Monday, July 24, 2006

Bureaucracy is Teh Suck

(NB: Not a political post, but it’s my blog so thppttt.)

So I had new employee orientation today. One of those things where you sit in a room all day long listening to people explain fascinating things about risk management and diversity, and as your prize you get your ID. Starting, of course, at 8:15 in the morning.

Well, I’m not what you’d call fully moved in to the new apartment yet, or really moved in at all. Many of my boxes reside at the apartment, but my furniture still lives in a storage unit 8 miles away. But then again, I was not up for waking up at 5 to drive in time to be there at 8:15 in the fucking morning.

My mother suggested getting a hotel room. That seemed like a cop-out to me. Besides, I just paid way too much for a plane ticket and I’m broke. I figured no reason I couldn’t camp out in the new apartment. I had brought the sofa mattress over already, and that’s ok to sleep on. I’d work on unpacking some stuff and then, since I wouldn’t have internet, I’d get a lot of work done whilst eating a great deal of junk food. It sounded like a fabulous evening.

Yeah, well: Backing up. I’d called National Grid (formerly Granite State Electric) on Wednesday to get the power turned on. It was already on, they said, and would be switched into my name on Friday. Thursday when I first got into the apartment I flipped all the switches and it was indeed on. Don’t remember whether I did Friday or not. Anyway, the crucial thing to understand here is that when I got here yesterday evening, as daylight was fading, the power was not on. I went into the basement by the light of my cell phone and flipped all the breakers. Nothing. I called National fucking Grid and explained the problem. The woman sent me out to look at my meter, to see what color tag it was wearing. Oops. Wrong color tag. She’d tell them to come fix it, she said, and would put in the order for that evening since it was supposed to be on Friday, but she couldn’t guarantee anything. Certainly it would be at least an hour.

I took the remaining daylight to put the legs on the desk/table thing I got from Ikea. In my bag of tools I found a candle and some matches, and the AAA battery needed to make the wee flashlight in my purse work again. Then I remembered the women’s road safety kit my mom gave me for my birthday a few years ago. The lantern in it hadn’t seemed to work, so I’d put a little flashlight in. Went out and found that, replaced its batteries. Then I fiddled with the lantern thing for a while and managed to make it work. So, a candle, two small flashlights, a small lantern. I could make this work.

Clearly I wasn’t eating the soup and salad I’d brought for dinner, so I went into town for dinner. Maybe the power would be on when I got back. Not so much, as it turned out. I couldn’t decide whether to have the shades up, to let in any possible light, or down, to keep the neighbors from wondering why the hell I was wandering around in the dark with a flashlight. I shifted boxes around, I pawed through them to see if I could find my big flashlight or any more candles. Found a couple of votive candles and a candle lantern. I burned my thumb on one candle, right on the underside of the joint. I made the bed. I hung the shower curtain. I checked in all the closets to be sure no one was lurking there. I didn’t believe it for an instant, but then again it’s not the sort of thing you want to wake up in the dark wondering about. It goes without saying that the glass I had the one candle in broke from the heat. I turned on the computer and managed to poach about 30 seconds of wireless connection off someone. Enough to load Daily Kos, so I got to read the front-page stories, but then I was left staring futilely and forlornly at the titles of the diaries. *sigh*

I tried to work, tinkered with a few phrases in my chapter. Gave up on that, went and assembled my étagère by candlelight. The shower curtain I’m ambivalent about, but I’m glad I spent the extra $10 on the slightly nicer étagère.

Spent this morning and early afternoon learning so much about “this incredible institution and how each of us contributes to its lasting greatness.” The woman running the orientation was straight out of a movie, specifically a movie that you leave going “the satire was a little over the top.” Chirpy as fuck. For instance, on the subject of the snow sculpture at the annual winter carnival: “we didn’t have a lot of snow this year, but by gum we did it anyway! They trucked snow in.” Or, turning us over to one of the day’s many speakers, “take good care of them, they’re really nice!” as if we’d said a word beyond our names. And upon telling us where we were going next “does that sound like a plan?” Does it sound like we have a choice?

Valuable lessons learned: The “people services” department of HR “works on the front lines. People services used to be called employment, but we call it like we see it.”

“In summary, everyone is a risk manager.”

Once I recover from several straight hours of being treated like I’m just unbelievably stupid, I just need to get my furniture to the apartment, unpack, pick and hang curtains for the windows (a task made more difficult by the fact that the shades are a dark green, shooting my thoughts about colors all to hell), get a living room rug, unpack some more, give up on unpacking and jam a lot of boxes full of random stuff I’ll never need or want but can’t get rid of into closets, finish my dissertation, finalize my syllabus, and get my ASA presentation ready. In the next 2 weeks. While being gone for the weekend.

Yup, I’ve got things under control.

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