Monthly Archives: July 2007

OMG guys! I’m a scenester now! LOLZ

Live music is good.

Free live music is gooder.

Free live music that doesn’t suck is most goodest.

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Late afternoon Friday 7/27/07:

On the hottest day ever in the history of the world, a mob gathered on a cobblestone plaza in the shadow of Bank of America. A cool, merciful ocean breeze made its way through the canyons of downtown Portland’s corporate high-rises and charming old mercantile buildings, bringing relief to my bad sweaty self.

Homeless guys wandered through the crowd, scooping up discarded returnable bottles and ogling the many nubile, tank-topped young women.

Rustic Overtones, apparently once the Kings of the “local music scene” (I feel pretentious just typing that), have reunited, and played a free show in Monument Square, kicking off their first tour in five years .

As a transplant to Maine, I have no personal history with the band, but they clearly still have a lot of loyal fans who came out to celebrate the reunion. I’ve heard some of their music since I’ve been here– “Modern Rock” station WCYY still plays them somewhat regularly– and have been digging it.

Their music style– a soulful, jazzy rock/funk vibe– is rooted in the mid-late 90’s trend that popularized the combining of disparate styles to create a murky Genre Soup.

Sometimes the Genre Alchemy worked, but more often than not it resulted in, like, Afro-Klezmer-Celtic-Hip-Hop-Jazz-Gospel-Ska Fusion, played by a tuba-sitar-didgeridoo trio. (“You guys will just slay them at the Knitting Factory!”)

The genre mixing, however, does work for Rustic Overtones, for reasons I cannot explain because I am not a musician and lack the necessary vocabulary and pretentiousness to express it.

I do, however, excel at observing stuff and making snarky comments about it. So back to Monument Square.

Alongside the plaza is a little shop called “SOAK: Foot Sanctuary and Teahouse”. Hmmm. Now how does that work? Do you soak your feet in hot relaxing oolong tea, and then drink it with crumpets? Fascinating. I spent some time wondering what goes on inside that little storefront. SOAK

I love people-watching, and I was a little disappointed in the overall Freak Quotient. The freaky underbelly of Portland did come out to show support for the hometown heroes, notably in the form of a man wearing a kilt, as well as a woman who looked like the reanimated corpse of Joey Ramone.

For the record, I hate aviator-CHiPs style sunglassses and those really-really-huge sunglasses that the kids are wearing these days.

Add a “popped” collar, and I will choke someone.

The tiny eardrums of several dehydrated infants were perforated by the decibels during the show. Now, I have no problem with Cool Parents bringing their kid to a show… just give him some dang earplugs! Parent that child!

The opening band, De Sol, didn’t do much for me. Some of their songs had a very Latin, Santana kind of feel, which was tolerable-to-decent, although it got some of the more annoying ladies dancing provocatively and waving their cigarettes around. Please.

One very disappointed man in the crowd, wearing a De La Soul t-shirt, must have misheard the radio announcement.

They played for what felt like eight years, teasing us several times with what sounded like an ending:

“THANK YOU [INSERT CITY HERE]! WE LOVE YOU, [INSERT CITY HERE]!”

And then they’d launch into more boring songs.

Rustic Overtones’ set, by comparison, flew by in seconds because it was so good, and the crowd was so excited about them. They made me forget all about those guys who opened.

Free is good.

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Filed under cheap entertainment, cheap fun, free stuff, freebies, frugal, work

Out with the new, in with the old

Out with the new, in with the old.
Employers, that is.

I quit my new job with the Bad Employer on Tuesday afternoon. I should have listened to Sarah, who worked for them once before.

As of Tuesday morning, I’d worked a total of 96 hours for them, and had not received a penny. They gave a lot of lame, contradictory excuses.

If I were more psycho and less classy, I might have made a scene when I quit. I’ve never made a scene before. I’d like to, just once. Just to know how it feels.

Even better, the clients were visiting on Tuesday, and perhaps they would have liked to know what goes on: “Hey, client! All this money you guys are paying this company to do your dirty work, and they don’t even pay their employees!”

But seeing as the receptionist already had to call the police three times last Friday when the paychecks didn’t come in, they are on High Disgruntlement Alert. I don’t want to be deported or interrogated by Homeland Security.

So it was a quiet, dignified resignation.

My check had in fact arrived (finally), and I was totally prepared to swallow my pride and come back later for my 3:30 shift.

“You know what,” I said to the receptionist, as I dug my ID badge from my purse. “I’m gonna give this back to you. And can you have them mail me the rest of my checks?”

And so I laid the new job to rest. They still owe me for 56 hours I worked.

Previous Seasonal Employer wanted me back again, and so I will return. I liked that job last year… and they even gave me a small raise.

Did I mention the Bad Employer still owes me for 56 hours I worked?

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My favorite source of caffeine on a budget

Sure, I can always risk getting dysentery from the free coffee at work. But sometimes, I just need my Dr. Pepper.

Now, conventional wisdom states that soda is generally not a wise buy for people on a limited budget.

But check this out: At Wal*Mart, you can get a six-pack of 24-ounce Dr. Peppers for only $2.98 (plus 30 cents bottle deposit). That’s only 50 cents per bottle, after getting your nickel back.

Considering that a single 20-ounce Dr. Pepper can cost you upwards of $1.60 at a convenience store, this is a great deal.

I know, I know. Soda’s bad for you. But I do love my Dr. Pepper so dearly.

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Thinking about Back-to-School

  • Registered for fall classes (15 credits)
    .
    Creative Writing, Developmental Psychology, Maine History, Critical Thinking, and College Algebra
    .
  • Accepted a very generous financial aid package
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    Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Grant, Maine State Grant, Chamber of Commerce Scholarship, Federal Work-Study, Subsidized Stafford Loan

  • Scheduled for new student orientation on August 17th
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    Getting my student ID photo taken, meeting with department faculty and staff, getting all the inside scoop, feeling like a real student at last.
  • Working a highly quittable job, just to survive until financial aid kicks in
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    I am capable of living on very little money, and am not too terribly concerned about quitting at this point.

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Yes, indeedily do.

In September, I will be the world’s oldest living college freshman, and I cannot wait to get going.

A “lucky” combination of financial suffering in recent years, femaleness and advanced age seems to have strengthened my eligibility for grants and scholarships. I will have a loan, but my overall debt will be very low.

I hate my job and may or may not quit in the next few hours. I’ve worked almost 100 hours for them as of last night, and still have not received a penny.

Nevertheless, it may be July, but here in Maine, I can already smell autumn in the air, and life is good.

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Filed under college, debt, financial aid, frugal, school, surviving

Make mine a double

No vending machine in the history of vending machines has ever produced a drinkable cup of coffee.

This I know.

However, my new employers have rigged the coffee vending machine for our benefit so that it spurts out free disgusting coffee in a variety of bitter, dirt-like flavors, as well as hot chocolate and steaming chicken broth.

When it’s 9:30pm and there are still endless hours of work yet to be enjoyed, we must focus on the “free” part.

We must deeply repress the part where the paper cup drops into the SBPA (Scalding Beverage Pouring Area) at such a gravitational velocity that negates the cup’s intended trajectory, instead landing on its side.

(While reaching in to adjust the cup’s optimal caffeine delivery position, I struggle to multi-task, remembering whether it’s the pound or asterisk button that adds extra sweetener.)

We must repress the part where the French Vanilla variety invariably overflows the cup’s boundaries, and we must carefully pour some out for the safety of ourselves and sneaky hurried co-workers who do not respect the carrier of scalding overflowing foulness.

We must repress the part where the coffee is untouchable for eight minutes, lest we desire skin grafts on our lips, tongue, throat and internal organs.

My mantra:
FREE BOILING BROWN WATER.
FREE BOILING BROWN WATER.
FREE BOILING BROWN WATER.

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Dawn of Day 11 at the New Job

I now work for the local branch of huge, unwieldy corporation which hires itself out to do the grunt work for even more huge and unwieldy corporations.

My position is that of a “Level 2 Customer Care Agent”, servicing our Major Retailer client. An eighty-hour new-hire program of intense training in Policy and Procedure has turned out twenty-one lethal customer service machines.

I know nothing about the Major Retailer’s many specialties. Yet I possess the dizzying power to strongarm store managers on the customer’s behalf, as well as issue gift cards up to $250 with a supervisor’s approval. That comes out of your bonus, Manager Bob, so do not trifle with me… m’kay?

Now, we serve two masters: the Business Process Outsourcing Provider and The Client. The Client is our raison d’etre, while the Business Process Outsourcing Provider signs our checks.

For all intents and purposes, I’m an honorary employee of the Major Retailer, even having an official email address– @majorretailer.com– for threatening district managers and vendors when advocating on behalf of the customer.

To paraphrase Jim Carrey, anyone who says I’m drunk on my own power will never work for the Major Retailer again!

Already, the BPOP has proven itself to be most disorganized and chaotic. One person tells you one thing, another person tells you something else, a third person says the first two are in trouble for divulging that information.

Now, while you guys know me as fabulous and brilliant and oh-so-tres witty, in real life I am rather quiet… but dangerously observant. I’ve found in life that you learn more by listening than by talking.

Several days ago in the breakroom at work, I looked around at the blank expressions of those who have been with the company for a long time. I see a bone-deep weariness, a sense of resignation and hopelessness. Part of that could be from living in Lewiston, but I will assume the corporation’s self-important, salaried gravitas weighs heavily on the hourly-wage workers’ shoulders.

Now when I say “long time” employees, that would probably be anything longer than two months.The scuttlebutt I’m overhearing tells me “overwhelming employee turnover”. They hire massive numbers of people in hopes of having maybe 3 or 4 who possess the endurance and/or complete lack of self-respect to stick around.

All well and good. Things are rough all over.

But this is Lewiston. We’ve got poor education, a lousy economy, and the Second Amendment in full effect.

I said to myself a few days ago, “This is the kind of place where, sooner or later, disgruntled workers will show up with weapons.”

So on Friday, when our anxiously-awaited paychecks did not arrive (and we had a heads up that this might happen), it really hit the fan.

Originally, the story was that someone dropped the ball in processing the new-hire paperwork, and that we weren’t yet in the payroll system. That excuse meant that only our training class was out of luck.

Then all of a sudden, a new excuse emerged: payroll checks FOR THE ENTIRE OFFICE could not be cut because of weather-related events at the home office.

Mmmm-hmmmmm.

Then apparently, in three separate incidents, the police were called in to take out angry workers who wanted their money… NOW!

I’m hoping management will provide us with bullet-proof vests along with our telephone headsets.

We might get paid on Monday, Wednesday at the latest. Gimme my money!

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Filed under career, hopelessness, job, surviving, work

The ratio of people to cake is too big.

WORKPLACE TIP #49593

Don’t get too overly-dependent on Spell-check when documenting things. Otherwise, your co-workers may end up seeing messages like this:

PLEASE CONTRACT CUSTARD IN 3-5 BUNNIES DAYS

WORKPLACE TIP #49594

While certain abbreviations are very common and I know what they are meant to convey, believe me, I will chuckle when this shows up in my inbox:

7/21 TOLD CUST WE WILL F/UP IN 2-3 DAYS

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