At Stitch Fix, Monday was a paid holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Day. But we still had to do 8-hours of mandatory overtime. So I worked 10-hour days Tuesday through Friday. And then today I worked 10-2. I’ve been experimenting to what works best for my life and my body. After those 10-hour shifts, my four-hour one passed quickly. Super quickly.
Right now I am in an Epsom salt bath, trying to get Nala to play in the water.
The wind is howling vigorously outside. Nala’s more than a little nervous. And I’m having trouble staying warm in this tub.
So, one interesting thing about life at the Bizzy Hizzy is that second shift (known as midnight society) tends to work where needed versus in a particular position. With a shortage of inventory, we’ve been working inbound even if we are normally outbound.
Working in this warehouse environment makes me realize I am fascinated by operating logistics. Day shift has so many people they are streamlined to factory precision. Evening shift does not have quite that automation.
Last night I worked in men’s inbound— and I have never set foot in the men’s section of the warehouse. It’s clean, uncluttered and quiet. Then for my shift I went back to women’s returns processing. Today I served as consolidator. That was collecting clothes and distributing hangers.
Now there are two schools of thought on whether cross-training benefits the worker.
1. As an employee, we are hired for a certain job and our wage or salary is set by our skill level and what we do. When an employer asks us to perform additional roles without adjusting our compensation, they are taking advantage of the employee.
2. When an employee, particular one in a low-skill arena, agrees to perform more than one function, they are proving their willingness to learn and their capacity, which allows the employer to assess their performance and capacity. This will factor into evaluations and could lead to growth within the company.
Both are valid, and both are horseshit as workers are not really valued in American culture. The United States’ system values business and profit but not so much the individual.
But learning these different roles entertains me and quells my curiosity.
And this morning before work I treated myself to a breakfast at Wendy’s because I really like their seasoned potatoes. And I tried the Breakfast Baconator. I wanted it to be a hamburger. See my review here: Review of the Breakfast Baconator
And after work I stopped to see Mars and Vesta at Petco: Mars and Vesta
I have not had much time of late, working 10 hour days and trying to do the items the teenagers need to keep the house running in my absence. I have no fewer than six or so random topics saved as potential blog entries but so far… no time to sit and write.
Teenager #1 fed the cats this morning and made my coffee. Nala is screaming for attention and her breakfast.
At our weekly meeting on Wednesday— the powers that be told us that 75% of the inventory in our warehouse was already styled out by the Stitch Fix stylists. Our mandatory overtime is being used to restock our inventory so we can keep sending fixes to our clients.
Wednesday was the day I ended up doing two hours binning on the “rack project.” We are increasing the capacity of the warehouse by moving from a single tier to a double tier system.
Then I did an eight-hour shift in inbound processing, where I spent the first 90 minutes finishing the hanging of day shift’s work and the rest of the night hanging and tagging three sizes of Just USA black skinny jeans (9” rise if you are interested).
Last night I did all ten hours in women’s returns processing which was fun in multiple capacities.
It didn’t involve folding.
I got to slice open packages.
I saw what people decided to keep and what they sent back.
I studied the differences between day shift and my shift and how the warehouse functions as an assembly line when at peak staffing. Fascinating.
This is my week of 1:30 pm to 12 am shifts at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy to meet our mandatory overtime requirements.
I started my night at a station called “QC South,” which is an overflow area in the back of the warehouse. As it is an overflow area, it isn’t permanently set up with conveyer lines to move workflow and some stations (like mine) didn’t even have platforms for the computer. But I did get a tagging gun so that was exciting!
A person at a nearby table almost passed out— so that was exciting too and not in a good way.
I QC’ed 18 fixes between about 1:50 and 3:20, which is still painfully slow. We took our first ten minute break of the day and I learned I was on pick direct for my regular shift. This news gave me a lovely thrill. Between 3:30 and 6, I picked 40 fixes— which is five carts. Most carts took me 20 minutes and the last took 25 out in the W section.
I gained 10,000 steps today my day in that portion of my shift.
The direct pick carts were overtaking the “garage” area of the warehouse so a supervisor asked me to go back to QC. I chose a spot (6B) on line 1 in Valley 1 because I strongly prefer tables with the lines on my left.
I ended the night with a total of 65 fixes QC’ed which is no improvement from my times last week.
Two people from my side of my valley disappeared mid-shift and the nurse returned for their personal things. Another to my right seemed sluggish and prone yo staring off into space, but that could be that person’s natural state. I can’t help but wonder if I am seeing Covid winding its way through my colleagues.
My teenagers and I have been craving pizza so I told them that if we survived this crazy first week of mandatory overtime at my job we would order pizza Saturday night.
Then I asked them if they’d rather go for pizza.
What a novel idea in this pandemic world.
I called them from the car as I drove home from the warehouse— because teenager #2 scrubbed up the dining room table to feed us something “sweet and yummy” procured via her actual maternal unit.
“Hey, guys, are we still going out for pizza?”
They had forgotten but teenagers are always ready to go out for pizza.
George’s is one of our local pizza joints, about a mile from the house. They have certain dishes, like their homemade vodka sauce (which you can order by the quart), which are satiating comfort foods. They had a 12” one-topping pizza for $6 that I nicknamed the “date night” pizza because it’s perfect for two people to share. They also have two sizes of cannoli which thrills teenager #1.
They once made me an entire pot of coffee because I ordered it late in the day and they offered to let me take the rest home.
I ordered, with the teenagers’ help, two of the little pizzas— one with green peppers and the other with black olives. We also ordered calamari, garlic knots and breaded cauliflower. Only I could get that many vegetables into pizza night.
After a very long day and an even longer week, it felt good to share this experience with the teens. Teen #2, at my goading, went out to the car and got $1 in quarters for each of them to use as they wished. I thought one of them would play pinball.
Teen #1 got one gumball and three bouncy balls.
Teen #2 chose expanding dinosaurs. They now reside in a cup of water at the bathroom sink.
In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that the cats broke into my room and Peek-A-Boo, my yellow parakeet, was free-flying. Traditionally, I let the parakeets free-fly once or twice a week while supervised.
The routine has changed since kitten fostering, COVID-19, and budgie chicks— and poor Boo found herself in the small bird cage isolated from her friends.
So for her emotional health, I let her free fly more often, but as the stubborn bird she was… she hated going back into the tiny bird cage and wouldn’t go willingly until nightfall.
I would close my bedroom door and let her go.
Thursday night the cats got in before Boo had gotten into her cage. Now my older cats won’t bother her. The hunter in the family now has three legs and more desire to sleep under my bed than play drive to chase a bird. And the dumb one— he already had a run in with Boo and lost. She was in her cage and Oz must have gotten too close. She ripped out a piece of his nose and lip. It’s taken about a year to regrow.
Oz has no interest in the birds. The little jerks dive bomb him, usually with Boo as ringleader, should he wander into the room while she were out.
Now, the younger two (Misty and Fog) and the newcomers belonging to teenager #2 (Venom and TJ) are stereotypical cats.
Changes are that Oz opened the door so he and Opie could sleep uninterrupted in my room and the rest of the Pride took advantage of the situation and scared Boo. She probably couldn’t get to her cage and somehow got out the crack in the door. Or, as there was feathers in my room, one of the cats swept her out of the air and carried her out of my room.
Statistically all of these things seem unlikely to happen all at once but they did. Once Boo made it downstairs, the cats had the advantage and Boo lost quite a few feathers. Somewhere in this time she released some blood curdling screams that teenager #1 “never wants to hear again in [her] life” and teen came running to find Boo cornered between a stool and the wall in the kitchen.
Venom and Fog, the two smartest and food-focused cats we have, stood guard.
Poor Boo was exhausted and had a puncture wound in one wing. Teen #1 scooped her up, and she still had enough spunk to bite. I believe at that point she had neither energy nor feathers to fly.
Teen #1 returned the bird to her cage, covered it partially to give her security and monitored her. She stood quietly and puffy, but we supposed that was appropriate behavior for the circumstances. Then, teenager #1 called her dad and went to Dairy Queen to buy French fries for the birds. Which is a great treat for cockatoos, not sure if it works for budgies.
Friday morning, she didn’t sing when the sun came up. Nor did she rattle the bars of her cage. And now that I think about it, she didn’t harass me with impatience when I fed everyone else breakfast first.
Friday evening, teenager #2 commented that Boo wasn’t active nor visible. So that’s when teenager #1 discovered her dead on the bottom of the cage.
The last 24 hours of mandatory overtime this week
Wow — that ending up being a long story when I was trying to tell the executive summary. What I wanted to do was give a little insight into the last 24 hours of my mandatory over time at Stitch Fix. After a week of sleeping about 6 hours sleep a night, it was hell, but hey… we were all exhausted and in the same boat.
10 pm— about 44 hours in to a 54 hour work week— I get a text from my daughter that it wasn’t a complete emergency but she needed to talk to me. Boo boo was dead.
The last two hours of the shift were exhausting.
12 am— I leave work with my gift of Stitch Fix gloves, which the nurse distributes with the joke of “next week they’ll hand out fingers.”
1 am— Teenager #1 and I have a toast and some cookies and pickles to celebrate Boo’s life.
2 am— We head to bed. I have a recurrence of my Covid cough that keeps me up until about…
3 am— Finally sleep
8:15 am— The alarm goes off. Fuuuck. I’m so tired. The birds don’t like that I am leaving. I manage to feed the cats, get my ass dressed (and I look cute since I had planned my outfit in advance), and drink have a cup of coffee before putting on my shoes at 9.
9:15 am— In the car, listening to NPR.
9:30 am— I arrive. One of my supervisors comes in (she is also a 10 am start), puts her head down, and falls asleep on the table in the main break room.
9:55 am— the assignments post. I am QC Line 2, BA. What the hell is BA?
9:55 am— day shift is chugging away. We stand in line at the time clocks. One of our colleagues is way too perky. Another, in a dark way, makes the comment, “were you doing lines of coke?” We chuckle, but not because it’s funny but because we are tired. I suggest maybe that will be the next free snack in the breakroom. Inappropriate humor I know but my filter is damaged at this point. But we are all so tired. We are human. And I point out, if we don’t laugh, we will cry. Another colleague adds that if I cry she will cry.
9:57 am— I ask a supervisor for clarification on what BA is. She scowls and looks me up on her computer, “Line 2, EIGHT A.” And she points to Valley 1. I refrain from telling her that Stitch Fix needs a easier to read typeface.
10 am— I am on the back of the line. Last week, I spent most of my shifts also on Line 2 but in Valley 2 at table 2B. It seems a good spot for me. In the front of the line. Only one table in front of me. And that person behaves as a peer supervisor. I like watching her QC her boxes, audit boxes, fix problems brought to her by the person who puts the styling cards in the boxes (whom I can also see), and doing tasks on the computer I don’t recognize or understand.
At 2-2B, the line is on my left. I have mastered how to organize my table. At 2-8A, the line is on my right and now I am completely out of sorts. I am in the back of the line which means I have to be very forceful pushing my boxes up the line.
As someone who can’t even bowl straight and has never played shuffle board I suck at this too. Another aspect of QC that doesn’t fall in my natural skill set.
12 pm— no one seems to be going on break. Day shift delivers the pick carts with 4 boxes on top instead of the regular 8. The people in this Valley all speak Spanish and yell back and forth at each other. I have been stationed in what appears to be the Spanish party line. My times suck.
12:15 pm— a colleague from my shift informs me, after I take the wrong first break, that meal will be at 3 pm and last break is 5 pm. I’m already hungry so that kinda stinks but the end of the day will move quickly. The fingerless gloves make my hands feel better. I brought my Stitch Fix water bottle but the straw is bent and it won’t get liquid from the bottom.
1:30 pm— my Valley mates leave. Peers from my shift take their place. People I know! People that speak my language! People who do tasks the way I do them! (Man those subtle differences between the shifts are disorienting.)
3 pm— day shift appears to be gone now. We stare out the windows at the light outside in shock. A supervisor, the one who had a rubber chicken on an earlier night and started at 8 am, threatens to blacken them out to make us more comfortable. We have a good laugh.
3:27 pm— I head to the restroom. I stop first at the water bottle refill station. It is filtered and fully automatic so it senses when my water bottle is there. I get so excited I want to tell my friend Gayle. I wind the lid onto the bottle, some how trip on a wrinkle in the rug and end up falling onto the floor with a bang to my left knee and punching the electrical box with my left hand. I use the restroom, wash my hands and realize I will need to see the nurse so I don’t bleed on the clothes.
3:31 pm— I clock in and visit the nurse, who is not my favorite nurse. I explain what happened and despite my assurance that this will not become a workmen’s comp claim has to create an incident report. The clumsy, exhausted employee with cerebral palsy tripped. That is all.
3:37 pm— back to my table. Without thinking, I finished my morning seltzer, drank a V8 Energy Drink (the kiwi strawberry which tasted like a 50 calorie Snapple with vitamins. Love it), and consumed a “cup o noodles” on my meal. This will be important later as I will soon very badly need to urinate.
5 pm— I need to pee. Break. I need to pee. Bathroom is being cleaned. Someone senior to me heads to the office where there are two single seat bathrooms. The plant manager suggests we try the bathroom 750 steps across the warehouse.
5:10 pm— I return to my station. This day needs to end.
6:25 pm— I finish my last fix. My times still suck. I want to cry. I need to decompress. My times still suck. I feel inadequate and guilty. But hey I’m done.
6:34 pm— I am in my car. Going home to my teens. Teen #2 has a yummy surprise. I promised them pizza at George’s Pizza. We also promised to start The History of Swear Words on Netflix. More on that in the next post.
It’s 11 a.m. on Friday morning— it looks crisp and clear outside. Teenager #2 is in school. Teenager #1 just emerged from her room as we both got to sleep around 3 a.m.
Mandatory overtime and lack of sleep are kicking my ass. My household is experiencing some knocks too as the Roman Pride tuxedo kittens from Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab are vomiting. We hope it is because of a recent change in their food.
I wish I could say the birds have been quiet. But alas, alack, the cats broke into my room while Boo-Boo the yellow parakeet was free-flying and Boo-boo flew downstairs. Now Boo-boo is not a hand-tame bird.
This occurred while I was wrestling clothes in the Quality Control Valley 2 of the Bizzy Hizzy at Stitch Fix. Teenager #1 heard Boo-boo screaming because two of our household cats had taken to swiping her out of the air.
Teenager #1 rescued Boo, who was still feisty enough to bite her repeatedly.
So there was that.
Meanwhile, at the Bizzy, I was thinking about numerology and “angel numbers,” thanks to a podcast I heard the other night. In the midst of all this craziness, as I was leaving work the other night, my odometer read 33533. Palindrome. Prime numbers. “Sacred threes.”
So the boxes that got returned to me last night were sent back for issues with wrapping. One of the people training me finally came over and asked how I tear my paper. I showed her. Carefully. Almost daintily.
“Ah, she said, “there lies the problem. You need to rip it fast like a bandaid.”
I did and the results were very different and better.
I thanked her for the tutelage and laughed, pointing out that this was not something that did not come naturally to my skill set. I have no depth perception when related to placing items in containers. I suck at folding clothes. It’s agonizing for my body to stand still for 8 hours. And I have no concept of straight lines.
But all in all I am improving and I truly enjoy the challenge of learning something new. It reminds me of when I first learned cash office at Target. I wanted to vomit every time I started my shift.
The person overseeing me thanked me for taking criticism well, and again I laughed, and reminded her that I needed her it. She said a lot of people get frustrated. And I assured her that I was indeed frustrated with myself for repeating the same mistakes. She quickly revised her statement— “No, she said, people get really frustrated with me.”
And that struck me. Because I know what she means. And I have to say, in both my professional and… let’s call them survival jobs, I have had supervisors that understand how to deliver constructive criticism and all kinds of feedback and those supervisors who care about the mission, the corporate line, and/or themselves and how they look, more than they were invested in the people.
So far in the Bizzy Hizzy, I have not met one of those. I also feel I am in the honeymoon phase at Stitch Fix. My judgment may be skewed.
This mandatory overtime stinks. We’re all exhausted. And even the scrambled egg appreciation breakfast and free snacks can’t push us past that.
This might be the spot to mention that one of my supervisors spent most of the night running around with a squealing plastic chicken.
The nurse wandered into the Valley about 12:30 to check on everyone doing overtime (as the “deep cleaners” worked around us— which by the way, they move nothing and just wipe shit down. I find more dust and grime when I do my nightly wipes). I showed the nurse my new skill at tearing craft paper. She gave me a gloved high five.
I’m working a normal 8-hour shift tonight then returning for an 8-hour double time shift tomorrow morning. Now if you excuse me, I must go lay out my quarterly budget as it is 2-weeks overdue.
The other day I asked myself— what would happen if we approached our everyday lives like a writer taking notes for a travelogue?
Interesting that I thought of this now, as Facebook reminded me that 5 years ago I was in Somalia eating fruit so succulent it was like ice cream. I remember the dark wood of the built-in wardrobe of our hotel room, the way the guard at the top of the stairs would chit-chat with me as he rocked his plastic lawn chair with his gun across his lap.
That was also the week I decided to overhaul my marriage— because as I was traveling the streets of Mogadishu trying to interpret the paintings that adorned the shops and watched a women make coffee on the side of the road amidst traffic, I realized I had my laptop in Somalia with all of our household information. If anything had happened to me, I didn’t know if my husband knew how to log into our bank account or when to pay the mortgage (or how much it was or who receives the payment).
I suddenly realized my own mortality. And that my control of everything needed to change.
To return this ramble to the idea of a quotidienne travelogue, I always blog while we travel, even to places more mundane than Africa, and M, my traveling companion, would always sit down with his phone and his cigarette about to read the link I sent him.
“Oh good,” he would say, “Let’s see what I did today.”
Life at the Aviary
The colors in the room— vivid pink (almost a fuchsia) walls in semi-gloss, teal swirly floral-paisley curtains and a yellow patterned duvet color with pink sheets adorned with white polka dots— created a cheery environment that brightened exponentially with every ray of sunshine that crept in through the three windows facing south.
The birds grew more animated as the sun intensified, three adult parakeets and three freshly hatched chicks under three weeks old and a Goffin’s cockatoo, a mini-parrot who expressed her nervousness by barbering and plucking her own feathers. Even bird teenagers are prone to rituals of self-harm.
Once awake, I strolled down to the living area, also decorated boldly but simply with sky blue walls with a hint of turquoise and a chalkboard wall under the stairs with a variety of notes. The furniture included a cushioned bench, cozy teal chairs, and an emerald green loveseat that sat oddly low to the ground.
I sipped a very hot cup of coffee with cream not brewed but steamed for me as if it were espresso. Cats swirled at my feet, including one with a gruff, tired face. He wore a Captain America collar. When he moved, his gait revealed his amputee status— having lost his front left leg to kitty cat cancer.
After this, I traveled back to the aviary chamber to help care for the birds. I handled these tiny chicks!
My companion and I departed shortly after our “chores” to have breakfast at Tic Toc Diner. My companion has a love of chocolate milk and pancakes. She insists that both always tastes better at a diner.
I discover what might be my new all time favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict Florentine with garlic and tomato. As a poached egg is one of my favorite things on Earth, it only gets better when we add some nutritionally dense spinach smothered in hollandais sauce.
The pleasures here and simple and the environment chaotic.
Yesterday was the first day of my second full week back to work since having had Covid-19. It was also the first week of mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy.
I left home feeling disconnected and anxious. I had volunteered for a 1:30 p.m. to midnight shift, assuming I would be well rested and up early enough to get to work at that time. Some of my peers had taken on a 12-hour shift— 1:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
They had so many people in the building some of us had to go to pick, which is my favorite role. I haven’t “picked” with any gusto since before my illness.
It felt amazing to be on the warehouse floor. I was peeling off layers and picking at about 21 minutes per cart of eight fixes. Again, not the fastest but decent. I walked 6,000 steps in that 2 hours and there wasn’t a moment of struggle or discomfort among them.
But when I peeled off my top layer, I discovered my tank top was inside out. I had a sports bra on so I decided to fix it. Except I got all twisted up in the pretty straps.
So my wardrobe malfunction impacted my times.
After first break at 3:30 I found myself in QC. I had a hard time getting organized and started— so it was probably 4 p.m. by the time I got rolling. I folded and packed 74 fixes. Which averaged to about 5 1/2 minutes each. I need to get that under 4.
I had told my trainer my goal was 80. I said that because Friday it had been 75 and I hit it. And I felt sluggish on Friday so logically 80 was doable.
My trainer didn’t care. My numbers have been consistent and I feel like my fixes are getting neater, my wraps better and the whole process seems to have a rhythm now.
Thanks to my time in pick, I walked more than 9,000 steps yesterday. I ate deliberately, trying to balance high doses of protein with refined sugary treats so I could get the buzz I wanted.
I took a Tylenol (just one) at one point as I did have some spinal pain. At the end of the night, my favorite nurse commented that I “looked good” and indeed I felt good— not like someone recuperating from a virus and working an 10-hour shift in a warehouse with a malfunctioning body (thanks cerebral palsy). I honestly felt good.
I weigh exactly what I did yesterday after several days of losing weight. I still need to lose at least 15 pounds. Or buy new clothes.
Hermes world view is expanding. He’s about eight months old and though timid super inquisitive. He’s the last remaining member of our first litter of fosterkittens. He is listed for adoption on the web site, www.felineurbanrescueandrehab.org.
This cat is the perfect mentor for younger kittens. He loves to watch the action and the household but doesn’t like to be the center of attention. If you’re looking for a subdued cat who loves to listen to your conversation, sniff everything in the house and sits near you without being clingy or needy, consider him. As he continues to relax around people, he’s going to be a character. And he’s no dummy.
He’s timid because he was so wild and sick as a baby. He would dart around the room when we tried to med him. Hence the name Hermes, like the Greek messenger. He had a couple rounds of respiratory infections, weeping eyes that still flare up occasionally, then two bouts of ringworm.
Now he’s healthy and the patriarch of our fosters.
Since recovering from Covid, I have tried to focus on healthy food choices and cooking at home instead of eating out. I believe good food is key to regaining my strength and moving forward in losing some weight, but more and more I find myself viewing food as a friend.
In other dietary confessions, twice this week I have taken advantage of the snacks in the breakroom to have 500 calories of honeybun at 10 p.m. And I’ve noticed, that seemed to be the only thing that gave me the energy to improve my performance. I have always had a strong physical reaction to sugar so this is no surprise.
I think the moral is that I need to balance my meals prior to work and “save” some carbohydrates for treats at my final break.
Tonight I find myself without teenagers and having eaten decently throughout the day, I have some “calories to spare.” I decided to use them for some healthy snacks while I watch Bridgerton. I find the series quaint and endearing, with amazing costumes and scenery. But I don’t see anything worth the extreme hoopla I see on social media. But there is a beauty in it. And I hope I am wrong, but I am almost done with episode 5 and so far while it is charming, it is predictable.
The snack I prepared were some pumpkin seed and raisin crackers, Harvest Snaps green pea snacks, Smart Pop popcorn, and Smartfood caramel apple popcorn.
Loki Dokie Puppy Turkey of the Norse Pride went home to his FURRever family today and I am feeling the absence of crazy kitten antics. Two of my personal cats, Oz and Fog, have curled up in bed with me. I have missed Fog’s attentions.
Other recent meals that I enjoyed:
A little about each meal:
1. Salad of romaine, shredded cabbage, kalamata olives, wasabi peas, sliced almonds, feta and fresh strawberries.
2. Chicken with a “hash” of spinach, spaghetti squash, butternut squash and Brussel sprouts.
3. Salmon. I used the cooking method from the Whole30 and seasoned with dill.
4. Cornish Game Hen. I seasoned it, used a little smoked flavor, and cooked it in my chicken bone broth, diced carrots, and kale. I didn’t care for it. Too much work to get the meet off the bones. Fog loved what he stole.
5. I had a craving for good old fashioned processed beer battered fish— might have been Gorton’s.
6. Croque Monsieur. Teenager #1 made the béchamel sauce, and I didn’t think to warn her how temperamental a roux can be.
7. At Lidl, I came across some discount thaw-and-eat frozen sushi. It was 50 cents a pack. It was edible but the rice was completely al dente.
8. I have been aching for avocado and eggs. So I bought avocado and forgot to make it when I made egg-and-pepper omelette.
9. Some chicken I bought on clearance cooked in butter, lemon and dill. Then I sautéed some cabbage and added some leftover corn from earlier in the week and the rest of the pepper I didn’t use for yesterday’s omelette.