Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The train diaries

As dawn creaks over the sky behind me and my train rockets toward San Francisco and my paycheck…I blog.

Because this is how I roll these days, people.

Well actually, I’m not usually blogging on the train. Usually, I’m sorting through my email, setting up my task lists, organizing my meeting schedule (I’m in meetings from 9:00 to 3:30 Wednesday…which begs the question, But when shall you get anything, you know, DONE but then again I am an experienced MegaBank.com contractor – this is how they roll at MegaBank.com.

But today, I blog…because my connection is too gads-awful to make get anything but ‘connection timed out’ errors from the SQL Server, and I spent most of the last meeting yesterday some quality time yesterday afternoon dealing with email and such.


I’m really enjoying my new job.

Once I’m there. And while I’m there.

And most especially when I gather my lunch and my husband (who is as of today even working on the same floor with me – just a few desks away!) and we walk down to the Embarcadero to watch the ice skaters or the ferries or the tourists or whatever while we eat our sandwiches.

The best day is our once-weekly eating out lunch. I was born in San Francisco, and have spent most of my working life in the financial district.

I have a lot of favorite lunch places I haven’t been able to hit up for several years.

The work is interesting, the people I’m working with are bright (yay, smart people!) and fun and most of us wear jeans most of the time (but “nice” jeans, which has me at something of a disadvantage actually) (also, nice shoes, which…uh…well…I did knock most of the mud off mine this morning…).
I got my first paycheck the day before Thanksgiving. It was the lightest I’m likely to have for this whole contract – but it was still enough to pay for almost three weeks of childcare.

I can’t tell you how teary that makes me. Part of the reason I’d essentially given up on getting myself employed “for real” was that the pay rates had dropped so drastically. I was being offered things that were like… “Hi! We’d like to reset the pay-clock to 1992, ‘kay? Oh, but you still need all that experience and the college degree and all that other stuff you worked so hard to get!”

I really wondered what the “kids” were doing, you know? If they’re resetting my “prime earning years” rates to what were entry-level rates in the early 90s…but the cost of an apartment hasn’t gone down a dime…what are they giving those fresh-faced college grads who have at least most of a degree but absolutely zero actual experience?

“Yes, OK, you can work here…you just have to pay us $7.55 an hour for the privilege…”?

I have to admit, the deal clincher on this one was the full pay rate. It’s right up there with what I would have been making in 2007 – enough to actually have something left over after paying for commute and childcare.

A fair pile of something left over, to boot.

Which makes the downside of this whole thing a little easier to bear.

The 4:30 alarm comes to mind.

And five hours of the day being spent just getting to and from work also occurs to me as possibly being a downside.

And of course, the way the weeknights have become a condensed nightmare of family so-called life. Scooping up the kids at 6:30, rushing home, being in the middle of a whirlwind of little voices: I’m hungry, I need / I want / I did / I was invited to / sign this / check that / lookit what I drew and by the way hungry-hungry-hungry!

Did you invoice Client A? Did you find my social security card? I need a photocopy of the contract, I need you to go over these documents and make sure they’re, you know, “good,” can you find this or iron that and do you know where my cufflinks went, you know, the blue ones?

The laundry and the cleaning and the cooking and the more-cleaning and the checking of homework and the dreaded slips from teachers saying things like, “Please remind Boo Bug to turn in her homework folder tomorrow, she has forgotten the last two days.”

Dreaded, because I always want to fire back with something like, “Here’s a thought: How about YOU remind her, since she AND the folder is in her backpack AT SCHOOL five feet from you, while I am 70 miles away AT WORK when she’s supposed to be turning it in? k-thx!”

Seriously, is it just me? Why can a teacher not say, “Boo! Folder!”? Why do they just sit there without saying a word, expecting the seven year old to “just remember” to turn things in, and then spend fifteen-twenty minutes penning a missive to her parents – who can’t do a damned thing about it when The Time Comes, all we can do is remind her FOUR HOURS before she’s supposed to turn it in…which in Kid Time is, like, four YEARS…look, just lean over your desk and say, “Where’s your folder?” And then goes, “OH YEAH!” and gets the folder and there we are! PROBLEM SOLVED!

But I digress.

All the stuff that used to take up a full twelve hour day are now crammed into a two to three hour window – a window when, by the way, I’m so tired I want to just fall-first into the couch and never move again.

Of course, this old hen has pecked around in this particular poop before – many, many times.

I know how it goes.

The first month or two (or even three, sometimes) is hellish. It’s kind of like…well. Imagine a bunch of people doing a complicated set dance. Dancers are darting in and out of lines built by other dancers as they go, up and down and around and through, coming together in pairs and foursomes, breaking away, the whole thing working together into one dance.

And then some jackass changes the tune, the rhythm and the dance. The dancers kinda know the new tune, the new rhythm, the new set, but…well, now, they’ve got to adjust.

They’re running into each other. Stepping on each other’s toes. Lines are crooked, rows too narrow, sets are scattered, half the troop is heading into a swing while the other half thinks we’re on the wheel…gah!

It takes a few measures and quite a few missteps, but eventually we’ll find the rhythm again.

But we’re going to have pretty sore toes in the meantime.

Right. We’re about to head into the tunnel. Happy Tuesday, all-y’all.


Lydee said...

that is exactly how i felt when i went back to work...and still feel that way 3 years later. sometimes i dread evenings with the supper, and housework, and guilt associated over what has not been done.

but i do like my job.

Another Joan said...

Perfect description of both types of dance. The "word" verification is 'bathebed' (can't make that stuff up) Let's think of it as an ItaliaEnglish descriptor of your evening.

PipneyJane said...

Ahhh.... Train commuting. Knitting, blogging and reading time. If I went near my bank branch and could print the statements from the ATM, I even used to reconcile my bank account on the journey home.

I both miss it and am intensely grateful that I can avoid it (not only does the train "option" quadruple my journey time, it more than doubles the cost). If I could get a seat, it was bliss; if I couldn't, it was hell. I gave up train commuting when I realized it was less stressful to drive through central London than it was to expect my three trains to connect in a timely fashion.

I do miss the reading time, though.

- Pam (my word verification is "brolsh". Isn't that a soup?)

RobinH said...

I think the "kids" are still living with their parents. That seems to be way more common than it was when I was a new grad.

And while I don't envy you the commute, I do envy the reading/organizing time. My commute isn't nearly as long or obnoxious as yours, but it is under construction at the moment. Add in the probability of snow in the near future, and I have another four months of daily aggravation to look forward to.