I'm very much in love with: 1.) Portland, and 2.) my job lately. Not sure why, though I have some theories I won't bother to try and articulate right now. As the bus glides down Russel towards Interstate, and the full arc of the Fremont Bridge suddenly looms on the horizon, I get such a happy feeling. Even yesterday, at 12:55, when I was on my way back downtown, back to my job, where I'd been since 8am and where I'd remain until midnight. Even then I felt happy.
But why was I in service of the Oasis from 8am to midnight yesterday? It's like this. And technically we should back up, because the story isn't complete unless you also realize that it starts Tuesday night, getting off work at midnight, rushing to the bus to get home as early as possible to try and get as much sleep as I could before I had to wake up at 6:30am for a shower. Because the shower was non-negotiable.
So the story starts with five and a half hours of sleep. I knew I'd be running like mad all day, so I took care of myself in the morning. I made myself a yummy fried egg and cheese sandwich on a whole-grain english muffin to carry me a little while. Then I headed off (in my car) to the Oasis for a mandatory medication training. I've had this particular med training about seven-hundred times because I've worked at the Oasis for so long, but it's always a manageable experience.
Two-and-a-half hours later, glazed and groggy, I stumbled down out of the loft (where we have all our meetings) and headed to the basement for the banana boxes. Why banana boxes? Because that's how we transport the Safeway bread donation. Why bread? Because that's what people at the Oasis eat between meals. I recently succumbed to guilt and volunteered to start picking up our Wednesday bread donation because, due to staff switches, we no longer have anybody working dayshift on Wednesdays with a car. And the bread donation cannot be picked up on a bicycle. Or a Friday.
So I dragged the big, empty banana boxes up from the basement, collared a coworker, Dree, and shoved them all in my car and off we went to Safeway. To pick up the bread donation, you drive to the back end of the Safeway downtown, and you push a little black button by the receiving dock. Then you wait. Legend has it, some folks have had to wait on the receiving dock for up to a half an hour before the little manager woman waddles down the stairs and lets you in the security door. So far, that little woman has shown up within two minutes of buzzing every time. Which has been twice. So I'm crossing my fingers that this promptness continues.
The little waddling lady takes us up the stairs and directs us to an array of shopping carts, all filled with the too-old-to-sell bread, and that's when we swing into action, packing it up in the banana boxes, as much as we can cram. Not just bread, but also cakes and pies and pastries. Whatever the bakery people are getting rid of, that's what we can take. Then we sign some forms and off we go. And this is where it's helpful to have a helper, because two people can carry all the bread to the car in one trip and the little waddling lady doesn't have to keep letting you in and out the security door. Done like this, it doesn't take more than a half an hour, from leaving the Oasis, to getting back. And that ain't so bad. It's just a shame that it has to happen during a part of the day when I'm not usually at work...
So, by 11:00 we were back at the Oasis, unpacking the bread into the fridges downstairs. Quicklike. Then I headed off to the goddamn Dollar Tree at the Lloyd Center Mall for bingo prizes. I have a love-hate relationship with my Wednesday night bingo games at the Oasis. Mostly I hate going to the dollar store for prizes. The dollar store is, in my opinion, the epitome of everything that is bad about America. A surplus of cheap shit, much of which is completely worthless. But guess what, you can buy it! Yay!
Bingo prize favorites include: microwave popcorn (by far the most popular, I buy a ton of it), followed closely by Little Debbie type snack cakes (very popular indeed), then waaaaaaay below these two are things like sunglasses, bottles of conditioner, flashlights w/ batteries, notebooks. It's really a gamble with the non-edible prizes. I can never really tell what people are going to like and what they're going to pick over and ignore. And I'm just waiting for one of the shady cashiers (because it seems that only really shady people want to work at the dollar store) to look me up and down and say "girl, you must really like you some damn Swiss Cake Rolls," as he's scanning the fifth box, so I can say, "Oh, this shit isn't for me. It's bingo prizes for homeless people." Although, I'm not sure if that will help my cause at all.
Anyway, I hate the dollar store, but there I was, I did my thing and then, my shameful admission, I went to Wendy's and got myself a crispy chicken sandwich off the dollar menu for lunch. And fries. And a chocolate frosty. Because who's got time to cook on a day like that? Not me.
I ate my fast-food-nation lunch in my car listening to the '80s station and watching the traffic on MLK go by. That was picturesque. Then I took the bingo prizes back to the Oasis and drove my car back home. I had a solid half hour to relax in the comfort of my own home before I had to head to the bus to go back downtown to begin my new case management duties by 1:00.
What's this? Case management? Yeah, for five hours a week, three of us lowly peons at the Oasis are doing some interim case management until they find a replacement for Kiwi who used to be a stellar case manager and who is now our (probably stellar also) boss. I did three hours of case management yesterday, from 1 until 4, and that's when I got the great news that one of my coworkers (the notoriously worthless Fat Tony) had called in sick! Why not? He's leaving next week to go work on the great American novel, why should he bother showing up to any of his last shifts??
We couldn't find coverage for his shift, so my very dependable coworker KT and I ended up working the shift alone. Kiwi felt so bad for us, that she gave us twenty bucks out of petty cash to order a pizza since we wouldn't be able to take breaks and go get food. And you know what I realized? I realized that working with free pizza is better than working with Fat Tony.
Turns out KT had also been working since 8am, and we were both really exhausted. As a special treat, in honor of our very long day and our exhaustion, the Oasis was a'buzz with the kind of fucked up energy that is usually associated with the full moon. Everybody was loud, people were angry with each other, there were tons of near-fights and the place was crazy with middle-school drama. And we had Wednesday night bingo. Rad.
By midnight, I was practically delirious with exhaustion. I drifted to the bus stop, nearly fell asleep with my head against the cool brick of the bank building which I tend to lean against while I'm waiting for the number 8 to roll up. Then I had this long, dreamy sort of hallucination throughout the busride. I thought about my first days in Portland and how much I love this little city. And then I got loose and dreamy and started looking far out the windows, wondering who was awake out there, who was on the passing MAX train, where were they going, what would it be like to be them...
I barely remember my walk from the bus stop to my house. I just remember it was slow, like I was floating. And then I went to sleep. And I had really weird dreams. And then I woke up and wrote a really long blog post which will probably not be read in it's entirety by anyone except me and possibly SK. The end.