The Casual Observations of the Human Condition

Caution, politically smarmy.
DECEMBER 5, 2011 5:58PM

After Dark, Week 15

Rate: 6 Flag


Note: Sorry this blog is late but the combination of being sick, the holday, working extra shifts and the general PMS attitude of Open Salon delayed everything. :) 


And we're off. Shortly after I started on the graveyard shift I asked for the Friday after Thanksgiving off. It all started when Ray still worked at the station and I could just picture him asking me to work that Thursday, then I realized that if I took Friday off I could take my mother to see my sister and since I would be out of town nobody would ask me to work, two birds/one stone. 

My plan was to work Tuesday night/Wednesday morning then take off. My mother could drive the first half of the trip while I slept and then I would take over for the second half. Well, Ray quit and they hired Amy, who wanted to trade days off for her birthday. I figured what the heck and asked her to work the Tuesday so I could sleep all night and then drive the next day, things were working out fine.

So after a full nights sleep  I woke up around 4 am. I tried to go to sleep again but it just wasn't working so I got up. I cleaned up, ate breakfast and double checked my bags and then when mom was ready three hours later we hit the road. The good thing about driving on Wednesday morning is that there isn't much traffic, most people work till at least noon before taking off for the long weekend. We actually made it through Albuquerque by 11:30 so we missed the inevitable lunch time traffic jam. Oh and the whole "mom driving the first half of the trip" didn't work out, I ended up behind the wheel the whole way.

We finally got to the motel around 2 in the afternoon and I was highly disappointed. It use to be a nice cheep place to stay but since the last time I stayed there they became a Pet Friendly hotel and sadly the room stank of disinfectant, the kind of stuff they use at kennels. Even with the window open the smell just wouldn't go away. Including the sorry "free breakfast" spread and the ultra scratchy towels I gave the place a really low review when I got home. Next time I will find a new place to stay.

Meanwhile, my sister works until 6 but my niece is on a flexible schedule so my mother called her to let her know we were in town, but it went to voice mail so I assumed she was at work. 10 minutes later the phone rang and it was my niece, it turns out she was at home but "otherwise occupied" when her phone rang so she called back. She asked where we were and I jokingly said "why at a motel of course". She, and I know she was rolling her eyes at the time, asked which one so I told her. She apologized because her mother had the car, they share one, and couldn't come get us. I pointed out that we had driven and had a car and could come to her place. She then tried to give me directions and I told her I hadgoogled a map and knew right where she lived. She said OK and then started to tell me to go to the mall and then....I told her again, I had looked her address up on google and had a map. She then figured out what I was telling her and I told her we would see her shortly, it would give her time to stash anything embarrassing.

So off we went. We drove across town and found her street, I figured I would drive slowly to keep an eye out for the address. Have you ever noticed that when you are looking for something there is always someone right behind you in a hurry? Sure enough two cars turned down the street so I turned into an apartment complex to wait for them to go by but they turned into the same place. In the end I had to drive clear around the building, and I think I drove where cars aren't suppose to go but oh well, and then headed back out on the street. I found the apartment complex and then took a lap through the parking lots while looking for her building. Finally I spotted my nieces neurotic dog on a balcony and knew it was the right place. After a bit of work to find the stairs we were knocking on the door.

About the dog, a few years ago my niece rescued an abused dog. It's basically terrified of people and tends to freak out when someone comes into it's space. It barks and runs around and just doesn't know what to do. Once it gets the idea you aren't going to pounce it calms down a bit but will run away the minute you move. It also has to wear an bandanna around it's neck, leave it off and the dog whines and mopes until you tie one on it. It's an emotional mess of a mutt but it loves my niece.

Along with the dog we met my niece's boyfriend. He trains dogs for sleds, and lives about 700 miles north, my niece has strange boyfriends. This is actually the longest relation she has had so perhaps the distance thing is good. We also met the roommate who turned out to be a guy. Long story short his ultra right wing Christian conservative parents kicked him out of the house for some ridiculous reason so he moved in with his girlfriend, my niece's real roommate, but she was off for the holiday so he was there without her. My mother was not happy about both the boyfriend and a guy staying with my niece but what can she say, it's the modern world.

Eventually my sister got off work and came over. We decided to go eat,which was good because the only thing I had over the past 12 hours was a few snacks from the gas station. We decided to go to their favorite Chinese buffet and headed out. The boyfriend didn't know if he was invited or not so he was going to stay until my mother said "Aren't you coming?" In my family the invitation is unspoken so we don't know how to act around normal people.

After dinner we chatted a while and then it was time to call it a night. We headed back to the motel and I guess it had been a longer day than I figured because I went to sleep right away. So far so good, but who knows what tomorrow holds.

On a quick side note I love to mix a little surreality into people's lives. Whenever I travel I take along the subscription cards from magazines like Maxim and stick them in the Gideon Bible in the hotel nightstand. I can almost picture the one person who actually looks through the Good Book before bed and getting quite the surprise. Yes, I'm a kook. 

Since I'm on a trip there was no found money. 


Thanksgiving. The motel had a free breakfast buffet which turned out to be some defrosted muffins, some bread and bagels, some generic cereal (but no bowls) and some smallish fruit. We got what we could but I was pretty disappointed by the spread. But I didn't know when dinner would be served so I figured I had better eat up while I could.

After "breakfast" we headed over to my sisters, who was waiting for us. She thought we would be there earlier and we told her we figured we would give her a chance to sleep in before invading her house. We then headed over to my nieces apartment, which is around the corner and in a different building than my sister. They had gotten an on sale roast so that was dinner rather than a turkey. Considering they went through some hard economic times over the past year and a half I wasn't complaining. I also took a small portion and no seconds so they would have leftovers. My mother got a little grumpy that they didn't ask her to help out with the cooking but I told her later they were trying to show off and prove that everything was OK, it calmed her down.

After dinner I took over the TV and watched The Pixar Story on Netflix. They weren't interested so they took the dog to the park, mom liked that because the boyfriend stayed behind and they could do "girl talk". I didn't entertain the boyfriend too much and instead stayed focused on the movie. We did have some idle chit chat but nothing serious, I'm not going to grill the guy.

When they showed back up I was watching a Japanese western, the boyfriend hadn't said anything about me still controlling the TV. I think he wouldn't survive my family because he's too quite. They then spent the rest of the night talking while I watched movies and then it was off to the motel again. I was glad we went when we did because I was able to catch the annual Punkin Chunkin contest on TV, I never miss it and both my sister and niece don't have cable. The only problem was Thanksgiving dinner had worn off and every place was closed, and I was hungry. I went to the lobby to see what was in the vending machine but it was a sorry site. In the end I finished off the chips I had from the drive down and some flat soda. Thank goodness I can go somewhere tomorrow. After "dinner" it was off to sleep again. Two days down and no fights. Things were going better than I expected. 


Having been discouraged by the "free breakfast" I figured I would treat everyone to a real meal so we got up early and went to my sisters apartment. I figured if we got to the restaurant early enough we could miss the Black Friday early birds and the late sleepers. We knocked on my sister's door but there was no answer, she doesn't have a phone right now. We went to my niece's but there was no answer there either, even the dog wasn't barking at us. I was hungry so I made an executive decision, you snooze you lose so we went to eat. It was just as I expected, the place was mostly empty but after we ate  the parking lot was filling up. We got back to my sister's and she was awake.

My sister told us she had gotten into a good book and stayed up late, her loss. After a while we went over to my nieces and she was up. We hung out again while they chatted and I watched TV and then they decided they wanted to go to lunch. There was the standard "where do you want to go" but I always have an out on that one, I point out that I don't live there and I have no idea what place is good so they have to decide, so they picked a new Mexican place that had just opened. This time the boyfriend was openly invited so there wasn't that awkward moment.

Lunch was good, the best thing about living in New Mexico is genuine Mexican food, not that Taco Bell stuff people elsewhere call food. Mom ate a little of her food but then asked for a "to go" box. I figured she had too much at breakfast and didn't think about it again. After lunch we went to the exotic food store so mom could get the tea she likes, plus get some for my niece. I made a joke about not wanting Extra Virgin Olive Oil and was going to ask where they kept the Slightly Slutty Olive Oil, I think the boyfriend is starting to loosen up after hanging out with us for the day. After that it was off to the used book store, and thanks to Kindle the selection is better than every. I found an almost new copy of Jurassic Park in hardback plus the complete stories of H.G. Wells, both books for less than $13, you can't beat that.

After lunch and shopping we went back to my nieces apartment. They took the dog for another walk, and more girl talk and I watched a documentary, the boyfriend had gone to play Magic with his comic book friends. When they came back they decided to play dominoes, yes I won. After the game it was getting dark and my sister decided they wanted to go grab a bite to eat, it was kind of late. Mom said she wasn't feeling well and so we took her over to my sister's apartment so she could lay down for a while.

I was hoping we would go some place nice, I was planning on paying, but instead we ended up at the same place I had gone for breakfast. Needless to say I was disappointed but my sister wanted to pay so we went someplace cheep, I think she was trying again to prove that everything was OK, so no complaints from me. After dinner we went back to my sisters and my mother was feeling worse, my sister offered her bed for the night but mom insisted on going back to the motel so we were off. In the end it turned out she had the same stomach flu that I had the week before and spent the majority of the night in the restroom. Perfect timing.  


We got up early on Saturday, I had to go to work tonight so I was going to have to make the long drive. Leaving early also meant we would miss the majority of the "lets leave on Saturday and beat the crowd" crowd. Most of them wait until after the farewell breakfast and hit the road at10, if everything went well we would be on the road at 7. My mother still wasn't feeling well but had gotten past the throwing up stage. I hit the sorry "free breakfast" and then packed and it was over to my sister's for the big farewell. My sister offered to have my mother stay for a few days and then would make arrangements to bring her home but mom insisted on leaving then. So it was the big goodbyes and then we were off.

Mom reclined her seat and went to sleep and I drove, and drove and drove. Originally the plan was I would drive the first half of the trip and mom would drive the second so I could sleep before I had to go to work, that plan was off. Usually when we hit Albuquerque we stop for lunch and a shopping stop at Sams club but mom was still asleep so I didn't stop until we hit the gas station on the other side of town. I grabbed a few snacks for lunch and mom got a soda to settle her stomach and then I got behind the wheel again, I was going to be driving the whole trip.

I was never so happy to be pulling into the yard. I would have time to take a short nap, eat dinner and even do a little laundry before I had to go to work. It was going to be a long night.

 My alarm went off around 8:30 pm. I drug myself out of bed and got ready for work. I grabbed a quick bite, cleaned up and then was out the door. 

When I got to work I was a little ticked off. The first thing I saw was an overflowing trash can on the lot. It's not like the afternoon crew couldn't see it, it was right outside the window and very obvious, they had just ignored it. They were sure to use the excuse "we were too busy" but I managed to dump it plus one more within the first half hour and we were just as busy. The second thing was the cooler hadn't been taken care of, there were empty shelves. The third thing was the slushy machine was frozen solid, someone had put the wrong mix in it and now it was a block of red ice, and nobody had turned it off so it remained frozen. I finally turned it off to see if it would defrost and could be drained and refilled properly. Fourth, one of the pumps was out of printer paper and nobody had gone to replace the roll, for who knows how long.  Finally I checked the cappuccino machine and sure enough it was low on three of the different flavors, again a 10 minute job that had been blown off.

I took care of the cooler but I left the cappuccino machine. I figured business would taper off as the night went along and there was enough in it to finish off our shift plus last about half way through the next shift, they were going to be busy with the "Travelling on Sunday" crowd and it was a guarantee one of the dispensers would run out. Bwa ha ha ha. See, I know how to and when to get my revenge on the other shifts.

Amy had called Diane so she was covering the shift. It isn't easy working with her since she is obsessed with cleaning and it was twice as bad tonight. We were busy all night long and she was off cleaning instead of working her register. She even did her "pull out the racks and scrub the floor" bit, I think she could have taken one night off and worked her register. Thankfully there wasn't too big of a crush or I might have gotten pissed.

I did have a few laughs, one customer came in and was singing to himself. He was either doing calisthenics or trying to dance. Either way I wish my camera had been a little handier because it was a great show. The next customer came in and bought some stuff and paid with a $20. Then he came back and paid with another $20, there went all my change, grrrr. A family then came in and I felt sorry for the son, he was the only boy in a family of four girls, I'm sure he gets it from all sides all the time.

I wasn't surprised when the morning shift woman called to ask if I would cover for a couple of hours. Even though I had driven 450 miles and was still on the tail end of the flu I told her I would cover for her, I could use the extra hours after taking two days off. When 6 rolled around Diane had to leave because she has a second job and the Hippie hadn't shown up yet, so I told her to go. The state law says two people have to be on shift from 10 pm to 6 am but after that they don't care. The Hippie showed up at 7:30, an hour and a half late and the morning shift woman showed up 15 minutes later. A 7 hour drive, a 10 hour shift and only a short doze and I was finally going home, 28 hours after I had started the day. I needed to go home and sleep.

I later realized I made a big mistake. Today was the end of the pay period and the morning crew would be starting new time cards. Since I took two days off I was going to be short on my check no matter what so I should have clocked out at 6 am and then reclocked in on my new card. I will be covering Amy's shift on her birthday in two weeks so I will be into overtime and the extra two hours today would add up as three with time and a half. Darn, next time I will know better. 

Found money, $1.55 



After a long sleep I headed out to work. If there was trash everywhere again I was going to be pissed, in the end I dumped 7 bags the night before, but surprisingly the place was mostly clean. I was still a little angry by what greeted me, when I had left yesterday one pump was showing that it was low on printer paper, now it was showing it was out. I know it hadn't just happened, it had to have run out earlier in the day. Not only that but another pump had a jammed printer message, was this invisible to everyone else? And of course the cooler was low again, but the cappuccino machine had been filled up, it must have run out just as planned. Bwa ha ha ha.

I went out and put paper in the one pump and then cleared the jam in the second. What really made me angry was that the receipt that was jammed read 12:02 pm, this mean that the machine had been jammed for 10 hours and two different shifts had ignored it. Then things turned ugly.

Just as I finished fixing the pumps the Hippie showed up. He was there to flirt with Amy but he walked in at the wrong moment, I took the receipt paper, which I had saved and said, "this is yours, it jammed on your shift". He did that annoying stoner laugh and said "chill dude". Well I lost it and told him to do his job and show up on time for a change, my week of being sick and going non stop had caught up with me. I think I cursed in two different languages during my rant and he got the idea that I was not happy, so he turned and left. I think I shocked Amy so I apologized but she told me that it was time someone told him off and thanked me for chasing him off, he has been annoying her for a while. I felt better for it.

The rest of the night was long and dull. Most people were where they were going and so we had time to kill. Amy washed down the racks while I cleaned the cappuccino machine, even though they had stocked it they didn't wash it so it was a mess. I stocked the cooler and cleaned around the lot, there was a lot of paper and garbage everywhere.

Towards the end of the night we, Amy and I, were talking about jobs prospects in the area.  I pointed out the only thing really available are fast food and motel jobs. She commented on how she never wants to be a maid and I said "You don't like finding pubes?" It was just then that Amy took a drink and had to run outside to spit it out because she was laughing so hard. 

Surprise, the Hippie showed up a half hour early. There was no discussion of the nights events. I would feel bad but things had to be said and it seemed the results might be a positive one. That is why it's important to limiting your cursing for special events.

Found money, 12 cents plus a 1953 and a 1961 nickle. 


The woman on the morning shift was filling in for someone in the afternoon. I had thought about showing up two hours late, like she does but I realized that she would leave and the other person on the shift would be stuck waiting for me. Plus I want the hours. I was and wasn't shocked to walk in the building and to see the morning shifts useless boyfriend hanging out. I guess the big Thanksgiving fight is over and now they can start warming up for the big Christmas fight. Some people's children.

The night started off with a quick check of the restrooms, I always do this because it saves me from being told off by someone because the place it out of hand soap. Seriously, it takes five minutes to replace the soap and yet the afternoon crew seems to have a real problem with doing that. Anyhow it was a good thing I did because someone had loaded a roll of toilet paper in the dispenser backwards so it wasn't feeding out. Why is it that to me it's common sense to have the paper feeding out of the dispenser hole? I would think everyone would know that one. Oh well.

Anyhow Amy is working for Diane today so I can do real stuff rather than just being stuck behind the counter all night. They switch shifts so often that I have just given up on making real work plans for the night and just wing it. I did have to laugh because I was told by Diane that Amy had a huge hickey on her neck and sure enough she was wearing a high collar. I pointed out that there was no full moon so how is it possible she was attacked by a Werewolf. Now along with her fake Lesbian wife, fake Lesbian girlfriend and "just friends" boyfriend I can give her griefabout the Werewolf, and plan to a lot. 

There was a lively bunch of customers. The first one was a woman with a small child in a car carrier. She was happy to see we had Lime Salt, it's meant to mix in your beer but people put it on everything. She bought five bottles of the stuff and told me that ever since she had gotten pregnant she couldn't get enough of the stuff. Oh well, I've heard of worse addictions.

The next guy came in to rant and rave that he had put his money in the coin operated air pump and it cut off too soon. I did my usual and played the stupid guy behind the counter who's hands were tied and all I could do was pass the message on to the manager. He went on and on about how it was a total rip off but realized I wasn't going to say anymore on the subject or offer him a dollar refund so he left. BTW, nobody else seemed to have any problem and I figured he was just trying to get free air.

The rest of the night was occupied with the usual, stocking, cleaning and so on. The Hippie showed up on time again, shock of shocks, so I got to leave early again. Amy was commenting she needed to check her transmission fluid but couldn't find the dipstick so before I left I checked it out. It turns out she has a Mazda and the stick is on the wrong side. Once found I got in my truck and headed home. The end of another successful night.

Found money, 1 cent.


Why is it as soon as I open my drawer someone shows up with a hundred dollar bill? This guy wasn't even getting anything, he just wanted change. He left in a huff but we aren't the bank and we don't keep that kind of change in the drawer at night, again common sense.

Here's another thing I can't figure out, why do people who prepay always ask if they can get their change if their car doesn't take the whole amount? Is there a station somewhere who refuses to give people their money? I'm almost tempted to tell them no but I'm not sure they will get the joke.

I felt sorry for some guy, he really wanted a pack of cigarettes. The problem was he was a dollar short. Considering I don't support smoking I wasn't going to give him a dollar so he was out of luck. I wouldn't want to be around him tonight.

A guy came in and prepaid with a large bill. As I was trying to count back his change, which I do with large amounts, he was loudly chatting with the guy behind him, but I pressed on. I could have ripped him off and he would have never known, I could have called it a "rude tax" but I didn't, this time....

The next customer came in and ran his card through the swipe machine and began to punch out his pin number on the pad. When I finished scanning his items and totaled it up I asked "Credit or Debit?" while he ignored me and tried to punch in his numbers a second time. When he finally listened to me he said Debit so I asked him to run his card, since the computer doesn't read them until I hit the total button and then he had to punch in his numbers for the third time. I was chuckling to myself.

Around 2 am business just dropped off. Nobody came in for the rest of the night so we wiped and straightened and I went out and swept up the wayward trash around the lot. Finally 6 am rolled around, the morning shift showed up and I went home. Two days off and boy was I happy, not to mention it was payday. Finally after a week of being sick, driving 900 miles and doing the Thanksgiving thing and being a grump in general I was going to enjoy my time off...unless Amy called. She was coughing and I commented that it sounded like the same virus everyone else had. If she needed all she had to do was call and I would cover her shift, I was hoping my phone wouldn't ring but I was also not planning on waking up early but instead sleeping in today. Well, wait and see.

Found money, 6 cents. 


Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
You must be exhausted. Take care of yourself and try to get some sleep.
rated with love
Fascinating as usual. You don't suppose that the Hippie gave Amy that hickey? No. She doesnt seem interested in him. Im glad there was no fighting at your Thanksgiving. Plain and simple reporting but I sense undercurrents in your string of facts. There is more going on than meets the eye in any situation.
Amy swears the Hippie isn't the werewolf so I believe her on that one.
You still capture parts of life that are like Edward Hopper paintings. R and please get some real rest.