Sunday, December 13, 2009

I really never liked you Minnesota

December 13, 2009

My bumbling Bengals lost to the Vikings today in rather embarrassing fashion. I knew they were going to, but it was still disappointing. This is due to the fact that I also knew they were going to lose to Pittsburgh twice, Baltimore, Green Bay, and others. They beat 9 teams that I would have easily believed that they would have lost to, so why not beat the Vikings? Well, because they are not as good as the Vikings, that's why.

So speaking of Minnesota, I have told people in the past that I really enjoyed my 14 month stay in Bemidji, Minnesota. I worked for Kmart at the time, and was promoted from a store in Northern Kentucky, to the store in Bemidji. It was a 1000 mile move and took me away from my girlfriend/future bride, Beth. To this day, I wonder why I did it except that the people who asked me to go played into my ego by saying that I was the person they hand-picked for the position and that I could clean up the problems at the store. Since I then took 3 more promotions in the next 5 years based on the same criteria, I guess you could say my ego was kind of a mo. I cleaned up the store in Bemidji, went on to clean up a store in Buffalo, New York, and then cleaned one up in Erie, Pennsylvania, and then almost died trying to fix one in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I finally figured out that Beth and having a family was more important than playing to my ego after that.

Anyway, I really did like Bemidji. If you have never been there, it is (or was then) a town of 11,000 people. Almost everyone I met there was super nice, especially my assistant at the store, Carrie Moe. Ironic, yes. She was the one who taught me how you could assure the sex of your child, which is a "scientific" fact that I still quote to this day. If you need help in predetermining the sex of your baby, let me know and I can share this secret. As for everyone else in the town, they spent their time rooting on the Minnesota teams, drinking, and figuring out ways to play outdoor sports. The summer in Minnesota was on July 24th and 25th, so the rest of the year they were convincing themselves that it wasn't cold outside. In Spring, once it turned 30 degrees outside, the shorts started selling.

You may know that I am not fond of the cold, so when I pulled into town and parked at the motel, I should have known something was up when there was a post next to every parking space with an outlet. When I asked why, I was informed that this was where you could plug in your engine block heater. Pardon me?!? Apparently, this was just the beginning. I laughed when someone told me that the lake would be frozen over by Thanksgiving. It was not only frozen over, but people would drive their trucks out on it, build fish huts, and cut holes in the ice to fish. Inside these fish huts could be found heaters, televisions, and alcohol. One guy came into the store the day after building his fish hut on the ice with an ear that was red and swollen. When asked what caused it, he said he forgot to wear a hat and kept that side of his head towards the wind the whole day so only one ear would get cold. Did I mention the alcohol?

It was nothing for the people of this town to travel from Bemidji to Fargo, North Dakota or The Cities (Minneapolis/ St Paul) just to go shopping. Both of these shopping excursions took 5 hours to drive, one way. My wife and I moved from one part of Cincinnati to another because it took 10 minutes to get to the grocery store instead of the 3 minutes it takes now.

So, since this is a blog and not a novel, I will wrap up my feelings on the town of Bemidji by saying that both Beth and I enjoyed our stay there, brief as it was. We still talk about the Taco Juans fast food place, the bar we used to go to and drink Killians, the dog man, and the people we met there. They sure knew how to have a good time, though we don't remember all of it. Did I mention the alcohol?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bless this weekend off

December 12, 2009

Finally. It seems like a long time between weekends off, mostly because it has been a long time. I know that for those of you who have to work every weekend, I will evoke no sympathy, but it has been a month since I have had two days off in a row. I guess I have gotten soft, but I really need the two days to get body and mind back together in order to do it all over again. Things have been so busy at the store this year that it leads to a level of frustration when you walk out of the store knowing the closing team is going to have a rough night. I know the team working this weekend is going to be challenged as well, and I will consider it a blessing if no one calls or texts me about something going wrong.

Anyhow, my main concerns for the weekend are having fun with Beth and CJ and staying warm. Boy, am I a whiny child about being cold. Our new furnace is getting a workout. CJ generally walks around in boxers, a tee shirt, and bare feet; while I have on pants, socks, shoes, a long sleeve shirt, and a sweatshirt. Still, my hands are cold and if I pressed my nose against your belly, you would probably take a swing at me. You may think it's funny, but it's snot.

Thus, I need an explanation about this jogging thing. It is 0 degrees outside with the windchill, and there are people out there running in shorts. Sure, they have on a knit cap and gloves, but really? I also know that exercise generates body heat, but how do you convince your mind to walk out the door and make your legs start moving. I once saw a movie about a runner and it really drove home the point about how large a role the mind plays in the ability to run, especially for distance. You have to convince yourself that there is no pain. Apparently, my mind is not equipped for such things as I am in pain just THINKING about running.

What surprises me about this though, is that I actually have a strong threshold for pain. I have bad knees and ankles, and feet, yet I go about my business every day without too much complaining. When I bang into something or cut myself, I just rub some spit on it and get back to work. However, ask me to walk to the car in the cold, and my brain causes my whole body to tense up and makes my ass pucker.

I dream of living some place warm someday, but it all depends on the future CJ chooses. I think it reflects my unconditional love for him that if he opts to live in Cincinnati or somewhere near these parts, I won't be able to live in the south and not see him or his kids often.

So, I am going to go jump in the shower (not literally, that would be dangerous) and see if that warms me up a bit. I realize I could also work out to generate some body heat, but did I mention what a weak mind I have? Weak mind, weak body. They seem to go together. Actually, I plan on working out today in some manner. My gym membership has not been getting much use lately. If I stepped onto a Wii Fit board today, the little thing would go "one at a time please". I suppose it could happen...just like me putting up the Christmas tree the other day. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Beware the ghosts of Christmas

December 8, 2009

Beth let me in on the fact that she changed my blog's password, and that is why I could not access my account. She has restored it and I am back. Since there has been a lot going on, I will give you snippets on the happenings.

As for work, I still haven't lost my temper with coworkers or guests, though they seem to be challenging me to do so. If you are ever in a big box retailer, look up and see how high the ceilings are. Then imagine a dude telling you that he "dropped" his phone which is currently stuck above one of the ceiling tiles. He was a big dude wearing a University of Cincinnati shirt, so I assumed he is on the football team. They are currently undefeated and playing in the Sugar Bowl on New year's Day (congrats), so I think these guys may be a little too giddy right now. Without reviewing the video, I'm guessing one of his also rather large buddies took his phone from him and tossed it into the air where it entered and stayed in the ceiling. I obtained a very large ladder from the stockroom and retrieved it for him with the promise that any more shenanigans would bring a beat down from me. They chuckled (I am 5'10", 160 pounds). Fortunately, they left not long after.

Another adult female the same night decided to bounce one of the super bouncy balls very hard on the floor, thus, knocking down one of the decorative ornaments hanging from our ceiling. She then had the nerve to complain that it almost hit her on the head.

While I can't say that I was pleasant with either of these two folks, I also refrained from losing my temper. I am really trying this year. Our whole management team has tried very hard to stay calm and get the job done, and I think we are managing thus far. We are all very tired though, so if you shop at our store, or just about any retailer this season, please be gentle.

As for more personal things, I created a stir with a comment on June Garden's blog inadvertently this past week. She has asked for volunteers to perform random acts of kindness towards strangers, and then report back. It was and is a great idea and has spurred many good tidings. One person paid for the Starbucks order of the person in the line behind her at the drive thru. At first I thought that paying for another person's Sbux seemed like helping the not so needy. Other people had gone to their respective downtowns and handed out money to homeless people and such. However, the more I thought about her act, I realized that it is about the act of kindness, not monitoring the income levels of the recipients. Besides, what if this RAoK spurred the recipient into a pay it forward mentality and a whole bunch of people started being nice to other people. That would really be something. So I posted a shorter version of this sentiment which was promptly received as an insult by the person who had performed the act. Wow, was it taken out of context. She posted a rebuttal, her sister posted a scathing rebuttal, during which she threatened to cut me (I assume cut metaphorically), and it got ugly for a bit. I never posted back as I had headed off to work and didn't know what had happened, but it got touchy for awhile. I have decided to just be a lurker on June's blog as there is no reason to create that kind of stir again.

At home, we have stimulated the economy of late with a television purchase, a computer purchase, and a new furnace/air conditioner. We got great deals on all three, and two of the three were necessary purchases. It has caused Christmas to come early at our house. CJ was very sweet when he saw these purchases as we have already put them into use. He realized how lucky we were to be able to get these things and said to just buy him some chocolate for Christmas. Beth and I love the fact that he has a sense that money does not grow on trees and there won't be much more money spent on gifts. Beth and I do not exchange anything big as we like being able to spend money the rest of the year without having blown our whole wad on Christmas. CJ's birthday is 12/20 and he will be a teenager. That is the subject of a whole other post, but it sounds scary. However, we do plan on getting him a birthday gift, please don't tell him.

So while I am really looking forward to the holidays being over, I am trying to keep in mind that an almost 13 year-old may actually like this season. I'm thinking of putting up our tree today to let him know that I don't need to be visited by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. I'm workin on it...