2

Proceedings in the Court of Paws

I finally left the cheesewall. Yes, it is true; the name of this blog is no longer related to me in any way. It’s a good thing I turned it over to the mice a few weeks ago.

I am now stocking at another store. I work midnights in either crafts and stationery or the pharmacy, (Not the real pharmacy, the stuff next to it: pain relievers, bandages, etc.). I like it a lot better.

I thought the cats would be happier. Someone would be home almost all the time. Turns out, I was totally mistaken. My presence was requested at Animal Court for the case of Kommando Kitty suing Super Snoops for alienation of affection. My affection.

The case went as follows:

Administrative Law Judge (ALJ): Does anyone have any questions before we get started?

Kommando Kitty (KK): Why do we have a German Shepherd as our judge?

ALJ: All of the judges are German Shepherds. We’re intelligent. And can sound really scary. It helps keep everyone on track. So, Ms. Kitty, why are we here today?

KK: Everyone knows that Mom is MY human. I sleep with her. I sit with her. I even follow her sometimes. But now that Mom’s home sleeping during the day, she (points at Snoops) is crawling up and sleeping in her arms before I can get there. And Mom lets her!

ALJ: What do you have to say to that, Ms. Snoops?

KK: You always napped downstairs with Dad and I was upstairs with Mom. Now you’re hogging both of them!

Super Snoops (SS): What about you? I always sit on Dad’s lap while he watches TV. Now I come into the room and you’re already there asleep. I have to guilt Mom out of her chair so I have somewhere warm to sleep.

KK: Don’t you remember? The wires in the electric blanket irritate your delicate paws. So I get the blanket that just happens to be on Dad’s lap.

SS: I can’t help it if you have tough feet. And delicate feelings.

ALJ: So what outcome are you looking for here?

KK: Don’t you decide that? Like maybe split Mom and Dad each in half so we can share better?

SS: Sometimes I think your head is fur all the way through. If we cut them in half, they’ll bleed a lot. Do you want to lay in that?

KK: EWW! No! I hadn’t thought about that.

ALJ: Have you two ever thought about sharing?

(SS and KK look at each other, perplexed)

SS: I thought you said you were smart. Cats don’t really like that word.

KK: Yeah. What do you mean?

ALJ: Couldn’t you both sleep with a human at the same time?

KK: We do that now.

(Now the judge is perplexed.)

ALJ: So what’s the problem?

KK: Who gets the arms and who gets the legs.

ALJ: Couldn’t you alternate?

KK: We do.

ALJ: So, again, what’s the problem? (He’s starts to growl under his breath.)

SS: We’re cats. We don’t like change.

ALJ: (Barking) Get out of here.

KK: Why?

ALJ: Because if you don’t, you’re both going in the kennel for a week.

(Snoops and Kommando run out and stop in the lobby)

KK: I knew it was a bad idea to come here as soon as I saw the dog.

SS: Yeah, dogs are so stupid sometimes. Know what we should do now?

KK: Of course.

Snoops and Kommando Sleeping_05292015

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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?

4

Maybe I Need a Stronger Scent

A while back, I saw a Jack Nicholson film, “Wolf”. It’s about a guy who hits a wolf with his car. He feels badly about it and gets out to check on the wolf. Unfortunately, it bites him. More unfortunately, it’s a werewolf. Of course, the guy starts turning into a werewolf himself.

One of my favorite scenes takes place in the corporate mens’ room. The company has been taken over, and his job was given to a favorite of the new company. He manages to get his job back. Then he sees his rival at the urinal. He goes over and urinates on the man’s very expensive shoes, marking his territory.

I was reminded of that scene last week. I have not been working weekends for a while, which was really nice. But then I discovered that no one from our department was helping unload the truck on Saturday mornings. Our biggest load day. No wonder everyone hates the deli. (Fortunately, no one ever remembers I’m part of the deli.)

I asked the Team Leader (TL) about it. “I don’t have anyone coming in that early.” Ummmm. Maybe you should schedule someone that early?

Short version – I said I’d work 1a – 9:30a. There was another woman who worked cheese during the day on Saturdays and Sundays. We’ll call her “J”. TL had thought it would be a great idea to have our schedules overlap by several hours. Just what the customers want on a busy Saturday morning – empty shelves and two people in their way trying to fill them.

Luckily she settled for a half hour overlap the first day. I had heard J was not the most pleasant person to work with. Oh, goody.

First thing she does after she comes in is moves one of my carts. “This is the way I work every weekend.” Okaaay. And I volunteered for this.

I’m hanging cheese, and she comes over. “I thought you were supposed to leave at 9.” “No, 9:30.” “TL told me 9.” I realized that it would irritate her more to be cheerful, so I said, “Well, the schedule says 9:30,” very sweetly. She stomped off.

This past weekend, J had something to do so we overlapped three hours. I taught her how to unload pallets, then left to do other things in the deli. I think I ceded my territory to her.

Not that this is the first time. I volunteered to do markdowns in the deli a couple of times. It’s now my job. Same with inventory checks.

They lost another stocker yesterday. After only 10 days. So I’m back to unloading meat and salads. And chickens. I hate chickens. “I don’t have anyone else to do it.”

Why can’t TL do it? In the past she’s told me, “Men should do this. It’s not a woman’s job.” Mmmm-hmmmm. Insulting to me and women in general. Not really that easy to do.

And TL wants me to help the guy on Friday with the deli load – “He’s so slow.” After I do the cheese load. And her markdowns. And her inventory checks. And set her stock.

Kicked out of another watering hole.

It’s not like it should surprise anyone. I’ve told you in the past about the animals around our yard not being afraid of me. I even had a woodchuck stare rather than run.

Apparently it’s gotten around the neighborhood. It’s still (very) dark when I go to work. The animals are wandering around, getting things ready for winter. In the past week, I’ve had two possums sit in the middle of the road (one was even on the line) and watch me go by. They must have gotten off the road shortly afterwards, since there were no bodies later.

Same with a little raccoon. He wandered onto the road and sat to watch me drive by. I think I know how the animals in the zoo feel. Three deer meandered past me on the road.

I would really, really hate to hit anything. But sitting and watching me drive by is embarrassing. I never thought of myself as an alpha- animal, but I think they might be pushing me somewhere south of gamma.

I guess it really doesn’t matter. With my luck, if I marked something it would just attract an amorous bear.