Thursday, September 04, 2014

Tote Dat Barge, Lift Dat Bale...

I begin working a new job in less than eight hours.

The job title is "merchandise processor" - a multi-syllabic way of saying "grunt." I will be working in the Warrendale warehouse of American Eagle Outfitters, packing, unpacking, sorting, counting and tagging merchandise.

While working AT American Eagle, I am employed by a company called System One, a staffing agency.

I wasn't particularly looking for a job when the hiring announcement showed up in my email inbox - thinking about looking, but not really looking. But three things appealed to me:


  • the pay: $11/hr for weekdays, $11.25/hr for weekends;
  • the shifts offered: Mon-Thur, 4 pm - 2 am; and Fri-Sun, 6 am - 6:30 pm. The latter option especially caught my eye because it offered a full-time paycheck for a three-day workweek, leaving Mon-Thur free to continue working to change the world.
  • the nature of the work: "Tote dat barge, lift dat bale" would actually provide psychic relief from working to change the world.

So I applied, and was interviewed, and the interviewer said, "I'd like to offer you the job," and I said, "I'd like to take it."

Just like that.

Not having been an employee for more than three years now, and having often experienced extended stretches of unemployment, and having heard so much about how hard it is to find work, especially if you're older, or especially (in Pittsburgh, paticularly) if you're Black, and having struggled with a fear of unemployability, I was greatly surprised by the ease with which I got this job.

Just as it did when I interviewed with David Shribman, executive editor at the Post-Gazette, the man who hired me there.

What if it has been true for a long time that I could get a job any time I wanted?

Writing that made me laugh. You know, ironically.

But seriously - how much time have I spent locked in prisons whose bars were made of thin air? I need to make stepping out of prison a default behavior. Oh, look - there's a fear in front of me. Step. Oh, look - now it's behind me.

At bottom, at the level of decision and action, it is truly that simple. Even when it feels extremely difficult, it remains extremely simple. Do, and observe how you survive.

Anyway, over the next three days, the challenge is to survive 12 1/2 hour days of what could be exhausting physical work. In coming months, I expect to gain muscle, lose fat and sleep excellently.

The job is slated to run through mid-December, with a good chance of an extension after that. The warehouse is closing in June, and my interviewer expressed doubt that the work of winding it down would be finished by December. So I may be there as long as until June, but no longer.

In that regard, I think this fits very nicely with growing my Legal Shield business. But more about that later. For now, time to head bedward - 5 a.m. will come way too soon.
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