Retail at 40: Fantasizing About Strangling Balloons, a Rant.

I haven’t worked in 15 years. I am grateful to have been so lucky as to get a retail job within the first week of girding my fat, anxious, bi-polar diagnosed loins and handing out resumes the old fashioned way. (Store to store in person.) But, wow. Wow. In the past months of working retail at the Buck Stump* I have learned me a Thing or Two. (*name changed to protect…Well….I dunno who. Me. You. Sanity. The world.)

I have amassed a shockingly large amount of pet peeves that will possibly drive me further toward gibbering in a mu-mu whilst screaming at pigeons in my back yard with one hand full of cheap bourbon and a cat in the other. And you know what I thought? (Gosh Pinkatron, I don’t know what you thought. Tell me! ) I thought, why not blog about it? I mean, this will not be news to anyone else that has worked in retail before. But if you’re 16 years old, or 30, or 60, and trying to get back into the job market…Here’s a handy list of things that you’re going to adore and encounter frequently :

The Ziploc Bag of Change and Despair

There’s no one in line. Ah, I think–I can take a moment and get some things done. Maybe–nope.  Suddenly, there’s a cart full of items and a person standing at the register with a bag of change the size of a human head. The customer makes direct eye contact with me while dumping more than 20 items on the conveyor belt, then upends that plastic baggie of time-sucking-vampiric qualities all over the rubber conveyor belt.  The best is that they continue to stare at me as if to establish dominance and fully expecting me to count it. All of it. And as I start plucking up each piece of change from the Portal of Nowhere, there are now seven people in line, with one item behind this customer who now has to wait half a century for me to ring everything up, bag it, count the change, double check, give change (irrrronnnnyyyy), receipt as well as wait for said person to pick up their items and put them in their carts. (I don’t have to load the cart. Thank ODIN. Roll. Your. Change. PLEASE. I am a broke ass cashier working part time, I understand not having money, I really do…Just…just please…Roll your change!

Cashiers have cooties? I guess?

The amount of people that fling their money down at the furthest point on the entire planet—the end of the conveyor belt—which is older than Legend and Myth and takes forever to bring it and the customer’s items to me? Flabbergasting. Top this off with the fact the conveyor belt is rubber, and everything seems to stick completely flat on it, making me spend at least two minutes scrambling pick up the change and bills to peel them away. People…that wastes your time and mine. I could have had you rung up, bagged, and ready to get to the next person much faster. I promise you: I wash my hands constantly. I wash them before work. I wash them at work. I wash them in the bathroom. I wash them when I’m not in the bathroom. I have an industrial sized container of hand sanitizer I use after handing any bills. I also shower frequently. Everyday, and when going to work, before and after work. I triple promise you that I will not infect you with some sort of retail like disease. Please just put your money in my hand. 

“Yeah, uh, I know I have 200 items in my cart and there are 57 people behind me and you’re the only cashier can I get 21 balloons please.”

I don’t understand this curse laid upon me. It never fails that whenever a co-worker or manager is on break or has to run off somewhere arising from the ramen aisles comes a line to the register so long as to have the end of it shrouded in mists. And of course the first one in that line has a cart so full that the wheels tremble beneath the weight. And of course the first thing out of their mouths when I begin ringing them up, sweat forming from pure anxiety along my upper lip I hear these words: these dreaded, evil, awful, gut wrenching words…“Yeah, and, can I get a million balloons, too?” For a moment when they ask, I go away. Far, far away inside. Where it is safe and there are no balloons ever to be blown up ever again. I have to leave the register and go with them to blow up the balloons. Do they have any balloons already picked out by then, by the way? No. Don’t be silly. That would be too easy. The customer will stand beneath the display and squint, point while hem-hawing. They’ll talk about this one or that one. They’ll ask me for a balloon that isn’t even on the display. I tell them we don’t have it. Sometimes they point out which balloon they want then half way through blowing it up change their mind. Listen, it takes so long to blow up balloons. Picking them out? 5 mins at the least. Filling them? 30-50 seconds each. More than one balloon? Having to juggle them all with one hand, and also blowing more up. Customers then usually seem terribly surprised when I won’t stand there holding their 10 balloons with one hand and then try and ring up their items while bagging them with the other. I AM NOT THAT TALENTED ALSO: NOT AN OCTOPUS. I HAVE TWO HANDS. TWO!

Paying a $2 total with a $100 bill.

This isn’t a bank. This is the Buck Stump*. First, there are few businesses outside of a bank that keep $100’s in the till anymore. Second, there are few businesses that keep that much money in smaller bills in the register anymore. Third, we do not, ever, carry that much in a till. And customers trying to pay with a $100 bill will often try to do so immediately when we open. AKA: We haven’t sold a single thing and all I have are 5’s, ones and some pennies in my damn till.  This drives me batty. And when I tell them, “I’m sorry, I don’t have change for that,” the general reaction is a few seconds of distant staring followed by the slow cloud of a wrinkle betwixt their brows either of confusion or growing outrage. 50% of the time they ask me, “Why not?” or tell me, “But that’s all I have?” as if I can somehow magically poop out a bank branch, endless money as well as a teller for them all right at the register. If I am lucky I’ll have some of the best customers in line behind them (not all of them are horrible, thank goodness) who will chime in with a, “You know there’s a bank right around the corner, right?”

Signs? Labels? What are those?

Aisles are labelled. Everyone of them. Items that aren’t on sale or seasonal are 99.9% of the time always in the same place. Sometimes, we do run out of items. (Pro tip: We do not have any of them in the back.) However, the amount of humans that trudge through the very front door, take one look at me—regardless if I have 5400 people in line or 2, and immediately just ask where 1 item is before even turning their eyeballs toward the aisles. And they’re never: a) new customers who had never been there before or c) people who look genuinely lost or confused. No, these people who continually ask where something is are regulars I see multiple times a week.  They don’t want to look, they don’t want to make an effort to remember and they don’t care. It’s store policy that if there’s no one in line I have to, every time, personally lead them to it. And if I can’t find it I have to look with them. The number of times people have glared at me as if I just called their newborn baby a pile of cat turds when I say, “I’m sorry, I can’t find it either. It is either sold out or we haven’t had it restocked yet,” has been too many to count.

Returning an item without a receipt & and the item wasn’t even from our store.

There are some obvious, recognizable general brands sold at the Buck Stump*. The rest of it is very obvious knock off, no name, or not-from-this-country brands. Also, I am not allowed to take any returns or exchanges without a valid receipt. Dated in this century. This isn’t …Mall-part, the giant super store. I am not sure why customers appear so terribly shocked, appalled and bemused when I tell them I cannot exchange and item without a reciept. (Let’s not talk about the number of customers who get very upset when I inform them that our store does not give cash back, or store credit and it says so on the very receipt they hold as well as on a sign at every register) . I’ve also encountered a plethora of people bringing used opened items that aren’t even sold at our store. Seriously? There is no inner glee so joyous however, when a customer insists on speaking to my manager for a return or exchange without a receipt and having the manager say the exact same thing to them that I already told them.

Garbage, discarded items & food.

Actual footage of how 50% of customers treat & shop in my store.

Empty pop cans in the makeup section. An open and half eaten frozen pot pie in the freezer. A package of raisins in the raisin aisle, open and strewn all over the floor. Orange juice that has had one sip taken out of it and placed back in the fridge. None of these items either purchased at the store, or came from the store but eaten there and not paid for. On one hand I feel like telling these mysterious people if you are actually starving and desperate for food I will buy you those raisins, that juice, that soda. On the other, knowing how humanity works, these are simply people who do not give a single fuck at all and do whatever they want. Yes, we do have cameras. Yes, we do see you eating that package of cookies right on the shelf but after. And people know that it is store policy that if an employee doesn’t catch you and keep eyes on you 100% of the time while you are practically stealing there’s nothing we can do. We’re not going to call the police over a can of no-name coke, but I don’t understand how anyone can think this is acceptable unless absolutely desperate for food or drink.

What have (we) I learned about Retail?

Is it always this bad? Are customers always awful in retail? Will you / I always encounter people behaving like this? No. (Praise His Noodly Appendage.) Retail tends to mirror life in all aspects, you’ll end up having good days and bad. The reality is, is that most of your customers are going to be good people. In fact, my ranting above only highlights the worst examples I have run across since starting my job. Whenever I encounter customers who I consider frustrating or annoying or difficult, I repeat to myself that I don’t know these customers personally. I don’t really know what is going on in their lives that day that make them decide to do what they do, and, at the end of my shift? I can literally leave my retail baggage, as it were, right there at the store. I’ve learned at the ripe old age of 40 (Which isn’t really that old but man, have I days where I feel 80,) that separating work and play or work and home is a vital part of simply surviving. Being able to come home to my cats, my husband, fling my bra and pants off in a fit of joy then sitting down and playing my favorite games or MMORPG’s gives me the energy I need to be able to cope with the next day. And if I need a little extra, some D.I.Y self-care in addition to spoilage lets me wipe the rest of the work mental grime away. Also, it really helps I can let off steam here!

In conclusion, don’t be a dick to the people behind the register or counter. We’re real life humans too.

Nature Girl

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return
.

2018. I don’t know what to say about you. I have seen a lot of damages you have done, from political to personal. I have changed. I have not changed. I want to change.

This was the year in which I tried to peter pan my way into adult hood. I got a job. I learned more about humanity than I wanted or needed. I learned.

I realized that one of the social media platforms that I enjoyed the most, Google plus, was going away. I was far more prolific on there than I ever was on this WordPress. I shared so much of my journey living with bi-polar II, adjusting to having my mother-in-law live with us, learning to play Dungeons & Dragons at 40 (a thing I have always wanted to do since I heard rumors of it in my tiny Canadian life back in the 90’s) , and learning that love is the answer. To pretty much everything. And, understanding that not everyone wanted or needed that love.

I spent the year bullet journaling up until November 2018, where I created a page for that month but never filled a single thing in. I posted many instagram shots of monthly bullet journal spreads up until October, where in I drifted from it due to the hectic paces of a retail job and also the fact that I have a horrible habit of starting things and never finishing them.

I have grown. And I have shrunk.

And I have learned that laughing until your stomach hurts and loving until your heart breaks is all that matters. I have learned that I really do suck at writing on my own blog–as I started this in 2018, and this paragraph that you are now reading? I am continuing in June, 2019. And so many things have happened still, since the writing of this article. I am still working in retail, and oh the stories I am thinking of telling! I am still married to the most wonderful man in the world, and, I am still trying to bullet journal.

I have so many ideas about this year, too. Share my art (what little I make), share my journey into makeup by perhaps making videos about my learning at 40 years old and being dead-ass broke. Just…sharing more, and honestly about being broken and whole at the same time.

I can’t believe however, 2019 is half way over and I haven’t made good on my personal promise to start posting here again. Why is it so easy to procrastinate or forget?

I don’t know. I think not knowing is generally what life is about. You never know, you just keep (swimming) learning and going on.

So here’s a toast to 2018, and this half-year of 2019, which has been one weird as fuck trip. I hope I can share more with all of you.

Mr. Dad Worthy

Picture it–(Sicily, 1947)–just kidding, it was probably around 1980-1981. I was roughly three or four years old. I lived in a tiny place in the frozen tundras of Alberta, a province in the great forested wilds of a country named Canada. The town was called Tin Town. Continue reading →

Oh hey, I’m back. Also: Period cat, period cat–

–does whatever a period cat does?

What a way to reintroduce myself back into the world of WordPress and blogging, am i rite guise? It’s been…years. Let’s share a post about my junk and my period cat. GOOD THINKING! …And I’ve been floating in the ether of not doing shit about blogs for a very long time. I think it’s because facebook and google plus are the sugary quick social snacks of my life. And boy have I been stuffing my face. With quick social sites. Also food, but good food. Because I’m eating better. And that’s like, totally another story and post for another day right? ANYHOO–

UTERUS!
OVARIES!
MENSTRUATION STATION!
PERIODS!
CRAMPS!

Okay, now that I have suitably frightened the shit out of those who are squeamish or not willing to read and or discuss anything that has to do with monthly lady business…

I have a period cat.

Mel, you ask, what the hell is a period cat? And I’ll say: I’m so glad you asked. LET ME TELL YOU.

Usually, women are much smarter about their periods than I, on the whole. I didn’t get into actually trying to track my monthly RED WEDDING until a few YEARS ago–when I realized that HOLY GOD SOME SMART MOFOS made TRACKING APPS! I COULD GET WARNED BEFORE THE DESTROYER CAME TO TOWN! Or at the very least, since my period is about as predictable as I am–a general consensus of when and where I should be ready to shut down and feel like I am dying for a week so I can plan and prepare.

I’m not sure when it happened. And it took me a long time to clue in. But–here’s the thing: we have five cats. The oldest, and crankiest, and craziest is named Flora. Flora is a tiny little black cat who the Vets she goes to–to my CONSTANT delight (I love it), have sweetly nicknamed her SATAN KITTY. We think Flora is half siamese. She has that very, very, very distinctive siamese nose and triangle head–but is all black (or all very deep brown in direct sunlight.) She is a very nutty, bitey, scratchy, hissy loveable cat. Not all cats are super affectionate love bugs, and we at Casa De Pence are ok with that. Hell, Shawn owned a cat before we got married–and had her years after–that hid 18 hours of the day behind the bed and only came out to let us pet her, use the litter box, eat, and hide again.

Flora is …”particular”.

She WANTS your attention and affection, yes. But only how SHE wants it. And the secret is: she never tells us how. Somedays you can pet her head and scritch the side of her face for hours until she turns into a liquid. Some days she allows you to pet her for EXACTLY 4.5 pets and then she freaks out and wants to devour your soul. That’s just how she is.

But for the last few years, she’s taken, to what I thought was randomly, sleeping directly on my pillow a few nights out of the month. Sometimes its just one night. Sometimes it’s two-three. And when she does, she will LITERALLY take up the entire pillow by loafing smack dab in the middle leaving me no room but a corner to either nuzzle her forepaws, or have her ass warm the top of my head. And she WON’T budge.

After she has done this catly duty, she won’t be seen on the bed again for another month-ish.

And recently I realized that she has been doing this, on the dot, 1-3 days before I get my period.

Literally, if she is on my pillow, I don’t even have to look at my period tracker app anymore because if I see her on my pillow I know THE STORMS A’COMIN’.

Some people use the calendar. Some people use a tracker. Some people don’t use anything. Me? I get a period cat.

Consumer BEWARE: Brian Davis Septic Company

  If you live in the Palm Bay/Viera/Melbourne area in Florida, USA and you  own or have an aerobic septic system in  your home? Consumer BEWARE of the Brian Davis Septic Company! Read this!  Continue reading →

April Fools

April 2nd, huh. You missed out on the really fun shenanigans that often happen during April fools by only a day. That means that, depending on how you felt and how dad felt, April fools jokes were still going to be played whether you wanted them or not. I don’t remember all the April’s Fools the two of you played with me and with each other. Continue reading →

The Phat Cave

Once upon a time there were two phat geeks. They met and fell in love in a magical way over a series of ensorcelled tubes before meeting face to face. Their life was filled with cats, birds and the Land of Internet. They lived humbly for a long time with their parents and dreamed simple dreams. When they were able to, they rented a small space away from their parents in a hot and treacherous jungle named BugLandia, occasionally called Florida. The space was fine at first, but then they found three little green and blue feathered souls that needed rescuing and then the space wasn’t so much space as it was living in a giant bird cage with bird cages within it.

They dreamed of a place of their own with just a little more space. Not much. Just a bit. They never ever in their wildest dreams thought they could afford anything really nice, like some of the other castles and fortresses in BugLandia, so when they began looking the looked at rustic little cottages that needed much roof-thatching and rebuilding.

They had an awfully hard time of it. Every choice was either too much expense to fix or missing important things like…toilets…entire kitchens. Walls.

It was a long journey on Sundays Untold for what seemed like forever–three–months and they kept saying, “Maybe,” to the magical lady who showed them these places but ultimately it turned into no.

And then one day the planets aligned an a unicorn came down from the misty heavens leaving a trail of sparkles and those little marshmallows from that cereal with the leprechaun that has a lot of issues with his charms.  The sun parted and harps played and they found The One. 

They found a place to call home. Something far beyond their wildest dreams and perfect for them.

With the enchantment of their own pudgy feet they moved from their tiny place to the castle.

And they called this land, “The Phat Cave.” There were no sudden or inevitable betrayals.

They lived weirdly and phatly ever after.

[box type=”info”] On April 25th 2013 we finalized an offer on a home and moved out of our apartment. I am so happy and tired and tirappy I could explode into glitter bombs. [/box]

 

Beautiful Gold Spam: Age of Wushu

Quick and Dirty, ladies and gents–a why and why for, about Age of Wushu: a free to play world PVP kung-fu MMORPG.
(Immature giggling goes here)

Does this dress make my flowers look big?

Does this dress make my flowers look big?

Why you should play Age of Wushu

  • If you are a fan of ancient china, chinese mythologies, the ancient kung-fu movies or wuxia dramas then you are going to enjoy looking at Age of Wushu.
  • Despite being run on a graphics engine a bit out of date enough to rely on bloom, it’s still gorgeous and many places feel as if they sprung out of painted scenes.
  • One of the better kung-fu/Martial arts F2P out there
  • World PVP (after a certain level) adding an edge to danger to everything
  • Crafting is a viable source of income and helpful to progress
  • Team Practice your Kung-Fu with fellow Kung-fu practicioneers to ‘speed’ the experience of your deadly arts
  • Belong to a school (Wudang, Emei, Shaolin, Beggars, Royal Guards and so on) and enjoy benefits from belonging to a group
  • Spy on enemy/different schools and earn rewards and experience.
  • Be evil: Kidnap people and sell them, all while maniacally laughing and stroking your whiskers.
  • Pay for being evil: repent your sins (if you are part of a good aligned school) at the temple or go to jail to pay for your crimes of PKing and kidnapping!
  • Pick up the arts: learn calligraphy, learn painting, learn chess, poetry or music
  • Protect and escort supplies between important families or individuals of import
  • Save the girl or guy
  • Win friends
  • Farm, mine, fish, chop wood, skin animals, cook food, make poisons, heal through herbs, weave clothe, make legendary weapons
  • Find a guild: go to war, make an alliance, group up and roll out
  • There is never nothing to do.

I could, like, sit here all day, man

I could, like, sit here all day, man

Why you shouldn’t play Age of Wushu

  • It’s a free to play game and so some of the unique issues that always seem to crop up in f2p’s do.
  • Gold spam everywhere. In all the channels so far except school channels (as far as I have observed). You can put them on ignore (add them to blacklist) but that gets full in a day. That solution isn’t viable.
  • Punks everywhere: f2p seems to bring out the best and the worst more so than anything else. You will get punked at sometime, anytime, especially by yourself. There will always be those guys that smell new player from a mile away and swoop in on their epics and kill you in one click thinking they all that and a bag of tea.
  • With that in mind: if you get upset easily by being pk’ed by kids or people having a bad day, right off the bat “open pvp world,” should turn you away.
  • The cash shop isn’t pay to win–it’s pay to level faster basically. Mounts, bags, extra warehouse, all of this isn’t permanent. Mounts and bags last a set amount of days (100, for example.) Bags currently are purchased from players or picked up from drops only, mounts are cash shop or random quest rewards (as far as I can tell), and the only current way to get extra warehouse space (bank space) is to pay Snail Games real cash money dollar bills for in game gold to become a VIP member to expand it. Plus, as a VIP member, you “cultivate,” your Kung-fu off line and faster than those who play free. (Cultivate = experience = level it up, pretty much.) Right now, there aren’t any pills, buffs, exp medicines or the like in the shop either. So like I said, it’s not so much pay-to-win as it is pay-to-get-to-win-faster. (I could be wrong! Feel free to let me know in comments!)
  • Solo play is going to be difficult. Without a guild to help you with instances or fighting off random player killing, the casual gamer or gamer who likes to explore all the areas and things might find it a challenge.
  • Grind fest. No matter how fun everything is–or how fun I find it–I know it’s going to be a grind to get it anywhere better. I know it, and the game doesn’t even bother to hide how many hours of repetition I’m gonna put into it to get it there. I guess it’s almost a positive the game doesn’t hide it?
  • Lost in translation: I believe that some of the better aspects of the game may have been lost in the translation from Chinese to English. Quest descriptions are abrupt and in some cases appear to have nothing to do with the quest they are giving you. Your quest tracker and the ability to click-auto-path is going to be awesome for some.

Within the school of Emei

Within the school of Emei

So should I try it or not?

It’s a free game that despite it’s very real and very obvious flaws to an American market; is trying its best to carry its weight. And it’s doing okay. I think that Age of Wushu is one of those free-to-play games that fits a niche market and not a broad one to appeal to everyone. And that’s okay, I think that there needs be more games happier to cater to a wildly loyal few than try and appeal to a broad mass and fail. Whether Age of Wushu will collapse under it’s gold spam and free to play is something we will have to see. As it stands, I think it’s a remarkable game for free to play and Martial Arts and one that it cannot hurt to be tried.