blog, jobs, thoughts

losing it

Might seem petty, but I almost quit green hell once again last night.

First of all, I’m normally scheduled for a half shift on Tuesdays, but just as my co-workers and I clocked-in we found out that we were requested to stay a couple more hours. I had grown accustomed to my half shift on Tuesday mornings and frankly, I welcomed it. My patience is worn thin as it is with this job-The sooner I left the better.

Secondly, yes I am still new to the job and still trying to practice getting my timing down. The first couple hours went without a hitch and I was in my zone. Feeling accomplished. After the 10 minute break, I started another section to stock. Less than half-way through it, my manager started to help me. And by help me, I mean they did half the work for me. I repeat: They did half the work for me.

Additionally, the manager finished the other half of the section faster than I finished mine-It wasn’t by much-And had the nerve to comment to me that I was going slow. I almost lost it, right there. Again, I’m new, I’m trying to learn my section and speed as fast as I can-I’m timing myself. Also, I was requested to stay on a longer shift, and my manager just took away a good forty-five minutes to an hour worth of work from me and tops it off by saying I’m going slow. That is feked up! I almost lost it right there. It took every ounce of control I had to not lash out. Just took a deep breath and kept it in.

Fortunately, by then the lunch break had arrived. Because of this last minute extended work period, I hadn’t prepared any lunch. Had it been the regular half shift, I would have just gone home afterward and eaten. However, I was so filled with rage that I got in my car drove to the local 7-Eleven, bought a pack of cigarettes, and just drove around and smoked.

I really needed that momentary escape. Along with the fresh (and freezing) night air, a Camel Menthol Silver cigarette, and a series of green lights over a few miles (it was 4:30am)-KDFC was playing Mozart. All those elements indeed helped to calm me down.

 By the time I clocked back in, I resumed my focus, and blasted through my final section. Lo and behold! I finished about 45 minutes early. Again, had my manager not stepped in and did the second half of my section, I would have finished on time anyway.

Around the time of the final break, the store manager had arrived to begin the opening processes. He had bought the night/freight crew some chocolate scones from Starbucks as a sort of peace offering for changing the schedule on us at the last minute. I appreciated the gesture, but it really wasn’t enough to put a genuine smile back on my face.

I continually say (at least to myself) that I do not get paid enough to deal with this kind of labor at these hours, and I do feel I work at the speed of my wages. Furthermore, I am also not paid enough to waste to compromise my identity, my ego, any further than is necessary. I see this job at this green hell as a penance for years of squandering my time and (little) money-Penance for not taking better care of my mother and grandfather and myself.


I had-No! I have the tools and knowledge to succeed. Why am I so damn scared to use them?

blog, jobs

jobs part 3

I left Paramount’s Great America theme park about halfway through the 1998 season. It wasn’t a bad job aside from the strict dress code-Forced to wear khaki pants and a white polo shirt, complete with cheesy gold plated name tag. Also had to cut my long hair (which was mid-back at that time). Hey, had to try and make a living, right?

Additionally, the job on the Xtreme Skyflyer would be first job that held me directly responsible for peoples lives. If I didn’t follow protocol to the letter, the customer/guest could be seriously injured, if not killed. That was and is a 150 ft drop straight down over solid concrete. Safety and procedure was absolute key. Looking back on it now, I was barely 19-20 years old then. And I know I didn’t think of it in that sense at the time. It was merely a job.

Again, I left the season about halfway through because I went down to visit a friend of mine in Los Angeles. What happened there is a whole other story in itself, of which I shall cover in the future-But first I must consult the person whom I was staying with whom was also sober enough to tell her more coherent side of the story.

When I returned after that crazy two weeks, I found another job through my mother. She worked in human resources for Sanmina Corporation-A company who is commissioned to manufacturing server backplanes for companies like Sun Microsystems. All were local high tech companies-In fact that’s what Santa Clara and the surrounding cities are-Cities that housed hardware and software giants. My home that was a crappy (overpriced) apartment complex in Santa Clara was a short drive away from companies like Intel, AMD, Nortel, Yahoo, Nvidia, I could go on and on. Cost of living there as you would expect was very expensive. Don’t know how we survived there so long. Anyway…

My mother got me a job at one of the Sanmina plants doing assembly. I use the term assembly very loosely. The majority of what we did was screw-on screw posts onto PC boards which would later be attached to the server backplanes. That’s right, I made money screwing.

It was probably the dullest job I ever had aside from …well, my current job of freight/stocking at Dollar Tree. Comparatively, it was also a graveyard shift job–That’s right, a late night screwjob.

Explaining what I did was often (not really) a good ice breaker for initial conversations with random people/women, “So what do you do then?”

“I screw.” I would reply with glee.

After while, I didn’t just screw for Sanmina. Eventually I got moved up to packing and unpacking backplanes. I was in fact one of the fewer male workers aside from the leads in this particular plant. The arduous task of screwing was predominantly a female position. Go figure.

As one of the strapping young men, I got to do the heavy lifting. I must say that while these server backplanes are on the lighter side of 20 pounds, pulling them from the packaging and laying them out by the hundreds makes for quite a workout. I enjoyed the lifting tho, as I do now unloading the freight truck at my current job.

Yet again, because my work ethic was strong (but really perhaps due to the fact that I spoke fluent American English), I was soon moved up to another position, and this I truly hated! It was the job of recording the serial numbers from the backplanes… with pencil and paper.

Now lets think about this, this was 1998-1999. The dotcom boom was starting to die out do to entrepreneurial companies mismanaging (celebrating) themselves before even starting production of whatever the hell it was they were producing. The internet was still in its infancy with a majority of its users still on dial-up-But even by then barcodes and scanners had existed for over 30 years! What the fek was I doing recording all these serial numbers with a fekin pencil?! How much time could we have saved by using even one portable scanner? A multimillion dollar company like Sanmina can’t afford a set of scanners? Man… My right wrist was seriously aching by the time the shift ended (of course that could lead into another joke.) That particular aspect of the job was just terrible.

I held this job at Sanmina for the better part of a year, until I finally just couldn’t handle it anymore, more importantly, I was college bound. Well, community college bound, attending (West Valley) Mission College in Santa Clara.

I did have one very brief stint as a temp for Manpower. By brief, I mean one fekin night. They had me do odd jobs for a Home Depot in San Carlos. That was physically draining, and very much fekin slave labor. I remember one job of having to pull fully assembled lawn mowers off racks and wiping them down. Lawn mowers are not lightweight, nor are they easy to grab and manipulate. At the end of that shift I did have fun breaking down the makeshift temporary wooden racks with a sledge hammer. Yeah, destruction! I got to take out a lot of frustration in that. When I got back to the Manpower office and collected my $44 from the payment ATM for the nights work, I made up my mind never to do that again.

Luckily, I did save a little money to live on while I started classes, but that never lasts.

One day while randomly driving around San Jose, by pure chance, I discovered the location of the record store called Streetlight Records. It had been mentioned to me while working at Music Zone in Salinas. I was struck by it’s size for an independent store. Music Zone would basically take up a small corner of this old converted warehouse. Furthermore, it had a humongous Goth/Industrial music section! I was immediately hooked. And as luck would have it, I found an old acquaintance from Santa Cruz had recently started working there.

To be continued in Jobs part 4.

blog, jobs

one of those days

It may be cliché, or perhaps passé to say this, but I just had one of those days when everything that can go wrong did indeed go wrong …at work.

The last post via my phone talked of my not getting paid until next week which of course is terrible-However my performance tonight as a stocker was utterly sad, or laughable even.

I’m in charge of stocking chemicals (detergents etc.). Well, training to be in charge anyway. This morning, I just did everything wrong. I brought out the wrong palette to be upstocked, essentially doing my managers portion of work for her, and doing it somewhat wrong. I tried to mimic what was on display, but she had other plans for those spaces. For a brief moment she actually posed similarly to Edvard Munch’s The Scream after seeing what I had done.

Furthermore, I was a clumsy oaf (See what I did there? Keeping it Norwegian.). I opened a box filled with several packs of powdered laundry soap. One of those packs was somehow opened during shipment and proceeded to spill white powder all over the place. I quickly put it back in the box, grabbed a broom and swept it all up. Then I returned to upstocking that box, and (not paying attention) I picked up that same pack and spilled even more soap.

A little later, I grabbed a box of canned bleach, and did note that one of the cans was damaged and opened. The cans were wrapped in plastic to stabilize for movement and stacking, so I thought nothing of it. I then placed the pack down over a smaller box to unload it, and as I started stocking the cans on the shelf, the weight became unbalanced. The pack fell over and of course the open canned spilled out.

And finally, the absolute pinnacle of my clumsy morning-As I was guiding a palette back to the stockroom, I knocked over a sales display of glowsticks. By then the store manager arrived for the day and saw it happen. He joked that he knew it was going to happen, some customer would likely knock it over due to it’s placement by the stockroom door. Only it was I who got to accidently hit it first. Of course I was felt truly embarrassed.

Yep. It was just one of those days. The only thing I felt good about yesterday was my extensive blog, jobs part 2, which I posted after spending several hours at Starbucks typing it up on my modded Kindle Fire with a (fekin small) usb tablet keyboard. I had fun writing that

So that was my awful morning at work. And now I shall take a nap, and wait for my half-brother to summon me to help him move more of (mostly his girlfriend’s) stuff into storage.

I was hoping to get around to writing up jobs part 3 today, but I may not be able to get to it.

In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to check out a movie I enjoy.

Have a nice day, everyone.


blog, jobs

jobs part 2

Now where was I? Ah yes, my preoccupation with the goth scene.

I’d say around sophomore year in high school, my choice in attire started to get darker. Subconsciously,  I hadn’t really noticed. That is until my friend Jeff and others in school started pointing it out. And I liked it. It felt natural to me.

All those years as a child,  trying to fit in and get proper trendy clothing like the popular kids whose families had lots of money-wearing silly things like pegged Levis, acid wash denim, Zubaz,  Air Jordans, Guess overalls with one strap hanging off,  the African themed multi color shirts,  Z Cavaricci baggy pants-I could never really afford that stuff, nor could a lot of it fit (I was a husky boy).  I tried to fit in,  but never really looked the part.  Of course children can be cold and mean. I was called “lame”  by my peers as early as third grade. – – I’m getting way off track here.

The point is, someone in school,  a senior, took notice of my  “style”.  We never really became friends, but he did make me a cassette tape of so-called “goth” music,  and he pointed out a local record store in town that carried the genre. I could literally write pages on my discovery and introduction to the goth scene,  but I must stay on track.

Eventually I befriended the people at this record store. It became my everyday hangout. A manager there was a longtime “goth”  and “rivethead” and others there were also very knowledgeable of that genre. In a farming town like Salinas, and the surrounding cities in Monterey Bay,  this was the goto local place for alternative music outside Santa Cruz. After senior year, and beginning community college, I worked there at “Music Zone.” That was my first legitimate job.

Essentially,  I was just a cashier, helped customers locate items,  and helped clean-up. It was such a small hole in the wall store,  that there was no real advancement. The management was established,  two guys did orders as well as CD/LP trade-in,  while the rest of us did customer service. It was the most kickback and social job I ever had,  just hanging out with friends, talking about music,  our projects,  going to shows etc.

Of course it couldn’t last forever. I had it in my mind that Salinas was getting too small.  I should move up north more towards San Francisco.  So I (now somewhat regretfully) moved back in with my mother and siblings in Santa Clara.

Wasn’t long before my mother began to resent me staying at home a lot. It was my fault of course.  The transition and still being shy,  the usual hard time breaking the ice and starting a new. The more things change,  the more they stay the same.

Unlike Salinas where I walked everywhere,  in the South Bay a car was absolutely necessary to get around. At 19, I finally got my license. My (sometimes)  father was nice enough to provide me a cheap used car. With that I also became the ride for my brother and sister. That itself was an unpaid job. Getting up at ungodly hours to take little sister to here student government meetings oftentimes shortly after I had gotten home  from a club or show. Later,  my little brother would require the same treatment.

The money I had saved up from Music Zone was soon exhausted. Again my mother grew quite tired of me doing nothing and spending her money (what little she had). Fortunately I had kept in touch with one friend from grade school who still lived in the area. Lee was a lead at Paramount’s Great America, while his older brother was also a supervisor.  They got me a job at Section 815, a unique section as it only housed one attraction, a ride called The Xtreme Sky Flyer.

Essentially the Sky Flyer was a giant swing. Up to 3 riders/flyers attached to cable via a flight suit harness were raised to the height of 150′ where they were instructed to pull a ripcord, drop down and swing around for a few minutes. It was a paid experience that started at I believe $20 per person. I was part of the flight crew,  had nothing to do with the sales.

As flight crew,  you were trained and assigned to one of 3 sections daily.  (Let me see if I can remember the darn names This was back in 1998 season.)

Section 1: Introduction and flight suits/harness. Basically laid out the suits for the individual flyers based on size,  and instructed them how to get in, and pushed them on down to:

Section 2: Expedite. Here was where you lead flyer to the gate at the flight line,  inform them more of what to expect and do,  and let them in when the flight line was clear for the next victim… I mean flyer(s).  [side note: Was also in charge of cleaning flight suits immediately if there was a protein spill(someone puked), urination, blood loss, or combinations of all three. In my time serving on the Sky Flyer,  I’ve witnessed some puke, a lot of urine,  and one count of a bloody nose. Xtreme!]

Section 3: Flight Deck. This the real meat and potatoes of the team. After being cleared onto the flight deck, the rider meets the team of Flight Commander whose  in charge of lifts, strapping in the rider(s),  building and attaching the ripcord, operating the cable motor to send them up,  retrieve them when the swing comes to a safe velocity, and finally detach them. The Co-Pilot is simply there to confirm all the operations of the commander are to standards and make sure the flyers are (mentally) prepared.

Now I’ve got a story to tell from the commander perspective. We actually had regular season pass holder that we would see every week. Apparently she’s got a ready supply $20 to burn on weekends. That’s fine, except that she is also an exceptionally large lady. Nothing wrong with that,  except that she barely fit into the flight suit. That’s okay, we got it done and with little trouble were able to send her up to launch.

Retrieval of the flyers worked two ways. 1) An automated system whereby the flyer would manually catch a loop attached to a motored reel of cable that would gently guide them to a stop over the flight lift to be detached. If they were unsuccessful in catching the automated loop 2) The flight commander had to do manual retrieval-He/she would have to go butterfly catching. Armed with a steel pole some two meters long with a loop/catch at the end, the commander would then wait for a safe speed to pass up the pole and loop and hang on to guide the flyer to a stop.

Just guess what our regular regularly missed? With her weight, the combination of gravity and momentum, it would definitely take a lot longer to retrieve her than say a single pre-teen child. Manually of course it was excruciatingly longer. That’s alright tho,  except…

One week she brought two of her friends, and they were as massive as her. Of course I was commander for that ride as well. I didn’t think the lift was wide enough to clear all 3 of them,  but it did. So up they went,  and down they came, and back and forth over and over again. I should have timed it. Of course all three of them couldn’t successfully catch auto-retrieval loop. No, no.  So there I waited.. And waited with the manual butterfly catch,  but these were no butterflies.

Bare in mind,  I wasn’t exactly slim Jim either,  but it was three of them vs one of me. That time,  the irresistible force beat the crap out of the immovable object.

It was my fault for misjudging their speed for when they grabbed onto the manual loop, I quickly found it was all too soon-And they ended up dragging and lifting me up into the air with them! My co-pilot then quickly dashed in to help stabilize us all. Haha!

I imagine I should have gotten a write-up, fired even,  but everyone,  including the three lady flyers,  and my lead were all laughing so hard that they just let it go. Simple mistake and no one got hurt.

There was also a bizarre incident I observed at Great America one day while at lunch.

There was this nice secluded bench I used to sit at backstage between the cafeteria and the shows section dressing rooms. I would often have a book with me and often finished the lunch hour reading.

One day I heard yelling and screaming coming from the shows dressing room. It grew louder as it escalated outside. And what emerged was a sight that I imagine would go instantly viral on the interweb if only smartphones with video capture and YouTube had existed at the time.

Two actors, one costumed as Astro (the dog from the Jetsons), the other as Huckleberry Hound, had gotten into a heated argument over something. Yelling obscenities moved to pushing and shoving, then they were taking hard open swings at each other, and shortly went to rolling on the concrete for some ground and pound,  where finally their character helmet/masks had fallen off.

That was perhaps the most surreal …thing I had ever witnessed. I didn’t stick around however. As soon as I noticed security come to break them apart,  I faded away back to the Sky Flyer laughing my head off.
What. The. Fek?!

Jobs Part 3 – coming soon

blog, jobs


Since I’m rambling on about my current job, I suppose I should talk about some past jobs.

Some of my earliest memories are with my grandparents who ran a small Greyhound Bus depot in Burlingame, CA. Gramp Jerry basically ran the whole thing. My grandmother would step in to help sell bus tickets when my grandfather was doing other things like baggage or deliveries. Yes, he did the deliveries too, usually at lunch.

As a kindergartner and of and on thru grade school, I was basically just a nuisance, getting in their way. I did try to help load boxes onto the buses tho. The bus drivers always thought that was cute. In any case, that was unofficially my first job-The bus depot brat.

I had a friend named, Danny through grade school. Looking back on those days, I come to realize that aside from being sporty and highly competitive, he was also manipulative and enterprising. Whenever our school  did fund raisers like selling chocolate bars, he got the idea that we are going to double the price and pocket what need not be reported. We would spend our profits on G.I. Joes and other action figures and toys. Ha! Tho it was not really a job, money was gained. Danny grew up and became something good. I really don’t know what, but I see his posts on facebook ever so often. He’s got a home, beautiful wife and child, still athletic.

Fans of Metal Gear might appreciate that in the summer of 1988, Danny and I spent weekends cutting lawns up and down our neighborhood with old rolling-push mower for $3 a property. Should have been $3 a yard, now that I think about it. Also I cleaned then hell out of my grandparents swimming pool. By the end of the summer Gramp took me to the BX at Moffett Field and I bought Metal Gear for the NES! Unlike other friends, I only had maybe 6 NES games. So to me earning Metal Gear was a big deal.

Years later, in my early teens in Gilroy, CA, I did actually help my grandparents sell tickets, and perform other jobs at the Gilroy Greyhound depot-All under the table of course. My grandparents paid me after so long with a Super Nintendo, and I kept working to get Mario Paint. I didn’t really like the visual aspect of Mario Paint, but I did dig the musical production portion. Getting sidetracked again. Ahem…

In Junior year at (Salinas High), my best friend (to this day), Jeff got me some random job fixing a computer at State farm for his stepmother. At least that I think that was what it was. Didn’t last an hour. Basically I freed up some memory on Mac so it would function faster. The weird odd thing was, I was/am a PC guy. Figuring out a Mac is what took most of the time. And there were other random PC fix it jobs for friends and family.

I really wish I stuck to more computer work. My friend, Lee, and his cousins, we were all PC gamers in the early-mid 90s. (I supplied a lot of those games illegally taken/traded from usenet groups and AOL filesharing rooms.) Well, I used to try and help them figure out how to configure DOS to run these, being that we all had various system builds as PCs do. From that some of them moved on to big companies, like AMD, and Yahoo. They’re rich, happy, nice families, nice homes, great kids. And here I am-Starting over again with maybe $30 in my bank account, working odd hours at Dollar Tree. I almost want to cry.

…but I wanted a more creative work outlet, and music was it. In highschool my much of that computer and video game related attraction was obscenely diverted to the gothic rock music scene.

and– I fell asleep. Curse you, graveyard shift!

Jobs part 2 will continue later tonight or tomorrow.

blog, jobs

questioning the grind

My graveyard shift ended today with a little overtime (not really). There was a good 20-minute meeting at the end of the normal shift involving all the “freight crew.” That’s including me. The manager was nice enough. He complimented everyone, even me; Tho technically it was only my second day. And I’ve yet to feel as adjusted as I’d like to be. I know I’m working a slightly slower pace than everyone else, but I imagine over time and repetition, I’ll get up to speed …hopefully. At the very least, I’m always volunteering to do most of the heavy lifting on the line. I hope that counts for something.

The manager, freight manager, and the grocery aisle guy, along with some of the other staff have actually worked at Dollar Tree for years-They seem very proud/honored to work there.  I’m not going to knock that at all. I respect their choice of living. If they’re happy and comfortable, that’s excellent for them. However, I’m still questioning if I’m liking it myself.

There is really nothing wrong with the job itself. Of course, I wish it paid more. I’m currently earning eight dollars per hour, 6 hours a night, and only working 4 nights a week. I may be able to get by on that, but definitely couldn’t afford to rent a place of my own and eat-At least not here in the San Francisco bay area. Thankfully my father and his wife are letting me stay with them for free.

My previous and recent job history involved being a temp for Apple One Employment Services. That paid potentially quite a bit more.  In fact my last temp job was as a proctor for the state bar. Four days of work earned me a net pay of about five-hundred dollars. In contrast, a good month of regular work at Dollar tree  may be …about six-hundred

Let’s face it, I just took any job that would hire me at this point. I did retail for eight years at Streetlight Records in the zeroes. That was fun, at least for the first 6-7 years. I love music and the various subcultures that surrounds it. This …stocking-Well I just don’t feel that I’m being challenged in anything other than my physical endurance. Nor is this job socially …stimulating. At this point, it’s just a job. There’s nothing to enjoy about it, and that’s different for me. I doubt I’ll work there beyond the seasonal schedule, if even that.

On the brighter side, it’s not very hard, and with so little hours at work, I can try to dedicate myself to another craft (like this blog), my gym workouts,  and/or find another job that I actually like.

So I suppose I’ll endure for now.

Time for the gym.

blog, jobs, thoughts


Just a quick note. Nothing major to report on recent events. I am however really tired. Will eventually adapt to the graveyard schedule …hopefully.

Trying to work out a schedule that is similar to the typical day shift. Sleep by 2pm-4pm, wake up by 10pm, at work by 12am. However yesterday (at 4pm) the process was interrupted by my cousin bringing over his son’s laptop for me to fix. It was slowing down-Typical malware symptoms. Figured it would take a couple hours at the most. 5:15pm (today) I’m still working on it.

The infestation of trojans and adware on this kids laptop was alarming. My net habits aren’t very broad. I can get away without running malwarebytes for 6 months and even then I’ll get maybe a dozen “malicious” files. After terminating all the pop-ups and actually dumping the malwarebytes installer onto an sd card from my box, the program initially found 5,653 malicious files! That’s incredible!

So I finally got to sleep around midnight. And my body was still a wreck when I got up at 10am this morning. And now I’m waiting for my brother who needs a little more help moving things out of his old house tonight.

I love my family. Happy to help anytime; However my relationship with sleep is in big trouble.

blog, jobs

money doesn’t really grow on trees apparently

So I’m back from my first graveyard shift as a stocker for the Dollar Tree. Not the most glamorous job ever, but it’s a job nonetheless.

As I mentioned in my prior post (which was at lunch break), I did enjoy emptying the trailer. It involved a lot of lifting, and as I very much enjoy the sport/exercise of weight lifting, I found that portion of the job a lot of fun.

It was mostly light loads – This is the Dollar Tree after all, and the majority of their warez are small. The heaviest loads were the boxes of bottled water that held six gallons total. I compared building those walls of water to the Strongman game of stone lifting-Except of course the boxed water was approximately 50 pounds (the weight of the small stone) versus the 340 pounds of the biggest stone.

Stocking the shelves with products was a bit of a bore. Was also a tad frustrating as it was my first night on the job and I am unfamiliar with the products. I imagine over time, the repetition will kick in the familiarity.

I do have one comment. I think the logistics could be tightened up a bit. I noticed just about all the products coming down the rollers from the truck were very random. There were half a dozen of us stockers just picking up random products off the line and running them down to stack on the appropriate palettes. I think if the truck was initially organized by sections, the flow would be more efficient.

Another small gripe is that I found I’m only working two nights this week of the usual four. At a whopping $8/hr and with six hour part time shifts, two nights really isn’t going to get me much at all.

That said, at this point I am grateful to even have work. I’ll touch up on my horrible money situation at a later date. For now, I’m heading to the gym. I am a bit exhausted from work, sure, but taking care of my body is just as important to me as trying to make something of a living.

The sun is shining in South San Francisco. Probably hit the high 70s later. Here in the peninsula that’s actually considered a scorcher.