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Sunday, July 31, 2011


It's almost August!  I can't believe that this summer is half over.  I have been completely submerged in my new job, trying to make it through each day.  Yesterday I had some more people tell me that I have to have something.  One was a big crazy lady with a starter relay for an ATV.  I really wanted to tell her to stuff it, but instead I kept my inner soundtrack masked behind a smile.  There was a point yesterday when I had customers 3 deep, the phone ringing on 3 lines and someone from the back wanting something too.  One phone call was asking for a product I was pretty sure we didn't have and instead of wasting time (mine and hers) I just told her that we didn't have it.  Have a nice day!  In that moment, it was exactly what I needed to do for my sanity.  Of course the next customer was wanting a starter for a boat (we don't carry those specifically) and had me pull starters that would fit into a 1978 Chevy.  Starters are a little heavy and I did not enjoy pulling 3 of them down off the shelf, just to have him say over and over "I need it to rotate counter-clockwise"  I don't know what the hell he wanted, and my computer does not give me that information. 
Today is a day off, thank goodness!  I have two in a row this week.  What are we doing for the long weekend?  Nothing too much.  We may head to a gold panning championship (yep gold panning) and maybe find something else to do that doesn't require too much brain power.  Michelle and Bryce invited us to go camping and as much as I would love to, we are not ready for camping.  We may try to find them and take some marshmallows-I love roasted marshmallows. 
Anyway, have a great weekend.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Let me explain...

My understanding of cars and their parts is rudimentary at best.  I can trouble-shoot very little, but I can usually guess which parts of the car things are in.  My computer helps me find the right parts for people (when they can give me the right info to work with)  The computers cannot use VIN#'s, I cannot take other part numbers and just magically make things happen.  You tell me the year, make and model of the vehicle (not snow blower, rototiller or lawn tractor) and then I get a little menu to look up what you need.  Oil filter?  Engine parts #17.  Brake pads, #13.  I then take the store product number and go and search for the part.  This can take a few minutes as things are not always easy to find.  It can also take time when I have no freaking idea what you are after and never  laid eyes on it before.  When you ask for a car battery for something other than a car, you risk that it doesn't fit properly.  That is not my fault.  When you ask for a rear U-joint with an outside ring and you actually need a rear u-joint with an inside ring, that is not my fault.  I give you what you ask for.  Oh and I don't sharpen lawn mower blades!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Know what you want, don't make me guess what you want

When people come to me to help them solve a problem, I love that.  When people bring me wrapped up pieces of @#@$ from inside another part and want me to identify and get them another, I don't love that so much.  The other day, I had an elderly gentleman come in with a rag containing bits and pieces of a ring-like thing.  He asked me if I had another.  Another what?  I asked.  I'm looking at 6 pieces of crap.  Well he didn't know what it was, but it came from inside another part.  So I go to the computer, what year is the vehicle?  Oh it's coming from a rototiller, not a car.  I can't look that up, this is the auto parts desk.  Well he thought that I'd have something that he could use.  My inner soundtrack starts playing.... seriously?  Not only can I not identify the part it came from or what he'd need, neither can he!  This ends with him getting a big smile from me and an apology because I was unable to help.  Hopefully, he found a part at NAPA on Monday.  He was nice.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Week 2 in Parts

Well things are starting to make sense most of the time, but there are still those moments where I look at the customer and ask "What was it that you needed again?"  Most of the time, they are patient.  The ones that aren't get my biggest smile while I'm telling them off in my head.

There are a couple of things that I find a little amusing though.  People coming to the counter, see that there are other customers, and flit about not really in line.  This happened today to me.  A middle aged man came to the counter while I was on the phone and my colleague was with another customer.  Instead of just waiting for a minute, off he went down one aisle after another and then came back to the counter for about 10 secs.  When he saw that we were still with customers, off he went again.  My customers served, I went to look for him and asked him if I could help him.  His snarky reply?  'No I'll figure it out myself.  You guys are too busy, I can't seem to get any help around here"!  I told him to have a nice day, and walked away with a smirk.  He bought the wrong oil filter in all his impatience.  Next time maybe he'll wait his turn.

Another thing that I find amusing are the people that tell me I have to have something.  Example; "I'm looking for a 6 mm bolt for this (points to some part of a car that I can not yet identify) where are your bolt bins."  I smile and say that we don't have bolt bins to which the reply is, "Of course you do!   You have to have a bolt bin."  Actually I don't have to have a bolt bin, and we don't carry open stock bolts.  "Well this is ridiculous!  What kind of mechanic are you?"  This is where I laugh out loud and say that I'm not a mechanic, I just read the parts boxes.. oh and have a nice evening. 

I do get lovely customers that explain things and answer my questions with courtesy and patience.  I like helping those ones solve their problems.  I also get to learn things that I normally wouldn't.  For example I know now how to patch a fiberglass boat, which products to use and how to apply them, thanks to a nice man from Nova Scotia.  I also learned how to make my own gaskets (with material that we sell in aisle 6) from a shy little man.

As the day gets longer, I remind myself of these little moments and laugh off the others.  A reminder to all you out there, remember when you are in a store and the person helping you looks a little harried, be patient.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

So it begins

Today marks my first day back working in retail.  I never thought I'd be back in the red shirt, but here I am.

Just when I thought I wouldn't be working this summer, I got a call on Tuesday morning while enjoying my cup of tea.  I went for an interview later that morning and walked out with a job in the Parts department.  I know that some of you are laughing right now, as my idea of car maintenance is talking to my dad or taking it to the dealership. 

I worked my butt off today, trying to keep everything straight, remembering where things are and what order to key in things in the computer.  I am filthy dirty (car parts are really dirty) and pretty tired physically.  My mind on the other hand, is buzzing with all the things I learned today.  I love learning new things and always enjoy a challenge so I think this job will be good for me. I will be full time for the next month, but when I gets closer to start-up, I will be working less to get ready for school. 

While I was out working, Chris was busy inside the house.  I came home to my new curtains ironed and up, the floors washed and the kitchen cleaned.  So awesome.

The weather is still crap, so I don't feel so bad about working, although around 11 this morning I did think wistfully that I would be on my second cup of tea and trying to decide what I would do for the day.  Oh well, I also thought of the stuff I will be able to buy for the house (and myself) with the money that I'm making in the next few weeks.  I felt marginally better after that.  I have to go now and soak my feet a little and then probably to bed so my body and mind can recover for tomorrow.  Good news is that I have Sunday off, which is our second anniversary.   Where does the time go?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Work, work, work

We have been slowly working on getting some things done around the house.  Some of them easy (cleaning up the yard), and some of them more involved.
Last week Chris decided to tackle the bathroom fan.  You can read a little of his point of view here.  I made myself busy around the yard so that I didn't hear the profanities yelled in frustration.  There was really nothing I could do, except keep a straight face while he ranted and fetch water when needed.  In the end he got it done and it works.  He has also been working on making his man-cave a little more lively.  He has the white background done and is waiting to paint the Chicago colours.  It has been so damp that all painting projects are on hold right now, as I'm not sure the paint will cure.  I have paint for the bathroom and trim to paint all over the house, but in the mean time I've been doing a DIY frame project for my livingroom wall.
We were hoping (well, I was anyway) to get the kitchen painted and new light fixtures put in before September, but this was contingent on us getting part-time jobs for the Summer.  Yes, we are going to work during our summer vacation.  Well we were.  Apparently, even though there are a lot of Now Hiring signs out, they are being picky about who they hire.  We wanted to work for the Summer, but no one wants to hire us because we want to work for the Summer.  They are looking for long time employees in many of the places that we applied, so as of right now, we are not working for the Summer.  Oh well.  I'll just have to wait for my kitchen.  I do have a table on it's way though and I'm super excited about that.
Well I should get going, so many books to read, so little time....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rain, rain go away....

Well we are in the middle of the wettest summer I can ever remember (even coming from the West Coast) and I have to say that it is not inspiring me to do much of anything today.  My poor friends with leaky basements and roofs make me go into my own basement every couple of hours just to check around the perimeter for water.  We had some flooding around town Friday night and today doesn't look any better.  I think it will be a scrappy day for me. 
After the Atlanta scandal, I read more work "stuff", but have decided to use only an hour a day to work.  This includes reading education related blogs, fooling around on Twitter etc.  I was online looking at links and articles for almost 3 hours yesterday.  That's no holiday. 
The living room saga continues.  I have found curtains, decided on wall "art" and was pushing to get it all done yesterday.  The decorating gods had other plans.  It seemed every time I turned around, I had miscalculated or had some issue.  As a consequence, the curtains are still not hung and pictures still not in frames.  I did manage to cook a delicious stew for dinner, make an apple crisp and bake a banana loaf.
 The last couple of weeks I have managed to read a bit.  I read The Help by Kathryn Stockett- it's going to be turned into a movie.   Great book.  I've also finished Distant Hours, Fall of Giants and Juliette.  All very worth my time.  Since the Love in the time of Cholera debacle, I am a little more careful about what I read.  As promised I have a few pics this time.  Have a great day.

The un-hung curtains

The eye-sore I get to look at out my front window.

My beautiful lilies, under the the overhang, so untouched by all the rain.

Beautiful Hosta that is doing very well on the South side of the house.
Horrible mushrooms that have taken up residence in my front yard.

This is where the pictures will go.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Testing, the way to the future?

As we are moving towards more data driven instruction and using standardized tests to create our plans, I must say that I am getting more nervous.  I have been thinking about this and reflecting on my time in Atlanta, Georgia.  The two years that I spent teaching there were the hardest and craziest 2 years of my teaching career.  Being threatened by students daily, sworn at and the constant struggle to get them to learn was nothing compared to the constant pressure and intimidation that I felt from administration to test well.  I saw teachers transferred to different grades, put on professional development plans and even fired for poor test scores.  That was around 2004.  I can't imagine what it's like now.  There were always whispers of cheating by teachers to make sure their scores were good, but it wasn't something that I listened to very hard.  I know I wasn't cheating, I was trying my  hardest to teach to the test. Especially in the 2nd year I was there, as I did not take the testing very seriously the first year.  It showed on my scores the first year.
I was trying to teach my kids what a sentence and paragraph was, where in the world the US was on a globe and how to get through a day without them punching each other.  Shame on me!  We didn't even have time to get through all the curriculum that was on the test before it was given in April.  I would cringe when we came to the Science and Social Studies questions, but was told by another staffer, that it didn't matter if they knew all that other stuff, they needed to do well in the reading and math portions of the test!
That second year, I made sure that teaching to that test was my main priority.  We practised all the time.  My kids got really good at taking tests.  Did they learn anything?  I don't know, but their scores were good enough that I didn't get any flack from the administrative team.  I was probably the first time I was ever ashamed of the education system and my part in it. 
My county has since lost accreditation because of a lot of political issues and now I am reading that the Atlanta Public Schools have been caught cheating. You can read about it here.  I went through a little of the report to the Governor and it's just sad.
What does it say about the system when teachers are risking their careers, even jail time to have their students appear to do well on tests?  Administrators erasing answers on tests after hours.  Teachers giving signals to students when they have a wrong answer.  All that for a test.  Scary.

Sorry for the long, serious post.   I promise the next one will be lighter, possibly with pictures.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy Summer!

July has come and with it some nice weather and of course Summer Vacation.  After saying good-bye to my brother and dad yesterday morning at 8 am, I visited with my friend Kathleen who has said good-bye to the North once and for all.  She has decided to leave her continuing position with the district to go and be closer to family and her support system down South.  I am sad to see her go, but understand that the North was not for her.  Being single and living here is hard and the social opportunities sparse.  She'd had enough and decided to get out. 
After saying good-bye, we got ready to head down to the parade.  After the parade we came home and enjoyed the quiet for awhile.  I realized how tired I was and closed my eyes for a couple of hours before our big night out.  We went to a birthday party for a two year old and I have to say that I haven't had that much fun in a while.  It was good to get together with friends and laugh again.  Now it is summer and the days stretch out in front of me.  What will I do next?  So many options....
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