Friday, January 30, 2015


"And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and dropped into the sea; when instantly an oily calmness floats out from the east, and the sea is as Jonah carries down the gale with him, leaving smooth water behind. He goes down in the whirling heart of such a masterless commotion that he scarce heeds the moment when he drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white bolts, upon his prison. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord out of the fish's belly. But observe his prayer, and learn a weighty lesson. For sinful as he is, Jonah does not weep and wail for direct deliverance. He feels that his dreadful punishment is just. He leaves all his deliverance to God, contenting himself with this, that spite of all his pains and pangs, he will still look towards His holy temple. And here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment. And how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonah, is shown in the eventual deliverance of him from the sea and the whale. Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be copied for his sin but I do place him before you as a model for repentance. Sin not; but if you do, take heed to repent of it like Jonah."

- From Chapter 9 of Herman Melville's Moby Dick or The Whale

On October 9, 2013 Susan and I sold our home in Gloucester, MA where we had lived for over 20 years on Wheeler Street beneath Pole's Hill and bought a home on a corner lot near Buttonwood Park in New Bedford, the Whaling City. I met my wife in Nantucket, the Whaling Town, in 1985 at the community theatre there and after the birth of our first child, Mary Jesse, we relocated to the port of Gloucester where our son David (Damian) was born. On the island which once was known as the largest whaling port in the world I worked for the first three years as a street artist and also a sign maker living in a rented room and showing my portfolio to tourists walking on Main Street. All inquiries for commissioned work were done elsewhere (i.e. in the customers' home) to bypass the need for a town vendor's license, which would never be issued as it would cut into the profits of local merchants with shops downtown. Eventually, I took a job as a dishwasher at a local resort hotel because commissions dwindled and I could no longer make a living to last year-round from the Summer seasonal tourist trade as a commercial artist, sign maker, or illustrator.

When off-island I lived in New York City and later central Maine, working as a wage earner for base pay at a costume jewelry factory in lower Manhattan, and later in the shipping warehouse at the Penobscot Shoe Company in Old Town, Maine - raising funds for starting an intentional community on a small parcel of land in Stetson, near Bangor. I succeeded in erecting an 18' by 24' camp on the property which was to be "The Schoolhouse" and the first of several initial buildings there. When I left my job in Old Town, I was unable to find work in a nearby town at the local woolen mill. So, my project was suspended so I could return to Nantucket and work at the hotel. The next summer, my week's vacation time allowed me to put siding on the camp but it went no further. Opposition and thievery from the locals eventually stripped the structure bare for firewood and it collapsed due to my inability to occupy and maintain it. By 2003, when the land was sold as a woodlot, my dream of building the Commonwealth of Lanternshire in Stetson was ended.

In Gloucester, I entered the healthcare field initially as a floor refinisher in Environmental Services at Addison Gilbert Hospital.  Susan was a registered nurse and took a job on the cardiac floor there and had been in the maternity unit at Nantucket Cottage Hospital when we met. After about a year and a half, I became a part-time central service technician at Addison Gilbert and took the Purdue University correspondence course to become IAHCSMM Certified in the field. When managed care at healthcare institutions came into the picture Addison Gilbert merged with Beverly Hospital and I was borrowed by the Central Service department in Bevery to help with the larger volume of cases in the operating suite there. Then, I made an unwise decision to transfer from Addison Gilbert and work full-time at Beverly in 2005 because I literally "went from the frying pan to the fire." There is a huge difference between being a borrowed technician to that of being owned by them, and when I failed to use corrective lenses to see bioburden in the decontamination room because chose to be in denial I ended up being put under diciplinary action and employment terminated in May of 2007.

For seven months I was on unemployment and just before it was about to expire, I landed a Central Services Technician job at North Shore Medical Center in Salem (across the Beverly River), keeping it over six years. When the house in Gloucester was sold I rented a room in West Gloucester until January, 2014 when I could no longer cope with the driving to and from New Bedford every week in an old 1997 Toyota Corolla. I took a "leap of faith" and gave two weeks notice to NSMC and put applications for retail positions in several big box stores in the Southcoast area out of desperation. Walmart was opening another store in Raynham in March, 2014 so I applied for a job and after my interview was hired as a deli associate, beginning employment as of January 30th. Starting in the deli, I moved to produce but then an old rotator cuff injury to my right shoulder made it impossible for me to continue working after my 11-hour shift Black Friday and a regular 8-hour shift on Saturday, so I applied for a medical leave of absence. My old Toyota finally "kicked the bucket" so I had no choice but to submit my voluntary resignation to the human resources department at Walmart on January 23, 2015. I now look at the distinct possibility of open shoulder surgery before I have the ability to seek employment anywhere...

Like unto Jonah in the Old Testament Biblical account, I have moved beyond the "belly of the whale" and no longer struggle within my own mind to deal with being part of such a giant corporate entity as Walmart Stores, Inc. is today. However, my brief experience in big box retail has broadened my employment experience and I must remember the way Sam Walton began in retail business the same year that I was born, in 1950, with Walton's 5 & 10!

A visit to Walton’s 5&10 is like stepping back in time. Visitors can experience a piece of Sam Walton’s history in a real, functional storefront setting. The store boasts original floor tiles and an original tin ceiling, as well as toys, candy and books straight out of an earlier era. 

No comments:

Post a Comment