Finding Teachable Moments and Cats
I know I mentioned that this blog would be about success stories with support issues on Chess.com, but I'd like it to be multifaceted, so that if I run out of success stories, I will be able to write about something else! So today I thought I'd write a bit more about my background and the 'why' behind my personal mission to make Chess.com a bit nicer.
I've worked a lot of jobs so far in my life. At age 21 I could count 15 jobs already. I've worked nearly constantly since age 16, with a couple well deserved breaks. My first job was selling fruit drinks at Busch Gardens, Tampa. We were recruited from our high school. It was an easy cashier job, for the most part. My favorite days were when I was a 'Floater' I walked my cash bank from stand to stand and took over for people while they were on their breaks.
In college, I worked for a flower shop/baseball card shop run by a family in Tallahassee. I'd ride my bike to the flower shop to work – cleaning roses of their thorns, watering the greenhouse (good meditation moments), taking phone orders, and wrapping up flowers for customers. When the flower shop closed at 5, I would take the company van to the mall and work another 3 hours selling sports cards and packs of Magic cards to mall goers.
Around that same time, I got a job at a movie theater, working box office. I was hired over the phone because I had previous experience. One of my co-workers, nick-named Mouse, took a liking to me and helped me realize I wasn't drinking enough water for all the biking I was doing. Mouse refused to up sell to customers or to smile when he didn't want to. I really admired his steadfastness of character. I wish I had kept in touch with him to see if he is still this way now.
After college, with a B.A. in English Literature, and thoughts of becoming a high school English teacher, I began substitute teaching. One of my greatest successes and a story I like to tell new friends is when I subbed for a 9th grade English class who had had subs for the previous 3 weeks. The subs had let the class watch Jerry Springer, a popular controversy television show at the time. The class begged me to let them continue watching. They were addicted.
I refused. I couldn't, in good conscience, allow this to continue, but wanting to make this into a teachable moment, I asked the class if they would write their own version of Jerry Springer, and we would perform it in the class the next day. After that, they were happy to read any poem I asked them to read, and we had some great discussions. I wonder what would have happened if I had become their permanent English teacher, and what the members of that class are doing now.
Soon after this I got a job as a customer service agent at an Airline. I worked the gate in Tampa, helping people board airplanes, making sure everyone had everything they needed. There was an opening for a ramp agent in Portland Oregon, so I drove there from Florida with a stop in Norman, Oklahoma to pick up my friend Wyatt who wanted to move to Portland too. My favorite part about working for the airline was the great stories from the old timers who worked there about times they had. When times were slow, we played Frisbee in the hangar. I tried to convince our forklift driver to let me drive the forklift, but he didn't believe I had the necessary experience. (I did!)
In Portland, after staying a couple weeks with a friend, we found people who wanted to rent a house with us and ended up renting a great big house with a separate side building. We lucked upon this house mainly because we were straight-edge at the time and the former occupants had had a meth lab. The landlords were grateful for our healthy lifestyles!
We became the Food Not Bombs Wednesday prep house, and gathered and cooked free produce and tofu from local sources and then took the food to a park to distribute it to the hungry. I loved making and sharing food, it remains one of my favorite hobbies with friends.
We created a show space in the building next door and had quite a few punk shows there, sometimes garnering enough sometimes to help us pay rent. Eventually people would just start showing up at our door, wondering if there was a show happening. Once a couple very inebriated fellows showed up at the door and didn't want to go away. I can't remember exactly what I said, but I remember their response. “Wow, you just told us to leave, and I don't hate you.”
My time in Portland came to a close as my job assignment ended and I had a wedding to attend in Tallahassee. I packed everything up and traveled to Tallahassee, this time with a camper top on my truck and 2 adopted cats. Allistair “Meatball” and Fritz “Poopie” After a day or so of driving, the cats got comfortable and Fritz would lounge on the dashboard in front of me and languidly drape a paw on the steering wheel to help me steer.
Al would wander around, loving the air tunnel between the cab of the truck and the camper, letting the wind blow his ears and whiskers around. When we stopped at rest stops, I would check for dogs and fast moving cars and let them out. Fritz liked to roll on his back in the sun warmed sandy curbs, and Al made for the nearest tree and bolted up. When I was ready to go, I would open food for the cats and they would come right back to me, and hop in the truck. It was a fun drive.
Here's a pic of Allistair "Meatball"
There are many more jobs and adventures in between then and now. I write about this to remind myself that I have used words in a way to create healthy boundaries, I have used words in a way that were not harmful to others. I treasure my friends and I want to be friends with everyone. What I look for in a friend is someone who is trustworthy and nice. I also understand that I too, need to be trustworthy and nice, – to offer what I seek in friendship and life.
I came from being a social-anarchist-punk-vegan-straight-edge non-conformer, to a craft beer and music loving, not-so-politically minded, fun-loving systems thinker who finally found a company worth belonging to. I love Chess.com and I'm proud to be part of it.
I hope with this blog, you will understand my character a bit better. Soon I will be changing my username from the tart, not widely known, member of the lime family, Calamondin, to my real name. It's time to show up.