Four Is A Lot Of Hats, David…

In case you missed it, Love Actually is one of my favorite movies.  I usually watch it a few times a year.  Today at work, it surprised me by popping into my consciousness in a more unusual than Xtopher-normal-random manner.

What popped into my head as I was thinking about how busy I was today, was the line “Eight is an awful lot of legs, David”.  

The line was delivered by the mother of David’s – who is the Prime Minister of England – paramour, Natalie.  David popped by to declare his affection for and to The aforementioned Natalie, only to find the family on the way out the door to the school holiday play.  She was distressed about her son potentially being made tardy for the extravaganza, after having made his octopus costume by hand.

Meanwhile, back at work…

I had agreed to take the early manager’s shift for yesterday and today so that he could take some time off.

Happy to do it.

A few of his nicknames for me:  Ron Burgundy, Anchor, Rock, HR.  He’s pretty up front in his appreciation for my contributions, so it’s a pretty easy yes for me.  Plus, he’s a doer and he deserves some time.

The obstacle for me is that I take MAX to work, which is strictly my preference.  I usually say that I work 6-3 or 4 Sunday through Thursday, but in my reality, MAX gets me to work around 6:10.  

My boss is pretty cool about it, his expectation is that I’m there by 8 o’clock.

However, covering for someone brings out my conscientious streak and if his shift starts at 5:00, I’m gonna take that train that gets me to the airport at 4:40 instead of the one that delivers me at 5:10.  This is what I did yesterday.  

I balanced the early morning manager’s responsibilities like giving the stores change by scheduling my own responsibilities – an interview and a new hire orientation, in this instance – for later in the day.  Got everything pretty well completed for the dual roles of the day, leaving by 3:00.

The Silver Fox checks in as the MAX is pulling away from the airport to see how I’d done on my goal of leaving by 2:00.  

It’s nice that The Fox gets such enjoyment from my work/life balance peccadillos.

Now, I had been a tad tired yesterday, too.  I’d gone to bed at 8:30 on Saturday – Saturfuckingday – to get a good night’s sleep for my first early day.

Of course I woke up at 11:57 pm to pee and couldn’t get back to sleep.

That’s just how my life “works”.

But, I decided to afford myself a little latitude for day two and set my alarm to slacker-mode and get my butt to work by 5:10 this morning.

Again, some insight into how my life works, naturally someone called out sick for their morning shift.  Luckily, that morning team is pretty on the ball.  They start work at 4 o’clock, too, so that’s saying something.  When I arrived, shit was handled, but I still took my normal morning lap to check in.

The store on A concourse needed creamer.  Not the worst start, I run down to the warehouse to get her some.  By the time the warehouse guys get in at 7, she’ll have been out of creamer for three hours.  It’s an easy enough assist.


The warehouse is out of creamer.

Our warehouse is right under the B concourse store, so I pop upstairs, say good morning and make off with a healthy handful of creamers for A store.

My next stop is the D concourse store.  Portland International Airport is shaped like a capital H, albeit one with short legs.  The A and E concourses are those short legs and C and D concourses are the arms at the top.  Moving from the A to D store is basically me traversing the greatest possible distance between stores.

But I have this feeling that I would get stuck in our C store for a while and wanted to touch base with the other four stores before heading there.  C is our highest volume store, we usually open that shop with two people.  When someone calls out, we lose that dual coverage in order to get all of our stores open by our 5:00 open by deadline.

I hadn’t counted on the D store being on fire, though, and I’m there helping out until about 6:15.  

I’m sweating by the time I leave that shop.

I’ve got one foot onto the concourse when the associate calls after me about when I’ll be running change today.   I’d planned a little later run, since I hadn’t found much need yesterday when I’d gone around 6:00 and said, “Maybe a half hour, closer the 7” in response to her question.

She tells me she’s out of tens.

“Or sooner, I guess!” I smile and tell her.

I run change, thinking before I start that my boss is also taking some time off this week and that I need to get the out of date grab and go food back to our supplier.  It’s ready to go, but the boss usually does office stuff until the delivery dude arrives with Monday’s fresh vittles for our flyers.

Me covering for the early manager made that not possible.  You know the old saying: “if you want to make god laugh, make a plan”?  Well, my plan was to do my morning victory lap, schech in food and then do change.

Not so fast, pal.

But that out of date return is a tough one to hit and standing in for the big boss, I wanted to nail it.

In order to remind our delivery guy to pick up the returns, I taped the return manifest to our wall, right above where he normally does his ninja delivery, in what I expect is an effort to avoid our returns…because that would obviously be coming out of his pocket.

<eye roll>

I go about my morning change-running activities, patting myself on the back for what I suspected would be a ninja-delivery-thwarting maneuver.  He sees the manifest taped to the wall and remembers to grab the returns out of our cooler.

This is a way nicer means of getting what I want than the alternative of dropping the already expired food in our unrefrigerated hallway.

Have you ever heard me complain about how warm PDX is?  Yeah…way nicer plan that I had.

Anyway, having succeeded in fulfilling the early morning duties of a junior manager and been under-thunk out of succeeding in my boss’ typical Monday morning task, I’d have been happy as an overpaid Mariner to slink back to my humble HR responsibilities batting .500.  


Proving everyone has opportunities, I soon discovered that a conversation that I had taken for granted had not apparently occurred…I learned that we were down a warehouse guy for the day.

Here’s how our warehouse works:  ok.

It’s an evolution in progress.

The goal of this evolution being simply to avoid the breakneck mayhem I’ve heard occurred last summer.  By all accounts, it was just too much to stay ahead of and the only choices were failure or the best we could do.

I like to think I’m a tool in avoiding a repeat of that sitch and frequently use the phrase “part of the solution” as a dare to challenge people out of accepting acrepeat as our fate.

If you aren’t a part of the solution…you’re a part of the problem, eh?

So, the conversation I took for granted was a shuffling of warehouse guys’ days off so that one of them could use a little PTO.  I’m beginning to think I missed the get out of Dodge memo for today.  In addition to today, he also wanted Saturday off.

Anyway, our warehouse works optimally with 4 guys working to replenish our five stores each day.  The guy that wanted today off is full time.  The only way I could see to make that happen while still making our warehouse work was to shift another full time guy’s days off so that he covered the Saturday off and add a day to a part time guy’sweek to cover today with a minimal three warehouse guys.

The first part of the convo happened.  Our full timer shifted his work week to take today off and cover Saturday.

The second part either didn’t happen or was forgotten – the part timer didn’t show up this morning.  In case you have lost track, that left us with two guys to replenish five stores.

“I’ll take ‘Recipes For Disaster’ for $500, Alex” – Me

The Ops AGM had shown up by this time and we basically had an incredulity-laced stare down over the situation to see who would say “can’t” first.

I won?

I suppose.

He said he couldn’t jump in to replenish the C concourse store because, in the absence of our warehouse manager, he had to place the orders due today.  Fair point:  I don’t know how to do that.

What I can’t do is allow a store that does 40% of our business to go unserviced, so I dropped everything else and just did it.

Check that.

Being the HR Manager, I called the guy who’d been scheduled to cover and left a message.

Then, I got. the. fuck. to. work.

I ran a load of drinks down to C – taking the tarmac to avoid Monday morning travelers.  It’s easily one of, if not the most busy day for us:  Monday.  I was unenthused to discover that the elevator from the tarmac to concourse level at gate C16 was still down for maintenance.


This elevator drops you off right at our store.

Lucky me, I got to push the heavy cart of drinks down another 100 feet to the rarely used and extremely difficult to navigate – uneven concrete and all – elevator at C18.


It wasn’t until I’d dropped those 17 cases of assorted drinks off and made my fill list that I realized how lucky I had been.

I was gonna need another cart of drinks.

And, special bonus…it was heavier.

Luckily, I arrived with my list back at the warehouse to hearing the Ops AGM finishing a phone call with our missing warehouse guy.  He could be in shortly.

Take that, Monday.

I still pulled my second cart of drinks.

It must have weighed 400 lbs.

“Four hundred is a lot of pounds, David.”

As I was passing the door out to baggage claim, heading for the tarmac once again – completely not knowing how I was going to maneuver this cart over that uneven C18 concrete without losing my load – our missing man burst through the door.

“I’m so sorry!  Where are you heading?” he asked, confused to see me with drinks instead of my normal load of apparel.

“C store” I replied.

“What do you need me to do?”, he asks.

“C store” I repeated, with a puckish glint in my eye, before telling him how glad I was he could make it in.  I suggested we work this load as a team, since it was so insanely heavy and then I would walk himthrough my plan to fill the rest of the store.

It was great working in the warehouse trenches, especially side-by-side with someone with such a great attitude.

After the hand-off, I did a few more HR-ish things, worked on some apparel replen for our B concourse store and then GTFO to go to my well-earned acupuncture appointment.  On the way into town, I reflected:  my HR stuff, my opening manager’s tasks, filling in for my boss’ normal morning routine and pinch hitting for our warehouse guy.

“Four is a lot of hats, David.” was the only thought that brought an appropriate amount of therapeutic chuckle to the end of my second Monday of the week.  If only I’d had eight arms to adjust those four hats with…but we got it all done, so who can complain?

Tomorrow oughta be a cake walk, by comparison.  👍🏽👍🏽👍🏽

Four Is A Lot Of Hats, David…

One thought on “Four Is A Lot Of Hats, David…

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