Lost Freedoms

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Lost FreedomsIs anyone else besides me paranoid to say just about anything on their minds anymore?  I can’t stand that I have to police my every word just so I won’t give people the wrong impression or perhaps offend them in the slightest.  It’s gotten way out of control as far as I’m concerned.  There really isn’t much freedom of speech these days.  And it’s about to get worse.

I like to joke and laugh.  I love to make others laugh.  Even if it’s at my own expense.  I like off-color humor.  I’m not Politically Correct and never will be.  But I can’t even tell a fat joke (using myself as the target) without someone getting upset about it.  Why should they care?  The joke was about myself!  Hell Amy Schumer can talk about her vagina smelling like a farm animal and make money doing it.  I make a fat joke and someone loses their mind over it.  It’s insane.  Frankly I don’t find Amy Schumer funny at all.  However, she’s entitled to her style of humor and I should be entitled to mine.

Even worse, I tend to use my humor as a way to deal with being nervous.  I always feel out of place anymore as it is.  Like I don’t belong anywhere in this world.  Like I don’t fit in.  So I also use it to hide my anxiety and pain.  So I come off goofy.  Maybe that’s why no one likes me.  But today I got told I’m using Cocaine.  They based that off my being upbeat.  I wish they were joking, but they acted like I have a serious problem.  I didn’t get upset about it though.  My feelings weren’t hurt.  I simply suggested they should give me a drug test so they could have the satisfaction of being wrong.

Now if I were to make such an accusation about them; they would likely lose their mind and probably get me in trouble at work for it.

Then there’s the thing of finding the right people to have conversations with.  I can’t just start talking to someone about bring up any old subject anymore.  I might offend them because I may share a different viewpoint on whatever subject I was talking about.  If I write a blog, I have to spend hours being really careful about what I write and how I write about it.  I have to put disclaimers and such to keep people from being offended by my material.  To keep me from having my links removed from Facebook.  To keep my web host from canceling my account.  Because God forbid I have an opinion that may differ or offend someone.

Now Net Neutrality is about to end.  ISP’s will control what we see and how we get to it, if at all.  I may no longer be able to have a website.  Or perhaps people won’t be able to get to it if they don’t have the right package.  This censorship is seriously and insanely out of control.  No matter how loud we voice that this is not what we want or that we want to protect our freedom of speech, no one seems to care in the government to protect our rights to it anymore.  No one wants to hear a different point of view.

Whatever happened to if you don’t like it, go somewhere else or find a group who shares your views?  Whatever happened to saying, “I don’t agree, but it’s your point of view and I respect that.”?

Soon we will be channeled into seeing and hearing things one way.  You won’t get a choice.  Or to get your choice, it will cost you.

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Less Work Stress

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No, I won't fix your computer.I realize I need to find new things to write about.  Been a dry spell on anything interesting happening.

It’s been over a month now and I do feel a lot less stressed from day to day.  No more getting angry calls from people that won’t listen or follow directions.  Dealing with people that won’t pay their bills on time and getting snotty with me because I turned their service off.  The list goes on.

Now I get to make people laugh and feel good when I come to their door.  They don’t have to go out in the crap weather.  The job isn’t very hard or extremely demanding.  It’s a bit rough with my knee having not healed correctly with degenerative damage.  Which unfortunately has caused Plantar Fasciitis in my opposing foot.  I’m working with the VA doctor to get it worked out.  Though it could take several months before anything can be done for it.  Need to lose weight and I’ve been struggling with that for some time now.  They want me on a high vegetable and high fat diet.  Sounds weird as hell to me.  Though I’m not about to carry a damned diary around all day to count calories.

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I’m Over Being Nice

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Denny FUI try and I try to be nice to people.  When it comes to my customers; I try to make them laugh, I try to make them smile.  Which is the best part of my job.  I sometimes try to make them feel as if I don’t sweat the small stuff.  Such as when I tell them the total, perhaps I won’t worry about that fifteen cents.  So instead of $15.15, I just say it’s $15 even.  It was one of my things to get them to like me and perhaps give me a little something in return.  Such as a decent tip.  I do all these things to help increase my tips.  But that bit about knocking off a few cents, isn’t going to happen anymore.

I would do it up to say 35 cents.  After that I would say the whole total.

It’s not like it used to be 10 years ago.  Back then, we’d get $20 to make change with and the last $2 would be in various coins so we could give exact change if need be.  Generally we never needed to give change.  Customers would just make the tip some dollars and whatever change was left over.  That added up nicely after a lot of deliveries.  So as time went on, our starting bank just ended up $20 in all bills and we don’t give coin change to the customer.  So if the order is $15.15, the change back would be $4.  This way if they decide not to tip, we at least get 85 cents.

When you drop those few cents off, it can quickly add up to burning yourself out of several dollars.  Such as been the case lately.  If I say it’s only $15, they want the $5 change.  Simply stiffing me completely.

Also, I’m fairly sure people are just playing delivery drivers when they say, “The tip is included right?”.  No it’s not.  None of the places I’ve ever worked includes the tip.  There is a delivery fee, but it’s NOT the tip!  There has only been one place I ever worked that the whole delivery fee went to the driver.  I don’t work there anymore.

Let me explain how the delivery fee works.  If the fee is $1.50.  The driver only gets $1.10 of that fee.  Forty cents of it gets kept by the company to pay for the commercial insurance for the delivery drivers in case they get in an accident while on the clock.  But, we do not get that $1.10 until we get paid in our check.  This means that money gets taxed before we get to see it.  Generally speaking, we only see about 85 cents in total from that fee.  That’s barely enough to afford the gas we use at the current fuel costs today.  So let me repeat…

THE DELIVERY FEE IS NOT A TIP!!!

So, if you call for delivery, and you have the balls to stiff the person who stands in the rain and snow and sweltering heat; as well as suffer traffic to bring you food at your home or place of business.  You are a complete and utter tool.

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I Guess Not

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House RentTurns out I can’t afford this place alone on one full time job.  My post tax calculations of the income at my new job were a bit off.  At least during the slow seasons in fall and spring will be not be affordable.   Summer and winter won’t be much of a problem.  Though I’d rather find a more affordable abode.  This way I could afford it all year long and use the good months to build up my savings.

I could go with a roommate, but I have never once had good luck with having a roommate.  If I had a girlfriend, perhaps it wouldn’t be an issue.  Don’t have one of those at the moment.

Once my lease is up, I’ll stay elsewhere for a few months until weather is warmer.  Then find a new place to call my own.  Or if I get really lucky, someone special to share a place with.  Yeah… Keep dreaming Denny.

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It Looks Weird

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Denny ConfusedIf you’ve visited in the past couple of days, you may have noticed (and you will notice now that you’re reading this)…  The website looks drastically different.  I was sort of forced into this.  Let me explain.

I use WordPress.  I have for several years.  Way back in the day I did this site in plain HTML.  Then I discovered content managers.  I went from PHP-Nuke to NSN-Nuke.  Then DragonflyCMS and moved to E107.  They all had similar offerings but none had everything I needed.  Then I started messing with WordPress.  It was well known and used on many popular sites.  I really got into it when I started using Artisteer to create themes and learned some about PHP programming.  For years I could make my site look exactly like I wanted.  I could have all sorts of features.

Sadly WordPress does have some major drawbacks.  But it’s not the fault of the WordPress authors.  It’s the community.  There are literally thousands of plugins and themes you can get for WordPress.  Up until recently I could pretty much make my site do whatever I needed.  If a plugin didn’t do exactly as I wanted, I could figure out how to change the code to work for me.  However the problem comes when WordPress updates and breaks old plugins.  Or plugins and themes get forgotten about and don’t get updated to work with new versions of WordPress.  Then things break on my site and don’t work so well.

Like my photo gallery.   Once I had all my pictures on Google and pulled them in with a simple plugin.  That broke one day a few months ago.  Plugin was abandoned.  Google changed their format and I had to find a new plugin.  I hated every plugin I came across.  So I finally gave up and used the built-in gallery WordPress has.  Takes a lot of space hosting the photos locally and it’s not as nice as what I had.  But it works.

More recently a plugin I used to have my short URL’s shown on my site broke.  Caused some havoc and I had to paste some crude code in to get it to work.  I’m still fixing the mess it left behind.  In working the code, my theme is horribly outdated.  Artisteer stopped making their software in 2015.  I haven’t found a suitable solution to replace it.  Their code is very convoluted anyways.  So I had to settle on finding a ready made theme that I could modify to my needs.  Hence you see what you see now.  That’s of course after looking through thousands of themes and not finding anything that looked even close to what I had.

Therein lies another problem with WordPress.  Thousands of free themes.  But they are neutered in functionality unless you cough up $70 (PER YEAR!) for function and support.  It’s a money making racket.  Even this one is holding back on functions unless I pay.  Not paying.  I had to modify the source code to get my short URL’s to show.  Allow zooming on mobile devices.  Do outdated browser detection and a few other things I need.

Of course all these changes causes my security software for my website to go bat-shit crazy because I have modified source files.  That’s another major drawback to WordPress.  Being so popular.  It’s a big target for hackers.  Plus…  All the plugins and themes may have flawed code to also cause security holes.  Sometimes having my own website is a real pain in the ass.  Especially now that I don’t have a lot of time to sit and pick at the code all day.  I have a real job now.

So…  It may change again in the coming months if I find a better theme or have to change plugins.  Or modify the code.  Though I’m doing my best to make it fit me.  Especially since I noticed just now in mobile format, the sidebar widgets don’t show at all 😡

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It Feels Weird

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Jet Pizza DeliveryIt felt so weird getting up Monday morning and not checking for updated software.  Not clocking in and doing tech support.  I’ve done it for so long.  It is such an embedded habit to do.  That’s all it had become over the years.  A habit.  It wasn’t a job anymore.  It was just something I did.  Day after day, year after year.  It’s only been a few days since the change.  Yet each morning I feel this urge to check for updated software, and want to start my day as I have for 14 years.

Instead it’s hard to get motivated, because I don’t start my new job until 11am.  The first 4 days of the week are rough because it’s from 11am to 8pm (one is noon to 9pm).  Makes for a very long day.  Then I have one short day from 5pm to 11pm.  Hard to really get anything done on the long days.  I’ll get home and all I will want to do is relax.

It’s going to take weeks to determine if I made a good decision.  Especially since I started in the slow season.  Then again, my history of decision making over the past three decades has been less than positive overall.  I’m getting too old to keep fighting so hard to make things work.  Would just be nice for a change for things to just work out.

I’m also worried about Christmas again this year.  In about a month I’ll be living alone again.  Which means I’ll be spending everything I make to keep the rent paid, and the heat and lights going.  I’d advertise for a roommate, but I will only have 3 months left on the lease.  Can’t ask someone to move for just 3 months.  At this point I don’t know if I’ll be renewing it.  Not that I want to move in the winter.  But a previous situation changed the lease from June to February.  All I can say is it wasn’t my doing.  No one in their right mind would want to start a lease in the winter.

Everything just feels weird.

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Goodbye Widomaker

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Goodbye WidomakerI’m about to do something very scary.  I’m about to quit my day job.  As well as my current night job, but I’m not upset about that.  It’s not because Widomaker did something to upset me.  Actually, this has been a long time coming, but I’ve never taken that leap until now.  It is just hard to say goodbye to something I’ve had for so very long.  I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and into the unknown.

I’ve worked for Widomaker since the day after Hurricane Isabel hit Virginia in September 2003.  Driving around downed power lines, closed roads and fallen trees just to get to work.  My first day wasn’t so much about tech support as it was babysitting generators and making sure they always had gas in them.  I’ve had a lot of fun and learning in my 14 years there.

Both the original owner and the current owner have treated me very well.  I appreciate when things got hard on my health I was allowed to work from home 1000 miles away.  Though about a year after I came back to Michigan, my hours were cut in half.  I had to find a part time job to make up the other half.  Three and a half years later, working two jobs has sometimes been very challenging.   Sometimes never having much time off.  Rushing from the day job to the night job because someone called out.  Working 50, 60 and sometimes more hours every week.

For the past two plus years, I had always kept an eye out for a full time job.  I had hoped for one that I enjoy, but also had benefits.  I’m still looking for that.  Between having been burnt out on doing tech support for a very long time and this recent issue of my night job not being what I wanted.  I found a single full time job.  It’s doing driving for the other pizza place in town.  It’s a much larger chain than the “corporate” one I’m leaving.  They currently have over 400 stores in 20 states.  {insert bitch slap here}  I’ll be averaging 38 to 42 hours a week.  Possibly more.  No benefits though.  I have VA Benefits for health.  Dental I’ll have to find on my own.  I do vision out of pocket.  Walmart is affordable and does a decent job on my glasses.  I have accepted that I’ll never be able to retire a long time ago.  Though living to retirement age would be a good goal.

Widomaker has been great.  Though these days I cringe every time the phone rings.  People don’t appreciate the help they get and treat us as a necessary nuisance.  They are angry and generally inconsolable.  They don’t listen.  They won’t follow directions.  They ask for impossible things.  They expect things that just insane.

I wish this was a complete farce, but frankly these calls do happen.

It’s time for a change.

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Back to Looking

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No DriverColor me fooled.  We talked at length during my interview with my current night job.  At no point was it ever said, “We aren’t looking for drivers.”.  Or anything similar to that statement.  The only thing the manager said was, “You know driving isn’t all that a driver does right?”.  No kidding.  I’ve done this job on and off for over 30 years at many different places.  Papa Johns (x3), Domino’s (x3), Chanello’s, Pizza Tonight, some small chain in Petoskey that’s no longer there and this place (x2).  That was on my application.  So yeah I know I will also have to take and make orders.  Prep food and clean.  It’s not my first run at this rodeo.  Nor was it said we need mid-day and morning people.

I also put on my application I am available to work nights and weekends.  That I work a day job.  All this was clear.  I even explained in person that I was looking for 3 – 4 nights.  Something like 4 or 5pm until close.  Which would give me 20 – 25 hours per week.  This manager however lives in an alternate reality.  The past two weeks I’ve been coming in at 1pm.  I figured it was for “training”.  So I’ve been rushing from the day job to the night job.  I thought this would change after the first two weeks.

When I looked at the new schedule, it was all 1pm shifts except one.  It was for 9am.  So immediately I queried about this.  Get this, they asked me to change my day shift schedule to fit theirs.  Not happening.  Homie is pissed.  On top of that, I’ve only taken a handful of deliveries since I started there.  Turns out I’m not a driver, but listed as one when they need someone to pick up the deliveries other drivers can’t handle on busy nights.  Oh yeah, let’s also mention I’ve been generally working from 1pm to 8pm or 11pm.  I’m likely to get overtime.  But standing on my knee for all those hours, hurts like hell.

So I, as politely as I could, said no.  I won’t switch my day job schedule.  I re-explained what I applied for.  So now it’s 5pm to whenever a few nights a week.  Still doesn’t fix the fact I’m not actually a driver.  What I applied to be.  I have never applied for a job before to be something other than what I applied.  I didn’t hire in at my day job to be a janitor.  I am a tech.  What I applied for.  Never have I applied to a pizza place to be an inside person.  I’ve always asked to be a driver.  I enjoy it.  Time to find a new job.  Even if it’s out of town again I guess.

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The New Night Job

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Denny PizzaWell I can’t say much about it or be specific.  NDA, hush-hush, super secret society bullshit.  Let’s just say I’ve worked at this company before.  They like to think of themselves as a big deal.  Whatever, they have a handful of stores.  The last chain I worked for had more stores than these folks have.  They weren’t all hoity toity about it.  Just as a comparison, this place is almost 30 years old.  They have a little over 30 stores.  That’s just over 1 store per year.  I worked for Domino’s and in 30 years they celebrated their 1000th store opening.  Now that’s a big deal.  For all their talk and manuals, a lot of the “rules” aren’t followed as strictly as they would like.

As I dig into the trenches, the crew is fairly decent.  They like to have fun and so far none of them have been a problem to work with.  They do work.  A lot…  Saturday I worked 10 hours with no breaks.  It was balls to the wall most of the time.  The only down side is in the first week I didn’t take many deliveries.  Hopefully once training is over, I get behind the wheel every time I work.  I didn’t hire in to be an inside person.  If they are thinking differently, I’ll move on quickly.

I still wear a knee brace, though more for stability now than anything else.  Several hours straight on my legs hurts like hell.  I’m not about to put myself back in medical care for that.

It’s not a bad job though, but I’d rather be back at Mancino’s.  That’s just not an option at the moment.  If I move more North Western as I want to do eventually.  Perhaps I can grab a job at Mancino’s in Petoskey or perhaps the Jets.  They also have more pizza places up there.  Though Boyne City is also looking like a nice place to land as well.  Anything to get me out of Gaylord.  We don’t just live in the snow belt.  We live in the fucking buckle.  Prized to having more snow than any other Michigan town in the lower peninsula.  Go in any direction out of town during winter and you can watch the level of snow go down greatly.  The year I did delivery in Petoskey, we’d have 2-3 feet of snow but get by Larry’s Bar and the snow was almost gone completely.  I’m all for less snow.

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Goodbye Mancino’s

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Goodbye Mancino'sBefore I got injured, I was seriously considering making Mancino’s my full time job when my day job eventually goes away for whatever reason.  I really was.  I enjoyed working at Mancino’s.  Most of the crew was nice and fun.  I loved most of our customers and I’ll miss them.

Since I’ve been cleared to go back to work, it’s been nothing short of an epic struggle to get any kind of hours.  During the last week of August, I was scheduled 5 measly hours.  That’s it.  I had two weeks of good hours out of the past five weeks.  Another week, I only had 4 hours.  One week I had absolutely no hours at all.  I can’t live off of that.  Let alone pay my new debt to the insurance company that screwed me during the Workmen’s Comp time I had.

Do you know how I got injured?  I was called in to work on my night off.  It was Sunday, June 4th.  I clocked in at 4:14pm.  I rushed to get deliveries out that were getting old, because the scheduled driver had to leave.  By 4:40pm I twisted my knee.

While not my finest decision.  Once I got on my feet, I rushed home to get a knee brace and then continued to work the rest of the night.  To the point I could hardly walk at all.  That’s how dedicated I am to the job.  It wasn’t like I could visit the designated clinic for work injuries anyway.  It closed at 4pm that day.  Either way, I had to wait until Monday to go.

In the 19 months I’ve worked for Mancino’s, I never was late for work.  I can easily say that about 80% of the time I was at work an hour early.  In case our day driver (who is up in years), wanted to leave early.  I called out of work once.  Once.  For the stomach flu.  I even paid $50 to go to the clinic just for a doctor’s note.  Colds?  I take some Coricidin HBP and traipse my body to work.  We carry too much cash, I bought and installed a drop box.  This way we don’t need to do that anymore.  They probably will never use it.  That’s not on me.  I tried.  I cared.  I rarely declined when they called me in to cover for someone.  Generally the only time I declined extra hours was if I was out of town.  No one cleaned the floors like I did.  I was faithful to this job.

I get injured and they can’t even throw me a bone for hours.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was this statement, “I don’t know when or if ever you’ll get your hours back.”.  That and the lack of backing from the other folks who I thought cared.  I’m not about to sit by the phone every day waiting to get a call because someone called out.  I want a decent set of hours every week.

I see now that my efforts and faithfulness were in vain.  I’m sorry I got injured.  I’m sorry I was out seven weeks and three days.  I’m not sorry for being a good employee who the customers love.  I frequently asked about my performance, and was never given an unkind comment about my work from any of the management.

Suddenly I’m glad I didn’t go full time there.  I would’ve come back to nothing after my injury.  The people who filled my spot while I was gone know me.  They knew I was coming back.  Clearly neither of them are willing to lose a few hours for me.  That’s just a kick in the face to top all this off.

Goodbye Mancino’s 🙁

Incidentally, this month makes it officially 14 years I’ve been with my day job.  They still appreciate me 😋

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