“Withholding.” (HillTex Digital, 2006-2007, Part III.)

A blog posted on December 9, 2006.

The last few days, in an attempt to keep the wolf from the door, I’ve applied for yet another round of dead-end jobs. Many seem to be switching from paper to online applications. The upside of this is that potential employers don’t have to struggle to read my handwriting. The downside is the online applications are seldom user-friendly, and tend to finish up with 34-70 pages of asinine personality questions.

Take a look. I couldn’t tell you how I answered all of these, because my answers often change from one application to the next, but I’m sure you can guess a few. Suffice it to say, they make me look like a sociopath, a dangerous loner, and an all-around asshole.

So how do you score?  [Mark all answers either Strongly disagree,  Disagree, Agree, or Strongly agree.]  

(BTW, some of the questions appear more than once in the quiz.)   
    
You love to be with people
Strongly disagree        
Disagree
Agree
Strongly agree

You like to plan things before you start to do them
You are proud of the work you do at school or on a job
You think of yourself as being very sensible
You are more relaxed than strict about finishing things on time
People can tell when you are happy or sad
When you need to, you take it easy at work
You like to talk a lot
You don’t worry about making a good impression
You would rather not get involved in other people’s problems
You say whatever is on your mind
You get angry more often than nervous
You have confidence in yourself
There are some people you really can’t stand
People do a lot of things that make you angry
You like to be in the middle of a big crowd
Right now, you care more about having fun than being serious at school or work
It bothers you a long time when someone is unfair to you
You agree with people more than you argue
When people make mistakes, you correct them
You swear when you argue
People who talk all the time are annoying
There’s no use having close friends; they always let you down
It bothers you when you have to obey a lot of rules
You have no big worries
You work best at a slow but steady speed
You love to listen to people talk about themselves
Many people cannot be trusted
You do some things that upset people
You have no big regrets about your past
You were absent very few days from high school
It’s fun to go out to events with big crowds
Your stuff is often kind of messy
You’d rather not compete very much
You do not fake being polite
You have always had good behavior in school or work
You don’t care if you offend people
You are not interested in your friends’ problems
You always try not to hurt people’s feelings
You are a fairly private person
When you are annoyed with something, you say so
Your friends and family approve of the things you do
You have to give up on some things that you start
You avoid arguments as much as possible
People do a lot of annoying things
It is maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free
You hate to give up if you can’t solve a hard problem
You know when someone is in a bad mood, even if they don’t show it
You can wait patiently for a long time
You are unsure of what to say when you meet someone
You like to take frequent breaks when working on something difficult
You finish your work no matter what
You look back and feel bad about things you’ve done
You ignore people you don’t like
You don’t believe a lot of what people say
You keep calm when under stress
You got mostly good grades in high school
You don’t act polite when you don’t want to
You show it when you are in a bad mood
You ignore people’s small mistakes
You keep your feelings to yourself
When your friends need help, they call you first
You don’t care what people think of you
When you go someplace, you are never late
You get mad at yourself when you make mistakes
You are always cheerful
You make more sensible choices than careless ones
You are unsure of yourself with new people
You give direct criticism when you need to
You are careful not to offend people
You could describe yourself as ‘tidy’
You like to be alone
When someone treats you badly, you ignore it
You chat with people you don’t know
Other people’s feelings are their own business
Slow-moving people make you impatient
You would rather work on a team than by yourself
It is easy for you to feel what others are feeling
People are often mean to you
You do not like small talk
You’ve done your share of troublemaking
Any trouble you have is your own fault
You are a friendly person
You do what you want, no matter what others think
It is hard to really care about work when the job is boring
You have friends, but don’t like them to be too close
When you are done with your work, you look for more to do
You criticize people when they deserve it
You sometimes thought seriously about quitting high school
You do not like to meet new people
You are not afraid to tell someone off
You try to sense what others are thinking and feeling
You don’t work too hard because it doesn’t pay off anyway
You do things carefully so you don’t make mistakes
You could not deal with difficult people all day
You do not like to take orders
You rarely act without thinking
People’s feelings are sometimes hurt by what you say
You are somewhat of a thrill-seeker
You always do what you say you will do
You are more polite than competitive
You sometimes thought seriously about quitting high school
You are more realistic than optimistic
You ignore people’s small mistakes
You can easily cheer up and forget a problem
You don’t care if people like what you do
Compared to other people, you come up with a lot of good ideas
Learning new things is easy for you
You don’t act polite when you don’t want to
It is easy for you to explain your ideas to people
When you need to, you take it easy at work
People know they can believe what you say
You are good at keeping yourself organized
People do a lot of annoying things
You are cheerful even when there are problems
You do some things that upset people
You need to be excellent at everything you do
You worry about saying the wrong things to people
You do not like to take orders
If you think a bit about a problem, you can always find a solution
You pay close attention to people’s feelings
You think ahead and plan what you need to do
You like to plan things before you start to do them
You can be rude when you need to be
You hate to give up if you can’t solve a hard problem
You put a lot of energy into your work or school
You give up working on a problem when it makes sense to quit
You do things carefully so you don’t make mistakes
You think ahead so you can be ready for what happens
It is hard to really care about work when the job is boring
You take the lead in conversations
You naturally take the lead in a group
You are happier when you are with people
Any trouble you have is your own fault
You are comfortable with strangers
You show it when you are in a bad mood
Many people cannot be trusted
You work just as well when you are under pressure
You don’t believe a lot of what people say
You are happy to spend quiet time by yourself
It is fun for you to meet new people
When you go someplace, you are never late
In a group, you are the one who plans what to do
You tend to follow others more than lead
You are not interested in your friends’ problems
You are practical and sensible
People do a lot of things that make you angry
It is not easy for you to put your ideas in writing
In school or work, you do more than what’s assigned
You have no big regrets about your past
It is hard for you to make your ideas clear to others
You don’t work too hard because it doesn’t pay off anyway
You get impatient when people talk too much
You could describe yourself as ‘tidy’
You’ve done your share of troublemaking
You show it when you do not like someone
You have to give up on some things that you start
You make new friends all the time
You like to take frequent breaks when working on something difficult
You get over it quickly when something has upset you
You take things as they come, rather than think ahead a lot
You are proud of the work you do at school or on a job
You have plenty of self-confidence
People expect you to take the lead
You do what you want, no matter what others think
You have a forceful personality
Right now, you care more about having fun than being serious at school or work
You always have a positive outlook
You hold back from talking a lot in a group
You quickly solve most problems that come up
You have always had good behavior in school or work
You get a lot done in a short time
Your stuff is often kind of messy
You are good at taking charge of a group
You feel stressed when there is too much to do
You would like to be more confident
You smile a lot
You can not socialize when you don’t feel well
You are more relaxed than strict about finishing things on time
You can think fast and come up with new ideas
You are careful not to offend people
You hardly ever make plans for what you do
You can wait patiently for a long time
When you are done with your work, you look for more to do
You avoid arguments as much as possible
You feel upset when things change at the last minute
You finish your work no matter what
As soon as you meet someone, you can tell what they are like
You pay close attention when people talk to you
You finish the work you have to do, even when you’re tired or bored
In groups of people, you blend in rather than get a lot of attention
You don’t say much when you meet new people
When someone treats you badly, you ignore it
When you are annoyed with something, you say so
You act pleasant even when you feel bad
You are somewhat of a thrill-seeker
It is easy for you to change your plans
There’s no use having close friends; they always let you down
You say whatever is on your mind
You are one of the more quiet people at parties
Sometimes you can’t get going on what you have to do
You plan things before you start to do them
You’d rather not compete very much
You look back and feel bad about things you’ve done
Much of the time, you have something specific that you are working toward
You are the one who usually suggests what to do
You think of yourself as being very sensible
You feel stressed when you have to be in charge of something
It feels like people argue with you a lot
You like to be in the middle of a big crowd
You work best at a slow but steady speed
People are often mean to you
You do not fake being polite
You were absent very few days from high school
You work well even at stressful times
You have friends, but don’t like them to be too close
Your grades in school have always been good
You can argue hard but still keep it friendly
You rarely act without thinking
You give direct criticism when you need to
Once you get going on a project, you’d rather keep at it and not take a break
It is maddening when the court lets guilty criminals go free
Common sense is not one of your greatest strengths
You are well thought of by teachers or bosses
You are shy with people
People want you to help them make decisions
Sometimes you are gruff with people
In a lot of situations, you feel unsure of yourself
You got mostly good grades in high school
You like to be in charge of things
You are a fairly private person
It is easy for you to work long hours
It bothers you when you have to obey a lot of rules
When you think about things, feelings are more important to you than facts
You put a lot of effort into remembering details
A lot of things make you angry
You make more sensible choices than careless ones
      
[Now answer these questions on about three or four or five applications in a row and see how you start reacting.]

*******

A blog posted on December 10, 2006.

[James is always saying he wishes the readers could see my “ugly side,” the side he sees when we’re riding around in his car and I’m ranting and raving. Well, here goes….]

Thursday night at work we were treated to a tiresome hour while some old hag–the head of HR, I think–went on and on about a list of complaints. Apparently some of the employees have been squabbling amongst one another, speaking ill of their supervisors, and generally fucking off their duties. Most of this stuff not only didn’t apply to me, I’d not even noticed others committing most of these offenses.

The only thing that even remotely had anything to do with me involved Internet usage. This old battle-axe announced we couldn’t use the Internet except during breaks, and that anyway, steps had been taken to block us from even accessing the Internet at any time. Now I have a much nicer computer at home with a much faster connection, so I get most of my computer needs tended to there, thank you very much. But during the frequent occasions when the software fucks up at work (every couple hours or so) I do like to scan the headlines, check on the weather, and see if I’ve received any e-mail. In the time I’ve worked for this jacked-off company I’ve never taken off anything other than my main lunch break–(which is a ridiculous 20 minutes–not enough time for an adult to actually eat a real meal)–I’ve never taken any of the two additional ten-minute breaks we’re allowed. Plus, during orientation my supervisor said Internet usage of the sort I’ve engaged in–a couple minutes here and there for a breather– was perfectly all right.

I’ve also started bringing paperwork of my own from home to help pass the time–good thing the old nag didn’t mention that.  

I suspect when they finally generate everyone’s production numbers like they’re threatening to they’ll find mine pretty high.

This insufferable whore was playing the whole “good cop”/”bad cop” act to the hilt, saying,

–Oh, you don’t know how much I fight for you people in meetings with management,
then turning around and threatening,

–You know, the State of Texas does not require us to give you breaks of any kind. We could make you come in and sit down and not leave your seat for eight solid hours. But I don’t think that’s right. I think people deserve breaks.

(That’s the first I’ve heard that Texas law doesn’t provide for breaks, but if it is in fact true I wouldn’t be at all surprised, considering what a backwards, reactionary, redneck state this is. I can see the Legislature willingly fucking workers over like that.) But I thought it was awfully chicken-shit of her to threaten to take away from us the basic rights that we as workers deserve from an ethical point of view, regardless of whether or not this pig-fucking state provides those rights by law. (Of course, I have readers who think the idea that workers have any rights at all is socialistic.)

This bitch also said we have a sexual harrassment orientation coming sometime in the future. What a fucking waste of time those things are. I’ve been to them before in other jobs. I came very close to announcing that in my opinion there is no place less sexy and erotic than the office. The idea of it makes me go limp quicker than would a nude photo of Rosie O’Donnell.

No, what pissed me off about this little bullying performance Friday was this old ball-breaker’s tone. She went up to the front of the room and told everybody to not only turn off all music and computers, but to look straight ahead at her.

–I want to see all eyes.

It was her manner that bothered me, as if she was talking to a bunch of five-year-olds who’d been coloring on the walls. I am hyper-sensitive to people treating me like a little kid, possibly because so many people have done just that most of my life, and it’s helped create in me a violent hatred towards almost every form of authority.

I’m not surprised, though, that I’ve not noticed many misdeeds amongst my co-workers. I really don’t pay attention to them by and large, except maybe to occasionally fantasize about bashing a few of their fucking skulls in with the corner of a flat-screened computer monitor. (My attorneys advise me to state that these are fantasies, not actual plans to do bodily injury to others.) I don’t plan to stay at that place long, so I’m not putting down roots. I go in, clock in, somehow endure the endless, monotonous shift and pointless, useless work, keeping my earplugs in all the time, clock out, go home, then sleep until I have to go back in. The only time I’m really alive is when I’m away from there. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t exist for those 40 hours a week.

I don’t initiate conversations with those jack-offs I work with, and when they try to talk to me I answer tersely. I don’t know anyone’s names; I only notice these beings when they invade my personal space, like this week when the fat, stinky “Milton from ‘Office Space'” guy, who always likes to take off his shoes and wiggle his discolored, pus-infected toes, sat next to me. I gave off so many dirty looks and “fuck off and die” vibes that he found someplace else to sit after that.

And then there is “The Creature.” This is a woman on my row who lacks the dignity of either animal or human. I suspect she must be retarded or autistic or something. She comes in 10 to 60 minutes late every night, leaves 10 minutes early, doesn’t sign in or out, and is always either stinking of acrid perfume or poor feminine hygiene. She devotes a lot of time to shoveling food into her protuberant mouth, chews with that mouth open, and makes chomping noises that I can hear over the music on my headphones. She knocks into people as she goes down the row to and from her seat. She wears sunglasses when she looks at her monitor, keeps her coat on top of her head, lets out loud, frightening shrieks whenever she sneezes, and hums and sings loudly along to whatever music she listens to. She’s a useless excuse for a person.

A few Sundays ago James took me to work (the buses don’t run that late on Sundays), and after giggling at the name of one of the other businesses in the office park (“Siemens”), he noticed the office next to mine had two parking spots next to the front door marked “Employee of the Month” and “Manager of the Month.” He laughed,

–What a crappy “Employee of the Month” benefit–you get to park next to your boss for a month!

I explained my hatred of all that office politics horse shit–”Employee of the Month” awards, contests, birthdays, office parties, baby showers, raffles, inter-office gossiping and back-stabbing. I said,

–Just tell me what I need to do and leave me the fuck alone from 9 to 5, or whatever the schedule is.

James concluded I was a “bad employee” for not going in for all that extraneous shit.

–All that stuff is designed to make you feel part of the team.

I said,

–I don’t like wasting time playing the game. Just let me work and then let me go home.

But he insisted the extraneous shit is considered part of the job nowadays. Still, I don’t like forced chumminess. If you’re going to bond with people it should come naturally. No wonder I’ve had such bad luck in my working life.

I’ve got to say I’m getting a kick out of Taco Bells’s woes. A week ago, I went to one of their locations before work and tried to order through the drive-through window while on foot. One employee was inside sitting on his ass on a bucket, looking bored. I knocked on the window and some little prick with a peach-fuzz moustache told me they didn’t serve anyone after a certain time who wasn’t in driving a car.

Friday I went to pay some bills at the grocery store, then dropped my paycheck off at the bank, went home, slept for maybe five hours, then went out again. I tried to get a replacement for my toner cartridge but they were out until Monday. The clerk wondered why my name was so familiar. Did I have an account with them? No, I explained, I’d interviewed for a job with them a few months ago. (I noticed on the front door a sign saying they were looking for someone for that job again. Indeed, during my wanderings Friday evening I noticed many of the places I’d interviewed for in October still had “Help Wanted” signs up. Oh well. The only good thing about my current job is that at least it spares me from having to work retail at Christmas and dealing with the fucking public.)

I ate some teriyaki for dinner, then went to Barnes and Noble, Border’s, and Best Buy, before going to the movies. I’d planned on a double feature, but had spent too long lolling in the stores. I went to see “Casino Royale,” which I thought was the best Bond film in years. Daniel Craig is one ugly son of a bitch, but he’s a real man, and very close to Ian Fleming’s conception of Bond as a sadist. Amazingly, there was a line to get in to the 9:45pm showing, though I was the first person in the line.

And also amazingly, this was the first time in weeks I didn’t cry about Fred while walking home from the theatre.

*******    

A blog posted on December 14, 2006.

I got to work last night and headed for the Supervisor’s Desk to sign in. Blocking my way were a number of people from the Second Shift, gathering, as they always do, around their Supervisor, hopping around and trying to get his attention, like over-excited Chihuahuas. For his part, the Supervisor looked annoyed, as if he wished these people had told him whatever was on their minds during the previous eight-hour shift. It was 11pm and he wanted them to hurry up and speak their peace and let him go home.

The staffer that seemed to be holding things up the most and blocking the traffic of the incoming Third Shift looked to be in his 30s, wore some sort of dragons and fantasy crap T-shirt, was stocky, had the dull, blackened eyes of flattened roadkill, a mangey-looking goatee, and hair dyed the color of early morning urine. He stammered:

–I…I…My…My…Around my…What I mean to say is…Um…My…All around…There’s paper…I mean…When I got to work today…There’s torn up bits of paper…They were here when I got here today…I didn’t pick them up…Torn up bits and pieces of paper…They were like that when I got here…I just wanted to tell you about them…I didn’t leave that mess there…The paper was just there everywhere…I don’t know who did it…Like confetti….

In a few seconds I elbowed my way past this guy like a line-backer, found my time sheet, signed it, and quipped,

–Sounds like Rip Taylor’s in town!

Not a sound. Not a soul got the joke. There may’ve been a small titter on the other side of the room, but that was probably my imagination. Why should I even bother wasting good material on such a crowd?

*******    

A blog posted on December 15, 2006.

Tonight when I got to work they were having a party, as part of the enforced chumminess policy, for some gal on the Third Shift. At first I was told it was her birthday, then I heard she was leaving the company, but finally I learned she was just transferring to the Second Shift, so naturally this change was treated like she’d been given a fatal diagnosis was making her last farewells, and that no one would see her ever again. I don’t know her name–she attempted to talk to me in the Break Room a few times. I will say she dressed substantially better than anyone else in the place, which led me to believe she had a future ahead of her and might actually escape that hell hole.

At any rate, I went into the Break Room to eye the spread–chips, dips, finger sandwiches, cookies–the usual thing. A middle-aged man stood on the other side of the table. There may have been other people in the room–I forget. But when a younger guy walked in the older man asked him,

–Where’s your plate?

The younger guy made a sweeping gesture with his hand over the  length of the table and said,

–This is my plate!

I chuckled and said,

–That’s rather like what Peter O’ Toole said: “You must make the world your ashtray, dear boy!

Dead silence.

People stared at their shoes.

Finally the older man muttered,

–So I guess he’s a smoker?

What happened to my once impeccable audience-gauging skills? Maybe I just need to install a censor and stop blurting out everything that pops into my clever little mind.

This incident reminds me an infamous occasion when Nelson Rockefeller misjudged his audience, complaining,

–Why do they keep scheduling elections on Tuesdays? Don’t they know that’s the day everybody plays polo?…

*******    

A blog posted on December 31, 2006.

Apparently there have been complaints to from the readership–which go to James and not me, for some reason–that I don’t update often enough. Well, not much has happened from day to day since I got this job, though as you’ll see things do add up.

–Monday the 18th–Something seems afoot at work. The little lesbian who sits a few seats to my left was called into a conference room by the supervisor. I know what that usually means, especially when employees come out of those meetings looking like they’ve just been sodomized.

–Tuesday the 19th–Tonight The Creature and The Frat Boy got called away by the supervisor. The little lesbian was nowhere to be seen. A co-worker told me the company was firing people who weren’t meeting the productivity figures, whatever they are (no one has bothered to tell me). She told me I had nothing to worry about, though. How did she know? Because they give you a warning first. I guess The Creature and The Frat Boy got warnings, because they were still with the company a week later.

–Wednesday the 20th–The software at work was fucking up even more than usual, failing to deliver us anything to work on. After a few hours of this nonsense, the supervisor told us we could go home if we wished, that we’d not be penalized, but he couldn’t guarantee we’d be paid for the time. About eight of us stayed for the duration (I was stranded there until the buses started up anyway), and I passed the time going over the paperwork and print-outs I bring with me every night.

–Thursday the 21st–The first day of my Christmas break. I was supposed to go by the office and get my check, but I couldn’t get ahold of James, so I went to bed and slept for 14 hours….
 
–Tuesday the 26th–I slept all day and much of the night in order to prepare for my 11pm-7am shift at work. When I went outside to go check my mailbox I ran into the “Dragon Lady,” the Chinese girlfriend of my next-door neighbor (who is Chinese as well). Though they have huge, nasty, noisy arguments both indoors and out, which sound like cats fucking and that I am sure will one day end in a murder-suicide, DL was always nice to Fred.

DL was sitting in her car when I came outside and she said she’d not seen me or my dog in awhile. I told her the story. She said once again how cute she thought he was, then said something that sounded like “carpaccio.” I thought that a strange word for a Chinese woman to be using, so I had her repeat herself four times, and each time I got closer to the car so I could hear her better. It turns out she was saying,

–God blessed you.

And I replied,

–Yes….He did.

I was tempted to tack on,

–At one time.

At work the supervisor told us all to switch from merely proofing pages to doing proofing “quality assurance.” The upside of this is that because of the poor quality of the software it takes corrected pages even longer to process and for new pages to appear, thus creating lots of down-time for me to do my own stuff in.

–Wednesday the 27th–After work I cried quietly on the bus, then went to the post office to pick up a calendar sent me from a fellow member of the Basset Hound message board. While waiting for another bus to take me home I heard a song on a mix CD that made me start crying again. I didn’t want to be in that condition when the bus pulled up, so I balled up my fists and began digging my fingernails into my palms in hopes that the pain would divert my attention.

–Thursday the 28th–This morning a friend sent me a link to a music video of a choir of elderly people covering the Coldplay song “Fix You.” I didn’t know the song, and so afterwards played the Coldplay original. It wasn’t so much the arrangements of either that got to me as it was the lyrics–like so much else these days, it reminded me of Fred’s illness and death, and I started crying so hard I was getting snot all over my shirt and almost began hyper-ventilating.

On the way to work at night I tripped over a broken piece of ground in a dark, five-acre field I was crossing and fell on my face. I was lucky I didn’t twist my ankle. It took me a couple minutes before I could even stand up. Every time I’ve crossed that field at night shoving McDonald’s crap into my face I’ve wondered what would happen if I had a heart attack and dropped dead there on the spot. How long would I be there before anyone found me?

–Friday the 29th–We were let go 18 minutes early at the end of the shift. I was determined to catch the early bus, so I started walking fast/almost running to the bus stop. Then I realized I used to do that in Fred’s last days, when I thought if I got to the bus stop faster that maybe I could get back to help him sooner. When this dawned on me I began crying again….

–Saturday the 30th–It’s been two months since Fred died. I woke around 9am or so, got up 20 minutes later, puttered around, cleaned parts of the apartment, watched a bit of the Gerald Ford funeral coverage, tried to figure out what to do with my day, and had two more crying sessions, again coming close to hyper-ventilating.

I went to the grocery store and got more food that’s bad for me, came home, watched more Ford funeral stuff, showered, and then watched an “Ugly Betty” marathon while sorting through some columns of files in my bedroom. I noticed the carpet in that part of the bedroom didn’t smell like dog pee anymore, which naturally made me cry for the umpteenth time….

Anyway, after fixing my bed I got online, had a violent, screaming, snot-slinging crying spell when I heard a song that made me think of Fred, then cried more later when I got an e-mail about somebody else’s Basset who just got killed in traffic a few minutes ago. This especially got to me because I always used to have nightmares about Fred getting loose and running into traffic.

I should post this before midnight. Good riddance to this goddamnable year!

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