Saturday, October 23, 2010

Breaking News Story!

Urgent News Update: I don't know how this will end up, or how it will work out, but it's sure a game-changer. John, the eldest, and erstwhile-resident of Mt. Ellis in Montana, is beginning an unexpected and involuntary sabbatical from boarding school. Now. As in he's already here.

Well, life does have it's little twists and turns, doesn't it? How will this change things...not exactly sure, but here are some possibilities. Since I won't have to pay tuition, I automatically have a much higher monthly income. I also have a much, MUCH smaller trailer all of the sudden. So I might (if God works a miracle, that is) be able to get a house to stay in. I'll be working on that this week.

John will be enrolling in the local school on Monday and getting to experience life in a small trailer with no phone, no computer, no TV, no shower, and no hot water. Our little trailer promotes literacy, that it does! He'll also be able to help my dad winterize the trailer since we are expecting possible snow showers on Wednesday.

I will continue to work, look for housing, and try not to have a nervous breakdown in the process. Laura will be at school trying very hard not to get sent home because I would very possibly kill her if she does, and Caleb will be in his program slogging away through the different levels. Finley will be languishing up at his Auntie's or Grandma's house, wishing I would visit more often (because he stays up there during my work week), and Anika will be trying her very best to run away constantly and wreak havoc throughout the neighborhood. The cats will be snuggled warm in their new home (my sister's) trying hard to avoid those vague and distant unpleasant memories of their former lives.

To be continued......

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lots of Potential and Buckets of Charm. Just No Water.

So the other day my dad, sister, a passel of kids, and two dogs went to look at a house. Next time I am leaving my dad home. Hmmph. He is too filled with practical advice! The house is in Montana, so I couldn't live in it right now if I wanted to, but come summer when Caleb is out of school, I won't need to be in North Dakota anymore. And I will need a larger place to stay than the trailer when I have 2 and possibly 3 kids home from school.

The house is simply the house of my dreams. It is loaded with Potential and has buckets of Charm. It is a fixer-upper, but that's what I want and what I can afford. There is the slight problem that the well is bad and shows every indication of being bad for the rest of time and eternity, but what's that against Potential and Charm. Quite a bit in my dad's opinion, anyway.

I still consider the house in the running if the time came when I had to have housing and if it was still available, AND if it was all I could afford. It costs $12,500, so here for your viewing pleasure is a possible future Tina house.

The entryway.

The LARGE dining room, with a window seat!

The charming and slightly dangerous stairway.

The large and cupboard-ful kitchen.

One corner of a very nicely-sized master bedroom suite.

And a picture of the shower unit, which gives some hint as to the concerns about water quality. It used to be white, you see.

It is a nice house. It has four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, laundry room, mudroom on the back and front entrances, basement, large bathroom, kitchen, and several closets. We could certainly fit into it, and if it were only used during the summer, the heating costs would be very low. And who needs electricity anyway?

I don't know if we'll get this house or not. I still don't know where I'll be long-term, but I can sure tell that wherever I'm headed, God's the one taking me, so I'll just hold on and enjoy the ride.

My Life as a Walmart Associate

Once I was back in Montana, I started looking around in earnest for a job. Of course I hated to get one because there was still so much to do around everyone's place before winter, but having no income sort of made it a necessity. I studied the help wanted ads, meanwhile putting in an application at Walmart, since I knew if nothing else worked, they would probably hire me.

As it turned out, I didn't get a chance to try for any other jobs because Walmart called me up almost immediately, called me in for an interview, and hired me on the spot. "Wow, Tina, you must have been a really special applicant for them to hire you so quickly!" Not really. My special qualifications were that I was breathing and I could move.

See, it's another lovely result of the oil boom. Working on the oil fields pays well. REALLY well. People are leaving their long-term jobs and going where they can make $10 to $15 an hour more, which creates a huge job vacuum. Everyone wants those high paying jobs at the same time that there are huge new population numbers that need to be served in restaurant, motels, gas stations, and of course, Walmart, the only large store of its type within 2 hours drive of Williston.

This Walmart is the top selling Walmart of its size--in the country--at the same time that it has the lowest employee #'s. Store executives want to know how this store does it...keeps operating costs so low and profits so high. I can tell them after working there for 2 and a half weeks. Sheer desperation!

As one of the cashiers (a surprising career choice for one so math challenged as I!) I am at the front lines during the day. Literally. The lines stretch 6-10 people deep most of the day, and these are mostly people, carts piled high with goodies, who shop like they come to Walmart once a month--because they do. Or it's oil workers coming in and buying 2 cart loads of bedding, socks, snacks, and drinks for the company. It is non-stop work all day as we watch the store merchandise flow through our registers and out the door.

Then, at last evening comes and it is time for me to go home. As I walk to the back to go clock out, I see the evening shift just coming on. Like a frantic troupe of magical gnomes they rush about trying to replace an unreal amount of stock before the flood-gates of customers begins pillaging the store the next morning. This happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

This particular Walmart gets a lot of complaints because of the empty shelves and long lines. I regularly hear comments from people in my line about how Walmart is too cheap to hire more cashiers and that's why the lines are so long. Au contraire! Walmart would LOVE to have more cashiers, indeed, I've felt a little bit like a rock star as a new hiree, but no one is applying. They'd love to have more stock on the shelves, but people don't realize that the magical gnomes can't keep up with how fast it flies off the shelves.

As for me, I love working there. I am getting a little better about making mistakes and needing help constantly, and I love the work. I am the airline stewardess on my customers' Walmart journey, and I try to make sure I meet their needs in a fast and friendly way. No one has been really mean yet, so I'm having a great time.

Oh, and one more WONDERFUL thing about my new job at Walmart. When I first hired on, I was thinking, "Oh dear, I'll be standing still all day. What a dull and lifeless job. I shall get quite pudgy." I couldn't have been more wrong. I am hauling mid-range weights (milk jugs, heavy cans, dog food, cases of water, flat-screen TV's, etc.) all day long, plus periods of quick stepping when I scan items in customers' carts or put their bags away. I am getting 8 hours of low-level exercise every day, and I am losing weight!!! Yeah! Instead of joining a gym, I am letting the gym pay me. Couldn't be better.More affordable housing, but this time in Montana. Note: If you read in Noni's blog about the fox that jumped over her, this is the house and the upper left-hand window is the one it jumped out of.