Wednesday Explained

This picture was taken in 1975, probably on January 11th as it would be the closest Saturday to the 14th. I was never one to like being the center of attention and no one understood that. Also, a birthday 3 weeks after Christmas meant you got junk. The little girl on the table licking frosting off her fingers is my cousin Melanie, she id 3 years younger.

These gatherings for cake is why I do not celebrate my birthday.

Wednesday Debrief

I’ve had a lot going on lately and have not been able to work on the Prayer Card Project. Instead, I took the easy way out this week and posted an actual family picture.

This picture must have been taken lake 1960s. Probably, 1968 or 69 based on the clothes and the size of the tree that was cut down in the mid 1980s. This was the back yard at 18 Newton St..

Starting on the left is

  • Joseph Alajko 1948 – 2012
  • Kathleen “Tina” Alajko Kurek 1946-
  • Anna Mary Switkowski Alajko 1921-2003
  • Joann Louise Alajko Harris 1945-2017
  • Davis Charles Alajko 1954-

Where Was I: Tops again

The last time I wrote about where I worked I had just quit Darien Lake on a Saturday. That Monday I drove to the old Tops where I worked. I went to the front office to get an application and was recognized by the office manager and was able to get an interview right away. I was able to start on night crew that night.

Another just over minimum wage job but with a lot of overtime. For several months I stocked shelves overnight. After about 6 months I was made Frozen Foods Manager. The department was set up as part of the Dairy/Frozen department. There was a D/F manager and a separate Frozen manager, there were usually 3 part timers working during the day along with the D/F Manager. Frozen manager worked overnights on their own.

In April of 1994 my Oldest was born and the company decided I did not need to take time off for his birth. I did not go in the day he was born. After a meeting I was told not to come back. After 4 days I was called and begged to stock an order and write the next order because no one else knew how, I went in and was told to take a few more days off and come back. No apology or admission of mistreatment.

During the summer the Grocery department manager decided he wanted to teach me a lesson for taking time off in April. The D/F department was a Grocery department sub category so the Grocery manager had the right to control the D/F department. There were a couple failed attempts to write me up. The assistant managers took care of the paperwork so nothing official ever happened. At the end of summer the Grocery manager decided that the Frozen department needed to be moved to days only. Because my wife worked days I needed nights. This was another attempt to punish me. I ended up back on night crew working under the same grocery manager. Suddenly he no longer had a problem with me. Tops had a night crew issue. Once you had a good crew you could not mess with them ever. Store manager had been transferred at other locations for messing with a night crew. The last thing a store could afford is a night crew leaving, it had happened at other locations. I was on a good night crew and now he couldn’t do anything to get back at me for taking days off. I stayed on night crew until spring when I was able to get a job at their main competitor Wegmans. It was good day to leave.

Where Was I: Darien Lake

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What I call the worst job I had. You see on the internet the saying people don’t quit bad jobs, they quit bad bosses. This job was that for me.

I can’t remember the exact start date but it was around late February of 1993. I got this job through the employment office from Bryant And Stratton after I graduated. Since I worked there it has be sold many times, twice to Six Flags.

Darien Lake is a theme park in the Town of Darien in Genesee County about 45 minutes away. It usually opens part time in April for a high school senior overnight. It usually closes in late September.

I was hired to be the second games technician. The park had multiple areas of games set up. Some had prizes some were just for fun. There was an old time saloon shootout where you just shot some moving targets. Then there was you were a moving target and were shot at, some people call them batting cages. There were remote control cars and boats to drive around a small pond. Others were more like carnival games where you shot at, squirted or otherwise hit a target and won a prize. There was also a game room with video games, skeeball and a claw game. We didn’t touch the video games but I did learn how to set up the claw so most people lost.

In the interview I was told the job was 48 hours a week with a lot of overtime. About a month in I found out we were all considered exempt employees and wound not get paid for over 48 hours but once the park opened we would be expected to work 60+ hours. This included the people running the games. They were usually under 18 and had been doing this job for a few years.

There was a boss, another tech and about 2 dozen people running the games. The months prior to opening were used for set up and dewinterize everything. That year there was a new feature built. It was a giant pool with 4 boats with cannons you could rent and shoot tennis balls at each other. The pool was lined with cannons you could rent to shoot at the boats. It was not very popular after opening.

It was relatively easy work but the other tech was rather dumb and disorganized. The boss never said anything to me it all came through the other tech. There were multiple silly issues that should have been easily taken care of but were put off or done in an odd way.

Another thing we worked on was the mini golf on a hill. There was nothing to repair but we did need to blow leaves and dirt off the course every couple of days. This would be scheduled for after opening.

The game where you squirt water at a target to move a clown head was always having problems because the carnies would adjust the speed of the clowns so they could choose who won. Then they would over do it and you could tell one was set wrong. This was not an honest operation at the time. The usual people there were ok but the one had a twin sister at a game at the far end of the building that would outright lie if there were any issues and only told the other tech when something broke.

About 3 weeks after opening I got fed up. This was the middle of May. We had radios to call the boss or each other but neither of them would answer. So, on the day I decided I was done at the end of my shift I dumped the radio and the keys in the office. We were supposed to take the keys home each night. I had spent an hour calling the 2 of them but neither would answer. After dumping everything I walk towards the exit. As I got there the other tech found me and asked me to come to the office.

I went to the office and told him I was done and we had nothing to talk about. He completely ignored what I said. He instead starts telling me of some issues around the park. One was that 4 of the remote control cars took a month to get fixed. I reminded him that I told him what we need to do but he ignored me and waited 3 weeks to do as I suggested. He mentioned the day I spent in one of the boats. I reminded he that was under orders of the boss because no one wanted to ride the boats so no one would shoot at the boats. There were several people everyday that were stuck in the boats. This went on for about 30 minutes.

He finally tells me I don’t have a job and asks for the keys. I point to them on the desk and tell him that’s where I dumped them before I left. He gets mad because those are supposed to stay with us. It was then I told him again that if I had planned to come back I would have but I was done with the place. It was crazy that after I quit he spent all that time trying to fire me only to get torn apart.

In the months I was there I spoke to the boss about 3 times. The other tech barely spoke to me either. Then they didn’t seem to understand that I quit.


Where Was I; Tops part 1

This is another post in the Where Was I story I have been working on about the jobs I’ve had over the years. I have added part 1 to this topic because I ended up working at Tops 2 different times.

Tops is a local chain of supermarkets in the Buffalo and Niagara Falls area. It has a long history starting in the 1920s and expanded over the years. Some history of the company can be found here. I started at the Broadway Bailey location at 1770 Broadway in May of 1988. I had less then 2 months of high school left at the time. This location is on old railroad property. At one time the Pullman car company was located on this site. Frontier yard once part of the New York Central RR now CSX is next door.

This is a roundhouse from the old railroad days still standing behind the store.

I started out working 4 hours on week days and 8 hours Saturday and Sunday. The job was stocking sale items and weekends PBS; Pop Beer Snacks. Originally, I was only supposed to work 20 hours a week because of school; and after summer I was scheduled to go to SUNY at Buffalo for electrical engineering. This didn’t last. Within weeks I was up to 40 hour weeks and in the summer way over. I was schedule 7pm to 11pm week nights but regularly worked until 2am. I didn’t have a car yet and would get a ride home from the night manager.

After summer when college started I still still kept over 40 hours a week. Between not liking the large class sizes of UB and liking the money I dropped out of school and stayed at Tops. I was given full time and worked closer to 50 hours a week. Besides stocking shelves I was on display crew. That is the 2 person group that built the giant front displays for the weekly sales. It was an overnight shift Saturday into Sunday. One of the best parts of the job was clean up Sunday morning, opening the back door after being stuck inside all night and getting to see a Sunrise.

In 1989 the Health and Beauty Care manager and the Specialty Foods manager transferred out. The Specialty Foods manager was the assistant to HBC manager. At that time between the 2 departments there was only 80 hours available. After several months The 2 of us were able to clean up our respective departments and increase sales. I left the assistant HBC position because I was able to get over 40 hours budgeted just for Specialty Foods. A few months more and sales were good enough for a part time assistant. We ended up getting a new store manager that did not have the skills as the previous manager. I asked to go back to overnights. Not long after that I left for Freezer Queen.

One of the dairy department clerks was a high school classmate, so was his girlfriend (now wife). In August of 1989 she brought her coworker from rival grocery store Wegmans to Tops and set me up on a blind date. We married 1 year later.

Where Was I; Summer Youth

This is my second Where Was I post. This job was with the Buffalo Mayor’s Summer Youth Program, I was assigned to work at Dom Polski. Back in 1984 Dom Polski (Polish Home) was the Polish Cultural Center at 1081 Broadway in the Polish east side. The lower level had J. C. Mazur Gallery, the two upper levels were a large stage with the seating area used as a gym. Above that was an area for a game room with a pool table and air hockey.

From the end of June to the end of August 1984 I worked supervising kids; usually in the game room. The weird part of the job is about half of the kids I supervised were my age or older. Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30pm the upstairs was open to kids from the city. Usually only kids from the neighborhood showed up. Every day at noon the game room and gym closed for an hour for the summer lunch program. Anyone under 18 in New York State is eligible for a free lunch during the summer. I was assigned to inventory leftovers for the state. Certain items could be given out within the week and had to be accounted for.

The job was relatively easy and only a ten minute walk from home. It is odd that minimum wage at the time was only $3.35. Amazing that was considered a living wage.