Archive for the ‘working at home depot’ Tag

Ketchup   Leave a comment

I helped a woman with some blinds today. I helped her pick them out, and then cut them down to size. She kept commenting on how nice I was and how helpful I was being. I would simply say thank you.

As I was cutting the blinds, she told me about how she was just in town to help her sister move. Her sister had moved into a new house and was too busy to do the unpacking and settling in herself. So she had come from California to do it for her. I commented that that was very nice of her.

“Do you know Miami Boulevard?” the woman asked. “Do you ever drive down there?”

I said that I do. I actually haven’t driven down Miami Boulevard in several months, not since we moved to the townhouse, but I have driven down that road. That seemed like an unnecessary detail, so I just said that I drive down Miami Boulevard.

“You know the psychic on that road, right?”

I actually have never noticed a psychic on Miami Boulevard, but I said that I had.

“That’s my sister,” the woman said, proudly. “You’re so nice. She can help you with your issue. You know the one. I can get you a special rate, since you’re so nice and helpful. Would you like to meet her?”

I actually ran through a list in my head of all the issues I deal with — my depression, my career, my social isolation, my schedule, my marriage, writer’s block — before I realized that she was playing me. She was networking for her sister. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to go to a psychic. The fact that we have therapists indicate how helpful it is to have a third party to talk with. But psychics are an unregulated industry, use chicanery to do their work, and have been known to abuse their positions. I’m sure most psychics are very nice. I’ve been to a psychic once, at the Renaissance Festival, for the novelty of it. She was very nice and did not take advantage of me at all. But it was clearly just a cold reading facilitated by some props. So no. I was not interested in visiting her sister.

“Sure,” I said.

Saying no seemed to be rude. Anyway, I could take the number and then just never call her.

After she left, I went to go see if there were any returns in the returns bin. I spotted Don, one of the paint guys, standing by himself. I walked up to him.

“Do you believe in psychics?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

I looked at him in surprise.

He told me that when he had been stationed in Hawaii, he had visited a psychic. He had been surprised at how much she knew and how much she figured out. “She knew I was a pilot,” he said.

I could imagine that hadn’t been hard to guess.

“She said I would go to school on the East Coast, which — I didn’t know any schools on the East Coast! She said I would go to Florida. I said that I had family in Florida so of course I would go to Florida. She said I wouldn’t go because of family. And she said that I would have one child, which, for reasons, I didn’t think would happen. I visited her twice. I went a third time, but her house had burned down and she was taking care of that. When I was stationed in Alabama, we had to go to Florida after a hurricane and help clean up. I was there for forty days. Afterwards I tried to apply to be an instructional pilot. I was turned down for that, but they offered to train me to be a maintenance test pilot — on the East Coast! And then afterwards my wife said that she was pregnant! Are you going to be able to cover my lunch?”

That seemed like an awful lot to try to disprove. So I simply accepted it. Andrew, another paint guy, approached. I asked if he believed in psychics. He said no. I explained to them both about what happened with the woman in blinds. Then I went and took care of returns (we had lots of returns).

Speaking of writer’s block, I have it. There’s two projects that I’m working on right now. One is the fairy tale story. The problem is that right now I’m working on a very plot-point heavy section. The protagonist/future princess/whatever is three years old and very sick. So her mother has summoned her cousin, the court physician, to cure her. He’s going to do some bloodletting, drop in the knowledge that Prince Orson is missing, and then inform Martha, the kindly governess, how she can get in contact with the local witch coven.

At long last the physicker arrived, after dark, when most of the household had gone to bed. The footmen sent a pageboy to the butler, who arrived in the foyer within minutes, straightening his tie and giving a formal greeting. He and the page escorted the physicker to the sickroom.
Dawn, Martha, and the staff were preparing the room for the night when the door swung open, and the physicker stepped into the room. His wax-lined cape shuddered around him, swing flatly from side to side. He wore leather gloves and black clothing, and peered down at the women behind his glasses. Did he have a big nose or was it just the angle?
He was also shockingly young, hardly older than Dawn. Everyone was starting to look young to Martha’s eyes, but he looked really young.
Martha shooed the servants from the room. The visit was a private matter.
Dawn stood up and curtsied before him. “Paul,” she said. “Thank goodness you’ve arrived. How was your trip?”
“I cannot stay,” he said.
“Have you come straight from court?”
“I cannot say no to you,” said the physicker. “But the timing is inconvenient. The queen is ill.”
“Ill?”
Dawn glanced at Martha, who was already shutting the door firmly. Martha’s mind was racing.
“Hysterics,” said the physicker. “The prince has gone missing.”
Martha eyed the boy. She wouldn’t be trusting him with any secrets anytime soon.
“How?”
“Magic.”
“That’s ridiculous.”
“It’s fact.”
Martha allowed herself to turn her head. Dawn was sitting on the bed, holding Lily’s hand. The physicker had not moved. Dawn glanced at Martha, then lifted up her daughter’s hand.
“She still has a fever, even after three days.”
The physicker finally approached Lily. He knelt down by the bed and took Lily’s hand from Dawn. He lifted up her arm and poked her armpit. Lily squirmed. Martha stepped closer to the bed. Lily was probably going to wake back up and try to get out of bed again.
The physicker tapped along Lily’s neck, then tapped down her chest and to her bellybutton.
“How has her breathing been?”
“She has coughing fits, but then she’s fine.”
He leaned his head over and placed it on Lily’s chest. He waited for a few breaths, then lifted his head back up. Lily squirmed again. The physicker reached over and lifted one of her eyelids. He peered into her eyes. He let go, but Lily blinked and stared at him. The physicker didn’t seem to notice; he reached a gloved hand into her mouth and pried it open. Lily looked up at Dawn, at Martha, at Dawn, and Martha again.
“She’s hot and wet,” said the physicker.
Lily squirmed, trying to sit up. She coughed.
“It’s an imbalance,” said the physicker. “Too much yellow bile and phlegm, and it’s all trying to get out. This is a good start,” he gestured at the fire. “What have you been feeding her?”
“Broth,” said Martha.
The physicker turned and gave her a once-over. “Is this the nurse?”
“Martha is Lily’s governess,” said Dawn. “I nursed Lily myself.”
“That’s a terrible idea,” said the physicker. “Nursing is hard on gentle ladies. You would have been better off entrusting her to the milk of a physical creature.”
“Is that why she’s sick?”
“No, she’s imbalanced. All this sweat, this coughing, she’s trying to get the phlegm out of her. And this heat! You,” he looked at Martha. “Send for some bread and salt.”
Martha looked at Dawn, but Dawn was looking at Lily. She sucked in her breath and turned back towards the door.
“We might have to bleed her, she’s so hot.”
“No!”
It was the first sensible thing the man had said. Martha went to the door and opened it. As expected, three servant girls were clustered by the door, listening in.
“I suppose you heard everything?”
Their eyes wide, they said nothing.
“You heard nothing, yes?”
They nodded.
“Good. Go get some bread. Or cookies. And some salt. Bring them here.”
The physicker had managed to convince Dawn by the time the servant girls returned with a half-loaf of bread and a bowl of salt. The physician took the bread. The bread had been made in the morning. The crust was hard, but his poke could still dent it.
“Excellent,” he said.

…aaaand now what. I have to write a sequence where a three year old gets cut open and bled, and write it as if it’s a good thing. And then roll right into more plot development. Ugh.

The other project, a modern adaptation of Cold Comfort Farm, is still in its development stages. I am honestly completely stuck on how to update the Starkadders. Flora and her friends are so obviously hipsters. But the Starkadders? They’re supposed to make fun of trends popular in literature of the turn of the century.

At first I thought it was just Judith Starkadder who was difficult to deal with. She’s obsessed with her son Seth. This is conveyed very well in the writing, but I have yet to see an adaptation that makes her feelings for Seth obvious. Seth is described constantly as manly (literally, he walks around in a masculine way, the curve of his neck is masculine, etc). He is described as unbuttoning his shirt constantly.

His conversation with his mother is punctuated by the porridge boiling over. It’s hilarious. But how to convey all that on stage? So I thought, well, there’s the modern-day problem of helicopter parents. So maybe she’s a helicopter parent? But no, helicopter parents want their children to go out into the world and succeed (thanks to Mom and Dad). That wouldn’t work in the cloistered world of Cold Comfort Farm.

I then started thinking about the other Starkadder son, Reuben. At first he has a one-sided antagonistic relationship with Flora, thinking that she’s here to take the farm from him. Once he’s convinced that she won’t take the farm, he becomes her ally. Then, randomly, he proposes to her. She turns him down. He continues his lunch. It’s out of nowhere in the book, and it’s supposed to be out of nowhere. I was driving home a few days ago and suddenly thought that maybe Reuben was written in imitation of some romance books where the girl goes to the farm and the guy is antagonistic with her, and then in the end they get married because Belligerent Sexual Tension?

How many tropes am I missing because I haven’t read most of the books Cold Comfort Farm is making fun of? Do I have to go on a classic novel binge in order to really, truly understand Cold Comfort Farm? Why is this such a difficult project?

The verb tense fluctuations are on purpose by the way   Leave a comment

Home Depot will take anyone that is willing to smile and ask follow-up questions. They can tell you what the right follow-up questions are. They can teach you the keywords to listen for in the customer’s response. They can tell you to put a smile on your face. But they can’t tell you how to get that smile on your face. No, that has to come from you.

So people who work at Home Depot are pretty friendly, chatty folks. Everyone is always happy to see you. It takes some getting used to when you find out just how friendly everyone is. When people you don’t know greet you by name and ask how you’ve been, stopping and chatting with you, it’s weird the first time. After a while you just roll with it. There’s a lot less griping amongst Home Depot employees, from what I can tell. Sure, we all have Stupid Customer stories and complaints about idiotic policies from Corporate — but none of us really complain about our jobs.

This is a consistent rule of thumb for everyone except the people in Lumber.

Now that is really only true at the Durham store where I work currently. At the Fairfax City store, all the Lumber people were hard-working and friendly, if annoyed at the chronic understaffing of their department. But at Durham, that’s where they stick the young, able-bodied men for whom this is a first job or nearly a first job. They’re here to pick things up and put them down, and they know it, and disappear for hours at a time.

Admittedly it’s usually hard to track down people working in Plumbing or Electrical as well. Electrical is understaffed, and all the Plumbing associates are either running trucks in other parts of the store or hiding in the breakroom, ignoring their phones and resenting us for being young and energetic. But once you have them, they give you great service. And admittedly there are folks in lumber who are full of the Home Depot energy, but Khiry is usually working trucks in another part of the store too.

About two weeks ago I was wandering around in Lumber. It was slow at Flooring, so I was looking for wood for my dollhouse. I suppose I could have been doing something more productive, but I was excited about this new project.

A woman approached me, carrying a large stack of Composition notebooks. She had heard from a fellow teacher that we could cut these notebooks in half, thereby halving the amount of money she had to spend on notebooks for her kindergarteners. I did the only thing I could do, and did a general page for someone in lumber to meet us at the saw. I kept the customer occupied by asking questions about preparing for the school year until someone finally showed up.

It was a guy I hadn’t really met, although I had seen him around. He’s ageless, but not in a good way; he could be an ugly 20 or a young 40. No matter what time of day it is, he always seems covered in a layer of dirt. I feel like I’m being unnecessarily cruel. Something about him seems off, is my point.

He announced his presence by stepping in the middle of the two of us. He smiled at me. “What do you need?” he asked.

I gestured at the customer and said that she wanted notebooks cut in half, and she had heard that we could do it.

He was still smiling at me. “We don’t cut notebooks,” he said. He still hadn’t looked at the customer.

The customer began rattling off all the teachers she had heard who swore up and down that they had had notebooks cut at Home Depot, that it even said on the internet, and if they were cut in half she could use one half for math and one half for writing practice. Meanwhile, he was still looking at me.

I gestured at the customer again and said that surely we could try it. What could it hurt?

The conversation continued for a few minutes; he barely glanced at the customer except to look at the notebooks. He directed all his comments at me. I gestured frequently to the customer, trying to get him to look that way.

Finally he sighed, took the notebooks, and walked it over to the table saw. He cut them in batches while I kept up the conversation with the customer. I worked it smoothly into the conversation that, you know, I have experience as a Teacher’s Aide if one was ever needed and she said that I should have applied, they had had trouble filling TA positions. (by the way I applied to a whole bunch of TA jobs in Wake County today)

The cuts went perfectly. There wasn’t even slivers around the edges. The customer left, satisfied. As soon as she was gone, the lumber associate rounded to me, smiling. All I could think of was getting back to Flooring, to where my job was, away from him. He started telling me why he wasn’t in lumber when I made the initial page. I started walking towards the middle aisle. He sauntered along next to me. I was walking quickly, but he’s tall enough that a saunter could match my brisk pace. He asked me how I like Home Depot and Flooring and I gave neutral answers. When we got to the aisle I prayed silently that he wasn’t going to walk me all the way back to Flooring. Instead, he gave me a formal good-bye and walked away.

I mentioned the whole conversation to James. He said that I should report it to management. I said that he technically hadn’t done anything wrong. He was just sort of creepy.

Today I was working in the Blinds aisle, which for some reason is in the Flooring department. I was pulling boxes down from the overhead and filling up shelves with blinds. The Blinds aisle is right next to the breakroom, and as this lumber associate was leaving the breakroom, he saw me and started walking up the Blinds aisle. He said hi and I said hi. He asked how I was and I said fine, how are you?

He lingered.

He forced the conversation to continue, asking me about my night and how late I was working. Lots of people exit the breakroom and walk through the Blinds aisle. They also greeted me and asked how I was doing. But none of them stayed. Those conversations were conducted in Doppler. This conversation was a radio tower.

I turned my back on him and worked. I kept my answers neutral and as brief as possible. I didn’t want to have a conversation with him. I hate the way he looks at me. I thought, get the hint and walk away. Get the hint and walk away. Finally he left to go back to work.

On one of my days off last week, I visited Lowes to pick up dollhouse supplies (because I am shameless and would rather drive five minutes than twenty-five just for brand loyalty’s sake). Since it’s hot down here, I was wearing a short sundress. I had recently showered, so my hair was at its curliest. I had shaved my legs and armpits that morning. And I was wearing makeup. In short, I was as cute as I could be. And I was walking around the lumber aisles of Lowes. Lots of guys did double-takes.

I mentioned this to James that evening.

“Ah,” he said. “That must be good for some ego boosting.”

I thought about it. Finally I said, “No. No it didn’t really boost my ego at all.”

Posted August 7, 2015 by agentksilver in Personal

Tagged with ,

Decisions, decisions   Leave a comment

So several weeks ago, I was driving in my car. It was late, so NPR wasn’t playing anything good, and neither were any of the pop or alternative stations. 40 was mostly empty. I was able to safely let my mind wander, keep half an eye on the road and just do some introspection.

I broke myself down into things that I can contribute to society. What am I? I like history. I like dogs. I like writing. I like being around books. I am very good at learning languages. And looking at those things, if I had to be completely honest, only one of those is a unique skill. I am good at learning languages. I enjoy learning languages.

So I thought, that’s it. I’m going to become a foreign language teacher. That is what I am meant to be. That is the unique thing that I am meant to do on this earth.

So for the next few weeks I struggled with wanting to be a Latin teacher or a Spanish teacher. Latin is fun, but Spanish is useful.

Yesterday I did volunteer work for Wake County Animal Center. We went to a barbecue place and encouraged people to contribute to Wake County. It was successful all around, although I got sick and had to leave early (I have absolutely no idea what made me sick, but I popped some pills and lay in the dark for several hours before I felt better). But I had fun for a while, meeting some of my fellow volunteers and talking with people at the barbecue place.

One of the volunteers was a woman named Rebecca. She was a former science teacher. According to her, “North Carolina hates teachers,” so she quit. She is now pursuing a PhD in science education, and hopes to do education research and run science education programs for the rest of her days.

I can back her up on North Carolina hating teachers. I’ve been getting conflicting evidence back and forth. North Carolina teachers are underpaid, given class sizes of 40, and expected to teach to a test, with very little room for creativity and have an overall lack of support from administrators.

I told her that I had moved to North Carolina partially to become a teacher. “Oh this is a great place to learn to become a teacher,” she said. “But don’t stay here. Get your education here and move someplace that likes teachers.”

I know that James wants to stay in this area. I’ve mentioned to him a few times that we could move back to DC eventually. “But we won’t afford anyplace nice up there,” he said.

And besides, I’m really enjoying the lack of traffic around here. Plus, whenever I drive around Fairfax County I’m filled with bad memories and regret. But there’s not a whole lot stopping us from, say, moving to Richmond or Roanoke or Virginia Beach. I know the Richmond area is always looking for Latin teachers, and Spanish is an in-demand subject everywhere. But what is the point of studying education in a state that doesn’t value education? I might as well study Italian and German and then throw myself into Classics for the rest of my life. Or just give up and get a Masters in library science. Or give up even harder and become a Home Depot employee until I die. They like me well enough.

It’s getting time to start applying for college again. I really need to make a decision soon.

Posted July 7, 2015 by agentksilver in teaching

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Macaroni and Cheese and I live with my parents   1 comment

Part of working at Home Depot is that during Power Hours, an associate has to stand at each entrance and greet incoming customers and make them feel welcome. And hand them fliers regarding our latest sales. Some associates hate the work, some take it super seriously, and some try to have fun with it. An hour spent standing there is an hour wasted/not working/doing something different.

During the wintertime, everyone hates the work. Every time the door opens, a new blast of cold, freezing air comes in. The gigantic heater hanging over the door only comes on intermittently. So basically, it’s an hour spent in the freezing air. I get through the hour by practicing the Basic Step for lindy hopping. I’m becoming well-known around the store for that. On Sunday I had to greet instead of go on my scheduled lunch. I promised myself that I would make macaroni and cheese for dinner if I just didn’t die during my hour of greeting.

The macaroni and cheese that I made was based on a Betty Crocker recipe, but because I am not the greatest cook ever, the recipe ended up being modified quite a bit. Also, my family wanted mac and cheese too, so I had to double the recipe.

Here is my modified mac and cheese recipe, as we ended up making it:

Kelsey’s Four-cheese Mac and Cheese

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (7 ounces)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups milk
2 1/2 cups mystery cheese (shredded)
1 1/2 cups pepper jack
3 oz ricotta
1 cup gouda (shredded)

(we were out of ground mustard, but if you have ground mustard, I would recommend 1/2 teaspoon of that as well)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Your father will grumble that that’s not hot enough, but your mother will assure him that’s a perfectly normal recipe to bake a casserole at.

Dump the whole box of pasta into the pot. Seriously. 4 cups is a whole box of that fancy rotini your mom got. Boil that sucker.

While all that’s going on, complete mise en place. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, pepper, mustard if you got it). Shred the cheese. I would really recommend shredding the cheese yourself. There’s nasty chemicals in pre-shredded cheese to keep it from congealing. Pour your four gallons of milk. Seriously, you need to be able to toss that altogether all at once. You won’t have time to measure later.

Melt the butter. When that’s done, toss all your dry ingredients into the butter and quickly measure out the worchestershire sauce. Drop the dry ingredients bowl into the pan. Burn your hand getting it out. Drop the bowl onto the stove, sending flourbutter everywhere. Curse everything. Stir until it’s all smooth. When it starts bubbling, take it off the stove. Stir in the milk. You could do like me here and only pour in half the milk, but I wouldn’t really recommend that.

Stir in the milk until everything is all smooth again. Put it back over the stove and stir some more until it’s boiling. Let it boil (while stirring) for a minute (or two, if you’re my mother, it doesn’t really matter). Stir in the mystery cheese and the pepper jack. Stir until smooth again.

Realize your creation is coming out a bit more solid than you would prefer. Realize there’s a second measuring cup of milk sitting out. Panic. Pour the milk into the pan.

Your mother comes in and asks if she can help. Tell her that everything is fine, just fine. Weakly stir the milk because there’s so much milk you’re afraid stirring too strongly will cause a spill. Your mother will take out a casserole pot and tell you to pour everything in there. Miraculously, nothing spills. Your mother will take over stirring while you clean up the mess with the bowl and the flourbutter.

Taste results of your mother’s stirring and declare it to be too milky.

Add the ricotta cheese. Stir until smooth.

Drain the pasta and pour it into an appropriately-sized casserole dish. Pour the cheese sauce (roux) onto the pasta, and stir until all the pastas have roughly the same amount of cheese on them. Sprinkle the gouda on top of the casserole generously.

Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Allow to cool for five minutes, and then serve with an optional side of bacon because just because your parents gave up red meat for Lent doesn’t mean everyone has to suffer.

Next time use gouda instead of mystery cheese.