Happy Thanksgiving and Working On Holidays

I am working today, believe it or not. Just a somewhat short shift and I’m not opening or closing, and I’ll be done by early afternoon. I’m not expecting the store to be too busy, maybe some last-minute purchasing of forgotten ingredients and a visit from a few of our regulars, but that’ll be it.

For the most part, I’ve always worked through the holiday season, quite often on the holiday itself, or the night before, so I’m quite used to it. It is what it is. Even during the Former Day Job when business was as dead as it could possibly be, I was on the clock ‘just in case’, and maybe the managers would let us clock out an hour early. [I did have a not-so-friendly conversation with a former manager once about trying to get some holiday days off but was told “it took me twenty years to be able to get Christmas week off.” To which I responded “yes, and I’m in my 40s and older than you, and I really don’t want to have to wait until I’m 60 to get a chance at it.” But I digress.]

Working retail during the holiday season isn’t always for the weak of heart, especially at certain outlets geared specifically for it. My years at HMV were always crazy from late September until the end of the year. Even working in a warehouse like I did at Yankee Candle was exhausting. Thankfully my current position at a shop geared just towards the local neighborhood lends itself to a finite amount of volume. We might have a torrent of shoppers, but never for extended periods of time on the daily.

I’ve learned to enjoy working the holidays, to be honest. Exhausting as it might be, I love the connection with the public. In my Boston years, I’d make work fun and then feel that link when I rode the T back to my apartment. At YC my coworkers and I would occasionally go to the local diner or bar for brunch after our shift. I kind of lost that during the Former Day Job years to be honest, but it feels like the Current Day Job will give that to me once more.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable, safe and sane holiday season!

Fly-By: Happy Holidays

Taking this week off from the music blog because why not? I felt like relaxing on the days leading up to Christmas. The shopping is done, the boxes are put away, and the nog is mixed in with my morning coffee. Life is good.

In the meantime, here’s the London Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. We went to see San Francisco Ballet’s performance on the 12th — we go every single year (and streamed it from their site when there were none due to Covid) — and I’ve come to love this work from one of my favorite composers.

Happy holidays! See you next week for the year-end mixtape and best-of lists!

Christmas Time Is Here Again

So.  Here we are on Black Friday.  A. has the day off today and is in the other room listening to podcasts while I’m stuck here in Spare Oom until 4pm.  Neither of us are going to be heading out for any shopping any time soon (unless that includes heading to the local corner store for a few groceries).  She’s done most of her shopping online, and I’ll be doing that later today myself.

With the many post-college jobs I’ve held over the years, I’m used to working on holidays and busy shopping times.  I dealt with the Q4 sales season at HMV for a few years which actually started mid-September but really kicked into high gear on Black Friday; that’s when we’d put out all the Christmas cds and prepare the huge amount of backstock of the big sellers.  During the Yankee Candle years my schedule got truly wonky; ten-hour days, six days a week, and quadruple the volume going out.  Between those two jobs, it’s a wonder I still found the time to write!  [Noted, I did get sick a lot more often at that time, due to exhaustion and unhealthy eating and smoking habits.]

Even when I moved away from the retail and warehouse jobs, I still had to deal with the public: the last snowy commute when I lived in New Jersey, the last-minute calls of businesses holding their banking until the absolute last minute, and so on.  I don’t think I’ve ever taken any Christmas-season weeks off in my life, at least not without chalking them up as sick days.

So yeah, I’m well-versed in holiday stress.

That said…I do my best not to let it get to me.  Sure, I completely understand the irritation of long lines, clueless shoppers, squealing kids, long work hours, and so on.  But I decided early on that these petty grievances are part and parcel of the experience, and chose not to dwell on them.  Too often, negativity spawns more negativity.  My complaining about the idiot in front of me to the guy behind me is going to make that guy think ‘you know, you’re right’, and he’ll end up in a bad mood.  Life’s too short to be irritated by everything under the sun.*

This is the time of year where I choose to embrace everything good that’s happened, on a personal level and otherwise.  Time to listen to all the great albums that came out this year.  Time to bask in the fact that I self-published a book, with three others coming out in the not-too-distant future.  Time to think about how lucky I am to have great friends and family.  Time to think about how awesome A. is.  And just enjoy the positivity that comes around.


* – Granted…this isn’t about me willfully ignoring truly bad things in the world.  I’m just as frustrated and saddened as most people by the events in Paris, the Syrian refugee situation, and at this very moment, the shooting in Colorado Springs, for example.  The point to this post is about dealing with petty irritations that really don’t amount to much in the grander scheme of things.