Monday, November 9, 2009

Enjoying my retirement....

This past Sat nite I "celebrated" 6 yrs at my current job (cashier/gas-station attendant) -- which, I realized with something like shock, is the longest time I've spent at the same job & same location EVER. I was w/ the Air Force 4 10 yrs, but was never NEwhere longer than 3-1/2 yrs. While writing 4 civilian newspapers, I never spent more than 5 yrs&9 mo's at the same location or with the same paper.
In addition 2 Bing grateful just 2 HAVE a job under the current economy, I guess I'm getting even-more set in my ways as I get older. I guess I'm "enjoying" my retirement from reporting. Kinda. Doesn't mean I don't sometimes hate my job. It can get boring. A lot of it's really mechanical, the same thing over & over -- that's not necessarily a BAD thing. If I'm tired I can still get thru it cos I've done it so many times. Just keep moving & keep the coffee flowing....
But just when U think U've seen & heard it all, U haven't. People will always suprise U. Fri nite I had something happen that was a 1st 4 me after 6 yrs. I had a woman accuse me of Bing a racist Bcos I wouldn't turn-on a gas-pump 4 her.
I work nites. I don't switch-on the pumps 4 NEBODY I don't know, NE1 who's not a Regular or who hasn't built-up some trust by repeated visits. But this woman was in a hurry & I didn't tell her what she wanted 2 hear. I'd never Cn her B4.
I try 2 B nice 2 folks, but the occassional stress can get me, & when it gets busy I can get short w/ people just by trying 2 keep up with the pace. & on Fri nites if I can't keep up I can get buried.
This woman wanted me 2 give her a blank check while it was busy, & I wouldn't do it.
& she said: "Do you want me to pay first because you have a lot of drive-offs, or because I'm a Mexican and you don't trust me?"
I had to ask her to repeat this, because I couldn't Blieve she said it. Actually, I didn't think she was Mexican. She looked more like she came from India.
I Xplained why I couldn't do what she wanted & we worked it all out, but she wasn't very happy & I don't think she really heard me. & I don't think she'll B back. But at least she didn't threaten my job. Not that I'm worried. I didn't do NEthing wrong. & I know I've treated people far worse & survived it.
Here's the thing: I always try 2 B nice & especially polite 2 women. So much so, apparently, that sevral people have asked my co-workers if I'm gay. (I'm not, not that there's NEthing wrong w/ that, I'm trying 2 paint U a picture.) The politeness is just the way I was raised. That's the way I was taught 2 act when I'm working -- that's "professional." I've had customers ask my bosses if I'm gay just Bcos they thot I was in "too good a mood." Hey, if I'm in a good mood, it shows. & I had 1 woman customer a few yrs back tell me "You're too Ghod-damned happy." She shoulda cot me on 1 of my bad nites -- if I'm in a bad mood while I'm working, U'd better duck.
Bing a reporter & Bing a cashier hava lot in common. U take a lotta crap from people. 1 thing about cashiering -- I don't think about my job when I'm not there, & when I get home at the Nd of my shift, I still have enuf of a brain left 2 do what I want. Back when I was a reporter, at the Nd of the day the LAST thing I wanted 2 do was write. I didn't wanna think. I didn't wanna do NEthing.
Course cashiering sure ain't what U'd call "creative." Not 2 much, NEway. & probly a more "professional" cashier wouldn't let people or the stress of the job get 2 him.
1 thing I learned as a reporter is that "professionalism" is really overrated. Give me a Real Person rather than a Professional NEtime. Not sure how professionalism is sposta help U when an 80-yr-old man tells U yr milk prices R "a fucking rip-off." Not sure how professionalism is sposta help when a Regular screams that he's never shopping in yr store again Bcos he can never count on whether the station will actually HAVE gasoline or not....
I KNOW how professionalism helps when some guy apparently Xplodes in the bathroom & spreads crap all over the toilet, the floor & the walls.... I know how it helps when drunks ask U EVERY SINGLE DAY 2 give them a break on the price of their beer, when drunken women flirt w/ U when they barely speak the rest of the time, when some guy SCREAMS gibberish at U about the high price of gasoline then tears out of the parking-lot narrowly missing other cars on his way out, when U Nd-up giving-away $150 in "free" gas all in 1 day 2 people who wanted U 2 trust them.... In situations like those, professionalism gets U thru it, the knowledge that nothing's going 2 happen that U can't handle.
I'm glad I have a job, & I'm glad I have THIS job in a small town, where most people R human & not 2 rude & usually not in 2 big a hurry. The fact that they can make the SIMPLEST things immensely complicated is human nature, I guess.
I'm way less stressed now than I was as a reporter -- tho it may not sound like it. But the stresses R diffrent. They're usually face-2-face. As a reporter I was most used-2 getting screamed-at over the phone by people who didn't want news-stories written about them. I even sorta knew how 2 handle it when an interview-subject asked me if I was "a good Christian man" B4 she'd agree 2 talk 2 me -- probly still the weirdest question I was ever asked.
These days, if I'm gonna get yelled at, it's gonna happen right there in front of me. & usually, if I can keep my mood up & stay positive, let people know I'm trying 2 help them, it'll all work out. Of course some things I can't fix. & sometimes Bing FULLY AWAKE isn't actually helpful. Having a little distance from things is good.
U'd think I'd know more about how 2 handle folks after 6 yrs of this. But I don't. I just try 2 get along. I try 2 do good. I do the best I can.
I know I've bn happier since my "retirement" from reporting -- I just didn't realize I was Njoying it quite so much. Not 6 yrs' worth. It's nice 2 have a brain left when I get home. It's just 2 bad that I don't have THAT MUCH of a brain left....

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