My first job: The Little Shop of Horrors

I worked as a cashier in a hotel giftshop. I was 14 years old and working with a Work Permit at the same hotel that the rest of my family worked (not a family business.) My mother was the Hotel Manager's Secretary, my brother was the Meeting Services Supervisor and my sister was a waitress in the hotel restaurant. The hotel happened to be across the street from and owned by a "Christian owned and operated" University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Sadly the group that ran the ministry proved, behind the scenes at least, not to be a particularly ethical group. One day, for reasons I never did understand, they "laid off" the entire management staff of the hotel and brought in new people. It was Nepotism at it's finest. They installed the husband of one of the brood as the manager of the hotel, though he had no experience whatsoever in managing a hotel. They kept my mother on board and she taught him everything she knew so that he could run the hotel and when he had a grasp on it all, they fired her without warning.

By that time, I was only working on weekends because school had started up again and when my mother told me they had fired her it wasn't long before I quit too. In retrospect, that wasn't the most mature thing for me to do, but working there at that point was rather awkward and I was young.

At Least it’s Not A Cocktail

I’ve gotta write this quickly, ’cause in a minute I’m probably going to be sick!

After a much too short, glorious week last week, with my manager and the department secretary both off on vacation – presumably not together – they both returned to the office today and I’ve had a really shitty day.  I’m not particularly blaming it on the department secretary.  She hasn’t done anything wrong in particular.  Mostly it’s just the vibe in the office when everyone is present and accounted for.  The real problem though is my boss.

I’ve made no secret in the past about how he and I don’t really get along.  We don’t see eye to eye on much of anything and he talks down to me like I’m some sort of village idiot, when in reality, it is he who comes across like an idiot because he’s usually speaking a different language – figuratively – than the rest of us.  No matter what I say, he tells me I’m wrong.  He will literally sit there and agree with me and then tell me I’m wrong as if my being wrong is a for-gone conclusion, some sort of default position for him.

I can’t go into a whole lot of detail here, but there is something coming any day now, that is going to be a bad situation.  A year and a half ago, at about 1:30 in the morning, New Year’s Day, a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Officer shot a man in the back on a station platform, surrounded by witnesses.  The cop was white and the “victim” was black and the neighborhood where the shooting took place was very ethnic.  Several witnesses took cell phone video footage of the incident and the video plainly shows that the “victim” and his cohorts were being disruptive and resisting arrest.  The Police man and his partner were trying to subdue the rabble rousers and the officer claims that he was reaching for his taser when he inadvertently pulled his service revolver instead.  He shot the man at close range before he knew what had happened.

I am by no means suggesting this is not tragic and I suspect some sort of punitive action is required, however, I find it unlikely that it was the officer’s intent to murder the man, in cold blood, in a crowded area full of attentive witnesses.  I’m certain it was a mistake, a terrible, horrible mistake.

People being how they are, however, the hours that followed the funeral of the man in question turned into a chaotic, free-for-all riot, with looting and cars set on fire and the whole shebang.  At the time, my company, as well as several others in the affected area made the decision to close the offices and send everyone home for their safety.

The officer in question has been put on trial for murder and that trial is winding down this week.  I have personally been told by both an Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief and an Oakland Police Department Officer that regardless of the verdict, they expect wide spread civil unrest (read: rioting and destruction).  If the officer is found guilty of murder many people will riot in “celebration” and others in protest and if the officer is found not-guilty, well, the same thing will happen, only the parties will be reversed.

It is expected that the verdict will come this week; possibly as early as Wednesday, and in typical fashion, my employer is late to the party in planning a response.  I had a conversation with my boss today about what we were going to do and he couldn’t give me a definitive, clear-cut answer.

This is serious business we’re talking about here folks.  Very limited forewarning, the day of, and the possibility of having to “defend in place” meaning the building may have to go into Lock-Down and not allow anyone in or out of the building until the crisis passes.  As is par for the course, my boss couldn’t answer any questions about how we were going to handle things.  He couldn’t acknowledge that we aren’t prepared and that the powers that be aren’t handling things appropriately.  He just kept tossing out his usual, patented answers, “We’re just going to have to figure out a way to make it work” and “We just have to do it.”

He was pissing me off and it was apparent.  When he comes to me with some cock and bull request to paint a space in a way that doesn’t comply with our standards and I remind him of this, he tells me, “It’s for ‘senior leadership’ we just have to do it.”  I don’t like it, but I go along with it because the boss said do it  and at the end of the day, it’s not that critical.  When he made me create a financial document that wasn’t completely legitimate, I did it because he intimidated me into it and because I knew that the supporting documentation for it existed somewhere, if not in my possession.

But we’re not talking about questionable ethics of subverting policies here.  We’re talking about the safety and well-being of 2000 people under our care.  We’re talking about the safety and well-being of ourselves!  I want answers.  I want some assurances that when I come to work on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday – when I agree to put myself in harm’s way and be one of the last ones out of the building (assuming I can get out of the building) while making sure that all my “constituents” are getting to safety – I want to KNOW that my company has done everything in its power to make sure I’m safe and provided for.  And while I was trying to make this point abundantly clear to my boss, he sat there the exact same way he always does, not listening, telling me I’m wrong, and not addressing my concerns one iota.

It was a long, shitty day and by 4:00, I was ready for some shameful, emotional eating.  So I went to Starbucks for one of these:

While I worked on that, I walked across the street to CVS to look for some Shout Stain Removal Wipes to deal with the coffee I spilled on my shirt before I left.  Naturally, they didn’t have any.  That bummed me out more.  And then I saw these:

And then I saw these:

And I couldn’t make up my mind so I bought them both and have been munching ever since.

BUT!  At least it’s not a cocktail!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go.  I think I’m gonna be sick!


I mentioned the other day that I had “pulled something” that made it difficult for me to stretch properly.  I wasn’t deliberately trying to be cryptic.  If you’ve read this blog very long than you know, I have no problem telling you that what I pulled was in my groin.  Heh, that sounds dirty.

Anyway, I was riding a stationary bike at the gym one day when I suddenly felt this sharp pain where my left leg meets up  with my pelvis, what I have learned is an abductor (?) muscle.  It only hurt for a second and didn’t prevent me from finishing my work out.  It doesn’t even hurt for the most part in my day-to-day activities, but I have found that certain movements, usually rotating outward, causes a twinge of pain and I am unable to do the classic stretching maneuver of sitting on the floor, placing the soles of my feet together and allowing my knees to naturally fall away from each other.

I wasn’t at all sure that this was contributing to my problems with Shin Splints, but when I realized it had been a good two months since the injury occurred and I was still having issues, it seemed wise to talk to a medical professional with the hopes of getting helpful advice how to speed things along in both the healing of this pain, and how to deal with (read: eliminate) the shin splints.  The Doctor didn’t really think there was much to be done for the groin thing, but agreed to send me to Physical Therapy anyway to make sure that there wasn’t anything they could do and to see if they can give me some advice about the shin splints.

I had the appointment with the physical therapist on Wednesday afternoon and after conducting a brief examination concurred with the doctor that there’s really nothing to be done.  She said, those kinds of pulls can take many months to heal and that I just have to wait it out.

She also showed me a couple stretches I can do that I haven’t been to help with my shins but her recommendation was to hold off the running for a while.  She asked me why I took up running and I told her: I know it’s good exercise, a good way to burn lots of calories and it’s something I’ve never been able to do before so I want to be able to.  She concurred that it is a good strategy, but she also suggested that I might want to wait until I’ve lost a bit more weight.  She wasn’t being unkind, as she acknowledged, I’m a big guy.  I’m 6’1″ and I have big bones, broad shoulders, and – in addition to being overweight – I have big muscles.  My calves are very big, my thighs are dense and tight.  Now if only those muscles were also lean, toned and defined.  *sigh*

Her feeling was that because I’m a big guy with a lot of bulk, that it may be too high impact for me at this point.  Interestingly, my knees do not hurt when I run, though they frequently hurt at other times.

She suggested that instead of running, I should try the elliptical machine, stating that it’s very similar to running as far as the movement and the calorie burn, but it is zero impact.  I told her, I can’t do the elliptical machine for very long and she said that I should just do what I can do (at most 5 minutes) and then build up.  She thinks that within three weeks I could do half an hour.  I have to admit, that’s hard for me to imagine at this moment, given that I know what it’s been like for me in the past, but then again, I never thought I’d be able to run for 3-5 minutes straight through either, and I was doing that at the beginning of this week.

But here’s my dilemma:  She did tell me that this was just a suggestion.  It’s up to me if I want to take her advice or not.  I’m not sure what to do.  I was into week four of the Couch to 5K (C25K) program and I don’t exactly want to throw that progress away.  On the other hand, she’s the expert; I am not.  I did, after all, go to see her for help with pain so I guess it would be dumb not to listen to her.  What she told me was that I should work on the elliptical machine and build up my endurance there and then when I get comfortable and can do half an hour or so on the elliptical machine then I can start adding back in some running.  It does seem like reasonable advice.  I’d follow it,no questions asked if I wasn’t nearly half way through the C25K thing but I hate to stop that after having made so much progress.

It seemed like a bit of a conundrum, but now that I’ve spelled it all out, I guess I know what I have to do.

On A Roll

I was doing so well!  Three days I managed to post a blog entry.  Three days, in a row!!

Today it looks like I’m not going to get anything posted…

Oh wait!  Does this count?

Apparently I’m not above cheating… a little.

Irony, It’s Where It’s At

I used to hardly ever talk to my mother.  Not because I don’t love her, or she me, just because I don’t like being on the telephone, and e-mail seems like it’s pointless unless you’ve got something specific to say and then it feels like it needs to be lengthy enough to justify the effort on the part of both parties.  My aversion to talking on the telephone came from her, for two reasons.  First, she always made it clear that she had no use for protracted phone conversations.  Make the call, say what you have to say, and get off the phone.  That was her philosophy.  It was never acceptable to call someone “just to say hi” or “just to talk.”  Secondly, when I did get on the phone with friends, she would always tell me to get off the phone after about 20 minutes or so, even though I was in another room where my talking wouldn’t disturb her and even though the only people who ever called were my friends, or bill collectors so she never answered the phone anyway.  Nevertheless, through these experiences, she taught me to prefer not to be on the telephone for long periods of time.

A couple of months ago, I got a text message from my mother:

“Do you text?  Just wondered.  going to bed now. ‘Night!”

I confirmed that I do and that was the end of the conversation, that night.  Since then, however, we’ve exchanged text messages and had full conversations via text  every few days.

This morning I received a text from her while I was getting ready for work and we proceeded to have a conversation on text until I got to work when we moved to Instant Messenger.  She informed me that she had gotten a new cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard.  She said, “I wanted something with a keyboard so I could text without having to hit the keys several times to get the letter I wanted.”

I answered, “Based on the speed and length of your texts, I had a feeling you had a keyboard now.”

“Yep.  The [Boss’s family] are big on texting, so I needed it to keep up!”

“I am too,” I answered, “then I don’t have to ‘talk’ to people.  How sad is that?”

She answered, “Pretty sad, by my lights.  But it’s the way of things nowadays.”

Hmmm.  Interesting perspective for her to have.  I continued, “I text Michelle a lot, because if I want to make a quick comment about something, it could turn into a 45 minute conversation and I have a thing against doing other things while I’m on the phone so it blows my whole evening.  (I know that’s terrible.)”  I was making light of things here, I don’t really think it’s that bad.  It get’s said what needs to be said without derailing my plan for the day/evening.  And when we get together and I can focus my attention on her and our interaction we talk plenty.

“It’s just one more way in which nuance and empathy and other such non-quantifiables are being eliminated from people’s relationships these days.  I just think it’s sad.”

“Yeah, but it’s quick.   :-D”

I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of this situation.  Here we are, having conversation by means of electronic written technology and she’s telling me that it’s sad that people don’t spend more time on the phone even though she hates being on the phone as much as I do.

Sometimes, her inability to recognize the irony in her words, and yes, even her hypocrisy, just makes me laugh.