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But then I think about my own job and the people I work with. At such times I’m left wondering why Beth complains as little as she does.
I’m working R5 tomorrow. When the schedule was posted, I was assigned to R9 (the short route, the one with the outlets). R5 has a sub. The sub didn’t want to work, saying that grand kids were coming to town. This sub said “You’re available to work, right Jim?” I just laughed. As everyone knows, I have no wife or children that would like to have me home on Christmas Eve.
At first the supervisor refused to change the schedule. Then the sub said they would not be there regardless of what the schedule said.
Now we know what happens when a sub refuses to work (i.e. their shift gets assigned to me).
That’s the story for Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve as well. And the entire week in between.
Dark chocolate, that is. It would be nice to get some dark chocolate in my stocking.
Recently I made a welcome new discovery in the dark chocolate department of my life. The other night I went to my local CVS (one of the ninety-five locations in Pottstown) because I heard they carried this stuff. They did, though I required some assistance in finding it. Udderly Smooth lotion is great for an advanced case of mailman hand.
While waiting to check out, I noticed in the point of purchase candy bar display that one of my long held dreams had come true. Snickers makes a dark version! The link in the previous sentence will take you to a Snickers Dark post at the Candy Blog. That post is dated February of 2007 and says that the dark Snickers is a limited edition. The reason it took so long for me to notice it? I’ve discovered that CVS is the only convenience store around here that actually has it, and I rarely set foot in a CVS. Well, I hope it doesn’t go away anytime soon. At least not before I get the chance to search my stocking on Christmas day.
I’m not big on candy bars (unless it’s a large chunk of the darkest chocolate possible), but this one has me swooning.
Has anyone else tried it?
This post at makeuseof.com no longer applies to me. A while back, I de-outlooked.
In place of the overly cumbersome, memory devouring calendar/email behemoth, I substituted thunderbird with its calendar add-on (lightning), both of which are linked to gmail and gcal. Google Calendar has been doing some decent integration work which allows me, in some cases, to create a calendar entry from an email. This feature has a ways to go.
Because of that distance, I’ve also started using Sandy to manage reminders and to-do items. She’s a virtual personal assistant who has way more capabilities than I’m using. The cool thing about her is that after adding a short email address into my Thunderbird and gmail contacts, Sandy works faultlessly and invisibly. I never have to visit her website at all.
I know it sounds complicated, using four different apps to manage to-dos, calendar, and email. But it’s actually easier than using Outlook ever was. It’s also quicker. Much, much quicker! No more spending two or three minutes waiting for Outlook to fire up. Those are minutes I can use to
worry think about how many deadlines I have to meet this week.
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Bear with me here. It may take a while, but I’m actually hoping to say something worthwhile. Stop snickering.
I used to like Christmas. Used to love it, in fact. As a kid, I would make lists for my parents, and usually got exactly what I wanted. As high schoolers, a friend and I threw huge annual parties; they were the seasonal event in our circle. People even mentioned those parties when signing my high school yearbook.
As an adult I again made, and still make, wishlists at Christmas. And now of course, I even publicize them on this blog.
For many years I worked in a church that did Christmas to the nines, complete with a white-elephant gift exchange at the staff Christmas Party.
Now I work for the Postal Service and my affection for Christmas has vanished.
Wait, that’s not true. It hasn’t vanished. It’s changed.
This year because I am holding down a route, working five or six day, and nearly seventy-hour, weeks, I’ve experienced something of what it’s like to be a mail carrier at Christmas. It, in a word, sucks. I’m sure there are plenty of jobs that are much worse, but at this time of year delivering mail has to be one of the unpleasantest things one can be stuck doing.
It’s the parcels that kill. I am literally delivering Christmas to many people on the routes I run. This very day, I delivered what must have been one family’s entire set of gifts from their relatives. It wasn’t the first time. People make their wishlists, their relatives and friends go online and buy the stuff, and I deliver the goods. I have become Santa Claus.
This season has afforded me a glimpse of the Christmas Machine in all its greedy glory. In most cases, the contents of the packages remain unknown to me but it doesn’t matter. The sheer volume is staggering. And I’m only one route in one post office in a single state of this nation. Every morning at our branch, the floor space shrinks to zero as the parcels overflow their hampers and get thrown everywhere. Every afternoon those parcels disappear, only to be replaced by an equal or greater number the next day. It has been like this every delivery day for two weeks.
I’ve been feeling something akin to what I experienced years ago when I worked in New York. We had a Christmas luncheon with some clients of our advertising agency. The account exec arranged for us to eat at America, a restaurant which I believe is now defunct. I ordered some sort of pasta thing. It arrived in a bowl that was twice the size of my head. The bowl was overflowing. It was an absolutely obscene amount of food and I was ashamed of myself for even being close to it.
That’s how I feel now as I transport the largesse of Christmas covetousness to and fro.
In your own family, on a micro scale, you may not notice it, but take a look at what Christmas has become even from a regional standpoint and it gets, for lack of a more euphemistic term, nauseating.
So, am I opting out of the Christmas machine? Nope. I’m as hooked on it as you probably are. More so, even. I want what I want. And the sooner the better. As far as that goes, nothing has changed. I’m still the greediest person I know.
What has changed is I now feel okay about calling it what it is, and not calling it what it isn’t.
What it isn’t is Christmas.
I’ve sporadically channeled ‘the true spirit of Christmas’ when in the midst of a grueling 4+ hours of running fragile parcels to the doors of homes that are way out of my price range, I can smile at the woman who opens the door, grimaces at me and snatches her package from my hand as if I were taking it and not giving it, and say, “have a good day.” Or when another woman* comes to wait at her mailbox just so she can yell at me for being ‘late’ with her mail, and I apologize and add that unfortunately it might not get any better until after Christmas.
Paul said, “I know how to be abased…” as well as how to have everything. Well, I don’t know how to do either of those, but I am learning, and the Christmas mail is my teacher.
The Christ Mass, as Stephen Lawhead would call it, is a time to be reminded how to be broken bread and poured out wine for others. Others who might not thank us for, or even appreciate, our broken poured-outness. You don’t have to be a mailman to learn this. It certainly helps, but it’s not a requirement.
Dickens gave the following words to Tiny Tim: ‘it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.’
Very pleasant indeed, especially if you are the lame beggar or the blind man. To be able to see yourself in this way, that’s what Christmas is.
*I’m not being a he-man woman hater here, this is just the way it went down.
Certain Texans are dissing the postal service!
Yeesh, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you’re obligated to do it!
For my part, I was too busy delivering mail today to consider a trip to the front end of the PO.
Here’s something I don’t quite get. When people are told by various news media know-it-alls that today is the “busiest mail day of the year*,” why do they then decide, “Hey! I know! Let’s go to the Post Office and mail these sixteen parcels!” ?
*The article says that Wednesday will be the busiest delivery day. Not true. That was today as well. Even though most of the millions of packages sent today will be at their destination post offices in two or three days, today was a Monday and therefore we had two days worth of Christmas parcels on this one day. And believe me, it was bad.
…because I just watched this*.
*Though it’s just a trailer, this is a ridiculously gory two and a half minutes. Be warned!
Last night, Java’s Brewin had another open mic. This one was not as well attended as the first, which was a shame because I thought the music was better and the performers, in general, more entertaining. My first set had three songs: Christmas All Over by Tom Petty (with a little Happy Christmas/War Is Over thrown in), Good People by Jack Johnson, and Keep Me In Your Heart by Warren Zevon. For a later encore, I did We’re Going To Be Friends, the sentimental ditty that opens Napoleon Dynamite, by the White Stripes. People sang along to that one.
My daughter has caught the performing bug. Having attended the open mic last night, she now wants to do a song with me. She’s thinking about Calling All Angels, by Train.
The mail is horrible. The high volume of flats has already fallen off, but the parcels just keep getting worse. Monday will suck. Today however, I was granted a sort of reprieve. I did routes 8 and 9. We used to refer to these routes as “the babies.” The carrier who was assigned to do both of them would be said to be “burping the babies.” As route 8 grew (9 is landlocked, so not a lot of growth possible there) there was talk of diapers and strollers and solid food. Now both 8 and 9 are bigger since the outlets have been partitioned off (back) to 9 temporarily. They still belong to Route 5, but someone in authority grew a brain and realized that it was too much for that route.
What I’m trying to say is that routes 8 and 9 are nowhere near as small as they used to be, but together they’re still not a full sized route. So I had a short day today. Can you say, ‘nap’? I think you can. I couldn’t because I was busy taking one.
And get this! The real sub for R5 is a teacher which is why she can only work on Saturdays, which is why I’m holding the route down and she is not. This also means that she gets a week off from school at Christmas. So, I’m scheduled for three days off this week and she is scheduled for R5. I don’t think I’ll get three days off, but two would be nice. Just in time for the new article assignments that came in yesterday.
After more than a month, I still get Figalwicks pangs.
The nor’easter we were supposed to get has been downgraded to a night and a day of rain, with a windy Monday to follow. No snow. Awesome.
Perhaps this post marks the end of my hiatus. I hope so, but don’t go looking for posts on Monday or Tuesday.