Archive for June, 2006
In the comments thread for the entry a few days back, I’ve been having an interesting discussion with Utah-Joe. To refresh your memory, he says work sucks, I say I like my job, he says I’m a drone, I say not all work sucks.
When I was writing my most recent response (is this metablogging? ew…), I was thinking about an experience from high school. We were in religion class (yes, religion class, I went to Catholic high school, forgive me), talking about… who knows… probably God in some way or other. But the topic came around to work and play. So the teacher asked the class what was the difference between work and play. I was an extremely ambitious kid, so I always spoke up in discussions.
“Play is fun, work is not.”
The teacher blinked a couple times, and left the room. Everyone stared at me. I sat, confused.
The teacher returned pretty quickly with another religion teacher, the one from next door, in tow. Our teacher asked the other, “Do you have fun here?”
“Of course I do. I love my job.”
I was confused. Our teacher thanked the other teacher, who then returned to his class (which was likely very confused as well). He then looked at me and told me that I was obviously wrong. He also told me he felt sorry for me if I thought that was the way the world had to be.
The discussion continued, and I think the class ended up differentiating play from work because it has no end goal. The whole time, my brain tumbled the problem around in my head. At the time, I was working at a Hallmark store. I occasionally had fun there, when I could wrap presents for example, but most of the time I was a miserable drone. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of fun work.
I took that day’s discussion with me, hoping I’d eventually get it. But my next job didn’t improve the situation. I worked at Friendly’s, scooping ice cream. I couldn’t get promoted to wait staff, no matter how hard I tried, and I came home spattered in ice cream and toppings every night. One day, I even passed out from working too hard – I hadn’t gotten a timely lunch break that day.
With such experiences, how could I not define work as un-fun?
Even my first internship was just a job. At first. But one day, my boss actually gave me a task that seemed almost like play. I was working at the web office at WPI, mostly doing data entry and markup. It was generally pretty boring work. But my boss seemed to think I could do a pretty good job of an actual design, so she let me have the campus police site. I got to work with the police chief to design the colors and work out the content. I made the graphics and worked out the layout. It was fun!
Unfortunately, I didn’t take that opportunity to realize what I had discovered. In fact, the concept of having a job I love has come and gone across my short time in the work force. I have felt every extreme.
But I know now that it is possible to have fun at work. I made it my primary factor when searching for a new job. I asked every single person I talked to at every company if they have fun doing their job. Some people answered right away, with a heart-felt yes. Even better, some people continued on to tell me how and why. But some poor people, who were like the high-school me, looked startled by the question. They’re interviewers, so they can’t say anything bad about their jobs, but you can tell right away: they don’t know what a fun job is.
I picked a fun place to work. I highly recommend that concept to everyone. You spend at least half of your waking hours at your job. Why hate half of your time away?
I totally love using extraneous exclaimation points.
I just beat the primary game play portion of the video game we have in our break room. It was very satisfying. And, as a bonus, one of my coworkers, who surely wouldn’t have believed me had I told him of my results, witnessed the endgame. So, the alien is slain, and there was a witness!
We have been promised a fire drill for a while, now. I guess the building people didn’t want to send us outside in the downpours, so it’s been postponed. But our controller-who-is-also-the-HR-guy just sent us some more details.
We’ll have the fire drill sometime during the 2nd or 3rd week of July.
We cannot meet on the street in front of the [Bar-Across-the-Street] so we will meet in the [Bar-Across-the-Street] on the first floor at a set of tables that will accommodate us.
[Network-Admin-Also-Does-Other-Stuff-Guy] will have these procedures posted on the intranet w/ the employee handbook. Please be familiar with the instructions.
Contact [Network-Admin-Also-Does-Other-Stuff-Guy] or me with questions.
Email sent around 2:30 PM, June 27th, 2006
So, if the building catches on fire (or pretends to), we all just go to the bar?
I thought our moving was going to be insane. I mean, we were going a whole hour’s drive away, to an area I don’t even think I ever drove through before we went apartment shopping. Everything would be new. New grocery store, new Target, new mall, new drug store, new restaurants, new commute, new traffic, new roads, new everything. So, yeah, I thought we were in for a severe culture shock. That is, until we heard from Kate that she was in fact, actually going to take the transfer.
Kate is my boyfriend’s sister. I’m really lucky to have met her. She’s awesome, okay? She’s a great friend, fun to watch football with, and fun to make arts and crafts at church with. I’ve blogged about her before. Search for her name, if you can’t remember.
Kate works for this mega-national-company. She’s smart and good at her job. Her Massachusetts boss loved her. But she didn’t have any growth opportunity available up here. There were just too many people to do all of the work in her field. But down in Texas, they were short on people like her. They needed more, and as fast as possible.
At first, this was kind of like a special vacation to Texas. She went down for two weeks to figure out if she would like to transfer. But as she explored the area, met the would-be new coworkers, and learned how cheap it is to live down there… she knew she’d have to go.
We knew she was down there for that two week jaunt. I talked about it with Mike several times. I can do math. I know Kate. And I knew she was going to move.
I didn’t want her to go.
I’m not going to lie. I cried. I cried every time I thought about her moving so very far away. But I knew it was going to happen, so I just worked it out for myself. I swore up and down I would not cry in front of Kate. I would not make it any harder for her to make such a huge decision.
At Easter, when she told us the decision we knew she’d make, I congratulated her as she showed off the floor plan for her new apartment. She would be able to afford two hundred more square feet, and be spending less. The Boston area really is a retardedly expensive place to live.
We talked about when she’d be coming back north, and when we could go down south. We poked fun at her potentially dangerous encounters with Texans. Mike told her at every opportunity that she’d hate it. Kate always responded with, “I’ll miss you to, Mike.”
As her moving plans slowly solidified (too slowly for Kate, that’s for sure), Kate came to realize that she was going to be homeless for a week. She decided to spend part of that week at a hotel next door to her work, and the three day Memorial Day weekend with us, before taking off on the following Wednesday.
That weekend was an adventure. Our air conditioning (along with half of the complex’s) died. We just wanted to get some unpacking done, but it was so ridiculously hot (the first day it got over 90 this year) that we could only go twenty minutes at a time. After a sweaty Sunday, we decided we would definitely not spend the next day at home.
So we spent it at a furniture store!
Don’t laugh. Jordan’s Furniture is tons of fun. It is! Plus we needed a bench and some bookshelves anyway. Since I graduated college, we have been doing the “buy now pay later” plan annually. They have a one-year no-interest no-payments thing that makes it possible to actually buy nice furniture, a little at a time. Kate was on the same plan, and as her last annual purchase, just bought a dining room set not a month before she moved.
We also took the opportunity to go see X-Men 3. Actually, we had decided we were going to do that in advance, so we had watched 1 and 2 at home the night before. It was pretty good, I say, though I think I liked number two better.
Tuesday came, and it was time for work. All three of us went in to earn our existence, though Kate was mostly just there to pack and ship her things. At my new job, it isn’t unheard of for the day to fly by. Yay for a job I like! It was a particularly bad traffic day, so the car-driving majority (Not me. Yay for the orange line!) arrived home a little later than we’d hoped. But that didn’t stop us from going mini-golfing!
We went to the ever-so-lovely landmark Orange Dinosaur that adorns Route 1. The place isn’t actually called Orange Dinosaur. It just has a giant Orange Dinosaur on the course, facing out towards the highway, looking menacing.
Mini-golfing is always fun. This place had some interesting automatic hole-in-one things, along with the standard fare of things you can only do if you suck at actual golf. Good thing I’m the only one of us that sucks at actual golf! I so won.
We went out for dinner, and were soon filling our bellies with pasta and bread at the Macaroni Grill. Though they were out of Mike’s favorite food (chicken cannelloni), we still enjoyed our food. Okay, well, maybe Kate was a little overwhelmed by the spiciness of hers… Okay, let’s be honest, she couldn’t eat it because it was too spicy. Wimp!
We went home and vegged on the sofa for a little while before it was definitely bed time. Mike wasn’t going to be up early enough to see Kate off, so they did the so-long-farewell-but-not-for-too-long thing before going to bed. Kate and I would be leaving the house at the same time the next morning, so I avoided the inevitable for a few more hours.
The next morning, I came down the stairs to find Kate doing her last minute organization. I couldn’t help it. I puffed out my lower lip in an attempt to distract my eyes. But the tears came anyway. We hugged, and she reminded me that it wouldn’t be that long until we saw each other again. I told her our futon is always there for her. She told me I could come visit anytime, though Mike wasn’t allowed to come if he was going to complain about the heat.
Then she told me not to cry.
Then she pulled her bags down the stairs, and she was gone.
I suppose, after taking such a long and unannounced hiatus, that some stories about my time off are in order. I also think that moving day, being the central reason behind my disappearance, might make for good blog fodder. It also might not, but I’m telling you about it anyway.
We were tired. I’m not even sure how late it was that we went to sleep, but it was frickin’ late. Actually, it was probably early – as in early in the morning. So when we woke up to take our last showers in the old apartment, we were in kind of a haze. I almost tripped on several of the packed and labeled boxes as I stumbled through my disrupted morning routine.
I assembled yet another box for random house-junk. Strip of tape *shrrrrrrrrrrrrkk!*. Strip of tape *shrrrrrrrrrrrkkkk!*. Strip of tape *shrrrkstssss*. Uh oh.
“We’re out of tape.”
“They’ll have some with them.”
I don’t know why it was so easy for me to just go with that. I mean, we were out of tape! You can’t wrap stuff up in boxes without tape. Perhaps it was the exhaustion. Maybe it was the fact that we had run out of paper for the third time the night before, causing me to wrap various kitchen things in Christmas wrapping paper. I was tired. I should have been cranky. But I wasn’t. I was practically sleep walking, but I was still severely excited.
Now, seriously. I have a problem with change. I hate it. I loathe it. I fear it more than just about anything else. But for some reason, if I can get over it, I get excited. And at this point, the whole situation was so overwhelming that it was easier to just go with it.
I did get a little anxious as the 7:30-8:00 window slid by. I started trying the office number. No answer. I was about to leave a message when I heard something. Something distinctively rumbly. Something definitely truck-like. Something positively… purple?
I skipped out the door into the beautiful sunshine and waved at the guys in the truck. That’s right, kids. We hired movers. There comes a time when you just have too much stuff to just pay your friends in beer. We lived in our old apartment for three years, accumulating junk and furniture. Mostly furniture. Okay… mostly junk. But still it was a lot of furniture, and a rather large tube TV.
While I did my little happy dance, the guys parked the truck. The crew chief introduced himself and the other two guys. This was when I realized that these guys weren’t kidding. We hired Gentle Giant. They apparently only hire actual giants. The shortest of these guys was at least 6’4″.
and it was time for the tour. Bedroom. Office. Out of tape and paper. Didn’t do the desk lamps yet. Yes, the bathroom’s been emptied. Yep, we got the attic too. Living room. No, we aren’t taking that ridiculous sound baffle. Kitchen. Leave the cabinets and the microwave. Oh, and there are pictures still hanging on all the walls that need to come too.
They scurried off, already carrying boxes, two at a time. One of the guys stayed back for just a little longer. “This is a really nice neighborhood. Why are you moving?”
I think I must have been in a sleep-induced euphoria, because the only answer I could come up with was, “The new place is nicer!”
And so the work began. I was amazed at how fast the boxes were cleared from the house. The crew chief brought in tape and paper, and I finished packing what little was left. The guys carefully lifted the boxes, often taking more than I could imagine carrying, and looked like this was just so easy. In the truck they went, and the guys were soon running (isn’t that neat?) back to get more.
I finally found myself with nothing to do. This is a difficult thing for me. I kind of like being useful, so sitting in the corner of the living room, out of the way, was really tough for me. I watched chairs and sofas and tables get wrapped up in magical quilts. I wondered why the quilts are all different colors and patterns, because wouldn’t you think they’d just buy them in bulk? Tape pealed off rolls in huge strips. And the elephant in the room (also known as our rather large television) remained stationary.
Eventually that television had to go. I said something about it being heavy, and one of the guys said, “Don’t worry. I brought my babies with me.” He then kissed each of his biceps in turn, as I laughed.
It seemed like all of a sudden I looked up and everything was gone. We walked through with the crew chief making sure nothing important got left behind. He complemented us on our preparedness. That made me feel good. He double-checked the address we were heading to, along with a quick discussion on directions.
“Wait. Is Route 1 open yet?”
“Yes, thankfully, they opened it back up yesterday.”
That’s right, folks, we moved on the first dry day in over a week. We were moving into the flood zone. Thank goodness our new complex is on a hill!
We discussed lunch stopping, and were on our separate ways. It was my job to stop and pick up food for Mike and I to eat. I got a pile of chicken nuggets and fries at the last stop on the Pike, knowing that most of the places on Route 1 may have still been closed. The smell of deep-fat frying permeated my car, but I kept my cool and waited until I arrived at the new place before eating.
We ate on the floor of the living room and patiently (Mike) and impatiently (me) waited the arrival of our giants. Soon, the familiar purple rumbling arrived. We gave them a new tour, and the guy concerned about us moving out of such a nice neighborhood told us we were right – this place is nicer.
Our stuff came in even faster than it went out. We ran into some furniture layout problems, but they were resolved quickly. And as suddenly as it began, it was over. Everything disappeared but the furniture and the boxes. Oh, so many boxes.
Yesterday’s things that suck, in no particular order:
- Downpours that begin just as you exit the train;
- Walking through a serious downpour without a hat, raincoat, or umbrella;
- Walking through said downpour to your car which is the 10th-farthest away possible;
- Walking down the sidewalk and getting splashed by a car driving through a puddle that really should be referred to as a pond; and
- Arriving at your car and having not a single dry part of clothing with which to wipe off your glasses.
Today’s things that suck, in no particular order:
- Waking up too sluggishly to make it to Oak Grove before all the parking is gone;
- Finding out that route 16 westbound is a parking lot in the mornings;
- Driving past Wellington Circle;
- Making several illegal left turns to get back on route 16 eastbound; and
- Having absolutely no idea where you parked only seconds after having just parked there.
Sorry about the bitch-fest. I feel better now.
It all started out so innocently. We were sitting on the orange line train, waiting impatiently for it to leave Oak Grove Station. The tweets of birds filled the finally warm sunny air.
Suddenly, a chickadee popped in through the open door. She remained for only a second and the popped out. A few seconds passed, and she brought her friends. They chirped away outside the door, probably deciding who was going to go in next. In came a chickadee – I didn’t notice if it was the same one or not. I did wonder if I should chase her out, or let her take a ride into Boston. I stood up, she bolted. This happened several more times before the bells rang, and the doors closed. I so thought at least one of them was coming with us, but we left Oak Grove bird-free.
Soon, we were at “North Station; change here for the green line and the commuter rail; doors open on the right.” We hopped out, avoiding the creepy old guy who had been staring at me since Wellington Circle, and crossed the platform only to watch a green line trolley pull away. But another one was close behind.
I made Mike promise to protect me if the creepy old guy stood too close to me. He said he’d kick him in the balls. He didn’t follow us onto the trolley anyway. I thought for a second, wondering why not, and as we pulled into Haymarket, it occurred to me. This is an E-line trolley. The E-line doesn’t go to Kenmore.
So, off we got at Government Center, followed by a dad and two kids. We stopped just a few feet from the edge of the platform, waiting for the next non-E. The dad almost slammed into us. “Where do we go now?”
“Huh?” I noticed his cap. “Oh, we have to wait for a train that’s not an E.” This poor man had followed us, figuring that our authentic replica jerseys made us experts at getting to Fenway Park.
Lucky for all five of us, the next train was a B. Even luckier, it was an fresh empty B, with plenty (all) open seats. We lost the family, and took a seat in the articulated part of the Bombardier. Five almost arrivals at Kenmore, an extremely slow ascent up crowded stairs, and a short walk with the mob later…
“Tickets!” “Genuine programs here!” “Tickets! Buyin’ tickets? Sellin’ tickets?” “If you have tickets to today’s game, the fastest way in is gate E!”
Well, our tickets were marked gate B, but we followed the man’s advice and were scanned in very quickly. Of course, Gate E is most of the way out in left field. Our tickets were most of the way out in right field. Fenway Park has only recently connected up every section of the park with walkways, but still, there was only one way to go, and that way brought us about 75% of the way around the park
We made it to our seats and settled in for the game. We just knew it was going to be a great game. I mean, we had just watched Big Papi hit the walk-off home run in the 12:00 game on TV right before leaving the house. We were so ready to watch baseball.
It wasn’t long until the game got somewhat out of hand. I don’t even want to talk about the score. Let’s just say the Sox didn’t play their best, and Francona left at least one pitcher in too long.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I would like to introduce the people around us. In front: the drunk friendly couple. To their right: the sweet sixteen party. To our right: a dad and his 5-year-old son, who was more interested in his Superman action figure than the baseball. To our left: the sober friendly couple. And to the rear: Jerkface and his girl, the queen of the cellphone, Jerkette.
I love baseball, okay? Let’s get things straight. When I’m at the park, I know what’s happening. I scream when necessary. I cheer at the top of my lungs when necessary. I participate in chants. And I stand up when something exciting is happening.
Let’s set the stage. Runners on first and second. Two outs. A couple runs in. First good thing to happen in this ballgame. At the plate is “the designated hitter… David… Ortiiiiiz!!!!!!” Much cheering, as he works the count full. By this point, Mike and I, along with several other scattered fans in our area, are standing and yelling and clapping and generally excited.
“Could you sit down?”
I think, to myself, “Well, since you were so polite…”
“…Because everyone else is, and I didn’t pay to watch your backs.”
I tensed. I lost my fan-concentration. Mike and I plopped down in our seats, dejected. The friendly lady next to me says I should have “accidentally” splashed my water on him. “He’s a jerk. We’ll back you up.”
I was too upset to answer. I nursed my water as Ortiz struck out. I was even more upset.
But the game, like any show, must go on. A couple innings later, Ortiz is back up at the plate. There’s a man on, and two outs. The game is probably what announcers call “out of reach” at this point, but I know baseball. And, to quote a very quotable, but unfortunately evil-empire-aligned, catcher, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!
So we’re up again, on our feet, yelling and clapping and generally routing on our team. This time, we aren’t alone. The drunk friendly couple, who we have been conversing with during down times, are up with us, along with several of the far-too-blond-to-be-really-blond teens celebrating their friend’s birthday (don’t worry, they sang to her as loud as they could in the middle of the 6th), and generally anyone who still cares about the game.
“Down in front!”
Oh that’s so original.
“I paid $45 for these seats!” He asked his non responsive neighbor, “Didn’t you pay $45 for these seats?”
I had already decided that I wasn’t sitting down until Ortiz got a home run or the inning ended. (I had snuck a peak back at Jerkface. He was a little twerp. I knew I could take him. Jerkette didn’t look like the kind of girl to get her hair tousled in a fight, either.)
“I didn’t pay $45 to watch your backs! Sit down!”
The inning ended, once again dashing what little hope was left for this ball game, and we all sat down, dejected, but full of fire. I turned back and spat out, “You know? You’re a jerk.” I wanted to use more expletives, but I behaved for the sake of Superman’s little friend.
“Yeah, I am a jerk. A jerk who wants to see the game.”
Mike, who had obviously been thinking about what he was going to say if the guy tried again, chimed in with, “If you want an unobstructed view, why don’t you go home and watch NESN. It’s channel 51.”
If baseball was so important to this guy, why did he:
- Let his girlfriend chatter on the phone with her friends;
- Stay seated during exciting moments of the game; and (my all-time favorite)
- Leave after the 8th inning?!
He waved an angry goodbye as they left.
“Oh! You paid $45 to leave the game early? Wow. What a rip off. You must feel jipped!”
I was so proud of myself for that one. That’s usually the kind of gold I come up with twenty minutes later. That one left him speechless.
Our friendly neighbors, drunk and sober alike, all had grins on his face after he was gone. They didn’t last, though, because the game kept on going. And it wasn’t the Sox doing the scoring.
I left the park sad that the Sox lost, angry at Jerkface and the Jerkette, but still happy to have gotten to spend a day at the best park in the world watching the best team in the world. I frickin’ love the Red Sox. Nothing can spoil that.