New shoes for a smooth road

I’m completing my first week of full-time work in retail, at the store I’ve worked at for 16 months part-time. I’m still processing how my recent attempt to move to a federal government at-home position went wrong, and how returning to my other job gave me a much-needed soft landing.

I needed more money, since part-time pay (minimum wage) only covered the basics, so I’d been looking for other opportunities, particularly those that had benefits. I also had not really admitted to myself, but I wanted to “do better” than retail. There’s a certain stigma to retail, and I had to face the fact I’m a bit of a snob.

I had two opportunities that arose from the federal government about a year ago. One was to join a list of disabled people to help the government meet a quota for equal-opportunity hires. The ultimate employer would be Service Canada, which overseas passports, pensions and other programs. The process was long and protracted, involving a series of tests and challenges. After about six months, I got an email saying “Congratulations!” I’d made it to the list that would be available to Service Canada hiring managers across my region — and that region includes B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon Territories, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Yikes. Anyway, I haven’t heard anything in months.

The other opportunity was from Statistics Canada to be an interviewer. Since I’d been a journalist for years, that would be right up my alley. But as virtual training began, I realized that they really didn’t need interviewers but people who’d read from a script. Actors, really. I was trained for a study called the International Study of Adults, which involves 38 countries testing literacy and numeracy…but we’re not allowed to tell participants it’s a test, so as not to scare them. The process begins with households being selected from the 2021 Census. The selected households get a letter saying, hooray, they’ve been selected for this study. Participation in the study is voluntary. I would arrive at the door and get the names and ages of the inhabitants, and the computer selects one person who will answer two-hours worth of questions. Two hours, yes. I asked the trainer about the success rate but didn’t get an answer.

Turns out there’s no work in my area on that study. Another study was available but it conflicts with the one day I work retail, and retail is what I currently depend on for benefits. I was a little angry.

At this point it became clear that I would get no hours from this job, and I’d best head back to retail. My manager was delighted to have me back and offered me full-time employment and $1/hour raise. Well, the raise depended on the corporate machine’s approval. I didn’t really care about another $37.50 cents a week, but the benefits of full time would be great.

On top of that, the welcome made me realize that retail surrounds me with the kind of people that I want to be around. My co-workers and bosses seem to like and appreciate me. Some are negative about their work because they’ve been there a long time, where I’ve come from a full career and this is my retirement job. I could survive without it, but money would be tight. And I need to be around people to feel fulfilled. I’m a helper.

So this week I switched from six to 7.5 hours/day at the retail store. The change gives me a full hour for lunch where I’m able to come home and walk the dogs. Bonus. There’s more walking, of course. I average about 15,500 steps a day. My old shoes are wearing out — I can tell because I get a sharp pain in my lower right back. It starts quite quickly and almost immediately becomes debilitating. I immediately got new shoes — I need Keen hiking sneakers for stability. I had a few twinges the next morning but then the pain stopped.

I just completed a seven-day fast , and am cautiously navigating healthy food choices in very moderate amounts. My body is going to want to climb back up to its preferred set-point, and I can’t let that happen. The weather is cold and rainy, and today is a day off where I’ll hang with the dogs and put my feet, with their lovely new shoes, up.

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