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11/29/11

FedEx Seasonal Package Handler Day 16

The size of our dock is just a little smaller than the average big box store. Its main frame is made out of wood. This is something that Bo, one of my co-workers, finds problematic. 

"It could catch on fire so easy," he said one day. 

Joseph followed up on that with, "Oh yeah, one flame and it's gone up in smoke."

FedEx does not own this space, by the way. It's rented. 

Bo is at least six feet, a Caucasian with a buzz cut, and is overweight. He wears prescription glasses and black work gloves with hard plastic knuckles. He's formerly of the Army. Joseph is a man in his early sixties, of Mexican descent, moustache and goatee and short, black pepper hair. He is formerly of the Air Force, where he entered because of his then-20-10 vision. In the Force he was called Eagle Eye.



There are unloading bays along two walls, but we only use the ones on the northern end for now. I venture to say that something like five semi-trucks are unloading at any one time. One, or two (usually one), package handler enters the truck box to unload. A conveyor belt is inserted into the box, the packages load it and the boxes come rolling down and out. These handlers are expected at least 1000 packages per hour. The boxes are eventually sorted into one of five rolling belts numbered from 100 to 500. My station for now is the 200 belt, where I work with Joseph, Bo, Zeb, and Charles. Our job is relatively simple, to move the boxes to the correspondingly numbered pallet. 

Just in front of the pallets are the FedEx drivers and deliverers, in front of their opened FedEx truck rear doors. Even though these drivers are uniformed in FedEx apparel and usually drive FedEx decorated trucks, they are not FedEx employees. FedEx, unlike UPS and the United States Postal Service, hires their drivers as Independent Contractors. As such, these men and women are not entitled to overtime, health insurance, or any of the other benefits afforded full-time employees. 


FedEx employees, by the way, such as myself, the floor managers, or the office administrators, are entitled to a range of benefits in addition to, insurance for example. FedEx offers us special discounts with a panoply of companies. For example, Sprint mobile customers receive a 20% discount off their monthly bill. On the other hand, job benefits are only available to full-time employees, which I am not. I am an "at will" seasonal worker. 

Peak season is upon us. In the first two weeks of my work here, the average number of packages we had to sort altogether was 12,000. This seems to have increased recently by at least one thousand. Today there was a steady sound of boxes falling from the belts on to the floor due to backing up of the belts. In fact, today (like a few days ago), they asked the unloaders to stop working so that the sorters could catch up. 




As a result of this increase volume, starting hours have changed from 5:15am on Tuesdays and Fridays to 5:05, and 5:35am the remaining week to 5:15am. This is great news for me, and those like me, because we can work at least two hours now, and maybe three. The way I see it, one hour of the time I work is just to get me there, and back home each day. Only the money I make after $10 can I direct towards expenses. So this aspect is less depressing recently, taking home more than $10 each day. 




Today I worked three hours. I hope the same for tomorrow, and more afterward. And of course, I hope for a full-time job if not here at FedEx Ground, then somewhere and preferably closer to home


11/26/11

Gallos

sapplpp.org


En el jardín trasero, mis padres mantienen un gallinero que hace pared con la cerca de madera del vecino. Es un espacio de, aproximadamente, un  metro y medio por cinco metros. La superficie de tierra tiene dos niveles. Sobre el nivel superior está, en rigor, el gallinero, una caja grande de madera con una entrada principal y aperturas grandes en los lados inferiores para ventilar. Aquí se meten la mayoría, pero no todas, de las gallinas, por la noche. Ahí ponen sus huevos.

A lo largo del corral y sobre la parte superior, además del gallinero hay tres árboles cada metro: un limonal, un huaje y un aguacatal. Son alrededor de una docena de pollos, en total, con tres gallos. Algunos de los pollos se montan en las ramas del limonal—pero no de los otros árboles frutales—para dormir y descansar.

arbol de huaje/oaxaca.wikispaces.com

En la superficie inferior del corral no hay más que tierra. Ese espacio asemeja a una zanja que pega con el pie de la cerca café-oscura del vecino, y de hecho, ésta función cumple cuando llueve. Comunica a los arroyos de agua hacia la avenida que queda a unos veinte metros.

Ahorita mismo, ya es la 1:30pm, aquí en la esquina suroeste extrema de Aztlán. Ha llovido en días recientes. Pero hoy, el día después del Día de Acción de Gracias, el cielo está despejado, el sol brilla iluminatoriamente y el viento sopla con una temperatura, adivinada, de 18 grados Celsio.

Hace cinco horas, cuando primero salí de mi cuarto en busca de aire fresco, mi mamá, que estaba en el patio trasero laborando cosechando limones y moviendo tierras alrededor de otros árboles, me preguntó mientras se paraba junto a su comadre Marcela, 

Ma / cholericserpent.blogspot

---¿Qué vamos a comer hoy?

---Lentejas, ahí hay, le contesté
---Y lentejas ¿con qué? Esas solas no van a alcanzar, me replicó.

Y en esto tenía mucha razón porque sus hombres, Enrique, José y yo, tenemos grandes apetitos.

Me quedé perplejo. No sabía qué contestar, al mismo tiempo de que se me hacía agua la boca en tan sólo pensar en el almuerzo que nos esperaba más tarde. Pero tampoco me preocupé porque los refrigeradores y las despensas están bien surtidas, en la parcela abundan los chayotles maduros, y por si todo esto fuera insuficiente, mi madre nunca falla en ingeniar algún platillo, aunque lo reúna de sobrantes descansando en distintas partes de la cocina.

Me pasé las primeras dos horas dentro de mi cuarto entretenido con mi rutina matutina incluyénte de recoger mi cuarto, lavar mis trastes, abrir mis cortinas y ventanas, cambiarle el agua a las flores, leer, bañarme, cambiarme, ponerme mono y rezar. 

Terminando todo esto, salí al patio trasero en camino al automóvil de mi madre, en cuya cajuela ella guarda los trapos para hacer limpiezas domésticas. Así se gana el pan. Dentro de mi cuarto, habían varias superficies empolvadas necesitadas de una mano de gato con el trapo y algún detergente.

Dos horas más tarde después de inicialmente haberme preguntado qué ibamos a comer, ella ya había decidido.

Antes de llegar a su automóvil Toyota RAV, color dorado, ella me saludó y me reclutó para entrar al corral y atrapar a dos gallos. Pero aún antes de encaminarme hacia la cajuela del RAV, me había pasado cuando menos diez minutos entretenido enseñándole vocabulario castellano a Jael (pronunciado “Llael”), el hijo de siete años de mi primo José, un pintor de casas. 

Jael / cholericserpent


Le enseñé las siguientes palabras y conceptos: cerca de madera, manguera de hule, pala de madera y metal, nopal y llave hidráulica. Jael estaba junto a mí cuando mi mamá me dijo, con una sonrisa

--Ayúdame a agarrar un gallo ¿no?



No fui exitóso en mi primer intento, desde mis visitas infantiles a los hogares rurales de mis abuelos en Oaxaca y  Veracruz, por atrapar a un gallo dentro de su corral. La doble superficie terrenal del corral, junto con el estorbo de las ramas de los arboles frutales, fueron mis obstáculos. Pero el impedimento mayor fue, simplemente mi citadinidad. No tenía ni la experiencia ni el temperamento para atrapar a un ave semi-doméstica y semi-salvaje. Me resbalé y caí tres veces en el lodazal en mis intentos, embarrándome de lodo y caca de aves y sudé, todo en vano.

gallo / cholericserpent

Jael, otro ser criado en suburbia, que antes, al comer pollo, a veces del supermercado, otras del rosticero y otras de establecimientos como KFC y Popeye’s, no sabía de donde provenían los pollos, tampoco corrió con suerte. Pero él, más agil y suficientemente pequeño para que no le estorben los árboles, jamás se cayó. 

La diferencia más importante entre él y yo, en nuestro afán por atrapar a los gallos, fue que él, en realidad, nadamás estaba jugando a “atrapar a los gallos.” Solamente le gustaba acorralar a las aves, pero no se lanzaba a agarrarlas. En realidad, tenía miedo.

Mi madre, defínitivamente aún menos agil que Jael, pero criada en un pueblo, atrapó al primero y José, de carácter osado y quizás con experiencias cazadoras durante su niñez en Guadalajara, atrapó al segundo. Pero no sin antes enseñarle a su hijo, cómo sostener a un gallo atrapado y obligarle a vencer a su miedo y hacerlo.

Tan sólo algunos quince minutos después de atrapar a las aves, ya estaban muertas y en medio de ser desplumadas. La comadre Marcela, criada en la zona Costa de Oaxaca, fue la verduga de los gallos. Yo ya estaba de regreso en mi cuarto, en donde disfruto de una señal fuerte e inalámbrica al Internet y de una computadora portátil modelo Lenovo, pero durante una salida a la cocina para abrirme una sandía, me informó Marcela que ya estaban muertos los gallos y me mostró un cuchillo embarrado de fresca sangre. 



Son 2:15pm del mismo día. Después de dos horas de labor, de mi madre, con los pollos muertos, la comida ya casi está lista.

En el mismo transcurso de éste tiempo, Enrique ha avanzado, con la ayuda de José (y Jael), en su proyecto de drenaje iniciado con el afán de agregarle otra habitación al hogar. Por mi parte,
terminé el aseo de mi habitación y mi baño, continue desarrollando mis perfiles profesionales en LinkedIn y Monster, revisé una traducción y continue comiéndo sandía comprada en el mercado al aire libre hace dos días.

¡Ya está el caldo!

11/22/11

Seasonal Package Handler Week 3

www.glassdoor.com
I started on November 8. The first two days of work were training and filling out forms. The first hour, we watched a video discouraging efforts to unionize. According to the video 1) unions are "private businesses" 2) unions are taxing on a worker's income because they charge union dues and 3) it's simply better to work non-unionized. 

Towards the end (of a three to four hour period) we did nothing but complete and sign paperwork. These forms included perennials, like the W-9 and your statement of right to work in the United States. Other forms that I was not so familiar with included one that stipulated that the employee never represent the company, through speech, writing, or otherwise, in a "negative" way. I don't remember if we had to sign a statement to that effect, or if we simply read a form with this expectation.
I trained with three other men, all Caucasians. I found the last form to be the most interesting. Our trainer, Chandra, stated that filling it out and signing it was optional. In summary, she explained, by completing the form we would give FedEx Ground (a FedEx subsidiary) an opportunity to receive a tax break. I knew what it was about. It's the form where you tell your employer if you are on any kind of welfare, and if so, which. 

In hindsight, I appreciate how Chandra informed us that the form was optional. Nowhere else where I have worked before has it been presented as so. At Go-Staff Agency and California Marketing, they just threw it at you with the rest of the paperwork like it was mandatory. 

Call it passive aggression, call it a failure of team spirit, but I did not feel like providing a global conglomerate a tax break, and thus, exercised my choice not to complete it. And it was not one form. It was an entire packet. Larry, Moe, and Jack, my fellow trainees dutifully filled out the forms.

Another order of business was where we (again, optional) would sign away our right to a 30 minute lunch break in the middle of the shift, move it to the end of our work day, with the symbolic carrot of getting to leave for home early. 

This is how Chandra framed the choice. It was, by the way, tacitly agreed that the default best choice was to give away the midday break: 

"Think about it this way, guys. Do you want to take your break at mid shift and stay a whole extra hour here, or would you rather leave early!?" said Chandra, suggesting that the question was really a non sequitur and that, surely anyone who didn't sign was mentally retarded. 

From my point of view, I'd rather have something to eat in the middle of the day (and take my time to eat it) then repress my hunger throughout the work shift so that at the end of the day I may have to rush home in order to eat. Basically, for me, it was about my right to relax and take a break midday. Get away from the frenzy for a bit. And finally, if I wait all day to eat, I'm more vulnerable to buy something on the way home (an extra expense) or to gorge when I get home. 

At some point during the training, we were given a pamphlet titled "Passport to Safety," which was a brochure all about how to to not get hurt at work. FedEx Ground insists that the MOST important thing to them, over and above profits and share values, is that we are safe at work. This is probably why Chandra chose to skip the part of the Passport that instructed each trainee to show our supervisor that we had mastered proper package lifting techniques. I asked her about it, just to see her and my fellow trainees' reaction.
"Chandra, are we skipping the lifting demonstration?" I asked, in my most innocent, I-didn't-do-it voice. 

I could tell it kind of bothered her, kind of put her on the spot, maybe even laid a bit of guilt on her. 

Her reply was sardonic: "Why, do you want to?" She chuckled at the end of her question, and my fellow trainees followed suit. 

"No," I said, in the same endearing, innocent tone of voice. 

At FedEx Ground we are supposed to live by its Purple Promise, to "make every FedEx experience outstanding." According to our training, what this means for us package handlers is to 1) always use a "hand to surface" method in handling packages and 2) handle ONLY one package at a time. The "hand to surface" method means that you never throw or drop a package (not even from one inch up) when handling it. Instead what you do is, using proper lifting methods, you bring the package down to the surface until your hand meets the surface. Then you let go. Why? To avoid damaging any contents. We are shown videos of package handlers caught recorded off guard, throwing packets as examples of FedEx Ground sacrilege. 

In practice, these Purple Promise requirements are degraded to "suggestions." In the rush of the moment, first of all, packages of all sizes routinely fall off the rollers and onto the ground because the belts simply become overwhelmed. Second, as we hustle to move the constant stream of packages onto the appropriate pallets, handling "one package at a time," and always using "hand to surface" methods, are laughable luxuries that only a CEO dictating from his 50th floor, air-conditioned office, could afford to fancy. 

And speaking of CEO's! (www.cnbc.com)
My second supervisor, a tall, young Latino who I'll refer to as Barker, burst my Purple Promise-inspired bubble when, on my first day of work, after looking over my shoulder for a few minutes, stepped in and barked: 

"What you do is you scan down the belt and find common labeled packages! Then you stack them and carry them to the pallets! That way you take care of two, or three, at a time! Right now you are at the average pace of 150 packets per hour!"

Barker demonstrated with a tinge of violent, angry movement to his body, and then stormed away, with vapors of indignation floating off his skin. He left the same way he had arrived, like a tornado. 

Friday, November 18 was my first payday. $120. Half of it went to Costco gasoline immediately. $10 of it went to my date with Kelle. 

11/21/11

"Running is against my religion!": a (preliminary) date




This is Kelle's, the woman I went out with tonight's dating and romance philosophy (via text message): 


"I believe in friendship first . If you still click after the first few weeks then it's worth it, jumping in while the butterflies still are floating on acid usually ends in tragedy."


I prefer to avoid tragedy and this made a lot of sense to me, and in-between these lines was a tacit desire to give it a whirl, so I restated my initial invitation  to attend the Svetlana Smolina concert together.


To which she accepted and then canceled the day of the concert at 4am via text message: 


"I am not going to make it. I just got home. Sorry about waking you up, but if I didn't text you now it would be too late by the time I get up." 

Hence the first lesson about trying to date someone considerably younger than you. At my mid-thirties, I no longer stay out 'til 4 am partying. But people in their early twenties do.


But serendipitously today, she asked me if I was doing anything in the late afternoon, and we made up for the missed coordination yesterday. 

She took the Sprinter from Escondido and we met at Vista Transit Center at 4:30pm for and open-ended, tragedy-avoiding prelim date. Our rendezvous began with a practical joke, on her part. 


I thought it would be Hollywodesque to be waiting for her on the light-rail train platform as she arrived. But somehow, she managed to slip from my view when she got off from the train and stood a few meters behind me while I waited at an empty platform thinking that she had missed the train to be there at 4:30pm. But when I checked my phone a text message read:


"You running late?" 


Running late? No. I got here early for a Hollywood start to our afternoon: the chivalrous man waiting for his lady friend on the train platform. I thought to myself. 


I was glad that she wasn't late, though, and pressed "call" on my phone to speak with her and find out where she was. But I was puzzled. Where could she be, unless she came by bus after all? But no! She said she'd be here on the Sprinter. 


Then, as my phone connected, I heard a phone ring behind me. I turned around, and there she was, smiling mischievously. 


She looked good. I looked into her eyes, and felt like I was lying on downy blue sheets twirling in the wind under a clear blue sky. That's how pretty they are. 


The afternoon was cool, and still moist from yesterday's sheet thick rain. I told her I enjoyed this weather and she looked at me incredulous. 


"You must not be from San Diego." (Wrong) "San Diegans don't like this weather" (True enough. San Diegans are notorious weather wimps). 


"I love this weather" (See, I am different.) "It's cool, but not too cold. Comfortable." 


"I like this weather too." Kelle, my lovely friend, is from the Pacific Northwest. I love getting to know people that are not from this place. 


Just then I noticed that the wide avenue crosswalk light had just switched from white to flashing red. If we didn't cross then we could be stuck at the intersection at least ten minutes. 


"Should we cross now? Let's cross!" I said before jumping in front of a car and began walking very fast. She followed suit out of mere osmosis but protested:


"You are not making me run. Running is against my religion!" This statement would turn out to be beautifully ironic in the final stretch of our time together. And for the time being, we were already on the other side before she finished her anti-running protest. I like making people do things against their professed religions. 


I ordered yerba mate and she a vegan soup and sandwich at the Yellow Deli. When the order arrived, she shared the soup and sandwich, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I began to wonder if Kelle was vegan, which she soon clarified. Not that I directly asked. 


"I'm not vegan. But I really enjoy vegan food. You do know what vegan is, right?" 


She actually asked that, to a college-educated lifelong resident of the New Age hub that Southern California is.


In the interim, I learned how to use the above-photographed item (a French coffee mug). You press down on the pump to sift your tea, or coffee. I had never seen, or used one. But Kelle, it turned out, has used them all her life because coffee is big in the Pacific Northwest. 


"It rains and is cold a lot in the PNW, coffee is hot, so we drink a lot of coffee." 


Coffee-drinkers are like an alien nation to me. Strangely, I feel this way both because the United States of America is a coffee-drinking nation and because I don't drink coffee at all. Only on special occasions, like after I haven't had any in five years. Then I'll try it just to remember what it feels like, to see what all the fuss is about. 


"I often walk out of my house with a coffee mug in my hand. Not a coffee thermos, although I have those, a coffee mug," shared Kelle with me. 


We left the Yellow Deli about 5:30 and started on a stroll that took us by a flag pole, about which Kelle, a former service member, pointed out the improper protocol which the City of Vista regards it with. 


"If you are going to have a flag up after dark, you put a spotlight on it! It's a lack of respect if you don't!" 


We talked about flags, U.S. and Mexican ones. She told me all about military flag protocol, including procedures like the revella and how when the flag is being raised, or lowered, every one on base stops what they are doing and orient themselves towards Old Glory. 


The only flag story I had was when one time in Mexico City's Zocalo I watched a platoon lower a giant Mexican flag without letting it touch the sooty ground, and while wearing soft white gloves. At midnight that same day, I watched neo-Mexicas honor the end of the era of the Fifth Sun with different national symbols: conches, incense, and rattlers. And one more thing had happened that day. The Zapatistas had filled the giant Zocalo in the last speech of their brief Mexico City occupation. All of this, I told Kelle from the PNW. 


Just under one hour later, we were standing on the wrong side of the avenue of the Vista Transit Center because the pedestrian lights were on red and the bells of her Sprinter signaling its eminent arrival were ringing. When the lights went white Kelle--irony of ironies--made a dash for it. Our preliminary date ended with Kelle breaking her religious precepts again. 


Now I was the one with a mischievous smile on my face.



11/20/11

Svetlana Smolina in Concert

www.sandiegoreader.com

It's four in the afternoon on a gray, overcast, and moist day in Encinitas, CA. Just under one hour ago, the pianist Svetlana Smolina finished giving a recital in the local library's community room. The occasion was to break in the library's newest acquisition, a (semi) new Steinway piano, with the hands of a world renown musician. 

Hence, the pre-concert words of a city official:

"Every great library has a great piano. And now [the Encinitas Public Library] is in that league...Will everyone who contributed as a donor to the purchase of this fine instrument please stand up?" 

(I stood up, not because I was a donor, but because who would know and because I wanted to see if it could gain me any traction with a most exquisite dirty blond woman sitting one row in front of me.) 

The community room was jam packed, with folks standing in the aisles, and lining the back wall. Naturally, it gradually became very stuffy.

After the city official's introduction, Ms. Smolina took the stage by entering through a rear door and striding down the center aisle. Sitting in a dozen chairs from the center aisle, watching her was like peering through branches in a forest to get a look at her. 

Smolina is just under six feet, with the body of gymnast, or a regular swimmer: strong, toned arms, and a beautifully glowing flank. Her long, straight Slavic blond hair was tied in a simple crown on top of her head, with the rest of it washing down along a long, narrow back. Also falling down her lithe frame was a sheeny, small yellow-flower decorated blue dress that finished just above the floor and highlighted her shoulders, back, and neck. Pianists walk much like professional models. 

Ms. Smolina's program: 

1. Impromptus in E-Flat Major D.946 No.2 (F. Schubert) 

Why don't they name classical music compositions the regular way? Something like: "Here I Go Again." 

2. Concert Suite from The Nutcracker (P.I. Tchaikovsky, arr. Pletnev): Intermezzo, March, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Andante Maestoso, and Russian Trepak. 


I appreciated how Ms. Smolina introduced each piece with some trivial, but interesting notes. I also appreciated how she ditched the microphone to do so. 

About the Concert Suite from The Nutcracker, she narrated: "Back [in the day] a piano contest was held in honor of Tchaikovsky. One of the contestants was a Russian (representin'!) named Pletnev. The problem was that The Nutcracker was not composed for the piano, but for an orchestra. So the contestants would play from transcriptions. Well, Pletnev wanted to create his own transcription and after submitting a request to do so, he was given permission. Pletnev transcribed the piece and went on to win the contest!


3. Feulliet d'Album op. 45 no. 1 and Fantasy in B Minor op. 28 (A Scriabin)


4. Nocturne in E Flat Major Op. 55 No. 2
   Selections from Preludes op. 28
   Scherzo No. 2 in B flat Minor op. 31 (F. Chopin)

The visual backdrop to Smolina's performance was a view of Moonlight Beach and embattled, swaying palm trees under the siege of the angry, inclement weather. Grayness, heavy drizzle. This grim background juxtaposed with the bright yellow light illuminating piano and pianist like a golden halo.


5. Liebestraum No. 3 and Mephisto Waltz No. 1 (F. Lizst)


Smolina finished to a standing ovation, after which she was swarmed by music lovers (myself included) and prodded for information about the artist's life and photographs. 


It is now close to 5 pm. Over the intercom, the imminent closure of the library has been announced. Light has left the day, and I can hear a steady rain trampling the fiberglass roof the library. 


P.S. The dirty blonded woman is a piano teacher and she looks awesome in black jeans. The donor stunt did not seem to work.

11/5/11

Seasonal Package Handler for FedEx

Source: www.boston.com


I heard about this job on National Public Radio. The financial news hour reported holiday packaging business trends. The lead was, "In an economy when most things are turning down, FedEx is looking at increased business this holiday season." They mentioned a seasonal worker hiring spree and the next day I was at FedEx careers [dot] com. 

One week ago today, Chandra, the manager in charge of hiring, summoned forty applicants to the San Diego dock for a 5:30 AM ftour. I showed up in jeans, sneakers, and a sweater, others showed up in suits, ties, and leather portfolios. Relax people, it's FedEx dock, not Brooks Brothers.
 

In two groups of twenty, we were taken to employees moving packages from semi-truck cargo boxes onto conveyor belts. Upon returning to dock entrance, Chandra announced, 


"OK people, now you will wait in line to get on a computer to submit an application. There are only two computers. I'm going to set them up right now. If you need to go, you can return later and do it." 


Management lined people up according to the order in which we arrived in the first place. I was number fifteen. I waited forty minutes. The morning was still dark and cold. The line was a way to weed people out.  


But there were more computers. By the time I went in, there were five computers online. The last person in line, along with what about half of the others left dejected.


I go a voice mail message four days later on Thursday, November 3. 


"This is Chandra in San Diego. Please call back to schedule a job interview."


The first time I called back, she was out. I tried again the next day. 

"Hi this is Choleric Serpent on the Left." 

"How are you Choleric?"

"I am good. How are you?"

[No response]

"I, I am returning your call to schedule a job interview."

"Can I call you back. I'm very busy right now."

"Sure, but can you remind me what job this is about?"

"We are at 1555 Caminito Ruiz off of Miramar Rd."

"Oh, you are FedEx!"

"That's right." 


Chandra called me back a few hours later, "Can you come in tomorrow at 10:45 AM."


I had something important to do at that time; community organizing. I weighed my options before answering. 


"Anything available today?" I asked. It was just past noon.
"I'm leaving the office soon." 

"OK then, tomorrow it is." 

I left my home in Vista at 10am sharp and arrived at 10:45am on the dot. As I maneuvered into a parking slot, two black men in business casual attire holding resume portfolios were just leaving. 

Something about seeing your competition deflates your about the importance of your own interview. You are just another interviewee, you don't matter as much as your silly little mind thinks you do. 

I signed at the recetionist´s desk. I was proud to write "10:45" on my time of arrival. 


"She'll be right out sir," the receptionist informed me.


Chandra came out at past 11.


Chandra seemed extremely jaded. Like she couldn´t bother with smiles, courtesy, or small talk. Clearly, the only thing that mattered was getting through the interviews and hire. 

Her interview questions were scripted. She read them straight from a sheet of paper. She didn't even look at me at first.

"The hours offered for this job fluctuate. You may be here for three hours, but that's not guaranteed. On the other hand, we may need you for more than four hours. Are you OK with that?"


She asked that a lot, "Are you OK with that?" Another way of saying, "Can you take that as well?" 


I did well except for when she answered "Tell me about a time that you had to juggle two things at once." I was caught off guard so I just told a tall tale. 


By the end of the interview she suggested that if my criminal background check came clean, I would be starting on Tuesday morning. 


"The job goes through January 3, but it could go less, it could go longer. It all depends on volume. We'll start at 5:30 AM but that might change as Christmas approaches. If volume is extremely high, we can start as early as 2 AM. You'll be expected to handle 1046 packages per hour. We have a job to do and we are going to do it." 


She said starting pay is $10.65 per hour to start. I almost laughed when she said the "to start" part because I hardly believe that seasonal workers work long enough to get a raise. But maybe she just wanted the conditions to sound a bit more promising. 


This brings some peace of mind. I'll have money to pay my two bills, fuel, some clothes at the thrift store, and some change to go on a date.