Monday, April 30, 2012

My Week In Retail

While I was waiting to hear from a couple of other jobs, I was offered a job as part-time assistant store manager at a chain convenience store. My unemployment ran out a couple of weeks ago, so it was better than nothing. (I did get a lot of part-time job offers as my unemployment expired; not sure whether to categorize that as dumb luck or impeccable timing.)

Saturday: My first day on the job. Completely forgetting my Census Payroll Empire roots, I forgot to bring my checkbook so I'd have my routing number information handy. I try to recite it from memory. I scribble down a number that sounds vaguely familiar and move on. The store manager tells me that I'll probably be bouncing back and forth between another store in the chain that is scheduled to open in a couple of months, which in real-time means that the store will open in a year-and-a-half. The rest of the day I stock merchandise, which is a welcome relief. I hate dealing with customers. I'm in stocking heaven. The first day is great.

Sunday: Day off.

Monday: My first night shift. Also, after a quick tutorial, my first day running the cash register. Groan. Customer interaction. I brush up on my Spanglish and try not to let people annoy me. (When I'm a customer at a convenience store I annoy myself.) The night goes by smoothly -- only one customer throws f-bombs at me, and he seems like he's not all there mentally so I don't take it personally. At 8 p.m. the other assistant store manager tells me she can't believe I haven't taken a break yet and tells me to go get something to eat. At 9 she closes the store and tells me about thee time she got robbed. We reconcile the cash register. I was six cents over for my shift. The other cashier was $21 over. I survive my first night shift.

Tuesday: Day off.

Wednesday: I walk in and tell the store manager that I've been offered a job elsewhere that I will be taking. Part of me wants him to tell me to get lost. And really, it doesn't make sense to train me to do stuff when I'm not going to be there anymore. Instead, he begs me to finish out the week because he's understaffed. This means today (Truck Day) I have to unload 1,100 boxes off of the delivery truck. Only I suspect they forgot the extra zero at the end because it felt like 11,000 boxes. The truck was supposed to arrive at 11 a.m., but because the truck driver accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and crashed into one of the other stores earlier in the day he's running three-and-a-half hours late. He finally arrives at 2:30 and we unload everything. Then he bitches about how we're not unloading fast enough -- because, you know, he didn't keep us waiting or anything. Anyway, great workout, although I'd much rather go to the gym for that. Also, on Wednesday, after three days we finally get in touch with the home office, and despite the fact that they acted like they couldn't be bothered, I pester them long enough for them to tell me that I did indeed get my routing number right. I can't believe I have that number memorized.

Thursday: Day off.

Friday: This is supposed to be my last day. I'm scheduled to work in the morning, but because I overcelebrated with some friends Thursday night I'm in no condition to work. I call the manager and ask if I can swap out and work Saturday instead (hoping he'll tell me to call it a career instead). He says, yes, Saturday would be perfect because he's understaffed.

Saturday: The least I can do for putting in minimal effort in my week in retail is get the staff a card, so I do and sign it. It's my final day and I'm back on register. This time I'm 76 cents over, I guess my counting skills are getting worse as I continue in retail. The manager comes in right as I'm leaving and I give him the card. He starts tearing up. He says he has the best staff ever, that he was impressed at how quickly I picked up everything and if it doesn't work out elsewhere to give him a call and he'll rehire me immediately.

It was a long week, but I learned a lot about myself, about what I'm capable of and how I can handle situations under duress. And now I have a Plan B, just in case. In that sense, it was totally worth it. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Unpredictabilities of Life

Life surprises you sometimes. I wanted to get a lot of writing done Tuesday and it never really happened. I got some writing done but not nearly as much as I had hoped or anticipated. I think it's a function of bad planning and procrastination. And now I'm blogging and it looks like Blogger has changed some things.

In the future, I will try to handle the unpredictabilities of life better. Hopefully the future will begin soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The OT I Didn't See

For the past few days my Internet has been spotty. I called Comcast and they scheduled a techie to come visit Sunday evening.

Also Sunday evening, the Bruins were fighting for their playoff lives, down 3 games to 2 to the Washington Capitals. The techie arrived and fiddled with some things and then found that a wire outside was frayed, and he needed to run a new line in. This meant he would have to take TV, phone and Internet offline.

Right as the game was tied at 3, going into overtime.

I tried flipping the radio to 98.5 (Bruins flagship station) but I got lousy reception. I sat there, without TV or Internet. The TV teased me, frozen to a picture of a Bruin carrying the puck in the Boston zone, while three Capitals lie in wait at center ice. I waited for an hour for the techie to run the wire up and restore services, knowing that at any point the Bruins season may have ended, or that the game might be well into double overtime.

NBC came back on at 7:05. Dateline NBC was on. Thus, the game was clearly over. I clicked onto, where I discovered that Tyler Sequin kept the B's season alive.

I may have to cut off my Comcast on Wednesday night for Game 7.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fenway's 100th Birthday Present For Me

Today Fenway is 100 years old. It's a quirky yet beautiful ballpark, and there have been quite a few memories here.

This year there probably won't be many, as the Sox have some awful pitching, sporadic hitting and lousy team chemistry and look well on their way to missing the playoffs for the third straight year. Today they celebrated Fenway's 100th birthday by losing the the Yankees 6-2.

Meanwhile, I'm having Internet problems at home so I'm at Barnes & Noble surfing the 'Net and the guy sitting in front of me gets up and his Red Sox sweat pants are, literally, halfway down his ass. He's going commando, too. Seriously, how do you not notice that as you get up from the table?

Perhaps this was Fenway Park's 100th birthday present for me -- a nearly full moon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Missing Pulitzer For Fiction

For the first time in 35 years, The Pulitzer committee did not award a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Th announcement was made earlier this week.

I haven't read any of the three finalists -- Train Dreams by Denis Johnson, Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace. That said, I have a tough time believing that in the past year there was no "distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life." And, like everything else in life, there are good years and bad years in fiction.

That said, you can say that about everything. I don't think either the 2011 Giants or Patriots will go down as one of the best football teams of all time, but that doesn't mean the NFL canceled the Super Bowl. They always hand out an Oscar for Best Picture, regardless of how bad the year in film is. And the 2012 presidential election will go on, regardless of how mediocre Obama and Mitt Romney are.

So I will say this because I'm pretty confident I will never win a Pulitzer: not handing out a Pulitzer for Fiction in 2012 is a lame decision.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Anger Management 2

Shaw's has Easter candy on special for half off right now. And Sunday was Greek Easter anyway. So I went back to the scene of the crime Sunday night to see if there would be a repeat of Saturday's crabbiness. Would anyone get all hot and bothered if I tried to enter the wrong checkout line?

The same girl was manning the checkout again. Luckily, she wasn't the crabby one, though by having her light out Saturday night she had been an accomplice.

Sunday night was uneventful. No temper tantrums. Easter candy acquired in peace.

Looking back, I'm glad I didn't ramp up the nastiness with some choice comments of my own, even though at the time I felt like it. It would've been awkward approaching the same checkout girl if I had. Score one for keeping a cool head.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Anger Management

I was at Shaw's and it was late. There was one checkout line with a light on, but no cashier to be found there. There was one cashier to be found, the light was out at her Aisle 3 but he was still checking somebody out.

I got in line there.

The woman who was being checked out turns to me and says, "Can't you see this aisle's closed?"

Wow. Bitch much? Don't know if she works there or she was just in a cranky mood.

I looked around, then returned my stared to her and said, "I don't see any other cashiers working."

The girl who was bagging her groceries said, "I can take you over at 7."

I've always thought I was the one with the anger management problem. It's amazing how much grumpier some other people are than me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

On Choosing an American Ultimate Disc League Team

This afternoon, the first professional ultimate league team kicks off. This of course means I have to pick a team to root for.

The logical choice would be to root for the Boston franchise, except there is no Boston franchise as of yet. There is, however, the next best thing -- a New England franchise. In fact, there are two New England franchises: the Rhode Island Rampage and the Connecticut Constitution. Coincidentally, they happen to play this afternoon in East Providence.

However, that actually poses a dilemma. Which New England team do I adopt? I don't want to be one of those New York douchebags who roots for the Giants and the Jets, depending on which way the wind is blowing.

* Both teams have singular nicknames, a major pet peeve of mine. Advantage: neither.

* The Rampage have a cool logo/mascot, I think it's really supposed to be a rhinoceros but it almost kind of looks a Triceratops. Advantage: Rhode Island.

* The Constitution's logo/mascot looks like old-skool New England Patriot logo Pat Patriot

except flinging a frisbee. Advantage: Connecticut.

I'm going to have to think about this some more. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Olive Leaf In My Throat

Sometimes I rush things in life.

I take one aspirin and one olive leaf extract a day. It's worked for me healthwise. The other night, though, I forgot. So Wednesday I doubled up.

The problem arises when I rush things and I try to swallow all four at the same time. I could feel one of them (I think it was an olive leaf extract) sitting in my throat. Trust me, that's not a comfortable feeling.

After five minutes or so, it was gone -- either it went down or simply dissolved. Still, I don't want to have to perform the Heimlich on myself.

From now on, one pill at a time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I'm looking for some quick cash. So I jumped at the opportunity to keep score at a rec league basketball game the other night, when it dawned on me -- I've never operated a scoreboard before. Luckily, the players walked me through it.

There were only a few minor snafus. I forgot to stop the clock at a timeout and had to add 10 seconds back on the clock. Then I got a little disoriented at the change of baskets after halftime and, for a brief moment, accidentally credited three points to the wrong team. You can imagine how this set off the team that scored.

All in all, though, it was a fun experience. I'll give it another shot.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Riv, or Wikipedia Editing/Vandalism

About a year or so ago I looked up Fall River on Wikipedia. What struck me about it was the blandness of the box at the top right corner of the article. It depicts Fall River's nickname as "The Scholarship City."

What a lame nickname. Plus, I've never heard anybody call Fall River "The Scholarship City."

So at that time I decided it was time to spice things up. I edited the Wikipedia article to include its nickname of "The Riv."

Today, for kicks, I decided to look up Fall River again. My edit is still there. According to Wikipedia, Fall River is still The Riv.

I'm not the smartest guy, but I'm glad I could contribute a little piece of knowledge to the world.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


I tried Skype for the first time Saturday evening.

Like all technological advancements with me, it had its bugs. I couldn't get the volume on the other person to work, and then she couldn't seem to get volume when I tried to talk.

Thus, it made for a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons. I trust that I'll slowly figure it out over time. Technology is a learning curve for me.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Where the Girls Are

I've been thinking a lot about gender in fiction lately. Part of it is because of my somewhat contentious but productive discussions about it with fellow fictioner A. J. O'Connell. Part of it is because novelist Jennifer Weiner discusses it a lot. And part of it is because another friend blogged about it.

So I went into the time machine back to the past two semesters, when I was fiction co-editor of Mason's Road. At MR we had a blind submission policy, so we didn't know the names or genders of the authors. That said, sometimes you read a story and you're pretty confident it was written by one gender or the other. So I figured it was worth it to count the stories I accepted over those two semesters to see if I was predisposed one way or the other.

During the two semester I edited, we accepted 11 stories for publication. Here's the breakdown:

Stories written by women: 8*
Stories written by men: 3

*We actually accepted 9 stories written by women, but we ultimately rescinded the offer to publish one because the author was uncooperative about edits we felt needed to be made.

Clearly this is a small statistical sampling. So it doesn't prove anything. And some would argue that it may prove I'm actually biased against men. All I can hope is that I don't rule anyone's fiction out because of their sex.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Feathersaurus rex

I'm conflicted about this: scientists are all abuzz about a new feathered tyrannosauroid dinosaur. It's estimated to be about 30 feet long, which would make it the most likely the largest feathered creature ever to exist.

I like that dinosaurs are more and more being associated with more advanced birds rather than more basal reptiles.

But, at the same time, feathers seem a little wussy on a bid, bad-ass dinosaur. Plus, the creature's scientific name, Yutyrannus, leaves a lot to be desired. Like a wannabe Tyrannosaurus name.

Certain things in life I can deal with being fuzzy or feathery. I'm not sure dinosaurs are one of them.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

National League

Baseball can be pretty self-important. For years the National League has had two more teams than the American League (16-14). It was stated by The Powers That Be that it had to be that way because, with interleague play, if there were an even number of teams there always would have to be an interleague series going on.

This is so stupid. Who cares if there's an interleague series all the time. Why not? The NFL, which almost always does everything MLB screws up the right way, does that. Outside of the final weekend (when all NFL teams play division opponents to lessen the possibility of teams with nothing to play for mailing it in), the NFL schedules interconference matchups every week.

This stupidity will end next season. There's still plenty of time for baseball to get cold feet and change its mind, but in 2013 the Houston Astros will move to the American League West. It creates a natural rivalry with Texas. It allows interleague play all the time instead of in that silly two-week window they always have for it.

Nice job, baseball. A good way to start the 2012 festivies. Now don't screw everything else up.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Case of the Missing Rent

I'm a creature of habit. When the mail comes, I usually sort it by tenant (there are 10 apartments in this old Victorian house, including my landlord's). I usually put the monthly rent on top of all the other mail my landlord accumulates.

I did this Sunday night. He doesn't pick up his mail every day. But last night I checked downstairs and the envelope I put the check in was gone.

Tuesday afternoon my cellphone rang. It was my landlord.

"It's the third of the month. You gonna drop by with the rent?"

I was confused.

"I dropped it downstairs along with all your other mail the other night. You didn't pick it up?"

"No, it's not here."

I went downstairs. I thought it might've slipped behind the table where I drop all the mail after I sort it. It wasn't there.

Well that just sucked. Now I had to write another rent check and hand it to my landlord. He, meanwhile, was panicking that one of the other tenants may have snatched it and deposited my rent check.

So I called my bank. Luckily, the missing check hasn't been presented anywhere. I put a stop payment on it. My landlord is reimbursing me for the stop payment.

I'm convinced the check is sitting on his countertop, wedged in between his cable bills and the weekly Shaw's flyer. He'll probably find it next week.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Two-Interview Day

Having two interviews in one day presents a interesting dilemma. The interviews were three hours apart -- purposely set by me that way, so that there would be no dangers of overlapping.

But this also means there's a lag time. And this raises the question. Do I stay in my interview clothes? Or do I change into a T-shirt and shorts back at my place for an hour or so in between interviews?

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a casual guy and there was no way I'd be staying in my interview clothes.

We'll see if it has an effect on the end results.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Census Day

What better way to celebrate April Fools than by simultaneously having Census Day. Granted, there's no census this year, but every census year April 1 is officially Census Day, so why not celebrate it every year?

It's a great time to head over to Wild Willy's, former hangout of the Payroll Empire, reminisce about old times and catch up on new times.

I learned a lot, too. I learned from Rebecca that roller derby is the natural extension of yoga. I learned that Legos can predict the future. And I learned that listening to restaurant employees sing every time they get a tip is really annoying.

I can't wait for next April 1.