Jobs. Employment. Work.
I've had a long and bumpy road since 2018 as I've bounced around jobs. After graduating High School, I didn't really know where to start - nor did I really care at the time. I was just a dumb kid who was happy to be free of the nightmare of High School. I was so fed up with teachers, assignments, and needless bullshit that I didn't care what happened next - because in my mind, anything was better. And for the most part, I still hold that belief. However, unlike back then, I can somewhat understand where other people come from when they say they miss their High School days. After having worked some pretty awful jobs, I can imagine that I'd yearn for those younger days had I stuck with those jobs. I had this idea before graduating that I'd find some nice office job or something like that. Imagine my dismay when the only job I could get was at Walmart.
Job 1: Walmart - Overnight Stocker
Well, it wasn't that shocking as I'd taken a few months off, and I knew that without a college degree my options would be limited. But it certainly wasn't what I expected. While I was there, I was an Overnight Stocker, which as the name implies, had me stocking shelves during 3rd shift. I got an extra 50 cents an hour as a result of working 3rd shift, which had me earning $11.50 an hour. At the time, I had horrible shoes, no work ethic, and was generally in much worse shape than I am today. I'm not in great shape today, but back then I was in particularly rough shape. Not to mention those awful 20$ shoes that I mentioned before. After being on my feet for 30 minutes, it felt as though I was walking barefoot on the hard floors. I stuck through that for a couple months, but eventually lost the job due to calling in too much - the job was just too physically demanding for me, especially when I was tasked with stocking the Automotive section, where most of the items were large and heavy. It also didn't help that most everyone at the place seemed pretty miserable - you could tell they did not want to be there. And these weren't 20 year-olds either, most of these people were likely in their 40s or 50s. Not exactly old, but getting up there. Along with that, the one thing that kept me going was being able to listen to music on my phone, which at the time didn't want to cooperate very well and resulted in me getting yelled at (figuratively, not literally) once. It would routinely pause itself due to my failing earbuds and due to the convoluted way I had everything setup. I had to bring two phones, plus a cable and rechargeable battery pack just to keep something going throughout the 9 hour shift. YouTube also wouldn't play in the background, so the screen always had to be on. No wonder the solution sucked. After a couple months, I got out of there - expecting to move on to better prospects.
Job 2: Recycling Center - Sorter
From then until mid-2019, I remained unemployed. I eventually found a job at a recycling center paying $10.50 an hour. Not as much as Walmart, but close enough. By this point, I'd started to get in (slightly) better shape and learned that I had much better heat tolerance than I once thought - as well as largely got over my silly fear of people seeing me sweat a lot. I started going on walks periodically during the blazing summer heat - and it was pretty nice. The recycling center job originally appealed to me because it'd give me an extra opportunity to get a good sweat in (since it's a big warehouse, gonna be pretty warm in the summer months), as well as be something easy that I was physically capable of doing. I'd ruled out anything very physical after Walmart, so I figured this recycling center job would be a good fit.
The job was a Sorter, and it also offered a consistent schedule, Monday to Friday. I kept that job the least of any job I've ever had - after one shift, I quit and never went back. Why you ask? As silly as it sounds, it was too filthy. It's obvious in retrospect, but at the time I thought that "recycling = clean", but no - the job was picking specific kinds of trash out of any kind of trash. It was simultaneously boring and stressful all at once. You had to have a relatively good attention span or else you'd miss your item and people further down would have to shove everything back down for you to grab it. Speaking of trash, the items that came down the belt (routinely apparently) include but were not limited to: dirty diapers, cat litter, old food, used condoms, vibrators, and so on. On top of that, every single thing on that belt was covered in some sort of dirt. I don't want to even imagine what it consisted of. That job was just filthy and isn't something I wanted any part of.
Job 3: Schnucks - Bagger, Checker (Cashier)
From that point until November 2019, I continued to be unemployed. I tried applying for more office jobs, to no avail. Most of them didn't even have that much in terms of qualifications, but I just wasn't qualified enough I suppose. Eventually, things started to get a little dire - so I had to shift back to retail. Eventually, Schnucks took me on as a Checker (which is what they call Cashiers) - sort of. Initially, they had me be a Bagger starting out, as they had a bunch of cashiers already, as they get some that come up for the holiday season. Come January, I could become a Checker properly. Until then, I'd be a Bagger - whose job was to, as the name implies, bag groceries. They also were set to grab shopping carts from the parking lot and bring them inside for an hour at a time, twice during their shift.
I really didn't mind being a Bagger, and originally tried to stay as a Bagger - I was still pretty uncomfortable with socializing with people at this point. The manager pressed me a bit to go forward, and so I went ahead and did so. I stayed as a Checker from January until June 2020, when I finally left. Why did I leave this time? Two reasons: One, the pay was awful. Checkers make $9 an hour, and Baggers make $8. Along with that, the hours were pretty sparse and inconsistent, which is somewhat to be expected - but combined with the poor pay, this made the job barely capable of sustaining us. It was enough, but barely so. The other reason was just... I got tired of the job. I didn't hate the job as much as others, but I'd have rather been out there grabbing carts or whatever. I didn't want to deal with customers constantly or be on the hook for thousands of dollars worth of a fine or jailtime if I accidentally didn't card someone. That risk wasn't worth 9 dollars an hour for me, and neither was everything else about the job.
The one redeeming quality of Schnucks was the atmosphere, although this may largely be a result of the general region more than the store being some great place. The staff were nice, although they brought in another manager who definitely made things worse. Which is a damn shame too, because she was the one who conducted orientation - and during that orientation, she was great. She wasn't an asshole by any means - but seemed a bit rougher than the others there.
Job 4: USPS - PSE/Mail Processing Clerk
After leaving Schnucks, I set out to try and rapidly find some kind of office work - which as usual, went nowhere. Eventually I repeated the process of trying for retail work again, attempting to get a job at Target and Best Buy - both of which gave me interviews, and neither of which actually hired me on. By October 2020, Eventually I landed something that I thought was close to an office job, a job at USPS. This job paid a hell of a lot better than anything else I've had - starting at $18.15 an hour. It took nearly a month after the original overview before orientation finally happened - and I stuck through this job for all of a week before abandoning it during a panic.
So, what was so bad about this job? Well, let's start from the little things and work our way up. The time was in a strange 24-hour time format, that seems to be specific to USPS for some reason. Hours were 0-23, but minutes were out of 100. So, if I was set go in at 8:30 PM, the listed time on the schedule was 2050. Yeah, kind of a nitpick, but it also gets compounded by the fact that you only know the schedule a week in advance, if you're lucky. The schedule can actually change during the week, without warning - so you better keep checking it every day in case it suddenly changes. Taking a photo at the start of the week won't cut it here.
The job itself is very physically AND mentally taxing. That "and" is important. If it were one or the other, it'd likely be tolerable. But this job was both. You had to be on top of everything, and you were essentially doing a workout the whole time. You're allowed to listen to your phone, but don't expect to be able to listen to it. You can't mentally tune out here, you gotta be on top of things. But even this wasn't the major issue. The major issue was one that I actually knew about before finally accepting the job, but made the mistake of taking the job anyways.
Where most of the other jobs were 40 hours a week if I was lucky, this job has you working 6 days a week - and at LEAST for 8 hours, usually more like 10 or 12. On top of that, everybody works 12 hours the day of, before, and after major holidays. 12 hour shifts, back to back to back. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after. Now, for some people - that might not sound so bad overall. But for me? I'm trying to run a gaming community and build up a game development studio. I'm not looking to shut my life down for a job that I don't even like.
The main reason I went through with the job was that I was distracted by the pay. I saw $18.15 an hour and didn't care about the rest - I had to get this job, it'd pull us out of poverty almost instantly. It wasn't until getting the job that I realized that this just wasn't for me. So, after a week, I quit. I wasn't gonna let myself get trapped here, I'm gonna find another job that will at the very least give me a better work/life balance and give me the chance to keep looking for other jobs if I want. The first job I applied to, the day before quitting?
Job 5: Walmart - Cart Attendant
I ended up coming full circle, ending the journey thus far where I began. I didn't apply to the same location, but to a different location - within eyeshot of the Schnucks I worked at before. Remember when I worked at Schnucks and I started out as a Bagger? The part of that job I really liked was being outside and pushing those carts around. I genuinely enjoyed it, despite it being in the middle of winter. I figured hey, maybe I can get that to be my entire job. That sounded like it'd be pretty nice. At the time, I didn't realize Walmart actually had a dedicated Cart Attendant position - I thought it was lumped in with the Janitorial positions. So, I applied to that position - and a few days after quitting USPS, got a call back. I asked how much Janitorial stuff I'd be doing, and was told that was the bulk of the job. I asked if there was a position that was purely cart pushing, at which point I found out that yes, there WAS a position for that. They didn't know if there was an opening, but they'd check into it.
A few days later, I got a call back - and it started off with what seemed to be defeat. I was asked if I was interested in the Maintenance (Janitor) position, as they had someone else transfer in to be a Cart Attendant - to which I said not really, I was more looking to push carts around. After a bit of a pause, she said okay and that she'd see if she could bring someone else inside instead - and then I found myself with a job offer. Not too long after that, I was in Orientation, and pushing carts the next day. I had a bit of online stuff to do, but turns out - my old Pathways (Walmart's internal training videos and stuff) progress was retained, so I had much less to complete. All I had to do was the newer stuff introduced since 2018 and one section that was specifically for cart pushers. I got all of it done within one day, and then I got sent out to start pushing.
The first couple weeks were a bit tough, but not too bad overall. I never felt sick in the same way I did back in 2018. Now, at the time of writing, I'm in week 3 - and I honestly kind of like the job. This is particularly mind-blowing to me, as after so much job hopping, I figured that I'd hate every job I had until the day I finally quit and did Elaztek Studios full-time. I accepted this as reality, somewhat influenced by seeing those around me stuck with jobs they despise, and also influenced by my own experience thus far. But even with the job being physical, I find myself adjusting quicker than I expected, and really enjoying it much more than anything else I've had before.
You can listen to music/podcasts/whatever on your phone the whole time, which for me is now made much easier thanks to an app Jeffrey (FlipWhip on Discord) suggested that I use called YouTube Vanced, which enables most Premium features for free - namely, background video playback. No more having to keep the screen on the whole time. I use that combined with Battery Saver and the phone easily lasts the full 9 hour shift (8 hours plus a 1 hour lunch). Since the job is all physical and no mental, I can largely focus in on what's in my ear, and my body can just do the job mostly on autopilot. And you know what? I don't even mind the job itself either. It's exercise for sure, but I could use some - and I'm able to even tolerate the colder weather pretty well.
It also has that one thing I was looking for in that recycling center job as well, a job that will give me a good sweat in the summer months. Hell, it's managed to get me to sweat even when its 40 degrees outside. I can't help but be both curious and kind of excited to see how drenched I end up being in the warmer months. I'll probably be pretty anxious for the first few days of that - particularly when it comes to interacting with customers and/or managers, and especially the idea of my dad seeing me that sweaty. But honestly? I kind of like the idea of clocking out dripping wet with sweat on a daily basis. Considering how great those hour long walks in 100 degree weather feel, I can only imagine how fucking amazing I'd feel after pushing carts for 8 hours in that kind of weather - and how insanely I'll drench myself with sweat. Maybe I'll be able to wring my shirt out after a couple hours - who knows. I just find myself honestly looking forward to those hot months with honest, pure, genuine excitement.
Which, coming back to the central theme with this job, is fucking insane. I'm looking forward to a job. I didn't think that would ever happen until the days of Elaztek. And honestly, I think that this job is a better fit for me than even generic office work. Would I be happier working in an office, doing paperwork and all that other stuff? If you asked me a few months ago, I'd have said "Well yeah, of course". But now? I'm not so sure. I'm not gonna be able to listen to whatever music or podcasts during office work. I wouldn't get any exercise from sitting in an office all day. I wouldn't ever get a single bead of sweat to drip off me from organizing schedules. And I sure as hell wouldn't enjoy doing much of that when it's not in the context of my own company.
I honestly believe that I've found something special with this job, that I've finally found the job I can finally hunker down and stick with for a number of years. It's not what I expected, but I don't find myself dreading the workday like I have with every other job. I find myself looking forward to it, which is something I didn't expect to find for another decade. I don't know why I feel compelled to share this in a long form blog post like this, but I'm just... excited. I'm excited that I've actually found something that pays decent enough and that I've found a job that I actually enjoy, without having to go into deep debt in college or bust my ass for a decade just to bring into fruition. Don't get me wrong, this isn't my career - my end goal is for Elaztek Studios to be my job. And this job I feel is best suited to allow me to both reach that goal sooner (due to having a better work/life balance), as well as enjoy my life between now and then.