The Ghost of Walmart

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My sailor and I went to the mall on the weekend. Normally I have to twist his toned and muscular arm to get him near any shopping venue, but he needed to get some man stuff–duct tape and batteries–so he suggested the trip.

As usual when we go shopping together, I ditched him as soon I arrived in my happy place (the mall!) It’s not that I don’t enjoy our time together–he lurks.

He follows me from shop to shop, silently observing. He’s doesn’t judge or try to control my spending (although he has been known to exclaim, “Seriously? Another purse? How many do you need?”)

Nothing takes the fun out of shopping like a lurker…nothing except being on strike.

The stores were buzzing with back to school sales and school supplies–they were everywhere! I don’t know who’s buying them as there’s still no word on when we’ll be back in class. I haven’t bought my boy’s because a stack of unused supplies in a corner collecting dust and dog hair will just depress me.

Since school supply shopping was out I drifted to the clothing and shoe stores. Big mistake! After a summer in swingy little dresses, I’m ready for cozy sweaters and socks and boots–I love me some black leather riding boots!

But not having an income changes the shopping dynamic profoundly. I was like a TV ghost–I could see the shopping action but couldn’t participate in it because I’m not in the zone with the people who get paid. It was so unsettling, I stayed away from mirrors, half afraid I wouldn’t see a reflection.

I’m luckier than many because I know we’ll have food in our tummies and a roof over our Chihuahua no matter how long this drags on.

I believe in what we’re striking for and I support my union.

I’m taking a huge financial hit to stand up for quality public education for ALL kids, not just mine.

That actually feels better than another new purse.

Strike One!

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Labour unrest thrives here.

It’s tit for tat.

They illegally strip class size and composition concessions from our contract. We move to stage one job action.

They threaten to roll back our wages 5%. We engage in province-wide rotating strikes.

They impose a partial lock out and roll back our wages 10%.

They say potato. We say potahto.

Sigh–I wish we could call the whole thing off.

Today I got an email from the president of our local. Because I’m the staff rep for our department, I have to go to my administrator first thing tomorrow with a list of questions about the lock out and how it will impact our ability to perform our jobs.

I get that we need clarification. No one seems to know what the complicated partial lock out entails. Even the negotiator who dreamed it up admits it will be “tweaked” as necessary because the situation remains “fluid.” I just don’t want to be the person who has to poke a stick at the hornet’s nest. (I should clarify that my boss’ office in no way resembles an actual hornet’s nest. She’s a reasonable woman who is likely just as frustrated by this situation as I am.)

I did what I usually do when I’m stressed and I need reassurance. I went to my sailor and whined at length about my predicament.

As the former Commanding Officer of a unit with a number of unionized Civilian employees, he has experience dealing with labour issues. Surely he would have some words of wisdom for me.

“If you didn’t want do stuff like this, you shouldn’t have volunteered to be a union rep.”

Thanks, honey. I feel so much better now.