Friday, March 18, 2011

The Good Old Days

As I was contemplating another summer working (probably) at minimum wage, I decided to look up my old blogs from the Wal-mart days. I can't say I miss working at Wal-mart but it did offer endlessly entertaining people-watching. Here's the first blog I wrote about working at Wal-mart:

I have a new job. I am a cashier at Wal-Mart. It's not exactly a career move, but it works for our family for now. Having spent so much time raising kids over the last ten years, I have led quite a sheltered life. My new job has been quite a surprise. I kept telling myself to have a good attitude and quit being so snobby (like, "I went to college for this? why did I bother?") and appreciate what is. Well, to my surprise, I have enjoyed my new job (so far). It has its moments but it is fairly busy and my co-workers are nice.

Of course, the part I was really unprepared for are the customers! When I am the customer, I usually aim to be friendly but not too chatty. I mean, why would a cashier I've never seen before want to know my life story or all about my health conditions or anything else? What I had forgotten after years of being a mommy is that there are SO many different types of people in this world and they are all interesting! I started keeping a list of some of my favorites. Not all can be posted in this blog, but I thought it would be fun to post a few. Here's a start to my list:

Wal-Mart's most interesting customers:

#1: Mommy gone wild: Early, early on Easter morning, a happy but harried mother came through my line. Her cart was overflowing with Easter stuff--toys, candy, plastic eggs of every variety. . . While I was helping the person in front of her, she began to unload her cart onto the belt. Then she told me that she had already done her "main" Easter shopping but just came back to get a few special things (seriously, there was a mountain of stuff overflowing her shopping cart) but she left her checkbook at home. She insisted she lived only 3 minutes from the store and she needed to run home and stay with her kids and her husband would come to the store with the checkbook and be there before I was done ringing it all up. What to do? Well, the manager said I could suspend the transaction if she didn't make it back by the time I was done. So, I rang everything up--it took at least 20 minutes. Remember, she had already filled the belt/counter/place with stuff and still had a full cart. I had to ring up and then keep unloading her cart and ringing up the rest of it. It took FOREVER and the grand total was $699 and change! And did she come back?? or her husband?? Of course not! I think maybe she was a little crazy perhaps. . . at least, I kind of hope so! Why else would you fill a cart with $700 worth of stuff and then just leave? All that time wasted and you still don't have what you wanted (if she had every really planned to buy it!. Then again, did she meet some terrible end? Was attacked by a nefarious creature on her way home? only the shadow knows. . . .

#2: Playstation Playboy: Okay, early on in my shift last Saturday, I seemed to have a lot of electronics going through my register. If you are not familiar with wal-mart's policies, they will no longer let you walk around the store with electronics in your cart. If you want something, you have to pay for it in the electronics department or have an employee carry it up to the front for you. So, I had a nice little pile of digital cameras and other paraphernalia sitting at my register waiting for customers to come claim and pay for them. They bring me a playstation 3 (I had no idea there was more than 1!) and point to the man who is going to buy it - - seriously, I'm pretty sure he's an actor I've seen on Law and Order SVU playing one of the criminals. He had the look of the quiet, dangerous type. Like, he's nice and quiet and everyone thinks he's harmless but by the end of the show, you find out he's a serial rapist or something (yet another reason I should NOT watch crime shows - - everyone starts to look like a criminal to me!). ANYway, the playstation rang up for $700! WOW! I had no idea! I thought these were toys - - $700??? plus a service plan and sales tax and the total came to $765.90. . . and he paid in cash. . . and I don't mean he handed me several hundred dollar bills. It was a thick stack of fifties, twenties, tens, etc. I have an odd sort of respect (or is it fear?) for someone who can hang on to that much cash. I get nervous carrying more than $20 cash around in my purse.

And from a later blog:

The Winner! and. . . Proper Shopping Attire

Current mood:cheerful
Too add to my earlier list of interesting customers. . . this man wins the award for "Most Interesting Customer":

A man comes up to me at my register holding a package of fluorescent light bulbs. He gives off the "odd" vibe immediately--he's middle aged, long gray hair, wearing all green, with a green coat on a very warm day, hands are shaking just a bit--but he definitely appears harmless. He says, "I wonder if you can help me." I smile and try to put him at ease since he is clearly nervous and/or upset about something--it must be a really big deal if he needs my help! He continues, "I scanned these lights bulbs on one of the machines to find out how much they are and when I scan them, the machine says they are 13 watt bulbs, but the package says they are 15 watt bulbs." He pauses and looks at me expectantly. ??? I'm stumped so I offer to scan it for him. My register shows me the price but not the bulb wattage--too small of a display, I guess. . . or perhaps just a display intended to show the PRICE and not a full description? I explain to him that the package is surely correct. If the price scanner showed it as a 13 watt bulb, it was probably just a typographical error or a problem with the display (I assume? who uses a price scanner for anything but to find out. . . the PRICE?). He looks at me again, clearly he is deeply troubled about this, and says, "I just don't know what I should do?" Now I am really stumped? I've given it my best shot! What else can I offer? I assure him they are 15 watt bulbs and he finally decides to buy them. THANK GOODNESS! A little more light in his home can only be a good thing!

now. . . on to another important topic:
Proper Shopping Attire

1. Fishnets are discouraged under any circumstances.

2. Bare midriffs on persons who weigh in excess of 300 pounds are strictly prohibited. For that matter, unless you are within 25 pounds of your ideal weight, you should adopt a firm "no bare mid section" rule right away!

3. T-shirts with logos from the "Million Dollar Fantasy Ranch" are discouraged at all times--but especially when buying condoms and/or KY jelly. . .
3a. If you really have no other shirts, then please cover the logo so the cashier will not embarrass him/herself by laughing uncontrollably.

4. Formal attire (such as a prom dress or tuxedos) may be worn at your own risk, but we recommend that you avoid the beer/liquor aisle (spills happen there all the time--wonder why?).

5. Cleavage is limited to a maximum of 2 inches unless your cup size is larger than an F (in which case, common sense says not showing cleavage is nearly impossible!).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break

Monday - heading out of the city in lovely spring weather:

First order of business: taming baby goats

Here are Nibble's quadruplets playing. Keep an eye out around :15-:20 where one of the babies flops backwards over the log.

and more playing. I recommend you watch without sound, so you won't have to listen to the wind (and the goofy background conversation that adds nothing to the video)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Festival of Strings

Just like the Pageant of Bands, the Festival of Strings is a concert for all orchestra students, grades 5-12. With the orchestra, even more than the bands, the progress the students make each year is VERY noticeable. Ainsley is only in seventh grade, yet she has improved tremendously! Here is a taste:

Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade (look for the cute redhead whenever Mr. Molina faces the students on the right)

Sixth Grade, Song Two

Seventh Grade (Ainsley is just to Mr. Molina's left)playing Shenandoah

Seventh Grade, Song Two

Ruskin High School Orchestra - Something to look forward to!

Pageant of Bands

Every spring we look forward to the Pageant of Bands. All of our school bands, from 5th through 12th grade, perform at the same concert. It is really a great opportunity to see how far the student musicians can progress in just a few short years. When I was the parent of a fifth grader, listening to the high school band gave me hope that it would not always be so painful! Now, as a parent of an 8th grader, I am surprised at how far my son (and his classmates) have come! And there is still room to grow.

Fifth Grade - Ode To Joy: One thing that was especially impressive this year was the SIZE of the bands. The Pageant of Bands was moved to the high school to accommodate a larger crowd and more students due to the reorganization of our district last year. So, instead of four schools-worth of fifth graders playing together, eight schools were combined. The fifth grade band was huge!

8th & 9th Grade - His Honor March: In this song, Jarom is playing the marimba. It's the first time we've been able to really see and hear him play on the marimba. He's played it many times, just usually at the back and very softly.

Triumphal Overture - Jarom plays the timpani in this song. Wow - we can see and hear him again! Mr. Tope, the director, mentioned before this song that many students had volunteered to learn a new instrument so their band would have better instrumentation. The young man playing the tuba (easily visible in a red sweater when I focus on Jarom in the video) is one of them, as well as the young women on bass clarinet.