Thursday, November 30, 2006

mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys

So, I don't know why it's always the guys who get asked to move the skids at work. Maybe it's that the skids are big and heavy, although the pump truck takes most of the weight. Maybe it's a question of who's doing the asking. Maybe it's sexism, is the essence of what I'm saying here, although not the sinister mustache-twirling kind. The other, insidious, boring kind.

I did actually try to do this on Tuesday night, but got foiled by a lack of experience. It's not so easy to be all "No, I've got it, really," when you get wedged into a doorway and can't figure out how to get yourself out. On the other hand, I've seen this happen to the boys at work countless times, and usually what they do is curse and knock boxes over by accident trying to force the thing through, and no one offers to help them. Again, boring sexism has a field day.

So when I saw last night that we were halfway through closing and no one had been assigned skid duty, I decided to give it another shot. Predictably, I got stuck in the doorway again. For those of you who have never worked in a warehouse, I will try and paint a picture: skids are industrial platforms for moving a lot of product at once. It's basically a pile of stuff (in our case, 30 or so boxes of books) on a pallet made of wooden slats. The pump truck is like a giant L-shaped fork. The horizontal line of the L has two tines that slot into the pallet. You then pump the handle (the vertical line) to raise the load off the floor. It lifts the weight distributed across the length of all the tines, so the wood doesn't break because it's evenly supported. Wheeling the thing around does not, as I've said, take that much brute strength, but it does take practice to figure out how to manoeuver.

I jimmied it back and forth for a while and then went to go ask Mike how to get unstuck. Mike is often drafted for skid duty, and I know he's bitter about it. He's not political enough to be like "Dude, this is only because I'm a boy," but he and I both know it because he's not especially good at it, and he hates doing it. Mike has a wide variety of talents. Let him use them, I say, and leave the hauling to idiots like me who still get a kick out of it. Mike pointed out that since this is not his best thing, perhaps I should ask Dan, and here I get to the meat of my story.

Dan came all the way across the floor, looked at it, pushed the skid back into the room, realigned it, and then stepped away from it so I could try again. "The best trick with these things is to wait until the last possible second to turn it, and then turn really hard," he told me. He watched to see if I made it, gave a couple of instructions, stepped in again when I needed him to, gave it back to me, and then when I had the first one done and he was satisfied that I was through the hard bit, he said "You've got it now." and went back to do his own work.

People of the world, pay attention, because this is what feminism looks like: he just explained how to do the fucking thing and then left me to it. He neither coddled me nor expressed amazement that I wanted to try. He did not act like a Big Goddamn Hero for helping, not even when I had to go get him again for the last one since I had bollocksed it all up again. This in stark contrast to a couple of the women at work who were all "You're doing that!?"

I'm not dissing the girls; they were very helpful when I needed to steer and couldn't see what I was steering towards. It just bugs me that nobody has ever shown them that they can do this too, that manual labour is so firmly constructed as the province of men that even when technology has levelled the playing field, it's still seen as some kind of event when women take it up. Dan has no trouble believing that I am competent, for which I offer sincere appreciation. The other gals, they can't picture themselves doing this and so they have trouble believing that I can, or understanding why I would want to. It makes me want to take each and every one of them back there and teach them how to use the damn thing.

Maybe Mike can get a bit of a break, anyway.


I dropped by the grocery store on the way home. My two items and I and got let ahead in line by a very nice man who had a cart full of stuff. We chatted a bit about the weather (unseasonably nice), and late-night shopping. His partner came back with a multipack of yogurt--I get the fruit one, but she had the vanilla-banana-caramel version. When I said that I'd always wanted to try it but was a bit leery of caramel yogurt she said "Oh no, it's lovely. Here, I'll give you one if you want."

How random and nice is that?

p.s. Mom, I tried to call you but your phone isn't hooked up yet. What gives? Love you.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

"We're all friendlies, okay? So let's friendly."

Oof. I have had my brains scrambled by thousands of mall shoppers, and my body scrambled by three days of walking The World's Stubbornest Beagle. (He's a cross, actually, and I think one of his parents was an elephant.) I freaked out and bought a trendy smock-top, which sort of looks like maternity wear, which, huh? How is this hip? I got attached to internet abbreviations. (Srsly?) I got my Dar Williams cds back after some years of residence with my friend Alex (um, the cds resided with him, not me). spook went home to Alberta for a week and I have stocked up on Hungry Man dinners and new hair products.

My life is fine, but very boring to describe.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Adventures In Retail, or No I Don't Want To Know Why There's A Fork In This Bathroom Stall

So, it's already Christmas, by which I mean that my store is full of half-trained new staff and piles of books everywhere and weird displays constructed mainly from necessity. New to this year: Cookie and I have our shit together enough to try some interesting things with merchandising. Also new: sometimes, I'm the Bad Cop. "No, no, no. Do not guess, dude. Check where that thing goes in the computer before you shelve it or get the hell out of my section." Grumble, grumble, grumble.

It probably doesn't help that I seem to have contracted 'col's vague disease #47, symptoms of which include grouchiness and a headache that seems to be all in the middle of my brain. Plus lightheadedness, and a feeling like a toddler is sitting on my chest.

In happier news, I had dinner with Mulli and Elizabeth--tasty--and got to hug the puppy a whole bunch. He's huge, and obviously happy, which makes me happy. Lizbeth and I took him for a walk, during which he managed to unearth and partially consume a pickle and some dirt. I love dogs.

I've been watching Battlestar Galactica, of course, and I won't say too much about it here except that suddenly we have workplace conversation about genocide. You can't say the show doesn't make people think. "We're not going to resolve this on my lunch break," Steve said today with a wry little twist of his mouth, and yeah, no kidding. For the contemplation of killer robots and what makes a person, there is nothing better than this video, summed up by its brilliant creator as "President Roslin's not allowed to rap about Jesus."

Perhaps I will now go to bed.