Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Mind Curtain

Taking Risks, Setting Limits, New Limits and Giving Notice

I do not have a risk-taking personality.

I have forced myself to take risks as a discipline to try and erase the babyhood from my soul.

Many people think my pursuit of fighting arts has been senselessly risky. However, my trade as a grocer has caused nearly all my debilitating injuries, has in fact ruined me. Gunk is collecting in my lungs already from decades of working in coolers and freezers.

Before going on to describe the mechanical damage, I must fess up to the major risk I have been taking since age 31, not sleeping, which has crashed my metabolism and has put and kept weight on me which is exacerbating the structural damage. My doctor told me last week, at a glance, how many hours’ sleep I’d had in the past 24 and correctly guessed it was two. My average sleep is still at four hours, with me going more than 24 hours without sleep three times a week. In the past 72 hours I have slept 8.5. I have no regrets, having lived two lifetimes in less than one, but I wish to be able to continue writing and maintain independence.

I have grossly exceeded normal industry work rates, which are low and I believe half of what a person should do. I am also working with more intelligence and doing my own physical therapy, so will reduce my labor years’ equivalent by two thirds for these two factors.

For instance, this past Wednesday night, in 4 hours I freighted 178 pieces. The men I work with freight 140 pieces in 8 hours which is currently the industry bench mark. Realistically it should be 200 in 8 hours. I expanded my work rate so I could get home and write.

Mechanically my body stress is based on the following:

12 years at 3x the median grocer work rate: 36 years
5 years at 6x the median grocer work rate: 30 years
8 years at 5x the median grocer work rate: 40 years
4 years at 4x the median grocer rate: 16 years
7 years at 2x the median grocer work rate: 14 years

This totals an equivalent of 136 years working at the standard rate of a grocer, most of whom hang in there for 40 years.

My 136 year equivalent gets reduced to 45.3 years, which places me at the end of the trajectory.

Beyond that I know my body well and when I went into work this past Friday night I knew I was done, the curtain is coming down. With a twice blown disc, a bad hip, and the meniscus tearing in both knees from all the squatting, I’ll be lucky to make it to December 31, which is what I promised my boss when he came in. I am not going to work myself crippled and be unable to defend myself. This may yet be the case. I may blow something out before New Years, it’s that bad. And Larry did ask me to put my 2 weeks in on January 1 so he could pay me for the coming years’ vacation.

It’s a hand shake deal, I reduce my annual income from $12,000 to $3,000 beginning next year. I should be able to manage an upward trajectory from there, probably giving boxing lessons at a karate school to buy groceries.

The reasoning is sleep. My doctor insist that sleep deprivation is now taking the major toll and since I refuse to scale back writing to sleep I will scale back money making, sleep 6-8 hours a day and write faster and with fewer errors.

The important thing is that I do the honorable thing. Larry has been good to me, so I let him know hours after I made the impulsive decision, giving us enough time for me to train a replacement, a kid on the crew that would like more hours, hours that I’ve largely been turning down, a kid that can now have one of the rare full-time slots with benefits left in retail food—dairy lead.

I’m seeing this move as good for what everyone needs in their lives right now. Whatever happens, I’m done working in supermarkets after 4.5 months. If the writing fails I’ll live behind a grocery store before I work in one.

It’s time to move on to the final, productive act of my part.

Thanks, Larry.
James, September 10, 2017

(c) 2017 James LaFond

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