Monday, February 28, 2011

What’s Invisible And Smells Like Carrots?

You’re not going to know anything about my new job unless I tell you, so let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. First you need to know that I’m keen to avoid causing Google searches about my company to lead people here, so if I seem vague, I’m not just being myself.

My new title is something like Touring Serviceman, without the 1940s flair, and I work for a company named after exactly what it is, a nationwide provider of various commercial filters. The initials of this company are on my company van, hat and shirt, but they are not on my pants, because they are not company pants, they are just pants. This makes sense from the company’s perspective because what they’re doing is paying me to drive on a two-weeks-solid, roughly 2,000-mile solo route changing HVAC filters on the roofs of commercial buildings, with only $60 a day for food and lodging (technically only for lodging, but… for food and lodging), and this promotes a lifestyle that naturally involves a steady diet of AM/PM hot dogs, Big Gulps, and El Pollo Loco, and a lot of high-elevation alone time, so it’s the pants, in this equation, that really take the brunt of the action. Yeah, that’s a fart joke. So is the title. Fart jokes happen, so deal with it. Just be glad you can laugh about it. Be glad you aren’t pants.

Sorry, I do this thing sometimes where I get mad at someone for being mad, and really it’s just an excuse to be mad. And most of the time the other person isn’t even mad. It’s just me that’s mad. And most of the time there isn’t even another person, it’s just me in a van on a lonely stretch of road someplace between Sacramento and Portland, or on a roof changing HVAC filters, and I’m not even mad, I’m in a great mood actually, and they’re my own damn pants I bought with my own money so there’s nothing to worry about and we can go on to talking about something else now. Sorry.

And I’m sorry but if you think I’m going to apologize—alright that’s all. I just wanted to write that. I’m going to move on now for real. Wouldn't want to beat a dead horse. Because, you know, if a horse isn’t alive then you’re wasting your time beating it. Get yourself a live horse, is what I say. I don’t say that. I don’t endorse beating horses in any stage of the horse life cycle, let alone the shorter, less smelly, “living” stage. Why are we talking about horses?

Anyway it works out because, besides smelling, you’d think touring servicemen would have something else in common with dead horses—that they wouldn’t eat a lot of carrots. But you’d be wrong. Good thing you’re here.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Company hat, Company shirt, My pants

When I talked to John for the first time on the phone, his voice sounded raspy and distracted, like maybe he'd woken up to get a glass of water and had inhaled a dandelion instead. I instantly formed a mental image of a man who'd been working on his beard for a couple winters too long, who wore a flannel shirt to church, and who was just overweight enough to give the world something to try to forget every time he bent over.

I called him from K-Mart because there was nothing on or near the Dickies there to assure me that they were navy blue and not just... pants blue. John was the guy who was going to be training me, so he seemed like the guy to ask. Normally I feel qualified to identify navy blue, I told John, but the blue of the reinforced knee Dickies didn't precisely match the regular fit, and I wanted to know how important it was that they were navy blue, because on Craigslist and on the phone they were very clear that the pants had to be navy blue, and they hadn't sent the company shirts yet, and were they going to get upset if my pants were the wrong shade of blue, and I know it's probably not the end of the world but I just don't want to start off with them on the wrong foot.

"You do know they're in Virginia, right?"

Right. Thanks John. Sorry to bother you.

"You got non-slip boots right?"

Well not yet but I was on it, and did it have to be boots because the emails and everything all said boots or shoes, so I had been planning on shoes because those would probably be a lot cheaper and I didn't want to go overboard with buying stuff before I got out there and saw what the job was really like, but if it had to be boots then that's great I can get boots I just hadn't planned on it.

"Just make sure they're non-slip."

Cool. Boots or shoes. Check or check. See you Friday.

A Brief Interlude To Vent

If we ever had this conversation, I don't like you:

"Do you like Cake? The band?"

"Cake? Weren't they cool for a little while in, like, the late '90s?"

"Well yeah they got a lot of radio play in the '90s. Going the Distance. Short Skirt, Long Jacket... I think Fashion Nugget sold pretty well."

"Yeah I think I bought Fashion Nugget. You still listen to them? Why?"

Want. To. Stab.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Unfiltered Blog Post

I have to go to work on Monday, which I promise you is weird. You might have taken someone at their word in the past and you might have been let down, and therefore at this point you might be having a hard time accepting that it's weird that I would go to work on a Monday simply because I promise that it's weird, and if that's the case then I imagine you're wondering if I couldn't give you more to work with than (a)n (potentially) empty promise. But, strangely (and I think you'll agree), I imagine you're wondering this in the form of the question, "what's it like?"

Well, it's like this: I was originally scheduled to begin my route on a Thursday last month (and this month too, [editor's note: I just found out what "by proxy" means, and it doesn't fit here] by extension [editor's note: fingers crossed]), and I would have too if it weren't for dumb Expedia and dumb United Airlines and dumb fog. But that's a topic better left to a filtered blog post.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Losers Never Quit: Your Video Guide To Anything But This

Part 1: "It's not you, The Present, it's me..."

So you're finally ready to quit your job as a pizza delivery driver. Congratulations! And good for you. You could have waited another two months and made it a solid three years at the same dead end, but you're choosing to Move On. You might be moving on because you have:

- secured a better opportunity
- secured another opportunity
- sustained a serious injury

or simply

- stopped hating yourself so much

Whatever the specific reason or reasons, you're quitting to Win! Yes, the future can be scary, but the future is—maybe not so much yours as—well at least it's not Theirs.

Part 2: "We need to talk, The Past. I've met someone else..."

Look at you over there with your new job offer. Aren't you a fantastic pair.

Getting a new job is really the best way to leave your old job, so way to go. You're strolling through life down the path marked "awesome." What's more, training starts in two days, and you just found out today, so you're current boss is going to be pissed something fierce. This will be not-good-but-great news if you:

- hate your boss (as a boss, not as a person)
- hate your boss (as a person? Do you...hate...people...?)
- hate working alongside the boss's alcoholic narcissistic best buddy
- regularly fantasize about leaving without giving any notice at all

These are all great reasons, and you can probably think up some more on your own. But being excited about the possibility of quitting on short notice does not prepare you for the reality of quitting on short notice. In a moment, your instructor will be distributing a handout to help you practice the most likely scenario of giving your boss two days notice. If possible, break into groups of three and act out the provided scene, then discuss your experience as a class. Your instructor may have additional directions. Now, pause the tape, and hit play again when you are ready for Part 3.

Supplementary Handout:

EMPLOYEE has just received a job offer on a day off and needs to tell BOSS as soon as possible. Having learned that BOSS is taking a break at Best Buy, EMPLOYEE drives to Best Buy and wanders into the television section. There they see each other at the same moment. SALESPERSON waits offstage.

BOSS: Hey, what's going on?

EMPLOYEE: Hey, I actually came here looking for you. I need to talk to you. (EMPLOYEE settles into a stance almost perpendicular to BOSS'S)

EMPLOYEE notices several brochures in BOSS'S hand.

EMPLOYEE: Are you...are you with a salesperson?

BOSS: (Looking around) Yeah, can it wait?

EMPLOYEE: Uh...actually I need to tell you something right now, and you're not going to be happy about it.

SALESPERSON approaches.

BOSS: What? Are you leaving?


BOSS: (Looking at SALESPERSON) When?

EMPLOYEE: Two days. I can work tomorrow and Thursday, then I start training on Friday and I'll be gone for two weeks straight.

SALESPERSON comes close enough that the three form a small triangle, unsure what is happening.

BOSS: Why...wha...why didn't you tell me...before?

BOSS clearly wants to throw a man-sized tantrum, but cannot in Best Buy. SALESPERSON stares ahead uncomfortably

EMPLOYEE: I just found out this morning. (EMPLOYEE becomes aware of the stance, something picked up from Matt Damon about standing with your gun hip away from people)

BOSS: I uh...we've got to talk later.

EMPLOYEE: Okay. (Turns to leave, then stops and turns back) Hey, do you want me to work tomorrow?

BOSS: (Definite) Yes.

EMPLOYEE turns and walks away, trying not to smile

Part 3: "Hi there, you must be The Future. My name is..."

You have reached the end of Tape 1. Insert Tape 2 for no further instructions.