Monday, January 19, 2004


One of the things I noticed about my entries from the original launch of this site (which I looked, it's still up at Geocities, along with some Nomic stuff at http://www.geocities.com/dmarsh3000/nomic.html) is that there were a lot more serious posts. Most of mine here have been fairly boring recitations about how the day's poker has gone.

For the record, I lost about $50 playing $2/$4, and didn't place in a single-table tourney, so I'm down $60 for the day. In a glorious attempt to add insult to injury, I entered a $30 Limit MTT, which starts momentarily.

The serious part of the post is this: I hate my job.

I have to be honest. The job may not objectively suck. The money is good. It's probably all me. But the combination of things that suck from my point of view, which is admittedly the point of view of pretty much nobody else in the entire universe, is enough to make the job as a whole suck.

For those who don't know, I am an "Appliance Sales Specialist" at Lowes in Grandville, Michigan. One would, naturally, then assume that my job is to sell appliances. I assure you that this is true only nominally.

For starters, at our store the "Appliance" department includes ready-to-assemble furniture, ceiling tiles, blenders and such that as non-"white goods" are not usually part of an appliance store or appliance department, and a basket of goodies referred to as "storage" consisting of closet shelving, plastic tubs of various sorts, and miscellaneous knick-knackery such as shelf paper. And though it's rare that I truly "sell" anything in these areas, they consume a large part of each day, and two or three days a week, most of my day.

Second, there is no division of labor within the "appliance" department. At most stores where appliances are a department within the store, the salesmen are supposed to spend their time, selling, and other people take care of getting the appliances delivered, or getting them to the customer's car, or getting them onto the shelves when a shipment of appliances arrives at the store. At our store, even though there are two people with a great deal of experience in selling appliances, those people are frequently cleaning up another aisle or dropping a washer for another customer ... or assembling closet hardware. So sales, and commissions, are going to the people that nominally are supposed to be doing that stuff. (When I hired on, I was told there were some number of salesmen ... I forget, 3 or 4 ... and two "loaders." They fired one of them about two weeks after I hired on. The other, a part-timer, works as hard as I've ever seen anyone work, doesn't enjoy sales, and is my idea of what the others should be, but he's part-time. There is nobody else who interprets his job as that of a "loader," although I am told there are such at other Lowes.)

Third, there are too many managers with a say in what I do with my day. I count eight managers above me who can arbitrarily decide that today is the day we make sure all of the fizbin grommets are alphebetized by color. There have even been times when one manager has been upset that his project hasn't been completed, because we've been pulled off of that project by another manager. Few of the managers understand that there are "normal" things we must do each day, and that there thus isn't the time, many days, to do all of their projects, even when some (or, let's be generous, many) of them are worthwhile and should be done. A division of labor would be helpful here, so that individual people are responsible for individual areas and, especially, are NOT responsible for other areas. But as it is, the result is that each day it seems like I'm ping-ponged between managers' whims, that customers and sales are secondary or tertiary to managers' projects, and, especially, that I have no idea what is expected from me on any particular day.

Fourth in objective importance, but higher on my personal list, is that the day starts too damn early at Lowes. Too often, at least once or twice a week, I am required to be at Lowes at 5:30, 6, or 7 in the morning, when the store is nominally open but there are no customers who want appliances and won't be for hours. On many of these days, a truck of supplies arrives from Lowes' distribution center, and since there is so much included under the rubric of "appliances" (see point one), all day until usually dinnertime is consumed with putting these supplies away on the shelves. By then, managers have usually complained that their projects haven't been done yet. But all of this, even though it's worth complaining about in its own right, misses my point: It makes absolutely no fucking sense to have your salesmen at the store when there is nobody there to sell to. I had to be at work at 6AM yesterday. I didn't see appliance customers until after 9. Why would they pay someone the big bucks (I have an idea what others are making, it's less) to come in and not sell anything? I can only conclude that Lowes, or at least management at store 1121, doesn't care whether they sell things or whether they spend their employee hours wisely.

Part and parcel of this last is the question of how they expect their employees to live anything like a normal life when some days they have to be at work at six in the morning (or earlier), and other days they leave work at eleven at night (or later)? For anyone who has trouble sleeping (see the next paragraph), this schedule makes impossible any efforts to relieve those troubles. It might also be unhealthy: I recall reading of a study of navy personnel, who (aboard ship) work five hours on/ten hours off, or some equally bizarre schedule. They were found to suffer more accidents and more diseases than their comrades performing (comparably dangerous) jobs on shore, where their shifts ("watches") conform more to what we're used to, and more importantly, to what their circadian rhythms tell them they should be doing.

This last is particularly salient for me. I appear to have no circadian rhythms. I read of another study, where they found a gene in rats which controlled their circadian rhythms. (Hopefully everyone knows what I mean here, people's "body clocks," their day-night cycle particularly.) If the rat had two normal copies of the gene, it would sleep and wake on a normal 24-hour cycle. If it had one normal copy and one defective copy, it would still sleep and wake on a cycle, but it would be significantly longer than 24 hours. (My memory is that it was 25 hours, but it might have been longer.) If both of the rat's circadian genes were defective, the rat would sleep and wake on no cycle at all, and particularly would be awake for very long periods, and sleep for very long periods, with no discernible pattern. Most of the genes that have been studied in rats turn out to have analogues in humans.

I appear to have two defective copies of this gene.

Apparently I haven't been on time for work in over two months. I got a talking-to about it today. I don't blame them; from their point of view all of their arguments are sound.

But dammit, I'm tired when I have to get up in the morning. I'm even tired when I don't rely on the alarm to get me up (as on my days off). Morning does not agree with me, whatever time of the day my morning occurs in. It's usually commented on when people see me get to work in the morning (again, whatever time the clock actually says). I don't see how Lowes can accomodate me on this, but it's the biggest reason I'm usually late--the other being sheer dread at the prospect of facing another day at Lowes.

So, Lowes sucks, now what?

I leave for a vacation in a couple of days. If I haven't said it before on this site, Gil and I are going to Las Vegas for a few days. Of my eight bosses, the one who I can talk the most freely with (because he can't hire or fire) pretty much doesn't expect me back from vacation; he believes I'll stay in Vegas to become a professional poker player.

I've given this a lot of thought. Truly, I'm not good enough, or at least I'm not experienced enough, and I know this. If I break my goals down, they are reasonable (winning one big bet an hour, in a cash business, at $6/$12 or $8/$16 stakes, would provide a living at the level I'm at now, if I manage 40 hours a week). But a bankroll suffers variance; not every day does a poker player come home winner. It's a generally accepted idea that to weather this variance a player needs a bankroll of 300 times the big bet. In the case of $8/$16, that's $4800. That's bankroll, not living expenses, not food money, but "working capital" in the same sense that other businesses use working capital--it's the money they use to operate the business.

I don't have $4800. I also don't have the cash to move to Vegas (or Los Angeles) in order to play cards full-time. (Actually, that I might be able to manage if I didn't also need money to play cards.) But I really hate Lowes, and I don't want to come back from vacation.

If I'm doomed to return to Lowes after next weekend, it would seem that I have a couple of ways of amassing a bankroll.

One is to stay at Lowes and scrimp and save until I have about $10,000 in the bank. That's not terribly likely until at least the end of the year, unless one of my other options comes through for me.

Another is to ratchet up my "local" play to higher limits. Greektown in Detroit regularly seats $10/$20 (and $20/$40) tables, despite being a horrid pit of a room (that I hear is being expanded). If I can successfully grind in $10/$20, I can amass $10,000 in, let's see, 500 hours ... which is a full year of weekends.

A third is to successfully build my online stake to the point I can cash out $10K or more. The most immediate way to accomplish that would be to win one of their multi-table tournaments, or to place in one of their expensive MTTs (preferably entering by winning a satellite, like last time). [By the by, I'm in reasonably good shape in my multi-table tournament; after an hour and a half, we're down to 159 people, with the top 50 in the money; my stack is just a bit below average thanks to 10-10 losing to JJ when neither of us helped.]

This last sounds as if it has the most chance to happen sooner rather than later, but if I am able to make this happen, it will certainly have to be a combination of the three that allows me to take a stake with me when I move.

There are other problems: It is likely, even probably, and actually almost certain that, at some point, I'll bust out, go down to the felt, whatever euphemism one wants to use, but in the end they all amount to running out of money. And then what?

I have an uncle who died owing $30,000 in credit card debt because he was, apparently, addicted to slot machines. (I'll reserve judgment on whether "addicted" is the appropriate term; it's another topic.) My parents' original reaction to hearing that I was playing poker for real money was that it sounded like I was heading down the same path. My response was that, since I didn't have credit, if I lost all my money that would effectively be that.

But that presumes an income to replace the money that is lost, that everything would be all right and I wouldn't starve because there would still be money coming in. If I were to play poker for a living there would not be. And then what? To this, I have no answer.

What about poker no longer being fun? Well, at least the work is easier than Lowes. I can handle tossing cards or chips around a table a lot better than hauling my fat carcass up and down a ladder fifty times a day.

Two other fringe benefits: With a few exceptions, the income one makes from cards is completely under the radar of the Department of Evil (which you might know as Internal Revenue). Also, and it's a biggie, one can set one's own hours, fully and completely, because (in Vegas anyway) there's always a game.

So, you're not going to do it?

It sounds like, not yet. I really, really want to do it now because I hate Lowes. But the bankroll thing is a big stumbling block.

[I placed 101st in the tournament. Top 50 places paid.]

I sort of expected that writing this long thingy would sort things out for me. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't; I have been known to be impulsive before. I still say that if I do well in Vegas next weekend it will be really hard to go back to work.

Hey, can I have $10,000?