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Thursday, August 20, 2009

I get the job done

I work a nine-to-five styled job right now.

After I was laid off by AOL back in 2003, I was pretty dead set on never doing this again. I had a set of skills that allowed me to freelance and make enough money to do most of what I wanted, while sleeping between nine to twelve hours a day. I acted an idiot, I stayed out late, I caroused, and I generally had a good time.

But honestly, that got boring. Singing karaoke at the same bars. Dancing at clubs. Watching people throw up Jaeger bombs. Yadda yadda. I found the right girl and I'm all familied up, and that was the right thing to do.(1)

Anyhoo, my nine-to-five job is with a fairly big company. I've been wary of these since getting laid off by Disney Channel in 2001(2) because of the largely insensate fashion that huge swaths of employees can be tossed out in the street, even while literal buckets full of money are hurled out of the window at the same time.(3) I've sought stability throughout my career -- I grew up with a man who worked 30 years for Milwaukee's Metropolitan Water District, so I could appreciate that kind of mutually beneficial loyalty -- but never found it.

I've been at my job, pushing pixels and project managing for a huge company(4) and commuting to Pasadena, for a little over a year now. I like the work -- interesting but not too hard, challenging but rarely spilling over its allotted eight hour day -- and many of the people I've come to know there.(5) Now that I'm only driving a half hour a day, the commute's actually easy. So that's all good.

Then, a shock in this economic climate, they offered to convert me to become a full-time employee. A rarity, to be sure, and one I was very happy about because it gives me the chance to telecommute ...

... once I can get the paperwork together.

One of the problems with big companies is that often the internal processes seem like they were created by Vogons.(6) For example, they said they wanted to do a background check on me that stretches back ten years. Weird, but okay. I've been with the agency for more than ten years, and I've been working here for a year, I figured they'd just ask them. Nuh uh. They want W-2 and/or pay stubs from places that aren't even in business anymore. I have to drive to USC to get some paperwork.(7) Overall, I have to do a lot of ripping and running and actually end up losing money(8) to get money down the road. Interesting.

I'm not very happy about this sort of thing. Paperwork is one of my weaknesses -- I'm good at tactical matters, taking notes, conquering whatever is set in front of me. But paperwork means archiving and going back to stuff. It's largely a non-digital process.(9) Actual paper ... I get tired thinking about it. I can't index it digitally, can't search for key terms, can't collate the data, can't cut and paste easily. It's so embarrassingly last century. But these are the flaming hoops set before me, so it's time to slap my butt into some spandex and get jumping.(10)

Next week will find me awash in process, dodging the death of a thousand tiny paper cuts, bearing "the curse of the white man from town."(11) I have responsibilities I need to fulfill, and even if asked to do something ridiculous, I am pressed into service. I will not falter.

Playing (Music): "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me" by Aretha Franklin and George Michael


(1) = Strangely enough, I get way, way less sleep now, even though I'm in bed by 11 most nights. Funny.

(2) = I swear, my resume is a freaking fountain of fail. Eight of the twenty companies listed there are completely out of business, and many more have taken huge financial losses, had massive layoffs and gone through other craziness. On the other hand, I have often said "if stuff didn't break, they'd never need me to come fix it." On the other other hand, had they hired me in the first place, they wouldn't have had to go through the "broken" phase and maybe would have had more money at the end of the day. It's hard to tell, your mileage may vary.

(3) = Never close enough to the ones being booted that they could catch any of it.

(4) = How huge? Like "with facilities in more than five states" huge. Like "five digits worth of employees, not even counting contractors and outside vendors" huge.

(5) = One has become one of my new best friends, like on that Craig level, for real. Others I'm working with to develop a sitcom pilot. One bakes the most amazing pies, based on the LA County Fair-winning recipe three years running. There's a lotta swell people.

(6) = Look it up.

(7) = Some people believe that I have not completed my degree. I have not removed this delusion from them. I had two credits lingering when I stopped going in 1995, but those are all done -- it's not like I don't have the units or what have you.

(8) = I'm paid hourly. If I am standing in line at USC or what have you, I'm not at work making money. I rather bloody enjoy making money.

(9) = I can tell you with reasonable certainty where virtually every file I have is located. Literally thousands upon thousands of them. I know where the hard drives are, I could probably recite the directory paths. It's kind of scary.

(10) = That image is disturbing to me too. Sorry.

(11) = I remember reading those words in Thinner and thinking, "I'll have that phrase handy in my brain for the rest of my life."


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