Huh. Turns out this is going to be right on the original topic--but completely in a different thrust than most of my posts. And it may go off on some tangents. I dunno.
In principle, I don't hate my part time job. In fact, I kind of like it and it is scary how much previous slacker jobs have prepared me for it. To recap I spent my life--up to around age 39, trying to land my "dream, grown-up" job--and managed it. IT contractor supporting job sites for a major national construction company. In the Marines I did deployed IT support and planning, so providing telecommunications to organizations in...austere...environments with no infrastructre right up my alley. In fact my last job was for an Engineer Support Battalion, so I even had experience on the construction side. But it only lasted 6 months or so. The company I was employed by wasn't really what they said they were and the company we were working for really hadn't bought into using contractors--and was completely not structured to do what they were trying to do. My boss gave me a different role for awhile but the writing was on the wall.
So when I got a job offer out of the blue--literally days after I got laid off--I took it. I'd applied for a management job with a marketing company earlier. They didn't have anything but they wondered if I wanted an entry level job. It penciled out to about the same amount as unemployment and I feel like it would be bad karma to pass on an unexpected job offer when you're unemployed so I took it. Retail reset merchandising for a major West Coast supermarket chain (again, as a contractor). I was part of a team and we had 20 or so supermarkets we supported. Every month we'd get a new list of store categories--toothpaste, cheese, chips, etc--that were being updated and we'd go to each of our stores and reconfigure the displays overnight. Eventually this transitioned into my second *almost* dream grownup job--actually designing the categories on a computer for the reset teams--but that's another story.
When I moved to Kentucky, I took a job with UPS. Started out loading trailers that go to the intermediate delivery hubs. So, say, Carhart would ship all their packages to our location and then from there they'd go on trucks to Chicago or Iowa or San Diego or wherever to get eventually loaded onto the delivery vans. They made me a supervisor pretty quickly and I wound up in a capacity to training employees how to stack packages better so more boxes would fit in a trailer and less boxes would get damaged in transit. I was quite good at it if I say so myself, but the culture changed and eventually it was time to move on.
Did manufacturing for a couple years. That really isn't relevant other than it teaches you how to hustle and work top speed for a full shift. Wouldn't have left that except that the hours got miserable--they went to 3 shifts on our line. Since a day is 24 hours and a shift is 8 hours, they cut out our unpaid 30 minute lunch and you were supposed to work 8 hours with a 10 minute break and a 20 minute break. The kicker is, since they hadn't hired and trained up a 3rd shift yet, they were requiring an hour of overtime. So 30 minutes of break during a 9 hour shift. I was making about enough that I decided to leave and try retiring. That pretty much catches us up to the start of this thread.
Well a month or two ago I decided I really wasn't making enough from rentals yet, so I looked for a part time job that wouldn't require too much commitment. Reapplied with my old retail marketing company but didn't hear back from them. Applied for a merchandise reset position with the other big box hardware chain and didn't hear back from them. So I applied for a night receiving position with the other big box hardware store and got hired. Of course the day after that I found another house that I was able to buy so--once again--I find myself trying to balance a job, a personal life, and renovating a house where just weeks earlier all I had on the plate was playing with my dog.
I do like the job. The company has a nice mix of a lot of the things I've liked about previous employers without a lot of the things I disliked. And I get to help people and solve problems. BUT... I have to deal with the other employees.
I'm getting ahead of myself. About 3 days a week, around the time the store is closing, a truck shows up loaded with a mix of inventory. I come in, clock in. Take a quiz or two on the computer and read a couple e-mails about how the store is doing on sales and then I go help unload the truck. There's a collapsible roller rack that unrolls into the truck to load product on to send out of the truck. There are pallets laid out on the receiving floor and other people take the boxes from the end of the rollers and put them on the appropriate pallet, based on the sticker on the box. Sometimes there are palletized items, so we collapse up the rollers and move them out of the way to unload with a forklift. As pallets fill up, other workers use pallet jacks to take them to the part of the store where they are sold. Once the truck is empty, we all get little tablet scanners and go around for the rest of the night, opening up the shipping boxes and stocking the shelves with product. All in all, the work appeals to me. BUT...
It is frustrating, because I'm the smartest person on the team, with the most experience doing what we do. And the truth is that a lot of people in this kind of job really don't give a crap about doing a good job. Or they haven't had training on how to unload a truck or stack boxes. And you might think "how hard is it to stack boxes?" It isn't. But there is a whole art and science to stacking boxes *well* so that the stack doesn't fall over when you move it and you can load a lot of items into a finite space. Literally, there's at least a dozen steps to it. I used to be able to recite them from memory, but that was years ago. But I still remember the basics. Most people will just set a box the closest, easiest place on the pallet. This screws up the pallet and makes for a teetering unstable mess that you can't fit a lot of items on. Some people just don't know how to stack boxes. I've actually moved boxes around to create a better load, only to come back with a new box to see people rearranging the work I just did into a worse setup. They don't know how to unload a truck efficiently either. That wasn't my area at UPS, but we were trained on it and as a supervisor I'd have to help out in that department on occasion. They don't set up the rack right, which causes the boxes to jam up. They don't keep the rack close to where they're working, and they don't use a load stand to reach items at the top of the trailer. And since I'm an entry-level new hire, I don't have the authority to teach anyone how to do any of that--or compel them to after they've been taught.
Shit, even stocking the shelves. I'll grab a shopping cart and throw as many boxes as I can into it. But there's a science to that too. You take a minute to look at the pallet and if there's a number of the same item, you grab all of them and get them all done at once. You try to group the stuff your taking so you aren't going back and forth between aisles. I've watched people take 1 or 2 of something and a different item and then have to come back and repeat the whole process multiple times (the little tablet thing has a scanner and the shelves have barcodes so you check items into inventory as you load them onto the shelves). You load items into your cart so the barcode is accessible. A guy that got hired with me was "helping" me last night. And I like the guy. He works hard and has a good personality. But he's not very smart--I mean, like he can't figure out how to clock in and out (to be fair it is on a computer with an employee # and password, not a badge and punch-clock). So I'm loading up a cart to put away merchandise and he "helps" by loading in boxes--and he consciously and intentionally turns the boxes as he loads them into the cart so that the barcode is facing down and is unscannable without having to pick up and move the box. To be fair, this isn't entirely his fault. They gave us a ton of training, but the training isn't really geared towards what we do. A lot of it is customer service, shoplifting, using the computer systems, HR, emergencies, etc. If it were my place, I'd skip a whole lot of it and focus on efficient unloading of a truck, loading pallets, and then transferring items from the pallets to the shelves.
But it *isn't* my place. And I don't want it to *be* my place. I just want to do my job, do it well, get paid, and not have the hassle and responsibility of managing other employees. Kind of the John Galt school of employment. Is it bad that I'm working at a capacity below what I'm capable of? I don't think so. Because I'm not in the business of building a career in hardware--or anywhere else. I just want to make enough money to pay bills until I have enough passive income that I don't need to punch a clock ever again.
Whew. That was long. But it didn't really ramble or go off the rails much. I write good when I try. Well, that said, I see I should've had lunch an hour ago, I have to walk my dog before lunch, I've got lots to do this weekendm and I'm still in my jammies. I'd better get going.