The One Little Thing

So far, my new job seems to be going pretty well. The work seems fairly easy. The people there seem cool so far. If anything, I’d say I only have one little thing that bothers me about the job right now.

After getting home the other day, my wife asked me to run to the store up the street to get something that we didn’t have for what she was making for dinner. The store is only a couple thousand yards (or so) away from my house, so I’ll always walk up there (unless it’s raining really hard). I walk there, get what I need to get, and start walking home. About halfway back, one of my neighbors was outside and stopped me to ask me why I shopped at that store. That may seem weird to some of you, but there was a reason that she did so.

I work for a large grocery chain. I don’t actually work in one of their stores, however. I work in one of their warehouses. Unfortunately, the one little the thing that bothers me is that one of the requirements of my job is that I have to wear a polo shirt with the company logo on the chest. So, when my neighbor stopped me, her question was, “Why are you shopping at that grocery store when you work for a different one?”

Instead of trying to explain to her that I can’t buy things from my job site (Apparently it would cause some kind of malfunction in the inventory tracking), I just made a comment about how this store was closer to my house, which was also true. I wasn’t about to get in my car and drive a few miles to buy two items from the closest store of my grocery chain when I could walk up the street and do it a hell of a lot quicker.

If this was the only incident, I wouldn’t mind the dress code thing, but I’ve stopped into one of my stores a number of times on my way home from work and have been on the receiving end of some very strange looks from the employees there. I think most of them are trying to figure out who the hell I am, because I obviously work for the company. To avoid the hassle of the conversations that would come of their questioning, I go through the self check out and get the hell out of there as quickly as I can.

It hasn’t happened yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time before I’m in a store on my way home from work and a customer is going to see the logo on my shirt and assume I work there. While I know there are some decent people out there, I’ve also worked retail enough to know that there’s a really good chance that they’ll get pissed when I tell them that while I work for the company, I don’t actually for that store.

Getting into the Groove

Things are going well for me in my new job so far. It’s still an adjustment for me, however. Especially when the hours aren’t exactly the greatest. I’m still working on trying to get into a rhythm with these new hours. Mostly, I’m trying to work as much family time into my days as I can. No matter what, I want to squeeze every second I can into my time with my girls.

One of the things that has suffered so far in this transition is my available writing time… I haven’t had any.

Sure, that will probably change once Baby E goes back to school after her winter break is up. I’ll have some time to write in between dropping her off at school and having to go to work. Of course, that’s also prime video game and/or TV watching time. So, who knows? Maybe I’ll alternate days… or something. I guess it’ll depend on how I’m feeling each day.

It’ll probably be a little while before I get into a groove in my new schedule.

Fantasy Football Part 19

Hey, everyone. I’m a little bit later in getting to this story than I wanted to be, but between the new job and being sick, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do any writing on it for a few days. But, I got back to it and we have a new part for you to read on this here Christmas Eve. Hopefully, you enjoy this little present, because it’s all I can get for you all. And, no matter which, if any, holidays you celebrate, I sincerely hope that enjoy them.

***** ***** *****

“Go in!”

Plex didn’t have to look around to know the source of the voice was Coach Sprout. Before he could ask what the gnome was talking about, he felt the little man’s hand on his back trying to push him onto the field. “Go in and block that extra point,” Sprout implored.

He slowly started walking out onto the field, seeing that their coach had also been shoving on Glavven’s backside too. Plex’s eyes flicked up towards the dragon. It had raised up to full height and was watching the duo walk off the sideline with a mixture of anger and amusement. The duo quickened their pace to get into position before the ball was hiked.

It was quick thinking on the gnome’s part, Plex knew, that had prevented Glavven from being inside Lavalandinarial’s mouth right now. Had they remained on the sideline, the dragon would’ve come down and picked the minotaur up and swallowed him whole. By sending them out onto the field, Sprout had, at the very least, delayed it. While it was true that the dragon could do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, it was much less likely that she would act openly while there was action out on the field. It was obvious that she wanted to have a hand in the outcome of the games, but it was also obvious that she didn’t want it to be known that she did. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have been so subtle in her magic.

The duo was still running up to the line of scrimmage when the ball was hiked. Plex stopped, thinking that they were too late to even make an attempt to block it. Glavven didn’t stop, though. The furious minotaur bellowed out a roar of rage and charged the line. He watched as the minotaur blew through the entire line, pushing away teammates and the opposition alike on his way toward the kick. It was an impressive display of power, made even more impressive because Glavven was doing it with an injured knee.
Boot hit ball and the kick went streaming at the uprights. Glavven planted on his good leg, let out another bellow, and jumped with all of his might. Plex found himself holding his breath through the display, but that changed when he gasped in shock. Glavven had done it. The tips of his outstretched left hand grazed the ball. It wasn’t enough to block the ball completely, but it did change the ball’s trajectory.

The entire stadium watched as the ball veered wildly to the right. By the time it got to the end zone, it was almost twenty yards wide of the uprights. The kick was no good.

All around him, his teammates jumped up and down in celebration. Plex wanted to join them, but he instead looked up at the dragon. All traces of anger were gone. It was smiling that cocky, superior smile. He dropped his head and started to shake it. This should’ve been a moment of celebration, but he couldn’t. He knew what was coming next.

With the blocked kick, the score was now forty-two to thirty-nine, a three point difference. If the other team recovered their soon to be attempted onside kick, they couldn’t win the game with a field goal. They could tie it, though, and he knew that was the dragon’s plan. Lavalandinarial was going to find a way to make the game go into overtime.

Plex turned around jogged back to the touchline. “Coach, leave me for the return. In fact, put in all of our players with the best hands. We need to make sure whoever the ball hits they can grab it and hold onto it.”

The gnome studied his quarterback and nodded once and began issuing instructions. The line that got sent out was nothing like the normal kick return unit. The special teams coach put up some fuss that his guys should be trusted with the task but Sprout quickly silenced that outburst with a look where his eyes first trained on the special teams coach and then flicked towards the dragon.

This kicking team lined up and for the first time ever, because this hadn’t even been a scenario in any of the practices, Plex found himself on the field facing the entire kicking line. Without his own row of offensive linemen protecting him, Plex was surprised how scary it was staring into the eyes of minotaurs, orcs, goblins and dwarves. They would be coming full force and the ball would be bouncing around chaotically.

Plex was near the center of the field so it was unlikely the ball would come to him. Looking left and right he saw looks of determination in all of his teammates. They knew what was coming and what was expected of them. To a man, they were set on making sure they did not let their team down.

The whistle blew and the kicker did a short run up before side footing the ball. It smashed into the ground at his feet and began to bounce and spin wildly. Plex watched it, like he would have from the sideline, until the movement of his teammates reminded him that he needed to act.
The field became a blur as everyone rushed for the ball. As fast as he was, Plex didn’t think he’d get there first but he was certainly going to try. The kicking line came in at crushing speeds. The teams on the sidelines were shouting. The spectators were on their feet yelling. And Lavalandinarial had once again lifted her head up to gaze intently upon the action. Plex saw all of this and none of it at the same time.

His pace outstripped most of his teammates. The ball, nearly within reach, still danced and spun and then it disappeared under a dwarf from his team and a minotaur from the kicking team. Without thinking about it, Plex threw himself on top of the minotaur, his eyes darting around looking for the ball, ready to grab it should it pop free.

And then someone else smashed into his back. And then more weight was added. And then more until it felt like everyone from both teams was piled on top of him. It burned to breath. His senses were assaulted by the smells and feel of so many players. He pushed as much of it aside as he could and scrambled to keep his arms free and ready to haul in the ball should he see it. All around him, arms writhed intent upon the same.

Then a series of short whistle blasts pierced through the pile and slowly, the weight was removed one player at a time while the Honor Guard worked on trying to figure out who had ended up with possession of the ball.
Sitting in the middle of this massive pile of people was starting to make him a little claustrophobic. Sure, there were some big piles on offensive plays, but nothing like having almost two full teams of players on top of him. It was almost enough to make him panic, but he controlled his anxiety and breathed in as deeply as he could, slowly and calmly. Plex kept reminding himself that this was just a part of the game and it would be over soon.

Eventually, the last bit of weight lifted off of him and he was able to stand up. His whole body ached, though whether that was from just the pile or the whole game he wasn’t sure. Thoughts of pain were pushed to the side momentarily as he looked at the remaining two players on the pile. Only the dwarf and minotaur remained. Plex peered intently as the Honor Guard surrounded the pair, blocking the majority of his view. One of the Honor Guard that were on the opposite side of the pile from him, a fellow elf, glanced up at Lavalandinarial. Plex followed his gaze and turned his head in time to see the dragon’s eyes flick over the sideline of Gilania’s team.

When Plex looked back at the pile, he saw one of the Honor Guard pull the ball from the dwarf and punch him in the stomach. As the dwarf doubled over, the elf bent with him, whispering harshly in the dwarf’s ear. No doubt, they were threatening him to keep quiet about what really happened on the bottom of the pile. Nodding his head vigorously, the dwarf appeared stunned when he was punched in the stomach again after the elf helped him up.

With a wave of his hand, the Honor Guard called the healer over from Plex’s sideline. Anger was building from within him and it took all he had to keep himself quiet. This was becoming ridiculous. If he wasn’t so sure that the dragon would eat him if he tried to do it, he would’ve walked off the field and quit right then and there. Football was pure. It was a game of skill, athletic ability. It was a game of strategy that was dependent on how well you blended all of that together.

What it certainly wasn’t, and should never be, was scripted.

The outcome of a game should never be determined by anyone other than the players on the field. Even if that someone else was the most powerful being in the world.

Fantasy Football Part 18

I’ve had a lot going on the past couple of days, so I’m a little late on sharing this, but here’s the latest chapter of the blog hopping story being written by the incredibly talented Matticus and the somewhat talented me. Hope you’re all enjoying the ride so far.

The Matticus Kingdom

I had this whole funny into typed out. I swear I did. Why would I lie? Why are you questioning me…?

Anyway, for reasons related to shenanigans that intro was lost. Let’s have a minute of silence in its honor.

Okay. On with the football!

….

The running back raced down the field.  Plex was certain he was going to score but then Kalant, who Plex hadn’t even realized was on the field, streaked across the field and smashed into the running back.  The two players crashed to the turf. For a moment it looked like the ball was going to pop loose but the runner managed to hang onto it. Still, the other team had made it down to the ten yard line, had a new set of downs, and with two full minutes left in the game, along with both teams having most of their timeouts left…

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My Newest First Day

A couple months ago, I was informed by my employer that the contract we had with the company we did work for was being given to someone else. That meant that at the end of the year, I’d be out of a job because that’s the only contract my employer had. After working there for almost 8 years, it was a kick in the gut. It wasn’t something I was expecting. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next.

They were going to give me a severance package that would have given me around 2 months worth of pay if I stuck it out with them until the end. Since most of the jobs available, for someone with my qualifications anyway, were of the seasonal variety, I was going to ride it out, collect the severance pay, and go from there. So, I put the thoughts of a new job on the back burner and went about my business as usual.

Then, right before Thanksgiving, a guy I used to work with posted about a job opening working for him. I would’ve ignored it, as part of my “waiting for the end” plan, but it was a decent jump in pay. A jump that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get if I waited. So, I applied for it, I had my interview on Black Friday, and was eventually offered the job. After waiting for my background check and drug test to come back, I had my orientation this afternoon.

The upside to this job, obviously, is the increase in pay. The downside is my schedule. I’m not really working the hours I want right now. I was told that, down the road, I’d be able to move to the hours I want when a position becomes available though, so I’m willing to go along with it for now. It also means that I’m back to working on weekends, something that I haven’t had to do since I worked for Walmart.

Hopefully, this job is worth the horrible hours. Hopefully, it’s a good job. Hopefully, this all works out.

The Twelfth Knight: Part 3

After going back to his barracks and changing into civilian clothing, Roscoe went around to some of the seedier taverns in the city. Despite only being just after midday, the first two were almost halfway full already. As soon as he opened the door, every eye turned his way. Most did so openly, but a few were good at hiding it. Roscoe didn’t want to attract this kind of scrutiny, especially from an entire room full of people, so he scanned the crowd and pretended to be looking for someone in particular. When he didn’t spot the imaginary person he was searching for, he spun around and walked out.

The third tavern wasn’t as full as the first two, but it was still more crowded than he liked. It wasn’t until he arrived at his fourth place that he was satisfied with it. Only two of the tables were occupied. One table had three people at it and the other was taken by a single man. This would work out better for him. Sure, he’d still get scrutinized by people, but it would be as each person came in and not as a crowd.

Roscoe didn’t want to stand out so he ordered ale and sat at a table near the back. He sipped on his ale while he kept his head down and eyes up. Never much of a drinker, he was afraid that he’d get drunk trying to maintain his cover. The tavern’s ale was so watered down that it didn’t become a problem.

He sat there for most of the afternoon before the place started getting busy. Most people looked him over as they came in, but a few of them paid him no heed. Those were the ones who were strictly here to drink, he knew. Of course, he also knew that anyone who came to drink the swill served here had to be poor and desperate. Therefore, he had to be careful around them.

A loud bang interrupted the majority of conversations going on around the room. Roscoe felt the bang on his table and looked up to see a large man standing before him. He let his eyes drift down to the empty mug the man had slammed down. His eyebrow raised in question to the man’s actions while he started to slowly move his off hand toward the hilt of a dagger he had in a sheath on his belt.

“I ain’t never seen you here before,” the man growled.

“That’s ’cause I ain’t from ’round here,” Roscoe retorted in an exaggerated accent.

“Whatchu doin’ in here?”

Roscoe put anger on his face. “I’m just lookin’ for work, so why don’t you back up before I put you down?”

The large man stared hard at Roscoe. For a moment, he thought he had pushed too far and began tensing for a fight, but it didn’t come. The man just gave a soft chuckle before walking away. Roscoe kept his relief of his face and downed the rest of his ale. He got up, walked over to the bar, and ordered another. By the time he got it, and returned to his table, there was another man sitting there.

The new man wasn’t as physically imposing as the first one, but Roscoe got the feeling that he was more of a threat. There was a dangerous intelligence behind his eyes. “I hear you’re looking for work,” the newcomer said.

“So did everyone else here,” Roscoe responded. “That don’t make you special.”

“If that mouth of yours hasn’t got you killed yet, you must be decent with a sword.”

Roscoe shrugged. “Not the best, but better than most.”

“You willing to prove yourself to get a job?”

“Depends on what I’ve got to do. I ain’t gonna do something suicidal like storming the castle by myself.”

“What about a one-on-one fight?”

“Who’d I have to fight? You?”

“No, not me,” the man chuckled. “You’re of no use to me dead.”

Roscoe was about to protest that statement, in order to stay in character, but he found that he couldn’t do it. Something inside told him that agitating this man wasn’t a good idea. He couldn’t shake the feeling that the man would be able to kill him, if they came to blows. So, he stayed quiet and just looked at the man.

“Like you,” he continued, “we’re new in town, and my organization is looking to add a few more faces for our operations in the Kingdom. Two of the three positions have already been filled. I want you to fill the other, but another member of our organization would rather have it be someone else. If you want the job, you’ll have to fight the other guy in order to win it.”

“To the death?”

“That’s entirely up to the combatants. If you win, and want to let him live, you’re welcome to, but he may not be that merciful. So, Mouth, do you want the job, or not?”

Roscoe looked down for a moment. From what he knew, Merlinus was new to the Kingdom, like the man claimed to be. If this man worked for Merlinus, this may be his only chance to get close enough to him. If he did it, though, he’d be on his own, with nobody to save him if he fell. What should he do?

A steely resolve burst from within and he looked up into the man’s eyes. With a cold smile, he said, “Let’s go.”

Well Intentioned Words

A few days ago I ran into a guy I used to work with way back in my Walmart days. Of course, everyone that used to work with me at Walmart used to work with my mother too. So, after the obligatory “long time no see”, the first thing he says is, “I’m sorry about your mom.” I thanked him, quickly changed the subject, and put on a fake smile, but the damage had already been done. The knife stabbed my heart and the wave of pain flooded over me.

The rest of the day was spent just trying not to break down, which was a challenge considering the crap I’m having to deal with at work right now.

Now, I don’t blame the guy. I know he meant well. He certainly wasn’t trying to make me feel that way. But, unfortunately, he did.

I never really thought a few well intentioned words could hurt so much.