The Best Worst Decision I’ve Ever Made?…

About three or four months ago I decided to leave my job delivering packages for Federal Express…I was actually working for a company that contracted with FedEx…it wasn’t an easy decision…I had been doing the same job for 16+ years and there was some comfort in knowing it would always be there unless I really screwed up…the man I worked for was also one of the few people who could tolerate me for more than 15 minutes at a time…but, the job was kicking my @$$ pretty much every day…

If you’ve read any of my other drivel, you know I ended up working at a large regional grocery store chain…that’s right, I have become a grocer…and until this week I always had doubts about whether it was the right choice…I can now say without a doubt…maybe…

Other than the fact that I already have three weeks paid time off in my personal benefits bank…after all those years as a Legend behind the wheel delivering packages, I had none…(I also was no legend, just thought that was the easiest place to insert the Daily Post prompt)…but my family also has health insurance we can now afford…why is that important?…when I was looking at this job I was concerned about the salary…it was a pay cut I wasn’t sure we could afford..but my wife, who was covering our benefits in her job as a consultant, was paying $1700/month for our family benefits…that ain’t no misprint…but now with my new job as a grocer, we have full family coverage for a paltry $65/week…again, not a misprint…we will save almost $1500/month just in our health insurance benefits cost..that was a number I could really get behind…

But as usually is the case in my family drama…reality roared its ugly head again when the IT project my wife was managing ended earlier…much earlier…than we ever expected that it would…once again, self-doubt about how much I was making leaked back into my big bulbous head…I’m enjoying my new found profession…unfortunately I may have to sell the house…a car…a kidney…some blood…just to keep it…I will not however sell my Disney Vacation Club Membership…some bad decisions are non-negotiable…

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Giving Thanks At the Market?…Well, Maybe Not So Much For Everyone…

Yes, this is but another in a close-Knit  and endless stream of posts about my new job at the grocery store…if you want the latest on Number 45 and his Cabinet of Horrors you clicked on the wrong post…it’s also not a very imaginative use of the Daily Prompt Word knit…

Anywho, in my position as the most junior of all of the Front End Service Team Leaders, this has been a good week to work with other Front End employees and managers…and unfortunately also get my rear end handed to me…it was one thing learning HOW to work as a cashier…but something totally different learning how to work WITH the cashiers and help them through their hang-ups…their register issues…not their emotional hang-ups, for those they can use the Employee Assistance Program or their favorite bartender…if their over 21 of course…sorry if that sounds cold…

this week they issued to me several cards…with printing barely legible because of the amazing amount of information…department numbers, phone numbers…all printed so small even with glasses on it was difficult to make out the numbers…add the pressure of a line of customers waiting for me to fix things…to figure out product codes or pricing when the item has none…why their credit or debit card was denied…the difference between in-date and out-of-date coupons…like I said…rear end?…meet front end…

I did learn some things the hard way, however my performance was not what you could call one of a seasoned professional in the grocery industry…I unfortunately maybe inadvertently ticked off a few customers with my new found incompetence?…not because that was my goal…however, I think I also showed great patience with some customers…I find it amazing that a customer can come running into the store and without even attempting to look around, ask…

“Where are the cranberries?”…

”Well…what kind would you like mam?…fresh cranberries, frozen, or canned?”…

”Oh, never mind. I’ll just wander around the store!”…

Uh?…Okay then, Happy Thanksgiving to you, mam?”…

Sorry…but that’s just not shopping to me…and no, I don’t know the precise location of every  item in the store…we have an phone app for that…she could have looked it up before she even left home…saving us both from that uncomfortable exchange… 

…even in the face of a really irate customer who wanted to buy two turkeys…who didn’t read the dates on the sales flyer and who came to the register with two frozen turkeys EA164E10-C2FD-4190-A954-F50535481935and enough attitude to stuff both those birds…she might have gotten her price too…if only she hadn’t been verbally abusive to the employee at the register…a 17-year old…tell me we suck and then threaten me you have a blog?…

WHO IN THE NAME OF SAM HILL DOESN’T HAVE A BLOG?…And let me guess?…she added it on your Facebook timeline too?…hopefully for her and her family, Chinese food restaurants are open on Thanksgiving…am I right?

There were lots of other inter-actions with customers…some good…some not so much…usually my fault…but I’m looking forward to the end of my first month…all the while realizing that delivering packages for FedEx for the last 16+ years has taught me almost nothing…it’s time to actually use my brain again…

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Oh Joe? Sadly, Won’t See Him No More…

I wrote last week about my relationship with my father-in-law…how he learned to tolerate me…even accept me into his family and treat me like a son…and how he laid in a hospital gravely ill from some undiagnosed illness…

They finally got around to diagnosing it last Wednesday…West Nile Virus…and last Friday, an hour after removing him from his ventilator, he passed away…peacefully and with his family by his side…the way a true family man would have wanted…

Joe was an interesting study…part engineer, (the featured image was something he was working on…even in his final days)…he was part pack rat, he was a fiercely loyal and protective father…each one of his kids probably has a story of Joe vs. the school system on their behalf…and maybe even for his own satisfaction too…I think sometimes he would take the contrarian view just so he could try and prove it to you…I remember a long, circular discussion/debate(?) I listened to between him and a family member who was a state trooper about the concept of Implied Consent…check your drivers license if you’re not sure..God love him, no one would ever Deny he could debate the living hell out of an issue when he wanted too…

I remember when my wife and I bought our first house…Joe took me to this old warehouse near where he lived…it had all kinds of what I might think of as trash, but what Joe and others might consider treasure…Joe suggested that there were certain sized screws and nails that I should have…in bulk… around the house when I wanted to construct or repair something…”you mean to tell me the contractor/repairman won’t have his own bulk stash on his truck?”…it wasn’t long before I figured out that Joe probably wanted them there for his own use when he came over…he also insisted I have a good workbench…and so I built one, I over-built one he told me, not that he was complaining…

Joe and I finally put all those nails and screws to good use building an 8’x12′ shed in my backyard…and it was here that Joe might have made several mistakes…first of which was truusting me to have the area leveled off so we could start right in on the construction…what looked good to me was actually off about a foot from the front to the back and don’t even get me started on side to side…but after a couple of hours and multiple trips to a nearby construction site where we grabbed rocks of all shapes and sizes, we were able to lay a somewhat questionable looking foundation…one he thought  might be a problem in the future…but it never was, at least not while I owned it…

Joe’s second mistake, and one we laughed about often, or at least Joe did…was to leave that weekend before the shingles were laid on the roof, leaving that job to me and me alone and maybe repaying me for not having the ground leveled off…I did alright though, at least the roof never leaked nor did any shingles blow off…but it took me longer to finish than I thought it would…and for one stupid reason…if you’ve ever seen an asphalt shingle before it gets laid, you may have noticed that clear strip of plastic on the back that covers over the glue line?…it was a pain in the ass peeling off all those plastic strips…my pants pockets were filled with them as I worked…finally, I was frustrated enough to call Joe and complain and wonder aloud how roofers get anything done with all that plastic to be removed…I got what I deserved…at first absolute silence…then the laughter on the other end of the phone told me I was about to become the punch line in some family joke for years to come…I persevered, finished the roof…maybe not as well as Joe would have, but good enough for government work…

I had some good times with Joe…taking my son, his only grandson, fishing for the first time was one…Joe was smart enough to take us to the fish hatchery where my son was IMG_0505sure to catch as many fish as he wanted…the only thing Joe didn’t plan on was that Joe would be the first thing my son would hook with his first cast…this time it was my turn to laugh…it was a great moment and one I’ll never forget, the way he never forgot my shed roofing escapades…and half an hour later, my son was sitting on a bench eating our bait…we were only using mini-marsh mellows…apparently the fish love them…

I have many other stories of times with Joe…we all had them…vacations to Disney World, Bush Gardens, and Mexico…some were good, some maybe not so IMG_0506much…sometimes all together, and sometimes one on one…because if there was one thing about Joe it was that he loved to have family around…coming from my family it felt a little suffocating at times…but in the end Joe raised one hell of a tight knit clan…really, really tight…

Joe was Italian, what I might consider old-world…a man who loved his Italian heritage and all the traditions such as the 7 Fishes on Christmas Eve dinner that come with it…I’m pretty much a mutt…some different things from my father’s side, and Irish from my mom…so I’ll leave Joe with this old Irish prayer…one that I like and I’m sure he does too…

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand

 

 

This One’s For You Dad…

I’ve had a tough time this week…I came to the realization that it more than likely is time for a change in jobs…doing the same job for over 16 years makes it difficult  to leave and finding something new at 57 won’t be easy to do…not to mention I work for someone I consider a friend and who may be reading this in the middle of his latest bowel movement…but that’s okay, I respect him and at least he reads whatever self-important thing I happen to be driveling on about…

But this really isn’t about me…this is about someone who I’ve known for over 30 years now…and as of this moment lays in a hospital bed hooked up to a ventilator…in a hospital that is struggling to find even the slightest of reasons why he’s in his current state…don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing anyone at the hospital of malpractice or anything…but it sure feels like they’re over-matched right now…and it has become harder each day to watch my wife’s family deal with the frustration of not knowing…and seeing my father-in-law survive thanks to the tubes he’s hooked up to…

I met my future father-in-law Joe when I helped his daughter, now my wife, move from her apartment in North Philly to one in South Jersey…the logistics of my relationship being my best freind was dating her roommate and they introduced us one intoxicated Saturday at the Jersey Shore…I don’t know, maybe it was just me who had over-indulged…anyway we got along pretty good and yadda…yadda…two weeks later I was renting a truck to help her move…not because she wanted to be closer to me…she had finished pharmacy college and got a job with a pharmaceutical company in South Jersey…

of course Joe liked me right away, helping another guy move, or in this case his daughter, is a big step in any manly friendship…and in the 30 plus years I’ve known him we’ve never had a cross word…even though I’m not really sure I would have been his first pick to marry off his daughter to…this was clear to me when I asked him in the frozen foods section of a supermarket if I could marry his daughter and his first response was, “What?”… we all know when someone answers a question with what that they’re stalling for time…further evidenced by his call for help to his wife further down the aisle, “Uh, Peg, (future mother in-law) come here please!”…the trepidation in his call for help obvious…but we worked it out, we were able to buy all the frozen seafood we needed that day, Joe agreed to let me ask his daughter, and I left the supermarket with the uneasy feeling that Joe liked me, but he thought his daughter could do better…story of my life…

Joe has always treated me like a son since I married into the family…I on the other hand have never felt comfortable calling him dad…I always felt my actual father was only deserving of that…usually it was just Joe, or Hey, uh, or So, uh, as in “Hey, uh, did you see the Penn State game?”, or “So, uh, how you doing today?”…and you know what?…I was wrong not to call him Dad…after 30 plus years of treating me like a son, of always being straight with me…making sure I knew when he was proud of me…making sure to always Pamper my kids, his grandchildrenhe’s earned it…I only hope I get the chance to tell him…

A Presbyterian In Catholic Purgatory…

I didn’t know I could do this…as a Presbyterian, the last thing I thought I would ever find myself doing is bringing up the bread and the wine for Communion in a Catholic Church…I mean, is that legal or even covered under canon law somewhere?…I’m pretty sure over in South Jersey my long-departed parents turned over in their graves…don’t get me wrong, my parents didn’t hate Catholics…to be honest, they didn’t always get along with our neighbors who were Methodist…I think they just thought Catholics were a little too showy…too in your face…always the nicest church…a crucifix instead of a cross…the best carnivals…

Anyway, my wife and I (me?) went to the late Mass a couple of Sundays ago…and as usual, we arrived early…as we’re sitting there, my wife praying the rosary…me, using the time not to pray, but to stare blankly and judge the other parishioners now arriving in their best Sunday shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops…,at least I had the decency to rock a nice collared shirt…this guy comes up and asks if we would like to present the gifts for Communion…before I can tell him he’s got the wrong guy, my wife gladly volunteers us…

“I can’t do that”, I quietly protest to her after he leaves,”I’m not even Catholic.”…

…since mostly my wife, and somewhat me, have raised our kids to be good Catholics, which they make you do when there is a religiously mixed marriage…it’s become a standard excuse I Continue to use to get out of attending holy days of obligation…giving up cheesesteaks during lent…and working a booth at the church carnival….

“Won’t my Presbyterianism somehow spoil the Body and the Blood?”, I panicked. And my wife, in the snarkiest tone possible and with a look usually reserved for my 20-something year old son after one of his occasional transgressions says…”Don’t worry, the priest will transform it…pretty sure the congregation will survive you bringing up the wine.” It was about here that I realized we were doing this…so I chose this moment…this issue…to make my stand…”I’m not taking the wine…if I spill it on the rug, there won’t be a baptismal font deep enough for me to hide in.”

And that ended that…my wife had just gotten me to choose how I wanted to do the thing that I was fighting her about doing…

…after all these years…had she finally started me on the road to Catholicism?…and my eventual visit to Purgatory?

 

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I Know She’s Holding Out On Me…

My wife’s walk-in closet fell apart last weekend. Again…her walk-in closet, no longer able to endure the stress being placed upon it…collapsed.

Now, I don’t usually look into her closet, but when I heard the sound of broken shelving and twisted metal…not to mention her scream for help…I reluctantly went up stairs knowing exactly what I was about to see…

And still I was shocked. 

My wife has always been a working professional in the drug industry, so she has many suits and other clothing stuff that business professionals wear. When you combine that with clothes for different seasons, physical changes, age, and the fact that she is a self-admitted pack-rat…we still have the megaphone high school cheerleaders yell into sitting in my garage…that we brought with us from New Jersey…that she brought with her to our house in New Jersey…from Pennsylvania…after we got married…by now you get my point.

She’s bought more suits and clothing than I could ever think possible. I think she also suffers from paralysis by analysis when it comes to what clothing to get rid of, be it out of style, no longer fitting as it did when purchased…whatever…

As much as her vast wardrobe shocked me…nothing could prepare me for the shoes. The Imelda Marcos shoe museum should have so many shoes. Which brings me to the title of this post…she said she counted 208 pairs of shoes…I know there’s more…I think she only counted the ones in her closet and our bedroom…I don’t think she’s gotten around to the other rooms yet. I’m willing to go out on the limb of a shoe tree that she has over 300…

If you’re shocked by that number…welcome. If not, then you’ve probably wasted your time reading this.

Upon seeing the destruction and the hopelessness of her closet, I agreed to go out and help her get the materials needed to re-build a closet capable of standing up to such pressure…

While I was thinking local home center, 2×8’s, 3/4 inch plywood, hex bolts and drywall screws, she had a different idea…The Container Store…with it’s fancy wire racking, various types of boxes and containers…expensively fancy stuff…nice to look at…and not made of wood like I suggested…all the salespeople were closet consultants and not some guy wearing bib overalls like at the home center.

In conclusion…my wife took the opportunity to donate clothing and shoes to various charity groups in need of women’s clothing…something she admits she probably should have been doing all along…so I guess it all worked out in the end…

I just don’t understand why she’s giving me a hard time about my 8 pairs of shoes…hell, 2 of them can’t even be worn in the house…

Bailey and Us…I Remember When

I remember when we saw him for the first time…his ears too big for his puppy-sized head…his bark short and comical to hear…his hound voice yet to be discovered…his brown eyes and his birthday, both same as my wife’s sealed the deal…

I remember picking him up at the mall…that’s right, we bought him at a pet store, and after 14 years turns out he was a helluva deal…him and the kids went through obedience training, but it didn’t take…God love ’em, those kids were too crazy…

I remember the night we bought him home from the vet’s office…drugged up on pain medication…castration they called it on the bill…responsible ownership they told us…in the back of my mind I still think cruel and heartless…

I remember when curiosity got the better of him…an introduction to electricity and the hazards of chewing electric cords…so that’s what fried beagle smells like…it only ever happened once…I remember how he chewed the rug in our family room…the vote was close…should we replace just the rug?…or him too?…

We all had our nicknames for Bailey…Bailsey, Beagle, Baileydammit…the last one mine, reserved for those times he decided to take a run around the neighborhood…never said we were very creative…

I remember stuffed mallards, rubber balls, and any number of other toys he would fetch and wrestle over…the way he would shake those stuffed mallards as he ran with them…drop a ball at your feet and howl a beagle howl to go again…how he ran up the back stairs in the house, down the hallway to the front stairs, then down and around to the back again…throw it again he dared…

Bailey’s 14 this month…he can’t run the stairs and he only walks when he used to run…he’s come to some kind of agreement with the rabbits in the yard…they don’t even Scamper  for the trees at the sight of him coming out of the house anymore…he walks with a limp…sometime front, sometimes back(?), depends how he slept…he still has most of his teeth, just not all…and apparently there must be male-pattern baldness in his family, how can a 13-inch beagle lose so much hair?…

…he sleeps more now…but as always, there’s never a meal or a treat he’ll pass on…the vet says his heart is good, so we’re looking forward to another year of remembering Bailey when…