"Your words have no power to alter the truth. Your perception does not affect any reality but your own... it is your words and deeds that cast your reflection. "

~Luna Jade, musician

Monday, August 16, 2010

The move to Pottstown

So we returned back to N'Awlins from Pa. I had a new job in hand, assuming I could find us a place to live. We'd checked the papers when we were up in the area and the prices were a tad much for us, considering only one of us would have a job when we got there. Stupid, yeah I know, but to us it looked like an improvement. I wanted to stay another day in the area and try to find a place to live, but he had this terrible urge to get back down south. Seems that urge was right on the money.

When we got back to the duplex, we found a note on our door. It was from the landlady saying she was going to be in the area inspecting the properties. When? That very day. Did I mention that we had 12 cats and 8 of them she had no clue we had? We'd been away for 3-4 days and ... well let's just say it was a HORRID mess. Not that it wasn't normally a mess because the jerk wouldn't do that one friggin chore as often as he was supposed to (2-3 times a day for that number of animals and I was lucky if he did it ONCE)... but this was 10 times as bad. Why did we have so many cats? Because nature boy had allowed not just one stray access to the house (the idea was to adopt the ONE cat off the street) but 4 of them. We didn't have the money to fix the one, nevermind all 4 (plus the male kitten we'd adopted) so when the 2 stray females went into heat I tried my best to keep them separated from the rest. But ding-bat... thought the one female was "too old" to conceive and allowed her free roaming when I wasn't home. He learned quickly that there isn't usually a too old for cats. Top things all off, one of the stray males got ahold of the other stray female. *sigh* Both litters came within days of each other. Only 2 kittens survived in each litter. So you can imagine the mess we came back to and how we spazzed trying to get things cleaned up before inspection. He headed out the door with a rent check and managed to convince her that we'd just gotten home from a long trip and that I wasn't feeling well but things were working great in the house. Thankfully, that was enough to get her to not show up on the doorstep.

Not sure where I found it, but I got a listing of the rental properties close to the area we needed to target and found one that "would do". The landlord's secretary was very nice and sent us some photos so we could see the place and decide if we liked it. She said it was similar to a single wide trailer in width with a basement access. We figured, we'd been in a single-wide before and it wasn't so bad so we sent in the app with a first month's rent with the condition we could send in the next part of the deposit when we got there as we had other expenses to deal with as well (moving being the biggest). An agreement was come to and we were all set on that end. Now to just get our stuff there.

Originally, a friend of ours was going to pay for a moving van so we could get our stuff to Pa. It was being done this way because we didn't have a credit card to put the truck on and they wouldn't take cash (especially for a cross country move). The object was to get moved and then pay the friend back as we could. At least that was MY intention, I can't say if it was his but my bet would go to that he wouldn't. Somehow, the deal fell through. Not sure if it was there wasn't enough credit on that card or if it was that the friend thought about it and decided that they knew better than that.... all I know is that there suddenly was no truck for us to utilize. What to do? Ok... so we take the little extra we have and ship at least some of the stuff and pack the car with the rest. I packed up everything, weighed it all and then went to the UPS site to calculate about how much it would cost to ship. *SHOCK* Omigoodness that wasn't going to be an option. Time to pare things down. So I started the process of weeding out, reboxing, reweighing, entering the totals, *sigh* rinse and repeat. This went on for two days. Everytime I said that it was still too much, he'd fuss and scream how he couldn't possibly weed anymore out. The biggest problem? His books that he just HAD to have. In his defense, many were limited editions and a number of them were first editions... so he DID have a point. However, when you have to choose between books or NECESSITIES for the home, I'm all for the necessities. He kept saying to put some of the stuff in the car. I told him it wasn't going to work as the "kids" had to ride somewhere. The whole back seat was going to be taken up with their travel cages as it was. Of the 12 boxes we shipped, we ended up with 8 of them being his damned books. Very little went in the line of household items, in fact I had to replace nearly everything that was in the kitchen. Thank goodness for Salvation Army stores, I'm tellin ya. I would guess that about 95% of the household goods and personal stuff got left behind.

The hardest part of finding any kind of home is when you have fur-children to contend with. Many landlords prefer no pets but if you must have pets, then keep it to one or two and the smaller the better. Dogs seem to be better accepted than cats because they're "less destructive". A well trained cat, however, is not destructive in the slightest and if the box is cleaned properly they don't leave all that much of an odor (some, not much though). So basically, it's the owner's fault the house stinks. This same problem can be said regarding dog owners if they allow the pooch to potty inside. The smell tends to amplify with the number of critters the household has. Needless to say, most places are fine with one.. ok with two but anymore 4 legged critters than that, they draw the line. You can imagine what I was going through knowing I had 12 in this house. I finally drew the line and said that we needed to reduce the number of felines travelling with us. We'd keep the original 3 that we'd had since NY and the one kitten (who was a HUGE yearling at this point) we'd adopted from a family that was at the first school. Beyond that, I said ONE of the kittens each but the adults have to go. I chose the yearling's son (he was a long coated yellow tiger) and waited for a decision from dippy. He wanted the one stray male's son, which was fine (he was a cute little porker). Then it was ... "well we cant leave this one because he's ill and all they'll do is put him down"... which I relented to simply because although I hated the cat, the last thing I wanted was him put down because his "sick" was simply old age. We bundled the rest up in carriers and called Animal Control. While waiting, dippy decided that he couldn't live without just one more of the kittens... a faded calico female. We argued over that one for near on the hour while waiting for the AC to show up. I still don't know how I lost that fight. We turned over the other 4 to the AC when they showed up. God help me the lie we spun regarding the cats we handed over. Although it's fewer cats than I planned to send off, it's a miracle I got him to agree to at least 4. If he'd had his way, we would have had all 12 in that car. I do believe the lack of space was the only reason he relented.

We packed up the car the next day and headed out, leaving the keys with a neighbor and telling them to help themselves to everything we left. Clothes, stuff for the kitchen, everything was fair game except the appliances. There were 4 pet taxis in the back of the car (the oldest 2 cats each in their own carrier and the other 6 divided up into the remaining two) and odds and ends stashed around them. The clothes and the computer, which I insisted must go because I'd paid for it out of my own money and if he could have all those books then I could have this, were all stashed in the trunk. It took us 3 days to get there. The gas mileage was worse than the previous trip, but that was to be expected considering how loaded down the car was. It didn't stop him from bitching about it though. We won't go into the fact that a couple times the hotel we ended up at only had 2 doubles in the room (instead of a king or queen) and I opted to sleep alone. Hey, he was a thrasher and I wanted to be able to sleep. I mean, what the hell, he never wanted to touch me anyhow! Why should it bother him if Im in another bed, it's not as though I was sleeping with someone else.

It was late when we arrived at the new place. We checked it out and the place gave me the creeps. Not sure what it was about it. The livingroom was the worst with that huge window facing the street. You see, the place we'd rented was converted from one of those old timey stores. The ones that little boutiques are in in the small towns. You know the ones, with the big store front windows you can look into without stepping back from the sidewalk and the other big window around the side where their window displays always were. Yeah. One of those. No curtains available to put up right now and 8 cats that the whole town was going to be able to see. I freaked. We went to a hotel and signed in. I called the landlord's secretary to see if we could get out of the lease. The plan was to call the neighbor in the morning and tell them to hold up, we're coming back. Technically we still had that place available (*sigh* yeah, we'd jumped lease and until the 1st the landlady wouldn't have known anything, we still had time). Well, of course we couldn't get out of this for at least a year so we were stuck with this creepy little place.

Thankfully, we were able to get our money back on the hotel.... well most of it. We hadn't messed it up, just used the phone. Dippy took us back to that rental and we were met by the upstairs neighbor. She was such a sweet lady, but I had this cold chill go up my back. For you see, this lady was nearly the spit and image of that one girl dingy had a crush on years and years ago. Accounting for the passing of time, this is about what I would guess she'd look like. Short blonde hair, blue eyes that twinkled when she laughed. Time had come full circle and I knew the end was near.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Moving on up or slipping downhill fast?

As I was saying, the girls really didn't like having a "n00b" in the department because they thought they were going to have to keep an eye on me. Yeah, right. Little did they know, I did have some selling experience and started out selling them on the items that really mattered, the big ticket products. So what if I was clueless on the little stuff like the nipples and teething rings? I could sell the hell out of a car seat, stroller, cribs etc. Worse yet was that I was able to sell the more expensive car seats, strollers, cribs etc... *laffs* and not the cheap stuff. How? I found that one thing that was the most beneficial on the item and made it my selling point. If a consumer brought up another point of the product, I relayed the info to the next customer in my sales pitch. How long were they planning on using the item(good to ask when selling mattresses as 5 in 1 cribs are used longer than a regular one)? Who was most likely to be using it (was it going to be mom as primary caregiver or dad... or grandma... they gotta be able to work the item easily) ? What kind of vehicle were they driving (this one was a good one to ask if I was selling a stroller) ? I quickly became a favorite back there with the customers because I would take the time necessary to go over things (especially the baby registries as those could be the dickens to read) and this didn't sit well with the staff already in place back there. Top things all off, it got out that I would be the one in charge when the other girl went on maternity leave. This didn't sit well at all because each of the others felt that THEY should be left in charge as they had seniority. One girl quit... another asked for a transfer to the front of the store (check-outs)... one by one they left.

If this wasn't bad enough, I was getting the outside pressure from dim-watt. Constant complaints that I didn't have those set hours anymore and the whining that he *OMG* had to fend for himself some nights. Dinner, which was around 630pm every night before now, got to be later and later. Personally, I wasn't hungry by the time I got home as I'd eaten around 430 or 5pm. Do you think the jerk coulda made himself a sandwich or something? Maybe open a can of soup and heat it up to eat. Oh hell to the no. He'd sit there all night just waiting on me to call for a ride home and then start in on me as soon as I got in the car.

"What's for supper?"
"You didn't eat?"
"No. I was waiting on you."
"Well I aint hungry, did you get something out of the freezer for me to cook?"

And then it'd be up to me to figure out a decent meal when we got home... and he'd wonder why it was alot of noodles or canned meals. Not that we could really afford anything more than those kinds of meals anyhow.

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it yet (time's starting to get mixed up in my brain, I really need to get this story done!!) but sometime during the time I spent at this store (during the time I was in receiving), there was a change of administration at the school I'd been working at and dingbat was going to end up in a reduced position the next school year. This didn't sit well, so he (read that as I) found himself another job in a different school. You see this coming? The school he ended up at was back across town where we'd been living in that apartment that was broken into. So now, there was a long drive to contend with again and a vehicle that wasn't exactly the most trustworthy. Of course, we didn't really have the money to get another *sigh*

By October (?) of that year, I was truly stressed. There was no help in the baby department and I was consistently running late getting out of work. Why? Well because the business back there would pick up after 4pm because everyone was starting to get out of work and coming in to shop. I couldn't exactly just leave with a line at the registry desk or people needing help. Who do you think got in trouble for my overtime? Yep, me. Not the managers who couldn't be bothered to hire more help for the back or at least send someone to cover for me. ME. The person who should have been responsible enough to leave on time.... even if there was no coverage (yet they always told us we had to help every customer that asked for it and acknowledge them all regardless of us being needed or not). I'm the one that got the write up put in her file... just for doing what was right. I was put on probation and absolutely HAD to leave on time for the next 3 months. This put the store in a tight spot because, as the manager said, they were going to need me for the holiday season and I wasn't going to be available. Oh well. Do you think they would have thought to just cut my hours and that way if I ran over, I would still be on time? Nope. Do you think the creep would have been grateful I was getting out in time to feed his lazy ass? Nope. He'd gotten used to a few extra dollars and had been spending instead of allowing me to save the extra.

I don't know how I managed it. Heh. Actually I don't think I did manage it. I ended up having to leave late many nights thanks to the fact there wasn't anyone for the evening shift. Management would come around the corner, an hour after I was supposed to be gone and find me at the baby registry desk ...still... handling customers. Why wasn't I gone? Well everytime I tried to walk away to sign out, another customer would show up and ask me a question, or want a registry or want something or other back there and I was the only person they'd see. *shakes head* After several weeks of ending up with overtime (which was frowned on at the time), I ended up getting written up. Why? Because of the constant unapproved overtime. I was put on probation and told how disappointed they were in me that I couldn't manage my time better. Excuse me? How about the fact they never scheduled anyone back there to relieve me??? Didn't matter to them. All they saw is that because I was on probation, I had to be out ON TIME...and that during the time they needed me most to be able to stay late ocassionally, I wouldn't be able to. I was on probation all the way through Christmas. Heh. You should have seen their faces when I'd start calling for back up a good hour before I was due to leave. Well y'all...ya shoulda put some extra staff back there to replace the girls that left (who were all dead wood in my opinion anyhow). I remember one night I called for back up and called and called and no one came back. So I called the boss back. I gotta give him credit, he came straight back when he thought there was a problem....then I handed the scanner unit and paperwork over to him...turned to the customer I'd been working with and said "Mr J, will be helping you get finished up on this registry tonight". I patted his arm and told him to have a nice night. *snickerz* Show you to give me a hassle getting help back there. Ya know...he never gave me a hassle getting peeps back there again.

Some time after that (I'm really kind of foggy as to how much longer it was... a bit after the write-up and not to soon before he quit), he called me to the back storeroom and asked me how I felt about becoming a "World Leader" (that was their term for a department manager back then) in one of the other departments. You can bet that I gave him an earful about taking me away from a similar job just to turn around and offer me one in another area. I do believe one of the exact sentences was "You didn't think I was good enough before, what the hell changed your mind??" Yeah, Mr J and I had that kind of relationship... so long as we were out of earshot of the other employees and away from the sales floor, I could pretty much freely state my mind in any way I felt and if it meant skewing up my face and getting ugly...so be it. Don't doubt that I pointed out all the "problems" that he'd mentioned while getting me removed from the position in the first place and that none of those "problems" had been fixed, I was still the same person. It just felt like "no you aint good enough....of wait a minute, maybe you are...". Whatta way to mess with a gal's confidence! That...on top of the crap I had at home with a spouse who whined because I didn't have "regular hours like before".

Of course, when I told idiot-boy, the first words out of his mouth were "Does it mean more money?"....... o.O Excuse me.... money's tight, you know it is and YOU'RE the one with the regular hours. Don't ya think you could get a second small job on the weekends or something to help out some?? Oh... and I'm still expected to type up all his papers and keep his gradebook in order for him because the fucker can't do it on his own.

Oh... and that vehicle went on its last wheels so we HAD to get a car, like it or not. The object was to go in, check a couple out and sleep on it. Run the figures at home and see if it was do-able. We certainly were tired of buying everyone else's problem vehicles so we opted for new. Go in, scope, get out. Sounds easy, right? Oh no. Dingbat had them run my credit as well as his to see if there'd be a better option for us and look.... we can make this work! I told him, we were supposed to go home and sleep on this decision. He said nope, we can do this. *sigh* And I made the next biggest mistake of my life... I signed that paper (and regretted it for the next 7+ years) thereby chaining myself to something that I wouldn't even be using on my own (I don't drive, remember) and most definitely would NOT be enjoying (who would with the chauffeur I had?).

About this time... I'd had enough. Not to say I hadn't had enough for years before this but this time was that last nerve tromped on. I pretty much decided that the only way this was gonna get better is if we moved back closer to home. For the life of me, I don't know why I thought that. Maybe the thought of having SOME family close by, no matter which family it was, was much better than this isolation we had. At the time my thought was that it would be nice to have blood family around. Our "family" was wonderful and treated us fairly well, but they just weren't blood. These days, I'd take that "family" any day. I so wish I hadn't waited to do what I ultimately ended up doing. I so should have done it when I had my "momma"'s support and contacts. For sure her boys would have been there and had my back. It makes me cry that I chose my marriage over what I could have had with them because now only my "momma" talks to me and the rest want nothing to do with me. If I'd just been stronger and not waited until I was backed into a corner that I had to fight my way out of. But no, I had to be stubborn.....

So I planned our move back north. Every other time we'd moved, we'd made sure that it was so he had a job to go to and I'd just make due when we got there. This time, we did it the other way because I really wanted to stay within the company and although they are rather large, their stores are not as abundant as the WalMarts are. I did research and targeted the ones in the New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey areas. I had only 3 hits on my resume and only one sounded excited to have me come on up. I set up an interview and got some time off from work. The boss (we'd had a change here right at the New Year... *sigh* a new one to break in) was fully aware of the fact we were looking to move back closer to family and although she hated the fact she was going to be losing me (I mean who wouldn't? I was willing to work overnight schedules on short notice!), she gave me the time off. I think she was banking that I wouldn't take the position. Heh. Yeah right.

I went to the interview and pretty much aced it. I walked out of the interview with a new job and what amounted to a $3/hr raise. Do I have to say how happy the jackass was? If I only knew how much harder it was going to become just on the store level, I may have rethought my decision. Why? Because I was going from a D volume store (low sales) to a AA volume store (talking high octane here, folks) and the stress was going to be through the roof. We're talking about turning the heat up under the pan to full. Things were about to go downhill extremely fast from here.