18

The 2018 Supper Bowl

Image result for animals with football

The resident male human (Cat’s husband) loves to watch American football. He watches it all fall, but at the end of the year there seems to be a lot of “bowls”. Watching with him, we noticed something strange. The winner of the Rose Bowl didn’t get a bowl of roses (or even a bowl), the winner of the Orange Bowl didn’t get oranges, and some of the bowl were for gifts that didn’t even make sense. (Who’d want a weed-eater as a prize?)

It seems that the biggest game of all is this weekend. They call it the Super Bowl. What’s so super about it? Apparently it shows who has the best football team in the country. But they still don’t win a bowl. Instead, they get really big rings. You can’t eat out of a ring.

Image result for animal food bowl

So we decided that we needed to sponsor our own bowl, The Supper Bowl. And guess what the winners get? Silver bowls with their names engraved on them and a year’s supply of their favorite food (funded by an anonymous donor.)

We had to make a few adjustments to the game. Since few animals are bipedal, runners can carry the ball in either their hands or their mouths. Unless the game is between two bipedal teams, passing is not allowed. Finally, field goals are not allowed because of the difference in animal heights.

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Image result for bison

After an 8-game playoff, the contenders in the inaugural Supper Bowl are the Lions and the Bison. It’s a classic match-up of speed and brawn. We’ll see if the Lions’ stealth is any match for the brute strength of the Bison.

Now, on to the game with our commentators, Biff and Zoomer:

Zoomer: Well, here we go. The Lions are kicking off to the Bison. That was some kick. The Bison ball carrier starts slowly, but now he picks up speed.

Image result for bison playing

Biff: Oh my goodness. That Lion defense is pretty impressive. Two go for the legs and one jumps up in front of him. There’s no gain.

(Two more attempts and the Bisons turn the ball over to the Lions.)

Biff: Now we’ll see how good that Bison defense really is. The Lion runner takes off but has no where to go. No gain.  Running through the Bison line is not going to work for the Lions.

Image result for lions running

Zoomer: There he goes again. He sees a little daylight around the end and runs for it. The Bison line is slow to react. Touchdown! The Lions lead 6-0.

Biff: OK, now the Bison need to make sure that they come back strong.

Zoomer: Oh no! two of the Bison players have collided. This is not good. They need to be helped off the field.

Biff: The offense is already down players from previous injuries. They’re going to have to put in rookies.

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(seesaw)

(As expected, the series doesn’t go well for the Bison and they don’t score. Things go back and forth for most of the game. The defenses manage to keep either team from scoring until late in the game.)

Biff: Well, this is it for the Bison. If they don’t score here, they’re out of time.

Zoomer: Right you are. Here we go. The Bison form a group around their runner. They move as one. The Lions have no choice but to move out of their way. It looks like we’re headed to overtime.

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(The teams take a break to discuss their strategy. Whoever scores first wins the game.)

Zoomer: Since the Bison had the ball first in the game, the Lions will get it first in overtime.

Biff: Rumor has it that the Lions have been practicing a trick play. If it’s true, now’s the time to use it.

Zoomer: We’re back on the field. The Lions have the ball. The carrier goes to the left instead of straight ahead and runs into his own player.

Image result for running lions

Biff: No! He didn’t run into him. He gave him the ball. The Bison look confused. The new runner passes the ball to a third Lion. He takes advantage of the confusion in the Bison defensive line. He leaps over two Bison who are wandering around and heads for the end zone.

Zoomer: And the Lions win the Supper Bowl!

Biff: Let’s go down to the field to talk to the victors.

(Fortunately for fans everywhere, the teams have disappeared into their respective locker rooms and are not available for interviews. The Supper Bowl will be presented the next day at a banquet.)

Image result for american football ball

Alert readers should have guessed the outcome. We are based in Michigan, home of the Detroit Lions.

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

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21

Why am I Working Here?

First a brief overview of my past for those of you who missed it at the beginning (about 95% by my non-scientific analysis).

I grew up blue collar in a Detroit suburb. Went to a highly regarded mid-western university (does not go by the initials ND). Got a couple of very well-paying jobs.

Had two psychotic breaks. Discovered I was bipolar and my job stress had to go. Finally ended up stocking cheese at a big box store. Low stress; low money.

Started blog about work. Got bored with that. Moved on to other subjects. Which is why you are reading a blog called Adventures in Cheeseland that has nothing to do with cheese. Have been told it’s a very bad idea to change the name of the blog.

Life has been pretty good in cheeseland. I like the people (most of them). The work is low-stress. My hours are early, but I like them. We are unionized, but that’s not one of its selling points.

It’s family-owned. When I started it was run by a man who was philanthropic, family-oriented, and good to work for (if you’re looking for that type of work).

[Warning: from this point forward it’s sarcasm, not the kind of humor you usually see in my blog.]

Unfortunately, he died. His sons took over. From all appearances, they learned very little from their father except how nice life could be for them with a lot of money.

They have been steadily climbing the Forbes 500 list of wealthiest people. During the United Way campaign, they asked us to contribute to help support people earning less than $27,000 annually. No one in the room was making close to $27,000 annually.

They started to buy a lot of their inventory from China (not the food). In fact, they have opened a distribution center in China “to be closer to their suppliers.” Some slippage in quality; some increase in price.

Their store brand used to be comparable to the national brands. Now the only thing I will buy are the pasta and canned tomatoes (to start the pasta sauce). They raised the price on cheese so high that sales started to drop.

The company hired a non-unionized workforce to do some of the stocking. Higher pay, same benefits as the rest of us. The union said to let them know if anyone had their hours cut because of these people.

Excuse me?! All of the work they are doing should be done by union workers. Michigan is now a right-to-work state. But standing by while the company pays non-union workers more money is not one of the definitions of right-to-work. At least is wasn’t when I did employee benefits.

When Michigan raised the minimum wage, the union made no attempt to get a higher wage cap for the employees who were already above that level. I’m guessing the idea never crossed the brothers’ minds.

The union contract is up next year. We no longer need to belong and pay dues. They may want to start working a little harder. Even the stewards are advising that we get rid of them. (They did save the job of a guy who went totally ballistic when someone took his food out of the microwave after he left the room.)

But all of that pales next to the company’s most recent initiative.

Work-motion studies have been around for more than a century. (Anyone remember “Cheaper by the Dozen”?) But the company seems to have created theirs without actually studying what the employees do.

Their basic idea is to get the maximum number of employees at work during the busiest times of day. Sounds logical, right? In fresh foods they do it by taking the people who set up the departments and having them start 2 to 3 hours later.

Problem? Nothing is set when the customer levels increase. Solution? Don’t change the standards for when the set-up needs to be done. But don’t allow workers to have carts on the floor because that’s inconvenient for the customers.

Employee can’t meet the standard? Write him/her up.

Best usage of this idea? In the bakery they have moved the slowest person to a schedule that requires her to do the majority of the baking before the store gets busy. Hope she doesn’t currently have any performance points. We only get 12 before we’re terminated.

There is ABSOLUTELY NO OVERTIME. Yes, the memos capitalize it. Currently, we can work 7 extra minutes each day without incurring overtime. It’s helpful when you’re trying to help a customer or finish a display.

We are moving to being paid by the minute. Which means that we can have 7 extra minutes per week before we have overtime. But we get paid for those extra minutes. And we get written up for that 8th minute. Seriously.

If we are helping a customer and it gets close to quitting time, either the team leader needs to take over or we need to call the manager to see if we can stay the extra time. Seriously.

Did I mention that the store is understaffed? The only ones who want to work here can’t pass the background check. Seriously.

I’m guessing that by now you understand why I no longer write about work. Work is no longer humorous.

I wonder if there’s a call for cat-sitters around here?

3

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Punch In

It was a pretty good week at work. They finally hired a stocker for the deli/cheese. He’s a friend of the other stocker, so he has some idea of what he’s walking in to. But it’s his first job and those are still hard to find around here. It should be good preparation in case he ever wants to work, well, I’m no exactly sure where.

The first thing the team leader was looking for in a new stocker was that it was a male. She feels that unloading the pallets is too hard for women. I wanted to thank her for bringing us back to the 1970’s when it was common knowledge that women would never be able to do certain jobs because they lacked the strength and stamina for them.

It was somewhat ironic that she would tell me these things while she was asking me to unload a pallet of chickens (46 lbs to the box, 20-25 boxes). I’m not very big: 5’2″ with weight proportional to height (as they used to say in the personals). It seems to me that if I can do it, gender should not be an issue.

Nevertheless, New Guy (NG) is great so far. Luckily for him, he is strong. And unlike the last male stocker, he isn’t too lazy to use his strength. He learns quickly and is willing to try anything.

That’s why it was so painful to have to tell him the ground rules. Not for working with me or the other stocker (OS), but being in the deli in general. Over in cheese, there are very few rules. Put the cheese where it belongs and don’t disappear for hours on end. It’s kind of depressing how many people have failed at it in the two and a half years I’ve been there.

Unfortunately, it fell to me to tell NG that the rumor about a lot of women working under stress in a very small space is true in our case. Very few of them play well with others. One woman walked out last week because someone kept telling what lousy work her shift did. (Day shift thinks night shift is lazy and worthless and the feeling is reciprocated.) Another woman kept yelling at her (co-worker, not customer).

Luckily for them, someone talked her into coming back. She’s a good worker and didn’t talk about others behind their backs.That’s probably why people were giving her a hard time; it’s like living in a tough neighborhood. One of the women apologized. The other ignores her. It’s also a lot like high school.

Then there’s the team leader (TL). Apparently it’s common knowledge in the other departments that she cannot order efficiently. We just got in five hundred and some chickens to rotisserie. Consensus was that relatively few people eat rotisseried chickens on Easter.

We can’t put the chickens in the deli cooler because it is too full of deli meat that TL has over-ordered. She insists that I can find room for all the extra chickens, meats, and salsa that she does not have room to store. I wish I had not let my magic license expire. Or could match her up with the people who think that if they complain enough I will be able to find something that is currently out of stock.

I’m never quite sure how much to share before it starts to scare people away. Generally, I like to share enough information so that the new person doesn’t think he/she has been singled out for the weirdness. Like the fact that my section is mainly an annoyance to the TL. It is not in the sight lines of the deli (thank goodness). Out of sight, out of mind.

Yesterday TL came around to ask who could work extra hours. NG and I were working together. She said that if no one volunteered, she would have to enforce mandatory overtime. She didn’t seem to understand that mandatory overtime could not be enforced at a company that tells its employees that NO overtime is allowed. Oddly enough, people schedule things for after work.

Newsflash! TL is not a good role model. She takes cigarette breaks on the clock. She parks in handicapped parking (illegally) so her car is convenient for smoke breaks (guess she doesn’t want people seeing her on her third break in four hours). Apparently all of that smoking has made walking to a different part of the lot uncomfortable.

TL doesn’t like working the counter, stocking, doing the daily inventory work or several other tasks. She does spend a lot of time complaining about being understaffed. I don’t think it has really sunk in that she wouldn’t have as many staffing issues if she picked up some of the slack herself.

No one wants to complain to management about TL. The last time someone did, she promised to track them down and file a complaint about that person creating a hostile working environment. That’s funny to everyone who didn’t have to listen to the tirade.

Once all of that was said, OS and I were able to congratulate NG on being a stocker rather than a slicer. He’ll have to spend part of his time stocking deli which is a little scary, but then he can come fall off the radar in cheese.

(Title courtesy of Dante for those of you who recognized it but couldn’t place it. For the rest of you too, I guess.)