31 July 2008

The Fish

Last year I worked in a fuel dock, or gas station for boats, in Tofino, BC. As the float supervisor, I was meant to hang about down on the floats, rather than in the store with the other employees. One very foggy morning, I was going about my business, coiling hoses and such, when a small motorboat puttered into my line of sight. The engine was dying- the problem later proved to be a mucky carburetor. Anyway, they didn't quite make it to the dock. I had to throw them a line and haul them in.

These three old fellas were in Tofino on a fishing trip, which, unfortunately, could not get underway until the engine was fixed. While one of the gentlemen went ot up to the store to see about the carb, I stayed and passed the morning with the other two. As there were few other boats out on that foggy day, we had plenty of time. By the time the fog burned off and the motor was putting again, we were all fast friends. They swore to bring me a fish in honor of the way I had reeled them in.

I assumed I'd never see them again, of course. To my surprise, though, they came back at the end of my shift, the next day. With a fish. A coho, just like this one:

Such are the good days, even in shit jobs.

28 July 2008

Plastic Bags: It ends here.

A letter to the editor of my local newspaper, published here for anyone doesn't live in Victoria.

I want to commend Oak Bay residents. Many of them try to reduce waste by using cloth grocery bags rather than plastic ones. As a Safeway cashier, I’m in a position to notice and appreciate this.

However, for every conscientious person who brings bags, there’s another who doesn’t seem to care. They wrap each item- the coffee, the chicken, the single apple, and the tiny box of pills- in its own produce bag, and expects the cashier to put the whole lot in another plastic bag at the checkout. Sometimes they even ask for double bags, lest their hands get sore from carrying that heavy load.

The usual justification for this is to prevent coffee grounds from getting on the apple, or fluid from the chicken leaking out. But why? Stuff washes off.

It almost hurts to think of the reams of flimsy plastic that pass through my hands every day. I want it to stop. It’s possible- Ireland has almost eliminated the use of plastic bags by simply of taxing the heck out of them. People waste things that are free, but a 25-cent tax will make them think. It would make me think too- I occasionally use plastic bags myself, even though I have fabric ones at home. I wouldn’t mind some help breaking the habit.

Not to generalize, but I have noticed a pattern in the worst of the bag-wasters. They tend to pay close attention to discounts, quibble over sales prices, and count their change carefully. I think people of this temperament would respond very quickly to a bag tax.

I don’t understand, in fact, why BC doesn’t have a bag tax already, seeing how well it has worked for the Irish. Perhaps the people in charge of these things are just waiting until enough citizens demand it, to be sure it’s what we really want. In that case, add my name to the list.

23 July 2008

How To Deflect Hatred

When you are paying for your purchases in a store, especially a high volume grocery store, 9 times out of ten, you are in close proximity to someone who hates you. Severely, passionately, hates you. I speak of the cashier. S/he hates you because you do the same annoying things that every single customer does. Time wasting, idiotic little things that make the poor cashier want to do violence. As a public service, I want to explain how to avoid bringing this psychic wrath down on yourself.

1. Don't count change.

If you're paying cash, use bills. Don't count out every damn penny, especially if you're old and you don't know how to count and your hand shakes. Just put your stupid change in a jar and take it to the bank once a month. Let them deal with it-it's their job. At the store, just pay fast and get out.

If you really don't have any money but change, forgawdssake let the cashier count it, okay? They're good at it. It's their job.

2. If you brought your own bags, say something.

Don't wait until the packer has already loaded most of your stuff into plastic, and then make them take it out and repack it. Get your head out of your ass and speak up.

3. Also, don't bring floppy bags.

Look, you brought your own bags, it's good, you're a good person, saving the environment and stuff. You're much holier than the person in no. 4. Still, don't bring your grungy old bags from the seventies. They are floppy and hard to pack, and the cashier has to waste time wrestling with them. It sucks.

4. Don't be a pansy.

Ooh, this bag is too heavy. Can you double bag it? Wah, I have a bad back. Don't pack too much stuff in the bag. Could I have a bag for this tiny bottle of medicine? For this single apple? To put my asshole in after the cashier tears me a new one?

Man up and take the heavy bags. If you can't handle it, go die. You're probably too old to live anyway.

5. The cashier has no fucking clue how much stuff costs, and doesn't care.

It's a big store, okay? The prices are marked right on the shelves, if you want to know, go look. Don't ask me.

This is a partial list. I think I've forgotten something. But next time you go to the cashier, analyze your actions. Think, would it be annoying if I had to watch someone do this 1000 time a day? If yes, don't do it. Kthxbai.

18 July 2008

Whoa, veggies...you can eat those?

Hmm. So there don't seem to be very many motorbike mechanic courses around. In fact, the nearest one seems to be in Saskatchewan. That's on hold for a bit while I think about it, I guess.

Anyway, about actually working. It's simply amazing what sunshine, good sleep, and decent food can do for a person's mood. I've tried living healthily for the last few days, and I must say, I'm feeling pretty kick-ass. You know, spinach and such. Onions. Blueberries. Whatever, it doesn't take much.

Also, my sleep rhythm was completely screwed up due to having the night shift all the time, and then getting randomly shifted to day shift one day per week. It's hell, really. I was going to bed at three am and waking at 1 pm. Yeah, I'm getting enough sleep- actually, I'm getting too much. Who knew? Word to the rest of you- sleeping 13 hours a day won't make you less tired.

Today's shift went alright- the bitchy old ladies seem less so when I can bring myself to greet them with a smile. There's a cute guy who's been making unnecessary trips to the store and getting into my line. There were 8 police cars outside when I knocked off. Yeah, 8. An ambulance, a fire truck, and drug dogs as well. Who knows?

I'm all registered up for courses next fall- can't wait. Got to get an education, got to get a life.

08 July 2008

Motorbike Mechanic

Alright, I've decided to become a motorcycle mechanic. I'm still getting my degree in Creative Writing as planned, but I'm going to do this on the side so as to be able to eat. Also, I'm having a hard time actually finding a course in bike repair. I'm going to down to Action Sports and see if the lads in the shop can give me some advice.

I actually ride a motorcycle- or used to, rather. It was a 250 Kawasaki Ninja, about 15 years old but in great shape. I smashed it up about a month ago, though. I sold the wreck for 900, so that's my price range for my next bike. I'm hoping I'll be able to learn something about motorcycle repair so I can fix it myself next time I screw up.

Anyway, another tale of Safeway:
A young man bought a single banana. e paid with exact change- 20 cents, although the banana actually cost 21 cents. He couldn't come up with the final cent. I let him off the hook. As I closed the cash register, the gentleman spotted some sort of organic matter on the conveyor belt. It looked a bit like a pomegranate seed- I'm not really sure what it was. Anyway, he picked it up, looked it over, and popped in his mouth. Yup. Good old Safeway.