A lot going on behind the scenes, not much I am at liberty to discuss at the moment. Stay tuned for some pictures in the next week or two, though!
Luckily, there are also some things going on IN the scene that I CAN discuss.
I do like my work schedule, but for the regrettable weekend hours. I wish I could be off at least on Sunday. This week is the annual "Question Box Sermon" at GRU. My first time there was a Question Box sermon. They are a right royal blast.
There are perks to working the weekends...most of the time there's free pizza. It's Pizza Pizza pizza, which is just fun to say out loud.
There will be a shift bid coming up in the next month or two, so we'll see what we can do. But I do love these ten hour shifts and the three days off a week that go with them. As it stands right now, I never work more than two days in a row. It's lovely.
And I'm starting to feel as if I might be good at my job.
This is not humblebragging, honest to gods it's not. While I'm doing my job, I don't feel as if I'm knocking it out of the park. But I keep getting very positive feedback from customers. Our surveys for customers are on a five point scale, and I've had approximately 25 surveys they call "top box" (5/5) against two "bottom box" (anything less than perfect) surveys. One of those latter came from an elderly lady (I refuse to believe any young lady is named "Edna") who gave me a 1/5 and accused me of being an identity thief because I was asking her too many intrusive questions....the same questions I am required to ask each and every customer in order to access their order: billing name, billing address, and the last four digits of the billing telephone number. The other, a "4", came from a customer who had no issue with my service (and even said as much) but did have a problem with some nomenclature on our website, and that's going to be fixed.
Speaking apparently only for myself, I don't give someone a five on a five-scale unless they have truly gone above and beyond and provided god-level customer service. Do I do that? I don't feel as if I do. But I have had a chat shown around; I've had snippets "stolen" and used by supervisors; the other day I had a customer apologize to me, at the end of a chat, for being angry at the beginning. THAT felt good.
I was luxuriating in what was already a great day on Friday when Jamieson, one of my trainers and a HOAG (Hell Of A Guy), wandered over and proceeded to gush over my last blog. He asked me if it was okay to read it, since it was such a personal entry, and I assured him everything I write is carefully vetted and fine for public viewing, or it wouldn't be there. "Well, I was hooked from beginning to end," he said, and a writer can not receive any higher praise without money attached to it.
I won't consider myself truly excellent at my job, no matter how many top box surveys I rack up, until others I have mentored are racking up as many or more than I do. To that end, I think I'm ready to start supporting others.
Yesterday was a amazing day. We are in the process of sprucing up, cleaning, and purging our home. As part of the purging process, I filled a hamper full to overflowing with books I felt I could part with. Nikki kindly ferried me to Second Look Books in downtown Kitchener. A large sign in the window stated 'TRADES WELCOME. NOT BUYING." I determined that this meant I could in fact drop off books for store credit and the personable proprietor informed us we could park in the delivery zone across the street ("you're delivering books to me, aren't you?")
Nikki and I hauled the books in, I dropped the hamper, and IMMEDIATELY spotted not one but two copies of this:
OH MY GOD, I exclaimed. Had I been alone in the store, I might have let loose with a war whoop and a "SACRED INTERCOURSE!"
You have to understand. I own a copy of this book. It dates to well before I met Eva, and it's been read to tatters. It's a collection of short stories, and I firmly believe it's one of those pieces of literature that every human being should read.
And it's out of print.
Prices on Amazon vary widely. I've seen a single copy retail as high as $285. It's currently $54.95. I snatched those things up as if I was afraid they would wink out of existence. I was, actually, afraid of just that. It was like a mirage.
The proprietor wandered over at my invoking the name of the Almighty, saw what I had in my hand, and said, "Right? I haven't seen a copy of that in more than three years. To get two of them in one day..." Yeah, I thought. This is like winning a lottery.
He hid them behind the desk while I went prospecting for more finds. Periodically I would wander back and ask him about a particular author, and no matter who I named, he knew where the books would be located, what editions to look out for. I even asked him about John Michael Greer...he hesitated for a second, asked "refresh me?" and I said "...the Archdruid"..."Oh, yes, "The Long Descent." Is there anything this man doesn't know, I thought, and then attempted to find out.
"Challenge for you," I said, and his eyes gleamed. "The Massey Lectures."
He instantly said they were scattered around the store by author.
"Okay," I said, "but I don't know the author of this one. Or the title. It's a book I used to own, I bought it at Costco about fifteen years ago, and I have lost it."
"Topic?" he prodded.
He almost ran directly to
Nikki and I got talking to him. I told him he was the best employee in the second best bookstore I'd ever entered. His eyebrows twitched. "No offence," I said. "Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound." "Oh, I love that place," he said, and confessed that all the bookstore proprietors had banded together in a "bookstore Mafia."
I think Nikki was getting a little nonplussed as I queried the man with more and more authors, never once stumping him.
We left with my haul, including the two Callahan's Chronicals. I still have $22 in credit. And Eva has yet to purge her books.
Oh and speaking of Eva...she got me the just-published tome by Guy Gavriel Kay, A BRIGHTNESS LONG AGO. I'm swimming in books. So, so happy.
On to dinner at Modern India. This was a first for me, one I was more than a little nervous about.
I have a very bland palette.
I mean really bland. I am able to detect a single grain of common table pepper in a bowl of Kraft Dinner. I don't like ketchup because it completely overpowers anything it's put on. And as for "hot" food...
I can't begin to enumerate the number of times I've been offered something that looks like it might be spicy. Such offerings invariably go something like this:
"Hey, Ken, try this."
Ken eyes it suspiciously, looking for telltale signs: smoke, an inner pilot light, a subtle vibration...
"Is it hot?"
"No. Not at all."
"No, really, there's hardly any spice in it at all. It's just really flavourful."
Ken looks at it again, holding it up to the light, examining it from all angles. No steam. He dips a finger in. It doesn't burn through his skin. He gingerly pops it into his mouth and begins chewing.
"Hmmm, this isn't ba---HOLY FUCK! WATER! WATER! YOU ASSHOLE, MY THROAT'S ON FIRE, WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SHIT?!!!"
Like as not, "that shit" is somebody's idea of "mild" sauce.
I still remember the time my father tricked me into trying something genuinely hot.
"Here, Macaw, try this," he said, as he handed me a little pickle.
"Is it hot?"
"Naw. It's a little pickle."
I love pickles.
My father is a legendary practical joker, so I was still a tad wary.
"Yeah, right. What is it, really?"
"It's a piri-piri. It's Portuguese for 'little pickle'."
I popped 'er in and crunched with gusto.
"Hey, this isn't ba..."croak...gasp...wheeze..."Haaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!"
My throat exploded. There's just no other way to put it. I searched frantically for liquid nitrogen. Not finding any, I then looked for a solid nitrogen bar to chew. Still no luck. At this point steam was jetting from both ears and every drop of moisture in my body was swimming down my cheeks for its very life.
I grabbed for a glass of water and upended it over my rapidly charring face. Some of it even made it into my mouth and down my throat.
"I was going to tell you that water makes it worse."
LESSON #1: If you eat a supernova disguised as a small pickle, do NOT drink water afterwards. Water has the same effect on piri-piris as it does on grease fires. Nobody tells you this beforehand, the better to laugh at you as you do the sweaty jiggy-dance.
Eventually I was directed to the milk, and downed about half a gallon. The pain began to abate.
Then I wiped my still-watering eyes.
LESSON #2: If you EVER handle a pickle-shaped H-bomb, do NOT then stick your finger within three hundred miles of an eye socket.
I scrubbed my hands down, you know, in water, because Lesson #1 hadn't sunk in yet. Then I went to the bathroom. And wiped.
Piri-piri is Swahili for 'pepper-pepper'. Some of them have a rating of 700,000 Scoville Units, according to online sources. (If you don't know what a Scoville Unit is, think of each unit as a ton of TNT.)
I know people who nibble these things like they're...little pickles. These people look human, but they're obviously cyborgs with throats made out of titanium. How anyone can detect any sort of flavour at all while they're searing their esophagus bewilders me to no end. Why, though, is perhaps the more pertinent question. Some of the side effects from eating virulent chilies include shortness of breath, nausea, and a feeling like you might pass out. And these things are supposed to be GOOD for you?
There are no piri-piris in Indian food. There are worse things. I don't understand how a region of the world which is that hot can produce food even hotter. Second Amendment zealots would love this buffet: almost everything on it is packing heat.
Nikki guided me. I tried most of it, including a beef curry. I discovered:
- I love butter chicken, which was the one thing I tried that had no discernible flame inside it
- I like vegetable pakora
- "paneer" is supposedly cheese. It does not taste anything like any cheese I have ever had.
- Beef curry is indeed fiery.
- And somehow they can make lentils spicy.
I powered through, and made an effort to get past the heat and taste flavour. I succeeded with most of it. So: I'm proud of myself.
My weekend is over as yours is just beginning. Enjoy, everyone.