Monday, May 15, 2006

Going Aeropostale

Now that my mind has somewhat recovered from the reeling nightmare of the past week, I think I can begin to relate the tale I have to tell....
I did a contract job for Vision Point-Of-Sale this past Thursday. I was supposed to meet another tech at the Aeropostale store in the West Valley Mall in Tracy at 6 am and then go in and replace three registers. I recieved the instructions via e-mail and it seemed simple enough. After all, I've done this stuff a hundred times before during my stint with Rite Aid. So far - so good.
Well, I get there 15 minutes early. I break out the brand new cell-phone I bought the day before just for this occasion, because God knows I can't afford to have one, and call my boss to let him know I'm there.
Ten minutes later my partner shows up. I will call him Juan. Juan is much older than me and rather sheepish. He's not very sociable, but he warms up later on that day. I take command and try to get the mall guard to open up the double doors. Eventually, we get in. We're now ten minutes late.
Now, this job was slated for 6 am to 10. A four hour job at $19/hr. After the bits I bought for the drill I had to borrow from my roommate, and the cell phone, and a screwdriver set (all my tools I had at Rite Aid was company property), that meant I was working for free.
But I gave my word that I would be there, so what can I say? Stupid, chivalric honor still has its adherents in this day and age.
Well, as I'm sure you're expecting, nothing went right. The registers had certain marked differences from the photos we have in our booklets. So we ate up some time figuring out what to do with the crossbeam (turned out we just crowbarred it the hell outta there). Then we stripped my cheapo #2 square bit. Thank goodness I had a carbide tipped one in my stash or else we were sunk. Now, our instructions said to bring a drill of more than 14 volts. Juan brought a 14.4 V Skil, I borrowed my friend's 18 V Ryobi. Both were battery powered. MISTAKE! I figured I had enough juice for four hours. Hell, after putting a 1-inch auger bit on it I couldn't make it drill one frickin' hole! The drill starting smoking and I pulled it out hoping I didn't owe my roommate a power tool. Juan's had the same result sans smoke, he was smart enough to get the drill out of there before that happy occasion. We were pissed off and exasperated. I then called out boss and let him know what the situation was.
"Mr. Baron, we have an issue here." I reported.
"I don't need to hear that." My boss replied.
"I understand, sir. But our drills, which conform to the specs given in our instructions, were not powerful enough to handle a one-inch auger bit."
"Well, can't you get to a hardware store around there and rent a drill?"
"Uhhhh. Yeah. I guess I can. I don't know if--"
"Look, we're in deep as it is! We don't need to be rubbing salt in the wound, you know?"
"Yessir. I'll get this done no matter what."
"Good. Thank you. Bye."
So I told Juan to hold the fort while I went out to find who the hell rents drills in Tracy. First stop was Home Depot. They said I had to go to Ace Hardware on Eleventh and Tracy Blvd. That was clear across town! Okay, so I get there and all they had was this hammer drill (but at least it was electric). I pay the $15 for the one day rental and I figure I might as well stop by Jack in the Box and grab a couple Cokes for Juan and I since it was already NOON! I figured, after getting the drinks, that Juan had done nothing during my absence and we would be racing to get the second register done. Turned out that he almost had the second register going by the time I got back! (Okay, now I was beginning to think maybe I was the problem here). The drill worked beautifully but it was too big to fit in the box. Great. So I drilled slanted holes. Who cares? The holes are for venting anyway. So I drilled 11 holes per register. Btw, our instructions said that two templates for the holes would be shipped in the Register #1 box. Surprise! It wasn't there. Good thing Juan brought his tape measure. It didn't help that after we replaced their main CPU server that our register tests didn't work due to bad connectivity. That slowed us down even more. I called Aeropostale tech support and they got a tech there within the hour (wow!) and he swapped out the 3-Com hub and replaced it with an IBM switch. Now everything works! This is just like Rite Aid!
All this time, mind you, I got Juan telling me that he has Lou Gehrig's disease and the miracles of medical marijuana! I mean, he kept going with it. I kept working just so I didn't have to hear it anymore. I mean, I felt sorry for him and all, it's just that he kept going on about the THC regenerating his nerve endings and stuff and I just didn't want to talk about it. We were there to put together registers not to be friends. Sounds pretty harsh I know, but I'm sure you know where I'm coming from here. After we finally get the third register working, we discover that its cash drawer only opens halfway. I peer inside and notice it's bent on the inside due to shipping damage. Circus Fantasticus! So we give them back their old drawer. Voila! Works like a charm.
So now we have to pack away all the old registers and label them and all that crap. Turns out some thoughtful soul decided to throw away one of the cardboard lids to one of our boxes, not to mention some foam that was needed to cover the bottom. That improvised box Juan and I constructed looked like a Rubik's Cube designed for the fifth dimension, or maybe a badly damaged Borg vessel.
"Juan, I don't think UPS is gonna take this." I remarked sullenly.
"Trust me, they'll take it." he retorted.
(Brian gives a grim look and rolls his eyes)
Net result: 6 am to 4:30 pm. Boy, were they pissed! Needless to say, I didn't think they would pick me to do the Pleasanton job the next Monday, and due to the lack of phone calls today I would guess I was right.
It was not my intention to go long with this job, but what could I do? Once again, I was the victim of circumstance. That's okay. That job sucked anyway. I mean, the job wasn't anything I wasn't used to already, it just seemed that my immediate overlord -- er, I mean, supervisor seemed like a real jerk. I know it's not considered politic to badmouth your boss on a blog these days, but I really don't care. I'm not working for them again.
I dunno how I got talked into doing contract work anyway, it doesn't pay. I need a full-time job. But you gotta do what you can to survive....


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