"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Duck of Death

Although a nod to Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", wherein Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett (Gene Hackman) shows his contempt for gunfighter "English" Bob (Richard Harris) by so referring to a dime-novel written about him ...
    Little Bill: "That you here, Bob, on the cover? "The Duck of Death?""

    W.W. Beauchamp (Bob's companion and biographer, who wrote that book):
       "Duke. It's the Duke. "Duke of Death""

    Little Bill: "Duck!"
... this post is actually a follow-up to my earlier Nibbled to death by ducks., and concerns the latest duck to waddle in.

After two decades in engineering and then two more in IT (as programmer and troubleshooter) my age (70) has resulted in only finding employment as a part-time grocery cashier (since the last week of 2008).

When asked about it, "soul-killing", and "trap" often come to mind.

The total number of hours per week are not great (barely at survival level),  but they are random and capricious, making it almost impossible to plan anything ahead (unless you decide to simply ask for a certain number of days off, losing those hours that you may never be able to make up. Such is the nature of part-time. And it's probably never going to become full-time; that involves benefits they aren't prepared to provide.)

Just standing there, pulling things out of the bottom of the basket, gets me in the lower back to the point where I am doing it in crippling pain and as a result have difficulty in even walking afterwards. A couple of days ago I nearly fainted (got very light-headed) in the midst of that. I don't dare let that happen; my circumstances are such that "Lose this job and I'm dead" is not a figure of speech.

Should I be looking for something else? You're damned right!

But this job is exactly the trap I so feared it would be; because of the pain described above, I usually arrive home completely exhausted with the life drained out of me.

If you're in your twenties, what I'm doing would probably be nothing at all.

When your body is 70, that's a whole 'nother story.


To add to the fun (I know; a lot of companies are so cursed), it's not enough to do your primary job as well as you can. There are various promotional gimmicks, dreamed up by people with way too much time on their hands, with which you are supposed to harass present to customers who are mostly just trying to get their shopping done so they can get on with their lives.

It's so wonderful to feel that you can be doing your God Damnedest at your job and might actually get fired let go for not getting enough people signed up for their latest insanity.

So, what is the duck that provoked this post? The one that might truly kill me?

Yesterday morning (Thursday, 12 Jul 2012) I attended a seminar in which the latest nail in the coffin was presented: A program to let people use their computers and/or smart phones to get coupons for various sale items added to their store discount cards, so when those cards are presented they automatically get their discounts.

Ok. Not so horrible. BUT ...

While doing my duties as a cashier, I'm now expected to engage the customer in a conversation, extolling the wonderful virtues of this new program, persuade them to sign up for it, hand them over to an "Ambassador" (a newly created post for this lunacy) who will then help them with downloading an app to their ipad or smartphone.

This, mind you, in a (hopefully) busy supermarket, further delaying customers who are usually in a hurry anyways.

WHY am I so gloomy about this particular atrocity?

Besides being just plain nuts under the circumstances (inflicting things like this upon customers is an excellent way to create new business for HEB and Kroger), the people responsible for this are upper-level managers who truly are responsible and have to justify what they've started. They've invested a lot of money in this and it ain't gonna die as quickly as some of their other whims. This monster could have years of life in it (assuming that it doesn't completely sink the grocery chain).

That means constant monitoring by them calling our local managers and asking them "How's it doing?", "How many sign-ups have you gotten so far?", "Send me a list of your cashiers, with their results."

Get the picture?

I'll be expected to be a huckster (the guy in the seminar was a cheerleader type, coming on like the guy many of you have probably seen in mattress commercials before changing the channel), and I JUST CANNOT DO THAT!!!

So, just what the Hell am I going to do?

Haven't a clue. Just too damned wasted right now.

But, I'll figure out something. (I hope! :-)

Update - 0700 Sunday, 15 Jul 2012 - Threw up this morning. BLOOD!
Just a spoonful or so, but I don't like seeing any of that there. Stomach cramping, really hurting. Shaky and feverish..

This situation is literally eating me alive. I'm scheduled to go to work in a bit, and I'm actually going to go.


Not only do I need the hours, but I'm completely alone. Normally, that's the way I prefer it, but I'll confess that it sometimes has its drawbacks.  If I collapse at the store, at least there's people around.

Odds are I'll get over this and will be Ok in a bit.

But, there's nothing like a small amount of blood, where you do not want to see it ("Blood bother you, Mister?" "Only my own." :-), to get your attention and put things in perspective.

Something could happen at any time. I'm adding this in case I completely drop off the radar (as a fellow blogger has done, for a couple of months now - I fear the worst).

If I truly feel the end is coming, and I'm able to, I intend to add the names of the store and the chain so people will know who the hell pulled the trigger. As there's always the possibility that I wont be so able, the email I'm going to send announcing this update will name the bastards.


Millyb said...

Hey Paul - sorry to hear about all the crap you have to put up with. Since you''re coming from strength (already having a job) now have you tried looking for another part time job that at least has regular hours?

Sarah said...

Been thinking about you for a week or so and thought I'd pop in and say hello... just to find you in a heap pounding away at the keyboard and puking blood on the walls. Or somethng like that anyway.
WTF! is going on?* The world is definitely skewed. Stop by and say hello.,And do some Yoga, or meditate or take a pill! Just sayin.


Paul Gordon said...

Thanks, for the concern.

I hope you took a look at the "Swedish Meatballs" post I did AFTER this one. It should hint that I had a bad spot, wigged out over it and eventually put it behind me.

BLOGGING is my yoga and meditation; and I truly believe the time spent on that post was more productive and beneficial that seeking a clinic and then wondering how in Hell I was ever going to pay for it.


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