This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Life Marches (actually Febuarys) On

I thought you might want to know what I go through on an average Friday here at my job, which is at a place that must not be named. It's not Papa John's, it's the other one. The GM of the store is not here today, and my two other bosses are off until 12:30, so who knows? Maybe I'll have a party in my room.

Today is a pretty important day; I've got a lot of stuff I need to get done before the deadly anti-holiday known as Inventory, which is a week from Sunday. Specifically, I've got to get 4 parts out of my parts inventory before they show up on the Inventory Sheet as losses, which they definitely are not. I'll spare you the details, but we have received credit for them already and just have to go through a paperwork hoop before Inventory happens. Plus, there's a bunch of other pressing crap that maybe I'll explain as the day goes by.

(I will add to this as the day goes along, so check back.)

8:02am – I arrive at work. It is raining outside, and the wind is blowing the blistering drops sideways and all up into my bizness. I would have been here at 8:00 sharp, except for this fricking semi from Oklahoma that was having trouble negotiating the last U-Turn I need to make before I arrive here. Just for the record, though, I didn’t get mad. I got even. By driving really fast around the semi when I got the chance. Ooo dang.

I walk freely through the store to the microwave in the break room and immediately start cooking the Papa John’s pizza I brought with me for breakfast. In my mind, it’s better to eat this sort of thing early in the day, so that I don’t have trouble sleeping at night. Of course, in half an hour I’ll probably feel uncomfortable and burpy, but I’m not worried about that right now.

I get into my L-shaped "office," the room where I spend most of my day, and I start typing this before doing any work. I promise that will be the last blog-referencing sentence in this post. Anyway, my day starts out like any other day: With me tearing the perforated sides off some paper. It's quiet. Nobody is around, especially the bosses, so I could do drugs in here and get away with it, if that was something I were prone to do. Hey, did you guys hear about that girl from Full House who married a cop and then got bored and developed a full-on meth addiction that she had to be intervened out of by John Stamos, Bob Saget, and the Olsen Twins? How wheels-off do you have to be to look bad to the Olsen Twins? Anyway, she's better now. And blaming her child stardom, but just a little. I wish I had the link.

8:35am -- I feel burpy, and I haven't even had my morning Dew yet. Oh, well, you know what they say: I burp, therefore I am. My existence has been proven by my internal discomfort.

8:47am – Just let the first technician of the day, Shawn, in the front door. Thanks to thumb stomach surgery, there’s about half as much of Shawn as there was a year-and-a-half ago. He’s not supposed to go in the front door for some unknown-to-me-but-loss-prevention-related reason, but I let him in anyway because of the well-known Shawn exemption (which he actually needed when he was 350lbs+, but still uses today. I don’t blame him.) We’re all supposed to stand at the extremely locked back door and pound on it in the morning, hoping that somebody is in the warehouse and hears it. Then, 5 seconds to 10 minutes later, the door opens. It’s a great, employee-friendly, and well-thought-out process, especially when it’s raining, as it is this morning.

I hate rain. Drought my behind -- more like deluge, if you ask me. This is the third rainfall we’ve had here in Dallas in three weeks. That's once a week! Shawn says he likes it because he wants the “burn ban” lifted. Apparently, he has stuff to burn. But then again, don’t we all?

8:57am -- Donald Trump talks like an autistic child who want his toys back. Why would anyone spend $500 to see him speak for an hour? 10 seconds, and I'm burying my head in my hands and cry/laughing.

9:14am -- Got my first guilt trip of the day. It's apparently "Wear Red Day for Women," so some chick just handed me a red sticker to wear. Hey, I love women as much as the next guy, but my first thought was, "What about men?" Heart disease is the #1 killer of men, too...why does everything have to be so segregated? Oh, yeah, I forgot, Feminism is dead. Ok, I'll wear this crushingly gay red dress sticker on my pocket, just for the ladies out there. I'm with you gals.

But seriously, let's all fight heart disease by eating less grease, lard, and trans fat, whatever that is. And wear red.

9:20am -- Just heard this page over the store's loudspeaker: "There's a person at the front door it looks like an employee I don't know what an employee's doing at the front door when they're supposed to be in back..." See?

9:48am -- It's been a pretty momentous few minutes. First of all, I had a bowel movement. Second of all, I got my check. Considering that I'm in the job for the money, this is the most important job-related moment in any give two-week period. Looking at my check, I see it's the same as usual. I thought for sure I had some incentive money coming. Looks like I was misled yet again by the people above me. I really need a new job.

As I was walking back to my room, I spotted a cart by the front door with a bunch of magazines inside. They're free motherboard magazines, with form factors and diagrams and everything!
This is exciting to me, shut up. They also had a meeting that thankfully I was in the bathroom during. The meetings are all the same -- blah blah protection plans blah blah attachment dollars blah blah sell vonage blah blah a bunch of stuff that doesn't apply to me in the service department.

Oh, and they just e-mailed me the color of dots we're using for inventory. It's NEON YELLOW! Woo-hoo!

10:30am -- One of the techs appears to have called in sick, since he's not here. Oh, wait, there's a controversy, and I just heard the HR manager say, "You expect me to have all the answers?" Of course, he was smiling when he said it, so no biggie. The tech appears to have switched today for tomorrow, and whomever knew that failed to tell anybody about the switch. Hence, the controversy. Anyway, that leaves us with two techs for the day, and only one this morning. The phone is ringing constantly. At least there seem to be about 30 CSR's around to help out with stuff.

Explanation: The techs work on the computers, the CSR's work at the front counter and check computers in, do returns, cash out will calls, etc. I just sit back here and put out fires all day. That's my job. For example, I just put out a fire for a CSR girl by keeping great paperwork.

What I really want to accomplish this morning is getting my check from Papa Johns, which means getting in my car and making a 15-minute round trip. Can I do it? Can Bob the Builder build stuff? Yes he can! Ok..."Operation: Check Get" is in effect.

11:15am -- O: CG is an unqualified success. The loaf is in the breadbasket, if you know what I mean. There will be a similar operation this afternoon, involving the deposit of both of my checks into the bank. I'll be sure to keep you abreast of that.

While I was on my little Operation, a smartly dressed 40ish lady looked at me (I knew then that something was wrong -- smartly dressed 40ish ladies never make eye contact with me) and said, "Red dress -- alright..." She was congratulating me on the "Wear Red for Women" sticker I was proudly displaying on my chest. Then she scolded herself for not wearing any red. With this sticker, I am now a powerful force for guilt in the universe. If you see me, I will make you feel bad about yourself.

12:15pm -- The morning has been very productive for me. I put out a lot of fires. In about 15 minutes, I will go to lunch, because I am, as Brad Malm would say, an "eator." This has been a good day, because just about everything that I needed to receive today actually got here. I sincerely hope this afternoon is just as good.

1:30pm -- Overheard at the bank, woman talking to female teller:
"You aren't wearing red?"
"," (question mark materializes over head)
"Oh, it's just that it's Heart Health Day."
"Oh, I didn't know that."

Some advance word on these things would be nice. Just ask Juneteenth Day or Arbor Day.

1:45pm -- Bosses are here, time to "straighten up and fly right" as my dad would say. You know, some would say that the measure of a man is what he does when nobody's looking. I totally agree with that, but I still have the motivation of keeping The Man off my back. Friday afternoon is my traditional time to clean stuff up around here --sorting and filing papers, getting unnecessary things out of my room so they can miraculously reappear over the weekend, resolving annoying issues so I don't have to dread coming in on Monday, etc. I'm going to process acouple of parts we just received, and then go to Operation: Sort. I'll let you know how it goes.

2:50pm -- Operation: Sort is still in effect. I hope you're wearing red.

3:05pm -- Operation: Sort has to be put on hold for a pressing issue. Basically, a tech was supposed to order a motherboard but instead ordered a power supply. That tech isn't here today, so now I have to clean it up, because my supervisor doesn't "have time." Do I have time? Probably, since I'm currently typing this non-work-related blog post. Oh, dang...I wasn't going to self-reference.

Anyway, put out fires. That's what I do.

3:52pm -- The week, and National Women's Heart Health Day, is winding down in a big way. I suppose I should mention that there was an in-store birthday today, for which cookies were provided. They weren't home-made, but still, a free cookie day is a good day. Later on, I'm going to start Operation: See if there are any Cookies Left.

This is also my tradional time to get out the ol' "outstanding issues" folder and see what bags of flaming crap I can get off my porch before the weekend starts. Let's take a gander, shall we?

Issue 1: There's an Apple G5 restore CD that I had to use some creative means to get here for a customer, since the customer didn't want to call Apple herself. It came in sometime this week, and even though my name was promiently displayed on the label's "to:" section, it never got to me. Resolution: Sales Manager needs to get this thing off my hands. Where is he?

Issue 2: We need a part number for a certain computer board, specifically the infared board that enables the remote control to work (it's a Media Center PC). The part number lady is off today, so we have not received it yet. Resolution: Wait until Monday, then pester her.

Issue 3: There are 4 parts that are in my inventory that I haven't had a chance to adjust out as of yet (there was a big sale. It's also been very busy. Plus, I'm dreading having to walk my supervisor through the process. Plus, when we send them through Home Office will whine because it's been so long.), and it needs to be done by next Wednesday. Resolution: Get adjustments together today, walk supervisor through it on Monday. I'd better make sure he's here that day. Yep.

Issue 4: Order a power cord for a Proview monitor. For this, I need a Manager who's willing to use his credit card and be reimbursed the 50 bucks. Resolution: Put on back burner for now. Nobody cares.

So, that's pretty much my day. If something crazy happens in the last hour, I'll let you know.
If not, thanks for reading and eat less trans fat.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I've decided to try videoblogging, since I have the technology and the will. Anything to keep you people interested in what I do here. Does anyone out there in the world have suggestions as to what I could videoblog. So far I have one thought: A story. Nude.

Just kidding. Like I said, I want to keep you people interested.

Also, does anyone know of any sites I could use for this? Free sites?

Notes on the AAC, the Mavs, the Bulls, and Other Stuff

(This is how the Mavs dancers looked last night, from our perspective. It's a big arena.)

My wife and I got free tickets to the Mavs-Bulls game last night, along with a free platinum parking pass, so we just had to go. It was our 3rd game in two weeks, and my 4th visit to the American Airlines Center since Christmas. Therefore, I am now an expert on the Mavs, Stars, their arena, and the Dallas sports scene in general. Get a load of these hot sports opinions (HSO's):

HSO A) The AAC, while not a horrible place to watch a basketball game, is a much much better arena for the icy cold sport of hockey. Part of it is the larger playing surface, which gobbles up some of the crap seating along the ends. At the Mavs-Bucks game we sat 20 or so rows up behind the basket, and the arena committed the cardinal sin of sporting venues -- the seating did not ascend quickly enough. I'm a pretty tall guy, and I couldn't see over the tall man with the poofy hair that sat in front of me. This is unacceptable.

The AAC is gigantic, which means it gobbles up sound like you would not believe. While I'm watching the game, I'm amazed at how quiet it is in there. The upper deck seats are so very far from the court it literally* takes 5 seconds for the sound from my cheering to reach Dirk Nowitski's ears. This is confusing to the players.

For hockey, nobody really cares about the action, so the cheering and quietness thing doesn't matter as much. The only times people cheer during hockey games are after a goal or during a fight, and after a goal they blow a big horn so you can't hear the crowd anyway. This is appropriate. Sorry for bringing up hockey.

HSO 2) The Mavs are right now the best team in the West. Maybe I'll get into this a little more on my sports blog, but they are relentless and efficient on both sides of the ball. When they get into lulls (like they did big time last night in the second half), they can always pull themselves out of it because they're just better than any other team beside Detroit. Sho nuff. If I have to live here, at least the basketball team is good.

The Bulls, however, are way too short and swarthy as a team to make it very far in the playoffs. B-ball is a tall man's game, and the Bulls were running out 3 guards who were all about 6'0". At the same time. 6-4 Stackhouse was posting up that midget Hinrich -- is that what you intended, Bulls coach Scott Skiles? Still, they are quite fun to watch, especially since from the upper deck of the AAC Ben Gordon looked a lot like former Bull and Buck great Craig Hodges, whose wife was once arrested for pouring gasoline on him and throwing matches in his direction, and who always started an interview with a steady stream of, "First of all, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Also, he was the second-best of the initial wave of really good three-point shooters. I could go on and on about Craig Hodges, but instead I will point you to these brief haikus.

HSO 3) I have a fear of parking in multi-story parking garages. I specifically fear that it's going to take me forever to get out. One of our friends from church had an extra platinum parking pass for the game last night, which she allowed us to use. That was very nice and very appreciated, but I still had my (pointless and irrational) fear of getting stuck on the third floor for an hour after the game, not moving, getting high from exhaust fumes, and finally getting into a fight with my wife because I'm grumpy. However, we got out of there just fine last night, thank the Lord. I have to keep reminding myself when I go to the AAC that I'm not at a Rangers game, and that the Mavs actually care about their fans' parking feelings.

Plus, the parking was across the street from the arena, and covered, and nothing can replace the special feeling of irrelevant importance you feel when you can get into the "platinum" garage and other people have to get out of your lane because they're just not good enough. Or, they just don't have the requisite passes. Passes=importance. Don't ever forget that.

HSO 4) Dallas fans, while not as bad as fans in Atlanta, Phoenix, LA, or many other southern cities, suck eggs. They arrive to sporting events late (if at all -- you should see the empty seats in the lower bowl during a sold-out game), they care more about their appearance than the action on the court, and they're just a quiet bunch in general. It's creepy. Like I said in HSO 1), the building is way too quiet and detached for its own good, and for that I mostly blame the fans. Part of the problem is the large percentage of people at the game who are transplants from other, much colder cities. They don't really care about the Mavs, they just want to see a basketball game (or have someplace to take a very special lady.) You could probably put me in this category. Sure, I like the Mavs and appreciate the way they play basketball (see HSO 2)), but I'm a Bucks fan, and I always will be. If they lose, I'm not heartbroken, unless they lose to the Kobe-led Lakers or another team I hate.

Perhaps the arena is so quiet because the fans expect the Mavs organization to create noise for them. With the constant barrage of the crazy announcer, the blinding lights, the near-nude cheerleaders, the thumpy and blasting music, and the on-floor "entertainment" every single time there's a stop in the action, there's little room for sitting back and taking a good long look at the game situation. Last night they had a baby race during a time-out. A baby race. My question: What if the babies had just sat there, inert as a lamp or Erick Dampier? What if the time out ends and they haven't moved an inch? I bet Mark Cuban is glad that one baby last night finally got his butt in gear and crossed the baby finish line, or the rest of the first quarter would never have started. We could still be there! Don't laugh, it's a very real danger. They're babies, and they don't react well to pressure.

But seriously, all this stuff going on conditions the fans to need to be told what to do and when to cheer. Instead of being engaged in the action and reacting to it, they're engaged in the presentation and reacting to it. Look, Mr. Cuban, I know you have money to make and a "product" to present. I know you want whole families to show up, and that these days the average 7-year-old has no attention span whatsoever and his/her eyes are just darting all around their field of view constantly looking for something shiny to fixate on for a split-second, but please. Concentrate on the basketball, instead of making the basketball a sideshow that occurs in-between crazy bits. If you do this, people will still show up, and they might actually cheer without prompting from the announcer.

(ok, so I'm exaggerating and making no real point to speak of in HSO 4. Sorry.)

HSO 5) At halftime, instead of the usual plate-spinners and jump-ropers, they had what they called the "Ladies Hoop Shoot" or something. Here's what I saw from my perch in the cheap seats**: 7 super-tall modelesque young women stood in the center of the arena in a circle, passing one giant novelty check between them. I'm not sure how they got to be the ones in the center, except they were all very tall and blonde and beautiful, so you do the math. That's something even I could figure out, and I was in the upper upper deck. The beautiful get all the perks in this world. Anyway, two lines of other (less modelesque) women shot free throws. When a free throw would go in, the check would move clockwise one hot babe, so it was like a cake walk or something. At the end of the less attractive girls' shooting exhibition (which included a granny who was introduced as the "most experienced Mavericks fan," then massively airballed, and finally whipped out a towel from under her sweatshirt and started waving it in a circle. We knew then to laugh and cheer, because the announcer said something loud and unintelligible.) the hottie who ended up holding the check would then get not one but two chances to make her own free throw. If she made just one of them, said hottie would get $1000 and a gift certificate to Minyard grocery stores. Like she needs $1000 -- she's hot, for pete's sake.

The attractive and borderline amazonian (in terms of height, not girth) blonde girl who was holding the check used all her amazonian strength on the first free throw, which clanged off the rim. Her second one made it about halfway to the basket and fell the ground like a duck, and the Mavericks and Minyard got to keep their money. What a great contest. Now, when one of the unwashed "ugs" made a free throw, they got handed a coupon for something (probably a free taco at Taco Bueno. They got millions of those lying around.) It just goes to show you: No matter how many free tickets, parking passes, or insightful blogs you may have, it's no substitute for being young, tan, blonde, tall, and wearing a tight shirt that only comes down to the middle of your ribcage. Unless you can't shoot, in which case it's all equal.

I hope that exposed ribcage keeps her warm at night in her vain and hopeless life, because the $1000 she just lost sure isn't. Ha, ha.

In real life, I'm not nearly this bitter.

*Hi, Jill.

** In retrospect, I wish I had taken a picture of this, so you could see what it looked like. I had my camera with me, and took no pictures last night. I stole the picture at the top of this post from somebody else. This travesty will never happen again, I promise.

A New Kind of Spam

Apparently anonymous political scuzzbags are now trolling blogs looking for minds to influence with their partisan hackery. Case in point this post of mine from a couple of weeks ago. I'm checking my mail last night and I see a comment from "Colorado Health Insurance" in my inbox. What does Health Insurance from Colorado want with me? First of all, the post was a couple of weeks ago, so how bizarre, right? Somebody was dipping in the archives, looking for something to comment on. I guess this is what the new spam looks like, now that word verification is omnipresent. People are looking up relevant blogs in the google blog search or, and then cutting-and-pasting absurd political wankery in the comments section. My question: do these spammers get paid? If so, by whom? If I were a real journalist and not just an irresponsible blogger, I might get to the bottom of this.

I'm leaving the comment up, for now. The next one, however, might get H'd. That means obliterated. Consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My Jobs Update: End of January, 2006

As many of you know, I have way too many jobs. Since they take up so much of my day (like right now, in fact), I thought you might want to know how they've been going. I normally resist writing about the day-to-day activities in MikeLand, because I hate reading online diaries and I strive to produce things that you might actually want to read. However, this will be worthwhile, I promise.

I have written in the past about how Papa John's has subtly shifted from a delivery business to a carryout business just to keep me from making money. I have also written about how their obsession with lit cartoppers and nametags is ridiculous and unnecessary. Now, I will tackle the latest problem at Papa John's: my fellow employees. Would you believe that in 2006 our manager has a hard time finding good people to work at his store, especially delivery drivers? Here is our current motley crew (names have been changed to protect these people, though I'm not really sure why.):

Spazz: He's the longest-tenured employee of this Papa John's besides me, and he attends a high-powered university in the local area. He makes more beeping sounds than words with his mouth, he's really into "renaissance faires" and "Star Trek," and he's in a constant state of disshevelment. This makes him a nerd. He's been written up several times for not clocking out his delivery runs in the computer or forgetting sodas. He also has a penchant for sitting in his car reading during deliveries, effectively doubling the time it takes him to complete them. He is quite nuts.

Eddie: He's the guy who was fired once by our old manager for stealing other drivers' runs, and we hired him back. He's still constantly on the verge of being fired, and our current Manager never fires anyone. His role in the store is "the guy nobody likes." He's always looking for approval, and he's always got an agenda. I suppose the main problem with Eddie is he assumes everyone else is as greedy as he is. Oh, and he still steals runs.

The Other: Here's a guy who called in sick on Friday, claiming he "might have swallowed a screw." Yeah, he's a little insane. Also, the managers suspect he must not eat at home (or he has a giant tapeworm) because whenever there's free (i.e., crew pie, edible mistake) food to be had, he'll eat as much as he can as fast as he can. After abusing the free pizza privlege, however, he's now forbidden to eat more than one piece of any given mistake pizza or eat in his car. His name is also close enough to mine that he sometimes gets confused and checks out my runs by mistake. He's quiet and pleasant, though, just like me. I hope they can tell us apart.

The Girl: She's 19, and she's always wanted a job during which she can sit in her car and listen to music. She's tall, I mean tall, and very nice. Everyone likes her, and not just because she's the only girl. She really really seems to like the job, since she comes back every weekend from North Texas U. (in Denton, which is still in the metroplex but still 45 minutes away) just to work at our Papa two nights a week.

Hyundai: This guy has been at the Papa a while, and with his goatee he kind of looks like a white (former Dallas Maverick basketball player) Michael Finley. He's building some sort of cart/wagon to carry pizzas on -- I know, I've seen the blueprints. I call him Hyundai because he bought one right after I bought mine, but he's had a lot of problems with his. He's always asking me stuff like, "Have your headlights gone out yet?" But he's very nice.

Curmudgeony: He's the token old guy, and he looks way older than his actual age, which is in his 50's. We've had customers call, scolding us for sending an old man up the stairs to their apartment. He's actually quite the card, and is constantly threatening one of the managers with bodily harm (in jest, of course) and pushing him into things. One time he fell and got hurt, and his wife came in to get him. His wife is about the most beautiful 50-year-old lady we'd ever seen. We were all floored when we saw her.

Carlos: He's from some Latin-American country, and he's very nice. They just hired him, so I don't have anything else to say.

Hick: They hired this guy at the same time as Carlos, but I do have things to say about Hick. First of all, he's always getting lost and calling the store for directions. You must understand, the drivers area has not one but two giant maps of our area. All he has to do is read a map and remember where he's going, but he seems incapable of this. He does smile all the time, though, and he's got Eddie's down-home fast-talking charm without the slimy greed that's attached to it. Hick could go far in life, if Hick weren't so dumb.

Par-tay: He's a moderately hunchbacked party guy who's a senior in college right now. From the looks of it, he's majoring in business. He's involved with a frat, and is always going to their themed parties, such as the "Golf Pros and Tennis Ho's" bash. He was wearing knickers, and was eager to see some TH's. I didn't wanna know. He's also the nexus of the Papa John's social scene, and a few of the old drivers (who are now managers) and he get together on the weekends. When he's not working, he keeps his cartopper in the cap of his pickup. This is not an approved place to store a Papa John's cartopper.

There's them, and then there's me. That's it. That's all the drivers we have. Back in the busy old days, we had about 20 drivers, and we all made a lot more money. We were also able to fire the Eddies of the world. It was an amazing time. Now, if Eddie goes, the Manager gets all stressed because he thinks we don't have enough drivers. God help us if it ever gets consistently busy -- delivery times will be through the roof! Man Bob Bill will have our manager's buns on a platter! Oh, the humanity!

And don't even get me started on the in-store help. There's the guy who looks like a roadie that used to work at Mideval Times; The apathetic high-school kid who doesn't care at all; The high-school girl who told the high-school kid to lie and tell her parents she was still at work when she was actually out with some dude; and, the girl who actually slows production down when she shows up. Oh, and there's a lady that's actually good, and productive, and is always bringing in cookies and brownies and stuff. We like her.

I wish I could talk about my other job, but I can't. One day, man. One day.