Wednesday, 11 February:

How this is going to shake out

Dropped the car at Buck’s after work (inspection) and walked home. A bit of a frantic day, calling insurance agent after the morning crush settled down at work, to check on whether or not I had insurance. When Tom (Diehl) got on the line, the first thing he said was how sorry they were about R (they’d seen the notice in the local paper). He checked my policy and made a sound like “Ohh—” and then asked if he could do some more checking and call me back. Turns out I am covered through April because of the big payment I made December 22 (to reinstate the policy); he reassured me that if something were about to lapse they’d let me know (which they hadn’t); renter’s insurance is good through September. And he took R off the policy (-ies?) which made a difference of $11. It doesn’t matter much, since I’ll be gone by summer.

Knocked on P’s door and asked if she had five minutes (it turned out to be more like fifteen) and we sat at the dining table to talk. I told her I had rent money set aside for March, April, and May, but not for June; I hope that by June something will have worked out. I told her I almost quit my job today (J being an absolute dick about my shooting the ZB, which came out a terribly high number, but more on that later) and she clapped and said “You need to get out of that place!” Yes, I know I do, but I’m trying to hunker down and get through the spring. If I got fired, I said, it would be a kind of relief. And it occurs to me that, at some point soon, my time is going to be better devoted to sorting and packing and preparing for this move rather than dealing with the stresses and bullshit of that job. But I had said June. And she said if it needs to be earlier, that would be fine, that June was the date I, not they, had picked. And again, that if I needed to store anything in the attic for a while, it was more than okay.

So I don’t know what’s going to happen, how this is going to shake out. I can’t live without an income. I should be able to dig up the gym paperwork and get that $250 back. I’m getting $100 for judging a poetry contest. K wants to buy 30 extra copies of her chapbook, so that would be about $150. If my tax refund is a good one, that could put about a month’s rent into my account. I don’t have a penny to spare.

Thursday, 12 February:

Car woes

Car inspection went fine, except they needed to replace the muffler. Again. I am certain this is the third or even fourth time. I thought it was replaced just two years ago. I remember Roger C, in Houston, telling me how incredulous he felt when his mechanic told him the muffler needed replacing on his Honda: it was because he never drove the car long distances, never gave the exhaust system enough time to heat up and vaporize the condensation in the pipes, they said, which led to rust. Which, if it was true in his case, is probably (I imagine) (what do I know?) what’s going on with my car; I never drive it very far because I can’t afford to have it break down far from home. So: $220 for the inspection plus new muffler, and an estimated $400 or more for the parts and labor to repair the window, which they’ll do on Saturday. I have to drop the car off again on Friday after work.

Friday, 13 February:

Job woes

Another long workweek, though I had yesterday off (to make up for working Sunday for inventory recovery). J was an ass today, very passive-aggressive, picking on or putting down several of us—and when we are so few, since the payroll cuts and shortened hours, that’s nearly all of us. As I was heading up front at the end of my shift, after staying an extra 30 minutes to get work done, he said “So let’s talk about Wednesday on Monday.”

I was confused. “What’s happening on Wednesday?”

—No. We need to talk about this past Wednesday.

“I just need to clock out first.”

—It can wait till Monday.

“I can talk right now.”

—No, I have things to do now. But we are going to have a talk.

“Sure. No problem.”

He’s still pissed because he claims he told me not to shoot a ZB on Wednesday morning. And the ZB I shot was a horribly high number, 2.22, when we’re not permitted to shoot above a .80, and so A, who came in that morning, had to call Lyle and talk about the shoot (Lyle was okay with it: not a number we’d like to see but we’re coming off of inventory and wild variances are to be expected, just work the report and bring the number down) but first had to text J to let him know. And he just exploded. He sent her text after text, but sent me only one, which I waited two hours to read, and then composed the calmest reply I could:

—I specifically told you not to shoot till Friday and you shot anyway it’s tr week after inventory you didn’t need to [10:18 AM]

“I do not remember your specifically telling me this. It would have certainly reduced my stress yesterday about getting freight out *and* working a pull list in preparation for what I thought was a Wednesday and Friday ZB. Maybe you could take five minutes to leave me a note listing what to do or not do? It seemed to work for S. Honestly, my head is about to explode over everything I’m trying to remember without adequate training. Every item I’ve worked on the ZB list so far is a plus quantity, for what that’s worth, not a true out.” [12:57 PM]

He never responded to that text. And here’s the part where it gets ridiculous: A and I split the first section of the ZB report and worked as much of it as we could, and it was 95% plusses, skus that the system showed as zero onhand that we had to plus back into inventory. The report showed 250 outs not scanned! A and I both concluded that someone messed up with keying in quantities during inventory weekend, especially given that some of the skus I counted on Sunday showed as zero quantities again after I submitted my paperwork. Of course J denied all this today—“I have the reports!”—(he and Paul, a manager from another store, were the only ones keying in numbers) but the amazing thing is that he is so upset about my Wednesday ZB. If I had waited, if we had shot only today’s ZB, the number would have been much the same (or worse) because all these false system outs would never have been caught: if the product is on the shelf, there’s no reason to shoot it for pull lists. Moreover, once I realized how many holes I was shooting on Wednesday, and how bad the ZB was going to be, I skipped quite a few holes where I knew there was quantity onhand in the store that hadn’t been pulled yet to fill the holes. I’m not supposed to do that, but I’ve been encouraged by both A and J to fudge the shoot in the past to get us under a goal number. So, again, if we had not plussed in over $1000 worth of merchandise on Wednesday—and A did more yesterday—then today’s ZB would have been a disaster. And the only way we were able to prevent that disaster was to shoot the Wednesday ZB and react to what it showed: no other method would have revealed those discrepancies. I spent the better part of my afternoon today researching and plussing in $1200 more worth of merchandise—same problem: they did not flag during inventory or, if they did, nothing was done about it. And some of the skus were relatively high-dollar, for example, four units of an $85 item, three units of a $45 item, and those should have flagged.

J is out of control; he’s become a total ass: moody, negative, and selfish. He had even been posting negative comments about the store associates to his FB page—A told me about this, because I am not FB friends with J—and I was pretty much aghast that he would be so stupid as to more or less publicly tear down the morale of the store like that. Just dumbfounding.

Saturday, 14 February:

Hope for the best. Release it.

Got to Buck’s just before 5:30 yesterday to drop off the car. They are open till 2:00 today, so I will call at 1:30 if I haven’t heard from them first. Stayed up last night till almost midnight, reading through poems for a judging gig. Only about a dozen left to get through and then it’s a matter of re-reading the top ten or twelve. I want to finish this and get my packet out to them on Monday.

Got up this morning at 7:30 and fixed breakfast. Lost an hour or more to FB and its attendant links. I need to set a five-minute timer or something. Or just limit my FB browsing to scheduled windows. I’m not procrastinating, I think to myself, I’m just overwhelmed by all there is to do.

This morning: scan and print R’s insurance policy; type a brief cover letter; send everything to insurance company. Hope for the best. Release it.

Need to pack up a PBS book, one I never thought anyone would want, a heavy-ass Martha-ish country crafts tome that’s going to cost a lot to ship, even media rate. I have 7 credits saved up. Books I really want don’t list often on that site, but then again I’ve gotten dozens and dozens, so either I’m starting to be more discerning or I’m just leery of bringing more books into the house right now. I have only ten boxes packed so far.

Also need to get as many chapbooks assembled this weekend as I can, and print out final proof of Sarah’s chap—and D’s proof, which will have to go with a b/w cover for now. I wanted to get both of these out this month. And Kate’s chap needs to be released now.

Friday, 02.27:

Crossing the line

A terrible workday today, capping off a week of difficult workdays, yet distinguished not so much by my inability to complete all my tasks (I never get everything done) or even my realization that I would have to leave some things unfinished that I’ve always managed to complete somehow in the past–

But wait. Stop. It’s that “somehow” creeping in, when I know precisely how. In the past, week after week, I’ve sacrificed time and banked it against these Friday deadlines. Not today. Today I needed to leave at 4:30, my scheduled time, and when I saw that it was assumed I would stay late, and when I felt pressured and was subsequently derided for not staying over, something in me finally snapped. Why do I do this? For whose benefit? At little more than ten dollars per hour, the difference in pay is negligible. How did it become so important to me to be the one (the only one) who always arrives on time, who can always be counted on to do more, to constantly interrupt my own work in order to assist others but get negligible help in return? How did I miss the line between hard work and exploitation?

Yet I knew this, too. The corporation that employs me doesn’t care about my happiness or well-being; it has no interest in providing me or my coworkers with a living wage.

I’m good at my job. I’m very good at it, I think, and I think my coworkers would agree: I’m dependable, knowledgeable, capable. I take time to help and explain. But here’s the thing I keep forgetting: I have been good at every job I’ve held in my adult life (the sullen teen years should not be counted against anyone). And the only reason I hang onto my current job is that the prospect of searching for, and securing, a new one completely terrifies me.

Okay. Not completely. Not now. When David died, I threw myself into my writing and gardening, choosing not to look for a job and living instead on some insurance money. When Randy died, I threw myself back into work after a week of immobilizing grief and shock. I had no one to go home to now, I remember thinking. But what an awful lie. I have me. When did I let my needs become so minimized? Why did it take me so long to cross the line and say, stop. Stop. This isn’t working for me. This isn’t who I am or what I want. And even though I’m still frightened by the open-endedness that follows saying No, the sudden yawning space of what-next and how to navigate that (emotionally, financially, logistically), I’d rather set out in fear than grind myself down in service to a soulless corporation.

I’m not quitting my job. I can’t afford to, not today. But whatever happens, I am better than this. I deserve better than this.

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