Musings Story

I Miss Market Basket (Sometimes)

Couple years ago (six or so to be more exact) I was dirt broke. Never was
much of a spender. The less charitable might have used the term miser. Still
when you make zero dollars you can only ever go down. It was this point in time
where I realized I would need a job. I shot high with my first few attempts.
Gamestop seemed like a good fit. I had a friend who worked there, could always
use a discount on games, I am knowledgeable about the subject. I had an
interview (which is farther than some other people I knew got), but no call
back. I moved on. I know some other people who worked at the local CVS and BJs.
Got nothing back from my online CVS application so that was bust. Got an
interview at BJs, but I seem to recall saying I preferred to work alone. Many
people have called this a ‘poor move’ which seemed to be accurate as I never
got a return call. I tried some local independent bookstores, but go no bites
from them. It was this desperate state of affairs that forced me to consider
the grocery store business. I had thought about this before, but I was
admittedly unexcited about the idea. Here is a quick rundown of how I would
have rated part time jobs back then:

1. Paid to do nothing

2. Gamestop

3. Bookstore


567. Test subject for radiation experiments

568. Live fire missile target

569. Grocery store

560. A life of destitution and poverty

Granted it is not at the bottom of the list, but it comes in pretty close.
That said, bank account was trending toward zero and Anime Boston was coming
up. Man has got to make ends meet yo. Why Market Basket? Why not the closer
Shaws or Stop and Shop? No real particular reason, a person I knew who worked
there suggested it to me. The thing to know about Market Basket is they are mad
cheap. As in we do not run a website we are so cheap. As in we print half sized
job applications because the full size application would cost to much. That is
the kind of place they are. The kind of place I worked at for four years. The
kind of place I wore a tire, a button up white shirt, fancy pants, and dress
shoes. I remember cleaning up an oil spill once in my nice white shirt once.
Half the difficulty is in staying clean for a day. So why do I miss it? What
could there even be to miss? Long tedious hours, a pay slightly above the
minimum, constant interaction with people. This is the place I got yelled at
because a man wanted a few extra dollars off on a cooked chicken, a place where
one day I cut my hand to pieces picking up shattered glass, a place where I
spent all day sweating it out pushing carriages in that hot Bellingham summer.
My job now is luxurious, a quiet uninterrupted climate controlled environment
to play with digital legos. And to think they pay me to do it too. How could I
even think to compare what I have now with what I had before? Yet it is true,
my job now lacks what I had before: joyful communal torture.

I miss the struggle of trying to last through a day. The pure stress of not
being sure if you can stand one more hour, but pulling through anyways. It is
not just that however, I miss struggling together with everyone else like me.
Market Basket was stratified into two classes of employees: long term lifers
and short term teenagers. The split of about 200 employees was about 40% lifers
and 60% teenagers. That is not the split where I work now. It is more of an
even breakdown of ages. Back then it was thrilling to work with so many people
like me. All at near about the same place in life, similar hopes and dreams.
There is an inexpressible joy in struggling together with everyone. We were
challenged together and did it together everyday. It sounds incredibly sappy to
write that, but since leaving I have not found that feeling again. It is
probably for the better too, I can only endure so many stressful days. But you
cannot replace those frighteningly strong burst of comradery. It is what
motivated me to fill in other people’s shifts, what kept me sane, what kept me
still working.

I work for myself now, but back then I worked for others.


One Year at Oracle

Today is a reasonably important day for me. It is my one year anniversary of
starting my first full time big boy job at Oracle. Although a year ago it was
called Tekelec, so things have changed somewhat since then. I would not call my
year spent at Oracle eventful, but I have gleamed some new insight that I would
like to share.

What Did I Learn This Year?

1. I am much calmer than I once was. The four years I spent in college were
stressful and not very enjoyable. There were certainly light moments at school,
but I found it increasingly difficult as I progressed to enjoy them. I never
was able to forgot my obligations. That sounds awfully stiff, but college was
an incredible investment in time and expense the ultimate success of which was
100% dependent on me. I feel as if I spent four years vacillating from total
despair to apathy. It was not pleasant. Now though, having spent the last year
working, I have found a deep tranquility. It is very calming to have an ordered
day. I know what times are for work and what times are not. I attribute this
clear distinction to the big gains in calm I have found. At school I never
could quite turn off. I always seemed to spend a lot of time needlessly
worrying. That is not a concern anymore.

2. I understand how people get old. This was a frightening realization.
Previously I understood the physical act of getting old, but the length of time
it took to get there seemed very long to me. After working a few weeks it is
easy to see how you can just put your head down, concentrate on work, and look
up a little while later and be 40. Not to say that 40 is ‘old’, but that time
can pass by more easily now that you have a set unending schedule. It is scary
to me that my job has no end point. It just keeps going until an outside force
acts upon it. Akin to starting into a void, just an endless expanse. It may be
enjoyable time spent, but the idea of action having no end is unsettling to

3. I have less free time, but the time that I have I enjoy more. This
relates to point one. In school I never could turn off. I always worried about
the next assignment, exam, evaluation. There always was that nagging thought
that I should be studying more, revising more. When I punch out at the end of
the day that is it. Sometimes I find myself idly spinning work problems in my
mind, but I have no obligation to work beyond my set contract. To put another
way, work has established, for my benefit, clear boundaries in time between
work and non-work. As a consequence I have found my time outside of work to be
much less stressful even if I have less of it.

4. I love side projects. I love having little things to work on outside of
my job. It does not have to be technical (although I do enjoy those too), I
just like different problems to work on. For me this has taken the form of
costume work, prop building, etc. I spend a lot of my day working on abstract
technical problems, spending time working on a more physical problem domain is
a refreshing context switch. My skills in this regard are meager, but I feel
the cycle of busting something out and reviewing what I produced have resulted
in marked improvements in quality and speed.

5. I solve problems and I love doing it. This is a brag on my part, but I
have learned I work best solving tough problems. The solution is not always
, but it will work. There is nothing more satisfying than solving a
problem someone thought was impossible.

6. I am liking this blog thing. This is a recent discovery, but I really do
like writing up blog entries. It is nice if people end up reading them, but
irrelevant as for the most part I find the mere act of writing to be very

What Am I Looking To Explore This Year?

1. Buying a house. It is time to start pursing this seriously. I know what I
want, I have the resources to pursue it, and I am confident enough in my job
stability and future outlook to consider more permanent residence. The idea of
making such a big bet, especially given how unpredictable things can be, is
concerning, but not enough to dissuade me. I am excited to see how this will
turn out.

2. Double down on the costuming. Along with this being my year anniversary
at Oracle it is also the anniversary of when I first started making costumes
and props. I had some major successes in that regard this year, and also some
major failures. I looking to complete two costumes this year. A Vostroyan
Firstborn from 40K and a Anatoray Soldier from Last Exile. More information to

3. Continue to improve my technical skills. This is going to be a recurring
goal. I should be learning new technical skills every day. If I continue to
make small incremental gains daily it will eventually add up.

4. Look into historical reenacting. Always had a interest in history and
would like the chance to gain a more in depth understanding by taking up
reenacting, specifically American Civil War. There is some expense to this, but
I would like to investigate some options more thoroughly this year.

5. Find old friends. Seems five years after high school some friends I used
to know quite well have phased out of contact. This is my fault. I should work
harder to retain what I have and recultivate what has been lost. I miss the
insight and experience they once provided.

One year down, seven more to go (shooting for the retire by 30 plan).