I’m Tired of Always Running

Portland Tones It Down

I’m one of Portland’s biggest <ahem> fans. Whether it’s straight up civic pride or city v city smack talk, I got Portland’s back.

Because despite its lumps, and the wrong Vancouver adjacency, I think it’s still the best big town you can live in.

Unless you’re a bigot or member of a certain book club where no one’s managed to either read the book or grasp its core concept…you’re probably gonna love Portland.

And I’ve lived in a lot of cities in a lot of different states in my life. Just to establish credibility. It’s not like I’m one of those people that have never left the country that insist America is the best country in the world.

My big town is a city that is ever-evolving – and usually in positive ways. That’s not to say we don’t struggle. Every 15 years or so, we need a correction period to kind of reflect on what we’ve gained versus what we’ve lost and what needs to move forward or be resurrected. Find what works and polish it and identify what doesn’t and tone it down or get rid of it altogether.

Sadly, that’s kind of where we are now, what with those lumps I mentioned earlier and all getting a lot too real and too much national attention and…too little effective local attention.

In situations like that, I find it advantageous to find small things to be proud of or grateful for.

For which to be grateful? Yeah, that would’ve been better English. But gimme a break, English is my first language and I’m just an American…

Anyway, one of those little things for which I am grateful – nailed it! – is our weather.

Always. Rain or shine. June-uary be damned. Having all four seasons in one day keeps me on my toes!

But todays weather?

It’s our first heatwave of 2022, this weekend. This week we had our first 80-degree plus days of the year. See above: June-uary.

But where we can be counted on for our covert beautiful summers most years, last year’s summer kind of ran amok. You might remember us having the hottest temperatures on the planet last June?

119 degrees?

Anyone?

Well, it’s true if you knew it or not – and no Portlander was happy about it for any one of a very narrow set of options.

That was a year ago this very weekend, so having a high of 99 degrees over the course of the heatwave is toning things in the right direction. We should still be able to count the days we reach 90 in a year on one hand – and those should be a stretch to 90, not meteorologists apologizing that we might break 100 degrees.

Twenty degrees cooler year-over-year? Heatwave-over-heatwave? Yes, please.

And to have a city that learns from its past mistakes – not always, but always eventually – and changes things that don’t work so life is a little better the next time?

Grateful, I am.

In spite of last year’s cooling shelters, we learned from 59 fatalities during the heat dome last year – where only two of the deaths were unhoused people – that we need to not assume that someone inside is safe inside.

To that end, this year I was surprised to get a text during the heat wave warning me about the dangers and directing me to resources.

I was pretty ok with this, particularly with the effectiveness we seem to have gotten Obama Phones into the hands of our unhoused populace so that they have access to information. Imagine my surprise to get a follow-up voicemail less than ten minutes after.

We may not do everything right, but we aren’t likely to default to a “But that’s the way we’ve always done it” type of acceptance of things that break or just don’t work anymore. Nor are we likely to tolerate leaders who disappoint us. We vote. We will vote you out of office. Don’t forget, since we’re passive-aggressive, that’s really gonna sting…we will likely accidentally on purpose vote in someone who’s embarrassingly less qualified than the incumbent they replace and then let them do an awesome job.

Hey, I never promised that we tone everything down!

Portland Tones It Down

Management Tools

Sometimes I have to distract myself from the anger and frustration of things I cannot by focusing on something else. Looking at you, SCOTUS.

That’s not fair, this week’s decisions prove that it’s a disservice to the words “supreme” and “justice” to consider those recently appointed to the high court as anything other than Extreme Court Injustices.

I should distract myself from their work by focusing on the irony that two-thirds of the court now represent the views and interests of one-third of the country.

But instead, I distract myself with lesser frustrations and injustices. Yeah, I focus on things that make me angry and frustrated that I can at least do something about when the things I cannot do all that much about get me down.

For instance…have you ever heard of Hint water?

It’s like La Croix, if you opened it and left it out overnight. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both. It’s just Hint has – in my opinion – jumped the ethical shark.

If you look closely at the pic, you can see it’s an Amazon ad for a 12-pack for $20.99 – for water.

That’s $1.75 a bottle. You can still pretty much buy a 12-pack of La Croix for the price of two bottles of Hint.

I was first introduced to Hint when I was working at the airport. PDX is an amazing airport, for sure. One of the amazing things they do is make their businesses within stick to street pricing – so unlike LAX, you won’t find a $16 bottle of kombucha at PDX. They further require their business partners to be minority owned/operated or have a minority business partner. But that’s not the point. The point is that they make their business partners provide annual pricing audits to prove they are within 20% of street pricing.

The business I was with used the infamous Peterson’s convenience stores as one of their comparable stores.

So, yeah…my employer at the airport used a business that is notoriously 30-40% overpriced to prove they were “within” 20% of street pricing. If you’re on the wrong side of the street, though, that math won’t hold up.

But this is where I first tried Hint, which I think we sold for around $2-3/bottle.

Mind you, we bought it for a buck a bottle from our wholesaler. None of this bothered me since my rent at the airport was a percent of sales. Gross sales. And rent was 18% of sales, which was also…gross.

Sidebar: if you’re ever curious about how PDX can afford to consistently be the best airport in America or spend a cool billion on a remodel, now you know. They get 18 cents on every dollar spent there. Port of Portland ain’t messing around.

Anyway, well after I left there, I saw an ad on social media for Hint water. Three cases for a buck a bottle. They promoted it as 30% off, which I thought was a weird spin for a manufacturer.

But they’d jumped on the direct to consumer (DTC) bandwagon and this was their hook.

I bought some. But when I went to reorder, the best deal I could get was 20% off for a certain number of cases. Less than that, if only save 15%. So I stopped buying it.

And they’re still promoting it the same way, basically. Here’s a recent email promotion from them:

Get this, now three cases are $55.99! On sale! So only $1.55/bottle instead of $1.83/bottle.

But here’s why all this bothers me – I used to buy it from my purveyor for about a buck a bottle. That means they already had their markup on that price after buying direct from Hint. I’m guessing Hint sold to wholesalers for around $.75-.80/bottle, but that’s just a guess.

I don’t need this information. It’s just evidence of the stern fucking you get on a daily basis for the privilege of waking up in America.

Spitballing for inflation, a 400% markup to sell direct to consumers seems high. Especially when you think that the 30% off promo I took advantage of at a buck a bottle meant they normally charged $1.30/bottle at that time. Now their regular price is $1.83/bottle. Assuming for the sake of making a generous argument that all expenses raised by that same margin, they’re still making $.50/bottle more selling to consumers directly than they made selling to wholesalers.

Why is that fair?!?

Shouldn’t the reward of running a manufacturing venture and selling to the public as well be…more customers?!? Why do they need to be able to have street pricing be their guide in that arrangement. Seems like the only people that benefits is them. Their wholesalers lose potential business because of it, so they’re losing out. Customers pay the same price either way, so it’s a net zero situation at best for them.

But there’s Hint, pockets so full, they can’t sit down. That makes me mad. Pick a business model and run it.

But unlike the SCOTUS rulings, where all I can do is vote every chance I get which is every other year at best, I can do something about this. I can vote against their business practices with my dollars every day.

That’s a win for this grumpy old man. And for La Croix, apparently.

Management Tools

Crappy Pride, Y’all!

I could probably just end this post at the title without leaving any mystery as to how I feel about how little my subculture deserves a fucking parade. Far be it from me to be succinct, though. But I also don’t want to bore you with my feelings about standing outside at a parade some stupid American would happily make a massacre of with a bunch of people who pretend both that I’m visible and that they’re decent people for one day a year.

Also, far be it from me to show restraint, so let the fact that I’ve been kicking this post idea around for about a month be known. Give that a damn parade. Rest assured, that’s not proChristination, either. I have literally been trying to decide whether posting a Pride month entry needed to happen. It didn’t last year, thank you for noticing.

Plus, being the volunteer voice of treason for my subculture has gotten me nothing but disavowed by said subculture. Not that I was expecting anything other than a culture I could feel pride in from those jokers. Me and my unreasonable expectations.

But that’s all I have to say about that. I’m Gay Kulture’s voice of treason, not their Don damn Quixote.

So I’ll just leave you with a little story. The Silver Fox has already kind of heard this – and I hate to bore my number one reader – although he may have unremembered it, as he likes to say.

Someone recently asked me if I had big plans for Pride month. Not sure how deep they imagined my pockets or clear my calendar might be when they asked, but it sounded like in their imagination, I’d be off traipsing around the globe, careening from circuit party to circuit party in some sort of cum-drunk stupor all month.

Ok, that grossed me out. Me.

Happy to burst their bubble – but with the style and panache a straight ally expects of their GBF – I set her, um…straight.

Here’s what I said, basically. She was rightfully near death when I finished.

“I dunno. I’ve been thinking about getting a haircut.”

I could see her translating my sentence from straight to gay and imagining me with rainbow colors died into my ‘do.

She needs a lot of setting straight. Straight setting? I don’t know what the proper Queen’s English would deem proper English syntax there…

“But then, I dunno. I’m kind of invested in the length at this point.”

“It’s never been this long before, has it?”

“Nah. Could’ve never pulled it off when I was working professionally. But that’s not the point.”

I see her confusion and debate dragging her along a little longer or moving in for the big finish. Knowing how tragically short American attention spans are these days – especially when the topic is not themselves – I decide not to risk losing my momentum to the “Squirrel! Phenomenon”.

“Yeah, at this point the rejection I get from trying to date The Gays just isn’t as fulfilling as it used to be.”

She’s starting to slow down during our walk, like a 70s-era robot being defeated by an illogic loop.

“So I’m thinking maybe – I dunno – maybe I’ll just grow it out to Locks of Love length and then try to donate it, because I’m sure they’d look at it and tell me in no uncertain terms that cancer patients would rather be bald than sport this stringy nest I call a mane. That seems like a man imminently satisfying level of rejection.”

Dead. She died right there on the sidewalk, dutifully swearing to me that my admittedly neglected hair was gorgeous. These are the types of transparent lies people who love me trot out…and that’s why I love them. That and their last gasp is apparently supposed to be an ego-boost to their favorite (only) homo.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go check the weather app to make sure it’s still gonna pour rain on Sunday’s parade. I will culturally fucking appropriate a dance if I have to…

Crappy Pride, Y’all!