Have I Mentioned Before that I Hate My Job?
We babysat for the Pirates for a few hours this morning whilst they enjoyed a morning at the Movie Club. Baby Pirate is starting to work on a tooth and was noticeably crankier than when last we sat her. It’s always a strange little thrill to babysit the wee Pirate. Because she was born almost three months earlier, she seems to us a window on the future. As Baby Pirate goes so, three months later, goes Baby Dog. We’ve had the being born preview, the going out in public preview, the appearing aware of her surroundings preview, the making squawky noises preview, the holding up her head preview, and the rolling about in the crib preview. Today we previewed sitting up (assisted for getting into position, but self-maintained thereafter), focused playing with toys, and feeding with spoon rather than nipple. It’s very exciting to think that Baby Dog will be achieving these milestones, which now seem the stuff of bad 50s science fiction, in only a few short months.
After the Pirates reclaimed their offspring, I had to go in on a Sunday to my stupid job. The guy who would ordinarily take this bullet for me was in Yosemite this weekend, so I had to cobble together coverage with two other operators, each able to work short shifts, and my poor old self. The main cause of the weekend work is a big proposal going out Monday afternoon, which mostly entailed printing hundreds of ostensibly impressive résumés from people clearly proud of their accomplishments in the fields of dirt, sludge, and contaminants. My main focus for the first couple of hours, though, was a project going out tomorrow at noon, which I’d had to keep back-burnered through Thursday and Friday because of the proposal stuff. This was a data entry job, but not a simple data entry job. Simple data entry is the most miserable occupation imaginable until you remember that complex data entry is worse. Simple data entry is spending eternity with your toes in a meat grinder. Complex data entry is spending eternity with your toes in a meat grinder while listening to Air Supply.
What I mean by complex data entry in this case is a failure of congruency between the data source and the data destination, couples with a fatally vague set of directions (not unlike the one issued by the one issued by Lord Raglan at Balaclava). My data source is a passel of completed questionnaires (set up by me over several eye-blearing days a week or two ago) that were sent out to landfill operators throughout California and a few choice sites in other states. The problem is, the people who designed the questionnaire and the spreadsheet I was entering the responses in were apparently not on speaking terms. The categories correspond, but in rather a tenuous way, like they were perhaps the result of a game of telephone focusing on the topic of mass waste disposal. The result is that, instead of doing my job – which is, simply, you write some silly shit down and I’ll type it for you; you type the silly shit yourself but in a butt ugly way and I’ll pretty it up for you – I’m actually having to read the silly shit and make judgement calls about the meaning intended. My job doesn’t entail trying to figure out whether some douchebag landfill operator means to say his facility is X feet over sea level or over the surrounding grade. But that’s exactly what I had to expend energy thinking about today, and I’m a more angry and embittered man for it.
In fairness, I did get a little entertainment value for my time. I’ve learned there’s always a little entertainment in any large survey response. In this case, the two funniest responses were from rather opposite spectral ends. One guy, explaining what measures had been taken to respond to complaints neighbouring residents had about the noise from traffic in and out of the landfill, summoned all the empathy at his command and said: “None. The traffic’s not really from the landfill. I think the residents just like to complain.” At the other end of the evolutionary ladder (but for my purposes a bigger pain in the ass because his verbosity took forever to transcribe) was the guy who found a reason to quote Thoreau in the middle of his response to a questionnaire about a garbage dump. Okay, so there was entertainment, and I’m making a few extra bucks by going in today. But I’m still bummed at loss of good weekend time and am looking forward only to further stress in the morning – even with the three of us plus help from the graphics department, there’s still a crapload of stuff to get done before noon.
Dragged my tired ass over to the Pirates after for dinner and political talk. Mama Dog, the Pirates, and Mama Dog’s ex were poring over their ballot materials to figure out the dictates of their conscience on initiatives large and small. As ever (except for the two times I managed to vote in Canada), I’m an observer in democracy. I hope that all of you with the power to do so, though, will remember to go out on Tuesday and vote against Cheney and his minions in all their forms and guises
Oh – PS: Last night, we managed to watch an entire movie (Gigi) in one night! Not one sitting, of course, but you can’t have everything. We knew things were getting ridiculous when it took us three nights to finish LA Story, which is only 95 minutes long. I’m still not sure how we managed to get through Gigi (118 minutes) in one night. Partly, I guess, we started early. The main thing was, we put Baby Dog to bed earlier than usual, and it managed to take.
And PPS – Many thanks to Anonymous from Beantown for the roll of quarters! She and Charles have between them almost completed my collection(s). All I need now are Denver mintings of the Pennsylvania and Arkansas quarters and a Philadelphia minting of Iowa, and I’ll be done until Wisconsin comes out (if it hasn’t already). paul Anonymous suggests I collect the Canadian province quarters. I had no idea there was such a thing, and have yet to see one. I figure I can probably complete a collection over the weekend next time I’m in Canada, though. It doesn’t take as long to collect ten of something.