Politics and general nonsense.
Have you ever stepped in shit? I mean, stepped in shit in a good way? Stepped in a steaming pile of feel-good shit? Yeah, I will get to the politics in a moment, but I first have to talk about shit. Not the Cheech and Chong kind of goood shit. Just general, “My life has improved 100%” good shit.
I worked for a major home improvement box store for two and a half years. The benefits were halfway decent, the hours were deplorable, and the pay was designed to keep a household in poverty. Two pay increases grossed me sixty cents an hour increase over starting wage – and that was the maximum they gave out. My two 30-cent an hour pay increases on my anniversaries meant that another employee was getting 15-cents or 20-cents.
I have always hated retail, but fell back on it as a surefire source of income – $10/hour beats nothing per hour. Retail politics is the worst. I don’t name the particular institution because I am a stock holder. One or two shares, but hey, stock is stock. I have ex-fellow associates that actually enjoy retail. To each his own. At least this company sold necessities at competitive prices. I still shop there.
However, almost three months ago I walked out in the middle of my shift. Two and a half years working nights in a thankless job – a job where management rarely appreciated your hard work, and only insisted that you produce more. My manager moved on to become an assistant store manager, and he is one of the people that loves retail. He was replaced by a person that proved to be incompetent, and a back-stabber.
This is not sour grapes. I don’t name names, and I rarely ever talk shit – the bad sort of shit, not the sort that you step in – about former employers. If a person hates where they work, I don’t allow them to complain in front of me. If a person doesn’t like how their employer runs the business, they have the option to go out ans start their own business and to do it right! Or they can move on to another job, where they are likely to find just as much fault.
I finally tired of lies and treachery by a manager that managed (hey, at least she managed) to throw every one of my co-workers under the bus at least one time in the previous six months. Rather than do something rash that would get my ass fired, I did something equally as rash – I walked out. No job prospect in the wings. Only enough money in savings to last me a month.
I immediately began applying to other retail establishments, and was on Craigslist daily. I had some conversations that seemed productive, but didn’t land gainful employment. I sold two paintings, which extended my safety net.
One Thursday morning I spotted an ad for a graphic design and fabrication shop. Having worked as a graphic artist for Bellco Glass for almost five years, and having freelanced as a graphic artist for decades and being a professional artist, I submitted my application.
I heard back within hours, and was requested to show up for an interview the next afternoon. The only difficulty was providing them with a reference from my previous job. In no way could I trust my former manager. Of course I trusted Brandon, my manager before the witch implicitly. But his store issued cellphone had changed when he changed job titles. All I could offer was the store telephone number. Angela contacted me from the prospective job, and asked if I had other contact info – and so I used Facebook to track down Brandon. He promptly gave me his personal cellphone number.
Sunday morning, Angela emailed me and said I had the job if I still wanted it, can I be at work Monday morning? And the rest is history.
This past Friday I received my second paycheck. Early in the morning, Angela called me over. She said that she had talked to the owner, and that I was getting a ten percent pay increase, retroactive to the beginning of the pay period. Later on, when I talked to the owner to thank him, he said simply that they were looking into ways to increase my pay even more. After two weeks, my first pay increase dwarfed my two pay raises at the national box store.
So yes, I stepped in shit. I love the job, I really like the owners and co-workers. The job is a day job, the business is a family-owned concern and they treat the employees as family.
No matter where I go, I cannot seem to stay away from politics. Local politics – our current national election seems to prove that we have little influence over national politics. Unless your surname is Koch or Soros, you have no influence whatsoever. On the local level, you can have a voice. Even if you do not win, you can make waves. Just ask Louis Magazzu.
Apache Junction is the catalyst for several Facebook groups. I belong to one with a large active and vocal membership. The members are positive, and for the most part polite and cordial. What is even more impressive is that almost all of our local candidates for office frequent the board. Some are quite vocal, and always answer questions and get involved int he discussion, even when the questions might be antagonistic in nature.
Last night we had a meet up at a local pub, The Handlebar. At least fifty people showed up and we took over the patio of the bar. And the candidates also showed up. I don’t mean they made an appearance and then ran on to another event, they came and stayed for the duration. Mark Lamb, candidate for sheriff, stopped by our table and stayed for about an hour. I had already voted for him by early ballot – there was something I liked about him from the start. Liz was not so sure. After talking to him, Liz fully supports him and I am even more convince I am supporting the right man for the job.
Jeff Serdy owns the largest gun store in the Valley. He brings his dog, a Heeler, with him to most events. He is no-nonsense and very personable. He hung at our table for a long time, and had intelligent answers to every question posed. It is very likely he will be our next mayor. Christa Rizzi was at our table. She is a current council member. I voted for her last time around, even though I had some reservations. She has my full support this year, as she has proven capable. She is a business owner and an artist, a tattoo graces the corner of one eye.
One thing that most of the candidates that we talked to was a desire to maintain the small town vibe we have. We all want progress, more business, more jobs. But we do not want to become another Scottsdale or Tempe. We have lenient zoning laws allowing horses on properties that other cities are phasing out. We allow chicken coops in residential areas – just no roosters in residential only areas.
A point of consensus is unanimity against a city property tax, and in favor of more city sponsored public events to benefit small businesses. Not that everyone in office is ideal. As I said, AJ is not Mayberry. Yes, we do have that small town vibe. We walked into a crowd of people we have never met, and knew only by our posts on Facebook. But there was a sense of community and a unified cause even on issues where we disagreed. I suppose a ot has to come down to the fact that we are a homogenized community. Most have come from the four corners of the States, bringing the best of what we wanted from our former residences, but arriving here because of the vestiges of the Old West that remain. We desire progress, but not at the expense of steamrollering the history and past that make Apache Junction what it is.