In 2011 I started writing a daily blog about being stuck on the graveyard shift at a local truck stop. In early 2012 I got moved up to the day shift and fully intended to keep writing but things had changed. I found that my days were now split into three parts. There were the hours between when I woke up and went to work, I did most of my daily duties at this time. There were my working hours. And then there were my post work, pre going to bed hours. The problem was by the time I got all my daily duties done it was time to go to work. At work I couldn’t do anything outside of the job and when I came home I just wanted to wind down, shut off my mind and do nothing. I stopped writing or doing anything creative at all.
The entire 2012 year was a bust as far as getting things done went. So, I decided that I would spend 2013 doing more creative stuff, but how could I force myself to keep the commitment? I decided that I would go back to an old standard, the daily photo. The premise is simple, every day at a specific time, 9 AM ish, I would take a photo of whatever I was doing or looking at and then post some short comments about the photo or the events of the day. Hopefully I will remain committed to the project for the entire 2013 year.
And so we are off! Wish me luck.
The year started off pretty much the same as most days, time to feed the animals. Of course the 11f/-12c temperatures makes the job just a little more fun. I start off by feeding the cats and then pitching hay over the fence to the horses. Then I get a fork full and feed the cow. Along with hay the steer also gets a bucket of grain which he scarfs as fast as possible because the waiting birds eat up whatever he leaves behind.
After the hay and grain it’s time to break the ice on the water tanks. I have to be careful because the ice freezes from the top down putting a lot of pressure on the water below. When I poke the first hole it will come shooting out like a geyser and in the low temperature the water starts to freeze instantly, the iron bar I am using already has a layer of ice on it. This is an important job because more livestock die from dehydration during the winter than freezing.
Horses fed, cow fed, ice broken, now I can go in the house, almost. A few of the barn cats are mulling around waiting to be petted. If you have a cat and want to make it happy pet it with an old leather glove, they love it and will even brave the cold for the pleasure.
After the cats I decide to brush the snow off my windshield. There is only a little snow but with the sun shining the glass will start to warm up and cause a bit of melting, which will then freeze. Later when I go to work instead of brushing off the snow I will have to chip off the ice.
Now, with all my outdoor duties done it’s time to go in my nice warm house and eat breakfast. All in all not a bad way to start the New Years.
Yes, the phone rang and I may have a new job. Well it’s the same job for the same company but at a different location. The best part I will be working solo, no coworker drama, no wondering if the graveyard shift is going to show up and since there are only three employees I won’t have to spend 6 days at work with one day off because someone had to go to their nephew’s recital or some nonsense like that. Best of all I wouldn’t have to deal with obnoxious truck drivers using their fleet card but not knowing their information required to run the card. I’m not going to get my hopes up too high because first the person currently in the job has to quit and then the owner has to approve the move. The last time something like this came up he hired someone and I got screwed. So no more about the new job, for now.
And we are off to a good start, my camera ate my first photo and this site ate my first post.
Great, starting off the new year with a case of bronchitis. Thankfully it’s my day off so I don’t have to worry about that. Of course if it wasn’t for “nature calling” I’d still be laying in bed playing Angry Birds right now ( I really hate those bomb pooping birds, totally useless)
My illness started during Christmas when I took my mother to visit my sister for a week. I wish I could say my intentions were honorable but the truth is I wanted to get revenge on my sister-in-law but not in an evil way. The whole thing started in August when she held a birthday/going away party for my nephew since he was heading off to college. The thing was I found out about the party the next day when my mother told me she had been invited, at the last minute. I am willing to bet my sister in law’s entire family knew about the party a week in advance. This wasn’t the first time something like this happened but it really pissed me off, so I decided to get my revenge.
My sister in law doesn’t come around that often anymore, I have no idea what bug crawled up her butt but I don’t really care. However she does like spending Christmas night at my mother’s house, it’s her chance to escape from her dysfunctional family. Well, since we would be out of town my sister in law would have no excuse for spending a full two days with her own relatives. Bwa ha ha ha ha.
Anyhow my sister smokes like a diesel engine climbing a hill. After three days my throat was raw and it never got better. After driving 450 miles home I had to go to work the next day, and for the rest of the week. The combination of my irritated throat and the cold spell that struck, plus my coworker insisting on propping open the door while she mops, plus the heater breaking down at work, resulted in my being sick, I managed to put everything off but today I am sick.
Of course this didn’t mean I could take the full day off, the horses and cow needed fed plus the freezing temperatures resulted in the water tanks icing over extra thick. So I spent an hour busting chunks out, and coughing the whole time, and then tossing those blocks of ice up on the barn so they would melt and flow back into the water trough, waste not want not. I didn’t fill everything up, the outside faucet is frozen and there was enough water for today. Tomorrow I will go defrost the pipe and fill everything up but I’ve done enough work for today.
I had wanted to go visit the other station today and see what was going on job wise but I don’t want to get anyone else sick. Last night really convinced me I want the other job and it wasn’t just my coworker propping open the door. Some truck driver came in with a fleet card. After going through the whole phone nonsense to get approval the guy started bitching about the price of oil and wanted me to take it off the transaction. I told him it already went through and there was nothing I could do. I could charge his card again for just the fuel, $600, and then the manager could get the charge deleted but I told him it could take a couple of days to totally clear and he would have the full amount of two transactions until then. He grumped about it but finally left. He saw the price of the oil but just wanted to give me a hard time and worse tried to accuse me of being a thief. At the other job there are no diesel pumps and I will never have to deal with annoying truck drivers again.
Oh well, in the meantime I am staying warm and drinking lots of liquids, it helps with my cough. I have tomorrow off too so I will spend my time keeping warm and recovering. Hopefully I will feel better by Friday.
Sleeping in and looking at my messy room.
Still sick. All I wanted to do today was lay in bed and play Angry Birds but I had stuff to do. First I had to go visit the woman in charge of the other station. I hadn’t heard anything about the potential new job so did I go to my old job on Monday or the new one? I had to go see her. At least I’m not coughing uncontrollably today so that’s a good thing.
I fired up my truck and drove to the station to see what was what. I was told that the woman had talked to the owner and he had said several different things but I didn’t know anything new. Was I starting over there? Was I still working at the old place? She didn’t know but promised me I’d have answers by tomorrow, so instead of sleeping in then I will be getting up and going to see what was going on, again.
After an unfruitful trek I came home and made breakfast/lunch. Afterward I went out to feed the horses and the cow. Being really sick yesterday I had put off filling up the water tanks but I couldn’t do it again today, so despite having the flu, I think it’s the flu, I got out the iron bar and the shovel and cleaned the ice out of the troughs. After that I boiled up the tea kettle so I could melt the outside water line, it had frozen in the cold weather. It took a while but soon the water was running and I hooked up the hoses, but they are worn and well abused so when I turned on the water it sprayed everywhere. The whole time I filled up the tanks different leaks kept spraying me, which was really helping my being sick. Finally the tanks were filled, I drained the hoses so they wouldn’t freeze up and split more and then headed back in the house. I plan to take the rest of the day off and just stay warm.
Cleaning up before going to find out what’s going on at work.
I’m sick and there’s nothing I’d like better than to lay in bed all day but I can’t, I have to find out what’s going on with the job front. So I drug myself out of bed and got ready.
I went down to the other station and chatted with the morning shift woman and...she had no information for me. The afternoon shift guy had taken his time card but he hadn’t talked to the owner or anyone else. I hung around for a while but I was feeling like crap and I still had to go to work in the afternoon so I left.
I went home and was hanging around when the phone rang. The guy had quit and I was starting on Monday. I still had to work all weekend at the other station, which I wasn’t looking forward to, being sick and all, but at least things were looking up job wise. I cleaned up and went to work and started my last weekend at a place I have been for the past year and a half.
It turns out the guy from the other station had dropped by on Thursday night when he ended his shift. He had left an envelope to be dropped in the safe, it had his time card and the door key and his “letter of resignation”. What a classy thing to do.
As the night went along I started to feel worse and worse and my mood deteriorated just as fast. It started with the people who piled everything at the register and then started the “well what do you want” bit. It goes like this, I start to ring their stuff out and then they turn to their kids and say “do you want anything?” instead of doing it in advance. The kid then wanders around, while a line forms, and finally picks something out, which the parent then says they can’t have because it’s got too much sugar. Finally after a long debate they pay for everything and leave, seriously, if you aren’t ready don’t come up to the register, it’s common sense.
Then a woman comes in and the pump is rejecting her card, the message is insufficient funds. She tells me it’s a debit card and she’s only spent $60 today. I can clearly see it’s a gift card and it probably doesn’t have any money on it. The modern scam is you give a clerk a gift card to hold while you fill up and then drive off. She wasn’t happy when I told her she was required to pay in advance and left in a huff. Some peoples children.
The final straw was a guy who came in for directions. He had a broke down car and needed to rent a tow bar. I looked at the time and it was quarter to five so he was running out of time. I began to give him the easiest direction possible and the conversation went like this:
“Get on this street and go to the stoplight and turn right...”
“Get on the interstate?”
OK, first I never said anything about the interstate and when was the last time you were on an interstate highway with traffic lights? But I let it slide and continued:
“Get on this street, go across the interstate to the stoplight and turn right...”
“The only stoplight on the this street”
OK, when someone tells you “the stoplight” that generally means the first one you come to, right? If there are a specific amount of stoplights they tell you, “go to the second stoplight” or something like that. So I started over again:
“The only stoplight on the this street”
“Now, get on this street, go across the interstate to the stoplight and turn right...”
“You’re pointing left, is it left or right?”
Now, if you are standing and facing someone and they point to their right it means go right not left according to the direction they are facing. And since I was facing the direction the guy was traveling I was pointing to the right which he would go. I was getting frustrated by this time and it must have been showing because he then says:
“You’re directions are confusing”
So, how exactly is “go to the stoplight and turn right” confusing? But I tried again:
“Get On This Street, Go Across The Interstate, Go To The One And Only Stoplight And Turn Right (no pointing this time) and....”
“Well you don’t have to be rude about it”
And that was it, I was out of this discussion. Four attempts to give someone the simplest directions and four interruption at the exact same point. I turned my back on the guy and saw that I hadn't put the bags away from when I changed the outside trash earlier. I picked them up, walked over to cabinet and put them away and then stood in the corner glaring at the guy. He then went off on how he had been on the road for 24 hours and his car was broke down and bla bla bla but I just didn’t care. I was sick I was tired and I didn’t have time for someone who seemed bound and determined to start a fight with me.
At this point my coworker joined in and said:
“Sir, Sir, (she had to stop him mid rant) we are just trying to give you directions, please listen. Get on this street and go to the first stoplight, turn right...”
“How far is the stoplight?”
I wish I had my camera out at that time because the look on her face was priceless. Seriously, this guy was obsessed with a stupid stoplight. My coworker, who has less patience than I do said:
“How should I know how far it is?” It’s down this street!”
The guy then tried to go off on another rant but she interrupted him, again and told him:
“Listen! Go to the stoplight, turn right, go past the next stoplight. When you pass another gas station turn right at the dry cleaners and it’s a block”
He seemed to understand, grumped again about being tired after being on the road all day and left. I looked at the clock and he had wasted a lot of time arguing with us over a stupid stoplight. I wondered if he would get there before they closed and he was stuck for the weekend. Then again I wondered if he would get lost thanks to my coworkers directions, there are two dry cleaners just past two stations and if he turned right at the first one he would be on the wrong side of the railroad tracks and would get hopelessly lost and probably wind up back about a block from our station. Is it bad Karma to hope that is what happened?
The rest of the night went by mostly uneventful but I kept getting sicker and sicker. I had considered contacting the guy who was replacing me, he had worked there before on the graveyard shift but his grandfather died and he was out of town until Wednesday. My coworker asked if I wanted her to cover my shift this weekend and I gladly took her up on the offer. I’d be a few days short on my check but the way I felt I didn’t care.
The graveyard shift rolled in and I closed out my drawer for the last time, at this station, maybe. I considered hitting the drive thru at McDonalds but as I was waiting for my truck to warm up I sneezed so hard both my arms from my fingertips to my shoulder blades hurt and I said “to heck with it I’m going home”. And so ended my Friday night, finally.
Waiting for an answer about the job, one way or the other.