May 14th, 2004

long beard

tales from the trenches

I started to write this yesterday but got caught up in a conversation.

So here I sit once again in my Mormon outfit; I'm at Saint Mary's waiting for a bunch of meetings to be over so that I can talk to the English department chair. I was "lucky" to see just about every professor there at once, but they're all there for meetings. Plus it was rather intimidating to have to weave by so many professors.

I found Dr. MacDonald at the end of the hall and broached my plan. He said I could graduate and then get an Honours equivalency, as it would ammount to the same thing. Hmm... Well, to tell the truth I don't feel like I've honestly earned my degree yet. As Dr. MacDonald said just now, I'm wanting for discipline. In this case he was referring to my King's essay. "You should have got someone to check it over. I hope it wasn't all flighty like you usually are."

I've got a lot of catch-up-growing-up to do, don't I?

Today I worked my first shift of paid labour in the province of Nova Scotia since June 2000. And I'll be back at the place - I forget the name - again tomorrow, and then on Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Yeah, no weekends! The shifts are really short too, going from 5:30 to 8:30 (possibly beyond if the workload is heavy), though reading cheques off a computer screen and entering their values ("verification") is not the sort of work you'd want to do for more than 4 of 5 hours at a stretch. Even with 3 hours, I was wanting for a little Tylenol, but I imagine that'll kind of be like how my feet hurt all the time when I first became a waiter.

It's becoming appalingly obvious that about the only thing I'm fit to do is teach university. At least it's nice to know that if I fail to achieve that goal, it will be due to my work ethic and not my intellectual gifts. The thought, "I cannot do this for the rest of my life, I am *definitely* going to grad school now," crossed my mind a few times as my right wrist ached and my eyes strained to read some poorly scanned French numeracy in messy handwriting and compare it with the decimal ammount in messy handwriting. Well, at least my high school French is being put to use, finally.

Still, I realize that's a very immature attitude to have on the first day of work. And as jobs go, this one looks like it could possibly be okay. I like the fact that I don't have to focus on a whole bunch of things at once. Just read, key, repeat. Read, key, repeat. But I'd honestly rather read the unabridged Clarissa from now until the Expos sell out Olympic Stadium then face the prospect of spending the rest of my life punching keys. My wrists won't be able to take it.

You may find some of my next anecdotes entertaining. My mother dropped me off in front of the Duke Tower at ten after five, because I felt it prudent to get in a little early. I buzzed for security. I wish the following exchange was caught on tape.

"Hi, I'm um, here to report for work in this building."
"Who do you work for?"
"Oh, um... uh... er... well, I got it through the guys on the twelfth floor..."
"Yeah, but today I'm working on the second floor..."
"Supertemp is closed. It's ten after five in the morning and the building is locked down."
"But I'm supposed to work at 5:30."
"With who?"
"Well... it's uh... some kind of keyboarding thing..."
"But who with? I can't just let you in the building."
"I have an ID. I had to come in yesterday for them to photocopy it..."
"I can't let you in if you don't know where you're going."

I guess I was suspicious enough that two guards eventually came outside and met me. They said there was no way they could let me in. Was I sure I didn't rememeber who I was working for? (The girl at the agency didn't give me the name of the outfit - that would have been handy.) Was is Scotiabank? I didn't know. What kind of job is it? Well, I don't know much about it. My folks keep asking... They called Scotiabank. No. Was it Symcor? Uh... Yes, it was Symcor.

"She says she'll be down to bring you up in a few minutes. They really need to tell us about these things. With the Aliant strike, we're not letting anybody in - no exceptions."

We said a few other things in the cold morning air. The male repeated that they needed to get this sort of stuff straightened out. I opened my mouth, and the female said that I also needed to know more about who I was working for. I emphatically agreed. "I've never been paid to think in my life," I said.

As you can imagine, by the time I was actually let in, I was a nervous wreck. Everything was going wrong. Fortunately, my supervisor was very friendly. She continued to be civil to me throughout the entire shift. I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. She and her peers are still smiling at me - they seem to think I'm cute - but the "Kumari Nazi transition" is probably inevitable once they find I'm not neruotypical. All I can do is honestly do my best. If my keyboarding speed doesn't cut it after four weeks of training, I won't take it personally. I'd probably rather help Dad with the hay, anyway. I'll miss PEI this summer.

Second day...

The working environment is Orwellian, yet friendly. About all I've been doing so far is verifying ammounts on cheques written by people with poor and/or eccentric handwriting, as well as printed cheques made on a 1980's dot matrix printer hooked to a TRS-80 accounting program. You'd be suprised at what big-ticket stuff the OCR scanners aren't able to pick up on their own. At one point I had to key in a cheque worth nearly half a million dollars. (If you ever needed a hint that you're on the wrong side of the economy...) Sometimes there are cheques worth less than 50 cents. Given all the security inherent in getting into the office, much less the building, I'm probably not even allowed to say what I've just said, so I'd better call it a halt right now. I probably can say that I both worked longer and experienced less physical discomfort. That's encouraging.

I love the beautiful salty smell in the air this morning. And yesterday I loved the early-morning sunshine. It's fun to get off work when everyone else in the city is just coming on, though I don't know how long this will last. I have more energy at 10am now than I've ever had, ever. The drawback is that I'll be going to bed every night around 7:00.

I can't stay here at SMU for too long, because I have to go take Paul for groceries. In other news, all the Honours drama has led me to decide to graduate, then go for my Honours equivalency. That way I can always decide to do something else. Since I've invested in a ring and always planned to graduate this year anyway, that's what I'll do. Besides, I really, really need to do some hardcore celebrating.
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long beard

Okay! fine! for sure! for sure!

I'm tired.

I'm like, "I stayed up and watched the entire DS9 marathon on Spike TV, from Emissary to What You Leave Behind," tired. I'm, "Let's do up a spreadsheet for every assignment I've ever completed from Duck Pond Kindergarten to Narrative in Fiction and Film," tired. I am very tired. Do you understand me? [clunk]

A few amusing things happened today. Firstly, I was walking towards my bus stop from SMU, and I cut through the playground behind Inglis Street Elementary. I was walking around a fenced-in tennis court when suddenly a bunch of kids in the other court started shouting, "Hey, Buddy! Hey! Hey, Buddy!" and then I noticed the ball rolling beside me. I picked it up and totally threw it like a girl, which wouldn't have been so bad except for the fact that the ball failed to clear the ~12ft. high fence by a foot or so. "Shiitake," I said (It's my new favourite pseudo-swearword. I think it's a kind of mushroom. (shE-'tä-kE, thank you and chased down the errant ball.

(This may be my first use of an italic "ä.")

By the time I picked up the ball again I noted the kids were starting to climb the fence. "Okay, I'll try harder," I said. I heaved a more decent throw that cleared the fence.

"Thanks! Thanks! Thanks!" they all said. I gave them a thumbs-up as I turned away to head to the bus stop. Then the cute little black boy said, "Strange guy saves the day!" I couldn't help but smile and laugh to myself. I know they weren't being mean about that. But it was food for thought as I plodded on in my blown-out Airwalks, and I realized just how much I stick out without really knowing it. No wonder people learned to make fun of me so fast everywhere I went before everyone else had to start acting their age. PEI teasing I could handle, though.

This evening while out with (stepfather) Paul and (step grand aunt) Freda, I walked into the Wal-Mart in Bayer's Lake. On my way out, two big-ish teenage girls walked by me. These two were straight out of Moon Zappa's "Valley Girl" except for the accent, and a little more hick-ish. Like posers. But they didn't look like they had 'tudes, so they're cool. But this isn't about their "style."

"Ah, we look so stupid walking around Wal-Mart, like the (eh-pih-tum) of dumb."


The other skinnier girl did say, "Yeah, but that's 'epitome (e-pit-oh-me).'"
"Oh, I like (eh-pih-tum)!"

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