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

Take A Seat, Karen

We all know a Karen.

Or Susan…or whomever.

She’s the gal who says about herself,

I’m 100% that bitch

And everyone who knows her suffers silently while thinking, “We know, we know!”

She can be anyone from this nightmare type

To this angry racist

All the way to this vacuous type

Really, Buzzfeed, should I be following someone whose life goal seems to be getting shirtless selfies in as many different countries – undoubtedly on someone else’s dime – as possible? That will somehow enhance my life in ways I simply cannot comprehend?

As you can see, there’s a rather wide range, like the head that holds her hairstyle or the pew that supports her rear or the wallet that supports his heels.

The common denominator?

They know everything that’s hot in pop culture, fashionable, the best exercise classes, the best restaurants or other micro-minutae. Nothing real substantive coming out of their iced or pumpkin spiced coffee holes, unfortunately.

Essentially, they’re nothing more than poseurs, following in the too prevalent basic lemming-slash-bitch mentality of today: elevating teenaged performers to icon status based on a lyric from a pop song.

What the hell is wrong with our country?!?

I mean, Taylor Swift was praised last year – or possibly the year before – for finally speaking out against gun violence. She was heralded as a savior for “using her social media for good”.

She’s 29.

Now, long time readers will know my thoughts on Social Media Influencers. But I’ll give Swifty a pass for speaking out. She does have the following to reach a large audience, so good for her.

But when it comes to the vapid followers who got behind the message?

It was the same thing left leaning politicians have been saying since the history of mass shootings began in this country. Thanks for finally getting the memo.

A friend of mine, @Britebarb on the Twitter, once said,

You aren’t entitled to your opinion, but you are entitled to your informed opinion.

I probably butchered the exact quote, but you get the point. When our opinions are informed by pop culture instead of actual news, facts and self-education…well, you’re not a Karen or a Susan.

You’re a Molly.

Lets don’t be Molly, shall we?

This actually brings me to my larger point.

Those Susan and Karen types? What do you think they do to our culture?

It used to be cute that Karen would have a hostess fired for seating her by the kitchen. Today, Karen is having hostesses fired for not seating her party of 14 fast enough while parties of two and four that came in after her were seated first.

It was tolerable for one person to have a racist anachronistic opinion. They were your aged grandparent who was written off as “being from another time”. Then some charismatic someone pooled that grandparent’s money together with a bunch of other racist grandparents and build a megachurch.

Put our glamorous and hunky gay Instagram traveler at a drive-thru window – not the one he sits on, an actual drive-thru – and see how he does. We used to take basic service industry jobs and make the fabulous most of our minimum wages. Now, we complain about a free trip to Coachella instead of questioning the politics of the promoters…ignoring politics we could never support because the line up is lit.

Molly, you should be calling out the performers for working for that promoter, not instagramming your free trip.

It’s not all bad. This past week, Stephen Ross hosted a lunch for Trump.

There was glitter fallout.

Ross is the CEO for the parent company of Equinox Gym and Soul Cycle. These are $100/month plus gyms heavily trafficked by the gays and the Karens of the country. Sorry, Susan…you’re praying away the body issues.

But we’ve been here before.

Chick-fil-a.

Barilla pasta.

I’ll come up with some others later.

Maybe.

But those two kind of make my point: we don’t remember.

It kind of relegates our ire to the level of the so-called Million Moms. I think they struggled to sustain a roster of thousands of moms.

Why?

Thumping bibles is hard, for one, ok?

But also, do you think a million moms want to piss off the gay that cuts their hair and end up with a Karen haircut? Or worse, piss off their personal trainer and end up with a Susan ass?

We people…not so consistent. Setting aside the extremes on either end of the blue or red political spectrum, I think the grey area in between needs to take over. Regardless of which way you lean – left or right – the middle has the numbers to do what’s right.

Stephen Ross and Trump and the Chick-fil-a folks – ironically, the family surname is Cathy – don’t care about our boycotts.

Hear that?

It’s them laughing all the way to the bank, either way.

Making money? Great! Put it in the bank!

Losing money? Great! Write it off on our taxes or short our own stock!

Our protests hurt the people in the front lines. The mother of three working two part time jobs and asking if we want Waffle Fries with our chicken sandwich.

Of course we do! But we want the Secret Waffle Fries that our Equinox trainer won’t find out about!

And those trainers who lose income because their spin classes are empty? Another of the real victims of our righteous ire.

Why?

Because we don’t hold our politicians accountable to holding our best interests and not their own.

Why don’t we have gun control or reform in this country? Because Tay-Tay isn’t in Congress.

Conversely, why do we have Trump as president? Because he had the best soundbites.

Tax cuts!

Crooked Hillary!

But her emails!

And because we’re largely entitled when it comes to our opinions, we ran right off the cliff at the ballot box without ever informing ourselves about our opinion.

A couple years back, I wrote about what one of my employees told me after proudly stating that he and his wife voted on behalf of their family of five for Trump.

After my eyes rolled 360 degrees in their respective sockets, that is.

The shorthand is the tax cuts and that they didn’t trust Hillary.

We think we’ll be better off with Trump in office.

“Financially?”

Well, yeah…

That last part was delivered like he worried that I didn’t understand that nothing more mattered than their bottom line.

For my part, I think I showed a lot of restraint.

You know you work in Portland, right?

“Yeah…”

And your job pays more than minimum wage – which in Oregon is 50% higher than the federal minimum wage, right?

“Well, I mean, I know I make more than minimum wage, but it’s not enough.”

Setting aside my recollection of the conversation we had where he volunteered that he had preemptively had his four upper front teeth removed because it was somehow easier, I went on,

You do know that republicans opposed the minimum wage bill in Oregon, right?

“Not really, I don’t pay much attention to politics.”

Well, then you frankly shouldn’t vote.

“But every vote counts and it’s my right!”

Stupid Americans.

Being ignorant

I didn’t say “retarded” because people get mad at me.

isn’t a right, it’s a handicap. Liberals provided the higher than average minimum wage that you’re making $1 more than per hour. If you’re going to vote, maybe support the people that support you. Have a little friggin’ loyalty! If you want to support the people who stand on your backs to get what they have, is like my $5 an hour back.

That last part went whizzing right over his head. Basically, he’s in a place where he’s making $200 more per week than people doing the same work outside of Oregon. And this basic Karen votes against the people who gave it to him.

As his employer, forced to pay for it – but happily doing so – if he doesn’t appreciate it, I want it back.

Idiots.

Plus, he wasn’t that great of an employee. More a “Needs Improvement” versus a “Meets Expectations” because his opportunities weren’t a matter of not knowing the job expectations or not having the tools to succeed.

He delivered the minimum effort he could get away with. Absent was the mentality to do a good job. His goal was a factor of doing only as much as he had to do to be considered “good enough”.

And he got away with it…because the management – my boss – was kind of the same. But much better paid.

This…this is the fallout from our Karen and Susan attitude. People who act in their own interest versus in the interest of the greater good. Doing what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right!

We seem to take more of a WIIFM approach to doing what’s right. Failing a personal net positive in the What’s In It For Me test, we do what’s easier versus what’s right.

As far as what’s in it for me goes? I try to come out on right versus easier as often as possible. Of course, when that means leaving a job that paid alright versus tacitly condoning the poor management ethics, it’s downright hard to do.

On the flip side, I hold others to the same standard. On that front, let me explain the title of this post:

Take A Seat, Karen

You wanna talk to the manager and get a waiter fired for a perceived slight?

Hold. My. Beer.

I had an entire company fired.

I don’t mess around. For me, right and wrong isn’t about getting what I want – in life, at the ballot box or what-have-you.

Saying that my issues with my property management company started last year while I was on vacation is only partially true.

Sure, my building unexpectedly pulled the key core from the building’s front door.

Yeah, this meant my pet sitter – aka: the Silver Fox – couldn’t get in to feed Myrtle since I only had one fob and he used a door key to get into the building.

My relationship with the management company warped into a wormhole when I reached out for help in the situation.

Expectation: something along the lines of “Oh no! Have your pet sitter swing by the office and he can use our fob until you get back!” Y’know…something to help proactively resolve the immediate issue with maybe a little appropriate empathy.

Reality: they (mis)quoted my lease to me. “As per your lease, you were given one key to your unit and one door fob. If you want additional fobs, you’ll need to buy them.”

Meanwhile, my cat isn’t being fed.

In reality, while I was trying to tone down the shriek-level in my response, it occurred to me that this wasn’t where my problem began with them, this was where their poor performance became intolerable.

My problem with their performance began a month before I moved in. I had failed to negotiate a lower rent in my old unit by speaking logic to my unit’s owner. The unit next door was the same size and renting for $300 less a month, she offered a $50 rent reduction.

I moved.

But for the three weeks while that conversation was happening, the smoke detector was giving off a replace battery beep in the empty unit. I actually arranged a tour of the unit initially only to tell them to replace the battery.

The agent apologetically agreed to get it taken care of.

Then…nothing happened.

This was when my problem with their performance began. But weighing the issues – a bad battery or $250/month – I moved anyway.

That’s the grey area I mentioned earlier. Both unit’s owner/management failed, casting the larger issue in grey. I chose the least wrong, which also happened to financially benefit me. A grey lose-win-win.

I can solve the battery issue by putting in a new battery and disconnecting the unit when that doesn’t fix it.

The starving cat issue was harder to solve and just a much larger issue overall. But I – and The Fox and the HOA prez, Joe – solves it outside of the property management company’s ineffective performance.

And the lease they quoted? It actually said a key to the unit and a mailbox key. Nothing about fobs. Thank god I had a front door key for the building, a copy I made of the key my old landlady gave me. Additionally, I’d never gotten the mailbox key because the owner had accidentally taken it home to Seattle with him. Just like the battery, I didn’t make a big deal of it because I use a PO Box.

But three months later, when they tried to raise my rent $100/month, I asked the question,

What have you done to support the rent increase?

Sure, it was the owner’s idea but they were his agent. It was their service that I was weighing against the rent increase ask that the market would simply not support.

Their performance came up short and I refused the increase, offering to move instead and pointing out that my old unit next door had been vacant for the entire time I lived here. They acquiesced, with a “We recommended no increase to the owner, but he insisted” reply.

Oh, okay…

Not sure how I’m a saner voice to the owner than the management company he employs…but, suuuuure.

All this came to a head in July when I paid rent through their portal.

Just like normal.

I paid on the 29th of June with a checking account draft. I learned the hard way that using my debit card versus a draft resulted in a $45 “convenience fee“…because it’s 1990 in their IT department.

BTW, their response to that complaint was

Perfectly acceptable and professional response, right?

A few days later I paid the rest of my bills via bill pay and debit card, noticing that the rent draft still hadn’t cleared.

The next business day, my usual monthly bills all cleared, but still not my rent.

Unpleasantly, the next business day a charge from Kelly’s for a couple of beers also cleared, leaving me $6 short on my rent. Damn their credit card processing company!

In a fit of “this could only happen to me” ness, my bank rejected to rent draft when it finally poked its head out of its technology shell.

This began a two week cascade of “I’ve had it with you people” ness for me as I tried to resolve the unfathomable “why would you not cover me for 6-fucking-dollars” issue with my bank and the head-scratchingly larger issue with my management company.

For whatever reason, this prompted them to audit my ledger and add in a $75 late fee for April’s rent – when I paid on the 5th of the month because I was waiting in checks to clear.

This was on top of the $75 late fee and $50 NSF fee my returned check was costing me for the current month.

I didn’t have an extra $225.

Just. Didn’t.

That’s not my lifestyle these days – and may never be again. I’m kind of ok with that compared to working for a company with a double standard. I don’t love it, but by god…it’s ethically right.

One of the other handicaps this so-called-management company’s online portal suffered from was an ability to make partial payments. Given my newer more meager financial situation, I wanted to make biweekly payments of half my rent.

Can’t.

Fine, I lived a year being super-financially-disciplined (for me) and was only late once.

I rallied.

But in July, I hit a wall. After talking to my bank, getting their overdraft fee refunded, cleaning out my – and The Fox’s – recycling closet and cashing in my coffee can of change, I had the extra $150 fees my July rent required.

I didn’t have the April “Oops, we suck at our jobs” $75. And…no partial payments, so I couldn’t pay rent.

Could I have asked The Fox or my family or just about anyone I’ve ever me to front me $75?

Fuck yeah.

But I didn’t because it was wrong – in my opinion – for them to randomly choose this moment to audit my ledger. It seemed to me that they were unnecessarily piling on in a bad situation.

It.

Made.

Me.

Angry.

Y’know, one of those pesky righteous angers that causes you to quit good jobs versus the kind that makes you fight traffic tickets when you were, in fact, speeding.

I emailed the owner.

He’d asked me in an email – after a five week process to get my AC repaired during the first heatwave of the Summer – how everything was going.

Well, my best friend let in the AC repair guy – since having to schedule ten days out resulted in them being able to do the work on a day I had to work – in for me, went home and decided to get his own AC checked out. Called a different company and was offered an appointment the next damn day, got his unit checked out and the part ordered for some preventative repairs and delivered and installed before my five week ordeal was resolved through your management company…

Seemed like an out of line response, so I let it lie and said nothing.

Like I was raised to do!

But after two weeks trying to give this company money, it was time.

And I fucking went to the mattresses.

Maybe it was a little personal. Dealing with my shelter and my money, after all. Seems kind of personal.

To the management company, it was “just business”, but because they all appear to employ the same ethics as my Trump supporting former employee…they were happy to do as little as possible to earn their money.

So I asked to speak to the manager. You want to know how I started my email to the owner?

You need to fire this management company.

Flat out. No preamble, right to the mattresses.

Then I made my case.

He got involved, told them to waive everything, I paid my rent and seethed on…dreading my next encounter with these people.

On August 2nd – two weeks later – the owner sent me an email telling me he’d put them on notice that he was taking over on September 1st. True to form, three days later, the management company sent me a letter saying as much.

I thought about replying to them. Especially given that they’d provided zero context for the change in their message.

Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving and less competent group of bastards!

That seemed like gloating. Plus, as vocal as I was about their shortcomings in each of my encounters with them, I would imagine they expected that from me.

So I withheld. My internal grumpy old man just sat back, breathes a stress-free sigh of relief and thought

How bout dat, indeed, Karen?

Take A Seat, Karen

Oh, You…Universe, You!

It’s a wily cosmos out there, that’s for sure. The last couple of weeks have proved that to me in spades.

Whether you believe it’s the Universe, the Lord, Karma or some other idiomatic dark horse…behold my recent story. I’ll try and make it as follow-able as possible.

So, y’all know that I self- published my first two books – one nonfiction and fiction work each – in March. I consciously chose self-publishing since my research showed that writers lucky enough to get a publishing contract got dropped as soon as the contract ended if they didn’t turn out to be the next James Patterson.

The differences here – aside from the looming publisher break up – were that self publishing pays royalties monthly versus twice annually but there’s no up front money. So I might get a monthly payout, but it was gonna be ~$500 on average versus an advance of anywhere from $5-25k that you may never make back, hence the writers I talked to getting dumped.

I opted for the slow burn even though so far my earned royalties aren’t even what I made in a day when I worked at Macy’s.

God, I miss Macy’s money.

Anyway, I just pushed publish and silently hoped that some industrious producer discovered me.

So, while all that’s going on, I’m wandering around the Pearl and see this sign in the window of a store that I managed for three months four years ago.

Now, I could have called that outcome when I left there. I’m actually surprised that they lasted this long. I came on right after the founder retired and promoted the Vice President/Buyer to run things. He was grooming the District Manager to take over his role and I was brought on as a DM in training to run the store in the Pearl District until that change occurred.

It quickly became apparent to me that the dipshits in charge couldn’t manage their way out of a wet paper bag…so, like I said – I’m surprised they made it this long.

Still, I feel bad for the employees. Sorta.

Anyway.

Things are getting pretty tight at Casa de Xtopher. In February, my unemployment was suspended because they think I’ve been working and not reporting my income. This stems from a quarterly report from my temp job at Amazon – irony alert: that’s who I self-published with – that indicates a status change in my employment with them.

I wasn’t surprised at this, the timing the unemployment office described to me put this blip as a termination for not meeting my one shift a month commitment as a temporary employee.

Of course, the brainiacs at the unemployment office completely melt down and don’t know what to do, so they pause my benefit without telling me.

Seriously, how these people have jobs and I don’t…?

My question to them was

“So y’all require employers to report quarterly employment changes but you can’t differentiate between a new hire and a termination on those reports?”

Idiots.

We straighten that out and then – before a single benefit week is paid, some troll in their office comes up with, “Yeah, but his waiting week in October was paid. He has to pay that back.” To which I replied,

“I worked with your own clowns to figure out the correct timing and claimed earnings as I should have. Go pull the tapes.”

Sure enough. That was right, but by that time, the state had already withheld the week and a half of benefits from me for the payback.

Whatever.

I figure that will just extend my claim by a week and since I’m already over the hump of not having that week of benefits, I let it lie. So naturally, the next week I claim, I get an error message that my claim has run out or expired.

What fresh hell is this?

“Oh, yeah. You contested the original ineligibility decision back in April of last year.”

“And?!?”

“Oh, and that means your benefit may be reduced by eight weeks. We sent you a letter. Lemme find it…ah, here we are!”

And this very nice, surprisingly competent sounding woman reads the letter they sent me verbatim. “Blah, blah, blah may cause a benefit reduction of eight weeks blah, blah…”

“Right. ‘May cause’ not ‘will cause’, please allow me to explain the English language to you…”

“Oh, well we don’t right the letters ourselves…”

Because, of course not. If I had patience with incompetence and a lack of accountability, I’d just be leaving my job at Storables. That means that I’d never have gone to work at the airport, but if I had…I would have loved it there since competence and accountability are their scariest boogey men.

I count back eight weeks from my original claim on April 6th of last year to my last benefit payment…yup. They nailed it.

At least I come out of that experience knowing that the unemployment office is as good at stopping benefits as I am at not working for poorly run companies. What I did learn from this last contact, though, was that my claim can be renewed on April 7th, but at just over half of the original amount.

Not that I’ll believe that until I see a check.

Naturally, I’m panicking. I think my rent is paid through May, but my other meager bills will be dicey.

By The Way

Too subtle?

But, then…

I see on the Facebook – of all friggin’ places – that The Container Store is hiring for an Ops Manager. Of course, I apply!The Container Store and I have a long peripheral history. Way back in the 90s, the store I worked at – for a decade, lest you think I just can’t hold a job – carried a modular storage brand called Elfa. The Container Store eventually bought Elfa.

I was their customer after buying my condo in Seattle in the aughts. I outfitted my closet with their Elfa system. When I was looking for work up there, I got to the final round of interviews with them, but ended up missing out on the offer.

Then I went to work for Storables – which I nicknamed Regrettables – and learn that the owner had been aligned with the owners at TCS but the partnership disintegrated and he struck out on his own.

So, here I am. Still applying for jobs, wherever I can and at any level from janitor to manager.

Nothing.

I get a call. Turns out it’s from the owner of a chain of convenience stores here in Portland with a terrible reputation. I once saw a six pack of craft beer that’s $12 at the she-she brodega across the street from me for sale there for $19!

He pretty much offers me a cashier job on the spot for $12/hr, which according to him, “Is pretty good pay.”

It’s literally minimum wage in Portland.

Nevertheless, I’m freaking out about how to buy cat food for the meanest cat in history. I also think,

“Well, between this, the book royalties and maybe my unemployment – if someone there finally manages to get an answer right on the first try – I can pay my June rent. That’s something.

I’m really good at covering up my urges to leap from tall structures these days.

Incidentally…

Naturally, since my belly is now full of swallowed pride (shut up, Diezel) on the last day in the year since my last day at my nightmare airport job, I score an interview with the Area Manager for TCS. It goes great. I’m not just optimistic for the opportunity, I’m motivated by the conversation. She says she’s passing me down the chain of command to her local manager for a face to face.

Then, nothing happens.

No call yesterday.

Except today on the anniversary of my first day off work after quitting my job at the airport, I get a call from the local guy at TCS!

He wants to talk Monday, before he leaves for a week, but he wants “to get this rolling”.

That’s a good sign, right?!?

Naturally – since this is my life, here – Monday is my first day of work at the crappy, humbling convenience store job. So here’s what Monday looks like:

5:30 – wake up!

6:30 – start work at the convenience store.

2:30 – get off work at the convenience store (I hope!)

4:00 – interview with The Container Store.

Basically, I have 90 minutes to hoof it home to change, steal the Silver Fox’s car and drive 12 miles in Monday rush hour traffic.

The most heartbreaking thing is that I will have to walk right by my favorite dive bar – Kelly’s – on my way home from the convenience store.

But you best believe I’m fucking doing it. All of it.

And I’m getting that job!

Oh, but still…

Oh, You…Universe, You!

I Don’t Like Anyone

Congratulations if you’ve made it to this point in my life and I like you.

Or even worse (for you) I call you friend.

Because I think the “like” department is either out of stock or never reopened after the Partial Government Shutdown.

I started thinking about this a couple weekends ago, after back to back dinner parties. But yesterday, it really crystallized for this old grumpopotamus.

I haven’t enjoyed the company of new people at all for at least a month!

Friday, I had an interview with MudBay. Again. Having breakfast with my parents beforehand, they even seemed caught between optimism and incredulity that this interview process was still going on. To be fair, I started with one DM in November and then got switched to a second in January after nothing happened with the first.

It was fine by me, DM #1 didn’t leave me feeling like she liked me as a candidate. This was after she just happened to be present when I did a drop in with a Store Manager that a former colleague recommended I talk to.

DM #2 and I seemed to really jive during our chats. So I was excited about Friday, even though the pay is pretty meh. It’s still seeming like a company that 99% aligns with what I’m looking for in a company.

So I show up out in BFE yesterday to have what I hoped was a final interview.

DM #1 was unexpectedly in attendance.

FFS.

Our conversation this time – she did more of the talking between the two of them – seemed better. DM #2 swoops in at the end to say she’ll be calling all the people they speak to in this round by Wednesday to let them know their status. I would hope that means a yea/nay on the job offer front. Regardless, it was specific. That’s way better than the way DM #1 left me hanging after our surprise first meeting.

I’ll call you when we’re ready to move forward with interviews!

Too chipper.

Also, I didn’t know this was an interview, so she didn’t have my resume to walk away.

So she didn’t have my contact info.

Or. My. Last. Name.

I can find you in our applicant tracker!

Too chipper.

By first name? You said you got hundreds of applicants. From a job that posted in June of 2018…and it’s November.

I can search by referral source, since you were referred by an employee!

Too chipper.

Plus, she should have said Muddy, since that’s what they call one another.

Well, that might narrow down the applicants with my first name. Assuming she remembered it. Or the Muddy’s name that referred me…

So, while I can at least appreciate that this conversation was a good one, I’m still a little rankled by the Shanghai Round Robin style interview.

Mostly, because I don’t like people anymore, it seems.

I actually got to have a spur of the moment lunch with Little Buddy a few days later while she was in my hood doing errand-type things. She was detoxing some family stuff with some fun adult lunch time.

I’m glad I can be that person for someone!

But, naturally, I ruined it by telling her I didn’t like the new people that came to her dinner party.

Why not? They are amazing people! So accomplished.

I dunno. The woman seemed intent on being the star of the party.

Pish. She’s fine, she just didn’t know anyone but me. You know how we can be in a group.

Fair point. But it all seemed like showing up to a wedding in a prettier dress than the bride to me.

I’m pretty sure we left that at a neutral assessment that I am just crazy.

Since it snowed here this week – with an anticipated 4″ on Friday – the wine event LB, 2.0, the Silver Fox and I were all going to Saturday got canceled.

Of course.

Naturally, the snow never materialized…

My walk to f&b for coffee was completely un-treacherous. The Fox joined me and we couldn’t decide if there was an unusual amount of families passing by outside or if there was just too few not families out to dilute their presence.

We were decidedly the only two people in the cafe for the most part until he left at 1:30. There was a couple of ladies who walked in and declared they had a half hour to kill and could they just hang out.

It had started snowing. Big, fat flakes. But, still…no! Buy a goddamned coffee and wait. Sheesh. These ladies looked to be 60-ish.

But the type of 60-ish that are entitled and well to do. Terrible combination. In my opinion, that question cost more in dignity that a $3 cup of coffee would have cost them.

I’m probably just mad because I know the cafe is struggling. Their rent is going up and likely to cut their barely double digit profit margin in half, making it likely they’ll close.

All because they’re in a convenient rendezvous area. And too nice to say

Buy a goddamn $3 cup of Joe or GTFO. Ma’am.

At two, I said goodbye to the staff and wandered next door to wash the taste of coffee out of my mouth with a Pallet Jack. Since I was in the area.

There was a cute and nice couple at the bar when I walked in. They chuckled at the catch up conversation the bartendress and I had but settled up, decanted and left shortly after I sat down. That left me, the bartendress (I’ve gone so long without giving her a nickname that I’m afraid she’s just going to become The Bartendress Without A Name…I guess I could call her T’Bwana, thoughts? It’s an acronym portmanteaus!) and a couple at one of the two tables by the window.

We continued our chatter while T’Bwana did her side work and tended the occasional need of the couple.

A third couple came in with a Plus One from New Zealand. They were fun, but not from around here, so I was over them quickly. Another regular came in and sat at the table behind me, reading.

Then.

It.

Happened.

Eight people came in. Fine. Whatever. I’ve made my peace with this illogical occurrence. Party of eight walks into a bar of mostly two-top tables.

What.

Ever.

I get it, you’re entitled, too. Maybe you’re looking for the old gals next door?

What ticked me off was that they pulled the last two tables in the main bar together for a sit down. The entire room next door – The Rug Room – is empty!

Oh, no…wait, I forgot!

This whole tome, there’s been a couple in The Rug Room. They came in, ordered drinks and went into The Rug Room. T’Bwana went in to check on them a while after and came back in with that “I’m So Sure” head tilt girls do.

What?

Is it weird that there’s 8 tables and 15 chairs in there and those two are sitting cross legged on the floor?!?

Kum-bay-yes! What the what?!?

Regardless, plenty of room for this octet in The Rug Room is the point. Instead, they decide to become a black hole in the middle of the main bar.

And they pulled the last two tables together crooked so there’s no good path around them that doesn’t involve a hop on one foot.

Naturally, I finish my beer and leave.

Loudly.

I might have mentioned something to T’Bwana as I was settling up.

So, I could make an anonymous call to the Fire Marshall for ya…I know you work for tips and can’t piss these oblivious bastards off.

T’Bwana texted me later saying they’d left shortly after me.

Huh.

Ok, one last example of how I don’t like anyone…and it’s my favorite story from the last couple weeks, so I hope you hung on.

This could only happen to me.

The Silver Fox had a dinner party. Me, him and his new neighbor. His new neighbor is having trouble making friends. Now, normally I’d give this type of invite a wide berth, cuz it’s an obvious setup, right?

Well, The Fox has me covered

Don’t worry, you aren’t his type, he likes younger guys, too.

Ouch.

But he’s right. He’s seen a guy I flung with once getting off the elevator on their floor. Me, being the Devil. No. Devil’s Advocate, mention that maybe the NY transplant gay couple on his floor are Portland-ing it up with a random third?

They’re in Palm Springs.

Nertz.

His assumption is solid.

I meet this guy from LA and – more recently – down the hall and he is just so friggin’ so.

Precious.

I’m calling him Jimbo.

A) because he’s from New Orleans, originally.

B) he would hate that nickname. And,

C) if you pronounce the “J” with a Spanish accent, you get “himbo” or a male bimbo, and he was!

He monopolized the conversation with unamusing anecdotes about how precious he is.

He has two houses in New Orleans.

He wants to buy a house in France when he retires. But not alone! Why not? I’m sitting here with you and my best friend, and I’m feeling pretty alone!

His BMW is hard to park in this little garage.

He can’t believe that condos in this building are selling for a half mil more than his house in the Hollywood Hills. Thank god he rented that instead of selling!

Why?

Topping it off, he has a friend visiting from Seattle soon.

Ok, that’s all your problem in meeting friends. No one compares to you. You’re fresh off the boat from the west coast city with the most superficial people, importing people from the west coast city that has yet to learn how to deal with its near instantaneous wealth and living in the chill city trapped between them.

Yeah. That’s your problem.

Shortly after we finished dinner – asparagus risotto and what must have been 24 ounce steaks! – he was talking about a shoe dilemma. He’d just mentioned he was a clothes horse.

The Fox gamely interrupted with a question about Marie Kondo. I loved that.

Of course, since Jimbo’s name isn’t Marie Kondo, he didn’t have time for the question and went back to his shoes. Apparently, they’re his faves but he needs to have them resoled and worked on.

I haven’t tried the guy you recommended, but I just can’t find a good shoe guy up here.

Welp, at least you’ve clearly overwhelmed yourself by turning over every stone.

He went on to share his decision on his ultra first world problem…

I have to go to LA in a few weeks for work. I’ll just take them to my old shoe guy. But I’m gonna tell him he has to get them done in a day.

Because, obviously.

One couldn’t trust this gifted shoe tradesman to be able to mail a shoebox. No, Jimbo needs his shoes now. This guy is so lucky to have a customer like Jimbo. I’ll bet he threw a party when she left town,

The Fox gave his dog, George, a doggie downer before the guests arrived. It had kicked the hell in.

Hard.

George was stoned out of his doggie brain.

And nuzzling my crotch while I scratched his butt.

The Fox got up to get dessert. I was so full, but…dessert!

You know what, G? I’m so full! But I’m still eating my dessert! Yeas I am. Yes I am! I’m just gonna fart to make some room and blame you! Yes I am!

A few minutes later, I pick up a decidedly not doggie scented fart coming from Jimbo’s end of the couch.

Oh, FFS. Really? You’re a precious homosexual…could you please act like it?!?

I debated telling him I was just joking about farting and blaming the dog. I may lack a certain – or any couth, but I have manners.

I can hold a fart – usually – until I get home.

Then he did it again.

Oh, this. This!

I really don’t like most people. But the ones I don’t like most are really amusing. For sure, not in the previous way that they think they are amusing, either. And the people I do like enjoy the shit that happens to me just as much as I do!

Because, it really would only happen to me…

I Don’t Like Anyone

The Haircut Saga

If you can even begin to understand what it’s like to be me for just the shortest of moments, it won’t surprise you to hear that in November I left my barbershop thinking,

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

It was the second time since I considered recreationally growing my hair longer that I’ve walked into Bishop’s in the Pearl with the intent of getting cleaned up around the edges and walk out with a haircut that was basically ready for junior high school picture day.
My goal in my mission to recreationally grow out my hair – into what I call crazy old man hair – was something like a low key version of this:img_3453
What I really meant by stating my goal to grow out my hair was just to openly defy the current hair style conventions of that ridiculous hard part haircut. You know, this one…img_0516
Hard part? More like hard pass!
And I’ve had the same haircut, essentially, for the last 10-15 years, so something of a change was in order…just not what I considered to be the current incarnation of The Big Gay Haircut. Going longer was my only safe bet.
Except…
Not so fast, old Xtopher.
In late September, I walked into Bishop’s, told my gal what I wanted and walked out with this:
img_3454
Fine.
I grow it out a little, about seven weeks, and then go back toward the end of November for my holiday haircut in late November. Gotta make myself respectable for my visit to mom and dad! I make myself very clear that I only want it cleaned up over the ears, not blended all the way up since I want to grow it longer.
“Got it”, she says.

Flash forward twenty minutes…
img_3454

That’s it, I’m never coming back!

I leave thinking that I’ll give it until the end of January. Maybe if I need to cave for something important – like an interview – I will, but otherwise, it’s not like I’m doing anything with my time…so this can be my lil hobby.
Toward the end of January – my birthday – I ask the Silver Fox if I should be thinking about getting a haircut. I hadn’t heard from my family about birthday plans, so I was beginning to suspect something. If my family is planning something, I figure I should mow the shag a bit to look presentable.
“Your family isn’t planning anything”, he says.
Fine. No worries.
“But I’d get a haircut if I were you!” he laughs.
Of course, I reasonably assume that he’s taking a chance to return some of my snark and take it in stride.
He wasn’t.
img_1108
Great. Now he can keep a secret.
Not to worry, I think I pulled the shaggy look off…
img_1342
Notice how the longer hair distracts from my growing girth?
Anyway…lesson learned. I had said I was giving it until the end of January and here it was, the 21st. I figured I could see this through the final ten days and then hit Bishop’s and see if they’ve learned any new listening skills.
The Fox and I head up to Trader Joe’s later that week – he usually lets me tag along so that I don’t have to hoof it 20 blocks with my groceries – read: a half case of wine – which I certainly appreciate. On our way back, we pass right by Bishop’s and I’m looking in and thinking that it figures they aren’t crowded now, but just watch…when I want my hair cut it’ll be like the week before picture week. Then I see it.
Oops. Him.
This guy that I used to…socialize with, privately, if you get my drift, when I first moved back to Portland. He was a complete and utter mess. I’d cut ties with him by the end of that first year back in town.
Of course, the next year, he turns up at a happy hour with Linda Belcher. She had invited me down to Old Town to grab a couple drinks with her common-law husband, Bob’s Burgers, and some of his acupuncture co-horts.
This guy shows up. Mostly because this is my life and this is just what one should expect when one is me. Also because he was engaged to a classmate of Bob’s Burgers.
F.
M.
L.
I learn that he’s in the Hair Program at Paul Mitchell over across Burnside. I’m actually surprised that I don’t see him more often, since I pass by there every time I go to the bank or movies…surprised, but grateful.
A year or so later, I do finally end up seeing him outside. “Long program”, I think to myself, but I’m on the far side of the street, so he doesn’t see me.
Maybe another year later, I see him again and wonder if he’s teaching there, but just assume they are smart enough to not let that happen.
So, here I am, less than ten days away from a haircut and I see him on a smoke break outside. Finally working after taking the better part of three years to graduate from what I gather is a seven or eight month program. My friend, JOrtis is a teacher at the Aveda institute and I just figured, why not ask how long the program should take. I think he said months…but knowing this mess, I could see him spacing out a seven or eight week program with a few trips to rehab.
Nonetheless, it explains something about my last two trips into Bishop’s for a haircut.
Turns out my petulant departure in November contained some pretty true words.
So, here it is, the first week of February and I’m thinking, “Well, it’s not like I’m still not doing anything…oh, wait”, but I’m still not really putting any emphasis on my hair maintenance.
The Fox says that he’s getting used to it, which I somehow gamely twist into a compliment.
And…since this is my life we’re talking about, I get an in person interview.

Screw it. This interview process started in November. If they ask, I’ll tell them that I am not getting a haircut until they offer me a job out of protest.

So, if The Great Job Hunt finally comes through and I get the job, I’ll trim this shituation up, otherwise, this is what they get. Until then…img_3453

Whatever I decide to do with this shaggy mane, the…let’s say lucky barber will have plenty of material to work with!

The Haircut Saga

Feed Yourself

That’s a quote from the Silver Fox on our way back from coffee this morning.

I was serving him some OCD verbal vomit about my life, work, writing. He’d accidentally triggered me about 20 minutes earlier when we were grocery shopping. I had read a recipe for ribolitta while waking up this morning and when given the options, he’d decided what I should do.

I really want to try this recipe…but maybe I should make the Black Bean Goodness that I didn’t make last night.”

He decided on the ribolitta so after coffee, we went across Lovejoy to the Safeway for the incredibly simple ingredients. We both realized quickly that he would not benefit from his decision since the recipe has kale and he doesn’t.

Still, he stuck with me.

He stopped a few times at counters that interested him along the way. I left him behind because that’s what happens to me when he takes me to the Costco. It’s a lot easier to catch up-slash-find someone in a Safeway.

Just.

Saying.

Anyway, while I’m checking out, giving Sacha some gas points – if he’s still using the same rewards account we used when we were together – The Fox asked if we need lottery tickets.

I picked some up yesterday, so we’re fine.

Actually, we’d gone to buy them together and he bought them. But the point was, we had ’em.

“You know some trucker in New Jersey won Powerball?”

That was a ticket from a few weeks back. Or months? So we’re ok.

The Fox doesn’t like to play Powerball for less than $100 million. Any less than that and it’s just throwing money away, I suppose. Hehe.

I’d read the story of the trucker. Thinking of it now got me simmering. Halfway home, out it came. All over the Silver Fox.

The same thing had happened last Thursday night. But I just let it simmer in my head until Friday. That afternoon, I realized I was feeling completely weighed down by the pressure.

Thursday, I had wanted to go to the gym. Didn’t.

I was feeling like writing was a slog.

Two more days…then your January challenge ends.

Friday, I woke up with the same…congestion. Mental funkiness. Then I checked email.

I got a “Thanks, but…” from a position I was kind of excited about with Le Creuset. I’d had three interviews. It was a strange process. They seemed to go top backward instead of bottom up, like normal. Usually, for a Store Manager job, I’d expect to interview with the District Manager I’d report to, then if I was a go forward candidate I’d be passed up the chain for a corporate round robin interview.

With LC, I started with a director level, then a regional, then the DM and got spun out of the process there before the final round.

Well, that was a lot of effort for nothing…

I debated responding, but worried I’d come off as petty. That idea got tabled, and that decision became part of the mental funk.

By mid-afternoon, I didn’t think I could rally. Texts from The Fox about a party that was still FIVE HOURS away had me shrinking into the couch, further and further, until I just told him I didn’t think I could do it.

How am I becoming an introvert at this point in my life?!?

Yesterday morning, though, I’d woken up feeling good! It excited me. I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t feel neutral, either. Or even worse. I suggested to The Fox that we venture out for a Bing Mi before dropping in to the Big Legrowlski to say goodbye to one of the bartenders.

He’s going to teach English in South Korea.

The Fox was hip to the suggestion. Who wouldn’t be?

Mmm. So much, fuck yeah in these crepe sandwiches! We took our food from the food carts to the BL and had a beer – ok, I had two, Mr Reasonable had one – and ate while we chatted Joey up.

We were the only two customers in the joint. On my second beer (an 11.2% ABV called Notorious) I wondered aloud what was wrong with people.

It’s 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Why aren’t people out having beer?!?

Anyway, had they been, I’m sure I would have complained about that, too. By the time we left at 2:00, I was recharged. I went home and tapped out my final January Challenge blog and felt accomplished afterward.

I was jazzed.

It’s a wonder what harmlessly flirting with a straight bartender can do for the spirits.

We had gone from Big Legrowlski to Penzey’s Spices on the way home. It’s a whole two blocks out of our way, but they had a gift with purchase coupon for a chili spice I wanted.

In my post-writing high, I was contemplating making some Black Bean Goodness and adding in some of my new chili seasoning.

Filipina Fox to the rescue! She was at BL having a beer and wanted a sounding board to download the work she was doing for her start up fitness business.

I actually whined a little. Believe it or not, I didn’t want another beer. I was reluctant to drink any more and then do any knife work in the kitchen.

But I went and talked anyway. I’m pretty sure that everyone was low key surprised that I walked in and then out 30 minutes later without consuming anything…

Here’s the real surprise, after all that restraint, I still didn’t cook last night. I felt full.

Satisfied.

Fully satisfied.

I watched a movie and smoked half a joint that I’d been gifted a while back. When I pinched it out, I amused the absolute hell out of myself wondering if I should just pinch it out or also blow though it like I learned to do with cigars.

Joint…

Cigar…

Cigars seemed pretty durable comparatively. I decided not to risk it.

I’d hate to end up with a prolapsed joint.

Imagining that or a shower of ground weed flitting through my kitchen is what absolutely gave me the giggles. I put the joint away.

Probably just in time.

Now I’m a little peckish…

I’d been watching Veep on Amazon. I knew I shouldn’t be cooking, though. And that I didn’t have any snacky food. Looking at the clock I saw it was 9:45. Everything was closed.

Nice going, Hunter S. Thompson…

GoPuff to the rescue!

Twenty minutes later…

I realized I’m no good at ordering frozen pizza online. I thought I’d chosen a full sized za, but got a snack size. Not to worry, they threw in a lunch-sized bag of Fritos.

I can make this work…

I slept like a damn champ last night! Flash forward a couple hours and four espresso shots later and this well rested and over-caffeinated grumpopotamus was peppering The Fox with indecisiveness. He’d already enabled ribolitta even though I’d not made my Black Bean Goodness – can we agree that I’m short handing that as BBG going forward? – and now I was just dumping on him.

I need to find a friggin’ job!

Is it weird that I wanna write today?!?

The thing is, I’m choosing companies I want to work for, but by the time they tell me that they chose someone else, I don’t wanna work for them anymore.

Should I write? I need to finish my novel and just find a publisher. It would be best if someone would option my book. Takes care of the job thing, that does.

The Fox, walking next to me with the patience of Job, is just letting me wear myself out.

But I just want to write another novel now. I don’t want to edit, I don’t care if I get published…I just wanna keep writing!

“You need to feed yourself”, he chimes in when I finally take a breath. I hold up the bag of groceries I’m carrying suggestively.

“Your spirit”, he clarifies. I point him toward the post office so I can check my box.

We part, with me insisting he check out a three year old SNL clip that I found last night. Then I come home, unload my groceries and debate whether to just begin cooking immediately.

All because that trucker won our money!

Maybe I’ll start my taxes…

Feed Yourself