An old dog struggles to learn new tricks — but refuses to roll over or play dead


“Daddy, you smell like Sizzli.”
I had just walked in the door after my overnight shift, and we were in the midst of our 3-way turnaround — Mom leaves for work, I get our daughter to the bus stop, and I come home and consider going to sleep.
This all unfolds over 10 or so minutes.
How does she even know how a Sizzli smells? Meat — bacon, ham, sausage — is on every one, and we don’t eat meat.
Sizzlis can be my downfall. Despite my best efforts, I’m just not fast enough at assembling, cooking and boxing the breakfast sandwiches (and making hash browns).
Everything is hand-stamped with an expiration time — 1 hour. The two for $3 special cranks up the pressure.
Hmmm. It just occurred to me that not saying anything of substance here.
Maybe it’s because writing has always been a critical outlet for me and I’m uncontrollably compelled to do it. Emotions get bottled up inside of me, and committing these thoughts to paper (yeah, old school) helps relieve the pressure. Most of what I write is bitter, critical and personal.
That’s taught me a valuable lesson. If you’re writing a caustic note or email to someone, hang on to it.
At least wait and let your emotions cool.
I think it’s that bottled up stuff that’s moving my fingers right now.
By the way, it’s OK to leave this blog entry now. I wouldn’t blame you. “What the heck is he talking about?”
Smelling like Sizzli is the iceberg — just the tip of the issue.
I have never been so challenged by any employment situation as I am right now.
I’m an old dog and I’m desperately trying to learn new tricks. But I can handle many of the tasks — but not consistently. I can’t grasp and remember how to execute essential processes.

I may be an old dog, but I’m a pitbull with plenty of bite left in him. I am not a quitter and when I commit to something, it gets 100% from me. This is a challenge, not a failure.
Let me point out that Wawa is an outstanding organization, and a successful business because of the standards and required responsibility. Time is money. Employee competency is paramount — no room for freestylin’.
My background as a business writer is useless.
It’s a whole new world for me. My shift runs from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. I misread the schedule, for the second time in less than a week, and showed up to work tonight when I wasn’t scheduled. The first time was amusing. Tonight I felt like an idiot when two 21-year-olds told me I wasn’t on the schedule.
The shift encompasses a demanding, constant regimen of duties. To keep up, you need to stay near full speed or in overdrive for the entire 8 hours.
I’ve spent 8 hours on my feet without a break. (Try that when you’re 56 and out of shape). Most nights, I can grab 5 or so minutes to gulp down the lunch I packed.
What I’m expected to do every night?
Handle food preparation — sandwiches, side dishes and special beverages. Change sanitary gloves constantly. Properly using utensils (must be certified in knife handling) and appliances. Making bread and tracking expiration times, through a series of essential steps. Putting away stock from nightly shipments. Dissembling, cleaning and refilling several dispensing machines, Cleaning and stocking the coffee station every hour; making dozens of pots of coffee. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping floors. Pulling the right stock from the packed-to -the-gills cold box — must be most recent expiration date. Putting away stock in the cold box and rotating stock. Retrieving stock from the walk-in freezer. Running the cash register. Restocking the racks of cigarettes with cartons delivered that night.
Checking prepared food items in the cold case on the floor and dairy products. Making every effort to limit “spoilage” each night.  Emptying trash, breaking down cardboard boxes and using the industrial compactor in the trash room.
All this is precise and usually is according to strict “plan-a-grams”. There’s no margin for error in timing and accurate placement
There’s more.
Whew. That sure sounds like a lot of whining. It is. I’m not special. All of this is expected of everyone — even the managers are constantly working in the trenches.
OK. Now I’ve ejected these bottled up emotions (not paper this time). It’s time to stop feeling sorry for myself and remove my head from my you-know-what.
I need to do all of this. I can do this. I can be a stellar employee.
It’s my job and we can’t get by without it. I have no options.
One good thing: Since I showed up at work tonight when I wasn’t scheduled, I won’t smell like Sizzli on the way to the bus stop.

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