Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Burbs

So, it's official, I live in the 'burbs. Yes, they could be the very same ones as in the 1989 blockbuster of the very same name. I think growing up on idyllic and tiny SSI gave me a very romantic idea of what the suburbs were about. Where I lived we didn't really have neighbours. You can't on a 22.5 acre farm. I mean, we obviously had people who lived next to us, but not in the same way I do now. We couldn't just walk across the street to borrow a cup of sugar; we actually had to walk down the hill, over the bridge, and up through the forest. Really. We had no garage and couldn't see our neighbour's house.

The sounds of the place I grew up were as follows: birds, llamas occasionally doing their weird braying when something suspect was afoot, and frogs. The sounds of suburbia, as I've been noticing are: birds and frogs, but also automatic garage doors and lawnmowers. The latter item brings me to the real reason I'm writing this post: lawn care. More specifically: maintenance. More specifically than that, even: push mowers.

GP's mum's gas-powered lawnmower is not working and has not been since we moved in and, since GP has a full-time job and values hanging out with me in his spare time more than fixing lawnmowers (and I wouldn't even know how to go about fixing it if I did), it has been sitting un-repaired for a while. Long enough that the grass grew embarrassingly high and I grew frustrated with it and decided to take matters into my own hands. Little did I know that those very hands would be aching and blistered by day's end. I can write more about this ordeal in a handy how-to format for your future mowing (dis)pleasure.

How to Mow Your Lawn Manually or So You've Chosen Suicide: A Guide

Phase one: Preparation. Prepare yourself as though you are running a marathon. Heed the immortal words of Ice Cube: "[lawn-mowing] ain't a track meet; it's a marathon".

1. Clear out your schedule for the day. If this doesn't take you at least three hours, you're doing it wrong.

2. Fill a water bottle but remind yourself it is only to be used in a life-or-death situation, seeing as if you take a break you will never ever want to get back to it.

3. Make a playlist for your iPod. This will keep you motivated like nothing else. Avoid songs by artists like Sarah Mclachlan and Coldplay. If you're anything like me, I suggest you go for angry gangsta rap or anything by ABBA.

4. If it's a sunny day (which it most certainly has not been for the most part in my part of the world), protect yourself as needed. This goes doubly for my fair fellow frecklies.

Phase two: Work. This part is fairly self-explanatory.

5. Under no circumstances once you start mowing are you to take a break. Not a drink of water, not to check to see if anyone has called, not to bandage up your hand blisters, not for ANYTHING. The only time you stop is if you are on the brink of death, if you finish the job, or if a slow song comes on in your music shuffle. Stopping will make you realize how foolish you are by undertaking this gigantic endeavor.

6. Get into a rhythm. If you're a first timer, like I was, you'll realise there is a definite method to the madness. If you get the blades going at the right speed and the right angle at the right time, you'll be able to cut the longer grass down so you can go over it directly again afterwards. That probably doesn't really make much sense. Oh well. Just don't let your lawn grow to jungle-tastic lengths and you won't have that problem.

7. Silently (or not) curse your neighbours who walk past and do not offer to let you use their motorized mowers. Really, is it so very hard to say "Hey, I noticed you're sweating your tits off and this is taking you hours. You are more than welcome to use my fancy schmancy LawnMower 3000 for the rest of the lawn"?! No, it most certainly is not. If someone had offered I would've even chipped in a few bucks for the gas. Oh well, we'll see who is somehow out of sugar when they come knocking for a cup...

Phase three: PME, or Post-Mowing Euphoria/Exhaustion.

8. Once you're finished, don't bother looking at your neighbours' lawns. Your lawn will not look as good as theirs. Comparing will just make you frustrated. Your lawn will likely look similar to my grandpa's head: bald with a few tenacious bits sticking up that you can't hack down no matter how hard you try.

9. Pry your hands off the mower. They will be curled to fit the shape of the handle; that's perfectly normal. Wrap those mitts around a beverage either hot or ice-cold, depending on the temperature of the day.

10. Get your motorised lawnmower fixed as soon as possible.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Peaks and Valleys

So, I have a half-finished post saved that I wrote a few days ago about all the things I hated about my job and, as luck would happen, I got fired today. Wait, rewind, I'll start from the beginning.

Today I received a phone call from my manager telling me not to come in to work tomorrow because they had hired new people and had training shifts scheduled for them. She said I was to come in on Monday, which was fine with me. Then I phoned her back because I remembered a few dates I wanted to give her far in advance that I would be unavailable. She told me to fill out the form they have for requesting days off and I said that wouldn't be a problem I'd do it on Monday, and to have a good weekend and "bye!". All's well, right?

She phoned back not five minutes later, saying "I don't think this is going to work". I was unsure what she meant. It totally blindsided me. She went on to say "With the time you took off at the beginning and then the time you're requesting now, I just don't think it's going to work". I told her that the time I was requesting now was far in the future and that my volunteering was only once a month. She didn't care; she talked over me and told me how I was to go about collecting my paycheque. I said "I'm sorry it won't work" and all she said was "yeah" and I said "ok, bye". What a bitch.

This leaves me feeling a few different things. The first is shock, because I did well in that job, and I had never been fired before. The second is sadness, because I won't be able to go in there anymore and because I liked some of my coworkers. The third is frustration, because now I have to find a new job without the support of already having one and because I did absolutely nothing wrong.

Here are the reasons I hated that dumb job anyway:

1. Bitchy micromanagers who make me do stupid busy work when I'm already actually doing something useful. You are not better than me because you actually want to work there.

2. After I came back from Edmonton nobody asked me how it was or said "It's nice to see you again" or "We missed you" or whatever. It seemed like nobody noticed I was gone. I don't want to work somewhere I don't feel needed or appreciated.

3. The floor was really hard and my feet hurt like the Dickens after walking around all day.

4. The owners and managers did not trust the employees: there were cameras everywhere and I was told they watch the tape. The employees would be watched and they would be fired if they weren't always looking busy or helping someone. That's bullshit. I want to work hard because I respect my boss and believe in the product being sold, not because I'm afraid of being fired.

5. The pay was shitty. Better than the other stores in the mall (or so I was told), but still shitty.

6. Almost every product they sold was made in China and had a HUGE mark-up. I don't want to have to sell things I wouldn't buy normally.

7. Michael Buble, Andrea Bocelli, Il Divo, and the Hair soundtrack are great and all, but not when you listen to them over and over and over.

8. The dress code was quite strict and hypocritical. We had to wear all black, but we could "accessorize" with white. That meant we could wear a white headband (ew), or white jewelery (ew again) or a white shirt under a sweater, but it couldn't show too much. I once wore a white cardigan and the manager took me aside and told me it was "too much white". Like the customers would even notice or give a fuck. And as for the hypocritical part, the managers could wear grey when they felt like it, and the owner's daughter could wear whatever the hell she liked.

9. There were rules and forms for everything and it was only a small store! I'm not sure a job could be more bureaucratic unless you worked for the government.

10. They didn't recycle or compost. Maybe this should be at the top of the list.

In summation, I am disappointed. Mostly because I want/need to have money. But also because I'm pretty sure my good looks and incredible people skills made my manager feel threatened because she is fat and ugly and comes off sounding phony and condescending when she talks to customers. I'm thinking this probably happened so that I could find something much better. Onwards and upwards. Hooray for positivity!