Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

The election is over…

Ok, so maybe they were still counting votes in my state of Florida this morning, but the decision for President has ended. Mitt Romney has finally conceded, and Barack Obama has earned a second term. Of course not everyone out there is happy with the decision. Many Republicans today are angry. We’ve once again become a nation divided by red and blue states. Now the biggest challenge for President Obama awaits. It’s time for a nation to heal from the wounds of Election Day, and once again become united and not divided.

Throughout the night I was on pins and needles seeing the returns watching Romney take the lead in electoral votes (especially early), but I was still confident considering the fact that I knew the Northeast and the West would go blue.  I was excited when the state of Ohio put the President over the top. I began tweeting and posting on Facebook that my union job was safe. No longer did I have to worry about union busting, right to work laws, and the end of collective bargaining and project labor agreements…for now at least.

As I woke up this morning after all the late night speeches I felt like a winner. A winner not because I chose the right candidate for the job, but for taking part in the voting process. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, because in the end America won. The people who voted early and on Election Day were the real winners. We focused on the issues and made our voices heard loud and clear. I always feel a sense of pride when I vote, because my singular voice carries weight as a citizen of this great nation. For those of you out there who didn’t vote…well shame on you.

Now it’s time to return to reality. It’s a new day, and life continues to go forward no matter who you voted for. It’s time to let go of your anger if your candidate lost. Time to remove all the signs and banners that line our roads. We must now come together as a nation to face the challenges ahead. Together we will achieve. Together we will overcome.

You know what the best part is now after this election? No more campaign ads! I never thought I would say this, but it’s nice to see actual commercials once again. Oh yeah, and there’s the celebration of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

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.

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.

One of the concepts that I’m used to as a union electrician is that no matter what job I take the goal is still the same: work yourself out of a job. Unemployment is a given and filing claims after my layoffs is part of my job. Yeah the funds really suck (Florida benefits equal $275 weekly), but in the big picture it’s better than nothing at all. All the bills get paid and allows me to live easier each day as I wait for the next job. For awhile, filing unemployment and claiming benefits was a breeze. I never had much of a problem when claiming. I went online and answered the questions and my money was deposited a couple of days later. No hassles. No problems. Unfortunately things have changed and it’s starting to piss me off.

In the past couple of years claiming my benefits have been met with opposition from the unemployment agency where they would hold back my money by making me fill out questionnaires which also included work searches. I sent it in within the ten day period, but then the agency told me they never received it. That’s bullshit! I had to fight it for a month before they finally paid me when I threatened a possible lawsuit. Another situation happened a year later where they held back my money again for over two months so that they can start a new payable year in between so that they didn’t have to pay me for at least one week. I threatened again and the money arrived a month later only to find out that the check was sent to the wrong address. I told them it never arrived and it took another month for the new check to arrive my current residence. I did have direct deposit, but they didn’t want to utilize it. What the fuck is wrong with that?

Just recently I had to file unemployment once again. However everything has changed. Now just to collect benefits I had to complete an initial skills test as well as complete a weekly job search with five jobs. Ok, the job search is not a problem because all I have to do is call the union hall even though a representative did have a problem with it. Sounds like the unemployment agencies are anti-union to me. The initial skills test is also bullshit. Can someone please tell me what the point of this stupid test is? They say it is to help out in a search for jobs. Does the unemployment agency actually find you employers? I find that hard to believe because no matter how many times I’ve filed I had to find my own work. In my opinion, the Initial Skills Test is nothing more than a useless addition to make you work harder just to gain a pitiful payment. Whatever happened to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)?

Through the years I’ve realized that unempoyment compensation is not really a benefit. You can barely live on the money to begin with and the unemployment agency is basically on a mission not to pay you. Of course their second mission is to screw you over every chance they get. Filing for unemployment has become a joke as they require you to fill out so much shit so you can get shit in return. Rumors fly with what’s next on the horizon which include drug testing (which you pay for) and volunteering your time one day a week along with trying to find work in between. I understand that you want to weed out the deadbeats but this is really getting out of hand. We need to go back to the old system which was working just fine.

OK, so I thought that ordering a 2013 Camaro ZL1 would be the way to go. However, in the past week several dealerships were trying to offer me a 2012 model. While my excitement peaked I still decided to keep my cool just in case they were all full of shit. Well it turns out that they all were exactly that. So it was time to make another decision. Do I stay the course, or move on to greener pastures with my current Camaro SS? Well here’s my story.

As I was getting ready to leave Alabama, Rick Hendrick Chevrolet continued to call me about their shipment of ZL1s. In a previous entry I mentioned how they were full of themselves because the cars never arrived. That is still true to this date. No cars, no business…period! Sadly, they never really got the message very well because they keep on calling me for customer satisfaction surveys. Now what part of me would be satisfied when you don’t have the cars that you promised?

Back in Florida, I received a call today from Bob Steele Chevrolet in Cocoa Beach. they had a 2012 ZL1 in stock and ready to sell. At first I thought that it was too good to be true. Turns out that when I arrived they actually meant what they said. There she was in the color of Victory Red. “Victory!” is what I claimed. I sat in the car and was instantly in love. Godzilla was here for real, and it was everything that I wanted. Now the salesperson a wanted to bring me in for the sale. Get the paperwork ready man. Let’s make a deal!

Now before you all think I went into this deal blind, let me assure you that I did all my homework before arriving. I knew the price of the car, what I could work the dealer down to, as well as the value of my trade. I was ready to make the deal until the paperwork arrived and that’s when the ether left the room. How did I feel? Well this clip will sum it all up.

This is when you learn that when things are too good to be true, they usually are. The fucking was now underway. I don’t know what was up with this salesman, but you could smell the shitstorm coming from a mile away. He arrives with the paperwork from his sales manager which now shows a $10,000 bump in the price of the car. This was only just the beginning. I then look down to see the trade in value of my car and see that it was $4,000 lower than what the average value is for my Camaro SS.

I said, “What no anal lube. I mean seriously, if your going to fuck me at least bring the grease monkey over so that I can feel a little easier about this.”

As I once again take a look at the paperwork, I tell him that this is not the price that is offered on the Chevrolet website. He then looks dumbfounded while still telling me that this is the price. I tell him to check his facts again. He responds by saying “do you know what these cars go for on eBay?”

I told him “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that I was at eBay Chevrolet. Your supposed to price a car based on it’s value, features, and options and not on trends. eBay and Craigslist do not determine the price on a car!”

The salesman then says “Well I have a person in Alabama who is willing to pay $7,000 over the price for this car.”

I replied “Well if that’s true then why hasn’t he bought it yet? What really irks me is the fact that you want to get another $3-7 thousand on top of that from me.”

He replies “Well this is the best that I can do.”

I then tell him “Oh I’m sorry, but where does it say “sucker” on my head. Better yet can you please get me the phone number of the dealer your sales manager gets his crack cocaine from so I can have some of what he’s smoking.”

I then stormed out of the dealership laughing along the way. No way am I buying from them or anyone. I’m not even ordering a new one. The ether is gone. For the last month I’ve been filled with disappointment only to notice that I already have a Camaro. My 2011 Camaro SS. I’ve always loved my car even if I felt like I was cheating on her and almost ready to replace her. She’s been loyal to me all this time and now it’s time to make up for it. Upgrades! I went to Rosner Chevrolet in Melbourne, Florida and they took care of me right away. I ordered some new black wheels and a supercharger for my 6.2 Liter V8 engine giving me the horsepower I want to measure up to the ZL1. Now my excitement has really peaked and I don’t have to wait forever for it. By this time next week my Camaro will now be “Godzilla!”

I’ll post some pics when it’s done.

It’s finally here. The layoff checks have arrived and now it’s time to head home. It feels like I’ve been here forever. I was only expecting to work three weeks as a traveler here at Brown’s Ferry Nuclear plant. What I got as almost seven weeks. All that extra money sure does feel good so I’m not going to bitch about staying longer than I expected. However, I’m really excited to make the trip home.

Now before anyone starts saying that it’s bad to get laid off let me explain. You see, as a union electrician getting laid off is more like graduation day. Congratulations, you made it! Here’s your prize…two checks and unemployment compensation as you await your next job. Basically, every job I take I work myself out of one. It all ends up as a circle repeating itself over and over and over again. sure it was rough in the beginning, but now I’m actually quite used to the endless merry-go-round.

So what do I do now? Well, I would have to say that it’s time to kick back and relax. It’s almost summertime. Summer movies, the beach, women in bikinis, and getting my new 2013 Camaro ZL1 to cruise town in. Most of all I plan to spend some time with family and friends. I’m sure the kids will love the fact that I’ll glow in the dark as a result from working all these nukes in the last couple of years which will provide hours of fun as well a way to never get lost in the woods in the darkest night. Ok, I’m just kidding. Nobody glows in the dark from working a nuclear plant…right?

As I leave Browns Ferry and move on to my next job at St. Lucie Nuclear Plant in a couple of months I take with me the knowledge of continuing nuclear industry experience. I’m actually quite comfortable working in a nuclear environment. Working in a contaminated area wearing a “duck suit” is actually not that bad, although it does get pretty hot wearing all those layers. Sure at first it’s a little scary as you hope not to get any on you, but after awhile it’s a mere afterthought because the chances of that happening are very slim. I’m always “clean” when I pass the scanners and leave the area. Also my industrial working background knowledge has increased due to working with more “experienced” journeymen. They really like teaching us younger guys even if they now consider us “spoiled.” Seriously speaking, working at a nuclear plant is more of a slower pace than most other jobs. There were times where I spent an entire day doing absolutely nothing and getting paid for it. Easy money! Take that 9-5ers! Sadly, If I ever go back to a commercial job down the road I’m sure that I’ll be in for a reality check. i may even get the message of “Go back to your nukes.” Ok, enough shop talk for now.

As I leave here I say “So long Sweet Home Alabama and hello Central Florida!” After a twelve hour plus road trip I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed and hang out with people I know with a few games, cold beer, and some fun times under the sun. Vacation here I come, and you’ve never looked better. Now to deal with those unemployment office people about my benefits.