Tag Archives: Being Bored

Double-Shifting Sucks: 2020 Edition

(Note: Excuse any formatting issues. I’m doing this all on the WordPress app.)

Here we go again: the Holiday Season of this wonderful year 2020 is upon us. We’re almost to the end of these terrible 365 days; just a few more weeks to suffer through! But before I personally get there I have to suffer through work and double-shifting once more. It’s the few weeks of the year where I can totally rob the company of basically free money and I have no incentive not to do so.

If this is sounding similar, it’s probably because this is mostly a copy/paste of my post from last year about double-shifting. I didn’t even want to complain about it a second (or third time) because I wasn’t sure if there’d be anything new to say that I haven’t before. It sucks and what else is there to say?

Walking into work seeing this doesn’t help either. You need not be an expert to know something is wrong here.

I reread the previous post and it was actually good! There was bitching, sure, but there was some hope underneath all the complaining. I found myself bored, reading books, and learning about the beauty of being bored. Buckling down and surviving day after day, week after week with nothing to do but exist. I felt if anything would turn me into a Buddhist Monk it would be being bored at UPS.

This year? No. No way. Hell no. It’s the opposite and is even more boring than last, even if I couldn’t imagine the possibility a year ago. This level of boredom is almost beyond comprehension and instead of teaching me some grand lesson about life it’s teaching me another thing about boredom; boredom is toxic, boredom is hell, boredom is a poison, boredom slowly but certainly destroys your soul. Sure, we all need time to rest, relax, and reflect but this is taking it way too far. Too much boredom is hell.

A few days ago on a three hour break I reflected on my state. My mental state wasn’t good, I was hungry, unmotivated, and tired. I even had to use the bathroom but was too lazy to do so. I was reminded of The Sims 2 and the ‘status bars’. If you’ve never played The Sims, these bars show how ‘healthy’ each of your character’s needs are, like the need to take a piss, or hunger, or comfort. As I thought about general human comfort broken down into these eight categories I imagined how mine would look if I was a Sim; they’d all be dangerously red. I had to pee, wasn’t comfortable, was hungry, wasn’t having fun, hadn’t had a shower in four days, and my environment was terrible; I was trying to nap in a Chevy passenger van at work.

I’d shop this to how I feel, but I’m too lazy.

The only bar that’d be green is ‘Social.’ Working silly long hours with some friends is a great way to bond and the humor and camaraderie is real. Apparently going through miserable shit with others is a great way to bond.

Here’s a real life example from a few days ago to really show how little we actually do and how pervasive the boredom is. We started at 11 a.m. We unloaded a plane around noon. We sat around until 3 p.m. and took a half hour lunch. We pulled about four containers out of the hub and drove them to another airplane. Then we sat around until 8 to load the same plane we loaded at noon. It’s like being in a different realm of existence working the same plane you unloaded eight hours earlier. The suns gone, the temperature is much colder, but you’re literally in the same place you were eight hours ago. It’s soul-crushing.

Occasionally we have twenty people loading a single plane which only requires about seven or eight. We (my four work buddies) sit in our van-home and watch everyone working outaide. Eight people standing around doing jack shit in the cold until a can eventually shows up. The other twelve or thirteen people are either in the airplane or sitting in their own van-home. There is no work we could possibly do unless we want to fight with the others trying to find the smallest crumb of work that we can.

One of these guys even talked to our supervisor about this. “How many people are in the van?” He asked. “Four,” she said. To which he passive-aggressively replied, “Wow, wish I could sit in the van all night. It’s cold standing around outside.”

Well no shit, that’s why we’re in the van. And if this guy sat in his van, then we’d get out and do some work because there’d actually be work to do.

The misery of boredom doesn’t stop there. It’s like the rest of my life has ceased to exist. Even with all the downtime at work I can’t use it effectively because I’m so bored and lethargic. Had I been able to channel my motivation I could’ve been doing quite a bit of writing or reading, but no, I nap and space out for hours on end. When I get home I have about two good hours to actually have a life or a hobby, but mindlessly playing video games is a great way to pass the time. Oh, toss a few beers in there to zap me out a bit as well. I wake up at 10 a.m., just enough time to make a pot of coffee and charge my phone and vape before I leave at 11 a.m.: repeat until this shitty season is over.

Pissing away time doing fuck all.

Boredom, like all things, begets itself. Depression makes you lethargic and unwilling to work towards happiness, anger keeps you chasing after anger instead of peace, and boredom loves to destroy your motivation to where you don’t want to do anything. Sitting in a van for three hours drifting off to sleep (and being paid $30/hr. to do so) puts you in a strange state. You want to work, you want to do something to pass the time, but you just can’t be bothered to get up because the van has become your home away from home and boy is it cold outside.

I feel like a coiled spring which is good. I can’t wait for this season to be over so I can enjoy life again. Sure, I bitch a lot about the “struggles” of my pretty comfy life, but this week is really putting things into perspective for me. I work a decent paying part-time job that has free health benefits. I have all the time in the day to actually do the things I want, be it writing, reading, video games, or drinking around with my silly science experiments. Some people aren’t this lucky where their reality year round is working a ton of hours at a job with zero time or willpower to do anything like a hobby. With this newfound appreciation for how great I have it compared to people who live this life year round I can’t wait to get back to my hobbies. Maybe it’s just the type of mindset I need to kick of 2021.

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics and shitty poems every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing also sometimes post stories.

Double-Shifting (and Boredom) Sucks

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-David Foster Wallace
…one of these hideous bastards. Note the stubby and goofy looking wings.

I’m currently sitting in a van on the cargo ramp at UPS. The current time is 11:17 a.m. and my crew (consisting of about 9 people) is scheduled to unload an Airbus A300 cargo airplane due to arrive at 12:09 p.m. It’s a little less than an hour away. And what will we do in the meantime? Nothing: we sit. This is what we do at UPS. The motto tossed around to new-hires is usually this: Hurry Up and Wait. I’ve been there so long that it’s basically lost its meaning to me.

The coworker in the front seat has his phone’s volume on full-blast playing some shitty mobile game. I don’t even know what game it is or if it’s even shitty, but it’s a mobile game so it probably is shitty. Also considering the certain coworker that’s playing it leads me to think it’s certainly a shitty game. I hear the cheap sound-effects of change clinking and crowds cheering feebly spewing out of the phone’s minuscule speaker which gives the sound a tinny quality. It’s like someone rubbing crumpled aluminum foil directly on your eardrums. The coworker next to me sometimes glances over in my direction and his breath is terrible. The people in the rear of the van — a Chevy passenger van that seats about 15 people fully loaded — are small-talking that everyone does when there is nothing to actually talk about. Because silence in and of itself is terrifying and scary. Two coworkers are in the back silent ripping away on their vapes. At least they’re not bothering anyone so I give them credit for that.

I’m working the UPS day-shift this year because there is no reason not to work it. UPS is a union job so it’s all-around a pretty comfy affair. Our contract with the company dictates that anything worked over five hours in a day is time-and-a-half pay: my typical $19.95 wage skyrockets to nearly $30 after the fifth hour. In a nine-hour day we’re taking some serious money here, and because I’m bored trying to kill time and math is something fun to do, this is a gross daily pay of exactly $219.45. Holy shit. Maybe double shifting isn’t too bad after all? While the money is good it’s not my primary reason for working the extra shift in a twisted sort of way if you can believe it. I’m a bum. I don’t do anything productive. I usually sleep and write during the scheduled day-shift hours. Sometimes I play video games. There is no reason not to work because making $30 an hour is hard to pass up when you literally have nothing better to do.

My typical shift at UPS is the twilight shift, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. By doubling on days I work an 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. shift with an hour-ish lunch break in between. And why can I pick up these extra shifts around this time of year? Because I work at UPS. We deliver boxes. And it’s December. Fucking think about it. We’re being swamped by packages and UPS as a company throws around money with complete disregard simply to get people like me to stick around longer than usual, take extra shifts, and get those damn packages shipped. Mostly so the stereotypical American in the fury of Christmas Holiday shopping doesn’t become pissed that their boxes showed up a day or two late. Weeks before Christmas the Holiday itself obviously, but still they will be very upset nonetheless.

Knowing the shift was going to be terribly long and boring I brought in something to read: David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. I almost feel bad complaining about taking extra shifts where I have enough downtime to read a book, write blog posts, and get paid nearly $30 an hour to do so, but the way anyone gauges anything is from their own relative personal experiences and it’s difficult for me to see anything that pisses me off in a positive light even if it is, logically, a positive thing. I hate being bored even if $30 is being thrown at me every single hour.

I started reading the book about a month ago and became bored, yes bored, about halfway through and only recently began reading it again (curious timing, looking back on it). The major complaints about the book are that it’s boring as hell, and even throughout the book the author explains (or maybe it was in the forward?) that the book is almost meant to be boring. Wallace’s most well-known novel Infinite Jest had it’s moments where it lagged a bit, but was a much more riveting story overall. Hell, The Pale King is about IRS employees and the whole IRS being central to the story almost forces it to be a boring story. So it’s not that Wallace is just a boring writer, it seems that he made the book boring on purpose. It’s the theme of the book: boredom. While I don’t know exactly what he is trying to say about boredom, I know he is trying to say something about it. And the book forces you to face the boredom directly; it doesn’t talk about boredom as much as it forces you to live through it by boring you to death. Some chapters are so full of random boring details about forms, procedures, codes, and acronyms that it had to be a conscious choice on the author’s part. And in my current bored state of double shifting, the novel seems like the universe’s way of talking directly to me (again). I find myself immensely engaged with the story that is so bland and devoid of anything obviously purposeful at all.

I realize that what I’m scared of with my extra work hours is not being burned out, or not having enough free time, but of being bored. Something about being bored is a personal affront to my very being it seems. My normal UPS shift forces me to find things to do for sometimes literal hours, and by taking on a second shift I get to double my boredom! And in some ways it’s worse than that; by working a nine or ten-hour day my phone inevitably dies. No writing. No blogging. No social media. No music. No internet. Nothing. Sometimes the work is so chaotic that the boredom comes in bursts here and there and doesn’t allow you enough time to sit down, relax, think, read, or grasp onto your fading sanity. It’s work just to stop minutes later. And then work again. And then stop. It’s Hurry Up and Wait. Let’s also not forget the one or two-hour lunch wedged in between the shifts either. Not enough time to go home and relax but long enough where you can’t sit around at work. Hence me grabbing McDonald’s, sitting in a parking lot at the end of runway 25 at KRFD and watching planes take-off and land. Like this:

And reading the book I run into this, the end of which I quoted at the top of this post:

The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breath, so to speak, without air.

The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable. I met, in the years 1984 and ’85, two such men.

It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.

-D.F.W., The Pale King

The universe compels me to listen to what it’s trying to tell me. Apparently this time the universe works through the dead author David Foster Wallace and his unfinished novel The Pale King. And if Wallace in his boring-ass book is right, and if double shifting is as torturingly boring as it is so far, well, it looks like I’m well on my way to success, maybe even enlightenment. The key to modern life! I’m going to learn to be bored. To be okay with it. To sit for hours and hours in an airplane cross-legged and perfectly at peace being the embodiment of boredom. Totally fine staring out at the twinkling runway and taxiway lights that appear as bright, vivid, twinkling stars strewn over the ground admiring them endlessly.

(Closing Note: I was trying to make this more of an “update post” but was carried away with my mindset for the day. I wrote the post while bored and just went with it and it ended quite differently than how I originally intended it to end. So I guess this is the “update part” just tacked onto the end. I’m working a bunch of hours. I probably won’t be very active on here unless I knock some stuff out on the weekends and schedule them to post on the weekdays. I can write on my phone just fine, but I can’t edit or post. This also explains the “thanks guys!” post on Sunday. December probably won’t have any record blog views because of this yearly hell I live through; posting will surely suffer. I also might not be very active commenting on other people’s blogs. So if I disappear it isn’t because I forgot about you, it’s because I’m bored and I can’t help being bored and I have no escape from the boredom.)