Category Archives: Work

It’s Not Delivery… It’s Stupid

Yesterday, I wrote about a couple of ways to save money on one’s phone bill or internet – and that one of those opportunities also led me to get a nice desktop setup for just $20.

Delivery company __ attempted to deliver my computer on Sunday. That was weird enough. In order to avoid another misdelivery or return, I paid $5.55 to have a specific delivery window for Monday from 5 p.m – 8 p.m. I’ve got a couple of shenanigans stories about deliveries here at the apartments for another day.

When I came back to my apartment simplex at 4:30, the delivery driver was parked backward, facing the parking lot. I walked up and asked, “You aren’t by chance delivering to apartment 10/X?” He smiled. “Yes, I am.” After showing him my ID, he, of course, asked, “Where is your name on the license?” I replied in the way I always do, with a smile: “It’s the same place as every other license in the state. My first name is X.” He laughed. “Yes, that does make sense!” Just because we were bantering, I pointed to my balcony and said, “See? There’s even a 30-inch X right there to prove it’s me.”

“I’ll go ahead and take the computer package now if you’d like so you can be on your way.”

The driver smiled and said that would be great.

He called his supervisor.

The supervisor surprisingly told him, “Even though the customer is there and has IDed himself, you can’t deliver or give him the package until 5 p.m. as indicated by the order window. You have to sit and wait in the truck until then.”

I could see the look of incredulity on the driver’s face as he listened. “I have to wait here in the truck until 5.”

In the interim, I chatted to the downstairs neighbors about ways to save money and that I’d received a computer for just $20. I also offered to fix two of their older computers for free. I seem to find myself always preaching at people about having computers, phones, or tablets sitting in closets or allegedly broken. I can repurpose anything. Stuff is meant to be used or donated to places like Free Geek. The recycling and repurposing center is about two blocks from where I live, and they do fantastic work.

At 5 p.m., the young male driver came up to the apartment with a large box.

“I’m so sorry you had to wait for no reason,” I said.

“Thank you so much for saying so. It’s not your fault,” he replied, sitting the package on my landing.

He hesitated. I knew he was about to say something important.

“Yeah, I have an accounting degree. I think it’s time I put that to use and stop enduring this job. I appreciated the position at first, but I’m definitely wasting my time.” He sighed.

“I told the neighbors that I was sure you were paid a salary or by the day instead of the by the hour and what your boss had told you.” I waited for him to reply.

“Yes, I get paid $140 gross a day, even though I work an insane number of hours a day. The faster I work, the more they add on top of my routes. There are days when I net less than $7 an hour working this way.”

Though I wasn’t surprised, I was taken aback.

“I’m so sorry. I do hope you reach out and take a job that not only pays you more but lets you work in the field you choose. I work at the hospital and have a great wage and benefits if you’re ever interested. ” I shook his hand.

I was very happy to get such a nice, low-cost computer. But I was also irritated that such a large company making so much profit put its drivers in a position to spend most of their waking lives working that way.

Though the policy that led the driver to waste his own time and wait 30 minutes might have a logical basis, the practicality of such a policy leads me to believe that is simply stupid. Such policies always impact the human beings who are giving their time to help companies make record profits.

X
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Whale Shark!

I had this weird feeling this morning. All I could hear was deep bass. Duh-da. Duh-da. The hair on the back of my knees stood up like the needles of the startled porcupine. And then I saw it, the most vicious creature in the workplace: Whale Shark.
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Dead Tree Remix Day

Dead Tree Remix Day

I don’t know if my dead tree project will ever be finished. I continue to add new painted limbs and branches to it. It’s currently standing in my extra room. I rescued the dead base of the tree from the woodpile near where I found the baby shower box a couple of weeks ago. The little branches I’ve added are from some of my favorite spots along the trail and near the hospital, so it’s a well-traveled creation. I love the idea of it in part because it’s something made from discarded and desiccated remains. That I can add an infinite number of pieces to it, all rendered in luminescent color makes me happy.

The day contains the same elements of any other day. It can be a repeat of the familiar. It can also be an anomalous remix, both familiar and strangely new. Like freshly-sliced jalapeños on vanilla bean ice cream.

For fans of both Merle Haggard and Survivor, I ask you to search for “Survivor and Merle Haggard – Eye of the Haggard.” It’s an example of juxtaposing two things that should not work together but somehow do. Musically, it’s a masterful bit of wild production and melody.

In other news, I don’t like to watch baseball. Albert Pujols joined Babe Ruth as a 600 HR hitter and a pitcher. I love it when anything interesting happens in baseball. It joins bowling and golf as two sports that are like watching my hair dry. Yes, all 11 of them.

I’m looking at the new day with the eye of a tiger and the pancreas of a hyena. (That joke might be a little too esoteric.)

Before I leave for work, I will turn off the light in the room with the dead tree project. The colors will fade to the eye until the sun washes through the window and illuminates it.

It will have its day in the sun.

I hope each of you does too.

My cat will jump up to the windowsill multiple times during the day. I added extra-wide sills to all my windows so that both he and the few plants I have can enjoy the second-floor view and light.

It’s what Mondays are made for, though most of us begrudgingly wake up groggy-eyed and unready for the presumptive start of the workweek. If you’re going to spend 20% of your work-life experiencing Mondays, you might as well find a new perspective to enjoy them.

Take the pieces that don’t work and refresh them. Remix and enjoy.

Love, X
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Washington Regional Rebranding Idea

Infrequently, I try to use my endless ideas to create something ‘serious.’ I hate that word, as it needlessly demarcates life into impossible categories. I’m both ridiculous and contemplative – as most people are.

For years I’ve thought that Washington Regional Medical System needed both a new logo and a new name, one that reflects simplicity, recognizability, and appropriateness. The hospital system is flung across multiple counties, with dozens of clinics. As it has grown, the “Washington” part increasingly becomes a misnomer, especially as it encroaches on other systems in the area.

The name I invented is pronounced “Regional Plus.” The logo is just the word “Regional” with a symbol that uses the essential foundation of the complicated logo it utilized for years. It’s simple, recognizable, and has a plethora of built-in marketing potential. I’d rather have the word “Regional” be purple, too, but I used a nondescript gray to keep the suits and ties happier. Additionally, my proposed rebrand fits on t-shirts, badges, and marketing materials – something the longer current one does not. It will save a LOT of space on signs, too.

“At Regional +, we’re not just a hospital, we’re a hospital plus.”

It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to extrapolate dozens of such marketing phrases. Naturally, I have several funny ones, too, but I’ll leave them for later.

I shared it with marketing and a few other people and didn’t get a response. Crickets.

The weird thing? Without evidence, I see this logo becoming the new one for the hospital.

Tell me that mine isn’t better and I will shut up.

X

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A Word Of Thanks

“My socks may not match, but my feet are always warm.” Maureen McCullough

As someone who turned down raises twice in my history with my company (during which one year we all took a 5% pay cut due to cutbacks), I’ve never complained about what I’m paid. Especially in the last 18 months, I have been even more grateful to my job overall, even though it drives me bonkers at times. The goings-on with Covid definitely tried my patience. But I do love my schedule and the flexibility my job affords. Some of my co-workers are actually not a total pain in the ass. Besides, they seem to tolerate ME well, which is a feat of both bravery and foolishness on their part.

In the last couple of years, the company had to adjust to market pressure and give the lower-end employees two pay bumps, many of whom finally went to $15 an hour. I now have 17 years with my employer. Given the number of shenanigans and stress I’ve often doled out to my managers, HR, compliance, legal, and just about everyone, it is a miracle that I’m still there. I’m a complete goof but sometimes people forget my background or my contradictory ideas about safety, employment law, and general do-the-right-thing beliefs. I’ve been lucky to be both vocal and humorous, even while doing a very physical job. I’m definitely not my job, but it does afford me the chance to be fickle and fiendish.

I have a minority opinion about seniority – and always have. While we can earn different benefits based on longevity, I’ve always believed that anyone doing my job should earn exactly what I do, regardless of tenure. It’s not exactly a popular opinion, I realize. It’s caused some hilarious team meetings and awkward moments. Not awkward for me; rather, for them. All of us are expendable and are only as valuable as our output and knowledge.

In general, I’d rather have more satisfied co-workers than a slightly higher wage. Since most of them SEEM to be working for money, it follows that more money should lead to better morale. Except for the assholes. There is no pleasing some people, as anyone who has thrown a dinner party knows.

I didn’t know what kind of raise I might get on this paycheck. I would have been grateful for any raise. When I checked my online paystub and did the simple math, I realized that I should not be doing even simple math without a calculator and probably a helmet.

My raise? 10%. That’s substantially larger than any I’ve ever received. I know that the raise was based on complex calculations, probably using a dartboard and while drinking shots at Art’s Place on College. But whatever the reason, I am grateful.

“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” Eric Hoffer

So, as for the administrators who authorized the raise, I guess I need to nod in their direction, as much as it pains me. I prefer to snark at them!

I would write more, but I need to go spend this 10% on something vital to my life: notecards and PopChips.

“I will find you and I will hug you.” – Possibly Liam Neeson

Love, X

PS The picture is from this morning. I walked down the trail and listened to the birds. The squirrels scampered along the branches and knocked puffs of snow loose as they did so. It was as if I had the entire world to myself; no traffic, no passersby on the trail. Only the peeking sun, the flow of the creek, and my thoughts. It was sublime and beautiful.
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Give Them The Words

Less than a week before my emergency surgery, I wrote a letter to someone who needed a living eulogy and to hear that he was appreciated. The timing of me writing and giving him the letter seems prophetic to me now. I wonder what my words might have meant had things gone differently with my emergency surgery. The lovely thing is that I overcame my awkwardness by sharing my intimate thoughts with another adult, something we don’t do enough. I don’t have to wonder about the alternate future because I chose to silence the voice in my head that said, “Don’t give him the note.” I hate that my first reaction is sometimes to pull back. Over the last year, the barrier I have to do so continues to disintegrate – and I’m as proud of that as I am of my weight loss.

Yesterday, the person who received the letter proved himself worthy of my praise. He went beyond the scope of work and reached out to help another human being, one who was experiencing a difficult day. It’s the only thing that matters. We’re not going to remember bad decisions and particular moments if someone proves that they will walk that extra mile and outside of all their comfort zones. “Trust your instincts,” I told him. They’ve worked out well for him so far. And if they push him to risk reaching out to help someone else, they are the best possible instincts.

Life will continue to beat us all up in unexpected moments; it’s a certainty. Each of us needs to be the giver and the receiver of compassion and understanding when we can. It will be our turn on both ends of this spectrum when we least expect it.

Yesterday, at work, something else happened that I can’t specify due to privacy. All of us mobilized without a second thought, seeing someone suffering and needing both immediately physical help and presence. It lingered with me. The person I wrote the letter to was also one of those who went above and beyond again to jump into spontaneous action. Life and work would be so much lesser without him; that was one of the points I tried to communicate to him.

As I exited the convenience store this morning after buying multidraw lottery tickets, a young woman with bright xanthous hair (I love that word!) sat in her vehicle. She animatedly shook her phone. She was obviously upset. I crossed in front of her to go to my car. As I unlocked my door, I looked over toward her and saw that she was looking over at me. I smiled and made the universal motion for her to roll her window down. Had she not, I would have understood. Strangers are always a risk. Her passenger window went down. “Do you need anything?” The words popped out of my mouth as they often do. Being awkward didn’t occur to me. “I need a miracle,” she said, her voice uneven. “Do you like your mom?” I asked her. She nodded and said, “Yes, she is pretty cool for a mom.” I smiled again and then said seriously, “Well, call her and talk to her about it. Call her right now. That’s what good moms are for.” The girl with the xanthous hair seemed a bit bewildered. “Okay, I think I will. You’re right. This is ridiculous.” I told her to have a good talk with her mom and waved goodbye. I drove away and saw that she was looking at her phone, probably to make a call. I wondered if she’d tell her mom about the odd man in the vest and suit jacket at the convenience store, telling her to call.

I gave her the words.

Love, X
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Toil

Take note, fellow travelers.

For a moment today, I temporarily forgot that being able to be back at work is a gift among possibilities.

While you labor, I hope it is a fair exchange for another priceless day, gone forever.

That while you work, you find a way to express yourself, appreciate others, and be yourself as much as you’re able.

And if you don’t, that the toil provides you with what you need to replenish your body and home.

If you’re lucky enough, may you find a way to flourish and earn.

If that’s the case, don’t forget to be grateful.

We often confuse ourselves by failing to appreciate that our jobs give us the ability to do things we need and love.

You have about 11,000 workdays if you’re a typical worker.

May you find the balance between work and home.

And the strength to do it again for all your tomorrows.

Love, X

Absence Noted

I walked into the early morning storeroom, flipping the lights on and making the first pot of coffee. I knew it would be different without her, on her first day of retirement. So I posted this on her door, the one that now opens to an absence.

The Most Bittersweet Goodbye

The Most Bittersweet Goodbye

Tonight, I sat at the end of a long table, looking toward a gathering of current and former coworkers. Atop the table was an assortment of good drinks, appetizers, and good food. More importantly, the perimeter of the table was lined with people connected to one person. The purpose of the get-together was a send-off to Leigh, someone who dedicated decades to work. They let me do a toast and I lit it up with a bit of humor and a dose of sincerity. I opened my toast with the Andy Bernard (The Office) quote: “I wish there were a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left the good old days.” I reminded everyone that as we gathered there, we had experienced those good days with Leigh and that tonight, we had to face the realization that not only had these been the good old days, but that they were drawing to a close, as all such times must do. Leigh’s shoes can’t be filled.

I laughed dozens of times. I teared up a couple, both due to the people sitting around me, as well the backdrop of time overlapping from memory and transposing itself onto the fact I knew I’d remember that moment for the rest of my life.

I left the restaurant with a fuller heart but also a slight wound there, too. Bittersweet moments both rejuvenate and pierce one’s heart.

As much as Leigh looks forward to retirement, I know she mourns the loss of people who’ve occupied her waking hours for so many years. I miss her already. I try to imagine what was in her heart as she looked around at us laughing and sharing stories.

Part of the sting is the knowledge that endings are a constant companion to our lives.

And if we can’t remember to bow our heads in reverence to the life we’ve been graciously given, we’re doing it wrong. Leigh was never one to get the doldrums about life; she graciously accepts the highs and lows as well as anyone I’ve ever met. Her faith takes care of the rest.

We gave our bon voyage as a group tonight. After tomorrow, she’ll find a new way to focus her energy. We’ll stay behind, each waiting our turn to say our goodbyes.

For tonight, laughter, good food, and a bittersweet farewell to a kind, funny person.

We’ll miss you, Chihuahua!

Love, X

P.S. Leigh took this picture. I told her I would add words to reach her heart.