Archive | December, 2011

SDH Pt. 5

19 Dec

Day 8 is a great day! So says, O. who unlike yesterday is fantastically organized, in a happy mood and muy prepared to kick some bi-lingual azz. We even have time to stop for lunch. AND eat it. This is the first time I have ever used the restroom on the job. For being on the computer so much at my “real” job, I am surprisingly energetic. On this third day of actual work running back and forth from the truck—I mean walking at a brisk pace back and forth from the truck—the only thing troubling me is my right pinky toe and the heel of my left foot. I’ve stuffed some cotton in my eight-hole Docs with the original Air Ware heel pull loop and classic trans PVC DMC Air Cushioned outsole and am feeling pretty keen about actually doing work in them after a couple decades of just wearing them for fashion’s sake.

There is hardly any time to talk and it’s loud so O. is definitely not experiencing the full force of my sarcastic wit. Once we’re on the road, it’s all business. We’ve exchanged pleasantries of course. He’s been with the company nine years, straight outta high school, loves it, hates it, has a plan to retire at 50 and move to the beach. Has a gf and a couple baby mamas. Loves his two kids. Is from San Diego, but not that one. It’s a little like flying right seat in an aircraft. You stay quiet and let the pilot focus unless he asks you for help, especially during take-off and landing which in one of these trucks is about every 30 ft. The first day, my worst pain was in my thumb from all the clicking and unclicking but it’s the law and it’s also a safety rule so it is done fastidiously and by everyone without fail.

Tonight marks our first after dark delivery and it’s a little scary. NTR: Well-lit addresses on the sides of mailboxes get high marks from these guys. I’ve learned to appreciate the finer details of a home on approach.  Lighted door bells are underappreciated by the general public. BTW, as a straight path to the front door as can be made is going to happen whether you create one or not.  O. goes easy on me, taking deliveries on his side of the truck whenever there is one; handing me a flashlight and all the packages down the steps so I don’t have to figure out how to maintain three points of contact with my hands full. 248 stops. Not including the last one I made to CVS to pick up the Epsom Salts I longed for during last night’s bath.

It’s a bone-chilling 42 degree sunset after an enjoyably active sunny day. I don’t know if I’m going to make it back tomorrow but O. reminds me cheerfully that on this night we have seen some spectacular Christmas light displays. The once-cold and uninviting windows warm up to a golden glow when the people come home and inhabit their spaces Thomas Kinkaid style. The city lights sparkle and I feel like a princess in my brown polyester uniform presented with cache of precious gems: emeralds, rubies, sapphires and opals in a black velvet lined box. I say so. You know, you can close that door O. says after a noticeable shiver that had nothing to do with the cold. We both slide the heavy floor to ceiling doors with a satisfactory metallic CLATCH after the last stop and enjoy the heat from the engine coming through the vents in the sparse dashboard that includes a fabulously retro push button starter. It’s not the only thing old school on the truck. We silently cruise out of what is most likely the premier planned development in the city taking in the views on the way down. Put it this way: Even I recognize the names and I don’t watch sports.

A gigantic guard-tower looking thing appears between rooftops and hovers over the horizon in such a way that I can only gasp and say, what IS THAT? O. senses it must be something cool since I have been mostly dismissive of the ginormous, over-sized, why the f&*K would two people want to live in a house that big, been there done that castles on a hill to the point that we’re both kind of disgusted by them. I can tell we’re both feeling a tad self-righteous about driving around delivering Santa’s packages by the way his head is perched on the top of his spine. Can we go? I ask, almost pleading? Yeah, let’s check it out. I’ve never been there before. I’m slightly concerned that it’s going to be a house and I’m going to have to own it immediately because it is just my thing—a three-story Spanish mission style guard tower—sigh, home sweet home. Thank god it turns out to be the NDOs (residential group mail boxes). What a joke!

It reminds me of my last apartment—third floor on a mountain preserve overlooking multi-million dollar homes. I pick out the tiny one on the very top that turns out to be the club house. But, I’m in no mood to ponder how the decadence of western civilization will inevitably lead to a water shortage or how the mining companies are buying up rights and will ultimately profit from that too. We are FREE! And the air coming in the windows is crisp and clean and flushes our cheeks like starry-eyed lovers serendipitously thrown together by a dramatic but completely over-comeable life challenge culminating in a financial windfall followed soon after by a major land purchase we vow to be stewards of and immediately begin to dig out passive rain water collection burms, build an earthship, apply for conservation status and invite schools to field trip at our home; educate the children, get a tax write-off and all at once finally feel that this is what it means to be alive.

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SDH Pt. 4

16 Dec

Unlike the uber-pleasant open lots of Day 6, the homes here look cold and uninviting and no one is home to sign for packages. O. wonders out loud what these people can possibly do for a living and since it’s our second day together I feel safe sharing that they spend their whole lives working and living in fear. You think? He says. I know. I say. There’s a difference in the lives of the people who live just within their means on a little lot just out of town and those who choose to live in the gated communities we’re in today. I’m generalizing of course, but everyone knows it’s status. So why do it? I can only tell you this. I spent the whole day somewhere between envy and disgust. The views, the quaint little yards, the organization, the structure—the addresses that all go in order. Contrasted by the knowledge that the land underneath is completely decimated and that all living things have been relegated decorative accessories including the hundred-year-old oaks that may have lived another century if were not for the removal of nutrient-rich soil, natural irrigation and pre-emergent chemicals that keep its offspring from replacing it. I heard a rumor once that San Antonio—known for it’s Riverwalk and densely canopied landscape—will know a time when there are no mature trees. Zero. But don’t worry, there’s a movement to plant more so you don’t have to.

Speaking of movements, I’d love to be sitting in the park smoking that hooka with you the 1% but I am beginning to feel like the .05% who got up off my ass and got a job. Not that what you’re doing isn’t very important but if you really want to make a difference – pick a cause and go volunteer. Help a kid learn how to read, deliver an old man’s lunch, read to a dying patient in a nursing home – whatever, just DO something. And guess what? People who volunteer usually get first pick when new jobs open up so get yourself out there if you really want to work and pick something you love because we don’t need any more assholes out there pretending to care.

Someone told me once that I should never be a teacher because teachers are people who teach because they can’t do. I beg to differ. In fact, who do you think DOES more to affect our personal futures? Having some type of teacher in our lives is the something we all have in common no matter what our socio-economic or ethnic background and they usually touch us in ways that change our entire lives for better or worse. Anyway, I didn’t go back to school to get that degree because I couldn’t afford it. That’s right. I didn’t spend money I didn’t have to buy something I knew I could not afford. And no my parents did not teach me that. I learned it all by myself by living in the real world and being an adult. I learned it the very FIRST time I got a credit card bill in the mail and it had double digit interest applied to the balance on which I had made only the minimum payment which means I only paid like $2 toward the principle. I paid it in full every month after that and never charged over what I could afford again.

We’re getting off track here, but much like my driver I’m going to smash down some security gates on my way in to your hood. Don’t worry, the company picks up the tab.

SDH Pt. 3

15 Dec

Day 6 has finally arrived and I’m like a teenager on her first date. I’ve been called! Can I be ready in an hour? Sure! And just like that, the bun is on and I’m suited up for action. It’s 11 a.m. The driver  just happens to be right down the street and picks me up at my front door. Can’t beat that commute. The neighborhood is beyond beautiful. It’s a perfect 65 degree day with sunshine and those big, white puffies that pass over occasionally creating depth in the valleys between the rolling hills. The plentiful deer are absolutely twitterpated—prancing and loping and showing off for each other. It’s hunting season in the rest of the state but not here. This is private property. And we love our deer. A couple of hours in the breezy jump seat and I’m ready for a break. It’s just like riding in a helicopter but lower with frequent jumps. I make a note to bring some earplugs tomorrow. We just happen to be passing the house so I hop out for lunch and he picks me up forty minutes later, rested and ready to rock. It’s fun! The physical activity is the perfect complement to sitting in front of computer all day. I can’t believe some people are lucky enough to get paid to be outside. By 8:30 p.m. I’m exhausted but happy.  148 stops.

Yoga in the a.m. after my first full day at work is a stretch—literally. Day 7 is looking promising at 5:30 a.m. with no pressing deadlines. I resume the search for the motorcycle I have been looking for since I got my license in May. A call from O. to meet him at the CVS nearby comes in at 11:30 and I’m there by 11:55. We take off into the misty morning. Today is a different area. Patio homes! Gotta love that. My neighborhood is beautiful but ½ acre lots make for long walks to the door and where there is plenty of space there are dogs outside. Let me take this opportunity to share my first Note to Resident: If you want packages delivered inside your gate, leash your dog. He likes to eat things with this many different smells on them. And no, it is not cute that he never growls except at us and postal workers. It’s just not.

On a serious side note: Fear of being bitten by a dog is #1 on the list of complaints about this job. It’s no laughing matter. There are three safety rules that are stressed beyond any others. 1. Always maintain three points of contact with the truck while exiting and entering. 2. Never run and 3. If there is an unleashed dog on the property, don’t risk it. Number three is the only rule I’ve never seen broken.

So, we’re driving along and O. confides that this has already been a horrible day. He was late to work. He has a tooth ache and his boss let him know that he “can’t have another day like yesterday”. Plus, we have 226 stops. I’m beginning to get the idea that the good drivers don’t need helpers. Every stop is a near fiasco. Packages are jumping off the shelves and out of site as soon as O. goes to look for them. I am not running, but am engaged in a solid full foot to the pavement jog from the hip that looks something faster than walking though it really isn’t. I’m trying to give him time between stops to organize but it isn’t happening. Would you like some help with that?  I inquire, trying not to overstep my boundaries by invading his private space in the back of the truck. A few packages are tossed in frustration. NTR: You do not want to know what goes on in the back of these trucks. I assure you.

SDH Pt. 2

13 Dec

Day 3 sounds like it’s going to test my resolve when she rings on the drive home from Day 2 to ask me if I’m available at 7 a.m. and I know I have a deadline that same day with a client who actually keeps his deadlines. I’m self-employed and telling myself that this gig is just a temporary thing for the holidays, not a major career change. Why not? I say out loud and she tells me where to be and when and hangs up. I’m curious about a number of things at this point but just go with the flow. So does everyone else. The day turns out to be easy. Everyone shows up, gets their assignments by zip code, finds a uniform that isn’t too ill fitting and we watch some training/safety videos in-between. Three of us are asked outside and never return. Only 85259 and I seem to be curious about things like where we clock in and how we get paid. Our curiosity creates a bond, along with our neighboring zip codes. We are told that we are highly desirable and will most likely be called the next day if not that very afternoon. We exchange victorious glances.

By Day 4 I’m only slightly saddened that I haven’t gotten a call. It’s the day before Thanksgiving. My deadline has been met and the invoice sent. I spend the rest of the day pressing my new uniform and waiting by the phone so long I begin to feel like a jilted lover. Why hasn’t he called? Should I call him? Or would that be too presumptuous? The woman who was supposed to give us all the finer details and a test to make sure we were paying attention during the safety portions of the orientation has only been hired two weeks before and “Sorry, guys. I just don’t have the time to tell you anything right now.” We’ll call you. Don’t call us. 85259 and I are floored. We are shuttled out the door and the next group of 30 is ushered in. I won’t compare us to cattle but we did have to stay inside the yellow lines for our safety.

Day 5 is the day after Thanksgiving – a notoriously busy day for deliveries. I wake up at 5 a.m. to do my yoga, eat, shower and check work e-mail before I get geared up.  I sweep back every hair into a bun so tight a ballerina couldn’t leap, bend or spin a wisp loose. And I wait. No call. I’m kind of glad because I can work on my next publication and get ahead for what is sure to be a very busy month leading up to Christmas. My head hurts and my eyes are slanty.

Holidays and weekends off. Woohoo!

Seasonal Driver Helper Wanted Pt. 1

10 Dec

Day 1 of my experience with the company whose name shall never be spoken, but with which you are most likely intimately familiar is hopeful. I have chosen this company out of a list of “five top part-time jobs with full-time benefits”. Based on my desire to work for a company I can believe in or at the very least have no serious qualms with morally, philosophically or otherwise I chose to work here first and let’s be frank, they hire anyone during the holidays.

After filling out an extensive but not overly exhausting application online, I immediately receive an e-mail stating that I should show up for my interview on Monday at 1 p.m. It’s Friday at 5. The e-mail has sections like “What to Bring/What to Expect” and states that casual attire is appropriate as interviews can take up to two hours. No sandals, no jewelry and no cell phones. A wedding band and one form of identification is acceptable.

The directions are far from general and I suspect my GPS will not suffice in this scenario so I plan ahead for 40 minutes of travel and 10 minutes to get to the guard shack where I have been directed to proceed.  The place is so far south, I begin to fear that Day 2 of my adventure will end with confiscation of my driver’s license by an armed guard and abduction into human slavery across the very near border of Mexico.

There are big signs with the company brand all over so unless this is a really elaborate scheme, I think I’m safe. I disregard the no jewelry rule though and wear my mace on a red ribbon under my shirt just in case. Vaguely wishing I wore a wedding band to signify that someone would miss me if I never returned home, I joined the line of job-hungry middle-agers and twenty-somethings who obviously took casual attire to mean come as you are.

It’s a “ring the bell” type interview. You know the one where they tell you what most people hate about the job and then ask if everyone still wants to stay. Everyone stays. You will have to cut your hair if it is below the collar or wear a bun, no ponytails. Men included. You will have to wear work boots, not tennis shoes. The drivers will tell you it is okay to wear tennies. It’s not. You will have to show up for work every day. You will be working on a truck, outdoors. You will wear your seatbelt and stay in the jumpseat at all times. Do not let a driver take off if you are not belted in. They will try to. Do not let them. You will show up tomorrow looking like you are ready for work. You will not run, you will walk. The drivers will tell you it is okay to run. It is not. If you stay and do not follow all of these directions through-out the term of your employment, I will have no choice but to report you as terminated with no recommendation for rehire. None of this sounds heinous enough to anyone until the stern but petitely pretty human resources gal says, “Congratulations, you’re all hired and will report back here tomorrow for your orientation pending background checks.”

Socrates Cafe

2 Dec

I hunger, therefore I am

was my motto at 27

and long before that

I hungered

but knew not what

hunger was.

I satiated my appetite

with danger, lust and

worse, with pain.

I filled the void

like a child instinctively

fills a bucket with sand

and builds a castle.

But I built nothing.

I scratched and clawed

at reason

I bit, and hard

I gnawed at the truth

I swallowed passion like a tonic

and still I searched

for the cure

the meal that would finally

and forever satisfy my hungry

soul – and sometimes I found it

for a moment, with the lights off

on a winding desert road

for an hour in the full moon

face that lit my way

for a day or two

and a night and sometimes more

but as long as I sought

after it

it never lasted.

Dear Sister

2 Dec

it is a great accomplishment

in life

to have succeeded so

to have conquered fear

real or imagined

to be self-sufficient

and more

to be self-reliant

financially stable

and some days even

well-off

to be healthy and happy

and to have beautiful children

to share it with

and to watch grow

and to teach

and one day to set out

on their own.

What a privilege then

it will be

to have a chat on the phone

from far away

about absolutely nothing.

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