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 tenets from her single family rental house at 1217 Blue Daisy Way after receiving several phone calls from neighbors about their conduct.   The last phone 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”.   The original longtime renters were an elderly Hispanic couple but apparently several family member of a younger generation had replaced them at some point in the past.  It was reported they parked cars on the lawn,  had outlandish loud music and parties, with come and go traffic at all hours giving cause for the neighbor to suspect a crack house.  Gary considering the condition could see that it would take more than weekend trips to rectify all the damage, mentioning to his sister that he would be willing to move to Modesto and work at restoring it and giving thought to the possibly renting it.

 Driving to Groveland to inform his sister Kay of his intentions, then borrowing her pickup to transported the bare necessities, a bed, table and chair from his Kiowa move that remained stored in the garage at the lake house.  The only appliance in the Modesto house was the stove,  the refrigerator that came with the rental had been removed, Gary running across Aaron’ Used Appliance on S. 9th St. that sold old refrigerators for less than nothing.    With the utilities service,  internet and phone turned on and the purchase of a used refrigerator  the daily remodeling process began with painting every room including the ceiling in the three bedroom house, plus repairing the hinges and guides on all the cabinets and draws of the built-ins.  The final project was having new carpet install in the bedrooms, hall, family and front rooms.  With the project reaching a conclusion Gary approached his sister about renting the house, the two coming to a satisfactory agreement.  Once again borrowing Kay’s pickup he began a two-day ordeal, making several trips per day,  relocating all of Fran’s furnishings  transported from Florida to Columbia and his remaining  possessions from Groveland with the exception the piano.  Gary having just completed his moving endeavor, the furnishing and boxes yet to be organized when Fran who had never seen the house 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, confident their move to Modesto would provide a renewed genesis.

Sierra Aviation , Oakdale

  Once again Gary began the pursuit of employment scanning the help wanted section of the Modesto Bee  searching for suitable vocation discovering a sundry of opportunities.   Finding an interesting prospect,  journeying to Oakdale to submit an application and 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, arranging shipping carriers and pickup times for machine down parts.  The interview coming to a conclusion, the outcome coming as expected, “we’ll get back to you”.   The following morning an unexpected call for a second interview but this time 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 was beginning to look good,  but a phone call the next morning brought disappointment, he 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 immediately hired working the early morning shift commencing at 4:00 A.M. accepting incoming freight, restocking the shelves.  Fran being a non driver and no public transportation at that hour,  Gary found himself on the morning shift providing her early morning transportation to  work and her return in the afternoon.   Following up on a newspaper ad driving to nearby Empire,to submit an application for a custodial job with the Empire School District,  but from his school employment past he knew that 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.  That afternoon found him driving across town to the Park Plaza store seeking out the Human Resource person attaching his type written resume’ to a filled out Wal-Mart employment application.  The next morning he received 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,  he received a second call, it was 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 and as before received  the standard answer  “we’ll notify you”.  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 in the morning.   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 performing 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 repair requirements 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 of 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.  Wal-Mart also offered as a benefit stock offerings and medical insurance for all associates.   The only two disparity 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 for employees, Gary discovered that clocking in and out for breaks as well as a 30 minute so-called lunch  was to his advantage.   By not taking any breaks he was able to combine the two 15 minute break allowances with his 30 minutes lunch,  providing him an hour to clock out, stop at Jack in the Box drive thru, drive home and have Fran at the Dollar Tree at 4:00 a.m and clock back in with his return.  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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