Category Archives: Work

3 a.m. Laugh

I woke up this morning and grabbed my phone from the counter at the Airbnb. I was trying to surreptitiously gather my things and not awaken Erika. And then I saw this text. It caught me off guard, like a chinchilla in my underwear in the dark. I started laughing and tried to do it quietly. Which led to a coughing fit. Thanks Zach; no, I didn’t put snow back on your windshield. I wish I had thought of it though. I would have built an igloo on top of your truck.
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An Obvious Truth

An Obvious Truth…
Looking back on the trajectory of your life, personal or work, you’ll notice that things that drive you bonkers tend to continue being bonkers. The Serenity Prayer is applicable to your situation. Acceptance – Courage to Change – Wisdom. The ideal method juxtaposes the first two components: change YOUR attitude or put in the work to positively change what drives you bonkers. The wisdom portion sits at your feet when you realize that these are the only options to be happier. The world and the things you don’t like will continue on as they always have. Take the time to practice your mindset or put on your work boots and make changes happen. All of us get stuck in the complaining or dissatisfied mode needlessly. We have the erroneous and frustrating idea of what-things-should-be. The rain doesn’t care if you’re wet and the world is entirely comprised of your perception of it. How do I know? Because there are happy people who remain happy even in chaos. It is their mindset, entirely under their control, that shapes it. Not the other way around.Love, X
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Love, X
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Christmas Color Column

I wanted to do something at work, a something that included everyone. Christmas is upon us after all. My first idea originated with finding pictures of everyone when they were younger. I mostly succeeded and especially enjoyed a few that were very difficult to find.  Erika prompted me to do something more ornate… which also coincides with my innate tendency toward ostentatious. It took on a life of its own. I loved the reactions of people who were tickled by both the display and the delight of seeing people differently than they had before. A reminder that we are not simply workers and that each of us has a road behind us. Each of us has our own idea of what Christmas means. I would trade it all if everyone substituted in its place a year-long effort to surprise people with small gifts and small affections. And yes, even pictures that make some people cringe at the way they once looked.

I looked at my Christmas column filled with pictures after I turned the warehouse lights off this morning to observe the brilliant color where such color is usually absent. A column of interconnected people. It might as well have been a tapestry of everyone on the planet.

I thought to myself, “I made that!” I took an idea and added a little work and made it a reality. 

… were that life were so simple.

People. Color. Love.

X
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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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