Tuesday, July 22, 2003

The Grind

Heading off to work is bad enough, but on a dreary morning like this, the ickiness of the situation is magnified tenfold.

There was no one on the Charles this morning. It was eeriely still--no crew straining their muscles to propel a lithe little boat through the water, no sailboat shooting through the water almost as an afterthought. Nothing at all.

I swear the Metro left more ink on my fingers than usual.

North Quincy is a bleak place at best, and working there seems counterintuitive. You exit the T station, see the Applebee's and Panera Bread across from it, and think to yourself Say, this place might not be half-bad! Then you walk up the street a bit and the civilization as you knew it disappears, leaving an asphalt obstacle course littered with discarded Dunkin Donuts containers and used condoms in its wake. On the short walk from the T station to "work", I pass a junkyard, a skeevy no-tell motel, and a series of railroad tracks. It's like this forgotten industrial borough; and then you crest a small hill and you see it--my place of "work"--rising off of a sea of asphalt and white lines. An attempt to be big and corporate that ended up stark, tall, ugly, and hopelessly out of place; like a girl who runs away to Hollywood to become a movie star and ends up turning tricks on Hollywood Boulevard instead.

You walk inside, and people are already lined up for the 7 am opening of the in-house eatery, poised to order their reheated bacon on stale bagels, to fill their styrofoam cups with stale lukewarm coffee. A white board proclaims the "Lunch Special of the Day", usually something like American Chop Suey, whatever that is. You can also get a "salad" with iceberg lettuce, 2 tomato wedges, and 2 slices of cucumber. Mmmm good.

Up on my floor, the carpet tiles are a mishmash of blue, grey, and beige. The ceiling tiles are square, white flecked with grey like cheap marble. The flourescent lights stretch across the room like highway lines, 23 across. The elevators are across from my row of cubicles, emitting a soft "bong-bong" when someone arrives on the floor, signaling the end of someone else's happiness and freedom for the day.

If you push aside the vertical blinds and look out the window, you can see Boston. It's far, far away, like a dreamy crystalline city of hope and prosperity. But by the time you get to work, you've forgotten you ever passed it on the way.

I don't think there's a meeting scheduled for today. I had one a few weeks ago that revolved around the need to tie a string on a pen and attach it to the black binder that I and the other non-phone-drones use to "sign in and out". It was decided by my supervisor that a pen would be tied there. It has not yet happened.

There are 2 main systems that most of the people in my department use to get their work done. One is mainframe-based. (No, that wasn't a typo...) The other, our CMS, freezes up and goes down on a daily basis. At any given time, I'd wager that 40% of my department cannot use their CMS and is on the phone to the Help Desk. The other 60% is probably stuck in a typical 10-minute waiting time for what they've just input to save.

We just received another email reminding us of the company dress code. T-shirts and sweatshirts are only allowed on Fridays, and halter tops and cutoff shorts are a no-no.

In the lunchroom, there are instructions on how to use the microwave.

At about 4:55, I'll make a mad dash for the doors, hoping to avoid being noticed by my boss, who'll comment on my "leaving early", even though I was here at 6:50.

And then, tomorrow at 5 am, my alarm goes off and the cycle starts all over again.

And people wonder why I'm in a constant state of annoyance.

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