Pro-Tip

I was having socially distant beers with Filipina Fox recently – we were drinking in the park, surrounded camouflaged by homeless people milling about. She took the opportunity to ask my opinion on something that had been bugging her lately.

Food Delivery Apps.

“Easy”, I said. “Don’t.”

But, she explained her conflict – she is a more than competent cook, by the way – of wanting to support local business and be lazy convenience. But when she orders delivery, she gets mad that the restaurant has to pay a commission to the app, effectively removing the support she wants to provide. Plus, delivery drivers need the income, too.

I totally get that. All that.

However, working in banking as she does, specifically in a capacity where local, small businesses are her clients, she has seen the documentation of sales and expense restaurants incur as part of app based delivery services. The examples I’ve seen point toward that app portion of the fees being about 35% of the order value…and in food, that’s pretty much more than a restaurant’s profit margin. She wanted my opinion since when my Lyft Life gets a little too peopley or if there’s just no ride demand, she knows that I’ll flip on Postmates as an alternative.

Frankly, I really enjoy my untethered, non-professional gig jobs. The flexibility to work when I want, do what I want, yada-yada-yada…with no boss or corporate overlord to worry about. As an added bonus, both options allow me to flex a muscle I took for granted when I walked away from my retail career in disgust – namely: being in service to people.

Still, that a friend was demonstrating this level of hand-wringing worrying about how her actions impacted others made my little gig worker self feel appreciated in a way that most of my actual past bosses failed at.

Yet there I was, telling her to fuck worrying about me and my gig working ilk.

Why?

I was mad at Postmates, obviously.

Well, mad might be overselling it. But Postmates, I have observed in my last few attempts to customer them, has either been doing some shady shit or at least allowing it to happen. Since the reason for my disgust with retail was precisely that shady type of shit being allowed to fester versus holding people accountable to ethical standards…well, this observation bothered me.

So, I told the Filipina Fox my story.

The last few times I’ve ordered Postmates for my self, I’ve abandoned my order and found alternative forms of sustenance because I saw that Postmates wasn’t just making money on both ends, like apps do. They seemed to be actively price gouging.

Case in point:

I went to order from a local Chinese restaurant and found my favorite comfort food – Chef’s Special Fried Rice, which has shrimp, beef and chicken in it! – and added it to my order for $13.95. I thought that seemed kind of high, recalling that it was under $10 when I stumbled in there back in the good, old pre-COVID days and ordered at the bar, had a Heineken while I waited and left for under $20 with tip.

Then again, maybe I misremembered that since I’d had a few beers prior to walking in.

But then-then again, it is super yummy, so even at $13.95…worth it. So, I ordered it anyway. But just to make myself miserable, I googled Republic Cafe’s menu and, well…screw you, Uncle Bob.

Here’s why all that bothers me:

First, it seems to only happen with independent restaurants. When I’ve needed a Chipotle fix, those prices seem consistent with my prior in-restaurant orders. So, again, this is impacting small, local businesses.

Sidebar: I have noticed while driving, when I have to order and pay for something for a customer with my pre-paid Postmates card, that there are variations between what the app tells me the total should be and reality at national restaurants, but I don’t know what the customer is actually charged, so can’t definitively say that this doesn’t also happen with chain restaurants, too. But this sets up point number two pretty nicely.

Second, who knows whether this is a self-defense decision by the restaurant or something Postmates mandates. Regardless, even in the best case, the commission they are getting is off a higher priced menu, so they’re at least getting more for their 35% cut. If the best case here is that the restaurant is jacking their prices up 30% plus in order to offset the cost of selling through apps, well…that mitigates my friend’s concern, right?

Apps are still charging crazy delivery fees to the customer. Their other customer. Usually somewhere in the $3-5 range. So, on top of the $4-5 they would make on my $13.95 order from the restaurant, they add another $4-5 from the customer.

So, they’re making around $10 on each $15 order placed.

And I know, they promote restaurants with free or reduced delivery, too. I have no idea how that works out for the restaurants versus the apps. But on the flip side of that, for every order under $15, Postmates racks on a “small cart fee” of $2 to the customer, so…they’re making money somewhere or wheres – I don’t feel bad for them.

Like Filipina Fox, I feel a little bad for some of the businesses. But mostly, I feel mad that the customer is getting abused the way they are. The end result being that I will make decisions kind of like what she has been opting to do, which is just put on my big boy pants and walk down to the restaurant and pick up my own damn food.

No, really…I have to put on pants. Quarantine dress code and all means I’m probably sitting around in sweats versus dressed to go out. And sweats are not ok for going to pick up to-go food…it’s not like I’m getting on a plane, for Pete’s sake.

But, that’s a whole other rant.

Pro-Tip

Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

I’d forgotten about this…achievement with everything else going on.

Maybe that means I’m losing my competitive edge not being around other people. One thing I’ve noticed, having indulged in video chats with family and friends lately – ok, sure…I call them Virtual Happy Hours, but let’s call that Social Distancing Lubrication – is that we have to wait our turn to talk.

Tech limitations being what they are – or maybe my laptop is old – the speaker/microphone tend to be something of a one trick pony. If you’re talking, you can’t hear, so if you want an actual conversation, you have to actually stop and listen.

Bad news for these people who say they can do both, all they’re gonna be “hearing” while they talk over someone else is themselves.

Perhaps that’s truly their deep-seeded happy place. Maybe now is when they’ll realize it. Or maybe they will realize it and come out of this better – actual – conversationalists.

For my part, someone bothers to set up a VHH and then pulls that with me, I’ll turn the screen toward my sink and let them watch me drink wine and wash dishes while they conversationally masturbate.

Now…what was I talking about?

Oh, yes. Competitive edge.

Soon after I started driving with Lyft last summer, I became aware of the fact that Lyft was a sponsor for Portland’s MLS team, the Timbers.

It’s kind of a big deal around here.

I noticed this when they ran a story on their blog about sending a featured driver to the match as a form of recognition. That sounded cool. I have actually never been to a match – they are harder to get into than Elton John’s post-Oscar party and I can easily drink better expensive beer elsewhere, so…<shrug emoji>

But this sounded kinda like just my type of goofy fun.

Then I read the present featured driver had 5000 rides and a 5-star rating.

Ok, well, it seemed like I was gonna be logging a few miles before I got to his level. Plus, I’m aware that I can come off as quite a unit when I get going about something, so wasn’t expecting to maintain a 5-star rating long.

Don’t even talk to me about that 98% Acceptance Rate. Sore subject…

But, now you see the “K” I was referring to in the post title.

It really only took about 7 months, and that’s driving ~25 hours a week. Of course, I should have hit it a couple weeks earlier…thanks, Coronavirus.

An unexpected perk – and another way Lyft builds in recognition in their be-your-own-boss work environment is to award swag when you hit milestones. However, since my swag threshold kinda peaks at “sticker”, I didn’t pay much attention to this accomplishment/reward. My experience is that branded merch is pretty schlocky, so I tune it out.

Not that I was ever a smoker, but remember those jackets you could redeem your “points” for from cigarette brands like Marlboro or Camel? Yeah, that’s the image I have of employer branded clothing.

So, when I checked my PO Box yesterday and found a key to a package locker, I was completely surprised.

Even more surprised at how surprised I was that I forgot something like this.

I don’t know why that would have surprised me at all.

But it was a cute little experience, taking this package home and being surprised again and again and again at the level of care they seemed to put into sending me this little moment of recognition in a fairly anonymous work environment.

Seriously, that’s the inside of the lid. There was a note that was printed in a hand-written font by someone with an easy to make dirty name – think “Mulva” or “Bipple” – so I didn’t put that on blast here. The jacket itself was wrapped in a silver tissue with a 1K sticker holding it closed.

Really, all this for a jacket I won’t wear?”

But the last surprise – ok, second to last – was that I found the damn thing to be not only my style, but tastefully done, too!

Nothing too garish. A current tech fabric style.

Nice.

Oh, and that last surprise?

It fit.

I asked for a Large, aspirationally. I’ll reluctantly admit that I’ve been apathetically resigned to XL lately, and they just do not fit my frame well.

Luckily, iSolation has provided me with no excuses to procrastinate exercise lately, so my Large closet is getting less of a stretch lately, and this fit. Well, the arms are almost too short, which is normal for my gangly assed frame.

So, call this grumpy old man pleasantly surprised.

Plus, Myrt got something out of it, too.

For all those times dinner was late because I was driving…

Now, if I ever get back to driving, I can work on those Timbers tickets!

Does This K Make Me Look Fat?

Due To Whelming Feedback…

…from yesterday’s post, I went out for a drive last night.

Mind you, the feedback was neither over nor underwhelming, simply whelming.

Of course, the universe didn’t let that stop it from being a rather me evening.

To wit – or, since it’s me – to halfwit.

There I was, minding my own biznatch…watching my eighth or thirtieth consecutive episode of Star Trek Voyager of the day, and suddenly MomDonna chimes in cryptically via text.

I love how she just starts her text in the middle of the conversation. Hehe. I think that conversational familiarity is a hallmark of any good relationship, so I definitely count it as a blessing that I have that shorthand with my parents.

And like any good slacker son, since mom said, I did.

Did, in this instance meaning, I turned on my Postmates app while continuing to watch Voyager and simultaneously playing Words With Friends.

I’m sitting there looking for a place to play aioli and seriously within a minute I get an order. So I go.

Yes, I placed my word first…isolation priorities.

I walk the two blocks to the lot I’d parked in after my depressive two hour/three ride Monday morning drive efforts – I literally made enough to cover parking for the day – and realized the pick up was from the just the around the corner Italian joint. I coast over, park illegally and try to go inside.

The door was blocked by two septuagenarians waiting for a table. And the place is packed!

I immediately start to feel a scratchy throat coming on as I wait. Recreational hypochondria is an unsung hobby of mine, just behind “growing hair” but before “growing hair in weird places” on my free time to do list.

“This is how we all die”, I think, “these idiots.”

Mind you, I’m out picking up food for people, but:

  1. I was expecting that restaurants would be deserted on the night before the dine-in embargo became official. Look at me, with my uncommon sense. And;
  2. My mom told me to do it. What’s their excuse?!?
  • I drive my order from the NW quadrant over to NoPo – North Portland, our city’s fifth quadrant – and drop it off. With no other deliveries stacked up, I sit in Angela for a minute trying to decide what to do. Normally, I’d point my car toward home and then take orders if they came and quit when I got home if they didn’t.
  • Extraordinary circumstances, though.
  • Plus, I had been to the Silver Fox’s that afternoon and while there, peeked into his fridge. I’ve dubbed myself his real-life Kramer, so I feel it’s incumbent upon me to be weird and help myself to his food when he’s not around.
  • He’d abandoned me yesterday to keep his ex-wife company during her self-imposed isolation, so I figured liberating a kombucha from his fridge was the least I could do.
  • Empty.
  • Seriously, there was like a container of oat milk. I’d rather die than drink that before it’s 15 minutes of fame were up. Adding insult to injury, his ex’s grand nephew popped in to spend his spring break with them since Canada is closed…meaning I’ll probably not see The Fox again until it’s time to pull his plug.
  • Also meaning that I had to text him my disappointment at the fridge situation.
  • Knowing how to truly wound me, he replied that there were some frozen meatless burger patties in the freezer I was welcome to.
  • This is why we’re friends.
  • Anyway, apocalypse being now, I decided I best head to Gross Out for some frozen broccoli. If this outbreak kills me, I’d like my corpse to weigh a few pounds less than my live body does currently. If it doesn’t kill me, welp…Pride is in June, so I’ll exit forced isolation ahead of the game, eh?
  • I turn on my Lyft app to ensure I have every shot possible at scrapping a nutritious diet for pizza delivery, thinking there’s no way I won’t get distracted by one of the two apps before I get to the NE quadrant.
  • I get there. Who knew?
  • I go in and grab a couple salad kits then head to the frozen food coolers for my broccoli. They were sold out. The only thing left was albino broccoli.
  • I think I probably have something from Penzey’s that can make it palatable, but head over to the wine department, just in case.
  • I check out and get back to Angela, turning my apps back on for the potential ride home. Before I even push “start”, I have a delivery.
  • Sheesh.
  • I look at the nav…right across the street.
  • Woooow.
  • Apps are cool.
  • I pick up some guy’s dinner – a grocery bag full of Korean BBQ – and head off toward NE 60th & Couch.
  • Sidebar: You pronounced that wrong – it sounds like “cooch” here. But just the street, not the furniture.
  • So, there I am…sitting at NE 60th & – say it with me – Couch at 730 PM. I need to go home and feed Myrt the Murderous soon. She had a late snack, so I’m not feeling terribly guilty.

    Still, soon.

    But at the same time, I’m 80-ish blocks from home and would feel guilty just driving there straightaway. On the other hand, my caving to peer and mom pressure to get out and try some deliveries has netted me $7. Actually, after groceries, my net is -$25.

    This is why I don’t put a ton of effort into Postmates as anything other than a cure for boredom. Delivering two meals and earning $7 is way better than the alternative: drinking two $7 beers.

    Sure.

    Fine.

    Apps on, I point Angela toward the South Water Front and Oregon Health Sciences Hospital campus, thinking I might catch a shift change ride.

    I don’t.

    But as I’m weaving around the labyrinthine streets of SW Portland, I get a call up to the main campus on top of Marquam Hill. Technically, first I got a Lux ride that was 14 minutes away that canceled 90 seconds later. Seriously, that was a bummer because it was far enough out in SE that I’d probably have earned $40 on that ride, but if the passenger was gonna spend $60+ on a ride, they probably didn’t want to wait 15 minutes for it. Still, they couldn’t wait another 30 seconds and slide a $10 cancellation fee my way? Hehe.

    Ok, anyway.

    Then I got an order, then 30 seconds later I got the OHSU ride. I cancel the order – wondering what karmic shenanigans I’ve signed up for in doing so – and head up to OHSU.

    I drop the ICU nurse I pick up off at a Safeway in NE so she can do some shopping before heading home. This woman has some logic long game – she knew at 6 AM that she’d want to shop after work and parked accordingly. I pull out of the parking lot and am going around the block of one-way streets so I can head home.

    Another ride.

    Three blocks away.

    Seriously…this kind of takes some of the sting out of the Lux ride that canceled on me. But only just. I made $20 on Sunday – plus $5 off a delivery order – none of which tipped. My Monday drives had doubled those earnings, but I’d usually earn over twice that before the world slowly began ending, so I was pretty disheartened that Lux ride hadn’t happened to true me somewhat up.

    Alas.

    What ended up being my last ride took me to SE again, around 33rd, putting me a ways away from home. But I’d gotten a self proclaimed introvert to talk, so I was feeling pretty good as I pointed the car toward home once again.

    I actually made it home.

    However, since it was now 830 and the chatty introvert was the only tipper out of four “customers”, I wasn’t disappointed to call it a night.

    I had some dinner wine and went to bed so that I could wake up at 6 today and give it another go. I made about 30% more on my morning commute rides today – again, one tipper…disappointing trend – which put me at about 50% of my normal morning earnings. Enough to park Angela for the day and buy myself a coffee. To go, natch. But I got home to a push from Postmates telling me one of last night’s deliveries had tipped me $7.50, doubling my actual delivery earnings for the evening. Still not super impressed with the Income Potential from Postmates, but to MomDonna’s point, it got me out of the house.

    Plus, turns out Voyager wasn’t yanked from Netflix overnight, so I really didn’t miss anything.

    And that’s my last 36 hours of social-distance-slash-forced-isolation…one footnote to yesterday’s post, my first ride today – a nurse – demonstrated to me exactly how the US extincts itself.

    I drive in the mornings for the scratch, sure. Until the lottery decides to cooperate, anyway…But in these low earning days, I’d rather stay in bed. It’s being so close to so many (non-tipping, but still) medical professionals who Lyft to work since there’s no parking for them on campus that gets me up. Getting medical professionals to work these days is a reward that’s greater than the paycheck or non-existent tip.

    Seriously, one OHSU worker has tipped me in 9 months. And the buildings they live in aren’t dumps. Also, the wait list for parking on campus is long. One nurse has been on it for nine years. And there’s still 1000 people ahead of her! That’s what you get for building a hospital on a hilltop, eh?

    Anyway. I digress.

    This nurse tells me she was going to miss going out for St Paddy’s Day after work due to the forced closures. But at least she got to go out to her favorite neighborhood watering hole last night for a last farewell.

    I ask her which one and she tells me River Pig. I know it, I tell her. Ramzy – the owner – is a nice guy, despite spelling his name incorrectly. Kind of a douche, but still nice.

    Further demonstrating both my point about Ramzy and Governor Brown’s need to force social hubs to shutter to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or any of the lesser COVIDs, my nurse passenger tells me that Ramzy had told her he wasn’t closing. He was going to remain open for his regulars as a means of exploiting the 25 person or less private event loophole for restaurants and bars.

    Like I said, he’s a douche.

    But seriously, that’s how we die. Not some millennial taking a $87 round trip spring break flight to Puerto Vallarta, no…a nurse who should know better and a bar owner who clearly skews GOP values-wise. Oh, and 70-somethings going to packed restaurants during a pandemic!

    My workaround? I gave her a 3-star rating so I don’t have to risk picking her future COVID-zombie-self up.

    Stupid Americans…

    Due To Whelming Feedback…

    Take Four

    Well, here we are…another day, another loaner.

    Let’s see…where did I leave off last on my misadventures in being a lemon rancher?

    I think my last post was when Pat was in the shop awaiting the arrival of a replacement door seal that had been mis-shipped ground versus 2-day air. That ended up taking 11 days instead of the expected two.

    The important thing is that I got Pat back, right? After both passenger side door seals had been replaced, surely that would be that.

    Surely?

    Shirley?

    Oh, what a fool I must be to believe that.

    It was raining as I was leaving the dealer with my second new door seal in place, I reached back just to feel the satisfaction of a dry carpet in inclement weather.

    Naturally, it was soaking wet.

    What a craptastic situation.

    I mean, if the carpet is wet, it either means they are so incompetent that the seal they replaced was done incorrectly and was immediately leaking or they had never dried out the water damage when they did the repair. That’s the two options I can come up with, and I’m not one to just assume people are incompetent – despite best evidence to the contrary.

    In this case, I believed I had two brand new and properly installed door seals. But I was beginning to really have trouble deciding which was worse: if someone simply forgot to dry out the carpet or if the leak was simply just mis-identified and was yet to be discovered and repaired.

    One scenario was definitely more problematic than the other. If someone had deliberately returned my car to me without repairing the actual water damage…how friggin’ petty, right? I mean, assuming the seals were both installed correctly, it was either intentionally petty or half-assed work – after all, how can you know the leak is repaired if you can’t see whether or not new damage is occurring?

    The next day at work, I made use of my breaks and downtime by doing a little research into next steps. It was looking like suing the dealer was going to be my last recourse.

    I had to think about what I wanted. At this point, a functional vehicle was looking like too big an ask. So if I couldn’t have that, what would make me “whole” in this transaction?

    I knew I wanted my $200 that I paid for the first door seal returned.

    After losing out on two weeks of driving income – you can’t drive for Lyft without vehicle insurance in your name, and you can’t cover a vehicle you don’t have a registration for – and in that two week timeframe I was down about 1/4 of my monthly budget. That made February tough, and March wasn’t looking to start off any better.

    But what I really want is out of this car. It gives me dread to just consider dealing with a lemon for the foreseeable future. I was glad I had bought the extended warranty, but with only about 40% of the first three repairs falling under its protection, I was worried about the reality of owning Pat on day 366.

    That made me wonder. Could I trade this off? Not just financially, either…ethically, could I dump Pat the Problem on someone else?

    Hell, for that matter, could I even break even on a trade-in transaction? That took me to Kelley Blue Book to see. The value seemed to have held up over six months a lot better than Pat was. Which made me consider my purchase price. All things being equal, I knew from pre-purchase research that I had paid a fair price, but after the history of owning Pat, I was thinking that all things weren’t actually equal.

    The price I had paid was middle of the road for a car in good to excellent condition.

    That did not describe Pat.

    So I looked at the price for a car in fair condition – the lowest quotable condition on KBB. My purchase price was at the top of the scale.

    I’m thinking that maybe I should have paid more toward the lower end of that price range…which is where I felt I had a legitimate claim.

    But still a claim that fell below the threshold for suing in court, which is over $10,000, essentially funneling me back toward Small Claims.

    What I learned in looking into Small Claims was that before the court would consider an action valid, I had to notify the other party of my intent and let them have an opportunity to make good.

    Which I respected – even though one more chance makes the other three opportunities the dealer had to “make good” look like making good was maybe optional.

    At least until you email the GM and include the word lawsuit in your message.

    And that’s how I ended up sitting with the GM and Service Manager for an hour and a half today.

    Mind you, most of that was spent with me listening to him talk about his 25 years in the business and the math of selling cars. Occasionally, the Service Manager would interrupt with something equally unimportant to me – like the tight control on replacement parts. It seems if you order a duplicate part, you have to attach it to a vehicle. That was by way of explaining why they couldn’t simply order a duplicate seal once they learned the original seal had been mis-shipped the last time around.

    Smooth, right?

    But I still didn’t care – but only because the car hadn’t been returned to me completely repaired. Had that happened, all would be just fine and dandy.

    Yet, here these two were, sitting across the table from me trying to convince me that they didn’t mean to screw me in this deal.

    Lawsuit…powerful word. Motivating, in fact.

    And after talking to them, I don’t believe they tried to screw me. I never did. But if the reality is that I feel screwed after my car being in the shop three times in six months – literally sitting in their shop/yard for a full month – that the car I own is not the car they thought they were selling.

    So, there I am – feeling inadvertently screwed.

    It feels strangely similar to being intentionally screwed.

    In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s #MeToo convictions, this was an ok reminder. With harassment – yes, rape is different than harassment, but both fell under the #MeToo umbrella – we are coached that intent isn’t the issue. Someone can harass you without actually intending their actions to be harassing.

    Y’know, like sometimes people are just genuinely dicks and until someone says, “That’s harassment”, the results of their actions are never their concern. That’s so America, too. I’ve been told over the course of my life to get along with bullies – both personally and professionally – because it’s easier to tell someone to buck up than to effectively change or stop someone else’s behavior.

    There I am, feeling torn about whether these guys need another chance or if I should reasonably feel like the only thing that is reasonable is a value correction on my purchase + lost driving income + refunds on my repair and extended warranty purchases.

    And if I throw a fit and demand that my way is the only way, then I’m the bully, right?

    Which is how I ended up in Renee the Renegade. I’m actually trying to remember in v1 of my loaner Renegades was silver or white. I remember white, but can’t be sure…but what a trip if I ended up in the same loaner twice in about 3 months.

    Of course, the price for me being reasonable and giving them a fourth chance was to subject them to a little Xtopher Life and Management Lesson.

    Namely, the GM’s big argument in support of the vehicle’s quality when he sold it was to wave a stack of papers at the DoJ complaint I filed.

    I told him that checklists are great…as long as someone is inspecting the checklist checkers. At the very least, that was obviously not happening here. If it was, then my car being returned after its third visit to the shop with soaking wet carpets was more of a conspiracy than it was incompetence.

    There’s a thought that’ll bounce around my head for a few forevers.

    But he acknowledged that it was true, and that he couldn’t explain how that would have happened – only that it shouldn’t have. A statement that’s smack dab in the middle of denial and accountability.

    In the meantime, I’m not sure what will happen with Pat. The GM offered to shop another deal around for me – and I don’t know if doing so wouldn’t have been the smarter move. I don’t feel ready to make a trade yet. I think I’ve talked before about how if I’d known I was going to love driving with Lyft so much, I’d have gotten a more bells-y and whistle-y vehicle. From that standpoint, getting something with leather seats and a heated steering wheel seems like an obvious yes. But the end result of this nightmare being these guys selling another car…that doesn’t seem exactly right to me.

    So, I’m in a holding pattern for a couple of days. But they promised me I’d be back in the drivers seat by Friday so I can hopefully get March started off not too far behind the 8-ball…we’ll see.

    Take Four

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    First, I feel like I should remind you about that time I was immortalized in a meme…

    “They” even made t-shirts!

    Now, while the people who know me consider how likely this actually is to be true, I can explain the January thing to the rest of you. Then we can all regroup and move on to the meat of this post together.

    Seriously, social media is on fire – once again – with memes like this.

    Apparently, January seems like a long month…

    Maybe it’s all the exercise?

    Perhaps the no drinking resolutions?

    Regardless, I’m witnessing a lot of this type of behavior

    For me, January is my birthday month, so I’ve always kind of looked forward to it. On top of that, the last two years, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in November, taking December as a “down month” to distance myself from my project before getting into writing and editing mode again in January.

    What I’m saying is that it’s a month I look forward to.

    But not this year.

    Well, ok, I did look forward to it, but it burned off. The month proceeded apace for the first few weeks, and then the last 9 days have been like boogie boarding in the La Brea Tar Pits.

    On top of that, the effect seems to be amplifying on some whack-a-doodle three day cycle.

    That realization hit me this morning, on the last day of this fucking year month.

    I was driving home from a UA for a new job I start on Tuesday when I noticed someone had won the $350 million Powerball. Now, I’d checked the tickets the Silver Fox had picked up earlier in the week and knew we hadn’t won. Still, there was a shadow of hope that that had been the rule. This provided confirmation that there had, sadly for most, been an exception.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still buy a ticket for $40 mil, but the SF doesn’t like to invest for less than a $100 million potential return.

    Anyway, there I was, driving home all mopey in The Fox’s car – what’s that? Why is Pat still at the spa?

    Well, they aren’t. Well, weren’t. After a week in the shop and $200 out of pocket, I picked Pat up last Friday to reports of a successful door gasket replacement followed by a dry – my tech stressed it was bone dry – five hour shower test.

    I took off from the dealer and went to work my part-time HR gig, excited to do some driving after work that evening.

    In true Xtopher fashion, the first person I picked up following work that day was living in an eerily adjacent orbit to mine.

    I picked her up about six blocks from work, at a satellite City of Portland building. My part-time gig – as you probably won’t recall – is providing contract staff to…the City of Portland. This has happened on several occasions, so I wasn’t anything other than mildly amused by this occurrence.

    I checked her drop off destination: Landmark Ford. Once she confirmed it, I mentioned picking up my car that morning after getting the door seal replaced.

    That’s what I’m having done! Although, I hope mine is more successful than yours…

    Then I hear squishing and splashing and turn my head enough to see her moving her feet up and down in a pool of water.

    To my credit, I didn’t slam on the brakes or vocalize the expletive I was thinking. That would have been something like this…

    I called the shop the next day and was told they could get me in on February 3rd…over a week away. I spent the rest of the weekend driving food around instead of people for Postmates, but it just wasn’t the same.

    Turns out, I’m that chatty old lady you sit next to on every flight you take. I love talking to people and Lyft gives me that every day social paycheck. The Lyft community is filled with awesome people with fun stories to share…and I miss them. Especially when I’m bored at home.

    And they seem to tolerate me pretty well, too. So I’m not just victimizing my Patsengers like that chatty old airplane broad.

    How do I know?

    I average 25% in tips each week.

    Also,

    Yeah, I’m gonna be humbly smug for a while after that. As a matter of fact, given the timing, I’m choosing to believe that this was left by Rashida Tlaib, who I got the privilege of driving around earlier that week in my loaner.

    Yup. I had 1/435th of the US House of Representatives in my car last week!

    She’d been in town for a Coalition of American-Islamic Relations event where she was the keynote speaker. She was a delight and I wished my ride with her had been longer.

    Anyway, after a frustrating weekend, I decided to drop my car off at the dealer on Tuesday. I worked my HR gig on Monday and was heading home after a meeting Tuesday morning, thinking about how quickly my financial bridge for February had collapsed and dreading paying to park my car on the street all day – and for most of the rest of the week.

    I pulled over and did some stress breathing and text therapy with The Fox. He told me what I wanted to do – which is the validation I wanted that what I was going to do was rational.

    I dropped my car off at the dealer and told them they could store it until the appointment on the 3rd.

    The Fox picked me up and promised I could borrow his car for work on Wednesday and a Thursday.

    Now, for those of you still back on my urinalysis appointment this morning…yeah, I’d gotten a new job. That was the meeting I was at on Tuesday prior to my meltdown that led to me tossing my problems keys at the Jeep tech and abandoning Pat.

    I’d been having weird discomfort at my HR gig the last few weeks. I was feeling ineffective. Not because I was being told I was doing things wrong or because the feedback I was getting was lackluster.

    It was quite the opposite, actually, but the owner of the company was growing more and more stressed at work and coming in later and later or even less and less.

    At the beginning of December, she’d asked me to prepare an end of year memo for the contract staff. Just reminders like updating addresses for tax time, recognized holidays, what to do in the event of inclement weather…pretty basic stuff. I cracked out a first draft and sent it to her. She likes to edit. Either my content or just to put my words into her voice.

    She never sent it out.

    This isn’t uncommon – I had been told in my first week that she wanted me to edit some policies and add updated information for the Employee Handbook. At first, she wanted to work with me on it. Then she started asking for what I had and I figured out that I should just do it. I submitted my suggestions to her for editing and the employment attorney’s sign off in early November.

    Nothing.

    What’s annoying about this is that one policy in particular needed some clarity. It’s the Alternative Transportation Benefit.

    Basically, anyone who gets to work without using a personal vehicle gets a monthly $30 offset from the company.

    The only thing was that there was no process. Every pay period – and I’m barely exaggerating, I think 9/12 of the payrolls I had done included an ATB for one or more employees…and the only tracking was memory.

    I’d even included the new process in the year end email she’d asked me to draft so that we could start the new year clean.

    But she didn’t send it.

    So, I sent my own version out just before Christmas with just the ATB and address update request. I’m pretty sure that was the second point.

    People – some, not all, of course – still submitted their ATB for the final payroll run of last year.

    Idiots.

    Then, on the first run of 2020, the owner decided we should just pay everyone who usually submits for January.

    So I did.

    Even knowing this would be a double payment for some. At least she was tacitly acknowledged that she knew what I had tried to do, even though only 20% of the usual ATB users complied with the new directive.

    Not my circus, not my circus, not my circus…

    I even got an “I forgot” email from one of our biggest Problem Child employees this week. I knew we would pay her – even though she wasn’t one of the employees that usually claimed the benefit. At least she’d read my email. When I told the owner about it, she behaved like our Problem Child always used the ATB.

    Of course, I checked the payroll database…

    Once.

    She’d claimed the ATB once in her tenure – which began shortly before my own. And I remember when that was, since it was the first payroll I processed. She was technically not eligible since the policy is one of those “after 30 days of employment” policies.

    Of course, we paid her anyway. The owner is just pro-employee like that.

    Then the Problem Child claimed the benefit again two weeks later on the next payroll.

    Bless her pointy little head.

    Sure, in true to her fashion, she’d fucked up the execution, but a writer likes to know he’s read, ok?

    Anyway, two Fridays back, I’d asked my handler to look for other positions for me. I like the owner and the recruiter.

    And I love the Chief Feline Officer.

    But I knew that the owner wasn’t going to change her behaviors that triggered me, nor did I have a reasonable expectation that she should. Well, except that she asked my advice on things and my take there is that peoples behaviors should actually reflect an effort to change if you bug me looking for feedback.

    Sidebar: this just came on in my place.

    🎼🎼I think a change, a change will do you good🎼🎼

    But that’s just my $.02…and if I take the random music happening while I write as indication that the universe agrees with me? So what!

    Back to my veiled beyond recognition point…Tuesday afternoon I get the call that the new client wants me.

    That felt good, and honestly, I think there’s room to grow not only into a permanent role, but also from simply a payroll position into the open HR position they mentioned during my interview. I wouldn’t complain!

    Really, I wouldn’t!

    Even though the trade off here is that I have to go back to a five day job.

    I went into work the next day with a plan to tell the owner the news. Partly expecting her to revisit taking me from temporary to 1099 employee, which was something we’d discussed in late October. I walked away when she offered me what she had paid my predecessor.

    As a company employee.

    I was born at night, but it wasn’t the night before that conversation.

    Just kidding, I was born during the day.

    But still, if I’m taking on the financial burden of city, county, state and federal self-employment taxes…well, it isn’t going to be for less than nothing.

    Seriously, it would be a financial step backward.

    Meanwhile, she’d be saving about 45% of what she’d been paying my temp agency. I’d gone into the conversation thinking we could agree on a rate that would cover my 27% (minimum) tax liability and still save her 25%.

    But I thought versus losing me, she might go back to that table.

    Little did I know, my handler had told her about my new gig Wednesday morning before the owner came to the office. I know this because I received an email from the owner at about 10:00 congratulating me and telling me that it was my last day.

    Mentally, I pictured a couple more chunks of concrete falling off of my financial bridge for February.

    And that’s where my unending and snowballing January ends: with five days off between gigs with zero opportunities to earn money driving between the two jobs.

    And it was seeing that someone else had won the Powerball on Wednesday night that finally triggered me.

    But as long as the hit I took off my vape last August doesn’t blow my UA out of the water, February will be a better month.

    January 2020…you were one hell of a year. Bite me.

    I Get The January Thing, Now

    Post

    I’ve had this notion in draft mode for about 9 months now, so I suppose it’s about time I pushed this baby out.

    Nine months ago, I flippantly said to a friend,

    I’m not doing that. I’m post-that.

    I think it was the Silver Fox and I think he was suggesting we go to the gym…specifically so he could get into hiking shape for his then upcoming six-week shuffling through Europe trip.

    Post-that.

    It was a time in my life where I’d been scratching at the professional employment door for the better part of a year like an unwelcome cat.

    I was mentally preparing myself for an upcoming summer of gorgeous PNW weather…and dreading the main outdoor physical activity available to me being cycling.

    I thought about it for a bit and wondered what my motivation really was.

    This old Groucho Marx quote:

    I don’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member

    It kept popping up in my mind and casually in conversation. It got to the point where I had to acknowledge it; aka: obsessively think about it.

    Admittedly, I didn’t come up with the answer. I think ruminations like this evolve over time. What is important to get to – for me – was the core value that was anxiously raising its hand to say something just outside my figurative peripheral vision.

    I’d been applying for jobs I wanted with companies I wanted to work for and maybe getting interviews, maybe not, definitely not getting hired.

    When that didn’t work, I changed my focus and broadened my search to jobs with companies I didn’t necessarily want to work with, but knew I could meet the job expectations. Surprisingly, I got the same results. More surprisingly, I was offended at being rejected by companies I held in low regard.

    It all reminded me of how true my dating/interviewing analogy has always been. The way you (should) put your best foot forward in either situation, learn about the “opportunity” and then mutually decide whether it’s a good match. Ideally, both parties reach the same decision.

    <pause to glare at millennials>

    Moving on.

    But where do I move on to from there? That scenario – thanks to my own analogy – encompasses dating, too. There I was, kind of at the massive intersection of Work, Romance & Fitness Boulevards and I didn’t want to cross any of them.

    Fortunately, I didn’t want to jump into traffic, either. I think that’s a good sign.

    I really couldn’t tell if I was broken or protesting. It’s probably worth noting that this overlapped with my nine month haircut hiatus. My mother had gone from niggling at me to get a haircut to being envious of my natural hair flip to quietly telling me that my dad would like to see me get a haircut.

    That last one kind of got to me and I started mentally preparing myself to face a haircut. It also got me thinking that maybe what motivated me to work was making my parents proud.

    I kicked that one around for a bit.

    Then I remembered that my parent’s pride in me seems innate, not earned. It was a realization that made me feel truly fortunate.

    I’d written a book that literally dozens of people read.

    My parents were proud of me.

    I’d taken any job I could get – perhaps the only – just to get off my couch and do something.

    My parents? Still proud.

    So working professionally to please my parents wasn’t the answer.

    Maybe I was asking the wrong figurative question, then?

    I wandered back to dating. And quickly ran away from that notion. I’d have to be pretty self-loathing to expose myself to that group of people for answers. Because the answer to the collective question – What are you looking for? – for folks in the dating pool is not

    Y’know, an old, out of shape dude who’s adrift and underemployed. Yeah, that’d be nice.

    But what I did remember was my dating bar. I expected people I dated to enhance my happiness.

    Not make me happy.

    Certainly not erode my happiness.

    That got me thinking that I should absolutely apply that same bar to my work life.

    Then I remembered that I had and quit my last job because it was absolutely eroding my happiness.

    And just like a shit boyfriend, behaved the same way when I pointed it out.

    I had started this exercise where I’d admitted I didn’t know the answer. I was now at the point where I’d searched for an answer and not found one.

    You know where that left me?

    Fucking religion.

    Can you believe that?

    Who answers your prayers?

    God?

    I’d long ago put my faith in myself. Not god.

    Then I’d spent a few decades letting people take it away from me.

    Bosses.

    Customers.

    Boyfriends.

    Maybe I should just reach out and take that faith back?

    I mentioned earlier that I wrote a book that “no one” read.

    Y’know what? That didn’t bug me.

    I’d written a book!

    That realization made me feel good.

    Good about myself and that accomplishment that “few” achieve. Well, few people, but hundreds of monkeys – if you put them all in a room together with a typewriter.

    But it also made me realize that there were people in my life urging me to do it for a decade.

    Just a few.

    Not even a gang.

    They were never in the same room together and maybe only once crossed paths on the same Facebook thread.

    But they were there.

    Just like my parents.

    Maybe the answer I was looking for was actually those few voices that spoke up but were drowned out by the constant droning white noise of everyone else.

    I realized that those few voices were coming from the people I wanted to hear.

    Needed to hear, honestly.

    The sincere people in my life.

    But I’d been conditioned to listen to the masses and their collective white noise voice.

    That voice, however, was like the Great and All-Powerful Oz.

    Big and loud, but behind it? Just a curtain hiding small, scared individuals.

    I was over trying to get through to “them”, they didn’t listen, anyway. Without listening, there’s no conversation…just one-sided talk.

    I decided I was over that.

    Postthat.

    Post screaming into a void and expecting an answer.

    Job boards.

    Dating apps.

    Gyms with mirrors that reflected only negative extremes: what was perfect or what was imperfect.

    Declaring myself post allowed me the luxury to do what I wanted for my own satisfaction, not to meet the expectations of an undefined group of faceless people.

    To find my own satisfaction.

    Hell, to first define satisfaction for myself and start there.

    And in finding the faith in myself to set that bar, I felt empowered and optimistic…and it was sustained for the first time in years. But it makes me think that stripping it down to that level will allow me to arrive at a place where the definition I have for happiness overall is stronger than any I’ve had before. I’m not standing there asking some company or stranger-I’m-fucking-and-calling-it-dating for a sign off on my happiness.

    I’m doing my own happiness; specifically giving my time to activities and people that enhance my work-in-progress happiness.

    And you know what?

    Now I want to do the things that I was post-doing before.

    So, that’s a pretty good place to end up.

    PS: my favorite Groucho quote? Well, since you didn’t ask…

    Go read a book!

    Post

    Point Galby

    I mean, point taken.

    The Silver Fox pointed out after my post this morning that it’s the first time I’ve posted since he abandoned me – er, left on his six week vacation back on September 16th.

    He didn’t specify the year, but it seems like about a decade since he left.

    Between that and this insane grind I’ve been on since around the end of July, my routine has been pretty erratic. Hell, even my self care has been off.

    Side note: I’ve got to figure out a way to reference these jobs I’m doing in a shorthand format. It’s crazy trying to keep them straight in my own mind. I can’t imagine it’s any easier reading them without much context.

    For ease of reading – I hope – I think I’ll refer to them by number, in the chronological order in which they came to me:

    Job 1: writing.

    Job 2: Peterson’s, aka – the convenience store. Surprisingly not the worst paying at Oregon’s minimum wage of $12.50/hr…see Job 1.

    Job 3: the temp HR job, which is looking pretty good for the temp-to-hire scenario.

    Job 4: Lyft, aka – The Verb.

    Job 5: Postmates.

    Side note, squared: I’ve got to divest myself of a job or two. The thing is, I tried resigning from Job 2 three weeks ago and it was somehow rejected. There was a deal that lasted a week until I got a “Can you pick up an extra day?” Luckily, that ended up being unnecessary, but I’ll admit that I’m passively trying to get fired now by actively disobeying a rule here or there.

    So far, no dice.

    Anyway, to address the Silver Fox’s point, I have begun doing little mini-workouts over the last few weeks at home. Just two or three times a week, nothing major. There’s a draft called Post in my pipeline that kind of elaborates on that and my In Living Color Jamaican Skit worthy number of jobs…but I started it as part of that game I mentioned playing earlier today. Alas, I “lost” that round and got a ride before I finished it.

    So, today I had ended up with a draw in The Game – finished the blog entry after failing my initial mission to retrieve my laptop.

    Made $100 in three hours, so let’s really acknowledge that this was a win.

    To honor The Fox, I took my self-care up a notch. I addressed the brown thumb situation that is my balcony pot garden.

    Calm down, mother. The other kind of pot.

    What a friggin’ mess. Such a waste of a summer planting opportunity. As a matter of fact, I’d go as far to say that the only plant out there was Ollie the Olive Tree. The Hens & Chicks and the sedum in the second pic are barely clinging to life and everything else that could be considered as plant life has pulled a Carol Anne and walked toward the damn light.

    To that end, I took my hun from this morning and parlayed some of it into a few plants. Honestly, I’d been thinking about it since this morning. My second ride was to drop a guy off at his car, which was parked at the Home Depot.

    Ok, here’s how driving frequently goes – and I’ll be honest, the cyclical/coincidental nature makes me question whether the Universe is putting signs in front of me…

    Ride 1: dropped Sweatpant Guy at the airport.

    Ride 2: took a guy back to his aforementioned car parked at the Home Depot by the airport.

    At this point, I start to think,

    Aight. It’s gonna be an airport-type day.

    Ain’t nothing wrong with that. Especially on a Saturday, when the traffic isn’t bad. The run only takes 20 minutes and if you get tipped, it’s about a $20 journey.

    But then nothing happens.

    I had made a comment to my second passenger that maybe I should look at some plants while I was there, but didn’t feel like dropping money on plants at that point. I play The Game all the way across town to the office of Job 3, pick up my laptop and had just stashed it in the back of Pat the Patriot when I get a ping.

    From two blocks away.

    Which brings us to…

    Ride 3: I drop off a young lady at work. She works at Ross on Jantzen Beach – which just so happened to have relocated to the building of a Linens ‘N Things that I used to manage before that company went out of business (no causal relationship, I assure you).

    There is also a Home Depot right there. I drive by the Home Depot on the way back to the freeway, but a slow walker crossing the parking lot on The Diagonal pissed me off and I felt like my ire might be toxic to the plants, so I kept driving.

    Normally, I’d respect The Diagonal, except: slow walker. And you know when someone sees you and knows they’re pulling a dick move, so I got away from that Bozo.

    I’m back on the 5 heading into town, and I start to see tail lights. I decide to get off – of the freeway, Diezel, calm down – and head the rest of the way into town on surface streets. I kinda think it’s hard to get a ping on the freeway, too. It happens, but I’m not crazy about it when it does.

    Sure enough, I get a couple blocks and I get a ping.

    Back to Jantzen Beach.

    Ok, maybe this is the type of day it’s really going to be. Getting yo-yoed all over kingdom come.

    Back to the beach I go.

    Ride 4: This guy wants to go from Jantzen Beach – as far north in Portland as you can go before hitting the dreaded Vantucky – to Hillsboro. Hillsboro is west of Portland city limits.

    About 30 miles west.

    Allons-y!

    It was a $30 trip, so I’m not complaining.

    Turns out, he’s picking up his car, too.

    What the fuckity-fuck are you trying to tell me, Universe?!?

    Assuming the two Home Depot adjacent trips and the two Fetch the Car trips cancel each other out, I begin to wonder is maybe it’s a Hot Guy Day and maybe the Universe is telling me to get laid.

    Since I’m old and fell in love with a rider yesterday – another story – I decide it’s not worth the effort. Plus, I kinda buried the lede earlier…you know what I ended up doing.

    I’m actually curious why you’re still here since I ruined the surprise! Hehe.

    Then The Fox sends me a message on WhatsApp from Italy about finally posting while he’s gone – which I’m now realizing was a perfect chance for me to ask if he took my book with him if he misses my writing so much, damnit! I hate missing a chance to mess with that man.

    Anyway, I went and used my Driving For Dollars money and bought some plants.

    Still some empty pots, but it’s a start! And Ollie looks much happier with some friends.

    You’re welcome, Neighbors and Hotel Guests!

    Point Galby

    A.W.O.L.

    It’s kind of just like me to go from one extreme to another.

    I’ll wait for you to collect yourself after that announcement.

    In other world-shaking news, Donald Trump occasionally bends the truth.

    In less…surreal news, I’ve arranged my schedule so that I work Sunday-Friday days between my HR gig and my convenience store job. This leaves me evening’s free to drive for the Verb or opt into meal delivery, if I’m feeling the need to generate income but not be social. Either way, I have the freedom to take a night off and I give myself Saturdays off.

    Or free at any rate.

    While my parking situation isn’t just like my parking situation on weeknights, it’s similar. There’s the option of paying for street parking two hours at s time. Or, I can pay to park from 7 am until 7 pm (when Street parking is free) for $7.

    You’d think with all those sevens, I’d win the lottery or something, but…no.

    This morning, I was slated to opt out of work and park using the $7 option. I even went to bed early, so I’d be up and at ’em by 7. Then I woke up at 130, tosses and turned until 5 and didn’t wake up until 8.

    This is life. But, it did solve one awkward problem. My goal was to hit the cafe and write this morning. However, the cafe opens at 9 on Saturday, so I was kind of homeless until then.

    Plus, writing is technically a job – sure, it’s my worst paying and I should probably report myself for my flagrant minimum wage violation – but it’s still something I call work. No, not so that I can write off my coffee as a work expense.

    Now that I think about it, though…

    On top of that little timing complexity, I left my laptop at my office yesterday.

    Which brings me to the point of this post – other than to indulge in something I’ve missed doing.

    In needing to drive to my office and retrieve my laptop and having missed my discounted day off parking, I decided to play my favorite ride-for-hire game.

    Sorry…it still needs a name.

    When I need to run an errand: recycling, ATM, picking up a paycheck; I get in my car and turn on my driving app.

    Then I see how long it takes to run said errand. Do I accomplish my task or do I get a ride?

    Well, this morning, I didn’t even get out of my parking space – I hadn’t even shifted into drive – before I got pinged. From three blocks behind me. It wasn’t one of the nearby hotels, but as I rounded the last corner, I did realize it was the extended stay/corporate housing buildings in the neighborhood.

    Looks like I was going to the airport!

    Couldn’t be a ride of shame, like I usually get right out of the gate on weekends.

    No, the airport.

    But waiting on a return ride gave me a chance to write this – another version of that favorite game!

    Plus, the guy I picked up was a nice looking young man.

    From the UK.

    Wearing sweatpants.

    As if that wasn’t enough, he tipped before I even got his bags out of the car. Such a nice boy.

    A.W.O.L.

    The Hustle

    I’d kind of taken to thinking of my job search as an exercise in futility. Sure, the only exercise I was getting, but it wasn’t really contributing to an elevated state of health – physical or mental.

    In searching for appropriate career level positions, I hit wall after apathetic wall.

    The struggle is surreal.

    I found myself rethinking the jobs I was applying for with companies I told myself I wanted to work for. My thoughts turned toward,

    Do I really want to work for these companies?

    Learning from my interviewing experiences with them, I realized answer was coming back “No” more and more frequently. Hell, more often than not, I was realizing I no longer wanted to be their customer.

    At the same time, I was really digging my lil writerly routine.

    Come to – er…wake up.

    Clean up.

    Head to the Arthouse and write for a few hours.

    I found that the morning was when I was really able to create. I worried that work would ruin that flow.

    Realistically, though, I needed to work. Not just for the financial aspect – although, obviously – but also for the ancillary payback.

    Allowing me to feel that I’ve not just accomplished something, which I achieve with writing, but to feel that I’ve contributed to something.

    Then there’s the social interaction void after leaving retail. I’m used to dozens if not hundreds of quick interactions with people that challenge me and keep me socially engaged.

    A.

    Day.

    That’s tough to replace.

    I wasn’t getting that on my couch – and I tried both ends!

    Out of literal desperation, I applied for a part time job as a clerk in a convenience store. For what the owner called “Good money for a job like this” during my interview.

    It was $12/hour.

    The owner calls that good money, Oregon called that Minimum Wage. I should note that this was at the time, Oregon’s Min Wage is now $12.50, so I think I now qualify for membership at Mar-a-Lago or something, right?

    I quickly learned the reason that the owner considered Minimum Wage good money for this job: his employees didn’t do much during their shifts. The majority of them played on their phones or read books waiting for customers. They didn’t even say “hi” to them when they entered the store. Some had friends stop by. Still others had hangouts with off duty employees.

    The owner wasn’t getting a good return on his payroll investment, for sure.

    But I just had a few lunch/dinner shifts a week, like 16-24 hours. Covering a store for an hour while the associate took their meal break, then moving to the next for an hour and then the last store to finish my four hour shift.

    I got to talk to people and I got to do things…even if it was just putting beer and water into coolers. It’s weird, it was what I did at the airport to help out my associates. To make them feel supported. Now it was my job.

    The other employees objected to that aggressively productive behavior of mine with an array of flimsy reasons. My response?

    I came to work!

    I didn’t care if they loved or hated me. I was getting paid with that sense of contributing with every task I completed and customer I met.

    You’re so much nicer than the other employees!

    I heard that a lot. In all three of the stores. Just about six months in now, I still hear it once or twice a week.

    You know what? That’s nice to hear, but it also makes me feel bad. Most of my co-workers are nice enough to me – despite my reluctance to work down to their standard. What if the job just beat them down into spiritual submission?

    Was it only a matter of time for me, too?

    Doubts like that aside, I was finding myself entertaining the notion of finding job and financial satisfaction in more of a piecemeal manner. I’d been witnessing younger workers doing it for the last decade. Running from part-time job to part-time job to cover their expenses. Maybe I could turn away from the full-time mentality and “retire” to a gig mentality.

    I began exploring app-based work like Uber or Postmates. The obvious problem there for me was: no car. Still, with Postmates I could use my bike. The problem there? My lazy ass. Since the FWV (friends with vehicles, duh!) I dropped hints to about this notion let those hints drop unacknowledged, I tabled the idea.

    Somehow, in this same timeframe, I became the boss’ shining star employee and go-to. She asked me to cover her role during her month-long vacation. At full-time.

    Fine, as long as it’s just for four weeks…I can do it.

    Three weeks before she left, all hell broke loose. Two people got fired and another quit in the course of maybe five days. By the time my boss left for vacation, I was ready to go back to my sweet lil four hour shifts.

    Flash forward two months and I was still averaging about 35 hours a week. Feeling broken, I at least had my family’s annual vacation get together to look forward to in a month.

    Still, I told my boss to schedule me less so I could get my writing back on track. I was an entire project behind schedule.

    No change. Unless being scheduled for only 32 hours counts.

    Then I got a call I wasn’t expecting.

    A temp agency specializing in HR had reached out to me a few weeks earlier about a position they thought I’d be perfect for.

    Oh, and the position you originally applied for was filled, unfortunately.

    No shit? That was months ago!

    Anyway, the position was designed to offload the HR responsibilities of a dual role HR/Ops manager that wanted to focus on her Ops responsibilities.

    I agreed, I would be perfect for the role. I interviewed and still thought it would be a great fit. The money was certainly better than the convenience store, but it was only two-thirds of what I should be earning. At part-time the money would barely cover my monthly expenses. Looked like I wouldn’t be ditching the convenience store job anytime soon.

    I realized that idea didn’t bother me. I romanticized a perfect schedule where I worked my gig HR three days a week from 8-5 and did dinner breaks from 6-10, earning enough to feel financially able while having four days off a week.

    But this is my life, right? That Cinderella story didn’t happen.

    Surprisingly, the person creating this job thought you were too into people. She’s going with another candidate.

    Oh, for fuck sake.

    The person who was more into the Ops side of her job and didn’t want to be bothered with the Human Resources side of her role…didn’t want somebody who was into humans to take that off her plate.

    Seriously.

    Surrealiously.

    This journey is basically the meat of my next non-fiction book. I’m leaning toward calling it 50-gig – get it? I’m ~50 and competing for gig work with them there millennials? – however, on days like that one…it’s hard not to call it These Damn Idiots I Meet.

    I mean, really, dating. Job hunting. It could be the group name for my non-fic work. 50-gig and Dating Into Oblivion could both easily fall under that heading. I wonder if there’s a third piece to round out a trilogy.

    Obviously, The Gym.

    But, I’ve digressed.

    Romantic notion of working three days a week: le poof.

    Anyway, I go back to my partly full-time job at the convenience store, grateful to still have a purpose but missing out on writing. At night, I drink wine on my lonely couch while binge watching Star Trek TV shows in their chronological order versus release dates while mentally cutting myself to take away the pain of my obsolescence.

    Then the HR temps call back a few weeks later.

    Maybe a month.

    Let’s say a few weeks ago.

    I doubt you’d be interested, you might consider it too boring.

    I took this with the grain of salt required to swallow my belief that nobody wanted me, anyway. Basically, my position was, “I dare them to fucking hire me!”

    Still, the “three or four days a week” aspect really appealed to me.

    They’d really like someone to start next Monday, if it’s a good fit.

    I just laughed at that, still waiting for Old Mother Hubbard’s second home to land on me like a was The Wicked Job Hunter of the West.

    Oh, boo. What was that collision of metaphor?!? Mixing nursery rhymes and Young Adult novels from barely the last century.

    Hey, don’t even worry about it. It’s Wednesday…if they let me know by tomorrow morning, I can have my boss at the convenience store work me around it.

    Apparently, my “I fucking dare you to hire me” attitude was too much to resist. Thirty minutes later, they called back and told me to get in there Monday morning.

    Having resigned myself to never getting another professional job again, I’d gone back to thinking about app based gig-work. I’d looked into car-sharing options for driving with Uber or Lyft using someone else’s car through an app called GetAround. It would probably end up costing about a third of what I’d make driving, but it would pull me out of being able to say “yes” every time my boss at the store had a need.

    Actually, every time isn’t fair. I knew she tried to not abuse my availability. I appreciated it. But still, of the instances I knew of where she didn’t call on me, I knew she was just sucking it up about half the time.

    I felt bad about that.

    Anyway, somewhere in there – and consistent readers already know this – I said “Fuck it”, and bought a car. They’ve subsequently been dubbed Pat the Patriot in a perfect fit of Portland political correctness.

    I figured maybe I could still do some gig driving, if only for the experience of writing about it in either my blog or even that notion of a book. I’d actually priced it all out and come to the benchmark of driving only six hours a week covering my car costs.

    I could live with that.

    I could also live with my complete lack of surprise at my experience trying to sign up to drive with Uber.

    I’d given up using Lyft in conjunction with Uber a decade-ish ago when a woman in a homemade floral print dress and Jesus bobble head on her dash tried to fist bump me. If I was gonna drive, my first choice was going to be with the brand I’d been using as a consumer.

    After a month of effort, let’s just say that I’m driving with The Verb and not The (unearned) Adjective.

    And it’s addictive.

    Not just the people engagement reward, but actually, the immediacy reward, too. I’ve only driven three times, but it’s been very satisfying…like 90% fun and 10% “Meh, that was still better than a day working for my last professional job”.

    Plus, I get a cell phone bill and think, “Welp, let’s cash in on the app” and my pay is instantly in my checking account. The next morning I wake up to a utility bill and think, “Well, I’ll go have coffee with The Fox and then drive for a couple hours to get this paid…beats paying for two more hours of parking”.

    And, yes – I am looking for a monthly space to rent! Especially if I want to leverage that whole three days of work/four days off thing.

    Until then, a couple hours to pay my $30 gas bill versus spend $4 on parking turned into driving for five hours and saving $10 on parking and limping out of my driver’s seat with $100.

    See? Addictive.

    Now, before it starts raining Other Shoes, here’s what’s on the horizon:

    – Before I committed to Lyft, I applied to drive delivery for GoPuff and Postmates. I’ll probably fold at least one of those in, if only for the potential writing material for 50-gig. But also: tips! I’ve actually never had a tip job before, so I’d be interested in how that adds up.

    Plus, as a car share rider from the early days, I never tip. It was part of the deal. Then the deal changed, but guess who didn’t? Yes, me. But also: practically everyone else. Out of – I think I’m at…18 rides over three outings I’ve been tipped by two riders. I don’t expect it, but feel I’ve really earned the gratuity when they land. It’s not that I got a tip for reflex of it all, I did something that stood out compared to other rides these Tipsters have taken.

    That’s what I’m telling myself.

    What else?

    – Oh, yeah…the convenience store. There’s a shoe. If you know me, you know I won’t repay hiring me when no one else would – yes, for a job I should have a lobotomy to be qualified for – by walking away, middle fingers flying just because I got a better opportunity. So, if this HR gig pans out, I see a serious scheduling conversation happening there.

    – The HR gig. When someone – an employer – says “three or four days a week”, who knows what they mean? It could be three days, with the hope that the dangling fourth will provide added bait. It could mean four, for so many reasons.

    In this case, I heard “three”, because that’s what I wanted to hear. Then I talked to the owner and heard the job scope and said, “Yeah, I can do that in three”.

    Sadly, I think they really want someone for four, but tough nuts.

    Or not so tough. If I end up working four days a week, it’s not the end of the world. Plus, since I’m HR, I have access. That access shows me – innocently, I assure you – that my non-temp predecessor was making $6/hr more than I am. But I get the temp costs offset. If they hire me off my contract, I’m getting that money. Knowing what I do of the owner, I won’t have to ask…she’ll offer. How awesome is it to have a boss you think of in those terms?

    It’s fucking awesome.

    Also: there’s an office cat. He’s nicer than Myrtle, too, which makes that fourth day a real draw. Poor Myrt. She’s not not nice. She’s just psychotic and can’t help herself.

    Or I have Stockholm Syndrome.

    Now, let’s see…other shoes. Other Shoes. Any others, hoes?

    Ah, yes!

    – Writing! Doy. The second book in the No One Of Consequence story is nearing completion. Yes, Phil…I’m editing! Hehe. After some good feedback, I also intent to brush off Book One and give it an extra lil polish before launching Book Two. Now I should have the ability to advertise, too.

    I wanna run an ad campaign this month, I think I’ll go drive for a few hours.

    I like the sound of that.

    Then, come November I can put balancing work, work, work and possibly work schedules with writing, I’ll try and get most of 50-gig drafted during NaNoWriMo. That’ll be an adventure.

    Almost as big an adventure as doing my 2019 taxes will be with two W2s, possibly four 1099s and at least a little bit of royalties income to factor in. I better start limbering up my procrastination muscles now!

    Yes, it’s 5:30 in the morning on my day off…why do you ask? Truth be told, how this three job thing is working out so far has created a three weeks straight without a day off, so my old ass is tired! But I slept well on both Friday and Saturday night.

    Of course, that was after saying

    I’m burning the candle at both ends…with fucking blow torches!

    So I was ready for early nights and good sleep. Maybe I’ll try a nap later.

    Nah…I’ll go drive! Haha.

    The Hustle

    Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!? Pt 2

    It’s me, so you just knew there would be a Part 2. Let’s call this the “New Shit, Who Dis” edition.

    Realistically, this is probably more like Part 2,000,002 at this stage in my life.

    Anyway, a week ago last Friday, I had a great interview with a local Weed Chainlet. I mean, really great. Like she nearly offered me the job on the spot great. We had mutual colleagues (that didn’t suck, IMO) at not one, but two of my past positions. She had a repeat business to business relationship with a third past employer of mine. She’d just turned 50.

    We just clicked.

    Dialing it back, she rallied with “I’ll call you Monday with next steps, the owner may want to meet you before we job offer the final candidate.”

    Alright. Fine. I can twist over the weekend. Since it ends in a job offer.

    At this point in my disemployment I had been seriously looking at a car with a “Fuck it, I’ll just drive for Uber” attitude. Honestly, with the regularity that my stupid little part time job was resulting in full time work – week 13, if anyone is counting – I was on the verge of supporting myself with my actual earnings.

    But a salaried job and it’s stability was more of a comfortable routine, so there’s a definite allure.

    Naturally, Monday comes and goes with nothing but a 4 o’clock email promising me she’ll call the next day.

    Tuesday comes and goes with nothing.

    Tuesday night, I go test drive a car. It’s late, and after 18 months of irregular work, my credit and income history is kinda-barely on the wrong side of meh, so I leave with a “Let is talk to the bank tomorrow, it’ll work” and a promise to – you guessed it – call me the next day.

    And then, nothing happened.

    I was debating the breadth of interest an Instagram audience might have in a near-senior-citizen’s Only Fans.

    I joke…I personally didn’t have an inclination.

    Then Thursday I get an email from a local HR Temp Agency that had reached out to me with a sure thing last month.

    Don’t worry, I somehow blew that. Apparently, I was too “into people” for an HR position at that company.

    Ok

    Anyway, this new opportunity was apparently just three or four days a week, good rate, wanted someone the next week, casual office…with an office cat. How could I not be interested?

    Believe me, though, I kept my optimism in check.

    Well, if they pull the trigger today, I can work that out with my PT job for next week.

    I delivered that with a blitheness that resulted in an email 30 minutes later offering me the job. They’d even specifically mentioned that they were hoping to place someone permanently.

    Generic Person, this whole aloof and hard to get thing works! It works way better than “generic person” works as an expletive versus the completely sexist term “man“!

    Now, you might think that it’s exciting that I’m starting a new job today, right?

    It is, don’t worry…I’m not that jaded.

    But my family vacation is the end of next week. And even though this temp agency knows this, no one has mentioned it. Partner that with I didn’t think I’d get yet another job, so I didn’t either.

    So, there’s that. But my parents rolled with the news. As a matter of fact, from the sounds on it, my reason for only going for a partial week is far more worthy than other members who are blowing out on the trip.

    Now, you just know there’s more, right?

    Saturday, the friggin’ car guy calls with a “Poof, your approved!” message, so now I own a fucking car, too.

    And let’s face it, this being my life, I won’t be the temp to hire guy, right? So having the Uber potential to fall back on is not an entirely shit idea. Until then, if I want to make it pay for itself, I only have to drive six hours a week – and that’s payment, insurance and monthly parking!

    Except

    The strong start I thought I’d have with driving for Uber last weekend turned into an exercise in frustration. The type that had me saying things like, “How do ‘You People’ have jobs and it took me 18 months of bullshit to get one?”

    So much dysfunction. I have to upload three different vehicle documents to be eligible to drive: insurance, registration and inspection.

    Makes sense.

    I upload the docs and then call because I can’t go online to drive.

    Oh, it takes about two hours for our team to review them!

    Oh, ok. You’re nice enough. Maybe I’ll just have a drink tonight and drive tomorrow. Easy-peasy.

    I wake up the next day to three 2:30 AM emails – 6 hours after my phone call to Uber – saying my uploads were rejected.

    My insurance doc didn’t have my name on it.

    My title was missing the vehicle information.

    The inspection was the wrong document.

    All sent in the same minute, so I smell more incompetence.

    Sure enough, I can easily find my vehicle information and my actual name on the first two documents. I call back in and get an apology and am told to just resubmit them and this CSR will email the documents team to assure them that he visually verified the information was present while talking to me.

    It turns out, the “inspection” is actually a vehicle inspection by Uber that verifies my car meets their standard. There was zero indication that this wasn’t supposed to be an emissions inspection in the instructions. Anyway, the helpful CSR was emailing me the address of my local hub.

    I’m sure it’ll end up being in Eugene or something.

    But that pessimism is beside the point.

    My insurance was accepted, my registration was rejected AGAIN, and I never got the email telling me where the inspection office is located.

    How do these boobs have jobs and it took me 18 months to get one?!?

    Oh, well. I’ve got some time. Although, I was really looking forward to driving for Uber. All of my email bill payment reminders start rolling in around the 15th of the month and sit unread until I can pay them at the first of the month.

    It actually creates two weeks of stress since aside from the reminder that I have unpaid bills and no immediate manner to pay them, those stupid red push notification dots are odd triggers for my anxiety.

    But I’ve got an hour left in the cafe before I have to leave for work, so I’m gonna edit!

    This is a routine I could easily get into: edit from 7-830, work from 9-5 and then drive for a few hours three or four days a week.

    I feel a debt to the convenience store for hiring me when everyone else was too dumb to, do I want to keep working there, too. But the pull of a four day work week is mighty. I might have to juggle.

    My ideal looks like this:

    Being awesome enough to get both the permanent HR assignment and only need three days to get it done each week.

    Work a full fourth day on Saturday or Sunday for the convenience store and then do two each of 6-10 PM shifts with them and Uber to round out my work days.

    Odds on whether the universe complies versus there’s a Part 3 coming?

    Until then…maybe I’ll switch over to driving for Lyft.

    Dear Gawd, What Have I Done?!? Pt 2