Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Cosmetic Reset From Hell

Last Sunday we drove down to Yuma for a cosmetic reset at an Albertson's store on Monday. Now we were told that we only needed one day to do this and there would be a crew of four of us to set 20 feet of product. I only budgeted us for one day down there as I was not told we would even remotely need more time than that. I definitely thought it could be done within those parameters. I was the team lead which really didn't mean much except that I had more responsibility and stress for the same amount of pay. So we get to the Albertson's and check out the situation on Sunday evening. Come to find out the Cover Girl product had been added to our list of duties which gave us an extra 9 feet to worry about. Now 9 feet doesn't sound like very much but when you think about cosmetics and the small products on the pegs, YES it is quite a bit. Still I figure that we can probably get it done with in a 9 or 10 hour day.

So we get there at 8am as we just had to walk across the parking lot as we boondocked there for the night. Only one other person from our team showes up so now we are running with only 3 people. The movement on the cosmetic wall was pretty straightforward but the beginning depended on the Revlon/Almay rep being there on time as she had to move her stuff as she was losing 3 ft of space. Of course, here it was 8:15am and she still wasn't there. So I call my DM and the L'Oreal rep and I start moving her stuff off the wall into carts. She gets there about 8:20am and is pissed off that we touched her stuff....argghh...we COULD NOT do anything until she started the ball rolling.

So we start our part of the set which was Physician's Formula. Now I know I do things fast and Bill hadn't done many cosmetic sets, but the other guy is as slow a molasses. We run into an issue with PF and the wall standard, which is where it connects together...we can't get the final row of PF before the standard so we have to move it over. Well, the gap looks funny and that means we will lose space farther down the line. So on the phone I go again. DM says she'll get right back to me. We can't do anything further until this issue is cleared up and she doesn't call me for almost an hour! THEN the decision is we have to flip the brands and PF will no longer go in that spot! So Mr. Slow-As-Molasses starts moving the PF slowwwwly to the next 2 ft section. In the meantime I am pulling my hair out as we are getting so behind.

At 5pm we only had part of the Cover Girl done, probably half of the work. The Albertson's department manager comes over and asks what time we will be in tomorrow. I say we can't come in as we had not planned on it. She goes and gets the store manager who is is a total ass. He is pissy at me and I sure as hell wasn't getting paid enough. So I call my DM and explain what is going on. She calls around and gets the team from a Phoenix store to drive down and she'll put them up in a hotel and they will take over and finish on Wednesday. Whoa! We DRIVE 3 hours in the motor home and use $60 in gas and you don't offer us anything? But she said we need to come in the morning to work on the project -- of course nothing about the fact that we were 1 person short and 9 ft more of product! I tell her that we have work in Phoenix on Wednesday and the most we POSSIBLY could do would be the morning. So we stay until about 7pm and then call it quits.

Tuesday morning we decided NOT to go in as we talked about it and decided we had been set up, running short handed and more product to set in only one day. My DM gets on the phone around noon and is totally pissed off --- wait a minute! We weren't even SUPPOSED to be here anymore to work on Tuesday. So she locks me out of the website and I can't report our hours. I call corporate headquarters on Thursday and let them know in no uncertain terms that we expect to get fully paid for Monday. They have me leave a message with the HR/payroll person who has not bothered to call me back. I will be on the phone with them bright and early Monday morning. If they think they are going to get away with this and not pay us they don't know who they are messing with. That is a huge problem with the economy today -- people have to take anything and everything the "boss" dishes out if they want to keep their jobs. I was upset about this all week and then we decided that we are going to look at it as bonus money. I really should not be doing that kind of work as I hurt horribly Tuesday and Wednesday. Plus I was only good enough to get work from that company that no one else wanted. There were sets all over Phoenix and she did not bother to use us but it was ok to send us all the way to Yuma.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Busy Weekend at Wild Horse Pass

Right near "our" casino this weekend is the NHRA Arizona Nationals drag races across the road at the Firebird Raceway. Tuesday we had come home to a really, really, really nice rig next to had a semi tractor type cab and a slide that opened up 20 feet I swear. Turns out it was a racer named Matt Hagen ...I chatted with him a bit the next morning and when we go back Wednesday night the rig was gone across the street. It does not really trip my trigger but Bill is all excited when we hear the funny cars rev sounds like they are next door although it is at least a mile or so away.

Right now it is raining here in Chandler which is nice as today I really needed to do next to nothing and try to destress somewhat. It has been so hectic lately that I don't know if I'm coming or going. We are going to be working spring training for the Oakland A's it appears. We went in last week and had our alcohol servers training...4 hours not paid which I am not too pleased about but it was mandatory. Serving alcohol here is about the same as in Wisconsin but the Aramark manager that ran the training also runs an ampitheatre in New Mexico. In that state if you do not do practically everything under the sun to find out if someone you are serving is a minor, you will be handcuffed immediately, spend 18 months in prison and pay $15,000 in fines. I would NOT be serving alcohol in New Mexico. We will be working some sort of a deep fried potato booth. Bill is going to be a grill cook and I am a gofer...kind of like real life. They called the other day wanting to know is chef coat size....this will DEFINITELY be different. But Aramark is a good company to get in with as they run venues all over the country and like the manager stated "You can travel with the company".

We are still up in the area as far as summer employment goes as we have not heard from the Census yet. I'm going to give them until the first week in March and then call and jog their memory. It would help if they hired us in Pickerel as then we can get some decisions made as to what is going to go on with both the Oshkosh house and the Pickerel house. As of right now my brother is 2 months late on the Oshkosh payments which will not continue as far as I'm concerned. We now had to try loan modification on the house there too as we can't cover both mortgages. If he is still behind when we get back in April then as far as I am concerned he is out....Bill is not quite on board with that yet but this is ridiculous! He will also be losing the vehicle and the cell phone as they come from us too so he better lower his standards and find some sort of employment, no matter what it is. If we can do $4 gas shops and hawk beer and fried potatoes at a ball park, he can sure as hell get a job flipping burgers or bartending. I have had it. Twenty five years of helping both of them out and this is what I get. There will be no more help from me - EVER.

We just found out that three people from Amazon that filed for unemployment in Kansas are having their unemployment contested by Express. What a bunch of bull. Now we have to worry about that one too. Bill should be ok though as we have copies of the contract stating the last day was December 23.

Tomorrow we are heading down to Yuma as we have a cosmetic reset in one of the Albertson's stores on Monday. Cosmetic pegging is not a favorite but it is an all day or possibly two day project which helps the bottom line. Hopefully Albertson's will be ok with us boondocking overnight in their parking lot as we need to start at 8am. Yuma has a ban against boondocking that they can use if needed as they get so many winter visitors. Unlike here in Phoenix where we have been boondocking at the casino here now for almost two weeks straight. We had checked on rates for parks in the area during spring training and most wanted over $400 plus electric...crazy!

The only thing I can say about life right now is thank god that it is warm and I at least have some energy. If I was dealing with all of this stress and mess and it was 10 below I don't think I'd be able to do has got to get better for everyone, right?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Couple of Freebies

Between now and 02/19, you can get a free dog leash (with no shipping charge) from Snapfish
which is a retail value of $25.99.
Here are the steps -
Create a new Snapfish account
Click ‘your account’ then ‘redeem’ next to the dog leash offer
Search for ‘leash’ then build your custom dog leash
Begin the checkout process and use code PRESDAY to knock off the shipping charge.

It definitely works as I just did it to send Dozey's best friend Clyde a new leash -- now to get his mom and dad to use it! Free Excedrin...take the quiz and chose anything but Excedrin...they will send you a coupon good for up to $5.99 on any Excedrin product.

Coupons and rebate on World's Best Cat Litter available at Petco and Petsmart
print $10 in coupons
rebate for free World’s Best cat litter

Free burger and fries for signing up for the new Denny’s rewards program. You must sign up no earlier than Monday, February 1, 2010. The first 500,000 people to sign up get a coupon worth a free burger and fires at Denny’s. Pick up your meal from March 1, 2010 through March 7, 2010.

Saving Money and Helping Others

Here is a very relevant article for those of you who may be a little hurt in the cash flow department like we are....of course, this has always been my specialty - finding deals and saving money. I think I got it from my dad's mother as he also sarcastically told me. If that is the truth I am really glad for it! If Bill and I had not been penny pinchers for all of these years we definitely would not have what we do now and this recession would have hit us much harder. I remember back in the day going out on the weekend and someone would comment on my outfit and I'd say "I got it at Goodwill!". Or substitute "rummage sale" for Goodwill depending on the season. That would be 99% of my entire wardrobe. I would get some funny looks back then, but I imagine now no one cares as much. The article here basically says that couponing is back "in vogue" but for me it always was vogue...It says here that spending an hour clipping and organizing coupons can net you as much as $100 per hour....TAX FREE! I don't know about you but we don't have that many $100 per hour jobs knocking on our door. Of course, organization of your coupon stash is can't use it if you can't find it! I have tried various organization systems in the past but now that we are in the RV with space as a premium I use an accordion type folder with handles that I found....get Goodwill! It almost looks like a briefcase or purse but has multiple files inside which I have broken down into category. I dig out coupons ahead of time when I know certain things are on sale from flyers and put them in a smaller organizer in my purse which is broken down by store but I also carry the big files into the store with me. It helps alot with clearance items that you can match a coupon to. I am so anal I keep an Excel file with our savings from each shopping trip where we use coupons - which is practically all of them. Last years totals look like this --

Total before coupons $5102.80
Total after coupons $1783.88
Total saved $3293.20
Percentage 64.5%

Not a bad return on my time and effort! And this was all stuff that either we used or it was so inexpensive after coupons and rebates and what have you that we gave it to friends and family or donated it. Which brings me to my second topic today.....

Saturday February 13 through Friday February 19 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. The website is a wealth of information with ideas and testimonials including the health benefits of kindness. In the rush to survive this recession and keep it all together unfortunately helping others is one thing that might have fallen to the wayside -- I know it has to some extent for us. So we (although Bill doesn't know this yet but he knows me!) are going to keep track every day this week of what kindness acts we tried to do for others and hopefully it will boomerang back and make us feel better about the world. Corny? Possibly....but I know firsthand that giving to others rebounds back in many different ways.

Our first RAOK was to Nick and Michelle. We have so many grocery shops right now that we can't fit everything in the MonsterMobile. So Bill called Nick and he met us at one of the stores in Scottsdale and we loaded him up with some groceries. Plus he gets all my cereal and mac n cheese - not al willingly though - as I can no longer eat the gluten. I will miss my Wheat Chex! Remember -- an RAOK does not have to cost money! Letting someone cut in line ahead of you who only has two items costs nothing but it all helps in the greater scheme of things....spread good karma and it will come back to you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

¡Vámonos a México!

On January 29th we had appointments in Algodones, México at the dentist and for me, at a chiropractor/integrative health clinic to try and find some more answers to my fibro. As I mentioned before, Algondones basically survives because of the medical "tourism" from the snowbirds from the US and Canada. So we left Yuma and headed west to the Quechan Casino which is a mile from the border. .... as you can see, it was a very popular place with boondockers when we arrived on Thursday night. On Saturday morning we had security knocking at our door at barely 8am as they had decided to implement a new parking regulation - 48 hours max and you have to register with security showing your photo ID and Players Card. I can see good and bad in the new rules....good as maybe there will be room as I'm sure some people basically moved in, but bad as the rules are really one saying that you can't unhitch your truck if you have a 5th wheel. do you go ANYWHERE else?

The short drive to the border parking found us scratching our heads at the "logic" of government. The sides of the road had signs stating for one, "No Parking" which you can see by the picture is really followed. But the next one really was can see the "No U Turn" in the first picture...
----only to walk a bit farther on to see THIS sign!


So we walk through the gates to México which is very showing a passport, ID or anything...of course we knew we were over the other side when we saw the army dudes with their M16s slung over their shoulders...I tried to get pictures of them but they didn't fall for it.

Entering downtown Algodones was like entering a crush of elderly shoppers at any Kohls on Wednesday. Except for the street vendors, beggars and shoe shiners, some of whom spoke pretty good English, most everyone was noticeably from Gringolandia.

Bill will just keep walking down the street and turn a deaf ear(which he is very good at!)when one of the people who are paid to bring patients in to the various dentists talks to him, but I have a hard time doing that. My bonus is that I get to practice my Spanish and once they realize I speak it, I don't get hustled so much.

Algodones, of course, is a relatively poor city that without the medical tourism would most likely dry up and disappear. It has the razor wire border fence running through it as well as 24/7 observation by the US Border Patrol to discourage anyone wanting a better life on the northern side.

Despite all that there was a steady stream of vehicles crossing the border both ways during our visit.
The Mexicans are a bit pickier on searching the vehicles than the are the foot traffic. We watched one guy who fit the perfect drug smuggling demographic - young, male and probably single - get searched twice on the Mexican side and twice on the US side. To me it is not worth it as of course, with my environmental email terrorist designation, I would no doubt have my vehicle torn apart as the TSA has probably told them I'm not to be trusted! Again touching upon the stupidity of government regulations - if you are walking across the border you can only bring back 1 liter of alcohol per person. BUT if you are driving you can bring back 3 liters per person! Hello? WHO makes these rules?

After getting estimates on our teeth, with Bill getting an estimate for 6 root canals and 6 crowns for $1400, we had lunch at a sidewalk café and decided to head back across the border as we had left the monsters in the RV and it was getting rather warm.We learned our lesson the hard time we will be entering really, really early and leaving before noon or entering early afternoon and leaving around 6pm when all the older folks have gone back home. At least there was a covered walkway and .25 restrooms during our hour wait!
Going through customs was rather anti-climactic as it went really fast. The TSA must not have updated my file with them...the agent asked if I had bought anything in México and I said a T shirt and some chocolate...ok bye, have a nice day. Of course Bill was bringing in a GALLON of vanilla...boy did that cause some curiosity in the waiting line. But he came through fine also. We've had more questions asked at the California Agriculture stops and the Border Patrol inside the country than we did getting back in. It's just a good thing I noticed my passport had expired or we might have been there waiting quite a bit longer.

I forgot to include the photo of the new game day wear that Bill absolutely refused to get...I don't know why...I think he would look quite attractive wearing it with a cheesehead cowboy hat and drinking a beer.

National Pancake Day

Mark your calendars! Tuesday, February 23 as it is National Pancake Day...IHOP is giving away a short stack of buttermilk pancakes to everyone from 7am to catch but they ask that you make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network...great food for a great cause! You can read more about it here..... and more about the Children's Miracle Network here Now you all get out and eat all the gluten that I no longer can!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Working, working, working

We have not been able to post lately as we stayed in the Phoenix area and have been very busy with work. We arrived on Saturday the 30th so that Bill could go golfing with Nick on Sunday for his birthday. Nick took him to the golf course where he used to work while he was in school down here and Bill had a great time. We stayed at the Wild Horse Pass casino which is in Chandler and makes it easy to break up the city by location. We normally hit the suburbs such as Surprise, Avondale, Buckeye and Glendale as well as western Phoenix on one run and then hit Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and eastern Phoenix on another run. It is getting so busy though that we may have to break up the runs into quadrants instead. Unfortunately most of the jobs are rather low paying so we spend a lot of time finding them, organizing them and then entering them...but at least it's work! We were able to pick up some veterinarian audits so we have started getting the Monsters their checkups and shots for their health certificates to pass through Canada if we do end up taking the Alaska job. The casino itself is very nice and when we were dumping over at Beaudry RV across the highway (free dumping is always good!) some people told us about the old casino which has much more space for RVs to boondock. When we go back on Wednesday we are going to try that out.

On Thursday we went in to fill out our paperwork for working at Phoenix Municipal Stadium and the Oakland A's during spring training. We will start on March 5 and the Cactus League games end towards the end of March. We will be running either a fajita/drink concession stand or a baked potato/drink concession stand. It will be a nice change of pace from merchandising and we will be able to see some of the game too. The company running the concessions is Aramark and they have different venues across the country. It will be good to get in with them and hopefully this will lead to more work in the future.

When I was in the Aramark office filling out the paperwork for the job, I noticed that my passport had expired on January 31. So I had to go and get pictures and send in my old passport to get the new one. along with $75 thank's taking between 4 to 6 weeks to get them so we are basically barred from going back to Mexico until I get it in the mail. It would have been nice if the Border Patrol agent would have said "Oh by the way, your passport expires a couple of days" when we crossed back in on January 29. But no, why be helpful? Thank God that we just didn't cross over and then try to get back in this week without me noticing the expiration date...I am sure I am on some list to be harrassed by the Border Patrol just as I am for the TSA. Our understanding is that they cannot deny you re-entry into the country but they can make you wait hours to get back in. It's long enough as it is!

On Saturday Bill went to do the three repair jobs that we had found so far. The first two went wonderfully but the job for the guy who originally contacted us was the job from hell. Bill was there working on the crack for at least 4 hours and it just turned out to make it worse. The countertop is out of warranty so we are going to have to file a claim with our business insurance as the guy is very picky and we don't need a bad reputation down here. Hopefully it will not raise the rates, but we have had insurance for probably 6 years at between $1000 and $2000 a year cost with no previous claims...not that it will matter to the insurance companies no doubt!