Category Archives: Emmylou Harris

All in One Day: Thank God for Small Favors

Standard

From being called, “honey chile'” (which is a short cut for “honey

child,” with a Southern twist) to “m’am,” Wednesday was quite a

unique day. I expressed myself, much to the chagrin of my boss

and boss’ boss about work and it seemed like I might have to be

looking for another job.

 

It was “one of those days!”

 

The upswing were the nice labels given to me, they brightened

my mood and took me outside of my own discomfort and nervous

feelings, too. But. . . this didn’t happen to me, until the end of an

extra long day.

 

This would have been nice to have landed on February 2nd, where

the imaginary day would have played out like the actor, Bill Murray’s

day did in the movie, “Groundhog’s Day.” I would have loved to have

been in the young woman’s shoes in the fun and new Hallmark film

shown on television, “I Do, I Do, I Do.” The woman gets to have so

many ‘do-overs’ that she learns to dance, a foreign language and

manages to marry the ‘right’ man in the end.

 

No, my week started with us paper-picking, which is a tedious

process that you fill hampers with car products which normally

you get to see lights lit up which I smile and say, “Pick 1- A” and

then put one of the products under the light into the “A” tub.

 

The ‘system’ was down. It was a long day. As I was turning in my

indirect time sheet which is like a daily log of the up’s and down’s

of my workday, explaining ‘time gaps’ by saying I was ‘cleaning’

which may entail drying a stack of wet, snowy hampers before I

could use them or ‘research,’ which means checking if the stocker

put the right products into the correct slot.’ My most used one is

called, ‘warehouse,’ while I may have to open packaging of eight

scented air fresheners to place one in the bin, or may have to

count out sets of 24 that the stocker dumped out of the boxes,

which is a Royal Pain, when the stores are having rush orders of

asking for 72 or 96 in my six hampers I am pushing along, while

filling on a line.

 

Anyway, after handing in my answers to the ‘Essay Test,’ I was

told I was going to have to start using a wrist computer with a

Blue Tooth feature, which would tell me orders across a screen

and it weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. This may not be a big

deal with some of my younger and possibly bigger coworkers,

but it is strapped onto my left forearm and there is a gadget

which you attach to two of your fingers to scan with. This is used

in a work area that I often mention is not “Pick to Light” but it

involves pushing a cart where you place four hampers up and

down rows in a place called the “Mezzanine.” I have used in this

area for the past six years a Tablet with a scanner. I like this,

since I can play imaginary ‘store keeper,’ scanning products and

placing them into bins.

 

The Tablet, unlike the arm computer, is put on a rack attached

to the cart and has large writing,. You can see the next product’s

location, as you push the cart down the aisles. This is one of

the ‘fun’ places I finish many of my days in a few of the zones.

On our short Fridays, Melvin and I try to beat each other by

running around corners.

if you have ever read, (yes, Mike Lince has often said this is

like a Lucille Ball show, where the center character is me!)

 

I was upset, but managed to say, “Okay, if I must learn this

new tiny printed screen and heavy weighted thing placed upon

my arm, I will try my best.”

 

Two days later, since I did adapt emotionally well to the blue

tooth computer (not so well to the numbness of my thin arm and

wrist area) and was doing fine in what companies consider MOST

importantly: My performance rate was at a 95%.

 

The manager decided to burst my newly found ‘bubble’ and add

on Wednesday; a FEAR. Yes, folks, Robin is afraid to go back to

Heavy Bulk.

 

I am one of three people left in the Bins Order Filler position since

I arrived six years ago. When others have been used and abused by

being asked to daily “cross-over” and “help” heavy bulk, I had done

my eight weeks’ training, failed by running into racks and tipping

pallets of stock over by bumping them in the shipping lanes and had

to be written up with three warnings.

 

My old boss, Jake,  the one I have declared “my very best boss ever,”

(over any teachers, principals or superintendents) due to his ability

to stay calm and be such a patient leader to a variety of people.

He is gone, off to a better position, but he was there during that

disastrous summer fiasco!

 

Jake had finally written me up for the third time, taken a photograph

of the ‘ding’ in a metal rack left and let me stay permanently in the

area of Bins. Now, if you stayed with me through that Hemingway-

esque description and length of run-on sentence, I will tell you I said

to my current boss, and then my boss’ boss,

“I hate my job!”

 

As I dragged my feet down the long walk from Building One to

Building Three later in the day, my coworker, Nick, slowed down

on his center riding pallet rider, the very one I never hoped to

drive again to say,

“Hi Robin! What’s going on, I never see you looking at the floor

as you walk. “(I am not making this up, he is such an intuitive

and kind young man, I have really asked him more than once,

“Do you have a divorced father or widowed grandfather who

would like to casually date me?” He always smiles at this kind

of compliment to him, too.)

 

I rolled my eyes and told him,

“They are really pushing me to cross-train or retrain again and

thinking about placing me in Heavy Bulk with the likes of you!”

 

As I talked to him briefly, I went into my plastic Zip Lock bag

and found the new Juicy Fruit Starburst Gum with tangy cherry

flavor to hand him three pieces. This is an ongoing ‘help keep

the young people around,’ ploy and he gave me a broad smile

in return,

“Thank you so much, Robin!”

 

When I mentioned my appalling and inappropriate employee

behavior to my best friend, Jenny, after work on my cell phone,

she said,

“Oh no! Robin you cannot talk to your bosses like that!

You will get fired!”

 

I answered her, my best friend and retired teacher I dearly love,

“Jenny, you would not last a day in this job. I have adapted, I have

stuck with each request for six long years and I am going to try to get

a better work excuse out of Heavy Bulk from my ophthalmologist.”

 

She replied, “This will just get them to start writing you up over

and over again, until you have enough ‘Points’ (you can get up

to 10 before being fired) to get legitimately fired. Your talking

in such a disrespectful way will get you terminated.”

 

My attitude to the whole thing was to say in response to my

long-time friend of over 20 years, approaching 25 was to say,

“I don’t care anymore.”

 

So, I went above my boss’ boss to the newly positioned CEO

on Wednesday. Ted was someone we have all known who has

risen from the ranks of Order Filler in Florida, having taken

business courses and getting a Bachelor’s down there. To be

finally receiving a Master’s degree (online coursework) and

being recognized for his leadership and good work ethic.

 

I asked Ted a simple question:

“How do I get my eye doctor to write me a prescription you

and others will understand? I have submitted one that has

explained I had narrow eye glaucoma, have had laser surgery

and now wear contacts to help me see the tiny bar codes on

the products and to the best I can with these, see far down

the lanes in the Pick to Light and the Bins area in the Mezz

and the Green Bins areas. It says plain as day in my files,

written with the idea of driving a fork lift and pallet rider,

that I cannot see out of one of my eyes well enough to back

up into shipping. It expresses these two elements: Robin

lacks depth perception due to her monovision.”

 

Ted studied me, he is a fair man, after all. He then put his

hands into a prayer ‘posture,’ and asked,

“Could you get your ophthalmologist to write a clearer

prescription which describes our different equipment?”

 

Exasperated, I told Ted that I would try but added that

he could look up My Summer from Hell, that I spent in

the Heavy Bulk radiators, struts and tailpipes area and

how I was ‘wrangling stuff far bigger than I was’ and how

I lost my Summer bonus, because I was not able to drive

backwards in the narrow lanes on the shipping floor.

 

Ted listened, I give him that.

Again he repeated that I needed a more specific excuse since

“everyone” was being cross-trained back into Heavy Bulk.

 

As I left, I mentioned this fact,

“When I interviewed for this job, I was told I would just

be in the area of the bins and never drive abt equipment. I

did give this a ‘shot’ and failed miserably. How is it that

two of the last older colleagues may use knee surgery and

shoulder surgery to count as good excuses but when I

am afraid of hurting others, using equipment I am not

very capable of handling, due to the safety concerns you

would think that my eyes would be every bit as ‘good’ an

excuse as theirs. . .  I will call Dr. Pappas, leave a detailed

message and hope for the best.”

 

When I left work, I was discouraged. I have really tried

there. I went into the library this time driving directly

there and not parking in the front lot of my apartment

building, trudging here and back by foot. I just wanted

to read and post an upbeat message on Thursday or

Friday. No complaining or ranting.

 

Into my second hour of writing my Premio Dardos post,

I was asked while immersed in my writing by two young

men a question. I had to ‘shake off my dream world of

blogging’ and listen. They looked rather upset and worn

around the edges. One was in a ball cap and the other was

holding two skate boards,

“M’am, would you be able to give us a ride?”

 

I glanced at my neighbor, a woman who is a nurse who is

doing online training, often in the library. She looked at me,

raised her eyebrows, her head turned towards me, back of

her head towards the ‘boys.’

 

I told them I was blogging, needed to be here about an hour,

but afterwards I could drive them. I pointed outside through

the glass partition that separated the computer room from the

lounge chairs and cubicles that people tutor students in and

also, set up their private laptops to do their work,

“If you want a ride, I will try to do what I can as fast as I can,

so you may only have to sit out there for 45 minutes. Where

am I taking you?”

 

Their response reassured me it would only take me 15 minutes

out of my way and it was an older, more familiar territory to

me. Sometimes I just use my ‘gut’ and I did this time. I used

to live there on this street, where the corner had a bakery and

a hair dresser, side by side with a leather works shop. It was

more of a positive way to end my day, than to focus the whole

time on my dumb job problems. I probably wrote distracted

and shortened comments on Wednesday to my fellow bloggers,

since I was really fuming inside. (The repeated rant I kept

carrying in my head, interrupting my writing flow was,

“How much more of this can I take, Lord?”)

 

As the young men walked away, I noticed one has droopy

drawers, which is what is still considered fashionable among

some of the teens around Delaware. It looked like Kanye and

sometimes other rappers still think it is okay to wear, too.

 

The nurse looked at me and asked pointedly,

“Do you KNOW those boys?”

 

I replied, “No, but my son used to ask people for rides,

sometimes still relies on others for them.”

 

She grabbed my arm, not too tightly but more of a warm

touch,

“Honey chile’ you should not give boys or men you don’t

know rides. I will pray for your safety tonight.”

I looked at her computer and saw she was finished with

her program and she handed the headphones back into

the computer room aide. I told her thank you and I did

appreciate her caring about me.

 

I decided to finish up and leave the computer room, go

to the bathroom and give the ‘boys’ a ride. I looked at

them with the one boy having his cap pulled over his face,

slouching in one of the leather chairs while the other, who

had asked me looked up expectantly, asking, “Are you ready

now?” He nudged his skate boarding partner and told him

to get ready to go. I found them waiting outside the women’s

restroom, probably figuring I was making a ‘go at leaving

without them, ‘ but I never purposely go back on a promise.

 

I went to my car and they stood outside while I unlocked it,

asking if I minded their smoking one cigarette while it warmed

up. I didn’t mind and made a joke telling them I had to take a

few moments to clear a seat in the back of the car, adding that

when I had gone to Cleveland to my Mom’s I was given a few

odds and ends to put into my own crowded apartment. I tell

many people about my using the trunk as a kind of ‘shed.’

 

When they got into the car, the one who has asked for the

ride and had been in ‘charge’ of the skateboards said such

a nice compliment,

“Thank you, m’am, we asked probably a dozen people, men

and women in the library and finally were about to give up

and we saw people in the computer room and there you were,

being so kind to us. We would have waited, it got so cold all

of a sudden. Hope you didn’t rush on account of us?”

 

I asked their names, the one who was the speaker of the two,

more outgoing and friendly said,

“My name is Hudson and he is Shane, we went to high school

and have also gone to the JVS. (This is shortened version of

Joint Vocational School, where high school students learn

a variety of skills.)”

 

I told him, “I paint children’s names but have only painted one

‘Hudson’ for the past thirty years and never painted a ‘Shane.'”

 

Shane perked up in the back, looked at my eyes on him through

the rear view mirror. He told me that it was taken as a nickname,

from a movie his grandmother liked, that his real name was

Richard and that Hudson was really named William.

 

I told him I loved the movie, “Shane,” had he seen it?

 

Shane told me he had more than three times watched it with

his grandparents and had made his friend Hudson watch it, too.

 

When I told William that his name was really a nice one and

that Kate and William are making their royal rounds in the

world. Why didn’t he stick with this name? He responded by

saying he ‘hated’ to be called, “Billy” or “Willy.”

 

I told him Will Smith was a cool guy and he carries his name

well.

When I asked what jobs they were going to work in or what

were their hopes for the future, William/Hudson told me he

had learned to cook at JVS and that Richard/Shane had taken

computer classes and was having a hard time finding a job in

that area.

I told Hudson that my son is a morning kitchen manager and

cook at Son of Thurman and it is a great paying job with a good

work environment setting. Explained how James has been in

wonderful places after he finished JVS, like learning how to

be a ‘sous chef’ under a European, German chef and has been

a kitchen manager for another restaurant, as well as plenty of

other ‘worse’ paying and poorer atmosphere places, too.

 

Hudson exclaimed excitedly,

“I know I have heard of James! He is a friend to one of my

older brothers!”

 

All of a sudden, this was a ride meant to be had. It was one of

the best moments of my week. I am getting teary eyed as I type

this, just thinking if I had said, “No, I don’t give rides to strangers.”

 

When I got into my darkened one bedroom apartment, I turned on

ivory colored decorated warmer of scents that my friend Jenny gave

me for Christmas, switched on  the lights on my little tree with birds

and nests, with red and white calico ties on the branches and gazed

at my dining room table in the living room with the burgundy runner,

burgundy covers on my chairs and the lovely pewter candle sticks, with

three large Valentine’s Day cards and several small ones

from the grandies on the table, suddenly. . .

 

“all was right with the world.”

 

 

 

 

* Musical selections:

Here are a few songs which crossed my mind later.

1. “These Days,” by Foo Fighters.

2. “One of These Days,” sung by Emmylou Harris which

talks about being a woman and finding peace.

3. “One of These Days,”  Tim McGraw’s version is about

being bullied and finishes with such a poignant, touching

line, “some day you’re going to love me.”

4. “One of These Nights,” by the Eagles.

5.”These Days,” sung by Rascal Flatts.

6. “These Days,” performed by Jackson Browne.

7. The way people connect in our small town of

Delaware reminds me of John Mellencamp’s song,

“Small Town.”

 

*Art suggestion:

If you would like to see an adorable drawing of a child

throwing up fallen leaves illustrated by Mary Englebreight,

check out this by writing, “Thank God for Small Favors,”

it comes up with a special picture.