The week…

This week is something of a scheduling oddity due to a confluence of unrelated events. It features a federal holiday, a telework day, ​half a day off for a dental appointment, and day of annual leave “just because.” That leaves exactly 1.5 days of time physically spent in the office. On one hand, of course, that feels like 1.5 days too many, but on the other it feels like just about right amount.

Of all the things I bitch about you’ll very rarely find the amount of time off I have in my hip pocket making the top 50, let alone the top ten. I know exactly how lucky I am to have that big beautiful stack of vacation days and sick leave sitting there waiting for me to use them.

Right now I’m making up lost ground to tend to appointments I didn’t have time to make in the first four months of the year and burning off days here and there to do things that are just more easily accomplished on weekdays than weekends. After the planned 5-day 4th of July weekend, the burn rate will settled down to a more sustainable rate for a few months. I suppose every week can’t be exceptionally short.

Those full, 5-day work weeks through the height of summer are going to make for a difficult adjustment. Sigh. I need to do something exceptional and get myself a nice time off award in order to stave off the madness just a little longer.

Grinding them out…

No matter how many times I do it, I always seem to forget that going back to the office after a long few days off is, quite simply, exhausting. There’s the usual flurry of emails – mercifully fewer because so many other people stayed home too. A few, though, were real humdingers – written, clearly, by someone who chooses to ignore the holiday and assume everyone spent every waking minute of their time off thinking about things back at the office. That’s fine for some people I suppose, but it goes entirely against my wiring.

It’s Wednesday at least. Having a week that starts halfway through does seem to help ease the transition back into the world of work. The impending arrival of snow in the local area tomorrow is having something of the opposite effect by filling my head with dreams of an extraneous day off. It’s a pipe dream, of course, given the forecast, but it’s a happy dream. I’ll try not to let it rock me back on my heels too badly in the morning when I wake up and all it is outside is dark and cold.

The good news, if you can call it that, is the first day back is over now and it can cause no more trauma. Like the journey of 1000 steps – or more aptly in my case the journey of 6,357 days – the key part is to take the first one and then keep grinding them out.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Comcast. Making the list for the third or fourth time this year is the cable company that everyone loves to hate. Ever since I downgraded my service a two months ago, my bills have been arriving with what I’ll generously call wild inaccuracies. I spent 30 minutes yesterday on the phone with a very nice CSR who thought she was going to be able to make this month’s round of corrections. Except, of course, she couldn’t because the amount of the correction was in excess of $25… which triggered the need to execute what I believe she called an “elevation form for tier two service.” Instead of being transferred to this group of genies, I’d have to “stand by for them to contact me sometime within the next five business days.” I don’t know why I ever hold out hope that anything can either A) just work the way it’s supposed to work or B) Be corrected with a single phone call. Clearly my expectations are misaligned with reality.

2. The five day work week. I’m out of practice with being at my desk for a full five days in a row. I know this because it’s Thursday and the only ambition I have left is to muddle through tomorrow and get to the weekend. It’s not that the week has been particularly busy, problematic, or strange… but the trek from Monday to Friday has just seemed to go on forever. Now if I can just gin up enough oomph to drag myself through three more long weeks, I’ll be all set for the 11-day Christmas weekend.

3. Lunch. When I worked in DC, it was two blocks to Chinatown, one metro stop from Union Station and the Hill, or a 10 minute walk in almost any other direction to find a diverse and tasty array of lunch options. Here in Aberdeen, there’s a Subway, a Burger King, and a few other lunch places that more or less serve the same thing. While I don’t miss the daily 90 minute commute, I desperately miss having some variety in my lunch options. I miss General Tso’s from Tony Chang’s, burgers at the District Chophouse, and deep dish from Armand’s. At this point, God help me, I even have fond memories of the build your own salad bar next door to the office and the hot dog cart set up on the curb. I’m not expecting an urban food environment here in the wilds of north eastern Maryland, but if I don’t find something other than sandwiches soon I may have to resort to bringing my own food… and that’s just not an option I want to entertain.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Office politics. Henry Kissinger once said, “University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small.” Dr. Kissinger is a smart guy, but his thinking was too small in this case. His principle ultimately includes office politics of any stripe. Fighting over who gets credit, who’s in charge, and for the seat next to the high lord at supper are exactly the factors that prevent anything from actually getting accomplished. Useless bloody infighting over scraps is apt to make me say something stupid.

2.Colo-rectal examination. I don’t care how good a professional relationship you have with someone, the people you work with never need to hear the explicit details of your upcoming and/or previous colo-rectal examination. Some things are best left within the confines of doctor-patient confidentiality.

3. The 5-day work week. Whoever decided that the work week should be five days and the weekend only two needs punched in the face. Repeatedly. With a Buick.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

Yeah, I know it’s a day early this week, but after not griping and complaining last week, I was feeling a little edgy. As always, in no particular order, here’s what annoys Jeff this week:

Christmas Carols. There, I said it. I don’t like them. I’ll grudgingly accept them in the week or two before Christmas, but at any time before that, they make me want to punt kittens. Singing them in October? Well, those people are just a special kind of crazy.

Salad. Since January, I’ve been eating salad almost exclusively for lunch, and you know what? I hate salad. There aren’t enough dressings, croutons, cheese, or varieties of chopped meat available to make them appetizing anymore. Sure, real food will probably end up putting me on the fast track to an early death, but that sounds infinitely better than the slow lingering death I’m suffering from boredom and general lack of tastiness.

The five day work week. Who’s the unmitigated jackass that decided 5:2 was a good work to non-work ratio? Don’t take that the wrong way, because I’m still deliriously happy to be bringing home a paycheck and to be doing it in Maryland, but all things considered there are plenty of other things I’d like to spend some time doing.

Proselytizers. I get it, you found Jesus, or Vishnu, or Buddha, or, Zoroaster and you’re really excited about that. Good on you. As a rule, other random people aren’t nearly as interested as you think they are in your discovery. Believe me when I say I have my own notions about what’s what in the hereafter and let’s leave it at that, shall we? That would be fantastic.

40 hours…

The 40-hour work week where everyone arrives and departs at the same time each day probably made eminent sense when it was instituted for a country with a massive manufacturing sector committed to assembly line methodologies. When you’re living in an electronic age and the output product of your efforts live in a storage device as a series of ones and zeros, a fully regimented work schedule is a little harder to understand. In a plant where they build cars, you can expect X number of frames to roll by a given point on the line each eight hour shift every day of the week. OK, a standard 8-hour day makes sense there. In the information sector, Wednesdays might be the heavy volume day and represent 11 hours of required work while Monday only requires five hours of work. Even though the requirements have shifted, we largely cling to that magic eight hours a day, five days a week concept.

If I were king for a day, I’d propose a new standard for information workers. In this system, you’re paid your base salary for 2080 hours a year. On days when you get the work done in 5 hours, feel free to go on home. On days when workload is high, plan on staying a little longer to get it done. All things being equal, I’d be willing to bet that in most cases, the time would even itself out over the long term.

Of course we know that all things are not equal. Some people are going to abuse a system based on them being honest about their workload. Some people will work half days every day and others will put in 12 hours every day. So yeah, I intellectually understand that there are pretty high barriers to getting away from the standard work week. I get that my new system is a managerial nightmare and completely impractical, but on those days when I blow through my assignments in 4 hours, it sure would be nice to have the option of punching out for the day rather than sitting around watching the clock tick on towards the end of the day…. because let’s face it, when their actual work is done, no one is sitting around dreaming about what other great things they can do for the overlords, right?