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I went to Ikea. That was a touch overwhelming.

May 28, 2007, 4:54 PM

First of all, hello from College Perk coffeehouse! I went to Ikea in College Park today to go bed-shopping. Talk about an overwhelming experience. First of all, the place is bigger than a Wal-Mart Supercenter. And it’s two floors. Then I got over there, and the parking lot was full. I mean full, like park-in-the-back-of-the-lot full.

I went in, and went up the escalator to their showroom. I saw the map coming in, so I kind of knew where I was going, or at least I thought. I got in, and got a bit disoriented. Lots of partitions made it less than straightforward about getting to the back where the beds were. I did find it, though I had no idea what was going on. I ultimately found a salesperson, to whom I admitted I was overwhelmed, and he was quite helpful and helped sort me out. I ultimately did figure out what was going on, though.

Bed shopping is interesting, though. To properly shop for a bed, one must try it out. I’m sure I looked amusing testing mattresses. The way you test them out is to get on them in a sleeping-type position and feel it. It reminds me of a scene from Today’s Special‘s “Shoes” episode. Jodie walks past a row of shoes, and comments on each pair:

Too big! Too small! Not right… at all! Too loose! Oh, too tight! Ah… (puts shoes on) these feel just right!

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So far, I like living up this way…

May 15, 2007, 5:28 PM

I’ve been up in the DC area continuously now since Saturday, and I have to say, so far, I seem to like it. I won’t get Internet service until next Tuesday, the 22nd, however, so I’m writing you from the Infoshop, though I’m using the Lappy. The Infoshop is seven blocks straight east on P Street from the building where I work, through Logan Circle.

Speaking of Logan Circle, I had a little accident there on the walk from work to the Infoshop. I was turning to cross the circle, stepped on a curb wrong, lost my balance, took one very unstable step to try to regain my balance, and then splat. I hit the asphalt. I skinned my elbow (ouch!) and tore a few small holes in my pants pocket where my keys are – enough to consider the pair wrecked. So now I have to buy a new pair of pants. Not my idea of fun. But at least it was nothing major – I got right up and continued on my way.

Otherwise, since last we spoke, I got to go grocery shopping for the first time on my own. That was interesting. I went to Giant in Wheaton, and did my best. I think I did all right, but I was going through this store and basically thinking to myself, I used to work in a grocery store, and I still have no idea what the hell I’m doing! But I think I did well enough.

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A little housing update for you…

May 11, 2007, 8:24 PM

Just so you know, I am now partly moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland. It’s nice, too. It’s right up the road from Glenmont station, and also close to shopping. Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton is very close to where I live, and it’s home to a two-story Target store.

By the way, shopping with a cart across two levels is interesting. There are two escalators. One for you, and one for your cart. Basically, you put your cart in the special cart escalator, and then you ride (roughly) next to it on a conventional escalator. Shopping in a two-story Target is certainly something, but it’s kind of fun. Target is also so much cleaner than Wal-Mart, which always impresses me when I shop there. They also trust that their customers will do such simple things as flush the toilet and turn off the sinks, which Wal-Mart does not. Wal-Mart has automatic sinks and flushers which don’t work half the time. Target has faucets with handles, and flush handles on the toilets.

By the way, I outfitted much of my apartment on my first trip to this Target in Wheaton. I blew $300-some on stuff for the apartment, across two shopping carts. That’s the most I’ve ever spent at Target. Prior to this, I don’t think I’ve ever spent more than $20 in a visit to Target.

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The Skyline Parkway Motel has finally been demolished.

April 25, 2007, 5:04 PM

Afton Mountain now presents a slightly more picturesque view to those who visit it, as the Skyline Parkway Motel was demolished in the last week or so. In doing so, they not only removed the main building, which had been the target of an arson attack in 2004, but they also removed the row of cabins next to the main building. The cabins had never been torched, but had been abandoned for some time, and were in hideous shape.

And of course, here are photos:

Straight-on view of the former motel.
Straight-on view of the former motel.

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I am moving to Washington DC!

April 18, 2007, 6:30 PM

I am happy to announce that my days at Wal-Mart are over, as I have finally found a job in Washington DC! I will be working for Food & Water Watch in Northwest DC. Needless to say, I am excited.

I would like to thank the following people for their roles in helping me get there… first of all, thank you to my family for putting me through college, and to the student advising people at JMU for getting me out of the College of Business and into the Public Administration program. Thank you to all of my friends in Augusta County, etc. for their encouragement and support whenever I started feeling discouraged. Thank you to all of my friends in the DC area who also lent me encouragement and support in my quest to find gainful employment up in DC.

And in an odd twist of things, I’d like to thank Dorinda Wilson-Bowers and Lee Pinheiro at Wal-Mart… for firing me. Yes, I got fired from Wal-Mart on March 31 for what I consider specious reasons, which we won’t go into here. However, since Wal-Mart had become a very hostile and unpleasant place to be in my last month or so there, after the initial shock of getting fired (I’d never been fired before!), it was a great relief to be fired, because it meant that I no longer had to deal with this situation that was making my life a living hell, and where I used to dread coming into work every day. However, from the moment that they said to me, “You’re fired,” I made it my job to find a new job. And as you can see, I found one, and as it turns out, getting fired was the best thing to ever happen to me.

And throughout the time I was looking for a new job, I’d especially like to thank my friend Katie Shapiro, who really helped me through the day I got fired, and constantly kept me going like a true friend.

And to all of you that I’m leaving behind in Stuarts Draft, Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, etc., thanks for the memories.

Daily Grind is closing!

March 14, 2007, 11:50 AM

I saw this on the front door when I went to Daily Grind today in Stuarts Draft. They’re closing on March 31! Sad. Especially since I finally got into my groove over there and was starting to become a regular.

According to the sign on the door, they will be opening this summer to serve ice cream in the evenings, and then further along, they plan to open “The Cheese Shop Sandwich Shop”, presumably a restaurant version of The Cheese Shop. For those of you who are not familiar, The Cheese Shop is a Mennonite-run store on Route 608 in Stuarts Draft with all kinds of meats, cheeses, and candies, both sugared and sugar-free. They sell all kinds of stuff, and it’s almost all locally made. My mother buys from The Cheese Shop regularly. I’m told she’s their first customer in the morning on Saturdays.

In the meantime, though, I’m going to have to find another place to have coffee and use the Lappy. There’s another Daily Grind in Staunton and in Waynesboro, and I’ve been to the Waynesboro one before, but wasn’t that excited about it. Not as close of an environment as in Stuarts Draft. The Staunton one is one I’ve not been to. I might have to check it out.

Of course, neither of those is as close as Stuarts Draft…

Categories: Companies

And we survived the peanut butter scare of aught-seven…

February 17, 2007, 1:40 AM

Jar of Peter Pan peanut butter from the affected lot (Image: Deglr6328/Wikimedia Commons)For the last two days, I think I’ve looked at enough jars of peanut butter to last me a while. People normally don’t return food unless it’s really bad, like if they opened the package and it was green and fuzzy inside when it should be red and slimy. But when the public learned that the Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter are potentially contaminated with salmonella and the manufacturer (ConAgra) issues a voluntary recall of the product, everyone and their mother came up to the Service Desk with a jar of peanut butter looking for a refund. So far, we’ve taken back two full cartloads of the stuff.

And let me tell you something. Peanut butter may look light, but when you’re pushing an entire cartload of the stuff, it’s HEAVY. I can usually drive two carts through the store with relative ease. I put the heavier one to the rear and drag it, and I put the lighter one in front and steer with my hand and my elbow. But a cart full of recalled peanut butter is something I could barely handle by itself. Usually, to steer a shopping cart, you turn it by the handle in order to point the front end of the cart in the direction you want to go. Not for this. For this kind of a load, forget trying to steer that way. I had to swing the back end of the cart around to point it where I wanted to go, and then kind of beg the cart to continue in the direction I pointed it in. Add to that the fact that I was a bit tired as I’m pushing a whole cartload of peanut butter to the back room, and it made for an interesting walk.

Personally, I can’t wait for this whole peanut butter recall to blow over. First of all, I don’t like pushing heavy carts full of unsellable peanut butter to the back of the store. I don’t like doing it. And secondly, Peter Pan is my preferred brand of peanut butter, even though I only buy it every so often. It competes for my affections with Ragu tomato sauce, and presently, the Ragu is winning.

Still, you have to find it at least somewhat interesting when food goes bad, or is suspected of possibly going bad. Remember the big spinach scare of 2006? That was interesting news, though I don’t remember people coming in droves to return their bagged spinach. I remember only one person coming to return his bagged spinach for a refund.

Categories: Food and drink, Walmart

No, I want a “platinum” wash, please.

January 8, 2007, 10:33 PM

The folks at All-American Auto Spa in Waynesboro ought to be ashamed of themselves for this misspelling on their wash-selection screen. It’s a real doozie, too. You can select one of three washes: Silver, Gold, and “Plantinun”. I presume that they meant “Platinum”, but that’s not what they said. Check it out:

"PLANTINUN WASH"

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Categories: Amusing, Companies

“…I pack ’em and I wrap ’em, and stick on a bow or two!”

December 24, 2006, 8:14 PM

Well, maybe “eventually” needs to be inserted in there somewhere. I bought all the presents weeks ago, and I haven’t wrapped any of them. They’re all still in the various shopping bags, and now it’s Christmas Eve. I have the wrapping paper and the tape, but now I’m procrastinating, trying to put off the inevitable – having to wrap the stuff, even though the paper will all fly off in twelve hours.

Meanwhile, I came up with the best term ever for last-minute shoppers: I call them “the ‘oh, s—‘ crowd”. The ones that say, “Oh, $&%#, I forgot to buy Aunt Bertha a gift!” and then run to Wal-Mart.

And we’ll be opening presents at 9 AM tomorrow morning. I want to sleep in. I said, “Will the presents still be there at noon? Then let’s open them then.” I want to sleep in on Christmas, and open presents later on. I don’t consider this to be that difficult of a concept. But the family wants to open gifts at 9 AM. And with it being three-to-one on that, I lose. Still, I’d prefer sweet sleep.

And lastly, one wonders if Santa’s ditched the sleigh and reindeer for something more modern:

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Categories: Christmas, Walmart

What is wrong with this picture?

December 20, 2006, 7:49 PM

Categories: Martin's

The lengths people will go to for video games…

November 17, 2006, 11:00 AM

Sometimes I can’t get over what people will do in order to be the first to get something. Check this out:

Camping in Layaway for the PlayStation 3

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Categories: Some people, Walmart

You know what they say…

October 2, 2006, 8:54 AM

You know what they say… what’s worse than being seasick once? Being seasick twice, of course!

Okay, I just wanted to throw that one out there.

Meanwhile, I’ve misread my schedule at work a few times over nearly three years with Wal-Mart, but this one was particularly amusing. Today, I showed up for work four hours early. I showed up at 7:00 AM – sharp – and I didn’t have to be there until 11. That one was almost as bad as the time when I thought I was off Wednesday and Thursday of a particular week, rather than off Tuesday and Wednesday of that week. I showed up at 7:00 AM – sharp – and had my vest on and everything, went to clock in, and the timeclock kicked me out, since I wasn’t scheduled. Turned out that they needed an extra person on Tuesday, so they were able to accommodate my mistake, thank goodness.

Today, the question soon turned to what to do for four hours. I think I spent the time wisely. I went to Shoney’s, had a nice breakfast, and read The Washington Post. The Post is always a good read, when I have the time. I can polish off the Staunton News Leader in fifteen minutes on a slow news day. Then another ten minutes and I can knock out the Waynesboro News-Virginian. A slow news day with The Washington Post will take at least an hour.

And now, here I am, writing to you from the Augusta County Library, which is between Shoney’s in Staunton (I won’t go to the one in Waynesboro) and work.

So there you go.

Categories: Walmart

Firefighter Schumin is on his way!

July 26, 2006, 9:09 PM

Wasn’t today an exciting day at work!

Not long after my first break, one of our cart pushers reported that there was a mulch fire in the parking lot. One of our CSMs, knowing I’m on the safety team, came up to the service desk and got me, and handed me a fire extinguisher. I quickly found out what was going on as we were walking out to the parking lot to the fire. I ended up ripping off the tag and pulling out the pin on the way out the door.

We got to the mulch that was on fire in the parking lot. It was on a traffic island about a third of the way down the lot. After chasing off some very stupid teenagers who were trying to put it out by stomping it out in their flip flops (very dumb teenagers), I went to work. Since I had already pulled the pin, I went about it as I’d seen in the past, staying low, aiming for the base of the fire, and sweeping side to side. And I got the fire out, too. It seems that what I’d learned had sunken in fairly well, as I’d performed flawlessly despite having never actually used a fire extinguisher before.

I used up the entire extinguisher on it, just to be on the safe side. It’s just as well, too, since you can’t reuse a fire extinguisher that’s been discharged until it’s professionally recharged. But like I said, I got the fire out.

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Categories: Today's Special, Walmart

College shirt weekend at work led to an amusing photo in the end…

July 23, 2006, 1:47 AM

Yes, it was college shirt weekend at our store this weekend, and so I made sure to represent JMU.

But what’s funny is the shirt that I chose. I went hunting through my closet to find a JMU shirt. I was really looking for a “JMU Alumni” shirt that Mom got me, since that’s what I really wanted to wear. I ended up not finding that, and the only thing I found that was suitable for late July ended up being my old Office of Residence Life “purple shirt”. That would be this shirt, seen here back in the day. So I wore that under my vest. And purple and maroon certainly do look good together. Judge for yourself:

Wearing the Residence Life "purple shirt" with my Wal-Mart vest

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Categories: JMU, Walmart

Wait a second… where am I?

July 18, 2006, 12:43 AM

I made what I consider a real doozie on the PA tonight. Like at most 24-hour Wal-Marts, parts of the store, like the Service Desk, close overnight. So I made the closing announcement for the Service Desk. Usually, it goes like this:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Service Desk is now closed, and will reopen at 7 AM. If you wish to make a return before that time, you may do so at any open register. (Repeat once)

As always, we thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart, and have a safe and pleasant evening.

This time, the announcement went like this:

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Categories: Walmart