Tag Archives: UPS

Where Did the Sun Go?

Last Monday, Labor Day, was a beautiful day. I was running low on vape juice and pods, and went to the local vape shop to buy some more. I even made it to Hobby Lobby to buy some glue for a model rocket that I’m building. It was a gorgeous day and seemed to be the idyllic late-summer day with the temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s and comfortable humidity. It was a nice change after the prior week with heat indexes nearing 100 degrees, a perfect day to have off work as well.

But looking back I realize this was the last time I had seen the sun. Seriously. Over the past week I haven’t caught a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the one that supports nearly all life on earth. In a way it feels like I’ve been cut off from the very thing that gives me energy to live. Literally.

I kinda miss it too. On Labor Day, after the hellishly sunny and hot month of August, I was looking forward to one of those dreary, rainy, and lethargic days. I was sick of the heat, the humidity, and the dead brown yards throughout the city. I was sick of driving around in our Honda Civic with AC that barely worked while the Focus was being repaired. I was sick of being cooped up inside because it was too miserable to be outside longer than it took to grab the mail. I work outside as well and this is it’s own special hell in the summer. To hell with it all, fuck summer, and could we please have some rain just to change things up a bit?

Be careful what you wish for.

My job assignment last week was my least favorite job, but somehow I was able to weasel my way out of it. I was put on one of my favorite jobs: driving the cargo loader, the big machine that lifts/lowers containers of packages out/into large cargo aircraft. I like the job because it’s one of the most important jobs at UPS. If you’re terrible at it, everyone hates you and talks shit about you, and you can even cause the planes to depart late if you’re incompetent enough. The opposite is also true; if you’re good at operating the loader you become somewhat of a workplace hero. Other loader operators watch how you do your job, and I’ve picked up on my coworkers doing some of the same things I do. Not that people worship you or anything, it’s just nice to see your skills rub off on others and know that you’re good enough at your job to be relied and dependent upon. As a one-man job operating the cargo loader has quite a bit of responsibility, but is very fulfilling knowing how important your skill is to the operation in general.

One of these. Source.

Kinda a rant there, sorry. The loader operator also stands outside in whatever weather is going on, as you can see above. In the summer you sweat and are miserable and in the winter two pairs of gloves and socks can’t stop your extremities from going numb. The wind throws rain, sleet, and snow into your face while ripping your skin off in subzero temperatures. But when the weather is pleasant, like on Labor Day, it’s a wonderful time where you get to stand outside, enjoy the weather, and do nothing physical besides move some joysticks and hit a few buttons.

Last week? Rain. Rain every fucking day. And I couldn’t complain about it either because I weaseled my way out of a hated job into a better one. You can’t reneg on a deal and I made sure to see the week through despite the terrible weather. Tuesday was rainy but not too bad. Wednesday didn’t have too much rain, only a wind-driven mist, but I wore a t-shirt like an idiot with temps in the 50s; I froze my ass off. More wind and rain Thursday but at least I wore a flannel while Friday only had drizzle here and there. I just find it interesting how shitty my luck is sometimes, and how I somehow bring it upon myself.

Saturday was also dreary, although it didn’t rain. I’m still struggling with sleep (it’s 4:05 a.m currently and I pounded down an Alka Seltzer and a melatonin a half-hour ago, to no avail) and wake up around 2 p.m. feeling fucking dead. Groggy, sleepy, unmotivated, and the view out of the window never helps. The ambient light level looks more like 7 p.m. than 2 p.m. This has been my past week: wake up at 2 p.m. feeling like a zombie despite sleeping for 9 hours, walking through tiny puddles on the way to my car at 3:30, lethargically driving with my eyes half-closed trying to decide what to listen too (upbeat music or something more lethargic?), drifting towards the timeclock, answering “Ehhh?” when my supervisor asks me how I’m doing, and standing out in the rain while I move some joysticks and smash some buttons during an airplane unload. Feeling my pants slowly become soaked by the rain and wind. Unmotivated to write or to read or do anything but also wanting to do something to pass the hours at work. Luckily when the sun does set you aren’t aware that it’s still fucking cloudy out.

According to the WeatherBug app, tomorrow (today I suppose) will be ‘partly sunny’ (is there a difference between partly sunny and partly cloudy?) with temps in the mid-70s. Not sure about the wind because no one cares about the wind. It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful day and I think I’m going to sit outside and bask in the sunlight, at least for a few minutes until I get bored and lurk back inside to play video games, post this, or whatever.

And holy shit, look at this:

THERE IT IS!

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Streak Day #24 Sucks (and some stuff about the damn virus)

While the federal government has been dragging their feet regarding any coronavirus response until recently, state governors have jumped in trying to pick up the slack and keep their states safe. While out governor here in Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, doesn’t get much recognition compared to others like New York governor Andrew Cuomo, he’s been locking our state down with zero fucks given. A week ago he closed down restaurants and bars which wasn’t a big deal for me personally — I never go out to eat anyways — and now he’s issued some “stay at home” order. I don’t know the details because once again, I usually stay at home anyways.

Our work crew has a Group Me chat that allows us to share work-related information outside of clunky group text messages. This order, once announced, immediately caused certain panicky coworkers on Group Me to start asking if this affected us at UPS. There was some phrase in the stay home order exempting “essential workers”, but was UPS “essential?”

Fuck yeah we’re essential and this was made clear immediately. UPS, as is often explained to us peons, delivers “essential life-saving medicine and other medical devices” or something of that sort. Nevermind most of what we seem to ship is Amazon packages with who knows what contained within. But still, this made me appreciate my job slightly; I was now an “essential employee” tasked with keeping my tiny section of the economy moving, doing the dirty and dangerous work of providing goods to the people who need them. I felt a warm fuzzy feeling knowing I was A HERO even if I know it’s total bullshit.

So for me, life won’t change much at least until I contract the virus. The wheels of UPS will keep turning.

Low-tier Facebook meme, but it’s applicable.

Two days ago we were offered double shifting opportunities at work. I wrote a post about it here: overtime after five hours of work ($30 an hour for me!), endless boredom, and it’s not like I have anything better to do with my time. It’s too good of an opportunity to turn down. While a few days ago I was worried about losing my job, apparently the universe has decided to smile on me and offer me even more hours at work. Thanks to the paranoid people on the night shift that I’m assuming are calling in and causing UPS to be short on workers. In a crisis such as this I might as well try to make money.

I’m curious as to what force of law Pritzker has behind his stay home order. Somehow I don’t think cops will be stopping every single person driving on the road asking for proof that they’re going to work or the store; I’m thinking the order mostly relies on people blindly following what they’re told. Not that I’m going to blatantly ignore it, but I would like to take advantage of everyone being holded up and maybe enjoy a bike ride or two. Even if I do stay locked in my house all the time (and bitch about it) now that I’m told I have to stay home I don’t want to. Maybe I just hate authority telling me what to do. This is America, damnit!

I think this is due to me being of a “chaotic good” alignment. I really don’t give a shit about what the law says as long as I can do some good in the world. One idea I’ve had to simultaneously shit on the law and help people in crisis was to maybe make runs to the store for medicine (like OTC stuff) and deliver it to people that need it. Even the person with an average severity of coronavirus likely needs acetaminophen and cough medicine.

Not that I’ll ever do that: I can’t talk to people. I can’t network. I’ve bitched about my inability to network here on WordPress and this is no different. In fact it’s worse. I want to help in some chaotic good way but there isn’t any way to help.

Another random idea I’ve had to chaotically help in this crisis is to sell vape juice online. I’ve mentioned here I’ve started to make my own and have enough supplies to make about 30 bottles of the stuff. And if all “non-essential” shops are closed, I’m assuming this also includes vape shops. What are the vapers going to do once they run out of juice? It’ll be a crisis all on it’s own. What if I could “do some good” by selling homemade vape juice online to people in time of need? It sounds stupid as hell, but it is a valid service and the little capitalist in my head sees an opportunity to both become filthy rich and provide an actual service, even if it isn’t a “high-minded” service as other things.

I’m really thinking about doing this too. Order some more flavors and nicotine and go to town. Make a Facebook business page for “Jeremy’s Juicy Juice” or some other shitty sounding name like that. My only problem (besides the questionable legality of selling nicotine on Facebook, once again chaotic good here) is my lack of bottles to put the stuff in. I’ve been using bottles of store bought stuff to hold the homemade once they’re empty. Maybe I could source bottles from my vaping friends? Buy ketchup bottles and use those? Order a supply of bottles? But I don’t want inventory that won’t be used if this plan doesn’t work at all. I have no idea.

Rockford Sucks: A Love-Letter to my Home Town

Rockford is one of those cities that’s hard to explain to other people. It’s not an important city like Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, or any other “big name” cities you’ve heard of. You can’t mention Rockford, Illinois to someone and have them understand what you’re actually talking about. Is Rockford a classy, small town in Illinois? A larger college town with a fancy economy supported by the mass of college kids in the fall and spring? An old, rundown, ex-industrial town like Pittsburgh? What exactly is Rockford? Hell, even people understand something upon mentioning “Omaha, Nebraska” as bland of a place as that actually is; Rockford is somehow even blander. Rockford doesn’t mean anything and it’s hard to explain something when it really isn’t anything at all. I can tell you what Rockford isn’t and that would be easier than describing what it is. Rockford is a lack of character. A shell in a way.

Rockford is close enough to Chicago to be described by it (“Rockford is close to Chicago…”) but far enough away for it to not really mean anything. Rockford is about 30 minutes away from the outer suburbs of Chicago like Elgin and Schaumburg and the miles of farmland in between excludes it from being a Chicago suburb. Sadly, Rockford would be more notable in this way. Rockford isn’t like Peoria, Moline, or Champaign where it’s its own shitty, solitary city, but isn’t close enough to Chicago to be a suburb. This leaves it in it’s own unique category of being “sorta near Chicago” but not actually part of the Chicago ecosystem.

Hell, we even renamed our airport years ago “The Chicago/Rockford International Airport” because being sixty miles away from Chicago still requires our airport to be named something-Chicago-something to be “notable.” Our airport, despite the name, has nothing to do with Chicago at all, except serving as a convenient location for diversions given heavy storms around the Chicago O’Hare Airport. That’s it.

Rockford is one of those derelict midwestern cities that has its days of glory well past it. The neighborhood I grew up in was surrounded by large and abandoned factories and buildings, and as a kid I always wondered what exactly was in them. I’m talking buildings that take up numerous city blocks that are five or six stories tall: what was left in their remnants? They weren’t being used anymore, but surely someone owned them? What was left in their carcasses? Most of the lower windows had long been shattered and boarded up after bored and mischievous teenagers busted them all out with rocks; you couldn’t even look in and see what the interior was like. The unbusted and boarded windows on the third story and above were obviously impossible to look through. These buildings always mystified me, long-dead symbols of something that Rockford used to be decades ago. Something that it wasn’t any longer.

Apparently the city used to be a heavily industrialized city, and I was told (I’m not sure about the factual basis here) that during the Cold War the Soviets even had our quaint and shitty city targeted by their ICBMs; decades ago Rockford used to be important enough that someone on the other side of the planet felt it needed to be destroyed in a nuclear first-strike against the USA. That’s something right? Sadly (not sadly?), this isn’t the case anymore. I was never concerned for a 9/11-style terrorist attack because of Rockford’s total lack of notability. If anyone wanted to make news, they’d hit a high-profile target. Not Rockford. Communism is long gone and no one feels the need to hurl nukes at Rockford anymore.

Rockford does have a few notable things about it though, if you could call them that. You might’ve heard of the Rockford Peaches, the female baseball team depicted in the Tom Hanks’ film A League of Their Own. You can even see the nearly-forgotten ticket booth that still stands near the river in a fairly run-down and shady looking neighborhood. The actual baseball diamond has long since been demolished and turned into a school. But the ticket booth still stands next to a bunch of shitty houses and small businesses in a neighborhood you probably wouldn’t want to linger in for too long.

I could’ve driven down here and took my own picture, but I also didn’t want to be bothered doing so. It’s not that big of a deal and it’s cold outside. Google Maps works just fine. Image from Google (obviously).

Rockford is also known for Sock Monkeys. No one ever explained to me why this was a thing. And I don’t want to read up on why it’s a thing either.

Cheap Trick, a fairly famous rock band popular in the 70s and 80s also came from Rockford. Strangely I’ve never really listened to them. In fact I feel less inclined to listen to them because they came from Rockford, like I feel pressured to be a fan because of the city I live in or some shit. Their most famous work is At Bufokado (really At Budokan but my attempt at spelling it as “Bufokado” was hilarious enough to leave in place) which actually is a pretty decent album. As for the rest of their discography? I have no idea. At Bufokado was good at least. All I do know is Rockford — the city, the actual government apparatus that is Rockford — felt that Cheap Trick was notable enough to plop signs up of them randomly around the city. I’m especially aware of the one on Spring Creek Road. It shows a bunch of old musicians with Rick Nielsen, their guitarist, looking like a fucking immature kid. Like that’s his look or something. With the stupid guitar with the five necks to it for some reason. He always has this goofy smirk on his face and something about him is immensely punchable (maybe he isn’t that bad). Cheap Trick. Rockford. Yay.

CHEAP TRICK!!1!!1 I’m kinda tempted to find the signs depicting the other band members — like a Rockfordian scavenger hunt — and since I’m a Good Rockford Residence and kinda a nerd for random classic rock knowledge, let me name the other three members: Bun E. Carlos, Tom Peterson, and Robin Muthafuckin’ Zander. Did I get them right? I don’t know.

Note: Rick Nielsen looks even worse when he was sporting a beard/goatee thing. Everything about that look oozes child molester. I don’t know how he ever thought that was a good look for him. Go Google it.

OOoo and before I forget, Fred VanVleet, a big basketball player dude, also grew up in Rockford. He won the 2019 NBA Championship playing with the Toronto Raptors. Yay? I mean cool for him, great job!, but who gives a shit that he grew up in Rockford? It doesn’t make Rockford any cooler; it’s not Rockford that made him win the NBA Championship.

The biggest thing Rockford has going for it (if you could call it that) is the aforementioned and terribly-titled Chicago/Rockford International Airport. UPS set up a fancy air hub back in the 90s — supposedly UPS’s second-largest sort facility — which drove literal tons of cargo volume to the airport. In the past few years Amazon has also begun setting up shop at the field and appears to rival UPS in the package delivery business. While air cargo companies don’t make the biggest news, the airport is rather lively, employing thousands of people to sort, ship, and load packages onto airplanes. In a city of 150,000 (as the sign on West State Street claims it to be at least) package and cargo companies might employee perhaps 1 or 2% of the entire city’s population. While no one really knows about it, the Rockford Airport Chicago/Rockford International Airport is a large cargo airport, one of the largest in the US (according to the link, the 19th largest. Well…). This is probably helped by the total lack of passenger and airline traffic allowing cargo companies to have the airport all to themselves. As the meme goes, it’s ain’t much but it’s honest work. It’s also where I work. (Surprise)

It is the popular and chic thing to talk total shit about Rockford. Everyone who lives here rips on the place nonstop. You can’t help but understand them to some degree. Rockford, as I’ve described, is kinda a black hole of nothingness. There is nothing notable about this place at all besides a few kinda random bullshit things. Old, derelict buildings. An old baseball team they made a movie about. The goddamn infernal sock monkeys. Fred VanVleet. AND CHEAP FUCKIN’ TRICK! It is your typical, bland, and unremarkable midwestern city seemingly well past its prime with nothing for its citizens to be proud of. You can’t make a career here outside of retail and customer service. Even if you find a cushy upper-management job in Rockford you’d almost certainly be working in customer service. Even shipping packages is another form of customer service. To really make something of your life you need to escape, at least to attend a college or a university, only returning with a degree to do something semi-notable.

But outside of all of this, what else does someone want from a city? I really think while some other cities are nicer, have more “going on,” have some semblance of a “scene,” especially in their downtowns, they’re all more or less the same. Sure, while Madison might be nicer, it isn’t some Eden-tier paradise to escape to. I don’t think any city is perfect, and while some are much better than Rockford by whatever metrics you want to measure, who actually gives a shit? While I hate Rockford just as much as the next Rockfordian, I guess I realize that it is home to me. These bombed-out, potholed roads are my bombed-out potholed roads. And the shitty Walmarts that constantly smell like marijuana? Well, they’re my pot-filled Walmarts. The forgotten husks of factories gave my childhood some mystery to think about. The bike path along the river, the lighted Morgan Street Bridge, the uneventful and dead downtown, the bums on the corners begging for money, and the drunkards stumbling around on the roads at 11 p.m., well, it’s all home to me.

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.)