In Search of Opportunity…..#258….The 2000’s

1217 Blue Daisy Way

1217 Blue Daisy Way

With Fran back east, the weekend found a new amortization,  Gary’s sister Nancy asking him to accompany her to Modesto,  having  recently evicted extended family members from her single family rental house at 1217 Blue Daisy Way after receiving several phone calls from neighbors about their conduct.   The last phone was from Dr. Eric Ramos,  Chief of Staff at Doctors Medical Center who resided next door, it was his call that resulted in the eviction action.  The two upon arrival discovering the  house and yard in disarray, the walls and ceiling of every room having been spray painted with yellow paint, the carpets having been neglected to the point of replacement,  the backyard swimming pool filled with algae resembled something out of the movie “the Creature From the Black Lagoon”.   Nancy’s original tenets were an elderly Hispanic couple but apparently several of their grown kids with children had replaced them at some time in the past.  The inhabitants parking cars on the lawn,  their outlandish partying, loud music and the come and go traffic at all hours giving cause for the neighbor to suspect a crack house.  Gary could see that it would take more than weekend trips to rectify all the damage, mentioning that he would be willing to move to Modesto and work at restoring it giving thought to the possibility of renting it.  Realizing his immediate needs for his stay he borrowed his sister Katherine’s pickup in Groveland to transport, the bare necessities, a bed, table and chair.   With the utilities service and phone turned on and the purchase of a used refrigerator  the remodeling process beginning,  painting the total interior of the three bedroom house including cabinets, then shopping for new carpet. The project was beginning to come a conclusion Gary approached his sister about renting the house, the two coming to a satisfactory agreement.  With his sisters the pickup he began a two-day ordeal, making several trips per day,  relocating all of Fran’s furnishings  transported from Florida in the 24 ft. van to Columbia and his possessions transported by moving van to Groveland with the exception the piano.  Gary having just completed his moving endeavor, the furnishing and boxes yet to be organized when Fran called giving notice of  her impending return flight to SFO.  Her timing was impeccable, Gary having no desire to arrange the furnishing at 1217 Blue Daisy Way, more than satisfied with the move, Modesto providing a renewed genesis.

Sierra Aviation , Oakdale

Sierra Aviation , Oakdale

  Once again Gary began a pursuit employment scanning the help wanted section of the Modesto Bee  searching for suitable vocation  finding a sundry of opportunities.   Finding an interesting prospect journeying to Oakdale to submit an application and an interview for a flight cargo coordinator position with Sierra Aviation, an air freight carrier based at the Oakdale Airport. The Oakdale audience was a formality, filling out an employee application, submitting a resume’, being briefed that the post entailed preparing manifests, coordinating airport pickups and delivery for arrivals and departures at various destinations.   Gary having experienced this coordination with the John Deere Company,  having provided custom cutter customers on the Harvest Trail   from Texas to North Dakota,  communicating by phone with them and with John Deere in Kansas City.   Machine Down Parts allocated from KC 24 hours a day by necessary means either by taxi to the airport or bus station to satisfy customers continuous operation no matter where the location, the interview coming to a conclusion, the outcome expected, “we’ll get back to you”.   The following morning an unexpected call for a second interview being informed it would be with the operations manager.   Arriving, Gary related his past John Deere experience in preparing manifests,  inventory paperwork, coordinating and confirming pickup and delivery and highlighting the number one priority, customer satisfaction.  The interview completed, leaving with a feeling of  confidence that the prospects for acquiring the position were looking good,  but a phone call the next morning brought disappointment, Gary would have to look for another employment opportunity.

Fran's Dollar Tree employment on McHenry Ave.

Fran’s Dollar Tree employment on McHenry Ave.

The search for employment endured,  Gary’s savings in the bank still a lone provision for their livelihood,  Fran joining the pursuit of employment discovering a help wanted ad for the McHenry Ave. Dollar Tree.  Acknowledging her prior years of service in Florida she was  an immediate hire working the early morning shift commencing at 4:00 A.M. accepting incoming freight, restocking the shelves.  With Fran a non driver and no public transportation at that hour,  Gary also found himself on the morning shift providing her early morning transportation to  work and her return in the afternoon.   Gary driving to Empire, following up on a newspaper ad submitting an application for a custodial job with the Empire School District,  but from his Kiowa Kansas school employment past,  in all likelihood they would only hire a person who resided in the school district.   Continuing his search he interviewed with a company accessing inventory, putting a team of inventory data people together to count shelf items in stores.  Continuing his employment search in the morning paper,  discovering a notice for a maintenance position at the Modesto Parkway Plaza Wal-Mart store.  The afternoon found him driving across town to the Park Plaza store seeking out the Human Resource person attaching his resume’ to a Wal-Mart employment application.  The next morning receiving a call from the inventory company notifying him of his acceptance and scheduling a meeting day and time. No sooner had he got off the phone that he received a second call, it was from Wal-Mart, the  Human Resource lady asking  if he could be available for an interview at 2:00 p.m..   The afternoon Wal-Mart  interview with HR was brief, receiving  the standard answer  “we’ll notify you” being given.  Returning home he was undecided whether to just go ahead and follow up with the inventory position when the phone rang again, it was Wal-Mart,  his orientation and employment would commence the following day.   Gary was amazed,  two job confirmations in one day, but more amazing was the expediency of Wal-Mart’s hiring,  neither position high paying but at least a working opportunity.

Wal-Mart on Park Plaza

 Wal-Mart’s process for hiring was new experience,  a drug test,  a signature for permission to acquisition his DMV and law enforcement records, accompanied with a scheduled computerized maintenance and safety test.  Gary discovering the test somewhat inefficacious having to watch four hours of safety videos,  then an a five-part, ten question test about interactive  maintenance procedure skills test, most which were not relative.   The orientation completed,  Gary finding his hours would be from 11:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. in the morning in the 24 hour accessible store.   The first evening on the job,  discovering the crew of eight wasn’t contingent for actual maintenance, they were custodians responsible for floors,  restrooms and clean-up duties,  such as vacuuming the offices and trash,  all plumbing, lighting and other repairs were subcontracted out.   Wal-Mart having a single custodian person on duty during the day and early evening  hours responsible for cleaning up spills and cleanliness of restrooms and  the lunch room.   The Crew Chief assigning the night crew their work responsibilities,  stripping and waxing various section of the floor,  vacuuming the vast store area carpet,  which could entail four hours, followed by a low-speed buffer top scrubbing the carpet for stains and riding the propane driven powered buffers over the vinyl flooring.

The custodial experience was nothing new, having worked five years at the Kiowa Grade School as a custodian/driver, but he was more impressed with the work ethic of the other department employees,  finding the managers of the various sales departments would arrive during the early morning hours,  some as early as  4:00 A.M. to ready their department for the days expected traffic, filling inventories, rearranging and stocking the departments shelves.  The executive management also impressed him,  the store manager  arriving some mornings  at 5:00 A.M. to inspect the store,  pulling a trash bag out of it’s container making sure the interior of the container was clean.  The store also prevailed a representative Safety Committee,   meeting once a month to discuss workman’s comp. and safety issues and as a benefit Wal-Mart offering stock offerings and medical insurance for all associates.   The only two disparity from Gary’s past employers being the employees were designated as associates and the hourly wage earner were required to clock out for their two 15 minute breaks,  their off the clock time compensated, the company allowing a two-minute leeway clocking back in,  a 30 minute lunch being a normal clock-out situation.  Gary discovered that having to clock in and out for breaks as well as a 30 minute so-called lunch  was to his advantage.  Not taking any breaks he was able to combine the two 15 minute compensations with his 30 minutes lunch,  providing him time to stop at Jack in the Box drive thru, drive home and have Fran at the Dollar Tree at 4:00 a.m.  He realized that his Wal-Mart $7.75 per hour employment, which was a dollar more than minimum wage, was just a stop-gap measure, determined to continue his search attesting it was just a matter of time before he would encounter a more applicable precedence.

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