Posts Tagged ‘Alabama’

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Yes, the picture says it all about my back to work blues

Wow, it’s been almost four months since I was last laid off. I can’t believe it’s been that long. Summertime is in full swing, and I’ve been enjoying my lengthy vacation here at home. Movies, theme parks, video games, and having my niece and nephew here for some fun in the sun has been great. However, all good things have to come to an end. This means that I need to start thinking about what I’m going to do about going back to work, because unemployment isn’t going to last forever.

Working as a union electrician can be a tough life. Sometimes the going is good when work is in abundance especially when I was working at the nuke plant in Port St. Lucie. Of course with all the good comes the bad when things get slow. A partial solution to that mess would be for me to head out on the road. I’ve , found some small jobs in Georgia and Alabama, but these are only temporary solutions just to pad my bank account so that I don’t have to worry about going broke. I will say that I enjoy the freedom of working on the road, but I’d rather be home instead so that I can be close to family as well as sort out my personal life.

Part of me wishes that I made a career in the video game industry reviewing games and stuff. Unfortunately that didn’t happen so I need to think more realistically and constructively. So what are my options? Well here’s a few options that have been floating around.

OPTION 1: Fort Lauderdale
Well it looks like a fall outage at the nuke plant at Port St. Lucie is coming up. It’s not like the long outages that I’ve had in the past, but for a chance to work near home for 2-3 months would be nice. Sadly, the company may be only looking for 35 guys to man the job which makes this a longshot for me since I’m near the bottom of the book. Maybe they can add a stipulation for badging within in the last six months which would be right up my alley. There’s also work coming up at the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport and the Broward County Courthouse, but I’ve heard those rumors for the last two years and nothing has happened yet.

OPTION 2: Orlando
Disney’s D23 Expo is coming up next month. At the convention they’re expected to announce a full overhaul to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Star Wars Land, Monstropolis, and Cars Land) as well as the Avatar Land project for Animal Kingdom. These projects are expected to last at least three years which would give me some stability as well as being close to home. Disney always hires union contractors which is good news for me. The bad news is that the pay scale kind of sucks, but I can still make a good profit in the long run. The big question however is when this will all start.

OPTION 3: South Carolina
I haven’t done any work in the Charleston area so an initial signing of their book is needed. I’m hearing about a Google facility which will be a long term job for up to a year. A couple of guys from my local plan on heading there and asked me to tag along. Sounds like some good work as long as the books aren’t  jammed with names and hurricane season misses the coast. The other bad news is that I won’t be able to pick up my PlayStation 4 on launch day. I have it paid off so it looks like someone else will have to pick it up for me and I’ll bring it back to Charleston after Thanksgiving.

OPTION 4: Alabama
Ok, this is the worst case scenario due to the fact that there won’t be any new jobs coming until 2014 at the nuke plant in Athens. Two outages are planned in February and in October. Chances of me snagging those jobs if I have nothing else for the rest of this year are very good, but waiting for these opportunities to come up is not a good idea because it’s a drain on my bank account. I need something before that so here’s hoping it doesn’t come down to this.

Well, those are my options. What do I do? at least I have some time to figure it all out. Here’s hoping for the best. Also if anyone is looking for an editor for their gaming site let me know.

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With the game starting to get out of hand, Brent Musberger decides to shift the attention from the National Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame to something a bit more eventful. That would be AJ McCarron’s girlfriend, and 2012 Ms. Alabama, Katherine Webb.

Yes, it has finally happened. Time for my summer vacation to end and work to begin. Six painful weeks I suffered as I went to my union hall for the disappointing news of my number not getting called. Happy to see some of my brothers and sisters get the call to head out to work. Some who’ve been out of work for a long time now enjoying that big paycheck. I wondered when it was going to be my time. Six weeks of dreaming for those big weekly pay days that will pad my growing bank account. Yesterday, that dream came true. Barely.

For a period of time during this 17 man call for the St. Lucie Nuclar Plant I didn’t think they would reach my number. Low numbers highlighted the early going with people I’ve never heard of. Then they reached the 100s. I was at #137. I had a chance. All of a sudden some brothers “passed” on the call. A smile then went across my face. It was coming. The 14th number called was mine. I jumped up and said “Yes!” I’m in! Then it hit me. If nobody passed on the call I would’ve had to wait another week. Maybe even wonder if I would make the cut at all.

After receiving my work referral the first thing that popped in my head was “I’m going back to work! No more crappy unemployment money!” Then another thought hit me. “Oh shit, I’m going back to work!” No more vacation. No more slacking off. Soon it would be time to put the tools back in my hands and do the job asked of me for the next few months. At least the paycheck is worth it.

Tomorow I’ll be packing my bags and making my way to Hutchinson Island for the weekend. Get myself settled in and do some grocery shopping. Oh yeah, and I’ll be heading to the movie thether to go see The Dark Knight Rises. Like I’m going to miss that. Fat chance! Once Monday at 6am comes around reality will hit me once again. I can’t say what I’m doing when I’m there, because that would get me in trouble. Good news is that come November I’ll be laid off and back home once again for the holidays with the family while getting ready for a return trip to Athens, Alabama next year.

That phrase in the title says it all, because it sure has become a recurring theme for the past few weeks. Drive 100 miles from my home in Palm Bay to West Palm Beach where my local union hall is located hoping to hear my number called so that I can go back to work at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant outage. Once again the disappointment fills my eyes as my number doesn’t get called. How much longer do I have to wait?

Every week for the last month and change I’ve showed up at the hall and signed the day book hoping for the best. The only part that sucks is when I pull into the parking lot and see it full of cars with my local brothers and sisters all wanting the same thing. A large majority of the people there I worked with on the previous outage making it a reunion. I’m all happy when their numbers get called, but sad at the same time when I still have to wait on the pine pony. They ask me when I’m getting out there. I tell them “I really don’t know.”

Now let me just state for the record that I’m enjoying my so-called “vacation time” resting up for the busy fall and winter seasons ahead of me working 6 days a week, 12 hours a day at the nuke plant for the upcoming outages. Time off between jobs is great, but after awhile you get that itch. The greedy itch of wanting to go back and make that sweet check every week once again. I miss those paydays. Unemployment money sucks!

What really busts my bubble is that every week I move closer and closer in the book for the call, however each week I feel like I’m so far away. The recordings on the night before state “Red Badge Preferred” which is where I fit in, but when the callout comes around the next morning they just end up taking the first person available. Some people with extremely low numbers show up out of nowhere and take the calls. Some even get spun around failing background checks and get sent back to the hall hurting those who’ve been patiently waiting. People like me.

So here I wait. Waiting on the opportunity to go back. Will it happen? Who knows. All I know Is that I’m not waiting forever. Today I also signed a road book in Alabama to head back to Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant for two upcoming outages. Who will call first? I’ll just have to wait and see. I think I need a beer.

Unemployment really sucks. Why? Because my issues with collecting my benefits has once again hit another big roadblock. All I want is to make my time while I wait for the next job to be as painless as possible. Once again that is not the case as my frustrations continue. I told you before that the unemployment agency’s goal is to not pay you. So here’s what happened this time.

Two weeks after I filed my initial claim I had to claim weeks to gain benefits. I did all the work on the computer including adding my work searches (which is telling them that I called the union hall…truth), but there was something that seemed to bother me. I never received anything in the mail that my claim was approved. There was plenty of times where I claimed weeks only to receive nothing because the agency decided to put a “flag” on my account just to be a pain in the ass. Well I decided that this time I would call them to find out what ws going on.

As I called the unemployment agency, I gave them my information and here’s what the “supposedly kind” lady on the line told me. She told me that I had a waiting week and that I wouldn’t get paid.

“Oh hell no!” is what I told her. “I already served a waiting week two months ago when I first claimed this year. That was the only week I was out of work before I went to Alabama. I’m not getting screwed by serving a second one.”

She replied “Oh, I’m sorry. I just noticed that you did so we’re going to pay you for one week.”

“Wait just a minute. What about the other week.” I know what’s coming. I’m about to get fucked again.

“Well sir, according to our records you claimed that on the week ending May 13 you claimed over $1,000.”

“Claimed $1,000 say what lady!” My attitude clearly changed by this point. Maybe because I wanted to see where that money was so I can have it.

“Yes sir, you made a claim that you made money on that week.” She was getting pretty stern by this point.

“I got laid off on Friday, May 11 lady. I made no money that week.”

“Well sir, what we’ll have to do is make a written claim and send it to Tallahassee to get it cleared up.”

My usual response is “How long is this going to take?” Now all I can think about is the past few times where they fucked me. This is going to take months of me fighting, frustration, pulling my hair out, and absolute agony just to get $275. Money which will mean absolutely nothing, because I’ll already be working again. I think their goal is to see if I’ll forget about it. Then again I’m Jewish. We never forget about money no matter how small it is.

She told me that it would only take 7-10 days. Business days that is. Of course I wasn’t buying into this, but what else could I do. You would think that they would just fix this right away so I wouldn’t have to go through all these problems, but then I remebered that this is the state unempoyment agency. After being put on hold for another 15 minutes, where I had to listen to awful elevator music that could put you to sleep, she came back on the line to tell me that the paperwork was on the way for me to fill out. Great…all this paperwork for money that may never arrive, but they sure will tax you on it come January. Well on that note, let me raise a beer and toast to another two months of fighting the unemployment agency. I hate Rick Scott!

Unemployment…what a joke.

Well there is good news. My union hall has been calling out for the job at the St. Lucie Nuclear Plant starting yesterday and will continue every week. They didn’t reach my number yet (number 224 in the book), but they should get there in the next two weeks. The unemployment blues could soon be over.

Six Weeks. Fifteen dealerships. After all the insanity the end of the road is finally here. It’s been a roller coaster ride, but now I’ve reached the end of a journey that maybe wasn’t really needed. Seriously speaking, the whole search for the “Holy Grail” known as the Camaro ZL1 was nothing short of a monumental disaster. A lot of time and effort put in to a dream that would not come true. Of course, I’m not going to call this a total loss, because it made me appreciate what I already have even more than ever before.

Let me rewind the clock back about one year ago. While I was working during my first stint up in Alabama I came to a decision to get rid of my Ford Mustang. Sure I enjoyed the car, but there was one thing that really bothered me. Everyone has one. The Ford Mustang is nothing more than a popular yet common muscle car. You never really stand out from other people unless you own a Shelby GT500. Just think about it. Take a drive and count how many Mustangs you see in a five mile radius and you’ll get my point. Now I did consider buying a 2012 Ford Mustang GT at the time, but a certain Ford dealership in Dothan, AL was trying to fuck me by coming up with their own interest rates, but that’s a story for another day.

I always had in mind getting a Camaro. Like the Mustang, the Camaro has a strong tradition. I really became sold on the fifth generation car after watching the Transformers movie, however you couldn’t buy the car at least until 2010. Well I went to the Chevy dealership and there she was. The 2011 Camaro SS. I took a test drive and I was immediately in love. Sure the salesman thought I would be an impulse buyer and try to fuck me in the process, but I had other plans. Four other dealerships and the specific car I was looking for. The upper hand was mine and I made five dealerships fight for my business. The end result was the price went down. Two weeks later the V8 bad boy was all mine putting a smile on my face. Everyone around town was now looking at me and what I had.

Why do I mention all of this. Because at the time I made a statement. “This is my keeper. I’m not buying another car.” I was one hundered percent satisfied and for all this time I kept to my word. That is until another car crossed my path. The 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The top of the line. The ultimate Camaro. Speed personified. When I first gazed eyes on it online I couldn’t turn away from the screen. I had to wipe up all the drool over the sexiness of this supercharged V8 car. If the SS is “The Beast,” then the ZL1 is “Godzilla.” I then thought about my statement and realized that I was about to do the one thing I said I wouldn’t do. I cheated.

For the past few weeks the ether was high. The juice was worth the squeeze. However, what evolved as I went from dealership to dealership started to eat away at that juice. It even made me think twice about what I already had. The mere thought of cheating raced through my mind like a disease. I kept asking myself if this was really needed. To trade one Camaro in for another. I must be out of my mind. Dealerships kept making promises they couldn’t keep. Even the thought of ordering a 2013 model year gave them the “cha-ching” look in their eyes as they would ask for security deposits of $500, $1,000, or even $10,000 just to see how serious I was. These people were sizing me up just to see if I had the green or wasting their time. I’m sorry, but I’m not giving a dealership $10,000 of my hard earned money just to order a car that’s not even made, or on a hunch that the car might possibly show up in around six months. Nothing was guaranteed. Shit, it was only last week when I finally stepped foot in the ZL1 and then the dealership tried to fuck me with the paperwork. It was then when it finally dawned on me.

What the hell was I doing?

It was at that moment, after six long weeks of wasted time, that the dream came to an end. I needed to move on. It was time to let the ZL1 go.

Throughout this whole excruciating process I always wondered if I was doing the right thing. What if I just changed my mind and decide to upgrade my own ride. My 2011 Camaro SS looked like she was begging for more. Superchargers, exhaust packages, leather interior. The options were endless. That’s when I made the decision to keep what I had and upgrade instead. When the first upgrades we’re completed last week I had a smile on my face for the first time in what felt like a long time. I put ZL1 type upgrades into my car and it feels so good. The acceleration is faster than ever before. The roar of the supercharger wakes up the whole neighborhood. The looks I get from people as I drive by is priceless. The comments of “nice car man” are back. All I could think about was how I made the right decision. In the end, the juice was definitely worth the squeeze…with my own car.

Ok car sales people, we all know how the game works. When a customer strolls in looking to make a purchase of a new or used car your goal is to make sure you keep them there as long as humanly possible. We all know those long waits they make us go through just so they can talk to the sales manager to see where they can profit most from. The other rule is to never let you leave. Leaving customers lead to possible lost sales…or do they?

In my last episode, I stormed out of a dealership after they tried to fuck me over with a $10,000 price bump along with offering $4,000 less on my trade. Add that all up and you have $14,000 in profit which would give this salesman plenty of pizza and beer for a year, or at least a trip to Las Vegas where he can blow his money on the craps tables and hookers. Now don’t get me wrong. I love the new Camaro ZL1, but I don’t love it that much when a dealership wants to publicly rape me in the process.

Now I’ve already decided that the ZL1s “juice” is no longer worth the squeeze. The ether is gone and I’ve moved on to upgrading my 2011 Camaro SS. Actually as we speak the crew at Rosner Chevrolet has already put on the new 21″ black wheels which I showed off on my Twitter and Facebook pages. They’re also installing a brand new Edelbrock E-Force supercharger as well as a Flowmaster exhaust package (spared no expense). Of course this is only “Stage 1” of the process to personalize my Camaro. “Stage 2” only requires minor details and will be performed at a later date.

Well before I go completely off topic let me go back to the salesman bravado of never letting the customer leave. While this particular salesman let me leave the dealership, I guess he had a change of heart in the next 48 hours that followed. That’s right. The son-of-a-bitch called me back and still wanted my business. So here’s what went down over the phone earlier today.

“Hello Brian, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry that we were not able to put you in the new ZL1 a couple of days ago. I was wondering if you were still interested in the car.”

Now I didn’t want to tell the guy that I wasn’t interested, or making the upgrades to my current ride (at least not yet), so I decided to play along. “Well, let’s see. I drove all the way to your dealership to buy a car only to get publicly humiliated and ass raped at the same time while you smile your way to the bank with the profits. Hmm…I really don’t know anymore. Do you think I should still be interested?”

The salesman replies “Well I apologize for any inconveniences that took place. I realized that maybe we got off on the wrong foot in the negotiations.”

“Negotiations? What negotiations? What I distinctly remember is the $14,000 you all tried to rip me off on, and then tell me what this car would go for on eBay.”

“Well Brian, I think that we can come to a better deal today. I saw the website and noticed that you were correct all along. We believe that the customer is always right. I’m willing to sell the car at the original price that was found on the Chevrolet website.”

Wow, what balls this guy has. Now he wants to come clean. So I ranted on. “So let me get this straight. At first you wanted to rip me off, then say that you were wrong, and now you want to offer me the car at the original price that it should have been in the first place. Wow, what happened. Did the truth fairy come by and tell you that you needed to stop the sleazy salesman lies. Is your sales manager low on crack and didn’t get his fix? What gives?”

“Well Brian we knew that you were really interested in the ZL1 and we want to sell this car to you.”

“Now you want to sell the car to me. What happened to Alabama man? Did he have a moment of clarity after slapping his wife around after a night of bowling with the guys and telling her that he can do whatever he wants? Did someone on eBay reject their bid? Did a Craigslist buyer change their mind? C’mon, you guys are eBay Chevrolet. With your overinflated trendy prices you should have no problem selling cars.”

You would think that the salesman would get a little upset and hang up the phone, but he didn’t. He took insult after insult from me. There must be some sort of incentive he gets for selling me the car. A day off, steak dinner, hookers, something other than the commission. He replied “I understand that your upset, and as I stated earlier we want to sell this car to you. My question is what would it take to get you in this car today?”

“Well lets see, hmm…you took off the $10,000 price hike to give me original price. Well that’s no good enough. I want full trade in value for my car and I’ll be willing to buy the car at $56,000 out the door.”

“Brian, I can’t go that low. My sales manager won’t approve that.”

“Of course you can. I don’t care about your sales manager. Remember that you want to put me in the car today, and you’ll do anything to make it happen. Well that’s my deal. Time is money my friend, and this deal won’t get any higher.”

“Well I guess we can work out something, but let me ask you that if I can’t get him to agree right away, up to what price would you be willing to pay?”

I knew this was coming, “Ah the old “up to” game. I love this one. Well what part of $56,000 out the door and full trade did you not get? Now the price is $55,000. Do you want to sell this car or not?”

“Brian, we can’t go that low. I guess you really don’t want the car. I don’t think we can do business anymore.”

The cat was finally out of the bag. It was time to end this conversation. “I knew we couldn’t do business when you tried to sell me a “bare bones” ZL1 at an overinflated price. Besides, I really don’t want the car anymore since I’m upgrading my own ride. I have to go now.  I wish you the best of luck in selling that car, and tell the gold folks at eBay Chevrolet that I said hello. Good day sir!”

That was all. No more battling sales people for a car I don’t want. As I’m writing this I just received a call from Bill Schultz Chevrolet in Fort Pierce, FL and they have a black 2012 ZL1 in stock that they want to sell me. How should I reply to them?

And the hits just keep on coming.