Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Soon the leaves will be the color of my new fondue pot.

The first day of August! I'm ready for this new month, tipping toward a new season--fall, my favorite. 
August with its chirpy whirring noises; squirrels and apples growing round and heavy; now it's all blue and green but in a few weeks it'll be orange red maples and yellow buses outside my window... 

It'll be a while yet, but I look forward to my neighborhood getting quieter: the colder the temps, the fewer people passing by my windows in the middle of the night, arguing or partying.

And it'll be cool enough to bike to work. I don't want to arrive all hot and sweaty, so I've been taking my bike to work on the city-bus rack and cycling back home.

Happy development:
I can now fairly easily bike up the big hill that I could barely huff and puff my way up on my first week at work. Yay!

I haven't lost any weight since I started 6 weeks ago, but I'm definitely a lot stronger, and I'm extremely happy about that. If I think of my job as a get-in-shape camp, I don't resent the employer so much.

Turns out, surprise, surprise, the thrift store is a terrible employer. I'd even almost say mildly evil, if seen from the large political-philosophy pov. Hm, can one coherently say "benignly evil"? * 
I mean, they don't beat you and chain you to the counter and refuse you toilet breaks, but although the industry's mission is to train people for work and thereby "to enhance the dignity and quality of life," they treat the workers in their store as mechanical cogs. 

They employ only part-time workers, mostly young people (not a bad temp job for a high-schooler) or poor people who don't have much option to leave. (Some don't think it's such an evil employer: one coworker told me this job is a huge improvement on his last job, unpacking thousands of pallets at the Dollar Store.)

But the rules are designed (and often enforced) to keep people not only underpaid, with no health care, sick or holiday pay or other benefits, but mindless and powerless.  
There's no way, for instance, to offer feedback or suggestions--your opinion is not wanted, thank you very much. And certainly you should never take any independent action; everything must be OK'd by a manager. 

For all my complaints over the years about the publishing world, I relish that it's all about the value of using your own initiative and your brain to poke and prod. Fifteen years ago, I got into trouble as a new proofreader for not questioning enough:
the managing editor told me I had to become more suspicious of printed text--I was too respectful of it. Question every comma, every spelling, and even though it's not the proofer's job, every assertion.

I color outside the lines at the thrift store, despite the rules, just like I did at the place where I used to  volunteer, where it was grudgingly allowed. I could be fired for some of what I do, bending rules to help out customers. Nothing illegal, just not policy compliant--for instance, agreeing to hold an item for a couple hours. I wouldn't be fired for that, but I've seen the top boss flat-out refuse to do this sort of thing, on principle. (He's an ass.)

At the organizational level, the place is disheartening, but on the floor, I like the job a lot--getting to know my coworkers & their sometimes-baffling culture (I don't get how information flows among them--it's not by direct questioning),  and working with donated stuff.

And there's wriggle room, of course, once you get to know the place. It's not my job, for instance, but the other day I had a blast making up Grab Bags of assorted little toys from a big bin where the donation-sorters toss them. The top boss would have chastised me, insultingly lecturing me on my proper role, but he wasn't there. 

The donation-sorter and the boss working that day were simpatico, and they were happy to let me do it, though they and several other coworkers have let me know they think I'm odd for liking toys. (I don't get it, but it seems none of my coworkers like toys). 
But it's an OK oddness, in their eyes.
One said, "I have to admit the toy aisle's a lot better since you've been here." (I've done things such as wash a dirty doll and her dress in the break room sink so she can go out for sale.) 

They baffle me, and I baffle them. 
Coworkers have also expressed surprise that I like working in the book aisles, stocking, weeding, and arranging.
When a coworker was showing me how that section is arranged (just barely), they said, "This side is. . .  fiction. That's stories that are made up, right?"  
So, actually, it's not baffling that they don't like working with the books--it's like me in the electronics aisle: 
it's hard to sort stuff when you don't know what it is. 
I just put objects with other objects that look similar. Though if I can, I ask customers what they are. For all the good that does me.

Did you know students still use handheld calculators?
I didn't. I asked customers who buy them, and they say they're for math classes. Huh. I'd thought those were gone the way of the rotary phone.

And all the kitchen gadgets ever sold on TV---they come to us. Apple peelers, -dicers, and -driers; wine aerators, coolers, and corkers; molds for every fashion of food, from cake-pops to ice; and every kind of coffeemaker known to humans. For a while we had four orangey-red electric woks...

I bought an orange, electric (because I hate the odor of butane) fondue pot with five teak-handled fondue forks. 
(Six dollars. 1960s?) 

This model > > >
($34 on etsy), 
except my fork handles are teak, to match the accents on the base.

Melted cheese... mmmmm.
I'm going to give bink a fondue birthday dinner for her 60th birthday, next month in September.

This is the classic Swiss fondue recipe I'll use (from Epicurious):

3 cups dry white wine
2 tablespoon cornstarch
4 teaspoons kirsch
1 pound Emmental cheese
1 pound Gruyère

To Dip
•Cubes of French bread
•Cubes of apple and pear 
•Julienned raw red bell pepper
•Blanched broccoli florets 

* When I googled "benign evil" I got a bunch of returns about Hobbes--including the "Hobbes Was Right" trope, from the amusing website, TV Tropes. (I used this site in my fandom research.) 
But by saying the employer may be "benignly evil" I do NOT mean to imply that Hobbes Was Right!


makiko hastings said...

Happy new month to you too Fresca. Thank you for popping by my new post. I do appreciate.
Love the idea of you biking to work. I did once, and like you said I turned out with hot and sweaty, and pretty horrible so I went back to driving... Now I don't go to elsewhere so I don't drive as much as I used to, which is great but I think I'd better get my bike out for exercise!
Hope you enjoy August!

Bink said...

Mmmmm...that will make beautiful fondue.