Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Pithy Imaginary Remarks

Before I started work in my new building, I called the building office (twice, being me) to discuss bike parking and was assured they have plenty in their parking garage, in what should be a secure location.

I rode my bike downtown yesterday, all dressed up—it felt triumphant, joyful—and discovered that the bike parking, as stated, certainly is secure. You have to pass an attendant to get to it, and it’s within earshot of the attendant, and you’d have to pass back by the attendant to exit the garage with the bike you’d just stolen. However, the parking wasn’t a rack attached to the ground, but wobbly hooks you have to lift your bike up to.

It so happens that right now my left elbow and right shoulder are killing me such that I can barely hoist a mug of tea without wincing. As I was standing there brooding over what to do, a woman I know happened to come along and showed me her technique for lifting her bike up to the hooks, which is difficult for her, too, but she also told me there was more bike parking farther down the ramp.

Sure enough, around the bend was a huge (nearly empty) locked bike cage with a posted warning not to lock your bike to the outside of it, but also a rack bolted to the ground nearby, so I parked there. However, there were only a couple of spots left once I’d parked, so I went to the building office and spoke to Diane there, who was very nice and who made a note that they need more bike parking in the form of a rack attached to the ground, for us old fogies.

Just like that! When I think of what I’ve gone through in the past vis a vis bike parking ...

It helps that there is now a law in San Francisco that every commercial building must provide bike parking, and if secure parking is not available, tenants may bring their bicycles right up to their cubes or offices. However, that is something the commercial tenant must request, not the individual Joe Schm√∂e, and there is obviously no way I’m going to ask Takworth, my brand-new manager, who isn’t even in San Francisco, to press this for me, so I was delighted with Diane’s response.

When I first got a job at this company, in 1998, I felt I’d sold my soul. I remember literally crying about it once when talking to my mother on the phone. So many times in the following years, I fretted that I should have a more meaningful job, that it was wrong to continue with work that was primarily a trade of time for money, albeit one where I got to use my brain and one I often enjoyed.

But now, at 50, having experienced a major health issue or two, I am fully at peace with the idea of swapping hours for money and benefits, and yesterday was feeling thrilled to have this job, on top of which I will get to use my brain and, I hope, enjoy what I’m doing.

The company will no longer provide Microsoft Ergonomic keyboards, so I brought my spare from home and plugged it in, but discovered it’s noticeably louder than the one supplied, so I took it home again. I don’t want my new neighbors to hate me right away. It’s OK if they come to despise me after they know me better, but I don’t want to alienate them in my first week.

Yes, gone is the highly self-entitled employee who didn’t hesitate to close a manager’s office door if he/she was on speakerphone with the door open. (Trying to get some work done out here, people!) To quote my mother again, who in turn was quoting whomever, “The sooner you accept the unacceptable, the happier you’ll be.” I accept that I hear a loud noise.

I brought more food along yesterday, and I was entirely happy.

I went to say hello to our wonderful administrative assistant, D., today but found her on the phone. She turned up at my cube later to see what I’d needed. Just coming to see how her day was going, I told her, and she taught me the office’s special high-five in response.

Down to two pairs of pants I can wear to work, I’m now visiting Sunny Launderette morning and night, dropping off a pair of pants before work and picking them up after work. One of the shirts I got back had unsightly wrinkles ironed into it, so I made an inquiry and Sally explained that to wash and iron a shirt costs an economical $1.75, but if you want it ironed so there aren’t wrinkles in it, that’s $3.25. (Actually, that’s not quite fair—if the shirt happens to come out of the machine looking good, fine. For shirts that don’t happen to accord with the machine’s idea of how a shirt should be shaped, Sally fixes it by hand afterward.)

This morning I went to a downtown hotel for a giant meeting run by a boss several levels above me. They always share some interesting statistics at these things, plus the cutest guy in the entire company, who normally works from home an hour north of here, came in and sat right next to me.

After that, I went on to my own office. I’m still quite in arrears on sleep, which might explain the dip my mood took today when I realized I’ve joined the suits in the financial district. My former job was in a groovy sector South of Market and I wore t-shirts, baggy homemade cotton pants, and filthy tennis shoes to it every single day, and didn’t particularly stand out, or so I preferred to think. People near me were also wearing t-shirts and tennis shoes (though they cheated by purchasing their pants). As I trod the silent hallways today, I thought again of C. and how foreign he would find the whole thing.

I’ve discovered that, despite the year it had off, the motorist- and cyclist-lecturing voice in my head isn’t one bit rusty. It seems to be in top form, thinking of pithy remarks to deliver in imaginary circumstances. To counteract that, I’m doing metta practice when I walk around outside and even in my office, silently wishing happiness for each person I pass. Howie says he used to walk around thinking, “May you be happy. I love you! May you be happy.”
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